Sunday
Jan242016

Asian salad with toasted sesame and Lime

Things I've Learned to Love

  1. Really HOT hot sauce
  2. Going to bed early
  3. Cloudy beach days
  4. Drinking water
  5. My slow cooker
  6. Daily walks
  7. Black coffee
  8. Biting my tongue
  9. Taking my vitamins
  10. Ugly dogs
  11. Reading for pleasure
  12. Cilantro
  13. Taking care of my skin
  14. Not washing my hair every day
  15. Crossword puzzles
  16. Soup as a main
  17. Sandy toes
  18. Gin
  19. Wearing my glasses
  20. Knock-knock jokes
  21. Flying
  22. Messy buns
  23. Oatmeal
  24. Country music
  25. Myself

Friday
Jan152016

Crockpot meatballs with black beans + rice

My Dearest Nikolas,

You were due to arrive on the 25th of January, but made your entrance 10 days early. That was my first taste of your fierce preference to be early for absolutely everything. Returning books to the library, soccer practice, getting your math homework done. What can I say? You didn’t get that from me.

I fell in love with all 9 pounds of you the moment I saw your wrinkly little face and dark brown hair and teeny tiny fingers. I had never laid eyes on a more perfect boy in all my life and I couldn’t believe you were all mine. One of my biggest fears during my pregnancy was wondering if I could love another child the way I loved Raphaelia. That love was so profound and immense and passionate, I was frightened I wouldn’t have enough room to share. But you completed a really intimate part of my heart. The part reserved for a beautiful baby boy. I often wonder what would have happened to that heart if you hadn’t come along. If I had not known the way your little arms felt around my neck, or the way your long eyelashes felt when they brushed against my cheek during good night kisses, or the way you tell a riveting story, making sure to heighten your voice at just the right parts. How could I have ever lived without those puddled dimples, and big brown eyes and witty jokes that make me belly laugh until I can't breath? I just can’t imagine a day over the last 9 years without you by my side.

I don’t think there is a word in the English language that can accurately describe the bond between a mother and child. It’s love and fear and pain and sorrow and laughter and chaos and pride and heartbreak and worry and joy- all jumbled into one. A word for all of that hasn’t been conceived until now and I’m positive it never will. I know there will come a day when I won’t be the most important woman in your life so for now, I want to breath it all in. I want to spend hours at the beach and watch you ride your bike and come to every single hockey and soccer game. I want to build lego and watch Star Wars and sit still as you explain the rules of all the new games you’re in love with. I want family game nights and pizza parties and you. Just you.

Happy birthday baby Nikolas.

I’m so happy you were born.

Interview with Nikolas (age 9)

I’m going to make a special birthday dinner for you. What would you like?

Salmon with caeser salad and potatoes. I prefer normal potatoes now. 

What is your favorite sport?

Hockey and soccer. Can’t pick mom. 

Favorite book?

Diary of a Wimpy Kid 

Favorite song?

The song on the radio where the guy is talking about Bling? What's the name of that one?

Favorite movie?

Star Wars The Force Awakens

Favourite hockey team? Soccer? Football?

Montreal Canadians, Manchester United, Washington Redskins 

 Favorite ice cream?

Vanilla 

What do love most about your sister?

That she’s funny. She can really make me laugh! 

What do you want to be when you grow up?

A famous hockey player in the winter and a famous soccer player in the summer

 If you were stranded on a dessert island, what 3 things would you want to have with you?

  1. Radio
  2. Water
  3. Food

Number one bedtime snack?

Rice Krispies

Do you want to get married someday? Do you want children?

Sure. I really want kids someday.

What is one word you would use to describe yourself?

Cool

Why do you like being a kid?

Kids don’t have to work as hard as grown ups

What country do you want to visit the most?

Italy because I love pizza and spaghetti with meatballs and Italian desserts!

What are you most afraid of?

Spiders

(shudders)

How tall do you think you are?

Probably 8 feet or so? Let’s measure after we’re done to be sure!

What is your most favorite place on earth?

Home because that’s where my toys are!

Where do you want to live when you grow up?

California because of the nice weather and the beaches.

If you could invent something that would make life easier for people, what would it be?

A robot that would do all the chores for you…so people had more time to do things they liked. Also because I hate cleaning my room.

 Who are your 3 best role models?  

  1. Daddy
  2. P.K Subban
  3. Ronaldo

Name two people who love you the most in this world?

  1. Mommy
  2. Daddy

 (Perfect answer. Because it’s true) 

Wednesday
Jan062016

Vasilopita- A Traditional New Year Cake 

I used to be religious about New Year Resolutions in my younger days. One year, I convinced my entire family to make a list of their personal goals and toss them into a communal box. The plan was to open the box the following New Years Day to see if we stayed  true to our pledge for change.

Talk about depressing.

I stopped believing in the power of resolutions a long time ago when I realized they served no other purpose than to make me feel like a complete failure. I couldn’t go to the gym everyday or refrain from my salty french fry fix or stop biting my nails. And I definitely couldn’t stop fighting with my younger siblings whose sole purpose in life was to take my clothes without asking, listen in on my private telephone conversations and argue with me incessantly until I snapped.

Over the years, I’ve looked at the beginning of a new year as an opportunity rather than a test. And maybe that’s why resolutions don’t have a place in my life anymore. I grew tired of focusing on the things I didn’t like about myself and stared focusing on all the things I really, really loved. In time, that focus turned into an examination of my personal journey.

Who do I want to be?

What kind of life do I want to live?

With every passing year, a new chapter unveils itself. I make mistakes. I pick up the pieces. I experience real joy and by extension, real sorrow. New opportunities present themselves. Obstacles force certain decisions. I learn that I am strong and capable but also fragile and insecure at times. I am a traveler along an unfamiliar road, unsure and yet eager for the opportunities and experiences and memories.

Happy New Year dear friends. I hope you discover new things and meet new people and travel to beautiful places. Embrace everything 2016 has to offer.

No resolutions.

Just dreams.

 

Sunday
Dec272015

two thousand fifteen

Up until now, the weather has been unbelievably mild. On Christmas Day, it was balmy and green and it felt exactly like spring. I snapped a photo of the children by a small spring in the woods without jackets, which has never happened in December before. That was two days ago.

The forecast today called for a pile of snow. I've been watching the fine dusting accumulate for the last few hours. Wrapped in a fluffy cream blanket, sipping herbal tea and watching Netflix by the fire, I’ve spent the day so far in my tethered old Pj’s skimming cookbooks and earmarking all the drool-worthy recipes. Flipping through design magazines and dreaming of all the little projects I want to get tangled in. I’m eating Mr. Noodles out of a small domed box. It’s brothy and peppery and filled with those gummy rehydrated vegetables that remind me of University. Directly to my right is our Christmas tree. I always miss its soft, perfect light when it’s time to bid farewell for another year. Under the tree is a small pile of presents I’ve yet to put away. One of them is a cream lace dress my mother gave me. It came disguised in an old Young Canada box that is flimsy and bendy and torn on one edge. She's kept that box for more than thirty years. Sentimental I guess. There were a lot of Friday nights spent at that store looking at clothes that were much too cool for my ten year old self. Off the shoulder neon sweatshirts and gnarled acid wash jeans and strappy, jeweled tops. My mother would mouth an unmistakable NO while paying for their sensible counterparts and I walked away huffing and puffing.

It’s hard to imagine that in less than a week, a brand new year will begin. And like I do every year around this time, I wait and wonder- not wishing time away, but eager for what lies ahead. My children looked at me the other day when I mentioned all of this…

“You should take more pictures and write more stories.

And more spaghetti!

Oh, and more honey in your tea. It’s not sweet enough.

More sweetness mom!” 

Giggles. Drawings. A mouthful of shortbread cookies. These little faces with hot chocolate moustaches and buttery fingers know what they're talking about. 

Honestly, I can’t think of a more perfect vision for 2016.

My children.

They always know just what I need.

P.S There's no recipe for this easy appetizer board. Arugula and radicchio scattred and drizzled with a mixrure of olive oil, balsamic and dijon. I added bits of blue cheese - That Dutchman's is my favorite, along with prosciutto, pistachios and fresh figs and voila! A really beautiful and tasty starter that you can whip up in minutes. 

Friday
Oct092015

oatmeal with peanut butter + banana 

Dear daughter,

In the weeks leading up to your birth, we experienced a devastating hurricane that left our entire region in a ferocious upheaval. Your father and I tucked into the spare bedroom in the back of the house where the windows were smaller and armed ourselves with candles and flashlights and big burly blankets. Surprisingly, we slept through most of the harsh rain and high winds and were spared the devastation that most of the city experienced. I was mindful of you during my entire pregnancy, but that was the first time I felt truly protective. Thoughts of not being able to get medical attention flooded my mind. I felt worried about your safety. I started plotting alternate routes to the hospital in case fallen trees and power lines prevented us from reaching our destination. More than anything, I prayed you stayed safe and healthy and snuggled next to my heart where I knew you were sheltered and unharmed. That was my very first glimpse into what motherhood would entail. Love of course, but also apprehension. Concern for your well-being. Fretting over seemingly obscure scenarios that would likely never, ever happen.

But what if? It seemed to be the only mantra that made sense for a long time.

In the years since then, you have certainly given me reasons to worry and most of them revolved around my own crazy, fierce love. I look at us now, sometimes not speaking the same language, other times laughing hysterically at jokes only we can appreciate and I feel so thankful for you. For your strong and often convincing opinions on social issues. The way you challenge me and think through, critically and mindfully, valid and often compelling points of rebuttal. The way you sing in that jazzy, throaty, Parisian style of song that is so completely you. The way you validate your brother when he tries to be a part of your beautiful world. The way you love us so completely and authentically. 

I just can’t remember a day when we, weren’t us.

 

Twelfth Birthday Interview with Raphaelia

 What is your favorite song?

Bad Blood by Taylor Swift

What is your favorite book?

Sisters by Raina Telgemeier. I like it because there is a lot of drama! I like drama. In books I mean. Not in real life.

Which kind of music makes you want to sing?

Pop music because it makes my ears happy. I like the tunes!

(breaks into rendition of Bad Blood by T. Swift.) 

What makes you laugh?

My family- the way they describe stories or things that happen 

What sorts of things are important to you?

My family is number one. My friends. My happiness. My family’s happiness. Love. Being loved and feeling loved is important to me. Being a good person. Music. School 

If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?

When someone’s in trouble I would just feel it in me. And I would know exactly how to help them. If it meant flying to get to them faster, that’s what I’d want to be able to do.

If you had three wishes, what would they be?

 1.That I am with my family foreve

 2. That I get “discovered” by an agent

 3. That I get to travel to every single country in the world. Every single one.

What does heaven look like?

Heaven is golden with lots of people that are talking and walking in flower gardens. God would be everywhere.  There are gates and angels and it’s a happy place.

If you could change one law, what would it be?

I’d change the age that people can get a driver’s license. It wouldn’t be an actual age, but based on maturity. Some 14 year olds would be better drivers than some 20 year olds. I think so anyway.

Which five words describe you best – and which five words describe me best?

1. Talented 

2. Girlie 

3. Sensitive 

4. Trustworthy 

5. Funny

If you could travel back in time three years and visit your younger self, what advice would you give yourself?

Don’t try so hard to impress all of those popular kids because you don’t have to try so hard with real friends. Real friendship is not like that. Real friends fight for you, stand up for you and love you no matter what. 

Where is your favorite place in the world?

The cottage because when I go there I have the ocean and my family and I’ll always have those memories. 

If you could grow up to be famous, what would you want to be famous for?

Singer-pianist like Alicia Keyes.

What is one thing you want to learn how to do?

Play the harp. My piano teacher plays the harp and the sound is so relaxing and beautiful.

Who is someone that you miss?

Can I put two people? My grandfathers. They sound so great. I wish I had known them. Can I put that as one of my wishes??

What makes you nervous?

Performing in front of others. Public speeches. I just really want to do a great job and I’m scared I’ll burst out laughing. 

What makes you happy? 

My family. My friends. My life. God

What is the most wonderful thing that ever happened to you?

I have a lot of things. When my brother was born is probably number one.  We fight sometimes but I love him. He's a big part of my lfe.

If you could choose a new name for yourself, what would it be, and why?

Julia. That was my great grandmothers name and I’ve always loved it.

How would you change the world if you could?

World peace. I don’t know how though. I’d ask God to help me.

What do you know how to do that you can teach to others?

Music. Art. How to have good posture.

What is your favorite outfit?

A Blue and black dress that I got from Justice that my grandmother gave me for my 11th birthday. It has a matching belt. I’m not describing it very well but you know the one I mean right mom? It’s nice!

What is the difference between being smart and being wise?

Being smart is being able to understand things. Being wise is taking chances. 

Do you know how much I love you?

Yes. I know you love me.

Yes but do you know how much?

100%?? The most you can love someone.

Yes. Even more