More Happy Headlines

In my last post, Making Our Own Headlines, I wrote about the idea of writing our own headlines for each day, focussing on the little things that matter to us and bring us joy, rather than all the huge world news and depressing statistics. If we can each find more beauty in our days, and be grateful for it, we can bring more hope to the world.

So here are a few more of my “happy headlines.” I hope they inspire you to notice many joyful moments in your own day, and if it’s a harder one for you today, here’s sending you a giant hug, and wishes for a better tomorrow! 🥰

Bees Keep Buzzing, Blissfully Ignoring World Pandemic

There’s hardly ever I time I go into the garden without being inspired by its wild and hopeful beauty. Just keep planting seeds…and so much life keeps springing up. It always gives me hope especially as a parent, that if I keep on loving and learning with my kids, they’ll blossom in ways beyond what I can imagine.

Tired Mom Receives Home Spa Treatment from Tiny Masseuse

I was trying to put this little beastie to bed, but she decided I needed a little love first, and slathered my arm with lavender cream from Lush instead, all the while sticking out her little pink tongue in concentration.

Summer Brings More Family Time For Fancy Baking

My eldest daughter learned this recipe at a girls club; it was really fun to try it out together, and fairly simple for such a fancy looking result. I really want all my kids to be empowered in the kitchen, and to know how to take care of themselves. It’s good for them to learn to cook, and it’s a lot of fun for me not to be the lonely only chef! I really like the extra time we have to do things like this together in the summer. It’s the stuff of memories, and when they’re older, and cook for themselves, they’ll be able to recreate the taste of home.

Mother and Daughter Bring Joy to Neighbour by Sharing Home Baking

My 8 year old and I had such fun baking these mini-apple pies in muffin tins and weaving tops for them. When they were hot and ready, we brought one to our friend next door, who is a recent widow, along with flowers from our garden. She was touched to be pampered in this way, and is constantly showering my kids with yummy snacks as well. We have basically adopted each other, and our Tupperware goes back and forth over the fence filled with little sweet signs of love. “Never return Tupperware empty,” her mother told her. We are both so much enriched by this exchange, especially in these isolated times. My littlest kids love to chat with her from our back porch to hers, and feel that despite everything right now, the world is still a friendly sort of place.

Save-On-Foods Grocery Delivery Service Saves the Day for Car-less Family

Yes, I really do think the save-on drivers, and the people who work night shift to shop all night for morning deliveries, are super heroes! My kids get so excited when they come to drop off the groceries, and they almost always have a kind word for the kids, who like to help carry them to the kitchen to put away. As I have seven kids and no car, you can see why I think the save-on trucks should have capes flying off them!

Well, I realize many of my happy headlines have to do with food…I guess feeding people is my love language, and stocked cupboards make me feel safe. I am so lucky to be able to take such good care of the kids in this way, while my hardworking accountant husband slogs away to earn our daily bread. Thanks, honey.

Making Our Own Headlines

My mom sent me this lovely little story from Facebook recently, and then my mother-in-law called to read me the same thing. I thought it captured both the stress and hope of these difficult times beautifully.

I found it really inspiring. As we each write the story of our own lives, it makes sense to write our headlines, too…so we can focus on the things that matter to us and make our days meaningful. So here are a few headlines of my own:

Toddler takes walk and is delighted by flowers, hugs a rose.

Proud kids learn to make sushi at home: take that, take-out!

Neighbours share bread and laughter over their fence, feel less alone.

Baby with dangerous condition born safely and survives operation, parents rejoice.

Woman reconnects with dear friend after 3 months, makes her day.

Family transforms ugly concrete backyard into beautiful courtyard garden using old furniture and garden pots given by their neighbour.

What beautiful story are you writing with your life today?

To think of one thing you are grateful for is enough, but feel most welcome to share one of your life’s headlines in the comments below!

Ballad of the Pirate Bard

I am a pirate and I do not sleep!

I thief night jewels for me to keep.

My Lady with her treasures bold

is generous when the wee hours wax old.

The words upon her golden tongue

are by the midnight spirits sung.

I catch the songs in my jolly heart,

then bursting full I do depart,

‘n sail away to the break of day

to spread her tales far and away!

I am a pirate and I do not sleep,

my treasure is the tears you weep,

my prize is the laughter in your eyes,

for Insomnia’s bedfellow is a pirate wise.

🌴This silly song was brought to you care of
sleep deprivation and my pirate pjs! 🌴

Back-Alley Beauty

In this time

when my heart is breaking

from so much pain in the world

I’ve been choking on silence

not knowing what to say

I felt that it was a time

for only words weighty with wisdom

words of solemn importance

and sorrow

But maybe in this time

when my heart is breaking

from so much pain in the world

it is precisely the time

to celebrate every bit of happiness

the day affords

To rejoice in each little buttercup

and bouquet of back-alley beauty

my children clutch in eager hands

and bring me while I cook dinner

And to wish and pray

with all my strength

many such simple pleasures

and calm moments of sweetness

upon each precious person

who walks the face of this earth

Angelic Delivery

Bread, milk, fruit, eggs,

a family puzzle we stayed up till 11pm one night doing,

a stuffed animal for my toddler,

a sewing project for my 8 year old,

a kind word of encouragement,

a witty joke,

a reference to literature

a story from across the world

a promise to pray:

these are the things my friend of 14 years,

Sister Angela, has brought to my door

when she’s stopped by some evenings around 8 pm,

after a busy day of caring for migrants and the poor,

to leave groceries and an unassuming smile.

“It’s exactly what we needed!” I exclaim.

“God knew,” she answers with quiet confidence…

my angel, my messenger,

bearing so many little tokens

of God’s love.

Quarantine Self-Care: In the Toilet!

I have a special button my sister gave me once; it says, “Mom Off Duty.” She gave it to me as a suggestion, rather than a joke, cause she knows I’m not the best at taking time to recharge my batteries. This morning I found the button in the toilet. Yes, actually in it–and that pretty much sums up how my self-care is at the moment.

I’m sure this is the case for many people…working long hours from home while parenting and homeschooling, or braving the front lines in the hospitals. I loved this image my mom sent me, because it’s so fitting. Real life superheroes walk the halls of every hospital right now! Thank you brave nurses and doctors and all health careworkers!

IMG_6856.JPG

There are so many heroes right now…but even Wonder Woman needs a bathroom break (alone!), or a shower, a quiet walk, or a few minutes for a favourite hobby to restore her weary soul a bit. These moments have been scarce for me, as I homeschool my seven kids and try to make magic from what remains of rice and dried in beans the cupboard until our next grocery order comes. The other day, for example, since we were out of bread and milk, we had homemade peanut butter chocolate chip cookies and fishy crackers for breakfast, not that the kids objected much to that!

Anyway, as I’m not the queen of mamma self-care, I’m going to share a few ideas friends of mine have mentioned doing. Please comment and share your tips, too!

  1. Going for a quiet walk alone, and calling a friend to catch up.
  2. Having a daily time set aside to practice music alone, behind a locked door, without interruption “unless anyone’s eyeballs are bleeding!”
  3. Dates at home, while the kids babysit each other in another room. Snacks and a movie with your spouse, without your littlest kids climbing all over and talking the whole time.
  4. Walks with your spouse…if you’re lucky enough to have kids old enough to babysit that is. Some friends of mine in Saskatchewan even braved the rather chilly park for a lunch date!
  5. Visiting friends over Zoom, FaceTime or Skype, to have a laugh together and feel less alone. My friend Monique had a knitting date over Zoom, and I’m planning a writing one with my writer buddy Lisa Rumple, who bravely blogs about her mental health journey at The Resilient Catholic.
  6. Taking a class online to feed your mind and grow.
  7. Exercising. As a family, we like to do the daily workout with the Body Coach, Joe Wicks, on YouTube. He is funny and accessible, and requires no equipment for his 20 minute workout (30 minutes when you include the breaks). Even our toddler joins in, and likes doing jumping jacks, or as they call them in England “star jumps.” It helps that every Friday is Fancy Friday dress up day!

I think all these are great ideas to help release the pressure that builds up from being “on” 24/7. Sometimes it feels very spoiled to talk about being stressed right now, when some people are in situations that are so much more devastating. As my friend Laura asked, “When have people endured epidemic isolation from a place of such luxury and connection?”

While we are indeed so lucky to be able to connect with others from the safely of our homes, it also means that we are more aware of the suffering of others all around the world. This collective stress affects us all; I don’t see the use in pretending it doesn’t.

So we need to find ways of releasing that stress, so it doesn’t silently build up like the little bricks in Tetris, until they are almost at the top of the screen and falling faster by the minute. If like in the game, we can find ways to organize all the little bricks that cause anxiety into little rows, plugging in the empty spots, they can disappear and leave us more breathing room. It’s not that we won’t have more stress factors coming our way, but if we can acknowledge them and fit them into our life, maybe we can rob them of some of their destructive power.

Right now, some of the strange things like working and schooling from home, not being able to visit friends, travel freely or go out as a family to socialize are the new normal. It takes energy to readjust; we are mourning the loss of the innocence of a world where people didn’t hesitate to shake hands with strangers or hug a friend who stopped by.

So whatever your situation right now, however much you feel affected by this pandemic, I encourage you to be gentle with yourself. Treat yourself with kindness, as well as others. Don’t drown in your to do lists. Try to pause and savour the little good things that happen each day. Pray for the grace to endure this storm, and to grow better from it, but little by little. Don’t be harsh with yourself.

And if it helps, and you’ve got insomnia, too, eat pumpkin pie ice cream at midnight, like me.

Big love to everyone!

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    Misadventures in Housekeeping, Part 2: Magical Hummus Goes “Poof!”

    Lately, I’ve been trying to be resourceful about using up the food at the back of the cupboard, since our grocery delivery service is so busy they can usually only make it once every two weeks, and we are trying to avoid going out as much as possible. If our pretending we live in our little house in the big woods, and making homemade bread instead of running to get some can, help less people get sick, then we are going to do it.

    So, even though we actually live in a big house in the city, with seven kids instead of three, I’ve been trying to find my inner “Ma Ingalls,” because she could make do with almost no stores and make everything from scratch. With varying results–my attempts that is! The most explosive result, so far, came from making homemade hummus.

    If you know my husband at all, you will know he is a hummus connoisseur. Yes, that’s actually a thing. Having been to Israel, and tasted the real deal, he is pretty hard to impress. Not that he won’t eat store-bought or homemade hummus quite cheerfully, but he will often make reference to the truly amazing hummus he had in the Middle East. Probably it’s partly just nostalgia. Doesn’t everything taste better overseas?

    However, like the rebellious obliger that I am, I felt two things:

    1. A challenge to create a really great hummus at home, so it’s not always just “alright.”

    2. The pressure to make it good enough to compete with holiday memory hummus.

    Kinda silly the whole thing. In any case, all we had was dried chick peas, so I soaked them over night. Then, I followed the instructions for “Magical Hummus” from my husband’s Israeli cookbook step by step. Mostly. Ish. After rinsing off the soaked chickpeas, I was supposed to cook them in a pot with baking soda for 40 minutes or so, until super soft and soupy, all the while skimming off the foam bubbles in the top.

    I don’t have time for that; I’ll just do it in my instant pot.

    Famous last words. Normally, I absolutely love my instant pot. It’s so handy! You can whip up dinner all in one pot in less an half an hour, even if things are frozen, and it comes out tender and delicious. It’s the closest thing to having another woman in the kitchen without polygamy.

    But! I shouldn’t have ignored the instructions about scooping off the foam…and when I flicked open the pressure release valve to let the steam out after cooking the chickpeas for 25 minutes, out came sputtering hot and foul smelling yellow scum!! Aaaagggghhh!!

    I had to throw a towel over the pot to close the pressure valve without getting burned by my hissing, volcanic pot. After wiping chick pea scum off the cupboards and floor, and letting the pressure release naturally, which is what I should have done, I opened the lid to see a mass of bubbly, frothy soupy greyish chick peas, and to smell…. awfulness!!

    Mom, what’s that gross smell?! Eeewww!! Are you making fart soup??

    The house did indeed smell like one giant diaper; the kids weren’t even exaggerating. So I went around laughing like an idiot and opening all the windows and doors and putting the fans on. My poor neighbours!!

    That Eastland family, what are they up to now?

    I thought this attempt at homemakerliness was going to be a total fail, but here’s the suprising part: after I partly drained, then blended the chick peas with lots of tahini, some lemon, garlic, and salt, it turned out great! Except quite a bit too salty…as I was worrying about masking the imagined awful taste…but after I added some water, more lemon and olive oil, it was lovely. And it made a great dressing for homemade falafel, the next day, which surprisingly, turned out just fine, and even satisfied my Middle Eastern loving hubby.

    All’s well that ends well. Sometimes it just really stinks along the way!