Valentine’s Day Cookies

Sugar CookiesOne of my most treasured, vivid memories from childhood is the smell of baking sugar cookies. My mom would make batches of them for Christmas, Valentine’s, Hallowe’en, or just because. I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect recipe, so that I can replicate this experience for Freyja, so that the smell of love, home and security is sweet, warm and vanilla-y.

I made this for Valentine’s Day, and it was close to perfection.

Sugar Cookies (adapted from Woman’s Day Holiday Cookies magazine, December 2009)

1 cup, butter
1/2 cup, granulated sugar
1/2 cup, icing sugar
1 egg
1 tsp, vanilla extract
1 tsp, baking powder
1 tsp, salt
2 cups, all-purpose flour
1/2 cup, pastry flour

Sugar CookiesPreheat oven to 375F.  Cream butter and sugars together. Beat in egg, vanilla, baking powder and salt. Slowly beat in flour.
This dough can either be rolled into small, 1-inch balls and placed on baking sheet to bake, or chilled for at least an hour before rolling out for cutout cookies.

Unimaginable without him

Welcome to the February Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting Essentials

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared the parenting essentials that they could not live without.
Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

***

The goofy couple, hiking Johnston Canyon in birkenstocks. Typical.For most of our marriage, Marc and I have been alone together. We spent the first 10 years together, living in Toronto, Montreal then Ottawa, being not only spouse, but best friends, playmates, helpmates, psychiatrists, antagonists, team mates, and lovers. Being without any other family, and sometimes without other friends, allowed us (forced us?) to learn to rely only on each other, to need only each other, and to protect and nurture our extremely exclusive club. Perhaps we’ve taken co-dependance to a whole new level, although I prefer to think of it as a true marriage of two souls. We are two limbs on the same body, two peas in the same pod, I’m sure you get it.

As life is constant change, our life did change radically on November 22, 2009. Freyja burst onto the scene and rocked us to our very core. I think for any new parents, the arrival of your child is a profoundly changing experience and we are no different.  Though we’ve had the inevitable spats and bickering, we’ve also become closer. Together, we’ve struggled our way through midwives, doulas, cloth diapers, cuddle wraps and the fourth trimester, co-sleeping, exclusive breastfeeding, babyled weaning and elimination communication. Together, we’ve found our path amidst all the well-intentioned advice and opinions, raising Freyja with gentleness, love and respect. And in turn, my love and respect for Marc has increased infinitely.

There is no way I can imagine my life without Marc. Because of him, I can be the mother I aspire to be, and that must be one of the greatest gifts you can ever receive.

***

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Not Without Him — The love Starr at Taking Time shares with her husband is the foundation of her parenting.
  • I Cannot Imagine Parenting Without B(.)(.)bs — From an uneducated dreamer to a breastfeeding mother of a toddler, nursing has forever changed Kristy at Strings to Things’s relationship with her daughter and her outlook on life.
  • Raising a Child in the Internet Village — When Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction has a question or concern about parenting, she turns to the Internet. What did parents do before Google?
  • Partner in Crime and ParentingBethy at Bounce Me to the Moon can’t imagine parenting without her husband’s sense of humor – he brings her laughter and love every day.)
  • I Make MilkPatti at Jazzy Mama can’t imagine trying to mother her babies without her breasts, but she could do it if she had to.
  • New Perspectives Bring New BeginningsMJ at Wander Wonder Discover, who is a former authoritarian mamma, has gained perspective via parenting.
  • Time Out!Mrs. Green at Little Green Blog explores how time apart can increase your capacity to give unconditionally.
  • Unimaginable Without HimKristina at heyred designs is celebrating her amazing partner, without whom none of her parenting experience would be possible.
  • My Parenting NecessityClaire at The Adventures of Lactating Girl needs “me time” in order to be the Mama she wants to be.
  • Babywearing As a Way of LifeDarcel at The Mahogany Way talks about the benefits of babywearing in everyday life.
  • Parenting Partnership — Sometimes Abbie at Farmer’s Daughter doesn’t appreciate her husband enough, but she definitely couldn’t imagine parenting without his help.
  • Parenting EssentialsMomma Jorje loves her parenting products, but she needs you even more.
  • My Parenting Must-Have: SupportJoella at Fine and Fair wrote a letter to her daughter about the role that support from friends and family plays in her mothering.
  • It’s More Than Just Hair — Think doing hair is full of fluff? Too girly? Useless? Karli from Curly Hairdo Ideas used to think so too.
  • The Minimalist Parent — The parents at Living Peacefully with Children embrace a minimalist perspective when it comes to baby gear. A good sling is all they need.
  • Without My BreastsCharise at I Thought I Knew Mama can’t imagine parenting without her breasts; here’s why.
  • Loves Books, Loves PeopleSeonaid at the Practical Dilettante discovers that the library is a perfect fit for her family’s needs.
  • An Ode to the Maya WrapRevMama’s next child might be named Maya, because of her fondness for the sling.
  • Avoiding the Padded RoomPecky at Benny and Bex is here to testify that it takes a village to raise a child.
  • My parenting essentials, from Tivo to battery-operated monstrositiesLauren at Hobo Mama presents a list of parenting essentials you didn’t even know you needed (and probably don’t…).
  • Attachment Parenting Through Separation: It Makes It a Little BetterJessica at This Is Worthwhile talks about how she couldn’t survive her separation without attachment parenting and the bond it’s afforded her with her 3 year old son.
  • Parenting EssentialsDeb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares the principles she used to parent her children from infants to adults.
  • My Parenting Essentials — The things that are truly essential to Kim at In Desperate Need of Entertainment aren’t things at all.
  • I’m No One Without My Sling — How baby carrying is essential to the parenting of Jessica Claire at Crunchy-Chewy Mama.
  • I Cannot Imagine Parenting Without…Isil at Smiling Like Sunshine talks about what she needs to raise her children.
  • February Carnival of Natural Parenting — Through her experiences over the last five and a half years, Casey at Love What Is has discovered her most important tool for parenting is using her instincts.
  • CNP: I Cannot Imagine Parenting Without __________.The Artsymama discloses the one thing that gave her back control of herself as a parent.
  • Laugh Until I Cry — Laughing with her sons keeps Acacia at Fingerpaint & Superheroes connected and grounded.
  • I Cannot Imagine Parenting WithoutLuschka at Diary of a First Child realizes what the one thing she can’t imagine parenting without is, and it turns out it’s not a thing after all.
  • It Takes Two — Here are a few of the reasons why Jenn at Adventures Down Under cannot imagine parenting without her fabulous husband.
  • Stopping to Listen — Though it wasn’t easy at first, Knocked Up – Knocked Over cannot imagine parenting her daughter without listening first to what she is telling her.
  • The Essence of Parenting — There are many wonderful resources that make life easier for Michelle at the Parent Vortex to parent, but the essence is the relationship between parent and child.
  • What I Cannot Live WithoutSybil at Musings of a Milk Maker considers her computer to be a parenting lifeline.
  • True Blessings: White Noise and GrandparentsKat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment can’t live without her white noise machine and the support of her parents.
  • The Necessities! — What “stuff” does a natural parent like Lily, aka Witch Mom really need? Not much, it turns out.
  • Mama Showed MeMama Mo at Attached at the Nip writes about how parenting wisdom is passed on by example.
  • Ode to the Loo — For Joni Rae at Tales of a Kitchen Witch, the bathroom is her safe place, where she can take a minute to calm down if she is feeling touched out.
  • Go, Mama. Go!Andrea!!! at Ella-Bean & Co. has been able to integrate her many roles through her get-up-and-go parenting essential, exercise!
  • My Other HalfBecky at Old New Legacy realizes what a relief it is to have her husband parent alongside her.
  • Grace, Love, and CoffeeMrsH at Fleeting Moments realizes that lifelines can take the form of the profound, or the mundane. Both are ok.
  • Supportive Spouse, Check! — There are so many parenting tools and gadgets that are superfluous, but the one essential, for Danielle at born.in.japan, has been her supportive spouse.
  • Why I’m a BabywearerMeredith at Becoming Mamas reflects on the ways babywearing has enhanced her mama baby relationship…and made life easier to boot.
  • It’s Marvelous Out Here, Kiddo!Rachael at The Variegated Life can’t imagine parenting in the big city without the marvels of Prospect Park to share with her Critter.
  • Yes, Thank YouAmy at Anktangle offers tips on how to ask for and accept help, an essential for successful parenting.
  • Parenting Essentials Checklist: Mom’s Inner Rebel and Her Kids’ VoicesOlivia at Write About Birth reflects on raising global citizens and saying no to societal norms.
  • Eco-Mama Online! — An Eco-Mama living in the mountains of a nature island, Terri at Child of the Nature Isle finds it essential to connect to nature and to connect online.
  • Sorry, We Just Sold the Last OneNev at The Adventures of Lime confesses she missed out the day they handed out patience.
  • LaughTashmica at The Mother Flippin’ Blog reveals her super power, her talisman agains mean mommy.
  • My Priceless Parenting Resource — What do books, a magazine community, my mother and the local playgroup have in common? Lucy at Dreaming Aloud tells us…
  • The Gift of Shared TimeTree at Mom Grooves strives to experience the world from her daughter’s perspective.
  • Follow the GigglesDionna at Code Name: Mama can’t live without the sound of her child’s giggles – come watch her video and you’ll agree!
  • Can I Mommy Without Boob?Emily at Crunchy(ish) Mama shares her fears about weaning and losing part of that the mother/child bond.

Recovery

The author, not at her best So, we are back from France. The trip was both wonderful and awful, as these things go. Wonderful to see family and friends, to be in Paris, eating amazing delicious food. Awful as the last 5 days were spent in an increasing haze of sickness. Awful too, to leave not knowing when we will be back. Post-toddlerhood is my guess.

Freyja was an amazing little viking on the way there and back. She coped with the Air France shuttle from Ottawa to Montreal with grace and excitement – banging on the glass and enjoying the sites. She took the airport in stride, and slept most of the way to France. I would like to think that the foundation we laid with attachment parenting helped, even just a little. Marc and I took turns walking her around the airport, where she flirted with all with smiles and dimples and the odd giggle. For the flight, she was asleep as the wheels of the plane left Canadian soil, and didn’t wake until we were entering French airspace. Thank you, breastfeeding and sleepy-booby hormones.

The time in France was less eventful than usual, as we were snowed in for most of the first week. It worked out as we were run off our feet chasing after Freyja. She decided the time was right for walking, and off she went. By the second week, I began to head downhill at an increasingly congested, feverish, achy pace. Thankfully France is the motherland of medication, and medicated I quickly was.

The trip home was less enjoyable, being sick, dealing with a wide-awake toddler who wanted to walk-Walk-WALK (now, Now, NOW!), and being accompanied by a large group of Russian tweens and their parents. It was charming until we got on the Air France shuttle from Montreal to Ottawa. First, to have our normally deserted bus packed. Second, to have our normally deserted bus packed with wound-up, shouting, laughing ten-year-old boys, shouting and laughing while we tried to get an hour of sleep. Thankfully Freyja slept through it all and didn’t have to witness the murderous intent in her parents’ eyes.

And now home. Thankfully. The next morning, I got up and humped down to the walk-in clinic, where Freyja once again proved what a trooper she is, charming to boot. The prognosis: a flu, with secondary infections in eyes, ears, sinus and throat. As my doctor put it, with a twinkle in his eyes, my warrantee has apparently expired. As my mom would’ve put it, with a twinkle in her eyes, off to the glue factory for me.

And so now, heavily medicated with a variety of antibiotics – and heavily self-medicating with as much yogurt as I can stomach – things are returning to normal. I can breath, no longer have a “man-voice” as my beloved called it, and hopefully will no longer frighten small children with my 28 Days Later-inspired eyes.

And so now, we can begin to get on with the business of 2011. All in good health, hearty and hale, I hope!

Year One

She’s now one year and 2 hours old. Unbelievable. And yet, I do believe it because there she is before me, drunk on mother’s milk and fast asleep. Peaceful, safe, with dimples that swim across her chubby cheeks as she dreams. So unlike Day One – a story for another night – but yet, here we are.

The three of us have survived failure to progress, frantic drives to the hospital, midwives, doulas, dogs, and anesthesiologists, tongue ties, learning to breastfeed, diaper rash, incisions, in-laws, too much sleep, too little sleep, no sleep and co-sleeping. We’ve survived car seats and snowsuits and snowstorms and strollers, too much gear, too little gear, geyser-like oversupply, cuddly wraps, mei tais, ergos, and aching arms. Burping, bleeding, explosive poo, fountains of pee, tears, endless crying and hours of bouncing-rocking-bopping-driving-rocking-walking. Sitting, rolling, crawling, cruising and tentative tantrums. Heartache and hiccups, and so much laughter.

So much laughter, and so much joy. And so, so much more.

Happy birthday, Freyja min.

Almost

Freyja's birthday cake, with lit candlesAlthough we celebrated today, tomorrow is Freyja’s first birthday. I am having trouble reshaping my self-image to encompass a toddler – being a mother in and of itself is still a surprising development.

The changes are all so gradual, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly when they happened. There’s no one moment that can be identified, examined. There’s just a progression of greater and greater feats of dexterity, prowess, bravery, daring, adventure. And each is a stepping stone to the next, in retrospect.

And yet, I am not regretful for those earlier days. They are treasures, and always will be, but each new moment is unbelievable. Each new evolution is a gift, a new facet of Freyja. She herself is a treasure.

Birthday cake recipe adapted from Vegetarian Time’s Glazed Chocolate-Avocado Cupcakes.

1 1/2 cups, cake and pastry flour
3/4 cup, hot chocolate mix (Camino Milk Chocolate, in this case)
1 tsp., baking powder
3/4 tsp., baking soda
1/2 tsp., salt
1 avocado, pitted and peeled
1 cup, pure maple syrup
3/4 cup, plain or vanilla soy milk
1/3 cup, olive oil
2 tsp., vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare baking dishes, either muffin tins or cake pans. In large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. Puree avocado in food processor, then add maple syrup, soy milk, oil and vanilla until creamy. Whisk avocado mixture into flour mixture until smooth.  Spoon mixture into either muffin tins or cake pans. Bake 25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean. Remove from oven, allow to cool fully before icing.