I got you

When Poppy is upset or sad or hurt or tired, she clings to me and mutters "I got you, I got you, I got you" in my ear. It's one of those things that makes me feel like I'm doing some of this parenting stuff sort of okay. I've done my best to not shush my babies when they're upset. I don't say "you're okay" or "you're fine," I say "I'm here" and "I've got you." And now Poppy knows when she needs someone or something, she's got me. She's got all of us. It's so good for my mama heart to hear Grady comfort her in the same way. "I've got you, Poppy Doodle," he says as he pats her back. "I got you, Grady Bug," she replies.

If you asked me to, I could list a hundred things I do wrong off the top of my head. Like, without taking a breath. I can describe Mount Laundry in great detail. I can list the number of times I've lost my cool and used my snippy snappy voice when my kids / husband / dog / life didn't do what I wanted exactly how I wanted. I can tell you about the pink slime growing in my bathroom sink, the processed crap I ate for lunch instead of green vegetables, the shameful state of my inbox, the weird buzzing noise my fridge is making that I'm choosing to ignore rather than investigate / fix, and on and on and on. 

But what will that accomplish? Will telling you how terrible I am make you feel better? Probably not. Will telling you how terrible I am make me feel better? Definitely not. I'm not saying we have to be all positive all the time. I'm not saying we should tamp down our struggles and grit our teeth and smile. I'm saying instead of choosing to be self-deprecating, instead of highlighting the many ways I get it wrong on a daily basis, I want to tell you what I'm doing right. Not because I think it makes me better than anybody else. Not because I think this one win means I'm doing it all right all the time. I want to tell you what I'm doing right -- right now -- because it makes me feel good, and because I hope it encourages you to tell me what you're doing right. I got you. 

Spicy Oatmeal Cookies

These cookies do not make any sense. Let's start with the name: Spicy Oatmeal Cookies. Spicy, to me, means hot like a chili pepper. These cookies are not hot like a chili pepper. They're spiced. They contain nutmeg and cloves and taste a little bit like autumn. But they're not spicy. They don't even contain cinnamon, which I would consider the "spiciest" oatmeal cookie spice, you know? Next, they contain no chocolate. None. No cocoa powder, no chocolate chips, nary a chocolate chunk in sight. What even is the point? Also, these are crunchy cookies. I definitely prefer to stay in the land of ooey, gooey, chewy cookies.  Finally, the most egregious abuses of baked goods: they contain nuts. Not almonds or pecans, the less offensive of the nut world. Walnuts. The worst. 

And yet, when my sister texted me a picture of the recipe card where she recorded Mom's Spicy Oatmeal Cookies we remember so fondly from childhood, I couldn't wait to get baking. The only substitution I made was to use butter in place of shortening; the rest I kept exactly how my mom used to make when we were kids. And they are perfection. Grady won't eat them because of all the bits, Poppy can't eat them because she's allergic, and Shawn just looks confused whenever he bites into one and realizes all over again that these are non-chocolate cookies, but I don't care. They are exactly how I remember them.

A quick note: you might be tempted to skip the almond extract because it seems a bit fuss-ass to have both vanilla and almond extract but please, for the sake of your cookies, resist. Use both and revel in the tastiness. 

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Ingredients

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
7/8 cup all-purpose flour (whaaaaat? I know. I just used my one cup measure and scooped out a heaping tablespoon. Old recipes are weird.)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup medium shred, unsweetened coconut
1 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Directions

Preheat oven to 375-degrees.

Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Beat butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add egg, vanilla, and almond extract and beat until combined.

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cloves. 

Blend dry ingredients into butter mixture just until combined.

Add coconut, oatmeal, and walnuts.

Form dough into small balls. Flatten slightly. Place on baking sheet spaced approximately 1.5 inches apart.

Bake 12 - 14 minutes until lightly golden.

Enjoy! 

Makes approximately 3 dozen cookies. 

Raised Right

Yesterday was a difficult day. Not a terrible day. Nothing in particular happened to make it a bad day. It was just challenging.  

When I realized at 5pm that we were completely out of dog food and we'd have to head back out into the heat, I almost cried. Shawn's out of town for work (lucky butt) so I couldn't ring him and ask him to pick up Wolfgang's food on the way home from the office. I had to be a damn grownup and go to the pet store. 

Grady had already changed into his pyjamas and didn't want to change back into clothes, and I'd reached the level of "do whatever you want as long as it's safe" survival mode. Grady went to the pet store wearing glow-in-the-dark skeleton pyjamas is what I'm saying. Oh, and a Santa hat. Because flair. 

We got to the pet store and the guy working did a double take as we walked through the door. Grady looked amazing, obviously, and I was a hot mess express hoisting Poppy's car seat in one arm and trying not to drop my wallet, keys, or phone with the other.  

The guy was young. Maybe early twenties. And he was alone. He could have stayed behind the counter and rung up our bag of dog food and I would not have complained. He would have done his job and we would have gone on our merry way. But he did not stay behind the counter. He jumped up when he saw us struggle. He complimented Grady's outfit. He helped us find our specific brand and flavour of dog food. He carried it to the counter for me, and after we paid, he carried it out to my car. He was kind and went way above and beyond what you'd expect from the dude who works at the local pet store. And he didn't have to! There was no manager there, watching him to make sure he treated the customers exceptionally well. There were no young gals there who would be impressed by the cute pet store clerk who was nice to the crazy suburban mom with the quirky kid and screamy baby. He had no audience but he was still kind and helpful. 

I want to find out who his parents are and make them teach me their ways.  

My Oldest Friend

I met my oldest friend when we were seven years old. Her family moved to BC from another province and as fate would have it, her house was just down the street from mine. She was in my second grade class and that, combined with the proximity of our homes, was enough to make us best friends. Life is so much easier when you're a kid.

We've been through a lot together. We lived in different cities. Different countries. On different continents. We've been through love and loss and tragic haircuts together. We've cursed idiot bosses and lamented oblivious crushes together. We've danced and sung "Sweet Caroline" and stumbled home from bars together. She was with me the night I met Shawn. She held my hand at our wedding. She is the person who, apart from my family, has known me the longest. She is my chosen family. She is one of my heart people.

My oldest friend recently had her life turned upside down. Her life's trajectory, her goals, her hopes and dreams all changed in one brutal instant. My oldest friend is an ass-kicker. She's a doer. She's efficient and methodical and one of the smartest people I know. But right now she's hurting. Watching her mourn and not be able to do anything but hold her hand and tell her I love her has been the hardest thing. I know that she's stronger than she knows. She's resilient. I know a little something about living life and all of a sudden having to do a Ross Geller "PIVOT!". I know that with time, she will build herself into an even tougher, even smarter, more tenacious lady. I know she's got this, even though it doesn't feel like it right now.

Today is my oldest friend's birthday. She should be celebrating. She should be on a patio somewhere, enjoying the sun and a glass of something bubbly. She shouldn't be hurting. So today, on my oldest friend's birthday, I want to ask the universe for a little magic. I wish for strength and peace and fortitude and a little sparkle for my oldest friend.

Lady, things have been terrible. Unimaginably so. But they won't be terrible forever. I promise. I love you and I wish you a happy birthday and a happier year to come, my oldest friend.

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