Welcome! I'm Cookie's Mom. You can learn all about Cookie and why I blog here: About Cookie's Chronicles. If you're new here, you may want to SUBSCRIBE TO MY RSS FEED. Thanks for stopping by! Pull up a beach chair and be my guest, won't you?

Monday, February 28, 2011

February Poll Results: Do you take time for yourself each day?

Here are the results of our February Poll:

A. Does dressing and feeding myself count? (No!)
B. The bathroom door has a lock on it. That's as close as it gets. (Sounds like you could use a little more 'me' time.)
C. I try to find at least half an hour to read, sip some tea, or watch my favourite show. (Now we're getting somewhere!)
D. I get to do things I enjoy at least one to two hours each day. (You're livin' the dream!)
It's great to see that such a large number (88%) of us are making time for ourselves! Taking time for ourselves is important to our well-being. We need time to recharge, if we're going to do the best job we can, whatever our job is. Nowhere is "me" time more important than when you work at home. Whether you work outside of the home and then come home to work, or stay at home to work, finding time for yourself is tricky when there are constant demands on your time. Parents become aware of this challenge early on. We want the best for our kids, and our selves often suffer.

The trouble is, if we do not take time for ourselves - if we don't recharge our batteries - we have less energy available for our kids. We're not doing the most efficient job we can, if we're burned out. There's another problem too. Our children take their cues from us. If we don't make time for ourselves, then they won't learn to do so either. It's important for kids to learn that caring for others and being with others is healthy, and that caring for themselves is just as important.

Even a half hour per day spent solely on something you enjoy can be rejuvenating. If you're thinking, I have no time to make time for myself, you're not alone. But there are ways to find, borrow or steal extra time. When you do find this time, resist using it to 'get something done'. The laundry can wait, but your sanity can not!
Get up a half hour earlier. If your a parent, get up before the kids. Yes, some days that seems impossible. The little dears seem to sense our need for time to ourselves, and wake up earlier and earlier. Stay the course!

Take time as soon as the kids are in bed or your work is done for the day. If you have a tendency to work until you drop, set an end-of-day time limit, say 9:00, and stop working then.

Use the lunch hour at work if you work outside of the home, just a half hour of it. Take a walk, window shop, read a book in a sunny window, have lunch with a supportive friend, do what it takes to recharge.

If you have young children, use the first half hour of nap time to do something just for you. Use the rest of nap time to do the laundry. If your young children are at home with you and are no longer napping (sigh), try to maintain a quiet time every day and use part of this time to recharge.
Here are some "me-time" ideas to inspire you:
Take a warm bath or luxurious hot shower.
Do some writing, reading, painting, beading - whatever brings you joy or peace or whatever you call that "ahhh" feeling you get from being creative.
Go out with yourself. What have you always wanted to do that you can't convince hubby or other friends to do? Do it anyway!
Meet a friend for a coffee. 
Care to share your "me-time" ideas? How do you make time for yourself?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

It's Sunday: Drink Your Greens!

Good morning! How is everyone feeling today? Anyone up late last night? Perchance, were any cocktails involved? Feeling a little sluggish? Well, I have just the thing to kick start your Sunday. It's a green juice, and it actually tastes very good. If you feel or look at all green yourself, you may want someone else to make this and then put it in an opaque glass for you. It is, afterall, green. Trust me though, it's yummy. It will cure what ails you, and give you an energy boost.

You'll need a juicer. You can make a smoothie instead using a blender, but the consistency will be different, and you'll probably want to add some ice.

This recipe is modified slightly from one my naturopath gave to me. She called hers "Green Lemonade".
3 or 4 leaves Kale
1/3 head Romaine Lettuce
1/2 Lemon
2 medium Apples
1 inch piece of Ginger, peeled
3 or 4 Celery Stalks
Wash everything. Cut items only if necessary to fit into juicer. A decent juicer will handle the apples whole without you having to peel or seed them. If you have a variable speed juicer, all the better. Juice the leafy greens on low, the 1/2 lemon on medium, and the rest on high. This will make about 2-3 cups. Serve and exclaim, "Oh, that looks disgusting yet is wonderfully delicious!"

You can drink this juice every day, though for maximum benefit you'll want to vary your greens, particularly your leafy greens. Try chard, spinach or other leafy greens, and substitute cucumber or green melon for the celery.

If you can only manage to make this once per week, save it for the day after your most exhausting day. It will help to cleanse and recharge your body.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Cookie's Knitted Kindle Cozy

I received my Kindle this past Christmas and started looking for a suitable cover. I needed to protect my new "baby". I couldn't find anything that I really liked that wasn't going to cost a small fortune coming from the US to Canada. So, I found a knitted e-reader cover and adapted it for my Kindle, added a strap and voila: A Kindle cover that is also a cross-body purse. There's enough room in here for a pad of paper and a pen, and the adapter for my Kindle. I can also fit a change purse in it. A slim phone would fit, and I've carried my mp3 player in it also.

If you're interested in making a cover/purse like mine, please click here for the free pattern.

There's Always Therapy

We all make mistakes, all of our lives. It's one of the few things we can never outgrow; our fallibility, our humanity. The task of parenting, being at least a half-life-long adventure, is bound to present lots of opportunities for error. When Jack was born, a good friend gave me a magnet that contained all of the wisdom I really needed to do my job as a parent:
Retrieved February 25, 2011 from http://shop.olivemyfavoritethings.com/MA0220-MA0220.htm

Boy, did that take the pressure off. I'm not, of course, suggesting that this became my operating principle - I didn't set out to mess up my child, just the opposite - but I knew that if ever Jack and I had a bad day it wouldn't be the end of the world. It also reminds me, each time I look at it, not to take myself or this job too seriously.

Parenting is arguably the hardest job there is. I'm not sure I would have believed it before having children, but I believe it now. The reason it's so tough may be that we are more attached to the outcome than with any other job. These are people's lives we are in charge of; our people's lives! We feel like if they don't turn out okay it's entirely our fault, and the rest of the universe will suffer for our mistakes. It's our responsibility alone to turn out a multi-talented, socially-conscious member of society.

No wonder parents are under such stress, and no wonder humour is often the best medicine. There's no more admirable enterprise than parenting, done to the best of one's ability. And when we fall short.... well... there's always therapy!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Now that's crisp!

It was -38 °C with the windchill when I got up this morning. For my American friends, that's -36.4 °F, almost at the point where our temperature scale numbers match (-40 °C = -40 °F). In other words, it was really #%*&ing cold outside. Luckily, it's warmed all the way up to -35 °C with the windchill.

We're staying home today. Jack is sick. Yes, again, or still. I'm not sure which. The school has a pretty strict policy about keeping kids away if they have stuff running from places where it shouldn't, which is interesting considering that the school is probably the place where he got sick in the first place. Our precious little germ carriers. Where would we be without them? Actually... let's not go there just now.

Instead, I'd like to share my favourite home remedy with you all.
Cookie's Hot Cold Drink (it's the best I can come up with today - I'm entertaining suggestions for a new name):
  • heat water to just boiling (that's about 85 °C here due to our higher elevation)
  • put 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar and 1 Tablespoon good quality honey in a glass
  • pour about 1/2 cup of hot water over honey/cider mixture to melt
  • add freshly squeezed orange juice from 1 orange
  • test to make sure it's not too hot and serve
NOTE: Apple cider vinegar helps control cold symptoms such as a runny nose and watery eyes. This small amount won't be noticed by your little one.
March 4, 2011-Edited to add: Honey provides relief to a sore throat. It also helps to loosen phlegm and move it up the throat and out of the body. I have not tried it yet, but some people claim that Manuka honey is the best as it has strong anti-bacterial properties. See benefits-of-honey.com for more information about honey's many healing properties. NOTE: Do not give honey to children under the age of one (some say 18 months). There is a small risk of botulism, a very serious illness that can cause paralysis, since some honeys contain trace amounts of botulinum spores.
I'd love to hear your home remedies too.

Keep well! I'm going to go turn up the heat and pretend I live someplace more hospitable. Someplace where rabbits don't freeze in mid-sprint.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Mean Guys Squish Things

The other morning, after recently watching A Bug's Life, my son declared, "You know, mommy, mean guys squish things." In the movie, there's a "mean guy" named Hopper who tries to squish the protagonist, Flick. I can only assume that's what he's referring to. I thought about how to respond to this.

Suppose I wanted to address the message contained in this statement. Where to start... "Well, Jack, there are no mean guys, but guys sometimes do mean things. Hopper is very hungry, and lazy, and he's trying to get the ants to do the work of gathering food for him. He's bigger than the ants, and he's trying to bully them into giving him their food by scaring them and threatening to squish them. Bullying is not nice, and you can see that Hopper has no friends because of it. The other bugs are afraid of him, but no one really likes him very much."

Now, suppose I wanted something less complicated. Something like...... "Yep." Simple. Concise. I don't need to think about it anymore. In fact, I don't even need to have heard the question to use it. "Yep", works even when my brain doesn't.

Guess which one I went with? It might help to know that it was 7:05 at the time and I was still wiping the sleep dust from my eyes.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I Spy

One of our favourite don't-let-him-fall-asleep-in-the-car games to play these days is I Spy. If you're not familiar with the game, well you probably aren't reading my parenthood-inspired ramblings in the first place, but I'll cover the basics anyway. The spy gives clues as to what s/he sees and the guesser, you guessed it, guesses what the spy is seeing. The spy must use the phrase "I spy with my little eye," but I have no clue as to why this is. It's tradition - we'll go with that.

Spyer: "I spy with my little eye something that is.........(long pause for effect)....... green."
Guesser: "That road sign there," or "That car beside us," or "This stuff coming out of my nose." (Have I mentioned boys are sometimes gross? Oh, yes I have. See Everyone Should Grow Up and Have a Boy.)
You get the idea.

Adapted rules for our particular family's needs and preferences are as follows:
1. Mom and dad are always the spies, and Jack is always the guesser.
2. If one clue is not enough, just keep throwing them out there until the guesser guesses correctly, or prepare to be accused of offering "a bad spy." Even then there's no guarantee.

Our son is still in a car seat, and these days bundled in a hooded jacket, so his peripheral vision is not stellar. Anything we spy while driving will soon be out of view to him. There is a very limited amount of time in which to guess what we see.

Thus our en route I Spy rounds go something like this:

Spy (e.g. mommy): I spy with my little eye.................... something that is red................. and rectangular shaped.............. and high above the road........... with a picture of an Eagle and some words on it........ and it's coming up on your right... (running out of time) and it’s a sign.
Guesser (Jack): It’s that sign, mommy!!
Mommy: YES!!! Good guess, Jack!
Jack: That took a long time to guess. That wasn't a very good spy mommy. Try another one.

And so it goes. Mom and dad continue spying different things - not an easy task in a grey and white winter landscape - and Jack evaluates us based on some set of factors known only to him. It's good fun... for a while.... until we wish we had just let him sleep. 

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Banana and the Orange

Once there was a banana in a bandana; the meanest, baddest banana in the West. The banana met an orange and before long they were wed. The banana gave a bandana to the orange on their anniversary. "Why would an orange need a bandana," asked the orange of the banana? "That's just silly. In fact, you look ridiculous in that thing. Here, try a sombrero." The banana tried the sombrero, but he couldn't get it to stay on his head. It kept slipping over his eyes and making him trip. Well, have you ever seen a banana trip on itself? There's no greater embarrassment to a banana. He'd lost his mojo. The sombrero had to go. The banana couldn't be his true self - the meanest, baddest banana in the West - without his beloved bandana. And since the orange could not accept him for who he was, the banana left the orange and her sombrero and rode off into the sunset. Mean. Bad. Banana in a bandana.

Once there was an orange who liked sombreros. One day the orange met a fancy banana in a bandana who thought he was the meanest, baddest banana in the West. He made her laugh, so she married him. But they were too different and the marriage was not to last. After a while the orange grew tired of the banana thinking he was all that and a bag of banana chips. That ridiculous bandana drove her crazy, so she asked him to try a sombrero instead. He looked pretty good in it - well, everyfruit looks good in a sombrero - but he wouldn't give it a chance. Bananas! They're all the same. Back to his precious bandana he went, and the two of them rode off together into the sunset. Oh well, perhaps she'd have better luck next time. On second thought... why let luck decide? The orange placed an ad in the local paper:
The Western Star Fruit --- February 21, 2011
Personals Section
Single orange orange looking for someone to make me laugh. Must love sombreros. Must not own a bandana.

In case you're wondering if I've lost my mind....
This very short story was born of a free writing exercise. I decided to write for a few minutes about whatever came to mind using two words for inspiration. The two words that I selected were banana and bandana. What you see above is the result of this free writing exercise, plus a bit of editing.

If you'd like to do some free writing of your own here are some guidelines. Select a word, phrase, or topic for inspiration, or just start writing. Set a timer (e.g. for fifteen minutes) and don't stop writing until the timer goes off. That means no stopping to read or edit, and no rewriting along the way. Just let the pen move across the paper. You can edit it later if so inclined, but the purpose of free writing is not to create anything in particular. The purpose is simply to write and to relax about it. It helps to get the creative juices flowing and to release the imagination. It's a great tool for us editor/writer types who tend to be our own worst critics, and who have trouble writing without also editing.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sundays are for sleeping in

On the weekends, my husband and I take turns sleeping in. One person gets Saturday, the other gets Sunday. Sometimes though, somebody wins a sleep-in because they were the one to attend to a sick child overnight. Sometimes the reigning Queen invokes her royal rights and shoos the King and his progeny away with a wave of her hand. Sometimes it comes down to a Rock, Paper, Scissors duel, the only truly scientific and fair way to decide something like sleeping-in rights.
This weekend is different. Last night was date night (see We know how to Par-tay) and Jack had a sleepover at his auntie's house. Guess who gets to sleep in today? Mom AND Dad!

So, no pancakes today (see Pancake Sunday). If you're up early reading this, you have my sympathy and my permission to go back to bed. That's where I'll be!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Cookie's Book Club: Luminous and Ominous by Noah K. Mullette-Gillman

Since receiving my Amazon Kindle this past Christmas, I have discovered a whole new world: that of the e-book and the self-published author. In the past, the large publishing companies and the bookstores decided what authors and books we could select from. These days, the choice is entirely ours. From time to time - probably about every other Saturday - I'd like to introduce you to some great reads, and some authors you may not be familiar with.

Today, I'd like to tell you about an edge-of-the seat post-apocalyptic book called Luminous and Ominous, by Noah K. Mullette-Gillman.

Please click here for my review and an interview with the author.

Friday, February 18, 2011

We know how to par-tay!

If you're a parent, and even if you're not, you may be able to relate to this scenario. You've put the kids to bed, you've cleaned up the kitchen and finished the other household to-dos. You've walked the dog or cleaned out the cat box. You've refilled your toddler's water cup and put her back to bed. You've checked and answered your email and phone messages. You've helped find Binky/Fluffy/Teddy and put him and his owner back to bed. The laundry is underway - is it ever NOT underway? The garbage has been taken out. The day is done! You turn to your significant other and say, "So, what do you want to do?"
S.O.: "I dunno. Anything on the PVR?"
You: "Ah... ya. Two episodes of Dr. Oz. and three of Oprah."
S.O.: "VETO! Anything on the tube right now?"
You: "Lemme see. The Bachelor, Jersey Shore, Kate Plus 8, reruns of Baywatch..."
S.O.: "Ooooh, Bayw.."
          (or if your SO is a she: "Ooooh, The Bache...")
You: "VETO!"
S.O.: "O-kay. You wanna watch a movie?"
You: "Ya we could, but it's... like... almost 9:00."
S.O.: "You wanna just go to bed?"
You: "Sounds like a plan."
I still remember meeting up with the girls at 9:00. The night had just begun. These days I'm lucky if I manage to brush my teeth with toothpaste instead of Tiger Balm that late at night.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Say "Ah"

We've been pretty sick, Jack and I, for the past several weeks. Jack got the cold first - a nasty dry cough that wouldn't go away. He seems to be on the mend but still coughs on occasion, mainly just after I do.

Me: "Cough. Cough. Cough-cough-cough."
Jack: "Cough. Cough. Cough-cough-cough..... Cough."
Me: "Well done, son."

Somehow in my efforts to nurse my child to health, I have created a monster. We've spent a lot of days at home since Christmas (aka the Family Flu Festival of 2010), and, as far as Jack is concerned, this is a good thing. He gets lots of mommy time, and apparently the little extras don't hurt either: the vaporizer in his room, the freshly squeezed orange juice with honey and warm water. It's a sweet deal!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

"Everyone should grow up and have a boy!"

Tonight my son announced to me that everyone should grow up and have a boy. I'm not sure where this came from, but I was working on another piece of writing about family planning just hours earlier. However he arrived at this idea, it is an interesting premise. In fact, it may have been two separate premises.

Premise 1: Everyone should grow up. We could debate this - whether or not everyone should grow up - but the fact remains that everyone will grow up, at least in the 'get taller and older' sense. If my son meant that everyone should become a mature, responsible and contributing member of society, well then... frankly I'm worried that he worries too much for a three-year-old.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Lunch should be a four-letter word.

I don't know how I felt about lunch before my son came along. I don't think it held any special power over me. I'm pretty sure I just ate stuff, without thinking too much about it. I may have enjoyed the midday meal BK (before kids). I may have even uttered the phrase "Let's do lunch!" with a carefree jubilance. And now? Now I think I'd sooner read Goodnight Moon 17 times in a row (that is a special kind of painful) than make lunch.

If you're a SAHM (stay-at-home mom) or a SAHD (stay-at-home dad), maybe you can relate to this. I don't think I'm overstating it when I say that I now despise lunch with every fibre of my being. I'm not talking about lunch with the girls - the patio, the frosty drink, the toughest decision required being what someone else will cook and serve for me; love those lunches. I'm talking about the everyday lunch. The "Mom, what's for lunch?" lunch. The, "What a lovely morning it's been. I guess it's time to go home and ...<sigh>... make lunch" lunch.

Monday, February 14, 2011

You're not a duck!

One of the best things about having a three-year-old is the constant entertainment he provides. Some of the funniest things I have ever heard, have come out of my son's mouth.

Today I'd like to share a recent conversation that I was witness to. It was early in the morning, not yet time to get up, and I overheard Jack talking to one of his stuffed animals, possibly a bird. It went something like this:
“You’re not a duck. No, I’m not a duck. So, you don’t have a beak. I do, actually. No, that’s not a beak. Yes, it is. No, it's not. Yes, it is. YOU don’t have a beak. I do. Don’t. DO. Don’t. DO-don’t-DO-don’t-DO-don’t-DO-don’t-DO-don’t-DO-don’t..... Yes, I do.”
He was immediately quiet again. I think he'd fallen back to sleep. I couldn't stop laughing. I had to get up and write it all down. Kids say the funniest things, especially when they think we're not listening. 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Pancake Sunday

It's shaping up to be a beautiful, sunny Sunday, and we're having pancakes. I considered taking a day off from the blog, and then thought.... you probably like pancakes too! Here for your digestive enjoyment are links to three pancake recipes from my online cookbook. Enjoy!

Buttermilk pancakes
Buckwheat pancakes
Scandinavian oatmeal pancakes (these need some advance preparation)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

What Have I Done???

This one is for the writers out there, and anyone who has ever taken a leap and then thought, "Uh-oh. What have I done?" Two days ago I started this blog. It's taken me over three years to muster up the hootspa to do so. I finally did it - yay me! - and then wondered how long it would take before panic set in. The answer to that question is, by the way, two days. Now that I've taken the leap, I am free to ponder such questions as these: How will I think of something interesting to say every day? Is anyone actually going to read this stuff? What if no one likes it? Eeek! The answer to these questions turns out to be, Who cares? What matters is why I am doing this at all. It's about the writing, the journey, the process of becoming who I am. Writing to me is oxygen. Words and phrases course through my veins, and writing them down is what keeps the blood flowing inside of me. If I don't write, I die. Ok, that may be a little dramatic, but the point is, I don't just want to write, I need to write.  

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Job of Parenting.

Our child, Jack, has been described as willful. It's hard to say for sure where he gets it from. Is "willful" encoded in his genes, and, if so, is it our fault as parents that he is this way? Can we blame our parents? Do his father and I somehow model this behaviour? Is "willful" necessarily bad? Whatever the answers to these questions, whether or not we are responsible, we can at least say that we are accountable for his behaviour. It's our job then to manage it. Well, like any job, the job of parenting sometimes..... how to put this delicately.... sucks noodles.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Welcome to Cookie's Chronicles!

When I was pregnant with my son, he acquired the pet name Cookie. This name just came to me the way 'bean' or 'peanut' formed on the lips of other expectant moms. Of course, I had no idea he was a boy at the time. Once we found out he was a boy, at our 20 week ultrasound, we needed to find him a new name. We came up with a list of about 15 acceptable (to us) boy's names, yet none of them seemed to suit him. About two weeks before he was born (early at 37 weeks), the name Jack came to me. I have no idea really where it came from, though there were a number of popular TV 'Jacks' at the time (Jack Sheppard from Lost and Jack Bauer from 24, to name just two). There are no Jacks on my side of the family, and there was a bit of a pull to name him after my deceased father, James. For whatever reason, I was sure my boy was a Jack, and so it was. We named him Jack, as did a large percentage of the population that year (it was in the top 25 names for 2007). Had we known it was going to be such a popular name that year, maybe 'James' would have won out. In any case, our Jack was born and we've been busy parenting for the past 3 1/2 years.