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A Recipe for Trancendental Chocolate Bars

I’ve been reading some philosophy lately, so my head is filled with funny terms…what better to do with them when I can’t sleep than turn them into a delicious recipe?  

                  🍫🍫🍫Trancendental Chocolate Bars🍫🍫🍫

  1. Pour 2 cups existential questioning into an empty bowl. 
  2. Add 1/2 cup human knowledge and 3/4 cup yearning for the infinite.
  3. Mix with 3 tsp humility and a dash of wonder. 
  4. Add liberal amounts of certain proof for intelligent design (ie chocolate).
  5. Stir until you are satisfied with its finite existence. 
  6. Bake at 350 until it exudes its essence. 
  7. Cut in pieces small enough to fit the human mind and enjoy with coffee and conversation about the transcendence of being. 
  8. Forgive me for being silly at 2 am! πŸ˜‹
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Wendell Berry’s “How to be a Poet”

Poetry as a gift of silence…Here is a poem which spoke to my heart like a familiar breeze ruffling through the forest, bringing new life and resonating with joy. It is from author Wendell Berry’s book New Collected Poems

  

HOW TO BE A POET (to remind myself)

Make a place to sit down.

Sit down. Be quiet.

You must depend upon

affection, reading, knowledge,

skill β€” more of each

than you have β€” inspiration,

work, growing older, patience,

for patience joins time

to eternity. Any readers

who like your poems,

doubt their judgment.

Breathe with unconditional breath

the unconditioned air.

Shun electric wire.

Communicate slowly. Live

a three-dimensioned life;

stay away from screens.

Stay away from anything

that obscures the place it is in.

There are no unsacred places;

there are only sacred places

and desecrated places.

Accept what comes from silence.

Make the best you can of it.

Of the little words that come

out of the silence, like prayers

prayed back to the one who prays,

make a poem that does not disturb

the silence from which it came.

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“Mirror, Mirror” and The Lonely Quest For Beauty

In my last post I ranted about a fairy tale movie I disliked, “Into the Woods,” so now I’ll tell you about one I enjoyed a lot. “You’ll like it so much, Mummy,” said my oldest who had watched it before with Daddy, “It was, like, made for you!” The movie is called Mirror, Mirror and stars Julia Roberts as Snow White’s wicked step-mother. But rather than being just another evil old lady movie, Mirror, Mirror takes quite an interesting and humourus look at the problem of beauty. 

 

The story is told from the perspective of the step-mother, an aging queen who is trying to hang on to the beauty of her youth with all her might. Her most intimate and honest relationship is with her magic mirror; it is the only one permitted to see her vulnerability and insecurity. Time is taking its toll and threatening to snatch away her claim to being “the fairest of them all.” As she has always used her beauty as a source of power, this loss has not only personal but political ramifications, and makes her fearful of losing her crown. 

  
When a handsome (but this time not sleezy like the one in Into the Woods) young prince arrives at the castle, she sees in him an opportunity to solve her financial problems and gain security. The pre-ball ‘beauty treatments’ she undergoes are a painfully funny commentary on woman’s willingness to suffer for her appearance. She uses a a bird-dropping face mask, bee stings on her lips as an instant volumizer, and a horrific harness-like undergarment to squeeze her into her old dress size, to name a few. 

 Yet despite her physical appeal, the queen lacks warmth; she is always determined to feel superior to those she is with, even the prince whose affections she is trying to gain. While she dresses as a magnificent peacock for the costume ball, the outfit she chooses him is that of a rabbit, with silly huge ears sticking out of his hat. It is very clear who is in charge. 

  
 All her efforts at impressing him are trumped by the simple elegance of Snow White, who arrives dressed as a swan, and captivates the prince. The most charming part about her though, rather than her appearance, is how little she thinks of herself. Her defining traits are to be found in her care for others, from the palace servants to the people of her late father’s kingdom. She shines in relationship, rather than in isolation. Integrity and finding the courage to fight for the good are what make this girl attractive. Her Audrey Hepburn-like beauty is something that simply fits with the goodness that exudes from within. 
   
She proves herself a lot more capable than even she expected she was, and finds, with the amusing help of her friends the dwarves, the strength to fight to reclaim the throne of her father from the abusive queen who is taxing the people to death to support her lavish lifestyle. While the young Snow White’s life expands as she gains in her sense of purpose and in serving others, the older queen’s life, built on manipulation and control, collapses inwards as her isolating self-admiration becomes insufficient to ensure her own happiness.   

I highly recommend this movie, for being both humourus and thoughtfully done, and touching on interesting themes of youth, age, beauty, generosity and selfishness. The themes of using beauty as a source of power, and basing one’s self-worth on externals, are certainly important issues facing women in our society today, and worth discussing with our daughters and friends. 

Finally, Mirror, Mirror also ends with an unexpected Bollywood style song and dance number by Snow and the dwarves which is sure to make you laugh! πŸ˜„ I sure did!

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Movie Rant: “Into the Woods”

I don’t think I’m that hard to please when it comes to movies. I laugh easily, like most things unless they are creepy or offensive, and even enjoy lots of kids family movies.  But not this one! Despite loving the Muppets musicals and being a fan of most fairy tales, I could hardly handle this fairly tale musical, Into the Woods.

  

The basic recipe was:

  1. Take a whole bunch of fairy tales.
  2. Put them in a blender.
  3. Sing A LOT.
  4. Make it all rhyme. The songs don’t have to make sense as long as they rhyme.
  5. Then, when everyone thinks it’s over, make it an hour longer!

Besides the headache of hearing endlessly rhyming songs sung loudly to a very similar tune, there was the added annoyance of a totally confusing message. At one point Little Red Riding Hood, while plotting to kill a giant, says, “I don’t think my mom would be very proud of me. I’m about to murder someone.” She is reassured by Cinderella, in song of course, not to worry, cause “Your mother isn’t here; you have to make you own decisions now.” So while we hear at one moment that giants are perhaps people, too, and there could even be good giants, we in the next moment witness the ‘good guys’ killing one anyway. Wha!?

Earlier Red Riding Hood is met in the forest by a creepy wolf, who is, unsurprisingly, played by Johnny Depp (please, Johnny, stop playing creeposβ€”you’re too good at it!). He sings about her tender flesh in a way that seems quite unrelated to his belly (yuck!) and she, after being eaten by him and then rescued, pipes away about all she learned…and keeps repeating that it was scary but exciting. What are we supposed to make of that!?

Another “charming” moment is when the sleezy prince woos the baker’s wife, who just had a long awaited baby, by reassuring her that they should  “live in the moment” and that anything goes “in the woods.” This is after he and his brother prince sang of their supposedly heart wrenching love struck “agony” for their newly met beloveds, Cinderella and Rapunzel, while tearing at their shirts at the top of a waterfall. Ugh! 😝 As the prince later explained, “I was raised to be charming, not sincere.” My girls were not impressed. 

Well, anyway, forgive me as this was more of a rant than a review, but in the hopes of sparing precious hours of your life, here is my advice: If anyone invites you Into the Woods, run! πŸƒπŸ»πŸƒπŸ»πŸƒπŸ»

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A Cloak of Starlight

I go outside for a walk in the dark garden,

only two bare feet to hold up my heavy heart,

and after the warmth of the concrete driveway

surrender to the melancholic cool of the evening grass.

In the stillness of dusk

amid the silent flowers,

the sadness for my lost little love 

wraps me about like a cloak of starlight

poignant and piercing.
    
I hurry inside

to capture this poem,

preserve this tear like a crystal jewel 

and offer it to you, Jo,

the one whom I can give nothing

but the pangs of love.

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Pregnancy Health: Getting Enough Fibre

  

This might seem like a less than thrilling topic, but it’s actually really important. Keeping your system cleared out when you’re producing waste for two people instead of one is quite essential. I know; I get really sick if I don’t. 

In all of my pregnancies but one, I’ve gotten a late pregnancy condition called colistasis, which means that at that point my body can’t cope well with the toxins from baby and myself, and doesn’t know how to get rid of them. So instead of eliminating them, it puts them under my skin. Sounds fun right? 😬 Especially when you’re too itchy to sleep.  So you see the importance of trying to prevent such a thing…but how? 

The only really effective way I’ve found to keep my body regular and on track is to eat Bran Flakes every day. Yup, good old Kellogg’s has done more to keep me healthy than trying to eliminate sugar, fried fat, excess salt, etc, even though those things are of course important, too. My OB suggested trying this in my third or fourth pregnancy, and when I’m really faithful to it I am much better. With my fourth I didn’t even get colistasis at all.

  
The tricky bit is keeping on eating bran every day. But this seems to be the key. A few times I went through most of the pregnancy healthy, and then when I got a bad cold or cough neglected my bran flakes for a few weeks. That was enough to do it; I got colistasis again. And this condition is not only uncomfortable but increases the chance of stillbirth as your pregnancy progresses. I’ve experienced this. I don’t wish it on anyone. 

So that’s why I thought I’d share this simple trick, to keep up your bran which clears out your guts and keeps your system running clean, so you can be a safe environment for your baby to grow and develop. Here are a few ideas on how to consume it:

  1. As All Bran Flakes cereal at breakfast. With milk or yogurt, or if you have a cold, try almond milk instead for less mucous production.  If you’re getting bored, add berries or make it half Corn Flakes.  
  2. Bake the flakes into muffins…chocolate covers a multitude of sins, so just add cocoa powder to make dark, moist chocolate bran muffins. Or blueberries of course for a classic muffin. 
  3. Buy bran as a powder and throw it into your homemade pancakes…you can also make them healthier by adding applesauce or mashed banana instead of oil, and ground flax with a bit of warm water as an egg replacer. Oats or oat bran is also good to add to baking.
  4. Buy the All Bran Breakfast Bars and pack them in your purse for snacky moments, or days when you can’t stomach another bowl of cereal. 
  5. If you forgot to eat it for breakfast, have your Bran Flakes at bedtime with some chopped banana. Both milk and banana will help you sleep  better, and that’s always a good thing.🍌
  6. Buy other healthy, fibre rich cereals on occasion, to give you some variety. But don’t stay away from fibre all together for any length of time. 
  7. Buy fibre-rich crackers like Ryveta and eat them with cheese or peanut butter for a good protein snack. 
  8. Eat whole grain pasta and brown rice instead of white whenever you can. Quinoa is also a great choice for a hearty salad or as a side dish.  You can even throw it into bean burritos or stews.
  9. Eat other fibre rich foods like lentils and beans, and try to avoid things that will plug you up, like white flour products, too much dairy and fried fat. 🍟🍰🍩 Stinker I know…Some dark chocolate bars have a surprising amount of fibre, though, so if you promise just to have a little…🍫
  10. Finally, coffee is a diuretic, so while some women choose to eliminate it in pregnancy, I find a cup in the morning also helps to move things along. Besides me! πŸ˜‰ Good luck and please share any ideas you have as well…happy baby baking! 🍼
    9

    Interview with Bonnie Way of The Koala Mom

    Here is an interview with my friend and fellow Love Rebel: Reclaiming Motherhood author Bonnie Way. I’m excited to be starting as a guest writer a few times a month on her blog, The Koala Mom, and was interviewed on it last Monday. I so love having a blogging buddy to talk about writing with! Hope you enjoy meeting her, too! 

     

    Bonnie Way                          The Koala Mom

    Please tell us a bit about yourself…
    I’m a SAHM with three girls (ages 7, 5 and 2) and another baby on the way in November. My husband and I both grew up in Alberta. We met at university and got married when we graduated, then moved around a lot before deciding to go back to university in Victoria. Now we’re settled in Vancouver, where I’m homeschooling our oldest two. We enjoy going swimming and hiking together, watching movies, and playing board games with friends.

    Why do you love to write? How does it help you be more yourself?

    I’ve always been a writer. I started my first diary when I was ten and printed my first novel when I was fourteen. In my teens, I wrote several fantasy novels and started various other novels, which still sit on my computer. Then I did an English degree and worked as an editor for a year before going on maternity leave. I started my blog just before getting married and it has slowly evolved to be my biggest writing outlet. It took me a few years as a mom to realize that I needed the support of other moms; my blog has been one way to connect with other moms and to share this journey of motherhood. Writing is kind of my way of processing what I’m thinking and going through, and blogging allows me to combine my passions for writing and mothering.

    What made you want to be part of this project? Why do you think it’s important? 

    I love supporting other moms and writers, so the idea of contributing to an anthology was a lot of fun. Moms and families are also very much under attack in today’s society, so I believe it’s important that we as moms encourage each other. I’ve often felt looked down upon for being “just a mom” or wanting lots of kids. Society seems to see kids as a burden, an expense, a stage in life to “survive” until they are more interesting. So I wanted to share that kids are a joy at any stage – even through those night wakings of the first year or two and that it’s okay to want nothing more than to be a mom. Reading Anna’s essay on being a love rebel is what really encouraged me to share my whole struggle with wanting to be a mom in a culture that looks down on a mom, and how finally, after nearly seven years of being a mom, I feel like I really have embraced that role and stopped looking down on myself. I hope that will encourage other moms too, to stand up to our society and be love rebels.

      

    What benefits do you think people will gain from this book? Could it be used in a mom’s discussion group or book club?

    Yes, this would be a great book for a mom’s discussion group or book club. I think each of us contributors provides a unique perspective on motherhood. Any of the essays could inspire a good discussion. 
    I also picture this book inspiring the mom who doesn’t have a mom’s group, who is busy all day with her toddlers or babies and snatches a few minutes here and there to read. Many of the chapters are short (well, except for my long essay!) and easy to read in a few minutes (put it in the bathroom if you have to! I used to read a lot of magazines there!). As moms, it can be easy to get bogged down in the tantrums and the messes, the daily chores, and to lose the big picture of motherhood, so I hope this little book can inspire moms everywhere to look beyond the sleepless nights and the other trials of motherhood to the joys and the long-term goals of raising kids.

    Why is friendship with other moms so important? Is there a friend who has made a big difference in your journey as a mom?

    I was among the first of my friends to get married and the very first to have a baby. That created a bit of a gap in my friendships, as all my friends were focused on their careers and I was at home changing diapers and doing laundry. Then we moved several times and went back to school, and I finally found a mom’s group at a local church. That group of ladies was like a breath of fresh air. It was so amazing just to show up every week and talk about everything, from who was up all night with a grumpy baby to how to help a kid transition into Kindergarten. We’ve moved again since then, but I still keep in touch with the moms from that group and miss them so much. They were the ones who taught me how much moms need other moms – whether they can answer the question I’m struggling with, pray for me, or just offer a shoulder to cry on until a certain parenting phase passes.

    Tell us a bit about your pieces in the book…what is your main message, or best piece of advice for moms?

    I have a couple little poems in the book, a short essay I wrote about my oldest daughter’s first pair of shoes, and then a longer essay about my journey into motherhood. I think the first three pieces each focus on little moments of motherhood – things we could overlook, but might look back on later with a smile. I want those pieces to encourage moms to treasure the little moments before they are gone. My longer essay is about my desire to be a mom in a society that says women should be more than moms. I hope that essay can encourage other moms who also struggle with that to stand up for their desire to have kids and be mothers. Even if we wear other titles as well, “mom” is an important and worthy job and we shouldn’t let society look down on us because this is what we chose to do with our lives.

      

    Who was your favourite author growing up? Was there someone in literature who modeled for you how to be a woman or mother?
    Just one favourite author? LOL. On the topic of motherhood, I’d mention Little Women and Louisa May Alcott’s other books. Marmee is a constant, loving presence through that novel and we also see Meg and Jo growing into their roles as momsβ€”Meg as the mom of her own twins and Jo as the adopted mother of a whole school of boys. Another favourite author is L. M. Montgomery and her Anne books. I love the way the relationship between Anne and Marilla develops through that novel, and then again, seeing Anne become a mother in the later books is also inspiring. And I should mention Cheaper by the Dozen, a hilarious book about a family with twelve kids that kind of started my own joke that I want twelve. All of those books talk about motherhood, adoption, and large families, and had an impact on me as a young reader. 

    Can you tell us a little about your blog?

    Well, I write a mom blog so it covers a little bit of everything. Right now, I blog five days a week and have a rough schedule of blogging about motherhood on Mondays, travel (around Vancouver) on Tuesdays, marriage or other things on Wednesdays, homeschooling on Thursdays, and book reviews on Fridays. I’ve been blogging for nine years this summer and do product reviews as well as sponsored posts. I call my blog my work-at-home part-time job and I love the fact that I can do something I enjoy, make a bit of extra money for our family, and still be at home with my girls. Plus, I’ve met so many other cool women through my blog so I love the way that social media and the blogosphere can connect us as moms.

      

    Visit Bonnie at 🐨 The Koala Mom πŸ¨