On September birthdays, the Terry Fox Run and peace-building granola

On September Birthdays

Though it can be a challenge to gather and celebrate birthdays in September, I would still like to acknowledge a couple of Virgos dear to my heart.

It is well-known in my family that I give much importance to celebrating birthdays….

I believe that the very fact that we exist, completely apart from outer success or accomplishments, is the worthiest reason for celebration.

So first of all, BIG love to my husband who worries for us, works SO hard for us, plans adventures and gifts for us, is there for us, talks us through our tears and struggles, and cheers and supports us always~

I have always told Dan that his energy and talents are larger than life, and he should thus use his powers for good. He spends every breath working towards that end, and for that I will love him for all eternity.

Secondly, happy wishes to my step-mother Elsie. As I write and think about the evolution of our relationship over the last 7 years,

I am overwhelmed with gratitude towards this woman,

who in her infinite wisdom never once tried to take my mother’s place and always honored our need to remember Grandma Carol.  In doing so, she firmly won her place in my heart.

From the start, Elsie,  you loved our kids as your own grand-kids, gifted them with countless expertly sewed costumes, baked dozens of homemade buns that went straight from your oven into their mouths, and showered them with words of pride and encouragement.

In your own distinct ways, you both shine.


The Terry Fox Run

Today was the annual Terry Fox Run at George’s school. It was an especially well- attended and organized event this year for our little neighbourhood school.

Though it has been 33 years since Terry Fox died,

today the story of his life touched my heart in a way that it perhaps never has before,

I fully and finally understood that Terry was truly a young and tenacious pioneer of doing the right thing, and of making up a new right thing.

What a radiant soul that lives on and on and on…

It was a particularly difficult assembly,

as the school community and staff was quietly but surely honoring another radiant young man, a teacher,  in the throes of his own struggle with cancer.

I am always in awe and inevitably moved to tears when massive love and support can organize itself into an event and pull itself into one space. These are the sorts of moments that always end up defining us ALL,

and today it happened again in a little school gym filled to the brim with kids, teachers and parents,

and it was my deep honour to have witnessed it.

I read an article this week that suggested that in every situation we should ask ourselves,

‘What would love do?’


Love would do what Terry Fox did, determinedly continuing to run on through wind, rain, pain, and exhaustion~

Love would do what Marcus Karpati is doing, moving through his illness with indescribable courage and grace and even taking the time and energy to visit his school, co-workers, and his beloved students,

and Love would most definitely pour itself into a little school gym, multiplying itself beyond and within,

and circling itself around everyone gathered there.




Peace Building Granola

I sometimes think that I could subsist entirely on seeds, nuts, dried fruit, and cereals.

My family, of course, is not at all interested in the bird diet,

but they are still always very happy to see a freshly made pan of granola on top of the stove.

Though there are not a lot of things that I make repeatedly,

mostly because I get either get bored with making the same foods or I can’t remember where I discovered a recipe to start with,

this granola is a rare standby in our home.

After I introduced my dear friend Heidi to the recipe, we affectionately started referring to it as our  ‘love, peace, heart healing, friendship-building granola’.

See, there are actually other people who talk like I do!

I do need to credit the wonderful Jamie Oliver– I have tried many other granola recipes over the years but always come back to his –

It is super easy and satisfying, and so heavenly with warm steamed milk. I have been known to eat it for breakfast, lunch, and for my bed-time snack,

all in the same day.

 Jamie Oliver’s Granola

* 2 cups oats

* 1 heaped cup mixed nuts

* 1/4 cup mixed seeds (sunflower, poppy, pumpkin, sesame)

* 3/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

* 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

* 5 tablespoons maple syrup

* About 3 tablespoons olive oil

* 1 1/2 cups dried fruit (I usually soak the dried fruit in water while the granola is baking, to soften it)

Preheat oven to 350°. Put oats, mixed nuts, mixed seeds, coconut, and cinnamon on a baking sheet. Stir well; smooth out. Drizzle with maple syrup and olive oil; stir. Bake 25-30 minutes. Every 5 minutes or so take out and stir, then smooth down with a wooden spoon and put back in oven. When granola is golden, remove from oven, mix in dried fruit (roughly chop any large pieces); let cool. Serve with milk or yogurt. You can keep leftover granola in an airtight container about 2 weeks.




















On middle school, a big move, and a new bed

On middle school

September arrived with a bang, as I knew it would.

Though it can admittedly be a love-hate relationship I have with being busy, mostly I enjoy having days that are full of activity and purpose.

That first morning where I am finally home alone in front of my computer sans kids with a full cup of tea by my side,

ready to work on my own projects and catch up,

is heaven.

George was very quickly happy and settled with his new teacher but Olivia and I found ourselves dealing with the realities of

another year of middle school.

This year’s transition was easier than last year’s as she is in grade 7 now,

but sending my daughter off to school can feel a bit like sending her to the wolves to possibly be devoured every day (especially if I am to believe her version of things),

This is all despite the fact that Olivia goes to a fantastic middle school that I admire in a thousand ways and even affectionately refer to as ‘the Disneyland of schools’,

so high is the staff’s level of energy, creativity, and commitment to kids.

Still, it’s middle school.

I don’t think I really need to launch into an explanation of why this is a crazy and complex period of life.

I read a quote in the September issue of Real Simple that said it so well, ‘Negotiating the politics of middle school girls? If ever there was a situation where a mother was utterly powerless, this was it. ‘                            Jenny Rosenstrach

It’s a whole new and complicated world of sudden higher academic and peer expectations, all to be navigated during the most awkward of stages in the most socially ruthless of places.

yes, and yet….

We are headed into the third week and our girl is okay, despite some anxiety.

She has found a few solid friends,

her little net of safety.

She loves her options this term, and we are again in the process of firmly creating this year’s plan to manage accommodations for her dyslexia (a whole other massive topic that I will write about soon).

It’s still hard though.

These are the parenting years of beginning to let go after only just figuring out how to hold on to her properly,

and she herself wants to be treated like an adult one minute and nurtured the next.

It is a roller coaster of managing her needs and reactions, moods and feelings,

and my own too.


It sometimes seems as if I write about all sorts of topics but there are only ever a few poignant themes,

one of them being

trust ~

Trusting that all will be well. Always.

She/we will get through middle school, of course,

and we will also revel in the lightness of it all too – the unbridled energy, the consuming dramas, the huge passion, the humor,

and the inevitable life lessons for us both,


A big move

I have often thought about how, when you lose a mother,

part of the grief is dealing with the reality of no longer getting to be a daughter.

Mothering when you are beautifully mothered yourself is easier, more companionable,

and is almost like a team-sport ~

Mothering without a mother is learning to stand on your own.

Please understand that there have been infinite gifts from my mom’s death, one of them for me being

having to stand on my own.



I heard news this past weekend that my dad and stepmother, Elsie, are moving away.

In a multitude of ways, this news hit me hard.

My father and my step-mother love me very much, love all of us very much,

but I have realized this week that it is time for them to go.

They need to stand on their own too, build a new life together, experience change and rejuvenation,

release and renew.

With their big news, it was hard for me not to feel as if I was being abandoned again, but I am wise enough to know that there is

really no such thing,

and that we must all stretch and grow

or whither.

So, I whole-heartedly wish them happiness, fortune and peace

and look so forward to watching their new lives unfold,

all of our lives unfold.


A New Bed

Sometimes, I am a little wary of the things that I find myself writing about….a new haircut, jumping in the lake, beans in brownies….

Perhaps my ego expected my articles to be more earth-shattering than mere descriptions of the trivialities of life.

Yet, as this peace project continues, here is what I continue to realize….

This is all there is, and these are the things that ultimately matter.

When I am eighty, I may very well find myself retelling with deep fondness my memories

of George and his friend making up after a fight by bumping tummies,

of how I looked forward to the lilacs in the Spring,

or of how I never minded my kids taking sick days.

These will be the stories of my life.

This week my unexpected heart-swelling moment occurred the morning after George slept his first night on a new mattress that he had helped us pick out~

To be clear, he is sleeping on the floor,

we haven’t even gotten it together enough yet to buy him a new bed to fit a double mattress,

but I had been promising him for months that we would move him into a bigger bed to fit his growing body.

So, when I went into his room to wake him up for school that first morning after he had slept on his new mattress,

I found him lying there awake with the BIGGEST grin on his face.

He said, Mom,

take off my covers and LOOK at me!

And there he lay,

arms and legs splayed out as a 9-year-old boy-starfish,

delightfully reveling in all of his glorious new-found room.

These, I am so certain, are the sweetest moments to savor.