Where have the last two weeks gone? Is it really January 1, 2012? Wow!
This is going to be a great year; I can feel it to my core. And not just because I have been waiting for decades for 2012 to arrive, given that 12 has been my favorite number since childhood, but for reasons I can’t even articulate. This favorite number, by the way, is something that I have in common with my father, but he and I didn’t even discover this fact until I was in my late twenties; what a coincidence! Anyway, I was telling Alex last night how happy I was that it was almost 2012 and how I can’t wait until 12:12 am on December 12, 2012 (12/12/12 at 12:12), because I simply know that something wonderful is bound to happen, and he just rolled his eyes at me and laughed out loud. But enough about that. Let’s get on with the update.
Since late December, we have been visiting Alex’s side of the family on beautiful Haida Gwaii (also known as the Queen Charlotte Islands) off the coast of northern British Columbia. This has been especially fun for Zander, because in addition to the rest of the family, we’ve been staying with Zander’s cousin, Ella, who is only a month older than him, so it’s been like one big toddler slumber party. Despite a few property disputes every now and then, the two of them get along remarkably well, and they are learning so much from each other. Zander has picked up so many of Ella’s words, like “juice” and “hippo,” and Ella has started mimicking Zander’s trademark “oh no” and “poo-pooey” (the latter being Zander’s way of alerting us to his need for a diaper change). But the cutest thing of all is hearing Ella call for “Zanny” to come and play “chasey chasey” with her. Simply adorable.
We’ve had such a good time visiting with Zander’s aunt and uncle and cousins, as well as multiple visits to his grandma and grandpa’s house (which is actually a beautiful historic inn), where Witty, the world’s most gentle (and gigantic) golden retriever, licks Zander’s face clean every time we go over and is then hand-fed multiple dog treats by a delighted Zander. The food there has been simply amazing, with much of it coming from the garden out back–everything from melt-in-your-mouth brussel sprouts to delicious homemade parsnip soup (I didn’t even think I liked parsnips, but I was proven wrong!!), and everyone has been so wonderful (as always) about accommodating our vegan lifestyle.
Although we tried to go minimal in terms of gift-giving, it was great fun to watch the toddlers open their presents on Christmas morning. I think that Zander had just as much fun fetching presents from under the tree and distributing them to the rest of the family members as he did opening and playing with his own gifts.
Unfortunately, it has not all been fun and games. On the day after Christmas, while Zander was playing in the bathtub, poor little Ella was having a great time bouncing on a mattress on the floor downstairs (a place that we had previously naively believed to be the safest place in the house for bouncing around) when she somehow landed wrong and split her forehead open right between (but slightly above) her eyes. The roughly 1-inch gash that ensued led to a hasty trip to the emergency room, where Ella was drugged with some strange-tasting apple juice and glued back together (apparently, gluing scars far less than stitches). What a rough night for poor little Ella (who came home totally stoned from the “apple juice”) and her parents! Fortunately, she is healing extremely well and should be able to take a bath tonight for the first time since the incident.
The next “casualty” was Zander, who developed an inexplicable fever the following day. We initially thought this was due to the hard core teething he was experiencing at the time, but when the fever rose to 104 degrees F and stuck around for more than 2 days, coupled with breathing that sounded like a mini-Darth Vader, we knew that there was more to it than that, so we bundled him up and took him to the local clinic. I think it’s a terrible idea to give antibiotics to toddlers unless absolutely necessary, but with a newborn in the house, the doctor felt it was important for her sake (and for Zander’s) to do so in this case. We reluctantly began the antibiotics on day 4, and by day 5, his fever finally broke. Whew. What a relief! We all got a great night’s sleep last night for the first time in days and are feeling like new people. 🙂
Since the day we arrived on Haida Gwaii, it has done nothing but rain. And I don’t mean a light drizzle, I mean torrential downpours complete with major wind storms and frequent power outages. Finally, a couple of days ago, it cooled down enough to snow instead of rain, and we woke up to a magical blanket of gorgeous white snow, at least 8 inches. This was Zander and Ella’s first snow since they have been old enough to walk and play in it, and it was also our first time out of the house in days due to the ugly weather leading up to it, so we took full advantage with lots of romping and playing and… best of all… sledding!!! (Hooray for Uncle Fraser for buying a sled in anticipation of this possibility!)
There is nothing quite like the squeals of sheer delight from toddlers who are totally blissed out to make a parent’s day, and I think their daddies could have pulled them in the sled for days if the weather had allowed for it. Instead, we finished off the perfect afternoon with the perfect snack of warm almond milk (Auntie Laurie’s brilliant idea) with oatmeal raisin cookies (recipe and photo below).
Before ending today’s entry with a recipe, I want to share just a few reflections on the New Year that don’t involve the number 12. First, I need to set the stage for these reflections. One of the big projects undertaken by Alex and his brother, Fraser, this week has been scrubbing clean, assembling, filling, and heating Fraser’s gorgeous cedar wood-burning hot tub, which they perfectly positioned to overlook the ocean and the ferry landing at the bottom of the hill. After putting the toddlers down for an afternoon nap yesterday, we experienced yet another power outage, and this time, instead of grumbling about how I couldn’t get anything done on my computer during Zander’s nap, I embraced the opportunity to go outside and slip into this warmed-to-perfection paradise with Alex.
While soaking in the luxuriously warm water, I decided that I am going to make 2012 all about gratitude. Instead of feeling grumpy about the fact that I’ve put on a few pounds while visiting family over the holidays, I’m deeply thankful for the fact that we have consistent and reliable access to such beautiful, organic, nutritious, and delicious foods. Instead of feeling frustrated when there is a mountain of laundry and dirty dishes piled up or a floor that needs scrubbing or vacuuming, I am going to pause and thank the universe that we have a roof over our heads to protect us from the elements, a washing machine for the laundry, a dishwasher for the dishes, a vacuum cleaner for the carpets, and organic, non-toxic, biodegradable cleaning supplies with which to clean the kitchen floor. The next time Zander screams and fights and doesn’t want to take his medicine after dinner or doesn’t want to go to bed at night, I am going to focus on how incredibly lucky I am to have a healthy child. And finally, instead of feeling stressed out because I’m so impossibly behind on emails and phone calls and reconnecting with dear friends (which I especially like to do at the start of each new year), I am going to celebrate the fact that I have so many dear friends to care about and who care about me in return. This is my intention for 2012–to dwell daily upon the beauty in the chaos and to celebrate the many reasons to be grateful for things which I might otherwise have perceived as negative.
There. Now, what better way to end today’s blog than with a recipe and photo of yesterday’s toddler snack-time, featuring warm almond milk with oatmeal raisin cookies? Happy new year, everyone!!
OATMEAL RAISIN COOKIES
3/4 cup vegan margarine (I use Earth Balance buttery sticks)
3/4 cup brown sugar (firmly packed)
1 Tbsp vanilla
1/2 cup maple syrup (at home, I like to substitute 1/4 cup brown rice syrup + 1/4 cup maple syrup–makes for even gooier and more delicious cookies)
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups oats (quick cook)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2-3 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used pecans, because it’s what we had on hand, but walnuts or any other nuts are equally delicious)
1/2 cup raisins (I sometimes substitute chocolate chunks for the raisins, or use them both)
Combine wet ingredients in a bowl and stir until well blended. Add dry ingredients. Then stir in nuts and raisins (or chocolate chunks/chips). Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto lightly greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes. I’ve found that the mini-cookies I make for the toddlers are done in about 10 minutes, while the slightly larger adult-sized cookies take about 12 minutes to bake. If you like your cookies really big, you might need as much as 15 minutes baking time. Enjoy!