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keeping it real

I’ve had a lot of great conversations lately with people who, like us, struggle to understand how other people are “getting through” with seemingly so much more panache, or grace, or even just without scmootz on their blazer…

Here’s what I actually think: they are not real.

They are our perception, or a delicately built facade meant to impress us – either way – why are we so interested?  Common – you know you ‘re interested too.  You’re supposed to be in bed/at work/paying attention at that dinner party but you are trolling google to read more, or can’t stop thinking about that person – and how they do it all.

And then there are the people who would never admit to being interested – whether it’s for lack of time, interest or because they are that self-fulfilled.  Are they for real?

I don’t understand why we have this built in fear of what everyone will think.  It’s so powerful.  It shapes so much; our response, our choices and ultimately the mask we put on for the world.  Whether it means not admitting to that time we forgot to pick up our kid, or the time we lost it and cried in the bathroom for an hour, put a cup of salt in the soup instead of a tablespoon, bombed a presentation, or went for an epic drive to try to see if one really could just run away… Or that we only post on facebook when things are super fabulous, when we won the race, had perfectly polished kids, or an amazing vacation.  Why do we do it? I know I’m totally guilty.

And yet when I laugh with my sister about my little blog with no commenters where I spill my guts to an audience of 6 – she admits to me that she’d never put so much of her life ‘out there’ for judgement.  Colleagues and friends say very similar things – they have these brilliant ideas, robust lives and real experiences – but only the pretty is shared on facebook, instagram and email.  It might be because these people have more respect for your time, and don’t want to bore you – but I think it’s much deeper than that.  I think there is a fear of what you’ll think….

Do you think you’re better than me because I spell poorly? Because I place high value domestic efforts? Because we had 3 kids within 17 months?  More importantly … who are you and why do I care so darn much what you think?

I care.  Not because I want to – but it’s just a part of my dna.   I have those vacation photos and pretty kid shots on f/b because I want to share that wonderful part of my life with you.  And because I care I have grown to respect the real people SO much more.  The friend who looks like she’s got it all figured out, and is not at all afraid to share she doesn’t.  The stranger who doesn’t offer advice or a judgemental eye when I’m struggling to get my screaming kid out of the grocery store, but instead chooses to give me a smile and say ‘been there – you’ll get through it’.  The senior leader who admits to the failings in her personal life as the expense she was willing to pay (at the time) for her success in business.  The quiet clever colleague who has the whole mess figured out but doesn’t need to stand on anyone elses’ back to proclaim it.  You are the person I choose to respect and admire.  Your honesty and compassion and humility is refreshing and inspiring.

So, tonight I raise a glass to the ones who keep it real (and in the spirit of that I’d admit that said ‘glass’ is actually a spoon full of chocolate icecream).  Thank you.  You inspire me to try, and to be a little less afraid of what everyone will think when I do.

celebrating Easter

After tomorrow our spoiled kiddos will have experienced a whopping 4 Easter egg hunts this year.  They had a blast today when they woke up and realized the Easter Bunny had come over night, and had an incredible time screaming around Grammie’s with their big cousins for the hunt after Easter mass this morning… and yesterday was a great warm up to it all – a little hunt with a few friends.all baskets bunny basket


We had 9 kids, the oldest at 4 whole years – was Matty. We spent most evenings after work and dinner last week baking and decorating cookies and cupcakes and loaves and muffins and freezing or refrigerating until Saturday morning.  We made some fun  recipes, I think the biggest hit were cin buns – so i posted the recipe for that below.  We  love having people over, sharing some good food and great laughs – and this was just the perfect mix of sunshine, bouncy castle, and sugar-high to make a wonderful morning get-together with some great little people…


Matt and I made sugar cookies last weekend while the girls napped – we froze the egg and carrot shapes until this Friday evening – but Matty decorated some dinosaurs last weekend that he and the girls chomped on through the week (we also made a pan of bunny rabbits that didn’t make it through the first day).  He loved making all the icing colours in little bowls himself and was thrilled at the end of the whole thing to be able to finally lick the knife … note the mischievous glint in his eye …

egg cookies carrot icing carrot cookies matt icing carrot cookies personalized


Kate and Charlotte love to hop up on the island and help with baking.  Their new thing is actually cracking the eggs themselves and pouring all the ingredients in the bowl (stirring is no longer enough … it means I’m not the only one making a mess in the kitchen now, so I’m totally good with it… and the shared blame for flour on the floor and our faces at the end of it all).  We baked and froze small banana breads one night, a cranberry orange loaf another night and then made the batter for mini chocolate chip muffins (thank you all recipes – HUGE hit in our house) and raspberry muffin batter (check out recipe on this post) that we popped in the oven the morning of the hunt so they would be fresh.

choc chip muffins raspberry muffins

We also made chocolate cupcakes – into a carrot cupcake garden.  We baked a simple box recipe, and used a melon cutter to take out the centers – then iced them, and used some oreo crumbs to create dirt.  We made orange icing and stuck it a little ziplock bag (use an icing bag if you own one) and cut out a tip of one corner – we made “carrots” and topped them with little pieces of green licorice for the stems. garden The next day I made the same thing as a slab cake for dinner at my sisters place and added worms for affect for the boys.  Super fun and sooo easy.  carrot garden


I’ve said it before, I know – but I often think our most fun is in the lead up to events – Matty gets in on all the excitement now as well and for a week or more in advance of having people over he is planning and scheming and prepping.  This time it meant he helped me plan the scavenger hunt that accompanied the egg hunt.  bunny hunt scavanger huntHe made sure that his turtle and his love of ‘dinosaur bones’ (pine cones) got in on the hunt card.  He also designed signs in the sunshine (and sometimes directed mommy to help with the pictures) that he put up all around the yard to help people find their way.matt egg hunt

All the kids help to “decorate” the table and house… and they might even help clean up a little in advance if we’re super lucky.  the spread

Charlie helped me make the healthy snack table this weekend – consisting of simple fruit and a clever little carrot … carrots and brocoli


I love how excited our kids get.  I loved seeing how much they wanted everyone to find their own eggs.  We had 7 kids 4 and under hunting so we made it easy by colour coding – each kid had a colour assigned to them in their pail and they found all the eggs in that colour.  Charlie was very busy finding other kids’ colours and bringing them to the right owner for most of the hunt.  Kate was happy after finding one or two eggs and Matt was a speed machine.  Love how different they all are.

charlie hunting kate hunting matty hunting


Anyway – it was an awesome weekend … and I think those cin buns were a hit I might repeat one day soon … the icing made them amazing.  Find the recipe below with a warning that they are neither low fat nor low sugar… but ohhh so worth it.

I hope you had a wonderful Easter with your family and friends … I was so grateful for ours.  I think out of all of this my best memories will have been watching my sister do a “bum drop” on the trampoline post-wine/dinner tonight, and listening to the incredible version of Hallelujah while sitting next to my mom this morning at church and watching Kate’s little hand reach to hold her hand.


easter kids


Cin Buns:


5 cups flour, 1 TBSP yeast, 1 1/2 C butter, 1 1/4 C milk, 1/3 C brown sugar, 3 eggs, 1 1/2 C brown sugar, 1 TBSP cinnamon

for glaze: 1 container of cream cheese, 1/2C butter, 2 Cups confectioners (icing) sugar

  • place flour and yeast in your mixing bowl of a stand mixer
  • melt 1/3 C butter in microwave or sauce pan and add milk, 1/3C brown sugar and pinch of salt
  • add to yeast and flour and mix on low – add 3 eggs and mix for 5-6 minutes longer until dough is smooth
  • let it rise in a clean, greased bowl in a warm place for 90 minutes – covered
  • prep filling: melt rest of butter and add 1 1/2C of brown sugar and cinnamon – mix into a paste and add a bit of water to make it smooth
  • turn dough onto a floured surface and punch it down to let out air.  then let it sit for 10 min (important)
  • roll out with a floured rolling pin to about 1/2 inch thickness – spread the cin paste all over (right to the edges!)
  • roll dough up into a long log and cut 12-15 equal rounds
  • let sit in a warm place for 90 min to rise again or place covered in the fridge over night and bake in the morning
  • back at 350 for 20-25 min
  • make glaze – 1 container of cream cheese, 1/2 cup of butter – whipped with 2 cups of icing sugar
  • turn out onto a pan and then flip onto another pan so that they are right side up again
  • glaze with icing and serve …. yum!


Trial and Error

That’s really what it’s all about – isn’t it? Parenting.

Being brave. Putting out the time, energy, money, and ego – to try something new… all the while knowing it might fail or need a re-boot?  First time on ice skates, first time at swimming lessons, first time trying new food, first time on an airplane… The thing I find most interesting about the trial and error of parenting is that there are really very few constants.  In fact you might just be the only constant.  There are so many variable factors; mood, time of day, age, number of people present… so when you do get it right – it’s nearly impossible to duplicate! The joke is on us if we think we can actually have control over this part of our lives.  I find the universe laughing at me almost daily, in fact.  I remember when Matt was a baby – once we figured out the whole sleep thing we tried to create the exact same setting every night… same bath time, same lighting setting, same noises, same songs, and as most of you have already figured out well before we did – that builds fabulous little creatures who control your every moment … and then 2 months goes by and their world shifts and everything that once worked no longer does. Gotta love it.

Now a days there is so much on the go for us that we find ourselves being able to plan and control less (I’m still a crazy planner – but LESS is the operative word) – and most days it actually means life is a little more smooth. Chaotic, yes. Unexpected, always. But I am slowly finding when I plan less for the outcome I expect, I am less invested in THE outcome, and just invested in AN outcome.  Matt just started playing soccer in a big boy league.  We know he loves to play.  At the first practice though, he cried… too many new people, too much pressure.  So I went out and played the whole practice as his partner. Not really what  I was hoping would happen but at least he got out there and played… by his first game he knew everyone’s name and was having a blast running around – didn’t score once – but he loved cheering everyone on by name and running all over the place. Okay – I can work with that. Not what I would have planned for but it’s great non-the-less.matt front


We had some Easter trial and error this week as well.  We all painstakingly painted the salt-dough eggs we made with acrylic paint – they were masterpieces (remember this post?).  We hung them out last weekend on our deck and loved looking at them all over our patio in the sunshine. hanging eggs

The kids couldn’t wait to show their little buddies at our egg hunt which ones they painted.  Last night there was a huge rainstorm. The paint didn’t run (I planned for that) – but it was so wet that the water seemed in and made the very hard salt dough eggs all mushy.  mushy egg


Trial and Error.

Off to go bake some muffins and some potentially super fun garden cupcakes … will show you when they’re done.  They might work out – and then again … who knows.

Have a wonderful day.