Thursday, March 14, 2013

A Poem Inspired by Dance and Hoop Path

Farren Square 2009 Photo by Ester Malzahn

This poem came coursing through me at the end of the first day of hoop dance workshops with JL Baxter of Hoop Path, and I shared it with all 46 other dancers at the end of the third and final day. My hoop is my temple, and dancing is my prayer. It felt powerful to be in a room with 46 artists and dancers, dancing for the love of movement and the freedom of expectation.

My Ribs

I felt my ribs
          break     open
two birds were freed.
My heart is healed
by the teal tears
of my reflection.

The earth     holds me.

My fingers are roots my    h a i r
stretches  l o n g   like  b r a n c h e s
Song and soot of dirty sweat

          I ache

to be free
of these ribs

          I quake

at the whisper
of the air
of the linger.

The earth     holds me.

Healed by teal tears
the girth of me
feels my ribs
          break     open

and two birds were freed
inside my heart


You may be interested in my Other Poems including:

Monday, March 4, 2013

Allowed Hibernating

Aren't I northern mammal,
of northern mammals who came from
northern mammals before them?
Aren't I borne
of centuries of darkness,
northern mammala diet of
salty fish and snow and snow
and wind and rains?

And like northern mammals,
I make a warm cave.
I build a warm nest, tangled so
imperfectly and too tight and too loose
but warm and bright and welcoming.

I am a snowshoe hare, my eyes vigilant
but ready and calm.

I tear the soft fur from my belly.

I can hear the melting snow ringing
in my long ears, I
can feel the ground thaw
underneath my old feet.

I can hear the greens return.
I can stay in my nest 'til then.


Thursday, January 17, 2013

I killed the frog at seven years old and knew.

It's so hard to think about myself at seven, so vulnerable and open. So confused and ready to know everything but no clue how to absorb it. If I could I would go back as I am now and explain it all to her, to the little seven year old me confused and lost, crying in her backyard.

My mother had a garden that she kept in the six feet of dirt between the back wall of our garage and a tall brown fence. My mother never wondered why she could only grow rhubarb back there in this little stretch of sunless dirt, even though she planted many many seeds.

They trucked in a hill of manure one year and left it in the middle of our backyard. I remember how terrible it smelled and that we climbed and climbed and climbed that five foot tall hill, to absolutely no objections.

I was seven years old and lonely as all hell, teased at school, and happier than any pig, climbing that hill of shit. I was seven years old when my hands reached in that hill of shit and pulled out a small frog. I was seven years old and I still remember it, I still remember holding a frog between my fingers for the first time, its little legs rubbery and kicking as it struggled to be free. I still remember letting the neighbour boy hold it, how he was inept at keeping it trapped and how I had to scoop it up again from a hot driveway in July.

I tried to keep it, in a five gallon bucket in the cool garage. Lots of bugs in there, I thought. My parents told me that it must have jumped out, but I'm sure they let it go after I was asleep.

I spent the whole day crying that I'd killed it. I spent the whole next day crying in my backyard, because I still believed all animals needed scooping up. All animals needed a saving. It was dead or probably dying, and it was because I hadn't saved it. I knew what it felt like to need a scooping up. I knew what it felt like to need to be saved from living and so maybe I was the only one who could have saved that frog, and I had let it down.

Life is rough when you are seven years old and you know you are different. You know people don't understand your intensity. You know you are lonely as hell, teased at school, and you can't even save one stupid cute little frog how the fuck are you going to save yourself. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

I haven't been breathing.

And all at once I heard a sound that took my breath away, deep in relief and frenzy.

I haven't really been breathing since.

Ha! I laughed, airlessly, as this tiny being cried into my ribs, coated and uncomfortable, his sounds echoing into the vacuum of my breathless torso.

Is it okay? I asked the woman peering over me. I don't know, she said, then quickly Yes. Yes. Of course it's okay. But I wasn't speaking of you.

Is it okay to feel as though you are a small nothingness, slipping off the side of the head of a pin, holding the most important thing you've ever seen. Is it okay to feel the weight of dumbness over you like clear waves, pressing you into the dark sand below. Is it okay to want to sleep forever wrapped in gasping fear and wisdom all at once. Is it okay to feel love tearing through yourself, like a sun burning up the clouds over the sea. Love is ripping each cell apart, the friction of newness explodes all neurons in fire and the smoke waters your eyes. And it's okay.

Can I take him home? I asked and they laughed, but I meant it. When can I leave and can it be right now and can we never leave home again? The world was already bored of snow that year and the path we took circled through the forest and past SCENIC LOT NUMBER 65. Once we saw a snow fox there, but not this time, probably because it heard us coming, all important and deafeningly breathless. All full of potential and worry.

And this is where your family sleeps, this is where we wait for frost and thaw, this is where we hold you, without the rise and fall of ribs for fear of waking from this fog. This is where your feet will grow, this is where the lights will glow deep into 4am one night, ears red with fury and the first stabbings of pain. This is where we soak in baths, and wait for sleep. Wait for sleep and wait for sleep.

I admit defeat and I opened my skull and I know nothing. I know everything about you and I know nothing else. You are the most important thing I've ever seen and some days I celebrate the fact that I don't understand you at all. I force myself to breathe. I remind myself to take air, I focus on the pattern, on the wheeze of my unused nose. I remember when it came easily to me. Breathing. Before there was you.

Friday, August 17, 2012

#37. This Moment: Best Moments in Life are These

Best Moments
{this moment}
A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savour, and remember.
If you're inspired to do the same
leave your link in the comments 
then go to Soule Mama and do the same.

Friday, August 10, 2012

#36. This Moment: Baby Scientist Has Work to do.

Baby Scientist Has Work To Do
{this moment}
A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savour, and remember.
If you're inspired to do the same
leave your link in the comments 
then go to Soule Mama and do the same.

Friday, June 15, 2012

#35. This Moment: Rain Explorer

Rain Explorer - Taken by Mandude

{this moment}
A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savour, and remember.
If you're inspired to do the same
leave your link in the comments 
then go to Soule Mama and do the same.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Very Big Thing - The Cheese Edition.

a Very Big Thing is happening. I haven't tweeted about it because there has been too much to say. I haven't blogged about it because the vastness of my feelings about this subject were surely going to be misconstrued.

We had Squeaky D allergy tested. I was terrified, for many reasons. It was all very complicated.

But when the RAST test happened without a single tear shed, without a single food reaction. A heavy veil was lifted. Because we only tested six items, the allergist asked if we wanted to do a blood test. He was concerned about my reports of gastric pain in Baby D, about his belly rashes and eczema. Signs of sensitivity to something, he said.
The slippery slope of cute.

And then I was terrified about drawing a toddler's blood. People do this all the time! I told myself, unable to convince myself. Thankfully good friends advised me to go to the Stollery Children's Hospital and ask for a pediatric collector. They told me exactly how to hold him, and in the end it went much better than anticipated (besides the nurse telling me afterwards not to breastfeed him when he was crying in case he chokes. MEGALOL.), and he got a sticker at the end, which made him very proud. Who knew he gets stickers now? Not me.

The results came back perfectly clear! The only test that wasn't done was the test for Celiac Disease, as neither of us consume gluten and you have to have the protein in your system for 6 weeks prior to the blood test.

CHEESE! And firetrucks and horses, I guess.

I've been dying to say something. Brie! Havarti! Swiss! Feta! Edam! All my favourite cheeses! I ate a creamy dip. I had scrambled eggs! There has been mayonnaise, a latte, ice cream, and OMG REAL GREEK YOGURT. Cookies baked with egg and butter.

I will say this. I'm skeptical. Very skeptical. Squeaky D so far hates egg and dairy. Refuses to eat much of anything, including melted cheese (Theories abound that he may not be mine, but I watched him come out of me and he didn't really leave my sight after that, so...). His eczema on the backs of his hands has become worse. At first, he did have little bumps across his belly though it seems to have become a mix of eczema and dry skin, now. The medical community tells me that this is simply NOT related to his diet, it could be anything they say.

So here I sit, a baby who is suffering, doctors who have no answers, and a mountain of milk chocolate at my disposal. Milk chocolate, you guys.

A Very Big Thing, indeed.

Friday, April 20, 2012

#34: Cat in Box, Toddler with Blocks.

Chairman Meow isn't always this patient.
{this moment}
A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savour, and remember.
If you're inspired to do the same
leave your link in the comments 
then go to Soule Mama and do the same.

Monday, April 9, 2012

The quick step of a toddler.

There was a time in your childhood that your father played music in a band. He sits with you, in the bathroom while you play in the tub, and plays guitar softly. Or sometimes he plugs his bass guitar into his amp and grooves a bath-time beat for you.

Every now and then I can hear him, stopping to help you keep water in the tub, congratulating you on your latest watery concoction, a bucket full of water and toys.

You are one year and four months old and you are so alive. It is springtime, almost, we can feel it if we breathe in deep at the right time of day. Trees have buds, but are holding their breath. The days tumble by with the quick step of a toddler learning to use his feet and balance. And you love to stomp around, you've only just mastered the vertical existence, and already you see the power and potential in this independence.

Best Buds
You say things like no! And oh oh, mournfully, of course. You use more and again to get what you need. You know how to sign sleep when you are tired, help when you are frustrated, and of course milk, well, anytime, really.  You say car! and point out our low front windows at neighbourhood traffic. You say car! and push around any toy that rolls saying brbrbrbrbrbrbrbrbrbbrr. You build towers out of blocks, not just knock them down. You ask me to turn the music on in the morning and then you dance until nap.

 When you laugh, when you are simply delighted, you throw your head back and exclaim HA! You don't ever want to hold anyone's hand. You are never still enough for a really crisp photograph anymore, unless you're eating or nursing.

Sometimes it strikes me, it physically stops me in my tracks, how magical you are. How fantastic it is to watch you grow and discover. How un-cussing-believable it is that you came from me, that I get to help you build this experience called life. How big and important that makes me in your eyes, how small and tiny and spec-like it makes me feel in my eyes.
Beautiful magical baby.
This time last year I was much more afraid. Everything scared me, everything. I had to shovel myself out the door, shock myself into being human, into showing you the world. This year I am excited. The world is brimming with possibilities and I want to show you how spectacular and brilliant summer-time can be.

I want to show you bugs and water animals, I want to built forts in the urban forests and picnic in their shade. I want to take you camping and show you lake swimming. I want to dance on the green grass with you under the stars and fire-flies.

Friday, March 23, 2012

#33. This Moment: Multitasking.

Breastfeeding and Cat Cuddling
{this moment}
A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savour, and remember.
If you're inspired to do the same
leave your link in the comments 
then go to Soule Mama and do the same.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Vegan Whipped Coconut Cream on Strawberries

Are you ready for the easiest vegan desert in the history of amazingly easy vegan deserts?!
Vegan Gluten Free and Unbelievable.
Yes. Yes you are.

This whipped topping is made from coconut milk and is completely dairy free, egg free, soy free. Vegan. So light and delicious. And only four simple ingredients. I have attempted this recipe a few times on a few different occasions and each time it just keeps getting better.

Coconut milk can frost a cake, for real.  
For my lovely friend Leslie's Autumn birthday I made a vegan gluten free pumpkin cake and used this recipe as the orange icing, it worked perfectly.
For Squeaky D's First Rainbow Birthday Party I used it to frost the rainbow cupcakes.

Cold Creamy Coconut Milk
And the other night I noticed the can of organic coconut milk I had in the pantry was about to pass the "Best Before" date. I popped it in the back of the fridge overnight. By morning the thick creamy coconut milk has risen to the top of the can and what little bit of coconut water that is left is at the bottom of the can. I scooped a spoonful into my coffee and decided to save the rest for this desert, perfect for a sunny spring day.

What I Used
1.5 cups sliced strawberries
Sugar or sweetener to taste (I used organic raw Agave Nectar)

1 can premium organic coconut milk
1 tbpsn icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla
small pinch of cinnamon

What I Did
Earlier in the day, I sliced up the strawberries, drizzled them in agave nectar, stirred them around in a small but deep bowl, and popped them in the fridge. The key is letting the strawberries soak in the sweetener and make that nice yummy syrup. I like to stir them (and taste them!) a few times over the course of the day. Hey! I never said it was healthy, I just said it was vegan.

 Just before serving, I took the can of coconut milk from the fridge and took extra care not to flip or shake it. When I opened the top to scoop off the thickened coconut milk into a bowl I was happy to see well over half the can was creamy and thick, which is why I buy the premium organic coconut milk. Once in a bowl I added the icing sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon and then using my mixer I whip it until it is light - very little time at all, really.
I take every excuse to use my vintage pyrex bowl.

We had more than enough whipped coconut cream for our strawberries in syrup that we dipped a few other fruits as well. This topping is so versatile, in coffees, hot chocolates, on cupcakes, or pancakes, pretty much worth trying on anything sweet!



Friday, March 16, 2012

#33. This Moment: Away he goes...

Away he goes...
{this moment}
A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savour, and remember.
If you're inspired to do the same
leave your link in the comments 
then go to Soule Mama and do the same.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Squeaky D's Rainbow Birthday of Awesome!

I have been trying to write about Squeaky D's First Birthday for almost four months now. First I nearly lost all of the photos that were taken that day. Very very few photos were taken, but to lose them all in a technical glitch? I don't want to think about it. But I did recover some photos, thankfully, and I've decided to let them mostly speak for themselves. Yes? Yes.

I made the Royal Birthday Baby a quick birthday crown.

I know babies don't really care about their first birthdays. And that is totally cool. But I really wanted to invite over all the people who love him and give everyone a really spectacular day. Since Squeaky D's favourite thing at the time was colours (uh, isn't it every baby's?) I decided to keep it a really simple Rainbow theme and just have fantastic food and a colourful experience for everyone. A big thanks to D's Auntie Kaylin who came over a few hours in advance and helped out big time!

An old parachute hung from the ceiling and a rainbow umbrella.
I was kind of nervous to have a bunch of kids in my house. There, I said it. It scares me! I used to work with kids, so it is strange that I am nervous about it. It isn't because I don't know songs or games to play! There weren't even that many coming, really, it was an adult-heavy event. I decided I would build the children a fort in our second bedroom, fill it with all the toys and a ton of rainbow balloons, and encourage them to make their own good time? It worked. Perfectly.
White and rainbow holiday lights lit the parachute from behind.
The view of the birthday fort from above... several days later!
I kept the grab bags really simple. Every one, even the adults, got a paper bag that I decorated with old scrap-booking leftovers. The children's bags had homemade rainbow playdough, bubbles, a colourful pen, tattoos, and a jar full of rainbow jelly beans, a chocolate, and a disco ball holiday ornament.
Sad goodie bags that were left behind.

Jars full of Jelly Beans for everyone!
 I really didn't get a lot of shots of the food or drinks. I did rainbow fruits and rainbow (as much as possible!) vegetables. I had the usual meat and cheese and hummus and dips and some mini-tacos that went way too fast. I did gluten free and dairy free chocolate cupcakes that were so delicious, iced them with coconut-milk frosting and topped with sprinkles in rainbow colours. Desmond's cupcake was the only one with more than one colour. 
Not a huge fan. He didn't take one bite!

One of each colour. 
I put up a Rainbow Photo wall but only one guest had her photo taken there - and she slept right through it! Squeaky D's good friend Attia brought her Mama, Sarah from A Random Sampling, but was too tuckered out to stay up for photos.
Sarah and Attia
I hand-dyed the orange streamers myself. No joke, a month after Halloween and no orange streamers to be found. And I went to five different stores. So I made my own. Ha!
Our little family is one year old.
At the end of the day, The Squeaker had a fantastic time. He spent most of the day chasing around the other kids and laughing his face off. That's all I really wanted. Oh yeah, and delicious food. 

Happy Birthday, Squeaky D! I love you.

Friday, March 9, 2012

All I need to keep breastfeeding my toddler.

When Desmond was five months old I managed to slip away one afternoon with out him.  I was a new size again, and I wanted to go shopping. I called my best shopping friend and she took me to the mall, the biggest mall, the one that makes me the most lost ever. It was a cold day, but it felt like spring, and we ran through the parking lot with no jackets on.

The reason why I remember this so vividly is because we were talking about breastfeeding. Desmond was almost 6 months and I was proud that I had made it to this milestone. I told her I definitely planned to keep nursing for at least a year ...Maybe even two. She was shocked, but only a little bit. She asked me sincerely, could I handle that kind of responsibility to my child for two ENTIRE years? At the time it seemed overwhelming to me. Five months had felt like forever, already. Could I really make it two years?

At this point I guess I can't answer that question. I'm only 15 and a half months in. But over these past 15 months things have only became easier relative to our rocky start. When I am honest with myself, I realize I have only grown to love it more. Every hurdle we meet we approach with an open mind and then we stride over with such ease that I think maybe we were meant to keep doing this a little while longer.

This past December, Desmond was 13 months old. We were celebrating Christmas with our extended family and, of course, I was nursing him. I am most comfortable nursing away from my family and, of course, no one said anything to me about it. It was almost laughable how I felt it bubble up inside me, the need to justify it to those around me.

There are so so so many reasons to justify breastfeeding a toddler. More than any one person could spew in a minute or two just to fill awkward silence. BESIDES, I said too loudly, my doctor told me to go all the way to two years old!* --cue nervous laughter and shifty eyes--

The truth is, I don't need to justify it to friends, family, or strangers. I don't need you to like it. I've done the research and I know it is what's best for my son and best for me, and that is all that I need to keep going.

Four hundred and seventy one days of breastfeeding, and no reason to stop now. 

So cheers to all the moms breastfeeding toddlers right now, are you reading this blog? How old is your nursling?

*My doctor did recommend we breastfeed until "at least" 2 years old, for a multitude of reasons, but mainly THIS.