Joy, Pain, Sunshine, Rain (actually snow)

We had an enormous snowfall last week; look how pretty our outdoor Christmas ornaments were!

We are in full-on winter mode now, with snow and cold and traffic snarls. Despite the enormous inconvenience and physical exertion that come with such snowfalls – traffic! shovelling! taking ten minutes to put on outdoor clothing for a twenty-minute walk! – I managed to spend some time reveling in the beauty of nature. “It’s so pretty, it looks like a Christmas card!” I said over and over, as I drove the kids to school. Maybe I am going to become one of those people who Find Joy In The Snow and annoy everyone who happen to have a normal, non-joyful reaction to a crazy weather event. Well, probably not. But it has been very pretty.

I am just feeling joyful in general lately; I have made some changes to my schedule that have left me feeling light and happy. “It’s like you’re an entirely different person!” my husband said, I THINK in a good way. I’m practically radiating cheer and love from every pore, and I hope this feeling lasts, because the sheer happiness I had from wearing a sweater I like was over the top. I love this sweater! I thought to myself, I love my life! I’m probably annoying everyone around me as I channel Cheer Bear, my spirit animal.

I was loving life slightly less last week, when I came into the backyard with my younger son, after we finished shovelling. Barkley was chewing on something; often magpies will drop garbage in our yards like the rats with wings that they are, and I figured it was something like that. Reader, how wrong I was. How unprepared I was for reality, as I forced Barkley’s mouth open and started to remove the object. It was a dead and very chewed up mouse. Now, Barkley is an old dog with a digestive system to match and so leaving him to it was not an option; instead, I kept pulling it out, all the while screaming my son’s name. He ran over and looked. “Oh, MOM. Oh Mom, I’m so sorry this happened.” Yeah, me too, buddy. Me too.

Have you ever had something happen in your life that you know you will just never emotionally recover from? I have been completely traumatized, and have wondered if it’s possible to get a new hand. Is a hand transplant a thing? CAN I JUST GET A NEW HAND, LIKE LUKE SKYWALKER. Or, at the very least, a skin transplant?

This weekend my husband finished the outdoor light display and we put up the tree and indoor decorations. Friday was a PD day, and it really is incredible how much I can accomplish without the regular morning rush. I decided I was going to bring out all the boxes of decorations out of the storage room, no small feat because everything is packed in there like it’s a life-size game of Tetris. I started pulling out the boxes, and then it turned into one of those If You Give A Mouse A Cookie situations, in which I was suddenly purging and cleaning and rearranging the entire storage area. My husband came downstairs in his robe and looked at me, surrounded by dozens of boxes, silently for a few minutes. “What are you DOING?” he asked. “Do you know it’s only 7:30?” Well, yes. By 7:30 I’d already had a yoga practice, breakfast, and several cups of coffee, and so “tearing apart the storage room” did not seem at all inappropriate. My answer to his question was why do we have so many duffel bags and do you need them.

Why DO we have so many duffel bags?

In any case, the decorations are up and the storage room is clean, so all is well.

I love all Christmas trees; I love the themed ones and the single-colour ones and the eclectic ones and the tacky ones. I have many friends who have beautiful, magazine-worthy trees with all coordinated decorations and bows and what have you. I also have a friend who has a tree covered in every tacky, weird ornament he’s ever come across. The “theme” of our tree is “throw on every decoration we have ever owned” and honestly, I think it’s the best. I have some decorations from when I was a swinging single girl, and some from when my husband and I were first together. The boys have been the recipients of many ornaments from my mother, and those ornaments were things that interested them at the time. It’s fun to see the little tractors and Cars characters from when the kids were little, graduating to superheroes and Scooby Doo, alongside ones we picked up on our trips or lovely classic ornaments. We add new ornaments to our tree every year; this year the boys had brought me a moose from their Alaska trip, and I had bought them a dog ornament that looks like Barkley and a Bob Ross one.

So I’m feeling very festive, writing up my Christmas cards and playing Christmas music non-stop. I haven’t started my baking and treat-making yet, but soon.

The boys were telling me that all of their friends’ houses have “signature scents” and sometimes – particularly in the more athletic households – those scents aren’t as, shall we say, flattering as one might hope. According to their friends, OUR house always smells like baking, and I can tell you that hearing that warmed my heart. Finally I’m getting the accolades I deserve from baking something every other day! Fridays are early dismissal days and more often than not, the boys have friends over for the afternoon, and much more often than not – as I mentioned last week – I make them a “special lunch” which is almost always cinnamon waffles.

This probably biases their opinion of the “signature scent” of our house, in a good way, because these waffles smell heavenly. They taste good too. This isn’t some exciting secret recipe, it simply came in the recipe book that came with my waffle maker. I like to make them because it’s a huge recipe and can feed up to eight teen boys, including a competitive gymnast who trains many hours a week and has an appetite to match.

Cinnamon Waffles

3 cups flour

3 tablespoons cornmeal

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon cinnamon

2 1/2 cups buttermilk (I use 2 1/2 tablespoons vinegar and then fill the rest with milk, to sour)

3 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla (original recipe calls for 1, but you know me, I always double the vanilla)

2/3 cup grapeseed oil (you could use any mild-tasting oil, really)

Mix it all together, let it rest 5 minutes before pouring into the waffle maker. Enjoy!

Now YOUR house can have a signature scent of baking! xo


  1. I love that Bob Ross ornament. Those waffles sound good, too.

  2. I had to read that sentence about total servings a couple of times – I first read it as “18 boys” and I was marveling at a) how voluminous the recipe was and b) how you could so airily host as many as EIGHTEEN BOYS on a weekly basis. When I finally realized it was EIGHT teenage boys… well, I am only slightly less impressed.

    Your cheer and Christmas enthusiasm are infectious. Sounds like a happy, joy-filled, delicious-smelling era in the Boyhouse and it makes me so happy for you all.

  3. bibliomama2 says

    I BOUGHT THE KIDS ORNAMENTS THAT LOOK LIKE LUCY I’m so happy when we are twinsies. We do the every ornament we have ever owned thing too, and I love it. I also love my parents tree which has all red and gold ornaments. I’m with you, all the trees are awesome. I would be feeling slightly more festive if it wasn’t pouring rain (yes I do want some snow back now, I am a total hypocrite and I apologize unreservedly) but our stair rail garland is up and I have cleaned the living room so that space at least is approaching merry brightness.

  4. Love your tree. The kids gather up the ornaments that are theirs and our tree gets loaded with ornaments- sounds similar to yours.

    I agree with Suzanne- your Christmas cheer is infectious! I am envious of your new schedule. I babysit 4 days a week, but I only have 1 baby on Monday. If I could bump him over to Thursday- total bliss. I would have Monday and Friday off. That would be a dreamy schedule.

    I like to think our hose has good baking or cooking smells. I filled 2 crockpots with my chili this am and the house smells so good!

  5. I did a major purge of Christmas stuff last year as I was packing everything away – so I am hoping this year will be manageable. Your tree sounds like ours – pretty much every ornament that Man-Child made or that we were given are on the tree. Generally, I try to select a “theme” (silver and gold / red and gold / red and silver) for the actual store bought ornaments but I’m never, ever tied to that “theme” – so it’s not really a theme then, is it?

    Love your tree – it’s beautiful.

  6. This is one of my favorite posts you have ever written. There were too many favorite parts to list. The sweater. He said, I THINK in a good way. A waffle recipe. Your husband at 7:30 in the morning, silently taking in the scene. The tree-decorating philosophy. I know I said there were too many favorite parts to list and then I listed some anyway.

  7. I can’t wait to make the cinnamon waffles!

  8. I’m just laughing so hard here. And THEN. There is a RECIPE TOO. Can’t get any better. I think I need to get the Barkley ornament as a ? version.

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