Love is a Nuclear Bomb

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My little Anna has a new favorite practice. She likes to pat the floor next to where she is sitting to indicate she would like you to sit by her. She will keep her face completely serious as she slaps the floor repeatedly until someone answers her patting call to sit with her. I am often too lazy to bring my body all the way down on the kitchen floor to sit, but her siblings are much more willing. I get a big kick out of when her older brothers of fifteen and eighteen snuggle up next to her on the floor to enjoy an ice cream cone together or to have a little chat about our cows and chickens. She just adores farm animals. If she wants me to sit with her she is quite smart and will point to the couch instead of the floor.

She seems to say with the pitter-patter of her small hand: Come sit with me and let’s enjoy life together. I feel happy to be with you. You are special to me and I am happy just to be with you. 

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As a mother I am called so often to sit. Sitting to nurse. Sitting to keep a child asleep. Sitting to comfort a sick or crying child. Sitting to lighten the load of a heavy child. Sitting to be close to more than one child. Sitting to read books with children. I sit, and then I sit some more. At times I am nothing but relieved to sit all the while fulfilling my mothering duties, other times I am just biting at the opportunity to flee.

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I knew a woman who knew how to sit well. She sat as well as a stoic on a tree stump fasting. She sat at her station like a loyal soldier. It was a leather chair gifted to her from one of her sixteen children after her last chair grew too worn. She had maybe three chairs during the twenty years I knew her. It was a throne that even after she died last spring, I still do not feel worthy to sit upon. It had held such grace and wisdom, gentle patience, and then pain followed by unshakable peace. I still feel her presence just looking at that chair.

She welcomed people as unassumingly as a small child like Anna. I had met her when I was seventeen and was a bit of a mess. I had started dating her son which I imagine would have worried someone like herself. I most likely had fragments of pink Manic Panic in my hair and wore clothes that went against her modest sensibilities, though never did she indicate anything but acceptance and kindness toward me. I can still remember when I heard through other family members that she liked me. It was settled. I was welcome.

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The truth is, she liked everyone and welcomed them. Her house was always full of those that wanted to be near her. She knew what most people only say: People matter more than things. People should love their neighbors, not gossip about them. People should be there for one another. Being present is important.

Her life was not glamorous. Her life was riddled with bodily pains that she barely mentioned and sacrifices innumerable. Her life was often messy and loud, not because of her doing but because of those that loved her and needed her. I do not think I could have handled her life, and I am sure she heard that from others more times than she needed to, but she did not focus on that sort of thing.

Though her chair is now empty and people are becoming more comfortable filling it, she has left much to ponder. I feel I can now talk to her anytime. I know what she would say to me. I know what she would say to you. I know what she said was true.

Come, sit with me. You are enough.

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In Honor of Carol Pearson

Carol said love is like a nuclear bomb. Thank you, Carol, for igniting it and sharing it with me. We will always miss you but you have left us with so much love and the bomb is spreading its splendid plume. Bernie just had twins!

Hallejuh, Our Struggle Ends.

 

 

 

Santa Lucia Brunch (and no-guilt cinnamon rolls)

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My husband and I have almost the same heritage. I am Finnish/Swedish/Norwegian and Irish. He is, for the most part, Norwegian and Irish. Living in the township of Oulu, Wisconsin, an original Finnish homesteading community, has really called us both back to our Scandinavian roots. How we would have enjoyed talking with those homesteading ancestors. It often feels like we have to reinvent the wheel with farming know-how. The outdoor sauna was a major selling point for me on this homestead as my family on my mother’s side always took sauna and I wanted to give that to our children.

As  Catholics, and Scandinavians, the tradition of celebrating St. Lucy’s day was a fun way to add more koselig (cosiness) and fika (eating yummy things like pastries and cakes with coffee) into our lives. See those ancestors were smart. When you live in frigid temperatures with little daylight, it helps to fill your days with cosiness, like warm mugs of tea and cocoa, snuggle up to the fireside, wear comfy slippers and put your feet up. I LOVE winter. It’s an excuse to slow things down! It’s a time to pipe dream and knit, reflect and kiss those sweet baby cheeks. I do hope you have some sweet cheeks that you can kiss.
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For our low key brunch I made a big cast iron pan of scrambled eggs with spinach, onion, and sharp cheddar, just to balance out the major sweetness from the two batches of cinnamon rolls everyone was waiting for, and woke up smelling. That’s so much fun to do! Much better than mean old, “Wake up!!”

One of the cinnamon rolls were according to a recipe, and one according to a non-guilt indulgent criteria. Thankfully the latter was good enough that I did not entertain the former.

No Guilt Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting:

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CINNAMON-STEVIA FILLING

8-10 packets of stevia

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Mix in a small bowl; set aside

Set the oven to 425 degrees

BISCUIT DOUGH:

2 1/2 cups ground almond flour

4 packets stevia

1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk

6 tablespoons melted unsalted butter

Whisk dry ingredients. Add butter and mix in almond milk with a wooden spoon. Sprinkle almond flour onto a work surface and “gently pat” (it will be moist!) into a rectangle about 3/4 inch thick.

Sprinkle cinnamon-stevia filling over the surface leaving an inch or so around the perimeter empty.

Roll the long end up, patting as you go and doing so very gently. You may want a spatula to help form and lift as you go.

Cut rolls about every 2 inches and place on baking pan with a 2 inch edge. I used a high fluted pie pan. I got eight rolls, though when they were baked they melted into each other so they will resemble more of a cake than a roll. More almond flour would firm it up, but I liked it moist and cakey.

Bake for about 25-30 minutes. They will be gooey looking, but it’s good believe me.

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING:

1/3 package cream cheese thawed

2 Tablespoons heavy cream

2 Tablespoons sour cream

2-4 packets of stevia *based on your sweet meter

Cream contents together with a fork or mixer until they are well blended. Mix in stevia.

Spread over slightly cooled “rolls”.

Yummm! And sooooo filling. I am still full from the brunch and it’s dinner time. My husband asked a few times if they were really low-carb. I think they were a winner!

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More koselig in the home.  Handcrafted soaps, beeswax candlelight, and cranberry garland.

There are just a few Sweet Cardamom Kisses handcrafted soaps listed on my ETSY and it is a perfect scent for the Finns in your life. It’s the next best thing to pulla, a Finnish cardamom-spiced sweet bread. My mother makes such a beautiful braided pulla.

Here’s to koselig! And, Santa Lucia!
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Dearest Decor Ghosts of Christmas Past

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Introduction:

Picture a gigantic, gaudy, sparkly red and green ball of panic, trussed up with anything that emits Christmas, marching like a trumpet band into your house to camp out in every nook and cranny for a whole solid month. Imagine with your nose an olfactory hallucination of a noxious, artificially scented evergreen dust bomb exploding in your house. Taste, if you will allow me, a cheap dry freezer burnt sugar cookie that you are only eating because it’s Christmas time. It’s Christmas time and you must eat it.

This was my experience toting up a few harmless Christmas decorations from the basement last week. It was hard to recognize the feelings of anxiety masquerading as slight displeasure and dissonance with mere decor placement. Because?

Rising Action:

Why in the world would Christmas decorations cause me to feel panicky? Dramatic? I am sorry, but I guess, yes. And, are there much greater problems in the world? And, again, uh huh.

Nonetheless, please forgive my shallow concept of drama and just know it was still a mighty festive panic that crawled up my throat like a roach Grinch and punctured a serious drain on my newfound Christmas cheer.

All I could think was when will this all be over.

Normally, I do enjoy rummaging through the seasonal decor and finding just the right spot for Mr. and Mrs. Claus, the reindeer, the numerous bunches of artificial foliage, wreaths, three or four nativity sets, miniature trees, sleighs, bells, ornaments, lights, candles. Oh boy.

Yep. Festive panic.

Over the summer I anticipated this stimulation overload and went through the Christmas decorations and pared things down to what I really liked and/or is sentimental enough to hold onto. So, naturally taking them out for their time to shine was the appropriate thing to do and should have been a pleasure after being so nicely and neatly stored away. Because, obviously you use the things you keep, and it was now my duty to display them whether I liked it or not.

There they were propped up on the mantle, looking dumb and still dumber, and nothing like what I hoped for or my Christmas pinterest board. Baa. I guess that’s the way things are. Humbug. It must be the house that is making these decorations look so bad because I remember these things looking so nice in Christmas past.

I can’t just have Christmas decorations and NOT use them?

Wait. What?

Climax:

I packed those decorations right back up and down the stairs, and guess what? They didn’t care at all. They were like maybe we’ll have a shot next year? Yes, maybe next year if you survive the next summer purge. Maybe? Anyways, it’s not you, it’s me.

Falling action:

Now. What do I like?

Oh, that’s easy. I like simple. I like clean. I like berries, pomegranates, cranberries, oranges. I like real evergreen garland, twig wreaths, beeswax candles.

Denouement:

Why, hello there, Christmas spirit! So glad you came back for me.

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20161202_120842p.s. This is happening upstairs. I thought you should know. If you don’t understand: Here. Thanks, Mary A. for the great idea! Now the kids are complaining that the clothes are too dry, and the washer sounds like it is going to take off the ground. Dear Santa….

Hip Homeschool Moms