SUNDAY CATCAKES

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‘I know what you should make for special Sunday breakfast’, exclaimed Cinnamon as she came into my bedroom this morning. I already had something in mind which turned out to be the same as what she was requesting.

‘Pancakes’, she continued.

‘I was already thinking that’, I replied, and was delighted to see that we both had the same idea in mind.

Sundays are the one time during the week that I set out to make something which takes a little more time and effort than the rest of the week when we are usually hurry to get out the door. For almost every Sunday, this includes strawberries alongside anything that I might be making. French toast with strawberries, crepes with strawberries, and now pancakes with strawberries.

As I located my recipe and started to measure out the ingredients, Cinnamon came out of her room with a cookie cutter. It was in the shape of a cat. One which was bought on a trip to Williams Sonoma.

‘Can I use the cat cookie cutter for the pancakes’, asked Cinnamon.

‘Sure’, I replied.

The process of making Sunday breakfast is always a long one but well worth it. I had been working on my own recipe for buttermilk pancakes during the past year as every other recipe I had tried turned out to be a disappointment. The pancakes would be either too dry or too flat. In both cases, the flavour was found to be lacking. This would be the second time I tried my recipe and it turned out to be better than I remembered it being last time.

‘This doesn’t even need syrup’, exclaimed Saffron. I followed her lead and knew what she meant. The children realised that the syrup took away the taste of the pancakes. And they were right. The pancakes, or catcakes, tasted much better on their own along with the strawberries flavoured with fresh lemon zest and a touch of caster sugar.

The batter ended up making around 20 medium-sized pancakes and a few tiny ones which Saffron made as she poured the batter onto the hot griddle. The medium-sized pancakes were large enough to carve out a cat with the cookie cutter. The children were delighted and I was happy to be able to sit down with them for a slower paced breakfast this morning.

Not long after breakfast, I reluctantly drove to the house to finish washing the tiled floors downstairs. That was the last thing I wanted to do on a Sunday but I knew that it needed to be done. Only a few more weekends, I told myself, and this will be over.

Dinner was earlier than usual which was also good. I cooked up a new batch of linguine and warmed up the Alfredo sauce from the night before. The children declared that the Alfredo sauce tasted much better this time. After I had watered it down with some pasta water so it was not as thick.

For dessert, we finished the last of the catcakes from breakfast. The last day of June was nearing its end with the second half of the year before us with a promise of being much better than the first half had been.

A LABOURING SATURDAY

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‘Mama, am I adorable or cute’, asked my son after drinking his tea tonight.

‘Ahhh, you’re cute’, I replied.

‘Adorable is better’, he stated.

Though it was the weekend, I was still not able to sleep in later than usual. I was awake before the sun and settled on my little twin mattress and continued reading the second book from Elizabeth Haynes. An hour later I was out of bed to get ready to go buy a few items at Central Market.

My son heard me open my bedroom door so I asked him if he would like to go with me to the shop. He readied himself and then we left. The drive on the highway was pleasant as the road was near empty. By the time we reached the shop, it was around 08,30.

‘Why are all these closed’, my son asked about the several checkout lines that were not yet open.

‘It’s still early’, I replied. And it was the perfect time to be close to city centre as most people were likely still sleeping in on a Saturday morning.

He seemed surprised when the lady at the checkout told us the total. It was the amount I quoted my son as I had kept a running total in my head. I let him know that math is one of those skills in school he learns that will actually be useful in the future. History, on the other hand, is not a subject I see as being used on a daily basis as we reach adulthood.

We stopped by the bank after going to one more shop but the wait was too long so we continued to home where we awoke the girls for breakfast. Fresh baguette with Irish butter and mixed berries jam, eggs for two of the children, and coffee. Simple and pleasant as it had been a long while since we ate such a breakfast as we had been without jam for several weeks.

After breakfast and cleanup, my son and I went to the house to clear out his room and his sisters’ room. The management company will be arriving Monday to check on the house and see if it is ready for potential residents to view it for leasing. I told the lady that it is not and that we still have furniture and other items there. One more month and the place will be empty and clean. For now, it is a work in progress.

We laboured for over an hour then put most of the items in the garage at the apartment. I then left my son home and returned for another transfer of the items from the upstairs rooms. There are not many more things remaining upstairs except the two dressers, a cabinet, and a wooden bunk bed. The bed will be relegated to the garage with hopes that someone will buy it at some point in the future.

After returning home, I stayed indoors the rest of the day. We ate ice cream and cookies upon my return which we all enjoyed. An hour or so later, I prepared a salad with cod fish fillets. And then after that we had our evening tea with cookies, albeit without the usual shortbread cookies which accompany our tea.

Though I had hoped this to be a more relaxing day, it turned out to be more of a labouring Saturday. I look forward to the day when I can hand over the keys to the rental house and move forward with our new home.

A DISTANT JOURNEY

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‘Why did you have to say that’, she groaned as she placed the items into the little grocery cart.

‘Reading is fun’, I replied. ‘And good for you. ‘

‘No it isn’t’, she came back. The mere thought of it seemed to have pained her somehow.

The conversation started with her asking if I had any special plans for the upcoming weekend. I told her relaxing, which was not exactly the relaxing that some people might have in mind, and reading. That was definitely something I would do as it is my way to unwind.

I realised my trips to the grocery store for random items have decreased significantly since I have started to use cash instead of relying solely on credit cards. Tonight I had planned to buy one avocado but then noticed that both the Teo and Haagen Dazs ice creams were on sale. Seeing how I had promised the children that we would be buying ice cream for these last five days that they are with me this half of summer, I decided to buy three different kinds.

‘You just have to find the right book’, I continued. And then proceeded to explain that if you were reading a murder mystery book that you couldn’t wait to find out who was the killer. Still, the girl was not impressed. She looked no older than 16. The woman ringing up the items was much older and heard our conversation.

‘Enjoy your murder mystery…or whatever you’re reading’, the older woman wished me as I rolled away the little cart with three containers of ice cream and one avocado. I smiled as I was certain that she agreed with me about the reading.

A good book can transport you to a faraway place providing an escape from the life you lead now. Characters in a book can teach you lessons which might take years for you to learn otherwise. Or they might simply give you a glimpse into the different personalities of humans. Reading expands your mind in a way that no device or social media platform can provide. Somehow, it seems the younger generation has developed a great dislike for the printed medium.

The act of holding a book and flipping the pages with suspense brings with it an excitement that no other form of entertainment can bring. It is an active as opposed to a passive form of entertainment. But you truly need to find the book for you. The sort of story which will keep your interest and not cause your mind to wander but instead will arouse your curiosity.

As you approach the last half of the book you realise that the end is nigh. Perhaps you speed through to the end to see if you were right about story’s direction. Or maybe you’re the kind of person who slows down during the second half of the book as you know that reaching the final chapters will bring about a sort of sadness as you disconnect with the characters.

In addition to being fun and entertaining, reading can be educational. It expands your mind and leads you on a journey to worlds unknown. Places you would like to visit. Topics which enrich our thoughts and lead to more fulfilled lives. The options are endless. We simply need to make time to sit down and embrace those quiet moments alone with a book and let it take us on that distant journey.

ON BEING BORED

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‘Excuse me’, I interjected as heard the exchange of words coming from the other room. My older daughter was talking with her father on the phone, telling him how I do not take them anywhere after work. A perplexed look crossed my face.

During dinner she stated that she simply told him the truth. That she was bored and that I did not take them anywhere. At first, I took offense to what she said. Then I thought otherwise as such are the circumstances this summer. There are plenty of things she could do if so she chose. But she did not. Neither did the other two children. For the most part.

‘Where were you thinking I could take you after work’, I asked and then continued to explain that I took time to make dinner so that we could all eat together before going to bed as I had work the following morning.

‘Shopping’, she stated.

‘I have no money for shopping’, I replied.

‘Well, I do and we still get allowance tomorrow’, she continued.

I tried to explain to all three of my children that being bored is good. They strongly disagreed. Boredom builds character as one needs to be actively thinking about how to use time in a way that does not involve someone else filling in the empty moments. When all of your time is planned out for you, there is little left for one’s imagination to take over.

This age of passive entertainment in the form of iDevices and computers has robbed both children and adults of being able to form their own thoughts. It has taken away their ability to become creative. To explore some random thought down a rabbit hole to a potentially amazing discovery. Instead, we have become so dependent on someone or something else filling our time that we have forgotten how to think independently.

As parents, we often struggle with the guilt of not being there for our children. Of needing to go to work in order to make money to pay the bills so that we can keep a roof over our heads. For a single mother, this guilt is greater as there is nobody else to fill in the time that she needs to be away from her children. Nobody to help with the bills so that she can take some extra time off work in order to spend a day driving somewhere, anywhere  with the children or simply staying home and working on puzzles or Lego sets or baking a cake or cookies with one or all of them.

Reality is not always what we would like it to be. Therefore, we must learn to create our own reality. To shape our future and not allow others to make all of our choices for us. There is no need to waste precious time watching YouTube videos or movies. Of scrolling mindlessly through endless social media posts or playing games for hours on end.

Being bored is good. Grab a book and read it. Get a piece of paper and draw. Or write. Just do something. Anything.

CABIN FEVER

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‘I’m going to take a picture’, I said as I opened the door to the balcony.

‘Is that for your blog’ asked my son. ‘It better be’, he continued before I had a chance to reply.

The younger two children were a bit upset that I hadn’t posted anything since Sunday. They said they liked to read what I was thinking about every day and I’ve noticed how they have read many of my blog posts in the past few days. It brings back memories for them. And since this is the closest that they will get to reading anything, I figured I might as well try to come up with something as getting them to pick up a book would require some sort of miracle.

What I’m thinking about varies from day to day. No two days are alike. Seeing how the month’s end is approaching, I will be thinking about how to pay the bills. How I will stretch one paycheck and the last of my savings to cover two rents, a car payment, and credit card debt and what else I will have to give up in order to make the remaining funds last until the next paycheck. Working overtime three or four days a week this past month has proven not to be as beneficial as I had hoped since I am sacrificing both sleep and breakfast in order to make it to work by 07,15 or 07,45.

But tonight I am thinking about how unruly the three children were after dinner. The screaming and crazy laughing. Mischievous conspiring in the closet by the boy and his older sister whilst the middle one, Cinnamon, yells that her sister is scaring the bunny.

‘Mama, do something!’ Cinnamon cried at my door.

‘What do you want me to do?!’, I shouted back.

On one hand, I feel a bit sorry for Hopper. He sits there in his cage amidst chaos and a scattering of bunny poop in his cage. On the other hand, I was livid on Monday when I noticed a hole about 3 centimeters wide on the new duvet cover I bought for my daughter along with scratches all over that cover. The deal was that bunny would not go on any bed or anywhere outside their room. I am certain he will be happy to leave tomorrow when the children’s father comes to pick him up albeit several days later than intended.

All of this is understandable as the children are somewhat like the bunny. Caged in a tiny apartment with nowhere to go. There is no yard for them to play in though when we did have a yard, they rarely played outside anyway. But we did have more than double the space which made for a much nicer experience for both the children and me.

Cabin fever has gotten to all of us but there is no end in sight. We simply have to make the best of what we have and take things day by day. By this time next month, the rest of our furniture will be here at the apartment and in the garage. I will finally have my bed to sleep on and we will have the entire living space filled with a sectional sofa which is far too large for this apartment.

Somehow, I will make this work. For the moment, I will turn on the thunderstorm option on my ‘Calm’ app on my phone and tune out the negative thoughts.

THE LIGHT BUG

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‘Mama, you need to help me kill it!’, came the cry from the other side of my bedroom door. It was late and I needed to get to sleep. Tomorrow was going to be an early morning for me.

‘Go to bed’, I replied.

‘But Mama, please’, my son pleaded. ‘You need to kill that bug. That light bug you saw today.’

‘Sage, I’m not going to kill a bug. Go to sleep.’

‘Please Mama!’, cried my son.

Somehow I had a feeling that I would not be getting any sleep until I addressed the issue of the light bug. When we reached his room, I turned on the light and noticed the small black bug on the ceiling.

‘That bug will not hurt you. Just leave the door open and he will get out’, I told my son.

He was not convinced. I told him I would leave the hallway light on so the bug would get attracted to the light outside his room. For some reason I thought he meant the bug was attracted to the light until I realised there was no light in his room.

‘How do you even see the bug’, I wondered.

‘I see it light up’, he replied.

It was then that it dawned on me that by ‘light bug’ he meant a firefly. He was afraid of the light randomly appearing on the ceiling and I realised that would quite possibly bother me as well. I then turned around and plugged in the night light that lay on the floor. That seemed to appease him as he pulled the duvet over his body and went to sleep.

A HUMDRUM SUMMER

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‘You don’t need to keep saying that’, he told me as we took our evening walk last night. ‘It’s fine.’

‘But I feel bad’, I told him. ‘Bad that I am unable to take you anywhere this summer…I also want to go somewhere’, I told my son.

Though summer has officially started today, the 30 days I have with my three children is drawing to a close and I have managed to spend close to no time with them. Having just started a new job two months prior to when they finished school, I had only two days of vacation to use and earned one more with my last paycheck. I reasoned I can then take those three days off to stay home with them right before they return to their father’s house where they will spend the next 30 days. I reasoned that at least I have a little time with them though I cannot take them anywhere this year.

Initially I planned to at least send them to summer day camp for one week whilst I went to work but those plans fell through as the account from which I had planned to pull the funds were used for other purposes and never returned.  The children were disappointed but I had no other option. At least they were able to spend some of those first several days with their father until I returned home from work to pick them up where we would then hurry through dinner and repeat the same the following day.

This week they spent their days at the apartment and had the company of their bunny all week long. He is quite cute but definitely not as playful as a cat would be. He does nothing more than sit in his cage and eat. Even when my daughter let him out of the cage, with the door left open, he would simply turn around after a minute to return to sitting in his hay and eating. It reminds me of the children sitting in their rooms on their devices and how they turn around after dinner and go back to their bedrooms to return to their devices.

The few hours I have with them throughout the day are hardly enough but at least it is something and we need to make the best of it. Today was a bit more rushed than other days as I hurried out the door to make it to work by 07,15 so that I could work a half hour of overtime and make up the time I needed to leave earlier for the children’s final swim meet which was near the city centre.

The day at work had worn me down as did the rush through my breakfast so by the time we got to the meet, I was practically lifeless. All I wanted to do was sleep. Over three hours later, when the meet was finished, we drove home and ate a very late dinner. The girls made salad with the ranch dressing they took from the meet and I made thin spaghetti and roasted the potatoes with herbs and olive oil.

With the weekend ahead of us, I look forward to spending more hours with the children. For those two days, there is not much of a schedule to keep and no scrambling to get out the door to get to work only to return for a few hours in the evening before the process repeats the following morning.

Despite the exhaustion and burnout I feel, I was happy to share a few hours with my three children. This might be a humdrum start to summer but there is still some hope we can make the best of the time we have left.

RETURN TO SIMPLICITY

I stared in disbelief as she handed me the change. Three nickels and a penny, along with the three dollars she had laid on the counter. The salesperson seemed a bit hesitant but continued to place the coins in my hand. She checked once more before she handed me the coins, assuring herself that is was correct. It was not.

‘These are nickels’ I stated. I wondered how she could confuse nickels for quarters.

‘Oh, I wondered why the coins were so small’ she stated to the manager as she came over to assist her. The older saleslady made some comment about credit cards. I guessed she had little experience with handling cash or had forgotten how the various coins looked.

After glancing at my receipt, I noticed she had rung up my purchase incorrectly as well. The item was entered as five dollars more than the price tag. The manager walked her through a return for the price difference which required my name, address, and phone number.

‘Are you kidding me?!’ I exclaimed. ‘Do you also need my date of birth and passport number’ I continued, but they pressed forward.

‘I apologise…but that is the procedure’ replied the manager.

Unbelievable, I thought, as I proceeded to reluctantly give her the information, providing her with my old address. When it came to my phone number, I refused to give it to them.

‘I’m not giving you my personal phone number’ I stated. They then used the store’s phone number instead and continued with the transaction.

All of this for getting a pair of sheer stockings I needed for work. I was getting tired of wearing my black tights and decided something lighter would be better for summer.

For a moment, I pondered this exchange and realised that we have come to rely so much on credit cards that we have forgotten the simplicity of cash. Of paying for things with money we had instead of delaying payment and placing our purchases on various credit cards. My own reliance on credit during these past three years has gotten me into so much debt that I see no end in sight. But change was necessary, I decided. Which is why I am returning to paying for most things in cash.

The return to simplicity came about recently as did my return to finding my way back to a path I had long since abandoned. The path to my life. These past three years have been a great challenge as I navigated through circumstances that most people do not even experience in one lifetime. Someone recently told me they would not go through everything I was dealing with ‘for all the gold in the world’.

Life certainly has its extremes but I realised this was too much. It was taking a toll not only on me but on my children. On our health and well-being. I also recently discovered that my children had previously dreaded coming over to my place but that now they were excited to do so. They were even looking forward to it. I understood why and chose not to expose them to further damage caused by circumstances in my own home. I also no longer wished to be exposed to them as well.

My children’s happiness is my priority and it starts by setting a good example. By taking control of my own life. My own happiness. It continues by taking that next step to change what has been wrong all this time. By taking responsibility of my own life. By making those difficult yet simple decisions. By realising that happiness comes from within and not from what you obtain. The return to simplicity is the start of my next journey. The journey down that path toward contentment and self-fulfillment without the drama, the stress, or the never ending conflict that obscures our way.

EXPECTATIONS AND CHOICES

‘…we are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.’ – Will Durant

The start of each new year is met with great expectations of things all of a sudden changing for the better. Somehow we believe that as the calendar turns to the first day of the new year everything will be reset and we will erase the bad circumstances of the past year. But that is not how things are in reality.

The past cannot be erased. It happened. And unless we suffer from memory loss, it will always be a part of us. Reminding us of our shortcomings and our failures. But the past does not have to define our future. We have the power to decide how we react to past events which will then lead to a more successful and happier future.

We make the choice to either dwell on past mistakes or move forward and learn from them. The goal being that we not repeat such mistakes. Errors in judgement and misunderstandings are made by every human being but within those mistakes are life’s lessons if we choose to listen.  Otherwise we risk repeating the past and never develop as an individual and realise our potential in being able to attain our goals.

Great expectations can lead to great disappointments if those expectations are unrealistic or not well within our reach. On the other hand, making the choice to learn from the past and not dwell on our failures can lead to a more satisfying future.

Reality is what we make it. It does not happen to us but is the result of our interpretation of what we learn from past events. The future is in our hands. But we have to put in the work and not expect things to simply fall into place by merely wishing for a better tomorrow. Habits are formed over the long term. They take effort, time, and commitment. Doing something, even a small amount, on a daily basis leads to a future that we create. One where we are in control. The only thing holding us back is the limitation we place on ourselves. The thoughts in our minds can either propel us forward or hold us back. The choice is ours to make.

CONDITIONING

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The end of my second week at my new employer has come to a close. After one more week of training, our class will be let loose to conquer the challenging role of customer service. It is a type of job that everyone should experience at least once in their lives since it touches upon every aspect of human interaction from personal to business life.

Unlike my previous role, this work deals directly with customers. Remaining calm, engaging, and having problem solving skills are key elements. We have all been in the reverse role where we have at times found ourselves yelling to the employee of a credit card company, bank, or any kind of business when we did not get the answer we expected.

If you ever take the time to consider the person on the other end of the phone, you might think twice about the tone and manner you carry out your request or complaint.

As with any new endeavour, conditioning oneself to adapt to a new way of doing things will take time. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator to the fifth floor of the parking garage is one of those situations which might seem to involve a great deal of effort but which benefits us in the end. Another is learning not to be fearful of the person on the other end of the line. But is all comes down to conditioning ourselves to think in a way which will bring us past our fears and familiar old ways.

Once we are able to move beyond that which hinders us, we experience a world of opportunity and growth. For without change, there is no growth.

VANTAGE POINT

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The colours were the same as yesterday so I bent down in the tall wispy grass to take a sunset photo from a different vantage point than yesterday. My son followed suit and made an attempt at a similar photograph making sure to keep in mind the rule of thirds I explained to him two days ago.

My daughters preferred to stay home and play on their devices instead of enjoying the gift nature gives us on a daily basis. Perhaps one day they will disconnect from the hold that modern technology has on them. Until then, I will share the sunsets with anyone who wishes to bask in its beauty.

Perspectives change when we make a shift. When we seek another vantage point. A move towards something unfamiliar. Something new and different. It might be uncomfortable at first, but in the end it is worthwhile as we find ourselves in the midst of growth brought about by change.

CIRCLE CLOCKS

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‘What I hate about circle clocks in Europe is that they only go up to 12’, my son proclaimed this morning at breakfast.

Interesting, I thought, then wondered if such a clock truly exists.

After coming home from work I had to know. I went to Google and discovered that ‘Yes, there are ‘circle clocks’ that go up to 24’. In fact, I found two different versions.

One version has a single string of numbers from 0 to 24 whilst another version mimics the traditional 12-hour clock but with a second row added underneath the numbers with 13-24 so as to correspond with the 12-hour clock. One thing which puzzles me is that I’m not certain how to tell the minutes on the first type of clocks.

Sometimes children have a way to make us stop and think about things which would otherwise simply pass us by in the everyday busyness of life. Things we might have at one time thought about ourselves when we were young.

TIME

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Time is a concept with varied meanings. We prefer to think of time as never ending. Believing we have limitless hours to do whatever we please. We put off setting goals. We delay making that phone call or replying to that email as we reason we can do it tomorrow. We tell ourselves we will wait until next summer or winter to take that vacation we have dreamed about for months or even years.

In reality, time is fleeting. It is not a guarantee. The only assurance we have is of the present moment and the realisation that no two moments will ever be the same.

The moment we become aware of the limitless nature of time, the more we tend to accomplish. For it is this sense of urgency which pushes us to do the things we have postponed for another time. A time which might never come.

OCTOBER'S ARRIVAL

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October has arrived and with it the anticipation of cooler nights spent indoors snuggled under a warm blanket on the couch with a good book to read. However, the heat of summer lingers as the weather does not yet realise that the calendar has changed, advancing another month towards winter.

Autumn brings us closer towards the end of the year when we find ourselves seemingly more grateful than other months of the year. When we start seeing everything pumpkin. When orange and red dominate the shops we enter and the scent of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and ginger overwhelm our olfactory senses.

As with spring, autumn can be a season for new beginnings. A time for reflection on ways to improve aspects of our lives which would bring us closer to that sense of fulfillment we desire. That contentment we strive to achieve. But in order for us to reach that destination, we need to embrace inevitable change and realise that things can never be the same tomorrow as they are today.

SETBACKS ARE EXPECTED

Just when you think you can move forward in peace, something else comes along to make you think otherwise.

Then there are those little things which somehow keep you focused and grounded. Beautiful smiles on our children's faces and the everchanging colours of a sunset.

Setbacks are expected in any situation. Just like sailors in a storm, one needs to learn how to navigate them with care.

A NEW ROUTINE

The early morning started out dark. The power was out in our house. It was also dark in the neighbourhood, I noted as I opened the door to look outside. I wondered how long it had been out. Improvisations were needed or else nothing would be done.

I turned on the flashlight on my phone and then showered, put on makeup, and prepared breakfast. I planned on us having toasted English muffins but the oven was not working. Cereal was our next best option as we just had yogurt yesterday morning.

As the time came to go awaken the children from their slumber, the power returned. But there was still not enough time to toast the English muffins. They finished their breakfast whilst I put together the lunches and then hurried through my breakfast. Getting used to a new routine will take a while but somehow we make do.

Today I could finish my shift at work with some cooperation in the after school care. But we met the children at the middle school for my daughter's Spring concert where she played the trumpet. Afterwards we stopped by the grocery store for some Haagen Dazs then home to make a later than usual dinner.

We made it through another day of a new routine just slightly more tired than the night before. But the most important part is that we made it together and with a little understanding and combined effort which I hope continues.

MY WORLD

My children are my world. They are my sunshine on a rainy, stormy day. My breeze on a warm summer day.

My children are my life. They make me smile. They make me laugh.

My children are my everything. In their absence the sound of silence is deafening. When they are with me, all feels right in my world.

HIS NINTH

‘This is the best cake ever!’ said Cinnamon.

‘I want this next year for my birthday’ said Sage.

‘I want this in the form of cupcakes’ said Saffron, whose birthday is coming up this summer.

‘I want this every year for my birthday’ continued Sage.

The cake was a recipe I developed for my older daughter’s 6th birthday whilst in Germany in the summer of 2012. I called it Rustic Ricotta Cake and the notes I wrote in my recipe notebook were ‘most awesome’. This time I added a topping which the children called more of a glaze than frosting. Both they and I do not like frosting and I almost never frost my cakes. Today was an exception. I was struggling with it today and had to remake it with another container of mascarpone but the addition of lemon zest and lemon juice made a great difference the second time around.

We rushed through my son’s 9th birthday celebration but enjoyed the limited time we had tonight. First he opened his presents. He guessed the soft package wrapped in green tissue paper was some type of clothing. It was a black shirt depicting six drawings of the sinking of the Titanic. My son is fascinated with the Titanic and still has a wooden model to build from Christmas.

He also read the title of the book through the cream-coloured tissue paper. ‘A Black Hole is Not a Hole’. The next two presents he did not guess but was pleasantly surprised when he opened them. A 3-D puzzle of Big Ben to add to his London collection and the one thing he really wanted but did not know came in Lego form. A ship in a bottle. He wanted to open it right away but we were pressed for time and still had the cake to eat.

I was happy to be able to spend this time with my children.

FOR MOTHERS AND CHILDREN

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The children were excited to give me their presents this morning as I went upstairs to check on them. Some they made. Others they bought. They know that I prefer anything they make. Including the aluminum foil 'cat bed' as my son called it.

Back downstairs, I started to make a special Sunday breakfast. My older daughter wanted to help. At least this way, she reasoned, she would not be on her iDevice. Of course that only lasted as long as she was helping me. Then she was back upstairs on her iPhone though Sundays I prefer to have a 'no device day'. The younger two understand that rule but the oldest is clearly addicted to her phone.

I cherished the time I had with my daughter helping make breakfast. The lemon ricotta mixture for the crepes, the strawberries and blueberries also with lemon zest and a little sugar, and the crepe batter. She was amazed at the transformation of the ricotta into something tastily edible with the simple addition of caster sugar and lemon zest. She made a double batch to be sure we had plenty for the crepes.

When the crepes were all made, we sat down and enjoyed them along with the berries. Out of the three children, my son was the one who could finish only half of what was on his plate. But he did return to the table later to finish the rest.

Afterwards I cleaned the kitchen island and started preparations for the lemon yogurt cake I later made with my son. I planned on making spaghetti sauce with my middle daughter but ran out of time as they had to be at their father's house by 18,00. At least we had crepes and cake. I'm hoping next time we can make something more.

Today was a day to celebrate mothers. I like to think of it rather as a day for mothers and children as without children there would be no mothers.

Every year is a different experience. The children are growing and developing different interests. But what is most important is to remember to make the most of the time we have. No matter the circumstances.