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Anabel's very talented friend just took this photo of my girl.  Isn't it gorgeous?
 
 
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I was the blessed recipient of a gentle rebuke last night.  Jude - our family's representative people person - tactfully began the conversation with something along the lines of, "Mom, are  you OK?  Do you feel like you're going through anything these days?" 

It's so odd to rear up these children who then begin to surpass you as they go along.  I'm finding now with both Anabel and Jude, that our relationships are morphing into something brand new and unexpected.  They are my children still, needing the guidance and unconditional love that one would expect, but they're also becoming these new creations who are in a strange sort of way, my friends now, too.  I always knew that they'd both push way past me in a physical height sense (their birth weights were 10-7 and 9-0 respectively), but I failed to foresee this element of their development.  They have real insight to offer me, as I journey my way through life. 

Jude's diplomatic opening led the way for me to be able to accept what he had to say to me, which was - I'm afraid to confess - that I've been distracted and irritable with him of late.  He's probably right, too.  Now that the kids are back in school after the Christmas holidays, I've locked into drill sergeant task mode as I try to dissemble some of the aftermath resulting from six people spending two weeks together, mostly indoors.  To my extreme discredit, I get this way when I'm focused on a task that feels daunting.  I lose sight of relationship and I begin, disconcertingly for everyone involved,  to closely resemble Genghis Khan during one of his military campaigns.  My son's gentle rebuke was just what I needed to hear.  Out of the mouths of babes.
 
 
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Zumba.  Zooooomba.  Doesn't that sound interesting?  Don't you wish you could get your hair to do that?  I've registered for some Zumba classes,  inspired by the classes my sisters and I took while in Maui.  The Maui ones were some of the very funnest exercise classes I've ever taken (and though I hate to say it, I'm a bit of an exercise class whore).  Though I can't yet speak for the Abbotsford version, I'd be tickled to have some Zumba buddies join me!  I would have to insist that your hair look like the girl's in the photo, otherwise you'll just be wasting my time (and yours, too, I think it goes without saying).  The classes run Thursday mornings from 10:30 - 11:30 starting January 13 until February 3 at the Abbotsford Rec Center and cost $40 for all four.  You do  have to pre-register, though.  If you're interested, the program registration number is 147334.  Just call ARC @ 604-853-4221.  I would love to shake my booty alongside yours. 
 
 
JoyBoy made all my Christmas dreams come true in a gift sense this year.  When my sisters and I spent part of November in Maui, our ziplining escapades were earmarked as my Christmas gift for this year.  In my mind, that helped justify the expense.  However, in a combined annoying/delighting move, JoyBoy countermanded my strict injunctions to meander no farther into the Land of Gifts.  As is his way, he promptly ignored me and came home a few days before Christmas, heavily laden with something I've coveted for years and years. 

For very close to a decade, I've wanted a Kitchen Aid mixer, but could never justify getting one for myself.  There were many more pressing financial priorities obscuring my view of the Land of Unlimited Kitchen Glory.  Things like braces for cute kids with gnarled teeth.  Disability insurance:  the most decidedly unsexy financial priority I've yet paid hand over fist for.  This type of thing.   So when that guy walked in, lugging in the monstrously heavy and tangible fulfillment of all my kitchen fantasies, I very nearly swooned.  And then I made this.  I highly recommend that you do, too.  It's even better the second day, chilly and freshly liberated from it's refrigerated confines.

Old Fashioned Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Recipe courtesy of Barefoot Contessa’s How Easy Is That

3 very ripe bananas, mashed (I used four)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Grated zest of 1 orange
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
Cream cheese frosting (recipe follows)
Walnut halves, for decorating

PREHEAT oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9 x 2-inch round cake pan.

MIX bananas, granulated sugar and brown sugar in bowl with an electric mixer on low speed until combined. Add oil, eggs, sour cream. vanilla and orange zest. Mix until smooth.

STIR together flour, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl. With mixer on low, add dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Stir in chopped walnuts. Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 15 minutes, turn out onto cooling rack and cool completely.

SPREAD frosting thickly on top of cake and decorate with walnut halves. Slice and serve.

Makes 8 servings.

Cream Cheese Frosting

6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar (1/2 pound)

MIX cream cheese, butter and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment on low speed until just combined. Don’t whip. Add sugar and mix until smooth.

 
 
I have this shortcoming that kind of distresses me because it's end results are rather consequential:   I am loathe to verbally express my personal goals to others.  Because of this other shortcoming of mine (that's a more palatable way of saying sin; let's call a spade a spade, shall we?) - a gigantic, knobbly pride - I dislike (very much) the putting-it-out-there-ness of telling others where I'd like to see myself grow in the next little while because I'm mortally afraid of having an audience should I fail.

Over the past six months or so, I've concertedly begun to try to be better in this.  I've decided to try to trust in my loved ones and their propensity to kind gentleness  as they witness my lapses and it occurs to me that in being honest with them and with myself, I'm not shattering their dreams of a flawless JoyGirl.  Those who know me, know full well that I'm far from perfect.  They know that I'm prone to bossiness.  They know I secretly harbor the hope of controlling the universe and that I think I'd be great at it.  They know I love to exaggerate to the extreme disservice to an accurately-told yarn.  They know I judge others in my heart.   They know I lapse all too often into gluttony with my lovely food.  They know these and countless other icky things about me and me  publicly acknowledging some of the ick isn't the first time they've been introduced to this information.  The living out of my life is, sadly, ample evidence for them to feast their eyes upon.

All of that said, my resolutions for this year are:

1) Read my Bible regularly (as in, more than while sitting in church and occasionally at home)
2)  Work on my book regularly (as in, most weekdays)
3)  Volunteer in a senior's home
4)  Eat healthfully
5)  Cross train (as in, run at least three times per week plus exercise classes and/or strength training)

What are yours?  Last year I made one of my all-time most satisfying ones you may want to note.  I resolved to smile at strangers as much as possible (not counting men inclined to misunderstand my motives!).  This new habit has brought me so much joy and I intend to do it for all the rest of my life, even if only for selfish purposes!  Delurk, please, and let me know the ways you intend to grow this year.  I'd love to know!