On Friday, I struggled. I have no words for the tragedy of the day, only tears. Tears when a police car was parked across the front of my own Kindergartner's school. Tears for not knowing what to say or do. Friday afternoon I let the quietness and peace of Ave Maria wash over me as it came along in the midst of our Christmas Carols. I let the latin words and music of my Catholic Church roots reconnect the dots of my sad spirit as best I could and gave myself permission to keep enjoying and living fully this season with my kids. Permission to be present in our moments and not overwhelmed by grief as my kids need me and I want their memories of this Christmas week to be full of special, happy moments and joy.
In that spirit, I am sharing with you our home made "special drinks."" These are warm beverages designed by me to make my kids and me feel special. I recently read an article for Babble by Asha Dornfest about what kids cherish about holiday memories - the short answer - specialness & repetition. The kids "special drink" was developed before I saw this article, but it has both. It is touted as a special treat and enjoyed rarely, but routinely.
Richards Kids Special Drink
1 mug whole mile
1/2 tsp vanilla sugar (plain sugar is fine too)
1/8 tsp Cassia Cinnamon (plus more for sprinkling)
Mix Milk, sugar, & cinnamon in the child's special Mug (B's special mug, for example is one Mary gave me years ago with Winnie the Pooh on it. M's is a mug with pink flowers that might be from Heather). Warm the milk gently in the microwave, 30 seconds is usually enough. Top with whipped cream and sprinkle the whipped cream with cinnamon. Our kids prefer theirs with a straw as well.
In the last year or so, I've strangely come to enjoy Mint & Chocolate together where only a few years ago I did not. In the course of experimenting I've designed my own, much cheaper versions of a Peppermint mocha.
My Mock Peppermint Mocha
8 oz skim milk
1 T chocolate (I use Giradelli 60% Cocao)
1/2 tsp vanilla sugar (or aritficial sweetner or for extra peppermint the peppermint vanilla sugar from Savory)
1 -2 drops Peppermint Oil (from Savory)*
1 tsp espresso powder**
Warm the milk, chocolate, and sugar in the micorwave. Once nearly boiling, add Peppermint oil and Espresso. Stir and enjoy!
* For a very long time I used the Peppermint Vanilla Sugar instead of peppermint oil, but it just doesn't have quite the intensity. Either one works, but the Peppermint Oil is more reminiscent of the Starbucks version to me with a stronger Peppermint flavor in just a drop or two.
**Alternatively, mix half a cup of milk and half a cup of strong coffee.
For now, I'm hanging on so tight to my special moments and repeating them to make these simple sweet memories together. May the week to come be much merrier than the days just past and may we all find healing and the power to make changes in our own way.