the Christmas recap

I can’t believe it’s been something like 2 weeks since I last posted.  Christmas came and went, and I know better than to use all those trite and ridiculous adjectives like beautiful or magical or wonderful, but it’s hard to think of much else to describe this Christmas.

We spent Christmas Eve at my Grandmother’s as I have every other December 24th of my twenty-nine years here, and I love that. I love that I sit by the same fireplace and eat the same recipes and see smiles from the same people year after year.  This holiday is about the birth of Christ, of course, and I don’t mean to ignore that.  But on another level, it’s also about family and tradition and belonging. I love belonging.  I love bringing Jude along with me and settling in to the same Christmas Eve traditions that feel like a big, broken-in recliner.

So we ate and opened gifts and played and joked and did all the things I’ve done every year of my life, only now I get to see my own little boy play with his cousins the same way I did mine. That, my friends, overused though the word may be, is beautiful for certain.

Tucking him in late that night and seeing those chubby little legs in candy-striped pajamas left me so excited for the day ahead, but no anticipation could have prepared me for such a perfect day.  We finished Santa preparations late that night and headed to bed all giddy for the next day.

His confused little expression on Christmas morning was priceless, and I couldn’t help but think as I brewed the coffee leisurely and fed him breakfast at our usual pace, that soon I would not be able to take my time with such tasks.  But now?  Now he doesn’t get the whole Santa thing, but he’s pretty keen on all these new gifts nonetheless.

The legos were a hit!

So sometime Christmas morning, as I balanced a toddler on my hip, refilled my cup with some hot coffee, and tripped over legos for the fourth time that day, I realized something pretty crazy.  This is it.  This is my time. We think Christmas is all about little ones and best when you’re a kid and blah blah blah, but it’s not.  I’m here to say it’s so much better now.  And this is my time.  I’m the mama, the tradition-maker, the Christmas-queen, the baker, the present-buyer, the stocking-stuffer, the story reader.  The mother and keeper of my own home.

In the long line of tiny moments that say loud and clear, Motherhood is real and lovely and HUGE.  I hope you are you paying attention, this was one for sure.  Somewhere between the second helping of breakfast casserole, the third lap around the house with the wooden frog, and the countless cuddles, I really got it and it’s such a lovely feeling.  And then, my friends, I laid our little candy cane down for a nap, and could this day get any more perfect?  Of course it could.

That's real, live snow, y'all!

I don’t even know when the last time was that Atlanta saw a white Christmas, but this was the real deal.  And every little flake that pranced to the ground made this Christmas move from a beautiful one to an ohmygosh-this-is-magic one. Again, every overused adjective in the dictionary belongs here, so I won’t nauseate you with the high-on-life thing, but there are moments when you have to say thank you.  Aloud.  Because this stuff is no accident, and for my little family, this was one cozy, white, fluffy dose of perfection.  We spent the afternoon on Christmas day over at at my in-laws’ stuffing our bellies with delicious food and opening fun presents.  And when we got home, Jude fell asleep on me, and we laid by the fire – baby strewn across my chest and my new Kindle propped in my right hand.  Just reading and snoozing and watching the fire dance and feeling so fulfilled that my little heart-cup was overflowing with a big, sweet, gushy mess of sentimentality.  On the list of moments I’d like to revisit one day, that one appears for sure.  Funny you can find happiness right in your own living room and it’s so perfect you have to step outside yourself for a moment and say remember this.  Happy now.  Perfect now. Love.

Life is beautiful, friends. Especially on days like these.

I hope Christmas was full of happy things and love and family and all the things you dreamed of.  Happy 2011, y’all!  Beautiful things are ahead,  I just know it.

Random babbling. And a toddler recipe at the end if you actually read that far.

I’m warning you that there is no cohesion to this post at all.

Randomness #1: Christmas is ten days away, y’all. Countdown is on and we are busy busy around here.  Presents are purchased, but I’ve got A LOT of wrapping to do, and the cards remain un-mailed. For some weird reason, Jude is just as fascinated with the reflection of our tree as he is with our actual tree.  Weird kid, that one.

Randomness #2: I made red velvet cookies this weekend. They are very good.  I have 2 left in my fridge.  I will eat one tonight with a glass of chardonnay and NO APOLOGIES.  I got hungry while writing and already ate one.

Randomness #3: We are coloring here sometimes. We try to color everyday, and sometimes he really gets into it and feels all proud when I ohhh and ahhhh over his lines and shapes.  But mostly he just likes to carry the crayons around the house.  Not doing anything with them at all, just carrying them.

Or other times, he tries to eat them.  Purple and yellow are his favorite colors in case you wanted to know.

Randomness #4: Today he put the right pieces in the right place on his little farmyard puzzle, and I freaked out in classic over-reacting, stage mom style. JUDE!!  OH MY GOSH!!  YOU ARE THE SMARTEST BOY EVER!  YAY YAY YAY!  YAY! JUDE! I heard myself and am fully aware of how ridiculous it sounded, but I don’t care.  There are moments that feel pretty phenomenal, even if every other mom has that same moment.

Randomness #5: Why does my kid try to eat everything?  [He is fourteen months old today, and I swear he’s been doing this since month four.]

I mean everything.  (Yep, that’s a Christmas ornament.)  And then when I give him a little kid’s toothbrush to chew on, he looks puzzled and offers it back to me or carries it around the house but doesn’t dare put it past his lips?

Randomness #6: I’ve been wearing the same perfume for 10 years, and I want something new. Any suggestions?  I hate florals.

Randomness #7: I love how bath time is like a reset button for the day.  No matter how cranky or tired or cooped up and stir-crazy we feel, bath time is always pleasant.

It is a little weird that he likes to chew on a washcloth though.  I have to bring 2 cloths in the bathroom – one to wash with and one to give him to chew on while I’m cleaning him.

Randomness #8: We had a little playdate last Sunday afternoon, and I was overwhelmed with the cuteness.  Watching two kids interact can be so funny sometimes.

These two are less that three weeks apart in age, and we mamas already betrothed them long before they were born, but I need to work on little man’s chivalry.  Jude came on a little strong.

Randomness #10: That same mama sent me a great recipe a while ago that I have used and frozen again and again.  So when she told me that she’d been experimenting with different ingredients, I couldn’t help but try to mix it up a little.  The result was a parmesan-veggie-nugget-type-of-thing that Jude is loving.

Ingredients:

  • vegetables (use anything, but I used yellow squash and zucchini with some leftover potatoes.)
  • about one cup of breadcrumbs (I used Italian.)
  • 2 eggs
  • about one cup of shredded cheese

It’s easy!

  • Grate one green zucchini and one yellow squash.  Place grated vegetable in a colander because it’s watery and needs to drain for about 30 minutes.  Squeeze out remaining water
  • Melt a little butter in a pan, saute the vegetable for a few minutes to flavor and soften it.  (At this point, I added a small serving of leftover mashed potatoes from dinner the night before, just to use them.  Totally optional, but a great way to use leftovers.)
  • Toss vegetables in a bowl with grated cheese, breadcrumbs, and 2 beaten eggs.
  • Stir and mix it all together until it’s combined.
  • Make small ball and squish it flat so it has more of a cookie shape.
  • Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
  • Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes.

These freeze pretty well and are really versatile.  (Hence my loosey-goosey recipe.)  Use any vegetable you want. The main idea is that cheese, breadcrumbs, and egg will make anything stick.  I did mine somewhat large, by the way, so he could eat one as a snack or side to lunch or dinner.  You could do them a lot smaller though – like traditional chicken nuggets, for instance.

Thanks, Samira, for the original recipe and inspiration!

Randomness # whatever we are on, I’ve lost count:  It’s freezing in Atlanta and across much of the country, from what I see. A heavy fuzzy blanket, house slippers, and un-addressed Christmas cards are calling my name. Stay warm!

 

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Surviving and Thriving. Crafting not Cleaning.

The husband is still in Paris, and I am surviving – despite detailed accounts of his decadent chocolate dessert or play-by-play explanations of buttery breakfast pastries.  Or that gorgeous photo he emailed of the Notre Dame Cathedral all decked out for Christmas.  But Jude and I? We’re getting by on this side of the ocean.

I’m staying busy which helps a lot. On Monday evening, I attended a community meeting about the very real possibility of a birth center here in Atlanta. Woohoo!  Not sure what that VBAC status will be with the issues surrounding liability insurance, but even if I am never lucky enough to deliver there, I am truly excited about the possibilities for Atlanta women.  …. On a side note, as I sat in that meeting surrounded by lots of faces I’ve come to know in the past year or more of my life, I feel really grateful that my path has led me to so many strong women.  The “earthy birthy” movement in Atlanta is so active, and I love having these women as sounding boards and mentors for all sorts of parenting issues that extend far beyond labor and delivery.

So the rest of this week has included a birthday dinner on my husband’s side of the family and some visiting and playing and lunching with friends, and tonight I get to visit a tiny little baby and catch up with girlfriends over hot chocolate and doughnuts, so really Paris, you and your fine wines and beautiful architecture can suck it.  [I don’t really mean that, but I’m trying here.]

God knows there is plenty to do around the house, but it’s Christmas time and I’d rather make bigger messes crafting or cooking than clean up the existing ones, you know?

Exhibit A: Jude’s new flannel board. It turns out that $6 at Hobby Lobby and a little work can buy you a super fun and easy way to learn shapes and colors.

365.191  happy things #4

I simply wrapped black flannel around some foam board, hot glued it in place, and cut colorful shapes to go on it.  The felt easily clings to the flannel, and Jude really likes rearranging them.  Kinesthetic learning, as my teacher colleagues would call it.  Perfect entertainment for a cold day.

Then there’s been the baking, the browsing cookie recipes, the last minute gift buying on Etsy, the drinking too much coffee.  Effectively staying distracted and having a good time in the process.

Nothing else to share here, really.  Except maybe some finished scrapbook pages for Jude’s SECOND year book.  It seems so weird to say second year.  We’ve waved goodbye to babyland for sure.  Toddlerville, here we are.

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So that’s pretty much it for us this week.  Surviving in the cold on this side of the Atlantic. Crafting but surely not cleaning.  Husband returns tomorrow and lots of cozy slow cooker meals and general laziness planned for the weekend.  Happy weekending to you, too.

It’s the holidays.  Go bake something.

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housebound

It’s been pretty cold lately, for Atlanta standards anyway.  And early this week was pretty rainy as well, so our usual routine around here has been a little thrown off. We normally enjoy walks around the neighborhood or some time on the playground since afternoons are almost always warm enough for that.

As I type this, it’s in the 30’s though, and I know some of you reading this from somewhere else might laugh as I say that because we southerners are definitely wimps when it comes to getting out in the chilly air.  My wimpy-ness aside, spending less time outside can leave mom and baby feeling pretty crazy sometimes. He’s getting to the age where he’s learning the meaning of the word boredom, and sometimes I am not quite sure what to do to quell the restlessness.

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We still abide by the no television rule around here, and I’m not going to lie that it gets harder these days as he gets more active and as the weather is less friendly for backyard entertainment.  It’s not that I’m pretentious or all I-am-a-better-parent-than-you about it, it’s just that I’ve probably read too many things about the negative effects of television on little ones his age, and we’ve survived this long without it being a part of our routine, so we’re going to keep truckin’ with that standard for as long as we can.

So what’s a mom to do? Spend $1.70 at Target and try our hand at play dough.  He did try to eat it at the beginning, but once he understood the tactile fun and squishiness of it, he realized it’s more fun to play with than to eat.

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So that’s how my week was saved with under two dollars. If only all problems were that simple.

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I know this isn’t a novel idea or anything, but to me, it is.  I forget that he is getting old enough for these things, and my baby is more little boy everyday.  I’m thinking I might start mixing my own dough soon since there are quite a few recipes out there, and that’s probably even cheaper than the store-bought route.  I’ve also seen other examples of sensory play and crafts I might want to tackle next.

So something simple saved the day here.  What saves your sanity at your house? Blocks, coloring books, stickers?  Relatives are asking for Christmas requests and I’d love to know what to tell them.