Tuesday, December 29, 2009


It's 3:41 a.m. Instead of having my pregnant Super Spy Chick dreams, like usual for this time of night, I am sitting on my couch in new, red snowman pajamas, awake. I'm not blaming the pajamas, let's be clear. It's just one of those nights where you find that disturbing dreams of your husband taking over your blog have morphed into conscious thought. To do lists, the post-Christmas Gymboree purchases, and...New Year's Resolutions.

We reviewed our 2009 goals last night as a family, to see how we measured up. Little Buddy did fairly well, what with "get some teeth" and "stay cute" on his list and all. But, it's that time of year that thoughts turn inward, and "upward" in a way. The resolve to do better, do more.

What to put on the list this year?

It's a delicate balance, this ultimate "To Do" list. It has to be attainable. And specific. I can't just throw "Be really patient this year" on the list. I originally penned "gourmet cooking", "write down more of what the kids say" and the ever elusive "catch up on scrapbooking" onto the mental list. Then I thought maybe I should just put "Simplify" and scribble everything else out. I do intend to compile my journal into one, consistent place (from the various Word documents, notebooks, and planner pages on which they currently reside) so that my posterity will have some good reading once I'm gone. And, I have every intention of having a baby next year, and, hello, that is like the mother of all accomplishments. No pun intended.

At least I can cross any obligatory "lose weight" kinds of goals off my list, at least for the first half of the year. Though, I could be interested in a pair of those new tennis shoes that are supposed to tone your butt.

It's just that once you put it down in writing, your whole level of commitment is elevated. It's like you're accountable to those black-and-white goals, which I suppose is the whole point. And so, friends, that is why, for tonight, the List is staying in my head.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas 2009

So, maybe I'm a little Grinchy. Just a little. But it's only because I truly want my kids to know and appreciate the true meaning and spirit of Christmas. I want them to associate Christmas with the Savior's birth and doing kind things for others. I love to give them presents, believe me, but I don't want that to be important to them. I know this subject can be wildy controversial, but...we don't really do a lot with the whole "Santa" thing. They understand the basics, of course. I don't want them to be complete nerds. I answer their questions fairly, I think. ("Well, it's generally accepted that he lives at the North Pole.") They don't write to Santa to ask for presents--this year I suggested they could write letters to tell him the good things they've done this year, and they don't make lists of gifts they want. We did, however, go to visit Santa. As we were walking up, a thought suddenly occured to Girlie, "Hey! Maybe we can tell Santa what we want for Christmas?" (Girlie wanted a dog, Sammy requested a pod racer--a driveable one). It made us chuckle to think that our sweetie figured it was an original thought. After the visit, we talked about how Santa seemed so happy, and that was probably because he spends his time doing nice things for other people and doesn't that give you such a happy feeling inside?

Christmas Eve was wonderful. We had a feast of Chinese food (I surrendered a 32 year tradition of clam chowder, because Chinese just sounded better to my pregnant tummy), delivered more treats to friends, sang Christmas carols, and had our own little production of the Nativity.
Assigning parts went a little something like this:
Me: Okay, we'll have Little Buddy be the shepherd.
Girlie: I want to be Mary.
Sammy: I want to be Obi Wan Kenobi.

Little Buddy offered Baby Jesus his lamb as a gift. It really was quite tender.

Christmas morning didn't start until 7:30. I was up early. I layed there for a while, then jumped up to add a few forgotten items to the stockings and clear out some memory on my camera. I was sooooo excited when the kids started stirring. We had a fabulous time opening presents (this was the first time in our nine year marriage that I managed to surprise J with his gift, despite Sammy's subtle "Daddy, we did NOT go anywhere this morning"), and a late breakfast of Santa pancakes. (See, I'm not totally Grinchy!)

Little Buddy's favorite gift was a booster seat to welcome him to the Big Table.

We had a beautiful Christmas day, so we celebrated our sunshine with a holiday walk. Gotta soak up the vitamin D when we get the chance!

We had a fantastic dinner with our sweet friends Christian (who is like J's secret brother, their personalities are so eerily similar) and Mandy and their boys. It was full of laughing and completely amazing food.

It was a wonderfully peaceful and fun Christmas. Our first Christmas without extended family was indeed a success. I was in my favorite place to be, surrounded by my favorite people in the world. Couldn't be happier.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A Christmasy, Pregnant Mess

This body is not 25 anymore (the age of my first pregnancy) and I can feel it. I seem to have lost more and more brain cells, and quicker than ever. On Wednesday night I hosted a dessert party for 25-30 friends, and I actually called one of my friends (that I know and like) by the wrong name. Even as it left my lips I was mortified. I called her Kathleen, and I don't even KNOW any Kathleens here. How do you even recover from that?? This happened with my last pregnancy, too, and I cannot even tell you how embarrassing it it when your brain just cannot process. A friend would walk up, "Hey, how are you feeling?" I'd smile, "Hi..., um, feeling pretty good....uh....Joan." (Okay, I had to use a fictional name, because I don't want any of my real friends to know that their name slipped my mind. Or, at least I don't think I have any friends named Joan. Maybe I do and I just don't remember).

Another delightful pregnancy happening? Spider veins. I'm not sure how I'm getting stinkin' spider veins when I've only gained 6 lbs in 13 weeks, but somehow the spider vein stars aligned and drew my number. The solution? Super sexy support hose. Oh, yeah. I'm working those industrial strength panty hose (which, incidentally, had better wear like iron if they have the audacity to charge $53.00 for them). I've also got your run-of-the-mill total nausea and exhaustion still going on from about lunch on.
I don't know if it's my 'advanced' age that is making this pregnancy so rough, or because it is a boy (I'm NOT saying it's a boy, I'm just saying that my boy pregnancies played out like this). Let's all think girl thoughts, though, since we're on the subject. Because, so help me, if I only get to plan one wedding...

At the beginning, they asked me if I wanted all these screenings for deformities, etc. I declined them all, since I'd love this baby no matter what, until she said, "Well, if you change your mind, let us know soon so we can schedule the ultrasound." An extra ultrasound? Another early peek at my baby? Sweet. So, for the price of two extra blood draws, I got to spend 10 minutes spying on my little medium-shrimp-sized baby. I know this is my fourth time with this process, but it was as AMAZING as the first time. I watched in complete wonderment at the tiny being that was crossing his/her ankles, curling his/her tiny fist underneath his/her chin in "Thinker" position, and napping in 45 second increments. It was love, truly. And my heart grew.

Christmas truly is the season for love, if there is a season. I hope that all of your homes are filled to the brim with it. That you have peace and joy spilling out your doors, down the street to your neighbors, and being carried by the mail service to the hands of those you adore. Which reminds me, I think I have the majority of my Christmas cards sent out. Maybe not. I can't really remember. If you don't get one, blame my pregnant brain. Merry Christmas anyway.

PS: The picture above are my cookies this year. Oreo balls, peanut butter cup cookies, and peppermint pinwheels. For recipes, click here.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

And This Year's Red Wall is......

...the FIREPLACE WALL!! (cheers) So it shouldn't have been a surprise to J that I wanted to paint. After all, when we were just dating, I gave him fair warning that I was the kind of person who would paint a wall red for Christmas. Maybe he just didn't believe that someone would do that. After all, the first time I told him about my field, he looked very surprised and said, "I didn't know that was something that people actually did." Anyway, Christmas is the reason that, in my St. Louis home, the entry way turned red, followed by part of my kitchen, followed by all of my kitchen. In successive years, of course. That trend was actually the reason we moved to Seattle. We had to start over in a new house.

The red is rendered a little bright and garish in these pictures, but it's actually quite beautiful. The name is Roasted Pepper at Home Depot, in case you don't believe me. The huge red jingle bells on my tree are one of my very favorite decorations. I found them as door hangers at the dollar store. I detached the hanger, sprayed the bells with glossy red paint, then finished them off with a jewelry hemp loop for hanging and some candy-cane striped bows. I love them, and they were so easy to make!

I attached the garland swag in three places using white artists tape. It is archival quality, low tac tape that doesn't leave sticky residue. It's my favorite. I looped jewelry hemp (you could use yarn) around the lit garland (so the tape wouldn't damage the garland), and then used the tape to adhere it to the mantel. Then I added the berries.

This is a weird angle, but clearly all the window light makes it hard to get a decent picture. This is in the archway going into the living room. I put three small nails in the wall (one in the center, one on each end), and used the garland itself to wrap around the nails to keep it in place. The kissing ball is from Crate & Barrel.

For the stairs I used the garland itself to wrap and twist around the bannister. Then I just wound ribbon through it and stuck in picks of berries. The big bow was last. I bought it that way, and it came with an enormous twist tie on the back.
I hope that your Christmas is merry and bright, and that you get just as much JOY out of holiday decorating as I do. More to come!