Monday, December 30, 2013


When I say that the last week was a whirlwind, I know I'm not special.  It just strikes me especially since I made a concerted effort to simplify this year.  And while we did slow down, time didn't get the message and seemed to move even faster as if that is even possible.  We had little to do Christmas Eve day but were still scrambling to take a much needed walk, pick up a last minute gift and get our cupcakes iced.  My little elves volunteered for the task when they heard me grumbling in the kitchen, and they did a fantastic job.  It reminded me that it's OK to ask for help, to ease up a bit on the reins and to not allow perfect to ruin good.

We were in our usual pew by 3:35 for 4:30 mass so the last minute scrambling seemed to be in vain until the choral concert started and peace came over me like a warm blanket.  I closed my eyes and soaked it in so grateful not to be hurrying in late to SRO after jockeying for a parking spot.  It was a gift to be able to sit in solemnity.  I vowed that we will always be early for this my favorite mass of the year.

After a spirited rendition of Hark the Herald Angels Sing, we traveled along Lake Drive admiring the beautiful light snow and all the twinkling lights.  We passed a couple UPS trucks still making last minute deliveries, and it struck me as rather ridiculous. I made a mental note to finish my holiday shopping early in December lest the focus be more on the gifts than the birth.

We arrived at my brother and SIL's to quite the LL Bean scene: roaring fire, windows all trimmed in wreaths, candles lit, and champagne or kiddie cocktails served.  We broke from our traditional tenderloin and potatoes meal, and instead enjoyed a menu that represented favorites from all of our Christmases past. It was a trip down memory lane and also decadently delicious.  Sometimes change is good.  Time honored traditions are the glue that holds the family together, but adapting them is what keeps the family moving forward.

Of course, the kids were eager to open gifts.  And my brother who is the biggest kid of all was anxious for them to dig into their piles.  Wow!  Just wow.  We are all blessed beyond measure.  So much thoughtful generosity.  Too much.  I will continue to strive for less even as I concede it is not a popular premise.

Before the end of the night, T. Bone was snoozing on one couch in the sun room and his Grandpa on another.  Miss Bit was starting to doze off in a chair beside the fire.  It was 2:00 even if it felt like it couldn't possibly be a minute after midnight.  It was time to pack up so we could be snug in our beds before Santa's arrival.  I don't like when good things come to an end.  Christmas Eve is my favorite night of the year so of course I would prefer it last forever.  Yet I know the spirit of kindness, togetherness and goodwill that is Christmas can last as long as we bear it.

We came home to pour egg nog and handpick cookies for Santa, and chop an apple or two for the reindeer crew.  Then coach and I sat beside the tree for a few quiet moments and took a few deep inhale more joy and exhale a bit of sorrow.  They are so closely woven together for me even on this beautiful night.

I set my alarm and felt a a slight tug at my heartstrings.  Gone are the days when the kids wake us at 6:00 a.m. too excited to sleep another single wink. Pang  Now we wake them, have time to brew coffee and retrieve the camera before they roll out of bed.  Santa didn't bring T. Bone his Jack Lalane juicer, but he seemed quite pleased with the things he did get.  He was especially happy with his new guitar.  Miss Bit was beside herself over her bow and arrow, and we quickly had to do an etiquette lesson on who and where it is appropriate to aim.  The cats have more fun with the boxes and bows than is legal.  They think every gift is for them.  They are really just our little furry children.  These quiet family moments are the most important to me and I need to carve out more of them in the midst of the hustle.

We barely had time to bake off the cinnamon buns I mixed, kneaded and rolled the day before.  The visions of a leisurely family breakfast quickly had to be dashed because we were running late for our next celebration.  I am learning that there are often times when something in life has gotta give...on Christmas morning it was this new tradition.  Next year, I'll make it work I tell myself.

We spent Christmas afternoon and eve at my in laws where the whole family gathered.  There were more gifts.  I hit the favorite things trifecta: a kitchen gadget, a neck bauble and a book. We enjoyed more good food and games too.  We introduced the family to Wizard, and just as we suspected, it was a big hit.  The best gifts are those that encourage more togetherness, and we all received plenty of those this Christmas.

So while I'm glad it's was a good one, I'm thankful for the bright spots and memories, and now  I'm gearing up for 2014.

two day pass

you may have heard read that we now have a teenager in the house.
we celebrated t. bone's milestone coming of age on his birthday friday with a small surprise party.
the theme...his favorite people and his favorite eats.
1. buffalo wild wings
2. french fries
3. flamin' hot cheetos
4. sour cream and cheddar chips
5. sour patch kids
6. kit kat bites
7. rocky's pizza
8. rocky's breadsticks
9. el calderone pizza
10. garlic bread
11. heath bar cake
12. kopps custard
13. a 7 up bar.
do your teeth ache just reading that list?
does your stomach hurt?
i made a salad too for those of us who like to eat the healthier food groups.
he felt special being the center of attention and excited to get his first phone.
he has been texting his uncle all weekend fully embracing the idea of umlimited.
saturday we all embraced the term chillax.
the kids played lots of mine craft.
coach and i binged on homeland and leftover pizza.
until it was time to gather for a pre-bowling dinner.
it was our first time at the lanes in months and coach was on fire.
i was my usual inconsistent, but we had fun all the same.
especially since our partners finally made it for their first time.
sunday was intentionally another day slow to start.
we all have the post holiday hangover that comes from burning the candle at both ends for days.
managing a workout both saturday and sunday felt cleansing.
my brother and sil came bearing chili before game time.
healthy, yummy chili made with ground turkey and plenty of spice.
never mind the cheesy rolls or wienie wraps.
we settled in to cheer the packers onto a last minute victory.
when they left, the kids went back to playing mine craft and coach and i cued up another episode or three of homeland.
i made the kids come to bed with me at midnight.
something tells me we are all in for rude awakenings come january 2nd when it's back to stricter schedules and healthier menus.
until then we will indulge and enjoy what is left of this holiday season...all that remains of this year.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Happy Birthday Theodore Michael!

You are still sleeping as I write this little birthday letter.  It appears that you turn 13, and suddenly sleep is good for you.  Well, you are a growing boy.  I mean young man.  You hover over me now, and are gaining on Dad in both height and shoe size.  In just a few minutes...8:12 to be exact which you reminded me last will officially become a teenager.  And I meant what I said as I tucked you in: it was one of the very best days of my life.  Becoming your Mom was such a beautiful gift...a gift I treasure every day...all 4,745 of them!

I can still clearly remember not just the day, but the moment you were born on this same snowy day in 2000. It truly was life changing for me to become a become your Mom.  Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral was playing in the background.  The Irish Lullaby was interrupted first by Dr. Trebian saying "It's a boy!" which I already so strongly suspected that one could say I knew.  Then you cried followed by Nanny.  I'm crying right now those same tears of joy. Daddy whispered over and over, "We have our boy!" with a slight sense of disbelief.  It felt like we had been waiting for you forever even though you were a week early.  In those first few moments, we shared the sense that we were just getting to know you and yet that we had always known you.

We had already been awake for 24 hours when you were born.  We never went to bed on the 26th.  My water broke close to 11:00 p.m. We didn't sleep on the 27th either as I recall.  Joy is a most powerful source of adrenaline. When we weren't introducing you to your excited family and friends, we were just staring at you in absolute awe.   I couldn't believe you were mine.  Just like I cannot believe you are 13.

I confess that at times I am nostalgic for the baby days when your chubby cheeks were ruby red and eager to be kissed.  I miss your hoarse and lispy toddler voice always asking why? But why?and that signature toe headed mop of hair.  I feel a longing when I picture you in your Yankee uniform sporting your first buzz cut up at bat...a little boy on a big field.  This spring you'll move up to THE BIG field.  Almost a decade older, but still playing ball and likely wearing the same crew cut.  So things change and yet they stay the same. You'll always be my little boy.  Time marches on I guess it always will, but deep inside my heart time stands still. Still in those defining, sustaining moments.

It's an understatement to say I am proud of you Teddy. You are an amazing young man in every way. While it is true as your Mom I may be a bit biased, I cannot say the same of others who know you and know you to be a young man of great character, mind and spirit. Your future is bright, and I am blessed to be behind the scenes of your journey to see what trails you blaze (and not just on the ski slopes)!

So on this milestone of a day I want to leave you with this one wish.  My wish for you is that you seek and find your passions in life, and then live them to the fullest without forgetting where you came from or where you ultimately are going.

I love you always and forever and to infinity and beyond T. Bone,



Monday, December 23, 2013

2 day pass

it was a busy weekend packed full of friends and fun.
there is an itty bitty part of me that is looking forward to going to work today just so i can sit and my desk and sip coffee in quiet.
no cookies to bake, or carols to sing, or packages to wrap.
most of us had lots of messy fun at our friend's annual margarita cookie night friday.
although none of us had margaritas, and miss bit wasn't even there as she was off skating away again with aunt jess.
saturday we were up early for our annual breakfast with santa.
often the hour drive north is harrowingly snowy.
saturday it was just like a picture.
in fact, coach stopped several times so i could take a snap or two...
and with my new i phone, which i am loving so much more than my old droid.
merry christmas to me!
friday's forecast was for freezing rain which made the trees appear to be painted in pristine white ice.
we met our friends at the resort and we all enjoyed time together before divulging our wishes to the big guy.
he set them forth with his usual: remember santa only brings what santa thinks you should have.
the little g's came home with us for the rest of the afternoon so mom and dad g. could attend to those lists.
the 5 kids spent time sledding before retiring to the family room for pizza and the hunger games.
we adults eventually gathered around the christmas tree for a little holiday cheer before calling it a day and night.
the phone woke us very early sunday morning to tell us there would be no sunday school.
i looked out the window and saw that the weatherman was right.
i couldn't tell where our yard ended and the road began.
we decided it would be a snow day despite the fact that i badly wanted to be in church for the last sunday of advent.
i spent most of the day baking.
i finished up my gingerbread boys and squirrels (what? doesn't everyone make christmas squirrels), made a batch of sugar cookie cut outs and miss bit's favorite peanut butter cup kisses.
coach inspired a family cookie decorating contest.
the kids tied.
they wanted to eat their decked out trees but i wanted to look at them for awhile.
miss bit and her friend played outside for hours in the snow until their fingers were frozen and their cheeks as red as rudolph's nose..
t. bone built a mini ski hill and jump with coach's help.
most people i know don't snow blow their yards, but where there's a will there's a way.
coach made pot roast with fingerling potatoes, cherry tomatoes and olives.
it's a curtis stone recipe.
at first coach was questioning the combination of ingredients, but quickly he saw the benefit of the acidic and briny elements and he took control of the cassoulet to my delight.
it was the best pot roast i have ever tasted.
and no it had nothing to do with the fact that i hadn't eaten all day.
after dinner, we headed to the basement for wrapapalooza.
i'd say we beauted up 100 gifts.
working at the ping pong table makes the task so much easier to tackle.
coach's patience does too.
at midnight, i finally sent the kids to bed and curled up with my cat exhausted from a weekend well spent and a heart full of holiday spirit.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Winter Solstice

The December solstice is a holy day for me.   I celebrate the shortest day of the year.  I choose to view the extended exterior darkness as a time of brighter interior light.  The short days and long nights invite soul searching and reflection.  We hunker down, and layer up until we slowly emerge energized and healed.
 There is something mystical and deeply spiritual about the gradual return of light as day gains on night.

  I do not begrudge winter...I embrace it.  The season's deep freezes and the world whitewashed invite dormancy and quiescence until the sun once again ascends high in the sky to warm and thaw and awaken.  The cycle of life as evidenced by the change in seasons fills me with comfort and awe.  When my eyes are open, I witness miracle after miracle.  These natural revelations then open my heart.  They open my heart wide only to break it as I once again feel time fleeting.  It is sad, but true because the world is such a beautiful place and life is so short.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

Snow and sledding.  We are enjoying the snowiest December since I can remember.

Skating too.  The school rink is already flooded. T. Bone has visited it once and Miss dreams about doing so daily.

A quiet family night last Saturday in the midst of the hustle and bustle.  We went out for our favorite pizza, took the long way home while enjoying the holiday lights, and then played a board game.  It was perfect.

Traditions especially this time of year.  Sunday family dinner is one we enjoy year round.  Aunt Jess joined us this week.  Before we ate, we decorated gingerbread cut outs.  Even T. Bone got in on the fun. I've been mixing this same dough since I was T. Bone's age so it's tradition. I have just recently acquired a taste for it though.

I finally finished The Telling Room. I can only give it a 2.5, but there are parts of it that I am still mulling over like this on the truth of storytelling:

So was that to say that mystique won out over the truth every time?  All the best stories and strangest dreams metaphorically seemed to exist on the apparently nonexisting second floor of the Quinta, didn’t they?  In the end, it wasn’t so much that there was an alternative narrative – there always was – but it came down to belief: Which one did you want to believe.  Which one suited you best?  Or, perhaps most to the point: Which one told the story you were already telling yourself?  

Coach, Miss Bit and I watched Pride and Prejudice this week.  As I remember, the book is better, but it's such a treat to find entertainment that is appropriate for all ages.  I will be rereading Austen's second novel soon.

Moroccan oil.

Miss Bit had her second swim meet this week.  She took first place in her 50 yard freestyle heat.  She was proudest of all.

T. Bone's report card was his best yet, and the last few were hard to beat.

I took the kids out to shop for their gifts in the last 48 hours and I found both experiences to be warm and fuzzy.  They care and they want to show it.  There is a sense of pride in earning, saving and then spending their money on tokens they personally pick out for loved ones. He entered stores he normally wouldn't think of shopping in.  She carefully counted her crumpled up dollar bills, and the cashier was patient even if the patrons behind us weren't. I'm thankful she didn't notice.  They receive so much, but there is nothing like the good feelings that come from giving to others.

eos lip glosses although I wish they'd make an unscented option..

My Christmas cactus is blooming.

Minecraft central aka our dining room table where they sit side by side and scheme.  I cannot remember the last time they played so nicely together for so long.

A new Brussel's Sprout recipe.  Dice a couple slices of bacon and brown in a skillet.  Remove and add halved sprouts, a slight drizzle of EVOO, and pat of butter.  When slightly browned, add a chopped shallot, salt and pepper and a generous glug of chicken stock.  Let simmer until the stock evaporates and sprouts are tender.  Serve topped with bacon.

Winter solstice is tomorrow.

This post on sadness versus happiness and anger.  I've been retreating into myself as I fend off this funk.  This came at the right time.

Sitting with the idea that we don't change because we have insight, but rather we change and then have insight.  This timeline is what makes change so hard.  We just have to do it.  The understanding comes after.

T. Bone turns 13 next week.  I cannot believe that my son is almost a teenager.  I'd prefer he not grow up and just stay with us forever, but I'm incredibly grateful for the beautiful young man he is becoming.

Thursday, December 19, 2013


Whatta week it's been!  Something tells me you may be having one too.  It seems like the whole world is running rampant - trying to find the perfect gifts, wrap the perfect presents, make perfect confections, throw and attend the perfect parties and have the all around perfect Christmas when really the best part is just sitting before the imperfect tree with a hot toddy and a few classic crooners caroling.

And speaking of carols, Bing was belting out I'll  Be Home For Christmas yesterday just as the doorbell rang.  It was the UPS guy delivering a package from relatives on my Mom's side.  I accepted the box and then quickly shut the door because I couldn't contain the grief I felt washing over me.  It moved through me and I became a heaving, sobbing, shaking mess in a moment.  A puddle on the other side of the door. All I could think was that my Mom wouldn't be coming home for Christmas.  No revelation intellectually, but emotionally still jarring and upending.

I'm not going to fib and say that this year I'm filled to the brim with Christmas spirit. I feel it at times...many times...but there are equally as many times that I'm simply going through the motions.  It's not just me though. I've commiserated with many friends who are feeling the same : little to nothing...numb.  I think it's because we have strayed from the true meaning of Christmas.  Just this morning I was watching GMA, and they aired a segment questioning whether or not it's acceptable to overindulge our children in the name of Christmas.  One mother was an emphatic yes.  One expert was a resounding no.  We've lost the meaning she warned.  Christmas is about giving and togetherness, she waxed.  I waned.  The last I checked, Christmas was about the birth of Jesus, and the grace that is ours because he was born only to give his life for our salvation.  So yes, it is about giving, but not the latest and greatest of things...of ourselves.


Saturday, December 14, 2013

3 New Friends

I have great expectations that I will complete at least a weekend's worth of baking and wrapping in just hours today. That being said, I am short on time to blog, but I simply must make the time to share the experience we just returned from this snowy morning lest it lose its luster. It was a morning that begged us not only to stay inside, but to stay in bed too. I knew we couldn't as soon as I saw the unplowed roads and inches quickly accumulating. I feared that volunteer turnout for today's poinsettia delivery would suffer. We signed up to deliver the plants and Christmas cheer to members of our parish community who are home bound or confined to nursing homes at Miss Bit's urging. I thought of all the Grandma's and Grandpa's waiting for us and knew a little snow could not dash our plans or their hopes.

We were greeted by a parish center abuzz with volunteers, and I felt proud to worship with these people who have such kind hearts and generous spirits.  They committed.  They came. They delivered.

We set off with cards, books, plants, prayers, and hosts in our Santa hats to pretty familiar territory.  Coach set us up with a trio of erstwhile parishioners who live in the village I grew up in.  Our first visitor was waiting for us in the lobby of her apartment building.  At first I thought she was eager to see us.  Then she took the plant, handed us some banana bread and declined a visit, and I surmised she was eager to see us go.  Only we stood talking with Doris in the lobby for 10 minutes before she asked for communion and then finally said goodbye.

Allen was waiting for us in his apartment, and was very welcoming although we did stand and talk in the hallway.  He thought the plant was lovely and talked about having his reader read him the book because he has macular degeneration.  He gave us handshakes and a blessing before we left.

Our last stop was Florence in the high rise next door.  We were told that she was shy so I was a little nervous that she might not even open the door.  She did, and she invited us in.  She was so sweet and slight, and reminded me uncannily of my Great Aunt Charlotte.  We had the nicest visit with Florence.  It ended in warm hugs for all of us and then she tried to slip Miss Bit $.

As we approached the lobby, we saw Allen in the vestibule.  He was waiting for us because he was so touched by our visit that he wanted to give us a gift too.  We did take the bottle of sparkling cider he offerred.  He walked next door in the snow and stood waiting for us for 20 minutes so he could thank us again.  We were all beautifully touched.

This is what Christmas is all about.  Goodwill and kindness are free, yet often in short supply. Generosity is the gift that keeps giving.

Miss Bit and I decided that we want to share some baked goods with our new friends. And as we add friends to our list, I have to add batches to my line-up.  

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Checking In

I was up for hours in the dead of last night.  Insomnia is such an anxiety junkie.  I tried every known tactic of diversion, yet I kept circling around the same worries. Fears are so much scarier alone in the dark.  There is nothing worse than the rest of the house or block sleeping soundly while your own mind races and roams.  I finally fell back to sleep just before it was time to get up.  You know that drill...right?  That makes for the kind of entry into a new day that I find a little abrupt.  It leaves me akimbo.  Nothing a few cups of coffee and a little time here won't remedy. I'm already laughing about the lunch I packed T. Bone: two kinds of crackers, clementines and a candy bar.  Not my best effort, yet still much better than the things many of his friends bring.  Then I went on to pack Miss Bit a lunch even though she wanted hot lunch today.  And packing her a lunch is no small feat.  I've come to realize that she's not so much picky as she is particular. Tell me you know the distinction.

I'm just happy I don't have to leave the house today.  Coach and I shopped yesterday from 9 o'clock in the morning until almost 9 o'clock at night with an hour break for lunch and a wimpy 15 minute nap in the afternoon.  We made a dent, but have a ways to go.  It was exhausting both physically and spiritually.  I love to give gifts, but this year the consumerism of Christmas is weighing heavily upon me.  It's piggish to buy more when we all have so much.  Wolfish too. Christmas shopping has not been an exercise in civility.  Patrons can be cold and greedy. Associates can be aloof and even surly.  It furthers my deep down feeling that this is not what it's all about, but then we know that even as we continue to ignore what is always true: our actions speak much louder than our words.

Today my actions will include baking.  I haven't started a batch yet and I'm not exactly sure how far I'll get, but the kids have started asking after their favorites and that's all it takes.  I usually end up making about 10 different kinds of cookies.  We all have our requests, and then my inner Martha kicks in and I feel the need to round out the choices so as to make a pretty, balanced platter.  Really my cookies are not the most tedious or fancy, but they taste good.  They taste like my childhood and I guess that's why I do it. I'll also whip up some Irish cream. It's so much better homemade than store bought especially if you use good whiskey.  It's all about the Jamesons. I use Paula Deen's recipe, but I should get my mil's.  Her Irish cream is my favorite.  I keep the bottle she gives us.  The bottles I make I like to give as hostess gifts.  Really who needs or wants another set of festive spreaders or coasters or glass charms?

Later today I'll roast a chicken and maybe some potatoes for dinner.  Roasting anything brings me such a sense of immediate earthly calm.   First the sight and then the smell.  Ultimately the taste.  And it's the gift that keeps giving because a pot of stock simmering away on the stove the next day is the most extraordinary of elixirs.  I plan to find time to finally finish The Telling Room too.  How I have struggled with Paterniti's work!  I've got less than 70 pages now, and just now the story is flowing for me...the pages are flying.  I think it was just not what I thought it was going to be. Errant expectations can be the most stalwart of road blocks.  Over the weekend, I finally finished Sense and Sensibility.  I've been involved with Austen's first novel since July.  Life and faulty equipment are to blame, and just maybe the fact that I have the tendency to read five to seven books at a time.  I'm no Janeite, but I rather loved her take on the rules of inheritance and may continue on chronologically through her works. As an English major I'm ashamed to admit I've only read Pride and Predjudice and Emma. The movie is on hold for me at the library.  If I am lucky, I may find time before dinner to watch Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, Hugh Grant and Greg Wise as Elinor, Marianne, Edward and Willoughby.  I think I can entice my movie loving Miss Bit to join me. Who knows...if I get her started at 9, she just may become a Janeite.  There are certainly worse things to be.

Well, after rereading this entry I see that I really must get busy.  Today's list is a long one...a satisfying one.

Monday, December 9, 2013

2 day pass

the snow didn't come until sunday, but t. bone had his first ski club trip friday after school.
he came home exhausted.
miss bit was over the moon to have a date with aunt jess.
the girls went out for dinner and ice skating.
lil came home with a super-sized purple rhino named henry.
thanks girlfriend!
at first i felt a little badly that i took a rain check.
but i could tell that miss bit was more than happy to have a little one on one time with jess.
frankly i found it sweet that she wanted her all to herself.
saturday t. bone was up and out the door early for a friend's bar mitzvah service.
he's got a cache of yarmulkes in every color of the rainbow now!
i took lil out looking for things to put on her christmas wish list.
it's awfully tough when you don't want for much... much except a bow and arrow like katniss and a pony like picasso.
i had to remind her that santa is not authorized to bring weapons or pets.
astutely she added that if you do not ask, you will likely not receive.
i couldn't argue with that.
thankfully we ignited a few more reasonable desires as we perused the aisles.
my brother and sil joined us for dinner.
coach made the yummiest jalapeno poppers.
they were wrapped in bacon.
he made sinful queso and homemade margarita mix too.
then we carried out from a fave mexican place nearby.
si es verdad...miss bit is now a raving fan of the steak taco.
i didn't tell her tys (told ya so!)
it was snowing when i woke sunday morning.
the kids went to sunday school and we went for coffee and bagels.
we met up again for church where we were happy to see our inspiring father t.
lil added $5 of her own money to the food pantry collection and urged me to sign up to deliver poinsettias next week to home bound parishioners.
she only needed to perform one act of kindness for the day, but kindness is kind of contagious and irresistible.
we spent the rest of the day at home watching the snow fall and fall.
except the kids went to the sledding hill and then brought friends home for hot cocoa and dinner in that order.
hot cocoa topped with whipped cream, marshmallows and chocolate syrup...a meal in itself.
miss bit redeemed her advent ticket for her choice dinner.
she chose well: homemade mac and cheese, grilled pork chops, broccoli and applesauce.
it was still snowing when we went to bed.
the world seemed so full of peace thanks to the blanket of white.
the weekend was full of moments of peace and solitude, and moments of joy and togetherness too.
it was a keeper.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

Miss Bit had a date with a girlfriend Sunday.  She was so excited to spend the afternoon together.

I completely understood her excitement because I had breakfast with a college friend and lunch with a high school friend the day before.  I was equally as happy to be in the company of such good friends.

T. Bone went to work out with his Uncle.  He is working on 6 pack abs.  After they worked up a sweat, they went out for hot wings.  Guys.

A sweet and tasty gift from a friend between my door this week. She is always so very thoughtful like that doing little things to touch my heart.

Coach for putting the tree up the same day we got it (a record) and getting the lights on within 2 days of that (another record).  I think he wanted to fast forward my Christmas spirit.  It worked.

Ted was home in time to help decorate the tree and he did so of his very own accord.

Big Boy burgers at the Kilowat.  Now if only they had the Swiss Miss.

We won a gift certificate to our favorite pizza parlor in the church raffle.  We never win anything in the church raffle.

Frasier firs.  We ended up with balsams the last couple years, but these are the best for lots of ornaments. We are now in the category of lots of ornaments and I love them all.

Watching Hostages with T. Bone on Monday nights.  He is so into his little cache of dramas.  I remember feeling like a big kid when my Mom let me watch Quincy and Murder She Wrote with her.  He is almost 13, and technically a big kid, but forever my little boy.

St. Nick came last night.  All the kids were happy to see full stockings this morning.  And they were full to overflowing because they are so well behaved.

Fred, our Christmas house elf (I just like saying that), is back much to Miss Bit's delight.  She has been waiting.  Searching.  Hoping.  Maybe even praying.

This sentiment because I do...I prefer winter and Fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape — the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn't show. ~Andrew Wyeth

I finished and loved Glass Castle for the second time and started Wharton's Summer.  I get a kick out of the irony of starting this classic on the cusp of winter.

Both the kids are invested in good, engaging books right now.  That makes me happiest of all.

I'm almost finished with The Telling Room.  I must tell you...I have struggled mostly due to the tiresome footnotes and journalistic flair of this telling.  I want more juice and less pretense.  Paterniti has yet to compel me even as I want to try the Paramo de Guzman, travel to the Castile region, and drink Ambrosio's house wine.  Maybe it's because I already love cheese, wine and Spain.

My step-mom and cousin are in Hawaii for the next week.  They love Hawaii. I love them.

Advent.  Calendars.  Candles.  Sermons.

T. Bone and Miss Bit have a new common interest (well, new to him)...Mine Craft.  They have set up shop at the dining room table where they sit side by side and game.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Christmas Chi

Coach and I got the lights on the big tree last night.  Now we really are the Griswolds. Well, not really because we only use white lights around here.  And no inflatable Santas sit on our lawn.  Usually, he takes this light business on solo.  My Mom used to say there were three times every year she and my Dad almost divorced: when they put up the tree, put on the screens or put on the storms.  I have heeded her warnings in spite of the fact that I suspect these seasonal tasks had little to do with their split.   We got the job done quickly and without a single snarky comment proving that we make a pretty good team.  I lit a favorite I always save unlit from year to year... and then we sat admiring our perfect tree ablaze. It smelled so good...tree and candle...that I decided I'm done saving candles if you know what I mean.  And I'll always have at least one real tree.

Miss Bit and I will decorate the tree after school today.  She gets out early and T. Bone has plans to spend the extra free time with friends probably just because he doesn't want to help.  I have plans to make her a festive snack and tell her all the stories about the the ornaments we unbox before we hang them on the tree. It's an oral tradition this passing on of tannenbaum history. The forecast hints that this rain may even turn to snow by afternoon so, perhaps, we'll cozy in for a viewing of Elf or A Christmas Story.  I'm really upping the ante here.

I found Advent calendars yesterday at one of my stops.  It was the first thing she asked me when she got in the car after school reminding me to never underestimate the importance of the little things.  They matter big. I know it.  You know it too.

I've got a few other things on my list today.  Mostly making more lists for the upcoming weeks.  Also roasting a turkey breast.  We'll have a quasi Thanksgiving feast tonight because I didn't get my turkey fix last Thursday.  Plus the bird cooking to perfection in the oven smells almost as good as that frasier fir candle.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

We Gotta Do What We Do

The sky is spitting today.  It's a misty, cloying condensation that makes the air thick and heavy.  A small part of me wishes the temperature would drop and turn this mess to snow.  Big, fat beautiful flakes is what one expects this time of year.  Some of us even long for it.  The car pooling, errand running part of me is happy not to have to contend with the white stuff.  Also the cynic in me who knows the pristine and peace of a snowfall turns drab grey and gross all too soon.

There's nothing wrong with grey though.  Grey is good.  I love cloudy days best.  It's the perfect muted backdrop to show off the white twinkling lights all over the house today.  I have them strewn on trees and wreaths and boughs.  After we did the bulk of the decorating Sunday, I turned them all on and turned off every other source of light.  It really was beautiful and serene and festive.  I'm trying to catapult myself into the Christmas state of mind.  I'm tired of talking about my lack of spirit so I'm just doing what I know we do come December. I'm taking my own advice.  I'm acting the way I want to feel, but I'm sad to say it only works short-term.  So then I find myself listening to that little voice in my head that says : one day at a  Wow, so much easier whispered than wrought.

Sometimes I feel like I fixate on the weather and the seasons more than I should...more than is healthy.  Yet there is no denying that the outside conditions affect my inner temperature and barometer greatly. The time of year is so closely tied to my emotional calendar.  My gossamer skin is finer than ever, and my heart simultaneously filled with joy and aching every day of December.  It's exhausting even before you add in celebrations and concerts and too many carbs.  It's the same for so many of us I know.

Last year I tried to pare things down and focus on the things that matter most to me.  I made more time for the people, gatherings and traditions that brought me the most joy.  That decision brought much relief.  I didn't send cards.  Didn't get many either, but with our proclivity toward social networking that is no surprise.  I baked fewer batches of cookies, said "no" to invitations that didn't lift me up and "yes" to those that did.  I tried to look at shopping like treasure hunting, and found more amusement in the experience despite the few very impossible to buy for people on my list each year. I was going to forego Advent calendars this year since those little chocolates usually get eaten during breakfast, but then Miss Bit asked where they were yesterday.  I told her I was sorry, but I didn't get any.  She apologized for bringing it up and said, "I'm not trying to make you feel bad.  I'm just making sure we do what we do.  Ya know?  We gotta do what we do."  I tell you that girl is my mini master of ceremonies.  They were sold-out at both stores I stopped at last night.  I'll try a couple more today because that is important to her.  That means it's important to me.   We gotta do what we do...ya know?  I know.