Monday, December 26, 2011
After a day of playing and lounging in our nighties we hosted a little Christmas dinner party for family. For some years now we've had a tradition of cooking pulled pork barbecue and all the delicious sides that go with that for Christmas. It is always a hit with children and adults and keeps things fun and informal.
The food did not keep us from dressing fancy though. With three girls in the house we never miss a chance to dress up, put bows in our hair and spread glitter from our sparkly shoes all around.
For dessert I continued my tradition of making one very outrageous holiday treat and served a triple-layer candied pecan buttered pear bourbon cream cake. It was indeed pretty outrageous!
We exchanged gifts with our guests and sent them home with little pouches of chewy peppermint sticks and Sabrina's spontaneously assembled goodie bags of clemetines, candy canes and chocolates. It makes me so happy that my girls really enjoy welcoming people into our home... they loved preparing the house, setting the table, welcoming everyone and treating them with warmth and generosity. What a nice thing for a mama to witness of Christmas day.
Dolls! Tea set! Charlie Brown Cyclopedia! Sno cone machine! Tintin books! Strawberry Shortcake! Ornaments! Barrettes! Fancy dresses! Wagon! Ear muffs! Play food! Then, a sweet breakfast on this luminous Christmas day and a morning of play and discovery before the fire.
Monday, December 19, 2011
As far as dinners go, ours are unpredictable. Some evenings we have thoughtful, peaceful talks and eat our food happily and mind our manners. Other evenings we whine about everything, bicker, eat very little while making an inversely proportional mess.
Sometimes taking the focus off food and manners is the best solution, and since I wanted our dinner on the fourth Sunday of Advent to be on the peaceful side, I wrote little questions about the holidays for each of us to talk about during the meal. Nothing profound, just questions about favorite holiday treats, songs, books, movies and activities.
Each of us (except Maya) answered each question and it made the meal fun and pleasant... and we learned a few things about each other as well. I often feel like a big part of my job as a mother is to seek out clues to the mystery that my children are so that I can better honor and nurture them. So I relish getting those sweet glimpses into their little hearts and minds.
I found out that CC's love of Cindy Lou Who is greater than we thought. And that Sabrina likes Christmas music you can dance to like Feliz Navidad. Also, that Sabrina's favorite Christmas stories are from the Bible. I myself was reminded of one of my favorite movies, Miracle on 34th Street, which I haven't watched in years and surely will this week. For each answer we had to also answer, Why? And so our conversation got a little deeper and really captured what the holidays are about for each of us.
By the end of the dinner I saw I might have started something very good here... maybe a Sunday dinner tradition where we discuss a topic through personal questions like these. It would be a sweet way to end the weekend for sure.
Sunday, December 18, 2011
Rolling out dough in our nightgowns. Big mommy and daddy cookies, medium big girl cookies and adorable tiny baby cookies. The sweet gingery smell of baking filling our house. Getting flour all over the place, including our hair! Watching Maya discover a new flavor. Arranging cookies into the families we know.
It was a wonderful morning that almost did not happen because I couldn't get my hands on the ideal recipe I just knew was out there. In the end, we used a boxed mix that tastes very good. It was the two hours we spent baking together that mattered and will be held in our memories.
I was reminded of Voltaire's observation: do not let the perfect get in the way of the good. The holiday season seems like a very good time to live by this!
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Yesterday we hosted a little holiday play date for CC's friends that was so much fun. I learned a few things about hosting and enjoying your own party and making guests feel welcome and entertained from CC. First, run around the whole house with each guest that arrives and show them all your favorite things. Second, look your guests in the eye smiling then giggle a lot for no real reason. Third, when it's time to eat or do an activity, instantly ignore your guests and plunge head first into the task at hand enjoying it as much if not more than everyone else. Fourth, don't worry about spills, messes, anyone touching your stuff or snooping in strange places--in fact, encourage it. Fifth, if things start to slow down, change locations by calling out "everyone to my bedroom" at the top of your lungs. And finally, be smiley and full of energy till the very end--if necessary eat more candy to maintain your mood.
Preparing for the party is always part of the fun of course. CC and I spent time the previous day putting together the party's activities, which was a nice way for us to spend her "at home" day (she has no preschool on Mondays).
CC is a very social child and loves having people over, so she was very excited, chatting about the friends who were coming and how the party would evolve. She was eager to help with all the preparations too. Together we made gingerbread houses out of graham crackers and painted bottle brush trees with snow. We also had to wash jars and shop for candy. It's so nice to have a little companion to work on these things with and run ideas by.
The party was a success and hit just the right balance between activities and free play, healthy snacks and candy gobbling. I loved having a house full of little ones running around, snacking, working, exploring and playing while their moms and I got to catch up and relax. As I did that, kept an eye on the party's progress and tended to Maya, I also got to watch my special girl feel just a little more special all afternoon, and that was maybe the best part of all.
Saturday, December 10, 2011
I come from a family of collectors. My parents and everyone on both sides of my families have several collections, some finished, some still growing. Art, ceramics, carved wooden figures, silver boxes, enamel boxes, ducks, vases. Following in their footsteps I have in the past started several collections, but was never passionate enough about any to continue tending to them. So I decided that when the time was right, the thing I wanted to collect would present itself.
Some years ago I came across glassybaby, a small company that makes only one thing: exquisitely handblown and colored glass goblets. I fell in love with the look of the glass, so timeless and modern at once, so simple and uniform yet full of the infinite variety that handmade things offer. I also fell in love with the many uses for the goblets. They can be votives, vases, drinking glasses, containers for pencils, candy or just about anything in between.
As a lover of symbols I decided that I would grow my collection by buying glassybaby to mark special times in my life. I match the color or name of the goblet to the occasion. Sometimes it has been a reward for something I pushed myself to do, sometimes a mark of celebration, sometimes a sweet reminder of a good moment.
So I got the green "Fertile" when I found out I was pregnant with Maya. "Dream" marked the start of Good + Happy Day Studio, a dream I had been holding for years that materialized last summer. I recently got "Cream" as a little present to myself for nursing Maya for over a year, something that was at times very difficult but that I miss so much now that she's been weened for a few months.
I also receive glassybaby as gifts, and love being surprised with a color or concept and finding out why it was chosen for me.
I love arranging and rearranging the goblets, as do the girls. Sometimes we do a rainbow, other times pattern or something more unexpected. To add to our holiday decor I separated out the white, green and red ones and kept only those on the mantel. I love the effect. And even more I love that my glassybaby collection is lovely and useful and endlessly adaptable.
The title for this post is from Charlie and Lola, one of my favorite cartoon shows.
Thursday, December 8, 2011
We have little touches of Christmas in the girls' rooms. Tiny trees, simple garlands, sweet ornaments hanging on doorknobs, red ribbons on their favorite stuffed animals. I still haven't put anything in the master bedroom, though I should because as a family we probably spend more time in the big bed than any other place! Maybe some twinkling lights and a wreath over the bed?
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
St. Nicholas always leaves us little things to help celebrate the season. This year, winter nightgowns with matching ones for dolls (or bunnies), Christmas books, beautiful chocolate coins and clementines and a soft little bear for Maya. You can tell in these pictures how sleepy and bedheady the girls were--I woke them early so we wouldn't have to be rushed with school preparations after the excitement of checking our slippers. Such sweet faces, this is how they look most like themselves I think.