Monday, December 26, 2011

A Christmas Card, of sorts

"All the Christmases roll down toward the two-tongued sea, like a cold and headlong moon bundling down the sky that was our street; and they stop at the rim of the ice-edged fish-freezing waves, and I plunge my hands in the snow and bring out whatever I can find. In goes my hand into that wool-white bell-tongued ball of holidays resting at the rim of the carol-singing sea and out comes [. . . ] " - Dylan Thomas from "A Child's Christmas in Wales"

Out comes many wondrous things.

I've noticed that, mostly, holidays don't live up to our expectations. We envision this calm, peaceful and glorious set of days filled with laughter and warmth and good cheer. It tends to fall short of that. This year we had two sick little girls. Buttercup's cold (caught from Blueberry) ended up settling in her chest and we needed to use a nebulizer on her this Christmas. In fact, I took her to the ER two days before Christmas Eve. Then I started getting sick on Christmas Day. The house was a mess. Blueberry whined a lot, ate too much sugar, and bounced off the walls. Buttercup coughed a lot and was pretty grumpy opening presents.

But there were presents, both useful and useless. (Mine, for example: down coat from LL Bean, iPhone!!!, and a device that makes your pancakes and eggs cook into the shape of hearts.)

There was mulled wine and latke's and my brother's amazing seared cod on Christmas Eve.

There were children nestled safely in their (scratch that) our bed.

There was a fire in the stove that lasted for days, it felt like.

There was a lovely Christmas breakfast feast.

Blueberry still was an angel in a Christmas pageant in town on Christmas Eve. In fact, she was the only angel who said her line with gusto: "Glory to God in the highest!" (you could probably hear it across town.)

Blueberry was far more eager to give things away to anyone who came to the door - mailmen, UPS drivers, neighbors bearing treats - than to get stuff.

There was a light snow-globe snow falling on Christmas day, starting as floaty feathery flakes when we woke up (at the extremely decent hour of 7:30) and then getting steadier throughout the day.

It was a genuine storm by dinner.

There was Nonni and Pop Pop's Christmas dinner of roast beef and Yorkshire pudding.

All my siblings were together, the five of us recounting Christmas pasts and participating in lots of good-natured teasing.

There were Christmas crackers unexpectedly filled with confetti. And there was cleaning it up together.

There was uneventful travel in the slippery snow.

There was my grandmother opening a beautiful snowglobe - something she'd wanted for all her 80 years.

There were two babies falling asleep while nursing by the Christmas tree.

There were too many cookies and too much port wine.

There were paper dolls and Colorforms and puzzles, books and hand-knit hats and mittens, so my daughter's Christmas had a air of timelessness. Everything she got was low-tech, yet she loved it. (And yes, I'm brave enough to post a picture of myself in pj's on Christmas morning.)

Boxing Day has dawned bright and clear with snow-laden trees against an impossibly blue sky and our home is warm and full of Christmas remnants and a couple of presents that Santa "forgot."

Peace and joy be yours this season, this year's end, even if it fails to live up to your expectations. With love from us all "at the rim of the carol-singing sea."

Thursday, December 8, 2011


"Memory is a way of holding on to the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose." -- Kevin Arnold

I realize it's been a while since I posted. For some reason the stretch between Thanksgiving and Christmas seems to get a bit crazy... I'm probably not alone in that. I am also dealing with the ramped-up needs of my two little loves.

News from the little world:


Blueberry has her first official loose one. It's cute, but also a bit icky to me. She's touchy and whiny about it, likes to wiggle it constantly and I love watching her try to eat an apple without using the loose tooth. It's the front bottom right, her first to come in (after consulting her baby book), and will be the first to go. I'm thinking Santa and the Tooth Fairy may converge this year. Not sure what the going rate is for teeth but perhaps a lovely little felted gnome or angel will be her prize.

Buttercup officially has 4 teeth now. It's also adorable, but those top two gave her a lot of trouble coming in and they are still growing and seem to bother her. She "grinds" them a lot and looks a bit like an old man doing it, but in the sweetest way possible.

(please note the pearly whites and the pearls from Nonni. so cute.)


We're trying Baby Led Weaning, sometimes called Baby Led Solids, with Buttercup. It's really brilliant not to have to make purees and force feed your baby. Check it out. I love it. Well, so far. Sweet potato didn't make it near her mouth and she's had a few bites of banana. She's not terribly impressed, but it's comforting to know that she'll pick it up at her own speed and with her own inclination. She does love to take sips of water out of Mama's glass and is messing around with a sippy cup in an increasingly skillful way. Still loving the boob 24/7. And I'm cool with it. She's large and healthy and thriving, so despite the fact that she's 7 months (!!!), I'm really not concerned pushing her to eat "real" food.

(water? really?)

And, Blueberry. Increasingly I've noticed she's sensitive to sugar. And preservatives and food dyes. SIGH. M&M's are SO good! Crap! I know. I didn't want to acknowledge this, really, but am realizing it makes a huge difference in her attitude, sleeping patterns, and overall behavior and health when I cut those things out of her diet. This is where Baby Led Weaning is brilliant. You realize you're cooking for your baby too, so you tend to cook healthier; whole foods, not any added salt or sugar, but lots of nutrition and flavor. It's going to get exciting the more foods I add on to Buttercup's repertoire.


We're getting ready for Christmas here in the little house by the sea. It's fun. I need to remember that and not stress about all that I want to do. We've made popcorn chains and pinecone garlands, "gingerbread" (graham cracker) houses, put up the tree and decorated it, made a swag for the front door, gathered lots of greens and berries for buckets outside, the mantle and refreshed our Thanksgiving centerpiece with cedar, rosehips and mussel shells. It's pretty. We purchased just a few things for the girls this year. Quality over quantity. Blueberry will be getting a wooden ironing board and laundry set, puzzles and small chalkboards, per her current fascinations. Buttercup will be getting a sweet small Waldorf doll, a couple of teethers and balls. I am trying to take things off my list rather than adding them on. It's hard. I plan to make a nightgown for Blueberry and matching pj pants for Buttercup. I'll post them when they're done! But I want to enjoy this season of peace and joy and take lots of walks, drink lots of hot tea, do lots of crafts, have lots of tree-side snuggles and savor the Advent.

Here are some photos to situate you, taken on our daily walkabout today.


house, with Mittens Alexatar foregrounding

backyard stream to the sea

Blueberry at the front door