Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Christmas Loved

I give fair warning that this is going to be a picture heavy post for those family unable to be with us this year, (Hi, Gramma Mona).

It was such a lovely holiday with all the requisite last minute shopping (done by Tim, bless that man) and last minute making. I tried my hand at homemade almond roca (with Andes mint chocolate melted on top), finally rolled out the gingerbread dough I mixed early last week (the cookies might have tasted better for the wait) and almost finished my home sewn gifts (there were a few given yesterday that were held together by straight pins and missing buttons).

This Christmas Eve we stayed close to home, using the time to play and prep and not take ourselves too seriously. I love that Christmas in our home is about the people gathering, dropping in and out and tinkering and eating and hastily wrapping presents until the wee hours. Tim actually told me that his favorite part of Christmas is the Eve when he does all his shopping and wrapping. Funny that I never knew that before yesterday. And, yes, I will hold him to it for all the years to come. He was invigorated by the quick forays into the crazy stores, I was by the homey tasks and it all seemed to come together as it should.

And we had a Christmas Eve visitor, but O did not quite make it long enough to see him.

Our Christmas morning is deeply steeped in a tradition, that of meeting our local Santa Claus out on the chilly morning street. He rides by on the shiny fire truck, waving as the handsome firemen hand out bags of unsalted peanuts and candy. We have done this since we moved into this home when I was five. The tradition part comes in with our extreme hyper-vigilance in waiting, we gather outside the minute we hear a distant fire truck, wait with hot coffee and cold hands, realize he is not anywhere near, start back inside, think we hear the sirens, turn around, go back, turn around. I think we do it because it makes it more fun. I know Grandpa Jim thought we were looped, and laughed right along with us when Santa finally came.

Funny Faces

He's Here

The presents were given and I am really glad we did not get the boys anything much because all the aunts and uncles and grandfolks ignored our entreaties to limit the toys and literally showered the boys with stuff. All really cool, non-batttery operated stuff, but WOW, those kids are set FOREVER. Not one person can pass up and hobby horse and a tool set, right? Mason's favorite, the trash truck with trash can included. Owen's...his new two wheeler bike. That he rode around the park without much help. That kid is unstoppable.

Our Girl
Hobby Horse
Tool Master

My favorite part of the day is always the family hike where we load up and head out. I love the bluebird sky and crisp air and long talks and running kids and sleeping kids. It just feels so right to celebrate the holiday in this way, honoring what we love and who we love. There was a lot of rides hitched and a little knitting time in order to finish a very last minute gift. The best part is that the gift may not be much needed as we found out a cousin is no longer being deployed.


Family Hike
And we actually found just the right bench to prop up the camera for a group shot (only one missing is my big brother and his wife).

The boys slept too little, ate too much candy, have so many new and very stimulating things (yeah, yeah, toys...just so hard to say it when we were aiming so low, you know?). The spirit of the season embraced us all. And it was a good day, a very very good holiday indeed.
Merry Christmas
Happy Holidays to you. However it came and went, I hope you found delight and magic in the small spaces and large surprises. Sending love and hopefully a few yearly recaps into this place.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Christmas Story

I did not mean for it to happen, but in someways this blog has become a place that only shows the 'making things' side of my life, or the 'taking pictures of things', or the 'I have to show you these things" know, that need to document achievements in creating. I thought I might swing it in other direction this year, but that never came to be. In many ways, my actions went just the opposite of my desires.

We had a Christmas open house at our home today. We were almost on top of things, cleaning almost done, kitchen duties not quite there, mid afternoon rolling around and I had yet to change out of pajamas and an apron, no bra, of course. SO many things had to be done in prep, including the cutting of snowflakes out of wax paper to stick to the windows as decor, (essential, right?). I did assign the task to my very willing brothers, but it was so fun, much more fun than the stack of dishes in the sink. And so one o'clock rolled in, me in kitchen unkempt and sweating, and not a bit of make up on my face (still in pajamas and an apron) and Tim comes through the front door and says to me, "You might want to get some clothes on, Mrs. B is here".

So, to explain a little, Mrs. B is their teacher and I love her. Have developed a bit of a crush, in fact. The kind where you think the person would make a great friend, but she is your kids' teacher and so, you know, all is good with boundaries and whatever. But then she held your kid's bleeding finger in her sweatshirt and cried after he left with his Dad to to the ER, so now she is a bit of your idol. And she knows what lumpia are and is coming for the Christmas party at your humble home, so you would prefer to greet her not in your skivvies, you know? So, I dashed to the bedroom, put on deodorant and some of my infamous eyeliner and a dress and flip flops (because it is warm again) and then the party began. An hour early. You know what that hour would have meant to me, right?

But right then, I decided not to care. What the house looked like, what I looked like, that no food was really ready, that I was wearing a dress and forgot to shave my legs...because these were all people I love coming over. All with children under 6. So they are in it, you know. My friends with an 18 month old and a 2 month old were over and there were hands galore to hold both. The toddlers toddled, the two year olds followed the 5 year olds with idolization glazing their eyeballs, the two 5 year olds blazed trails in the backyard, there was whooping and hollering and adults laughing with kids and adults having beers and wine, and lot and lots of lumpias.

I did not pick up a camera once. I did not even look for the opportunity. Sometimes it is so nice not to document, but to just live it. To mesh and meld into your people, your oddly cobbled together tribe of real people, the families that do not mind passing their child off to your friend that still smells like cigarette smoke, or that Tim's aunt brought her new girlfriend, or that we did not ever get around to putting the door casing around the door that we hung 4 years ago (but we did finally get a lock on the bathroom sliding door, much to many folks relief).

That is my real life, people. The pictures tell their story, but the real life is what it is. It is me, not ready for a party I planned. It is my family cutting out snowflakes because they come out so damn cool. It is pulling a wagon loaded with my youngest brother's girlfriend's sisters (you figure that one out) that are the same age as my boys....showing off our street's Christmas lights. And a family asking us if we had four, and me not being freaked out by it, but actually just intrigued. And having so much fun watching and playing and being in it all. It makes me wish Holiday Lumpia Season came around more forces me to interact with the people I love.

Most of our time is spent with Us, my family. All consuming and all wonderful. But days like this remind me why people chose to live in tribes. Chaos, yes. But a beautiful vivid jumbley chaos. It is messy but so much fun, and when it is that much fun, you just do not want it to go away.

I hope your season is bringing just as much light and love into your days. Today was a great reminder if why we live the way we do, and who we love and why. And I am sure picture taking and documentation will resume and though I might want to find a new way of writing, it might not come. But there is always the NEw Year for resolutions. Right.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Finger Okay and Making Resumed

I have to say thank you for all the well wishes to Owen after his finger ordeal. It has been a hell of a week, but he is doing great. We saw the doc quite a few times this week and the injury is healing and looks like it will be no worse for the wear. It is true that the littles are so very resilient...not one complaint since the incident. I think it is because he is afraid they will do something else to him again, he is no fan of the doctor's office anymore.

You may have thought that with all the medical complications, making took a back seat this week. Well, yes it did, but I have bounced back quickly with the realization that we have a week to get all the ideas together and actualized. One week! So that is what I am trying to do.

The teacher gifts were frantically assembled yesterday despite my attempts at prepping early.
teacher presents
teacher presents
teacher presents

They did make it out to each one of our beloved teachers and that made me happy. I had plans of stuffing our special Ms. B's box bag with treats and natural lip gloss etc,
teacher presents
but that plan was nixed when time drew down. Instead I went for the quickest thing we had on hand...

If you know someone who loves plants and you have some access to succulents, this gift is great. If you do not garden, then just enjoy the pictures. I love this project because it is really easy if you have the required items on hand. We do because my Mama is a master gardener who has everything in our backyard and more. This woman takes specific trips to a certain nursery over 2 hours south just to acquire rare and delightful examples of the succulent family.
succulent presents
The gift itself is a small gathering made from succulents cuttings. the wonderful thing is that you literally cut, trim and stick the new ends into soil and they grow back. Kinda' like Owen's finger (oh, that was gross, right?).
succulent presents
succulent presents
You do need a special type of soil, cactus soil,
succulent presents
and you do need a pot and some succulents to start with, but if you are looking for a quick and lovely gift, all these things can be picked up at your local nursery and assembled in a day They make great hostess or favor gifts and they are pretty hard to kill, per my Mama, anyway.
succulent presents
succulent presents
The best part is that they should root and grow and grow long after the gift is given.

The rest of this evening is devoted to a second batch of marshmallows, and my first attempt at homemade caramels from this recipe. I am hoping to last the rest of the evening.

Quick update :: I did it, made some caramels. Dangerous. Both to the taster's tongue and the taster's waist. Marshmallows seem like a breeze now...only they are cinnamon sugar marshmallows because someone (likely Owen) dumped a bunch of cinnamon into our 10 pound bag of white sugar...forgiven due to the whole finger thing, I guess.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

An Unfortunate Event

So, last night was the boy’s very first Christmas program, and it was very very nice. Surprisingly devoid of shenanigans especially when you consider the fact that there were over 32 small children under the age of 5 gathered on a church altar. And I thank the merciful gods for the lack of shenanigans as the day leading up was chock full of them.

The plan was a free day for me so I could spend a few hours with a very good friend and her adorable little baby girl. I had met Bean a few months earlier but now she Is 6 months, when all the fun starts (you know) and I just wanted to play with Shan and a baby and it all seemed to be no problem. Though we both technically live in Los Angeles county, we live on opposite ends of the spectrum so I spent a nice hour or so driving out on unclogged freeways and arrived excited to squeeze this little girl's cheeks. Yummy.

I missed a call by Tim figuring it was just a check in, but just as we settled in for a good talk/play on the floor session I heard my phone again and the thought “uh on” flashed through. It was my Dad, I answered and he asked if Tim had reached me. Uh oh. The message he relayed sounded like this : “Tim went to school because someone bit off Mason’s finger”. You know that feeling that happens when your body is so cold it is hot, when you feel your bones fall into jelly-like state? That was me….but I always laugh when I am nervous so I think I did that too. Then I hung up and called Tim.

The teacher Mrs. B answered and she was the epitome of calm. She asked me if I was okay, then explained the paramedics were at the school, Tim was with him, his finger was mostly severed at the top with the fingernail almost off, he was okay. She sounded a little shaky, but then who wouldn’t? Then I had to ask, “Um, someone bit it off?” That made her give a nervous laugh and clear up that it was actually a door, not a child that perpetrated the act. Whew. And that it was Owen, not Mason who was hurt. My mind instantly flashed to change the injured child image in my mind, which was not a relief at all, but at least it was accurate now.

I told Tim I would get in the car and be home in about 90 minutes, he was taking O to the ER, I hung up and then had to lay down for a minute. Shan and Lucy were both very understanding (of course) and I had to snuggle her for one more minute before I left to work up my fortitude, then in car, back to freeway, home to local ER.

It was all a little anti-climatic when I walked into the ER hospital room. Owen’s hand was heavily bandaged, he was smiling, reached for a big hug. Tim told me that x-rays had been done but he had yet to be seen by the MD. My relief evaporated as I knew the rough part was to come when they took off the bandage, but O seemed so happy, no pain at all per his actions.

(Calm before the storm, believe me, I did not even think about taking his picture after they took off the dressing).

So, when the PA came in and started to remove the bandage I was in shock when I saw the injury….it was baaaad, people. At least, that is what we both thought when we saw it, I could hear it in her voice, I could feel it in the turning of my stomach. My advice is that if someone tells you your child’s finger is partially severed, you should listen and not look. O was screaming, it was bleeding, I was holding him, Tim was soothing him…it was a bit of a zoo for a minute.

But they decided it needed numbing, irrigation and sewing up, there was no fracture and he would be just fine. Right. The hardest part for him and us was that they needed to immobilize him so the wrapped him in a sheet and papoosed him to a board on the gurney and he flipped his lid. Screamed at us to let him out, please, out, please, ME OUT!!!!. Ah, my heart clenches just thinking about it.

I laid on the gurney with him and told him stories as we waited for his hand to get numb and he calmed a bit but when the medical attention began, that was it. He screamed the ER down. He pleaded with them, he said stop, and ouch, and hurting, and out, me out, me out. He would not look at me, instead watching the medical team, they hid his hand from us as they working and I knew he could feel it because he screamed at each stitch but I could not tell her to stop because it just needed to be done, over, so he could get out.

Thank god I was lying down next to him or I might have fallen down, hearing his voice, helpless to help. It was horrible. The ER team was amazing and wonderful with him, but it was still horrible. And then they finished and he passed out, one second screaming, next one asking for water in a cup (not juice, he told the nurse) and then out like a light.

We got our papers, I carried his limp little body out to the car, into his seat, into our home and he stayed asleep through it all, only moaning a little. And when he woke up an hour later, he asked for water in a cup. Mace was home and the minute the door opened I heard his voice say, “Mommy, Daddy home? Owie Okay? Doctor fix it?”. My mom sad Mace was telling her about the incident “Door smashing smashing, Owie big bup, me doctor and me fix it”.

And he seems no worse for the wear, his hand mitted up, he adapted easily to not using it, playing with one hand and holding his other up and he goes about his business. We did make it to the Christmas program and he did fine there too. Mrs. B and I commiserated about just how awful it is when one of our little ones gets hurt, for he is her little one too. She did such a good job taking care of him, I told her thank you a million times. And Tim did such a good job handling it all without a blink even though he hates hospitals. Me, well, I handled it okay until I got home and needed a glass of wine stat.

The finger will be fine, good circulation per the team, fingernail gone but likely to grow back. It bled through the bandage but we see his regular doctor today and he is all pink and eating apples and only complained abut hurting last night when he finally stopped and laid down in bed with us. (Did you know you can dose your kid with Tylenol and Children’s Motrin at the same time if you need to? Yeah, I did not know that until yesterday. Might have helped during sleepless night molar teething time).

You know what sucks about parenting? You cannot control doors, or other people’s cars, or things that happen to your kids out of your control. There is not way to stop those things. You can feed them good food, keep them warm and dry, give them things that stimulate their minds, give them hugs, but you cannot control doors. Or other things. That really is the suck factor in this job.

Just so you know, he is a lot better and acting just like O usually acts...though he sings it here, he did not at the program. Mace on the other hand? Never sang it once at home...put him on the altar and he became a total ham. It was awesome.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

On A Rainy Weekend

Our Foothills were slammed by a pretty serious rainstorm this weekend (serious for drought prone Southern California, anyway). It dovetailed nicely with our plans though as we just wanted to hole up and do nothing. A day like that was long overdue.

Normally a full day in with the boys would veer towards the unbearable, but we had PBS Saturday morning TV on our side and another secret weapon....little Legos.
Little Legos

That is a subject for a whole separate post, but let us say that the day stuck indoors was actually really lovely.

I spent a ton of time at the sewing machine with pretty specific goals set for myself. Sometimes when I want to sew, it just does not work out at all. But this weekend was a winner at the sewing table and I cranked out so many projects. It felt good as we only have a finite amount of time before we have to start handing out gifts.

The first thing I did was make some really sweet cup cozies for the boys teacher and office staff. There are only three teachers at the school, so I made one for each teacher.
Christmas Sewing :: 4 Teachers

These will be wrapped around a *Bux cup with a leetle gift card inside (those teachers sure love their *Bux). I had a great time using up long held scrap pieces. Some fabrics are too cute to throw out and this is a great way to utilize those awkward leftovers. I have to do some button sewing, but these are essentially done. The other ones are going to some loved ones that are always in need of the cozy as they are constantly drinking the coffee.

Just in case you wanted to know, it is super quick and easy. 1) Trace a open *Bux cup cozy on pattern paper. 2) Stack your fabrics as follows :: flannel for insulation, lining fabric face up, outer fabric face down. 3) Trace pattern, cut and sew around perimeter leaving about 2 inches for turning...I included a little silver elastic loop that will go around a button for closure 4) Turn piece, steam flat and top stitch all the way around. That's it.

Christmas Sewing :: 4 Teachers

And then I still had time to crank out a few aprons. This one is the first, a special French feeling one for my brother's lady.
Apron Sewn
Apron Sewn
Apron Sewn

(I especially love the gingham ties...gingham makes me feel happy).

She is considering culinary arts as her career so I figured this will be well received. I love the fabric pairing and had a great time playing with placement of each pattern. Sewing can be so fun when it flows.

This is my sexy French cook photo...I always make the weirdest faces when Tim takes my photo, that I why most of the pictures are self shot in mirrors, much less dork factor that way.

Apron Sewn

No pattern on this one, just the basic front with darts, ruffle and waistband. I used fabric from the stash for all of these so the pattern accommodated the available yardage. I am feeling much joy at using up the fabric that hovers above my sewing table, it makes so much sense to just reach up, grab a few pieces and mix and match from there.

The one time during the day that things got a little wiggly, Tim took Mace out to the store and Owen stayed in with me. We started a project I have held to the side until now.
Train project

It is a simple little paper train scene, but turned out not to be the easiest thing with the kid. Once I figured out the fold and glue sequence and sped things up, things smoothed out. I would hand them the completed train car and they supervised the placement of the bits.
Train project

Train project

If you would have told me that my boys would play with a paper train and not destroy it, I would have laughed in your face. They took great care with it once I explained it was fragile and we actually finished the whole thing. The little tableau is set up but I will have to get back to it for final pictures.


(Snow was made from Epsom salt mixed with a touch of glitter, pretty and cheap).

Because, yep, I went back to sew some more. Ah, good rainy days. They are precious and few in the land of sun and heat.

As for today? Well, we had to get out of the house. And we did. Next post... the most beautiful of places...Noah's Ark.

BTW :: Seems like not many in blogland wanted discount birdies...was it because they were from Big Lots? You know, there is nothing wrong with bargain shopping. ;) So, LauraC, email me with your address (again) so I can send them with a holiday card. The boys will love them, when we made ours my boys carried them around carefully just like real chicks.