Thursday, December 29, 2011

my bloggiversary! I'm one!

Another new year is about to ring in. This is a time of reflection for me, so I can't help but think about where my head was at the same time last year.

It was this time last year I had the incurable urge to begin this blog. I don't know what my main goal was. I knew I wanted to share details about raising my son and life with my hubby like so many other mommy bloggers I admire. But I didn't realize how many other petals of my life were waiting to unfurl. Recipes, outings, arts and crafts, gardening - and all kinds of other "hot mess" topics - all right there to share.

So go ahead and laugh at my expense, offer up your advice or, well, just acknowledge that you get where I'm coming from. It helps me keep both feet on the ground.

I love polar bears! I'll give this one a kiss!
(Thanks to our neighbors for the amusement all month!)

Looks like these snow people could use some kissing, too.

Ethan shoots some hoops... Thanks for the b-ball hoop, Gram and Pop!

Santa brought this wooden choo-choo set for Ethan. He stares at the wheels, mesmerized.

Ethan loves his new kitchen set! Thanks to Gram, Pop and assorted aunts and uncles,
our house is overrun with wonderful toys! What a lucky little boy...

Happy one-year bloggiversary to me!

Friday, December 9, 2011

help with the tree and chocolate bon-bons

He helps light the tree...



Okay, he lights up that tree in my mind...but he also helps light this one:



The self-proclaimed tradition, you see, is to put up our Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving. That way I can revel in the glow for as long as possible! The tree makes me happy!

And now for the famous chocolate bon-bons. You haven't tasted heaven until you've tasted one of two things: my chocolate babka (at Easter) or my mother's famous bon-bons. If you're allergic to peanut butter you may as well just cry yourself to sleep tonight.

powdered sugar and rice crispies meet

peanut butter and butter in double-boiler - not exactly good for your waist
Chocolate Bon-Bon ingredients:
2 cups peanut butter (16 ounce jar)
1 stick butter
1 box powdered sugar (actually, you'll probably only need to use 3/4 of the box)
3 cups of rice crispies
2 (11.5 ounce) bags of milk chocolate morsels

Combine powdered sugar and rice crispies in a huge bowl. Set aside.

Melt peanut butter and butter in double boiler. After the peanut butter mixture is melted, mix well with the sugar mixture. Let cool. Put butter on your hands then roll into delicious bite-sized nuggets. Place on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper and let cool in the freezer. Meanwhile, melt milk chocolate in a double boiler. Once cool, dunk the nuggets in chocolate and freeze again on same wax paper.

These insanely delicious bon-bons remind me of the miracle pill that Wesley swallowed on The Princess Bride to bring him back to life. Enough said.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Christmas U-turn

I feel guilty about not writing in the last couple of weeks. I could say that I've been busy (which is true) but I'm always busy. Truth is, I've had a couple of things on my mind.

Firstly, I've been spending a lot of time thinking about Christmas. It's the most stressful time for me in my personal life. Despite my best efforts to remain grounded, I worry about money and giving gifts.

As a little girl, there was always a lot of build up to the holidays. I remember my mom giving me a Sears catalogue to circle things I wanted. I'm sure I wrote a letter or two to Santa. There were Christmas records that we would play and I would belt out "I'm Getting Nothing for Christmas". As I got older, I would sit and rock while listening to "Carol of the Bells" and "Oh Holy Night". Mom would make her dynamite chocolate bon-bons and pecan sandies. She hung these beautiful felt stockings that she made for each of us. They had little faces and hair that looked like me and my brother and sisters. There was also the token advent calendar that we would use each year to countdown to Christmas.

But like most kids, I was focused on receiving gifts. Even at our elementary school, I remember they hosted a fundraiser in December where you went to purchase gifts for your family, as opposed to making something.

My favorite teacher, Ms. Como, led my first ever "Secret Santa" gift exchange. I remember how different it seemed for our class to be seated in a circle instead of behind desks.  The gift could be something from home that you simply didn't want or need, so long as someone else might enjoy it. That seemed like a novel idea.

Other than a beaded candy cane I made in Girl Scouts one year, I don't remember a tradition of making gifts and giving to others.

My mother was always stressed about money and giving gifts. GULP. Now I'm her.

So I had a great ladies night for my dear friend's birthday and she and her sisters got to talking about Christmas. I listened as they shared their family traditions of making gifts for each other. Each child only asked for one gift - not because they were told to - but because it was tough for them to think of anything they want.

This is another reason why television watching can be harmful: commercials. The children mentioned above rarely watch television so they aren't bombarded with things they should want. They aren't immersed in the gimme pop culture that we live in.

Dually noted.

Another dear friend of mine shared with me that she decided she would only give her children four gifts each year. Being a fervent Catholic, she decided that if her Savior only received three gifts, then that is good enough for her children, plus one special gift from her and her husband.

I ask myself: why am I compelled to make a huge list of things I want to buy for my son? The result can only be that he will learn to expect a pile of presents each year and I will continue to stress about it. Of course we feel happy to receive something special, but that is diminished when expectations are sky high. It only leads to disappointment and a skewed outlook of what makes a person happy. My goal is to help him understand that real, lasting happiness doesn't come from things. How's he going to understand that if his happy Christmas is based on us buying him things?

That's why I've decided to make something of a U-turn, a righting of the ship, if you will. Our focus must be on giving. He's two, so he limited in his understanding of making gifts for others, but there's no better time to start a tradition than now. When he looks back on his holiday memories, I want him to remember that he helped make the cookies for the trash collectors, postal carrier, doctor office, and teachers. He will have a hand in making special ornaments or picture frames or whatever it might be for his loved ones, even as a tot. And I want him to feel that fantastic, unquenchable happiness that comes from giving something special to show gratitude for people that make our lives better.

I know this seems like a no-brainer - I'm always making gifts for others anyhow, so why would this modest gift approach be such a departure? But it truly will be difficult for me not to go crazy and buy him every cute wooden toy I see. I think this is my (mom's) urge to make my child happy with stuff.

I'm going to keep re-reading this post if I have to in order to stay the course. We'll see how it goes...


All I need is my family, mom.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving is near when...


You know Thanksgiving is near when you take an evening walk and the sky looks like this at 6:15 p.m.

...Or when the kitchen counter is already feeling the onset of sugar cookie craze...



...Or when your little cub is all bundled up....


...Or when you are enjoying the first blaze of the season.

My family and I have so much to be grateful for. I feel full of thanks and can't wait to share the holiday with my loved ones.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

yum!

While looking for great recipes online, I came across a simple apple juice/cranberry recipe. I'm going to invite the preschool students finger paint with chilled cranberry applesauce this week, in light of the holiday. They will get to eat it for snack, too. YUM!

E will be my guinea pig tonight...thought you might like to try this, too!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Love for Kai

I'm grateful for my own baby's health, despite the commings and goings of colds or teething issues. But I'm thinking about one of my students in the preschool. Poor thing has been hospitalized, and hopefully, she'll be back on track in a month or so. It's easy to take good health for granted. It's sad to think about such a sweet, energetic little girl being pricked and prodded and the worry that must come along with it for her family.

Please send your warm wishes and love to this family, especially as the holidays approach. And remember to hug your own little one. Kai's mommy has a great blog - please visit it and send your thoughts to the family when you get a chance at my unstill life.

Monday, November 14, 2011

encouraging creativity (there's video!)

video
video

I hope E experiences that wonderful sense of freedom and joy that comes through the creative arts. If nothing else, I hope he'll be able to appreciate all kinds of art, music, dance, and theater. He's off to a great start!

Friday, November 11, 2011

leaves!

Fall is such a beautiful time of year! I love all the changing leaves, especially when you get one of those days where it's just windy enough for leaves to come spinning down as you walk under them. We've had lots of days like that during our neighborhood walks this week. I can't resist gathering and pressing leaves in the hopes that E will enjoy using them for art projects in the winter. We like to watch the leaves come circling down.

Here is some fun video of our little guy having fun in our backyard leaf pile. (Thanks for raking, Pop Pop!)

video



Wednesday, November 9, 2011

arp - watch out!

He looks at me with serious, intent eyes and says "arp" in a warning voice. Translation: he's telling me that this wooden knife is "sharp" so I'd better be careful. In fact, only he should really be using it  - for my own protection.

I love to watch him play.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

the big 2

Our boy is two! We just had his spider party yesterday and are recovering from all the fun. It was a wonderful day to celebrate our little man with friends and family. How is he so big?

Nope, didn't have time to make this myself.
I decided to pick my battles with this one.
It was a delicious decision!

Pumpkin muffins with spider rings. Tasty!


Friend George says "cheese"!

Friend Conner checks things out.

Cousin Jack and Gram snuggle.

What's all this stuff? Why's everyone lookin' at me?


Cousin Wyatt helps open gifts. E was too busy with his new toys!


His favorite gift by far...the tractor.


Baby Alex enjoys a wagon ride.


Cousin Jack swings and watches...


Hooray for the leaves!


Our little campfire added ambiance (and helped warm a few hands).

Monday, October 31, 2011

a tale of horrors...but hey, there's cute video!

It's fitting that Halloween is today and things are finally getting back to normal. It's been a horrific nightmare being without Internet for nearly TWO WEEKS!



You never realize just how much you need your computer until it's not there. And given the bizarre virus my computer contracted, I'm glad just to have my documents back. Mind you, all of my videos are gone, but E's baby pictures are still in tact. If I go into detail about all the vacation video, holidays, E's first bath and sled ride, etc. are lost - I'll lose it.

I knew diapers.com was convenient, but boy am I spoiled. I had to physically drive to the store for diapers. That's happened maybe two times ever since E was born two years ago. I also had to set foot in a toy store to get his birthday gift because I couldn't order it online. I was dying without my "recipe box" on allrecipes.com. I couldn't do work from home without my remote desktop so I had to drive into work on a Saturday last week to accomplish a few pressing things. Naturally I was bummed about not keeping up with the blog, too. Even though I only use the computer when E is asleep, it's amazing how much I accomplish with this tool.

I did manage to paint our kitchen a lovely shade of "cornbread" in all that freed up time.

Needless to say this is the longest I've ever gone without a post. And there's so much to say. Where to begin?

How about with my schnookie, who's been sick on and off for almost three weeks. Remember that sleep issue post? Thought it was teeth? The jury's still out but in the last two days whatever it was has come back. So last night, the joyous task of jumping out of bed for a squealing toddler at 2:30 a.m. was all mine. And at 5 a.m. And at 5:30 a.m. And at 6 a.m. Finally we "woke" up for the day at 6:45 a.m. No, the sun was not actually up yet. But his fever was gone as was his will to sleep. Sigh.

Today he's been damn near chipper despite running on fumes. Wish I could say the same for myself! (Thankfully he is napping as I write this.) Did I mention I've gone back to real coffee? Yes, I should be napping, too.

We went to our final "Mommy and Me Montessori" class this morning where we ate pumpkin muffins and sang an early happy birthday to E. I had plenty of time to bake this morning before class! It was a very sweet way to end the session. I'll have to do a whole post on my views about Montessori, at least in my limited experience with it.

With his party lurking around the corner, I'm embarrassed to say that I'm struggling to gear up. The invites literally went out with one week to reply. (And less than that for those couple that I couldn't quickly find addresses for.) How embarrassing! Luckily it will be a small party - only E's good friends and family - so I'm hopeful that everyone will be understanding. It's been a whirlwind ever since PumpkinFest the first weekend of October. The winter is fast approaching. I wish the time would slow down!

After finally getting my computer back up and running, my husband figured out how to reconnect my wireless Internet. (I LOVE HIM!) So I'm back in the saddle. You'll find all sorts of random pics and video today given the hodge podge of activity in the last two weeks. I'll definitely be adding video more often.

The nightmare is (hopefully) over. Time to gear up for some trick or treating with our little monkey tonight.

We went to Clark's Elioak Farm in Howard County, MD.
It was the perfect fall day with E's aunt and cousin.

Ooo! Sheep!

Cousin D dutifully points out the baby goats.


Hay wagon ride!
Mouth full of apple, just like Dada.

E helps make homemade cinnamon pancakes.
video

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

first oreo

I don't remember when my first bite was, but it sure made an impression. E got his first taste and seems equally delighted. (Okay, technically they're not oreos because they are an organic brand, but still. It's an oreo.)

Hmm, what's this?

Right away, he had to shovel it in because it tastes so good.
Anyone else know the feeling?

What's this white stuff?

Pure oreo rapture.

Monday, October 10, 2011

a visit to the lake and pumpkins!

 
This tulip poplar leaf was floating on the lake. Too pretty to pass by.

Daddy taught E how to toss sticks in the water.

There was no keeping him dry today. He had a point:
Why are we going to the lake if we can't get wet?!


The weather was too beautiful to be inside today so we ditched our Montessori class in favor of a walk at the lake, Loch Raven Reservior to be exact.

After E was good and soaked from trying to wade in the lake with the Canada geese, we headed over to our local nursery. Watson's is a wonderful mom-and-pop garden center so we support them any chance we get by purchasing most of our plant material there instead of a big box store. The good news? They had a great selection of pumpkins!

Despite the fact that E loves to walk in a stream or lake, he really hated getting the sticky pumpkin pulp on his hands. He's the opposite of his mama!

And in case you were dying to know, here's his most recent talk list:

ack = snack
guck = truck
uck = duck
bive = five
rrr = grrr (as in, I'm angry)
ug = hug
k = lake
k = bike
k = music (accompanied by sign language)
k = book (also with sign language)
dis = this
dat = that
nk = drink
up = up (as in, pick me up)
elp = help (and baby sign language)
t = eat
ess = eyes
sis = shoes
ess = kiss
iss = juice (as in his first taste of orange juice that was definitely memorable)
us = bus
ock = rock (like ones he picks up outside)
f = teeth
atch = Chatch (short for our cat's name)
ba ba ba = him singing a little tune :)

I'm sure there's more, but those are the ones I can think of right now. He's on his way!

The toddler busy-ness continues...




Why are we doing this again, Mom? For your amusement?

Yes, peas are delicious - and funny!

Yes, peas are delicious - and funny!
Our little guy at 15 months, February 2011.