Friday, December 30, 2011

Round Two, Add More Sugar or Did Someone Lick the Spoon?

We pulled it off again! This has become one of my favorite days of the whole year. The day started with two little boys who were in trouble from the moment they saw each other, the dog's water bowl, and a step stool leading up to a sugared counter!

Three little girls making cookies together. This year they are old enough to hand the recipe and make cookies! What at sweet gaggle of girls, I hope they join us every year and never get too old to cook with their mamas.

M & M baking together!

I never could figure out why the kids didn't eat lunch all day...

You can imagine angels singing here... we made 21 trays of these! Last year we doubled the batch, this year we tripled it. They make great gifts to your neighbors!

**We used this recipe, I mixed it up with whole wheat and used brown sugar instead of the white. But its so easy to follow PW's directions and have 5 kids, and three women chatting at the same time. And when you gather a group like that you need to follow easy directions.

And they are now delivered!

Monday, December 26, 2011

On Being Grownup: A guest post

Marin loves my friend Sarah. I love my friend Sarah too, but Marin thinks the whole reason we go visit her, or she comes to visit is because Sarah must want to hang out with Marin. Sarah makes kids feel this way. They feel really special and important when Sarah hangs out with them. Their ideas, and thoughts matter, and kids know it. Marin is also obsessed with vanilla beans due to this relationship.

I snapped this picture of Marin and Sarah looking for small treasures in the sand on a trip to the beach.

Anyways, I asked Sarah to write something about her thoughts on parenting. So without me chattering on anymore, below are her thoughts on parenting. Thanks friend!

When do you become a grownup? There are times when we all feel helpless, childlike, and wish for the calm surety apparently possessed by our parents or grandparents, but do these instances ever diminish in frequency? Theoretically I know that no one is ever as “grown up” as we perceive them to be as children. So when do you stop feeling like they are?

I live in a university town, where childhood (or at least irresponsible adolescence) blooms perpetually, refreshed every four years by a new onslaught of freshman. Having graduated from said university and worked in myriad local coffee shops over the last six years, I have a lot of connections in Neverland. I also have recently acquired a husband, a child, a house, and a small entrepreneurial venture of my own. More importantly, I have a delightful, 50’s-cheap-but-still-very-cool china cabinet that belonged to my great-grandmother. These things are traditionally harbingers of adulthood; some might argue they even cement one’s status as grownup. My family is still (endearingly?) eccentric enough to blend in with the resident kids, but this tenuous relationship is becoming increasingly uneasy.

I suppose the ways in which we approach adulthood are just unusual enough to disguise them a little - I cloth diaper, my darling sister is our roommate, we built our own clay pizza oven in our back yard, my business is making French macarons in our home kitchen with our 11-month old on my back, my husband rides his fixed-gear road bike to work – but truthfully, I suspect we are grownups in disguise. Recently a friend of mine with a little daughter suggested we go on a picnic, so we got out our strollers and walked to the park. I never could shake the feeling that we were pretending. After snorting with laughter at the idea of two mid-twenties ladies gleefully pushing around pretend babies, I started to get a little disturbed by my own attitude. A while ago my husband and I were renting a movie at the local independent movie store, and we overheard this conversation spoken from a girl to her boyfriend: “…no, just because the movie is about babies doesn’t mean it’s anti-abortion! Some people actually WANT to have babies.” 8 moths pregnant at the time, I was extra sensitive to the tenor of the comment. It was genuine wonder that anyone would choose to have a baby. I’m raising my child in a town peppered with people who think this way, and I think it’s time that I embrace my adulthood so I can effectively raise him to embrace his own one day.

When my sister and I set up our china cabinet in our little house, we joked that now we were REALLY adults. Neither a college degree nor anything else could so firmly ensconce us in the category as the setting up of our very own china cabinet. Perhaps it was true.

-Sarah is a mother of a beautiful almost one-year old boy, wife, friend, and an amazing baker. You can check out her Macarons at her Cottage Industry, Lark.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Repost on Santa

Dealing with Santa from 2009

My little thinker...twisted, but still thinking...
Posted by Picasa

Monday was the Feast of St. Nicolas, according to the church calendar. Every year we read an Advent book and the readings coordinate with the different feasts and celebrations on the historical church calendar. So Monday evening at dinner my husband read to us about St. Nicolas.

It really is a beautiful story. According to our book (there are many different versions, where I find they differ is in the details) this saint lost his parents at some point and inherited their money. With the money he did many good things for people who were poor. One famous story says there was a family with three daughters and they were very poor. So poor that the daughters might have be sold as prostitutes, and one night St. Nicolas came by their house and threw three bags of silver in the home. Maybe down the chimney... and maybe that's how the tradition of Santa coming down the chimney was born? Either way he did enough great things for people in need that the church now recognizes him as a saint.

Today is Friday, five days have passed since we read that story, and to be honest I was unsure how much Marin really listens to our evening Advent readings. There are beautiful pictures of historical art in the book and she likes to look at those and ask questions about what is going on in the picture. But today we discovered how much she is listening. The following conversation took place this morning in the car after we took Daddy to work.

* Part of our Advent reading gave the estimated birth and death dates of St. Nicolas (I feel this is important to note for the following conversation)

M: Mommy my friends last night..
me: Oh yeah A and W?
M: yeah they don't know that Santa Claus is dead.

Halt conversation as I pee my pants, swallow down my heart and carry on...

me:... what did you say?
M: they don't know he died a long time ago
me:...ummmm you didn't tell them he died did you?
M: no I just know they don't know
me: OK no matter what any one says about Santa we never say he is dead OK
M: OK, but what did Daddy say about him?
me: you mean what we read in our book at dinner?
M: yeah
me: (I'm really confused at this point as to how Santa is dead) well are you talking about St. Nicolas?
me: Santa Claus is the memory of St. Nicolas. St. Nicolas was a man who lived a long time ago and helped people with the money he inherited from his parents, or so the story goes.
M: but he's died now

me: well he lived a very long time ago. But he is not the same as Santa, so we don't say, Santa is dead. Santa is very alive to many people. So when kids talk about Santa you can pretend with them. Don't ever disagree with them about Santa because lots of families have different traditions, like we make cookies for Santa and know its pretend but mommy loves that tradition because its what she did as a little girl, even as a big teenager my family always had a big family night decorating cookies together and then we would pick our very favorites and put them on a very beautiful plate and set them near the fire place. Some families do other things like put oats and carrots in their yard, and other things to think about Santa, or as a way to celebrate Christmas. Santa is a tradition, and he is part of the holiday for people who believe he is alive and pretend, and for our family Santa is a reminder of how we, like St. Nicolas need to help care for people who do not have what they need. Santa is always there to remind us that God takes care of us, and gives us everything we need and even enough to help other people, the way St. Nicholas helped people.

M:can I write a letter to Santa

me: sure, there is actually a box at the Post Office for you to put it in

M: can I stay home today?
me: no you need to be at school today, but don't say anything about Santa. OK

We want to celebrate Christmas, we don't want to lavish our children with gifts, we don't want them to think its about getting, even though there will be things they get. Christmas is about a baby being born, a baby who changed the world. We don't want our focus to be Santa Claus, but he is a part of Christmas, even if you don't "believe" in Santa, he is part of Christmas. For us we want Santa to remind us of St. Nicolas and how he was deeply convicted to be concerned about poverty, especially children. Maybe he was the beginning of social justice? Or maybe he is simply there to remind us that Christmas is not about us, or our children, or Christmas Eve dinner. But St. Nicolas and Santa are there to remind us of that little baby who was born into poverty, in a barn, to a teen mom, came to change the world, and make things right. Maybe we need Santa Claus to be our reminder to take care of the people who need more than we do. This does not mean we don't also enjoy and take part in our own family traditions, in fact they should become more meaningful to us each year. The more I understand about Christmas the more grateful I become that we celebrate this holiday. That we have a time where we are supposed to have a family night decorating cookies, going to church rehearsals, planning a feast with friends. These are the things that should remind us how much our family and friends matter, and that we should take the time to slow down and do something for the people who need a little help.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Nativity Idea

Each year Todd and I read God With Us, an Advent book. One of the things we love about this book is that along with readings, and art, and poetry, and scripture meditations, each feast date also shares Advent traditions from around the world. One of these is a French tradition that I fell in love with.

Each day of Advent children get to add pieces of straw to the manger, they prepare the manger for the arrival of Jesus. Its a picture of how we should be preparing our hearts for his arrival. So when the kids do kind deeds or their prayers during Advent they get to add straw to the manger.

I worked with a woman from Urban Homesteaders on Etsy who also makes the rings I buy for my little Teething Gnomes.

Anyways the kids have enjoyed adding the straw each day. And they have added a few of their own ideas to the nativity...

Owen dumped out the straw and poured water into the manger...

And he added a leopard to the group awaiting the birth of Christ...

And then a few others joined, I took them outside for a picture :)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Is Shopping Local a Joke?

Okay so what's the deal with shopping local and it never working out for me? I try and I try, I want to support the local shop trying to make it work. Trying to offer something to my community that is unique and fresh. But here is what usually happens.

1. Lets visit Halloween:
I found out our local food coop was having a Halloween celebration. Being the crunchy-support your community-buy local gal that I am I wanted to go and support their efforts. Well let me just say, efforts is a stretch. I got there towards the beginning of the event but not right away, with two kids dressed up, with treat baggies, and ready for some fun. I was also thinking that this place would offer something different than the normal pass out a gob of candy events offered for small children. After arriving and milling about for about 15 minutes and wondering if I was at the wrong place I took my oldest to the potty and then milled about for a little longer wondering what the heck was going on. Let me also say that during this time not a single person working in the store came up to me and said anything, like, "Hey are you here for the party? Its over there... or we canceled it last minute... or we were just joking there really isn't anything going on." In fact everyone seemed to ignore me. Finally I bought us a little snack and asked the cashier, "Did I misunderstand the poster on the door? Are you all not having a Halloween event?" and the reply went something like this, "The person who is running it has not shown up yet and we don't have the stuff..." Oh awesome so were you going to just let me wander around the store for hours or tell me that this was happening? (is what I was thinking). Finally the "person" arrived, unorganized and she had not set up for the event ahead of time so guess who helped her set up the event so that all the kids waiting around could get their face painted? ME that's who! I set up for the stupid event. Because I'm nice and I told my child there was face painting. We left as soon as we got our faces painted and went on the the local grocery story where there was music, people dressed up, people greeting us and acting happy to see us, and excited that we were dressed up, and talking to my kids. "Hey! Happy Halloween! Oh are you Pippi Longstockings? You look awesome! Guess what I am?"

I came home and felt horrible. Here I am trying and trying to teach my kids about supporting our local businesses, about supporting our neighbors, about buying things that come from places as close to home as we can get and all my kids got out of it was that the little food coop was boring. I mean this was their chance to really do something fun in the community, to bring in some business. But in the time that I stood there waiting for the show to start (an hour and a half late) four other moms walked in and walked out.

2. Lets visit today:
So its raining and I wanted to be home so I'll admit I was already a little crabby. But I wanted to start the search for Todd's gift from the kids. We have been thinking about it for a while, and so we decided after school today that we would try to locate it. So on the way home we ran into a little store up the road from our house. I get both kids in, wet, cold, and needing a snack. There is only one other customer in the store, but somehow it took the two guys working 15 minutes to notice that a mom and her two kids were in the store, even after we knocked down a display and threw an item in the fountain. **Side note, if I owned a store I would quickly help out any mother with children as fast a possible, so they could also get out as quick as possible.

Anyways, finally I just shouted, "Do you all have blah blah blah?" And the guy at the counter said, "Oh no we don't carry those in the store, we can order them though, but it might take a while with the Christmas season." Grrrrr! Are you kidding I can order it on Amazon and have it shipped to my house for free in two days! But I wanted to support you. But if you are going to order it I would have to come in here again and deal with all the breakable stuff you put on the floor and the fountain (with two children).

Here's the deal, I really want to support local businesses, I want to buy from my neighbor, but they sure are making it difficult. So what is a mom supposed to do? I would love to hear ways you support local without getting frustrated and going home and just ordering on line. Or is that the phase I am in? Sure I could get a sitter, but then my kids aren't going with me to get their dad's gift, from them!

So there ya have it, real parenting, real shopping with kids, the real tension of trying to teach your kids about how valuable your local shops are. Okay I gotta go pick up my veggies from my local farmer, who might I say makes picking up my veggies very kid friendly. Thanks Kathy and Marvin for making it kid friendly and easy to buy from your beautiful farm. And we now know what a Dikon or Japanese Radish is too.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

You Will NEVER

feel like this when pumping!

I found this image on the site of a breast pump company and while their products are as earth friendly as they can get, there is nothing earth or should I say Mama-friendly about pumping. You might get used to it, but it never makes you want to do meditative yoga at the same time, NEVER!