Wednesday, December 28, 2011

still in the christmas mood

Christmas day has come and gone, with new Christmas pajamas, and hopeful looks coming down the stairs (it seems like yesterday that I was the one coming down the stairs with my brother!). Christmas eve services, candles and songs so familiar,  meld into last minute presents being brought out under the tree, and bedtimes complete with instructions on when Mom and Dad can be woken up in the morning. Christmas morning mayhem, family arriving for brunch foods that we only indulge in just once a year. More mayhem and presents and wrapping paper flying everywhere. Cookies. Lots of cookies. Rest...just a little...before the trip up to be with more family.  Gratitude that someone else made turkey and ham so that I could enjoy it! Mashed potatoes and stuffing. More cookies! Joy in cousins enjoying each other and finding that even after all the Christmas gifts, sometimes the best toy is an upside down bowl and a rattle to make a drum. Joy in being together. Joy in every single moment, really.

looks like she might take after her mommy... 
lots of Legos around here on Christmas!
with cousin Q (and cookies)

I'm still basking in the glow of Christmas. After a long and busy day at work on Monday, I have been enjoying just being home, with my family, stretching out this Christmas through the vacation week.  Heating leftover warm cranberry orange punch, sitting by the tree with a book or some knitting. Doing little crafts and reading lots of books with the kids. Eating more cookies! Cleaning up, but slowly, at a vacation-pace. Watching the Grinch steal Christmas just one more time. Starting to ponder the new year coming, and resolutions that really do need to be made this year. Holding onto the year past, just a little bit longer. This week of between is more joy, a chance to breathe, to not have too many responsibilities, to just be. In the moment. And it is sweet.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

this Christmastime...

It's Christmas week! And there is so much going on...I think it's best to give you the brief version, or this blog post will go on forever!

In our kitchen we have...
  • made umpteen dozen cookies from about 6 different recipes, including...
    • harlequins and butter cookies from old family recipes
  • assembled 4 teacher gifts:  glass jars from Ikea that I etched with etching cream from the craft store, then filled with peppermints and decorated with ribbon and scrapbooked tags
  • been reading nightly from our Advent devotion book, and lit all four candles on the Advent wreath this past Sunday
Out and about we have:
  • Gone to see a local musical production of Rapunzel with the Daisy scouts
  • Watched the boy and his 3-year-old classmates perform at their Christmas program
  • Visited with family members who weren't able to make cookies this year (gasp!) so we could deliver some trays to them
  • Visited Daddy at work to see how spring-making machines work (and the boy was totally fascinated)
  • Made a trip to the pediatrician for the cough that won't go away and girlie is now on 4 (!) prescription medications. Thankfully, she sounds terrible but doesn't feel too bad!
  • Made more than one "last" trip to the store for the "final" shopping...and its not over yet!
And all in all... we have had a wonderful, whirlwind week. We anticipate Christmas. We celebrate family. We sing Happy Birthday to Jesus. And I try to savor every sweet moment. Wishing you and yours a merry Christmas. I'll rejoin you here after the holiday to share our joy...and finally be able to unveil my Christmas crafting!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Thursday, December 8, 2011

christmas welcome

If you visit our house this winter, this is what will greet you: a fun and homemade felt wreath! I wish I could say I made it completely from scratch but I will confess that it was a kit I found at the local Joann's Fabrics. It doesn't seem to be readily available anymore online, (perhaps it is last years kit?) but I did find it at this site. It would be pretty easy to do yourself though. Basic instructions: out of about 5 colors of green felt and 1 color of green cotton fabric, cut about a bazillion 4" squares (sorry, I didn't count them). Fold each square on the diagonal, and cut 4 small slits along the fold. Weave onto a wire wreath form (made from a coat hanger would work just fine) and squish down until the wreath is full (this was a two evening project for me). Then embellish with felt pointsettias and buttons! A bright and fun way to add to our hand-made holidays.

Next holiday project: putting together the cookie-baking list!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

it's beginning to look a lot like...

Christmas! Outside it doesn't feel like our normal Maryland December, with days in the 50's, and a rose crazily blooming in my yard, but inside and out, the decorations are going up around here.  Yesterday we put up the tree and decorated it, and I was amazed at how much more involved the kids were this year than previously. They really are getting big. 

with his Daddy's train, under the tree...
We also finished putting up the outside decorations, including this nativity that we made this year! It was a wonderful weekend project through our church earlier this fall, with all four of us getting involved with power tools.  I must confess that I went reluctantly...but ended up having as much fun (if not more) as anyone. My middle-school woodshop teacher would never believe it.  The nativity turned out great, and is a nice finishing touch to our yard. Its a great reminder to me and hopefully to all that see it, to keep Christ in Christmas.
Also in the works is a crafty new wreath for the front door...not quite finished but hopefully you will see some pictures here soon. Its so hard not to post pictures of all the gifts I've finished up this week...but in the interest of surprises, I'll save those for after they have been recieved!

Here's wishing you each a wonder-filled start to the Christmas season!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

saying goodbye

Today is one of those days that you wish weren't happening, but which the poignant memories will stay with me and sustain me.  This morning we realized with great sadness that it was time to say goodbye to our beloved furry companion, Pippa.  She had been ill for just a few days and after I ran tests on her yesterday (I'm a vet, in case you didn't know) I realized that she was sicker than we thought.  We still held onto hope, though, that we might be able to manage failing kidneys and crazy messed up electrolyte levels, to keep her here and comfortable with us for a while longer.  But as I lay in bed last night, crying a little, and praying, I prayed that God would make it clear how long we were to hold on to her. I have seen too many of my patients linger on with barely a "life" left, I have seen too many of my clients agonizing on whether "it's time" or not. I did not want to be in that place, especially with the kids just 3 and 6, I did not want them to see her slowly becoming a shadow of what she once was.

And so, God gave me a gift. A bittersweet gift, to be sure, but still one I can give thanks for. This morning my dear little kitty was unable to stand on her own, and could barely lift her head. It was time, and we all knew it. All four of us cuddled around her, showing our love and sadness.  And we talked about heaven, for I know that God cares for all the animals just as He entrusted us to care for them. And even the kids could see that Pippa was just barely holding on to this world to be with us.  So with final kisses and pats, the children said their goodbyes, knowing that while they were at school Mommy would take their dear girl to work and give her the special medicine that would let her first sleep and then go to heaven. And that's just what we did, with many tears (mostly mine), and soft goodbyes.

Oh, how I will miss her.  This little black kitty came to me as a stray while I was a veterinary student, in 1999. She had a broken leg and needed quickly to find a home to save her life. At the same time, I had been thinking about finding a companion for my other cat at the time, Cricket. And so God brought me Pippa. She spent the first 6 months with me mostly in a large dog crate, nursing that stubborn broken leg that didn't want to heal.  And she was never a good patient! All through her life she was one of those pets who had to be sedated for any kind of veterinary care!  She was with me through three moves, and my marriage, and the birth of both children.  And she loved to climb the christmas tree and sit in the upper branches, looking out the bay window. And she let the kids pick her up and drag her around like just another of their stuffed animals. She sat on the arm of the sofa each night as hubby and I relaxed in the evenings. She loved a warm lap and a warm afghan. She was always there, a faithful companion. We called her Pippa, or Pippy, Pip-squeak, Pip-ster, and just Pip. I often just called her sweet kitty, and she was. Oh, how I will miss her.

Saying goodbye is hard. It breaks my heart. But God sustains. And today, I fall on him, and praise him for this wonderful cat, for the life she shared with me.  Pippa, I loved you.

Friday, November 25, 2011


This has been a week of Thanksgiving as it should be:  family, good food, lots of fun, and thankfulness for all our blessings, big and small.  The kids made "thankful" lists on Wednesday as we prepared for the holiday, and I was delighted to see things like "frogs", "my socks", "turkeys to eat", "jumping" and "toaster strudel" end up on the boy's list (dictated to me), and the girlie's list include (spelled as she wrote them):  "anamels" (animals), "cine buns" (cinnamon buns), "Molly doll", "God", and "bouns sone" (Bounce Zone). Lots of other things too...I will treasure these lists forever.
We were all thankful to gather on Thursday with hubby's family, including his mom who has recovered from life-threatening illness this summer has been a true miracle. I cooked the turkey, made an amazing new recipe for twice baked potato casserole, did a homemade greenbean casserole with beans from the garden (no condensed soup in this one!), and made my Mom's stuffing which is a once-a-year treat for me. And with the family bringing dishes along, we did have quite a feast.

It was well decorated by the girlie, and some crafts she had made with her Grandma and me.
Then today we continued our celebration with a visit to see one of my cousins who was in town for the holiday, and his wife and girls.  Girlie and her closest cousin would love to live less than 8 hours apart...I think they would be "BFF's" (as little girls say these days!). We visited an amazing playground and were thankful for 65 degree weather!

All in all, we have had a wonderful, THANKFUL Thanksgiving holiday. Being so thankful puts me in a great place to head into the craziness of the Christmas season, and I hope that I can hold on to the sentiment of thanks through the next month.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

fall {in progress}

 I feel like I haven't been here in a very long time (10 days!)...and there have been things like kids with the stomach virus and subsequent days full of laundry and jammies and movies...but there was also a part of me that felt like, "there's just nothing interesting going on around here". But then I realized that there really is a lot in my days, and that the small blessings are gifts in themselves.

There's been quite a bit of creating going on...and I wish I could show you more, but in the interest of Christmas surprises, here is just a hint of the projects. I've been papercrafting for the first time in a very long time (trying not to think about scrapbooks left unfinished a year ago...). And there is such satisfaction in a simple project that won't take years to complete! Plus it was a great excuse to get my Cricut back out and buy a couple new cartridges for it.  I've also been trying to get some knitting in everyday...the projects are slow going and I think I have 5 (6?) unfinished projects in my basket. Oh wait. I think its 7. Sheesh. Working on the orange one below with a fury and hope to have it ready for seaming together by this weekend.

We've also been enjoying the season. Rainy days (like today) just bring out the reds so much more and I couldn't resist standing in the rain to get some pics of my Japanese Maple out front--glorious!  
 There have been nice days too, with walks in the neighborhood, usually with the boy on his "motorcycle" (Big Wheel). And meeting the girlie at the bus stop, and the joy in heading back home.
Home. Its really what fall is all about, now, isn't it? Family, and home, and comfort. Lighting candles. Baking pumpkin-flavored goodies. Snuggling all together under an afghan. Reading a good book, savoring each carefully chosen word when the prose is really just that good (more about the book in a future post!). Being together.  I am savoring each and every (un-interesting) moment!

Sunday, November 6, 2011


 This weekend we have...
  •  enjoyed warm and sunny days playing in the leaves
  • needed afternoon baths after playing in said leaves
  • sold more Girl Scout cookies and been to a Daisy Girl Scout tea party
  • smelled beef stew in the crock pot all day Saturday before enjoying it with friends
  • "helped" daddy with the leaf blower
  • thought a lot about gratitude
  • enjoyed the extra sleep of clocks turned back (and children who know not to wake us before 7!)
  • gotten a little Christmas shopping done at a local craft fair
  • baked and consumed a pumpkin pie
  • worked just enough on household chores (ironing...) to feel a sense of accomplishment, while at the same time wondering if it will ever be done (answer: no).
  • worshipped together with our church family
  • eaten too much leftover halloween candy
  • put away the halloween decorations, left out the pumpkins, and added the turkey-day decor to the mix
  • enjoyed ourselves with a relaxed schedule and time home together.
Hope you have had a fabulous fall weekend as well!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Twas the night before Halloween...

Twas the night before halloween and all through the house...
we have been up to much more than a mouse!

The pre-school party and parade were such fun,
On Thursday, the holiday had truly begun.

On Friday,  a spooky birthday party that couldn't be beat,
Except by the boy's fun at our church's "Trunk or Treat!"

Pumpkins are carved, by the front door with care...
in the hopes that trick-or-treaters soon will be there.

A monster for the boy, with bolts for his ears,
And the girlie made a princess, a lady so dear.
The costumes are packed for a first-grade parade,
And the pizza-man's costume has already been made.

Now children are nestled all snug in their beds,
With visions of CANDY filling their heads.

And tomorrow's the day! It really is true...
So we are all wishing, "Happy Halloween to You!"

Monday, October 24, 2011

garden journal 10.24.11

Garden wrap up. On October 23 (!) I harvested another quart of green beans for the freezer, the rest of the carrots, more cherry tomatoes, and the 6 green romas that are big enough to eat (see above). Ripening the tomatoes with apples in brown bags. I can't believe we are coming up on November next week and I am still harvesting! There are a few more romas coming along, and lots of baby green beans too!  So here is the summary for this years garden:

  • Lettuce:  success! plant more next year...not all at once, do some succession plantings.
  • Peas: mostly a failure. not even enough for a meal. plant earlier? or just forget it?
  • Zucchini: one good zucchini, and a bunch that got started but the heat was too much for them. Try again? Maybe a different cultivar?
  • Cherry tomatoes: great success. the kids loved the orange ones from the farmers market this year too...get some of those next year?
  • Roma tomatoes: success. don't plan vacation for the week they all ripen! (ha) 
  • Herbs: basil quite successful and lots of pesto in my freezer. That was our only herb this year. Next year add cilantro at a minimum so we can make salsa!
  • Strawberries: plants grew gangbusters, very few berries. We'll see if we get some later this fall or if we get a good crop next year. Jury is still out.
  • Pole beans: success once they started to bloom. My July 1 maturation date was more like Sept 10. But I'd grow them again just the same.
  • Carrots: fair. We got some carrots but they didn't do as well as I hoped. Try a different cultivar next year!
Also think about for next year:  scallions? blueberry bushes? watermelon? Oh, so much to think about! But for the first year out, I am really pleased by the garden, by how much joy it brought me, and for the produce. My farmers market doesn't need to fear losing me as a customer any time soon, though.  Every little bit of local is good...whether it is backyard local or farm market local. It was a great summer of fruits and vegetables. Hurrah!