Archive for December 2010
So I’ve been thinking about Santa.
First of all let me say in no way am I trying to say that one choice is better than another. I’m just kind of hashing out my own thought process.
But I’ve been wondering about the idea of Santa and babies.
I just always assumed we’d “do” Santa. I loved the whole thing growing up… and actually kind of wish I didn’t know how Santa uses parents.
A couple of things have thrown a small wrench in my thinking so I’m using this blog to go through what I think. Of course the Little Angel (LA) is so small we could always change our minds. But here is what I currently think about the idea of Santa.
First of all when Steve and I talked about how we would raise our child we talked about how we wanted to be honest. When she asks about things like “Where do babies come from?” etc we aren’t going to lie…. we may not tell her the whole story but we will be honest and give her the facts she needs for the time. (For example saying that the Daddy puts the baby in the Mommy which is a child friendly version minus details versus the whole stork thing or something).
So when we got to Santa Steve laughed and said, “So we’re going to lie to her about Santa but nothing else?”
I paused. I don’t want to be a hypocrite but he was right, we just finished saying we didn’t want to lie to her.
This gave me something to think about and I came to the conclusion that, hypocritical or not, I don’t care. I think believing in Santa was good for me growing up. So was my faith in the Easter Bunny, the tooth fairy and a firm conviction in magical garden fairies. It’s magic. And a childs youth is supposed to be seeped in magic. Some of my favorite memories involve straining to hear hoof beats on the roof or trying to sew rose petals together for the fairies or wondering if the tooth I placed under my pillow would be accessible enough. Magic.
Life loses some of the sparkle when you enter the real world. A world where princes don’t ride in on white horses, fairies don’t bestow magical birthday gifts, your pony won’t talk (or fly you to a magical realm) and the mortage is due at the end of the month.
If it takes lying to my daughter to give her that magical childhood I remember then I am ok with that. I never felt ripped off when I learned the truth, in fact I remember wishing I hadn’t found out!
The second reason involves the real reason for the season. I know several families who decided not to “do” Santa because they felt it conflicted with the focus on the birth of Jesus. I do not wish to imply that this is wrong. It’s admirable to try to keep the focus on the real reason. But I have two thoughts on this issue….
The first is, in order to really keep the focus on Christ then there really wouldn’t be any point to doing any of the holiday traditions. The tree. The cookies. The gifts. They are all ultimately distracting from the real reason. Especially the gifts. We give gifts for two reasons (in my understanding)- because Jesus was given gifts and because he was a gift to the world. (I’ve also heard because you give gifts on a birthday). But really that doesn’t make sense because why would we give each other gifts….. Santa Claus was originally Saint Nicholas. A good man who gave gifts to poor children who were without. He was a Christian who did these good deeds because of that. I think that if you are going to continue to do gifts that Santa goes along with….. in my mind at least. I will want LA to know how Santa Claus fits with the real meaning of Christmas so she knows it all ties together.
And secondly there are lots of other ways for children to understand the real reason for the season. When they are very young Santa helps them understand the concept of giving and that we do this for the celebration of the birth of Baby Jesus. As they grow older you can shift their focus more to the idea of giving and the incredible gift that God gave at Christmas. I remember lots of family traditions that helped my brother and me keep the focus on the holiday. I hope to do these with LA as she grows up. We always lit the advent candles at home leading up to Christmas. We kept a little manger near the nativity and whenever we did a good deed we put a piece of straw in the manger. On Christmas Eve we would place a little baby Jesus there and sing Happy Birthday. The better we were the nicer baby Jesus’ bed was for him. I remember that was always very important to me as a child. We gave toys to Toys for Tots and went caroling with our church to the elderly and the sick. I never remember the focus only being on Santa and the toys. I remember thinking that Jesus’ birthday was just so special that magic, like Santa, could happen because that was what God did to celebrate the birth of his son.
This year it doesn’t matter because LA isn’t really going to understand what is going on, irregardless of if there is a Santa or not. But I feel better about our decision to encourage her to believe in him. I think it’s a magical, symbolic part of the season that I want her to have. And I think we can teach her what that the holiday is about far more than bows and ribbons and a fat man in a suit.
So since we are tight on money I made a lot of homemade gifts this year (can’t list them all as my family is probably my main reader and they are the ones getting them!). But ironically because I’m tight on time with the Little Angel (LA) I did not make as many Christmas cookies and candies as I usually do.
But I thought I’d share one new thing I did and one old favorite 🙂
So the old faithful gift that I made is Apple Butter.
I LOVE Apple Butter and I hope most of my gift recipients do too. If not, it should be easy to pass on.
I use a recipe from allrecipes (can find it here) with some alterations. I love it because it’s easy and it pretty much cooks itself.
I use different types of apples, basically the ones I like best- Golden Delicious, MacIntosh and some Red Delicious. I don’t bother chopping the apples up in tiny pieces, just slices (saves time). And I add a bit more sugar and cinnamon.
Plus I cook it WAY longer than they do. Usually over night or all day on low. Then I let it sit a bit more on the warm status. I like to make sure it’s really carmalized and dark.
Then I put it in the little canning jars I got at Albertsons. I read up on canning (which is really complicated) and I basically fill my big soup pot with water, put a small hand towel in the bottom (so nothing bounces around) and put my jars in there. Then I bring it to a boil. When it gets to a boil I turn off the heat and let it cool. When I pull the jars out they have sealed.
Voila! Canned, homemade apple butter with minimal effort!
The second thing I tried this year was new. I saw it on the Bakerella site after one of my friends on facebook announced she was trying to make them. Thus began an obsession with these things. They are delicious, look way more complicated than they really are and did I mention delicious?
They are Red Velvet Cake Balls covered in chocolate 🙂 Here is the recipe. Now I’ll tell you tricks I learned to make it easier. I have not yet perfected them. I suppose I’ll have to make them a few more times to figure that out…. poor me. Poor Steve… poor family and friends. But I must figure it out. And we all must eat them until I do! Poor us 🙂
Here are some tricks I used. First you bake the Red Velvet cake… the trick here is not eating all the cake! This was a tough one for me. Then you mix it with a can of cream cheese frosting.
Then you begin to roll the mixture into little balls. I had a hard time making them into nice smooth balls… don’t worry we’ll fix it later.
It’s a sticky mess and afterwards it will look like you killed someone.
Then stick them in the fridge. Let them set for a while and then go back over them. This time they should form smoother balls.
Next melt some chocolate. I was just careful and used regular chocolate chips. I melted in smaller batches because it can take some time and I didn’t want the chocolate to get hard. Then I dipped them in and coated the balls. You can use white or milk chocolate. Next time I will use some food coloring and make the white chocolate green and red for some festive snacks! 🙂
I struggled with getting the chocolate smooth since the Little Angel kept waking up every time she sensed the chocolate had melted!
Then I packaged them up with some chocolate covered pretzels and gave them as gifts! They are delicious and look way more complicated than they are… the hardest part is cleaning your hands and not eating everything you just made!
And this is our stash!
And besides the chocolate dipping phase LA helped by sleeping or happily watching Mommy make a mess!
So the Little Angel (LA) is sick but somehow I think I’m the worse for it.
She smiles and kicks and plays in between coughing fits. I’m the one hovering and worrying and staying awake.
Once we get her to sleep she manages to sleep through the coughing and hacking and phlegmy, gaspy breaths. I, however, do not.
I remember growing up my mother always said she would rather be sick than have me be sick. I just took it at as a sign of parental love. I know now that while it is a sign of parental love, self sacrificing and beautiful, I think it’s also just pragmatic. At least when you are sick you know what is wrong.
It is horrible to see her turn down her lips and scream and not know what is wrong. If I don’t know what is wrong I can’t fix it and that is what is the worst.
I know she is bothered by something. I imagine it’s congestion or the hacking cough she has- I know those things always make me miserable. And at least when I have those things I know that they are temporary and that I’ll feel better soon. In her world she doesn’t have that context, everything has just gone horribly wrong.
My little girl who has never, ever cried in the middle of the night was waking up every few hours screaming. Straight from sleeping to crying… which broke my heart because that is bad. She was crying before she was even awake.
I did everything. The rocking her in a steamy bathroom. Keeping her upright up to her neck in cozy blankets. She slept with us several nights so I could keep a closer eye on her.
What really killed me is she’d give me the signals to nurse. But when I’d get her in position she’d just scream. I think the congestion would get worse when she’d suck or get in a more horizontal position. Then she’d just get madder because she was hungry AND uncomfortable. And I felt worse because I couldn’t even give her what she needed without making her feel worse. We did work out some positions and things that worked.
On top of it I feel the medical community aims at completely freaking out parents. She has RSV which can be anything from the common cold to something requiring hospitilization, especially in children under six months of age. (LA is 3 and a half months old). It didn’t help my peace of mind that the little girl who had it first was in the hospital.
Maybe it’s not that they are trying to… I have to be fair. It’s probably just normal parental paranoia. I worry about things I never even thought to worry about before. And it’s so much responsibility for someone you care about more than you’ve ever cared about anyone or anything.
So now, like my mother before me, I say that I would gladly, willingly, happily be sick rather than have LA go through even the smallest cold again!
For the first time since I was 16 I do not have an official “job.”
Besides the fact that I’m not working for a paycheck it’s also the first time, since I was 5, that my life doesn’t revolve around the traditional school schedule. This feels very weird to me still. Although I totally enjoy sleeping past 6 am.
I’m a stay at home mom.
However, since we have some debt we need to pinch pennies to make it work until I get a solid work from home job or I go back to work. I’ve been learning how to use coupons and shop sales. I’ve been reusing things and making things (homemade Christmas).
I was happy to learn right before Thanksgiving that I would be hired part time for Florida Virtual School which would be enough money to help me stay home with LA. A huge relief.
So the other day I got another part time job opportunity. It was tutoring College students online for English. Fabulous. Except instead of letting me do it from home I’d have to drive to Tampa and do it from their office…. major downside. But on the positive side they are open 24 hours a day and will let you make your own schedule.
I immediately told them I’d come in for the interview.
But when I talked to Steve he didn’t think I should. He said it would be a fourth job. I had to think. I work part time at the gym. I will work part time for Florida Virtual School and this…. oh yeah… being a Mom is a full time job too.
Kudos to my husband for counting it as a job, I wasn’t.
And I wondered why I wasn’t. It totally is. A full time job that doesn’t end at five o’clock and certainly includes nights and weekends.
There are two reasons. One that is good and I’m proud of and one that isn’t as positive.
The good one is I fail to count it as a job because I love it so much. I love waking up with LA and figuring out what we will do today. What can I do with her that will make her smile? What can I do to show her the world? If I have to run errands how can I make it more enjoyable or easier for her? It doesn’t feel like work… it’s a pleasure. I feel lucky to do it.
The not so good one is that I feel bad spending our money. I keep feeling like I need to ask Steve’s permission before I buy anything. He never asks but I’m always ready to explain any charges I made with our debit card. I think this may be because I’ve always used my own money.
When I explained that to Steve he said it IS my money too. Just because I’m not getting a paycheck in my name doesn’t mean I’m not working. And, he stressed, it is my money too. I’m very lucky to be married to someone who feels that way. I wonder why it’s so hard for me to remember that.
I called the tutoring part time job back and told them the drive to Tampa would be too much. And I’m relieved because it will mean more time to do the job I really love.
So size Medium and I have always been very good friends. We have a long standing relationship. Medium and I are good. Medium means average and I’m good in that department.
In high school, when I was about 20-30 pounds lighter Medium was a slightly loose, comfy friend. As I’ve matured Medium has become the perfect fit. I can order online with confidence as long as my good buddy Medium is in stock.
Well that was until I became a Mommy and became a little more gifted in the, ahem, bra department. This is completely new territory for me. I have never had something too small in the top, rather completely the opposite.
I am most definitely NOT complaining. I’m thrilled. Who cares that a good quarter of my tops are now slightly more provocative than they were pre-baby. A small price to pay!
My mother mentioned my newfound, ahem, talents and said, “Didn’t I tell you they were more trouble? Aren’t they irritating?”
To which I responded, “Are you crazy? They are fabulous!”
Yet, today, for the first time they have come between me and a good sale. Target had a shirt I’ve been eyeing for the last few months. It’s adorable. Three quarter sleeves, blue and white striped, soft cotton, button down tunic with side pockets. I have a strange thing for shirts with pockets, especially those big enough for me to actually put my hands into… no idea where pocket obsession came from so don’t ask. Anyway the shirt was 20 bucks but outside of my price range. So I stalked the clearance rack.
Yesterday, Bingo! Shirt was on clearance and I grabbed it in size Medium. Confidant enough to not try it on. And this morning I boldly ripped the tag off and put it on only to discover that my new friends and Medium do not get along.
Again, I’m not complaining… I’m just sayin’
I guess Medium is going to have to accept the fact that the new friends are here or I’m going to have to introduce myself to Large.
So here I sit… 10:36 on a Friday night.
I can hear my daughters wombie lamb going in the other room, she’s blissfully asleep. My husband is happily snoring away and I’m still sitting here. Is it because I’m not tired? No, I am quite exhausted.
I’m still sitting here for two reasons.
One. I cannot yet turn my mind off. I find, even though I am generally more tired than I used to be, that I have a harder time winding down. I think it’s because my to do list gets longer and longer and I’m afraid I’ll forget something. Plus, when I had a particularly productive day, and my inner drill sergeant is quiet, my mommy guilt picks up that perhaps I was so productive that I didn’t get enough quality time in with the Little Angel (LA) and I should have… after all she’s only little once. Either way it takes much longer to drift off.
Two. It’s so nice and quiet now. The tree is happily blinking away in the corner. Everyone is asleep but me.
Don’t get me wrong I love being a mother. It is even better than I dreamed it would be. I would not give it up for all the money or time or fame or chocolate in the world. However, I have always been a person who craves a little solitude. Growing up I lived in a house I affectionately called Grand Central Station. How did I cope? By carving out some “me” time by taking a bath nearly every evening.
Sometimes the bath lasted 15 minutes and sometimes an hour. My parents heaved a sigh of relief when they saw the first water bill after I moved out. But it was my time. No friends, family or phone calls (as much as I love them). This habit has lasted up until now.
It’s not so much that I’m missing the bath per se but I do sometime miss the uninterrupted me time. Hubby is great about giving me a bath here and there and he always picks up LA right when he comes home to try to give me some time. But eventually she needs me again and the me time I got was used up with something that I needed both hands for (like dinner, feeding the dogs, making the dog food, or currently, making Christmas presents).
Here’s the thing. Even as I type this I feel incredibly guilty for even saying I miss having more solitude time. I am so incredibly blessed between my incredible, supportive husband and my beautiful, healthy, charming daughter…. why would I want any time on my own? I shouldn’t… but I do.
Another part of me knows it’s natural. It’s how I’m made and it doesn’t mean I love my family any less. But I do find when I can carve out a bit of me time I can return to them refreshed and more ready to be fully with them. When I don’t, part of my mind drifts off wondering if I can get one more thing done before dinner or if I can slip away to fold the laundry before bed.
If I can get that time I can relax relatively guilt free while I nurse LA or cuddle with Steve watching a movie.
Part of me thinks I need to learn to “need” less me time… after all I’m likely to get less rather than more. Another part of me thinks I need to find a bit more. The last part of me thinks it’s a combination. I need to take it when I get it and enjoy it without guilt and I need to relax when I don’t get it. The house will not fall apart if the laundry sits there another day. My husband will love me if dinner isn’t as creative as it used to be. And my daughter will still smile at me whether I sang 3 songs to her during changing time or only 2.
So I have started this new blog.
I spent a lot of time thinking about what I wanted to write about.
I would love to come up with some fabulous blog that will open the doors to getting my book published or make us enough money that I can stay home with my daughter while enjoying a fat savings account and yearly trips to Europe…. but I’ve got nothing.
“Write what you know” they say.
What do I know?
I know how to cook. I love to putter in the kitchen and sometimes things turn out spectacularly, sometimes they don’t.
I love to write. But how do you write about writing? I’m still trying to just get in my 20 minutes a day. To write about more might burn me out.
About being a mom. I’m no expert and I’m not sure I have anything additional to offer to the myriad of blogs on this one topic already out there.
My daily life? I wish I was that interesting….. ha!
I thought about writing about some of the creative things I’d like to do with my daughter (who for the sake of privacy I will call the Little Angel or LA). I majored in Classical Humanities and I love history and mythology and archaeology. As a teacher I was quite good (I like to think) about coming up with interesting lessons in these topics. For a while I got excited about the idea of writing about this. Then I realized LA is 3 months old, crafts and lessons are a while off.
I started thinking the other day about my life and how it’s so easy to get caught up on the things we want to change. Our needs-
-I need to pay off our credit card
-I need to make more money so I can stay home with LA
– I need to get the house clean
-I need to get back to the gym
– I need to take my poor neglected dogs to the park before they eat the cat out of boredom.
Instead of just listing my needs I should count my blessings.
-Wonderful, attentive, supportive husband (who I think is darn hot!)
-Beautiful, healthy, smiley baby who makes me laugh every day
-Two fuzzy, ridiculously loving doggies
-One crazy cat
-A roof over our head and a beautiful home attached to it
– Our health (minus my migraines and Steve’s back)
-Fabulous, funny friends
When I look at that list my “needs” seem trivial…. I have what counts.
So I thought about writing a blog about things I’m grateful for. I looked up quotes on gratitude and found these….
Gratitude is the memory of the heart. -French Proverb
Wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving. -Kahlil Gibran
Both of those quotes are stop me in my tracks beautiful. I don’t know if they make anyone else feel the way they make me feel but they just seem so true.
Based on those quotes, and some others I came up with a short list of names for the blog that were available.
Memories of the heart- Steve’s favorite
A winged heart
I give thanks
I know the plans for you
The greatest act of hope- Steve’s favorite
The bridge to heaven
I picked A Winged Heart for the address because I liked how it tied into the quote and the small humor of the fact that my name is Angel… wings, Angel, get it? And I am naming the blog Memories of the Heart because hopefully it will remind me to be grateful for what I have.
But I didn’t think I could write just about things I’m grateful for… because sometimes I need to vent. However I did think I could make an effort to bring it back to what I can be grateful for. At least for my own sake…. trying to keep it positive.
I concluded that I know a little bit about a lot of stuff…. so if I stick with what I know, that is what I write about. So, to sum it up I will be writing about all of the above. Because no matter how much thought I put into it I couldn’t think of just one thing I know well enough to write about or would want to stick to. Which means I guess I’ll just be writing about life.
But for my own sake I’d like to use this blog as a way to bring myself back to what really counts and to remind myself of my blessings rather than to dwell on what I only think I need… I already have what I need already, truly.