Monday, December 31, 2012

holiday meal recap

Ahhh, the goose. I soaked the bird in a brine mixture for 24 hours, which I think helped it retain moisture. The skin was brown and tasty--I had to prick the goose's flesh all over before baking it, which drained unnecessary fat and made the skin crispier. I ordered an 8-9 pound bird and ended up with a 12-pounder, but we didn't have excessive leftovers, so it worked out fine. Also, I didn't know this but geese are solely dark meat. We enjoyed it, but that's a consideration if you or guests are die-hards for white meat.

The goose was easy to prepare, cook, and carve, but was more expensive than I had anticipated. (I also got shafted by the butcher, but that's a story for a different day.) Overall, the goose was a hit and I would cook one again. But I think I'll try something else, like rack of lamb, for my next holiday meal.

On another note, my marvelous knockout roses are still in bloom, so I clipped several and scattered them around my holiday table. They brightened up my ordinary table, and were much prettier than the overpriced greenery that the florist at Eastern Market tried to sell me!

I hope your holiday meals were tasty!

Friday, December 28, 2012

wise choices

Thanks to both sets of grandparents for free babysitting on Thanksgiving and Christmas, Brad and I have now enjoyed two excellent movies--the only two movies in the theater that we've seen together since Mason joined our family.

We made wise movie choices, and I'm so relieved. I am rooting for both of these masterpieces come Academy Awards time! (I saw Les Mis, the musical, nearly 15 years ago, and I loved it then, but now I've fallen in love all over again. I am DYING to read the book now, but am I am for another 1,200+ page tome?)

Has anyone else seen Lincoln or Les Miserables? What did you think? What movies have you enjoyed this holiday season?

Friday, December 21, 2012

cards display

I love receiving photo holiday cards. But until this year, they've remained in a lovely stack on my kitchen counter until the holidays passed, I looked through them all one more time, and then threw the cards away.

This year, I decided that we needed to enjoy these cards a little more. They aren't cheap. And our friends and family have put in substantial time and effort to create and send them, not to mention their generosity in keeping us on their mailing list year after year.

I retrieved a roll of tape from our office and set it on the kitchen counter to have handy during mail time. As cards come in, I tape them on our half-bathroom door, which is conveniently located in our kitchen, right across from Mason's high chair. He delights in admiring all of the bah-bahs (babies) while eating his breakfast and lunch. I find myself looking at the cards much more now that they're on display. Our guests can enjoy them, too.

The only challenge now is having enough space to hang them out of Mason's reach. Our collection may have to expand to the walls!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Two years ago, I dreamed of it. This year, I'm doing it! We're staying put for Christmas and I'm serving goose. And chestnut stuffing. And a sampling of English puddings straight from London. (My mom just spent a few weeks there and is bringing them with her when she and my dad visit for Christmas.)

I plan to make our usual Christmas meal, rare beef tenderloin, on New Year's Eve. But until then, I'm all about the goose!

What do you plan to serve this Christmas?

Monday, December 17, 2012

prayers abound

What a holiday season this has been thus far. My heart aches for a couple of close friends who are each grieving losses. And of course, there are no words to describe the horror of Friday's tragedy in Newtown.

I saw the poem below posted on facebook, and thought it was really touching. God bless those precious families!

"twas' 11 days before Christmas, around 9:38
when 20 beautiful children stormed through heaven's gate.
their smiles were contagious, their laughter filled the air.
they could hardly believe all 
the beauty they saw there.
they were filled with such joy, they didn't know what to say.
they remembered nothing of what had happened earlier that day.
"where are we?" asked a little girl, as quiet as a mouse.
"this is heaven." declared a small boy. "we're spending Christmas at God's house."
when what to their wondering eyes did appear,
but Jesus, their savior, the children gathered near.
He looked at them and smiled, and they smiled just the same.
then He opened His arms and He called them by name.
and in that moment was joy, that only heaven can bring
those children all flew into the arms of their King
and as they lingered in the warmth of His embrace,
one small girl turned and looked at Jesus' face.
and as if He could read all the questions she had
He gently whispered to her, "I'll take care of mom and dad."
then He looked down on earth, the world far below
He saw all of the hurt, the sorrow, and woe
then He closed His eyes and He outstretched His hand,
"Let My power and presence re-enter this land!"
"may this country be delivered from the hands of fools"
"I'm taking back my nation. I'm taking back my schools!"
then He and the children stood up without a sound.
"come now my children, let me show you around."
excitement filled the space, some skipped and some ran.
all displaying enthusiasm that only a small child can.
and i heard Him proclaim as He walked out of sight,
"in the midst of this darkness, I AM STILL THE LIGHT."

Written by Cameo Smith, Mt. Wolf, PA"

Friday, December 14, 2012

adventurous evergreen

2012 marks my fifth annual celebration post of our Christmas tree. Check out previous posts here: 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011.

Oh, Christmas tree, how beautiful you are to me! Thank you for coming back into my home, sweet tree, especially this year--you're risking your precious life by doing so. There's a little hooligan underfoot, and he could bring about some serious damage to you (and to himself). You've survived here for nearly three weeks, but I still don't take any day of your stay for granted. My little cannonball of a boy could hurl himself into you, and your exquisite attire, in less than a second.

You remain upright and regal, sporting an elegant new skirt and topper--you've been due for an upgrade for years. Your classy white lights spruce up the shabby chic collection of mostly hand-me-down ornaments that adorn your boughs. But you boast a couple of new ornaments, too--precious, personal ones that mark each of the cannonball's Christmases. Thank you for cherishing them as I do, and for displaying them so proudly and carefully (and out of reach of grabby little hands).

Despite your twinkling lights, tempting ornaments, and intoxicating smell, the little hooligan has paid you hardly any attention. Don't take this personally. You see, he's busy . . . all the time--he is very, very, very busy.  He has places to go, things to do, and people to see. He didn't even have time to pose in front of you for a picture. This was the only photo, after multiple attempts, that I could capture with you and him in the same frame . . .

until I planted his little butt on the floor in front of you and he yelled and then pouted about it. Don't take his tears personally, either. He can be a real grouch.

You do hinder my little guy's access to the front windows, where he likes to watch for Babas (beloved things... babies, dogs, construction equipment and workers, etc.). You are so kind, though. As he charges past you, pushing in frustration at your branches and nearly slipping on your skirt, you show him nothing but love. Your soft, green needles tickle and caress his bobbing blond head. Your branches gently make way for him, no matter how rough he is with you. You make a picturesque backdrop behind my little boy peering out the window to the delight of passersby. You understand, wise old tree, the preciousness of a moment, and that these moments are fleeting. And so you put up with the big and small annoyances, the danger, neglect, and abuse because it's all worth it for the pitter patter of little feet and the knowledge that you've served our family well for one more year. 

Thank you, beloved tree, for your courage and adventurous spirit this year. I'll try by best to keep you safe, upright, and all in one piece for a couple more weeks!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

mothering on display

Mason's nearly 15 months old, and his disobedience is in full force. (Well, it feels like it's in full force, but he's not even two yet. The best is surely yet to come.) The combination of his endless energy, strong will, and quick temper get him in trouble frequently. As first-time parents, Brad and I are muddling through--praying and thinking about how to wisely and effectively discipline Mason. It's not easy. Regardless of our method, we strive to be united and consistent.

A natural rule follower and a lover of structure and policies, I anticipated no problems being consistent in my disciplining. But I did not expect the act to be so exhausting, especially when I'm scolding him for the same offense for the 20th time in an hour when all I really want to do is finish a sentence conversation with a fellow mom or complete the task at hand, whatever it is. It's often tempting to ignore Mason's disobedience and carry on, but my passionate boy doesn't learn the expectations with my negligence, which often makes his behavior worse.

Alas, I find myself in this season that I call "mothering on display." He tests me both in public and at home. I feel the least amount of pressure among moms with similarly aged children--we all feel each other's pain. People in public will be judgmental of my child and my parenting skills, that's a given--I cast plenty of judgment on other parents and children pre-Mason, too. Some doting family members mean well, but they've forgotten what it's like to have a disobedient toddler and that it's inappropriate to laugh at or encourage Mason in his troubling antics, which only tempts me to discipline them, too!

In what ways do you feel like your mothering is on display? How do you deal with it?

Monday, December 10, 2012

common grammar mistake

While strolling to the park with Mason over the weekend, Brad and I noticed the following sign attached to a street light in our neighborhood.

Do you see the mistake? Take a closer look.

How about now?

Now why on earth would the word holiday be possessive? Perhaps the person who created this sign should read my post on possessives vs. plurals.

Has anyone received a holiday card with this or a similar mistake? I suspect you'll receive at least one this season!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

part-time work for stay-at-home parents

Even though I recently quit my full-time job, I haven't left teaching completely behind. This semester, I've been working a few hours a week for Cooking Thyme, a small business that offers cooking classes for children. The company's owner attends my church, and she recruited me and a couple other stay-at-home moms to teach. It's been great fun and well-suited to my new role at home. Mason's allowed to accompany me to weekly teachers meetings, and during my class, his care is covered by Cooking Thyme--he gets a weekly play date with other teachers' kids, which he enjoys and is also great for him.

Although a full-time, professional position working outside the home is not my choice right now, I'm not at all opposed to working a little, especially if some tasks can be done from home or Mason's allowed to accompany me while completing them. I may be biased, but I do believe that stay-at-home moms and dads, generally speaking, are a goldmine of untapped talent. Especially in this culture where an increasing number of people work from home, there are all sorts of jobs that could be outsourced to men and women looking for part-time work that they could complete in their home on their own schedule. And most stay-at-home parents don't need insurance and other benefits--a huge savings for any employer.

A mom herself, the owner of Cooking Thyme goes to great lengths to recruit, appeal to, and retain stay-at-home parents as employees. Of course, again I'm biased, but I appreciate the fresh and innovative way she runs her business.

I love hearing about the types of jobs and tasks that other stay-at-home parents have stumbled upon. Do you have an experience to share? What works for you and your family?


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

kids and gifts

I was over at The DC Moms yesterday with a post about an unexpected minefield of parenthood (for me, at least): kids and gifts.

How do you manage the influx of presents into your home at this time of year?

Monday, December 3, 2012

blankie baby

Mason has a second best friend (besides his thumb): his blankie. I have a little Linus!

Or actually, I should say the tags on his blankie are his true loves. When I hand him the blanket, he frenetically searches the edges for the corner with the tags. He then sucks his right thumb and holds Blankie's tags close to his face with his left hand. Aren't toddlers' ways peculiar?

Blankie stays in the crib all the time. He's only allowed to come out for photo shoots and long car rides.

Blankies make everything better. I think I need one myself!