Saturday, December 26, 2009


Today as I was wearing a paper jumpsuit and painting Ben's parents' front hall, I heard a rattling sound. Eden, once again, was wandering between the wet walls, and this time was shaking her cousin's Christmas box of Gobstoppers.

It wasn't until I was kneeling, prying the candy box out of her hands, that I saw her bulging cheeks. Apparently Eden had been drifting through the house in a sugary world of her own, enjoying candy-box shaker percussion when I interfered. Each time I thought I'd fished out the last gobstopper, I'd spot a little pink or yellow, and there would be another. That's because she was eating eight jawbreakers at once. Eight. And she most certainly didn't want to stop, so as I pulled them from her mouth, she furiously shook the box and sent the rest of the candy marbles bouncing and rolling across the wooden floor.

Her cousin has yet to find the nearly-empty box or rainbow smears on the freshly painted wall...

Monday, December 21, 2009

En Route

Today is a travel day.

On most travel days we are out the door at dawn. But today our flight left at 1:20PM, which means we had a handful of hours in the morning to wreak havoc. *SIGH*

Ideally the day of departing, especially departing with young children and especially departing heavily laden with Christmas presents and clothes to wear in snowy weather, is quiet and calm, with the car already packed.

Our morning, however, involved racing with a car full of recycling to the center, picking up dry cleaning, mailing something at the post office 3 days before Christmas (quel horreur!!), and going to a framer who was behind schedule to pick up Christmas presents. As our friend -- who had left work to drive us to the airport -- walked through our front door, we realized we still needed to clean out the fridge, empty diapers from the trashcans, change a dirty diaper, wash baby bottles (which are still on the counter), start the scooter in the garage to juice up the batter (an apparent priority), gather scarves (which are also still at the house), etc etc etc. (Needless to say we felt like the WORST friends).

Our house looks like a tornado blew through it, and I think my breathing went no deeper than my chin for a couple of hours. Silas, our new Jiminy Cricket, commented on how Ben and I spoke to each other more than once, and I think all the air drained right out of our joy and excitement about a snowy Christmas in DC.

Here on the plane we are slowly finding breathing again. We are at the level of a low tire now, an improvement 1from the limp rubber that we were as we climbed into the car. Hopefully by the time we get into bed tonight, we will be back to Good Year tires.

And miles to go before I sleep. And miles to go before I sleep.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas Galore (more detailed than you may desire)

There were Christmas ideas in my head for weeks and then all at once, Christmas gusted into action. It's the first year Silas has really anticipated Christmas with me -- both spiritually and fancifully -- and with that sweetness have come many firsts.

We decorated the house and bought a squat little tree:
We waited in line for Santa:
While we were waiting, Silas wrote Santa a letter: "Dear Santa, I'm feeling a little shy today so I'm writing you a letter. I would like a Super Duper Double Looper for Christmas. Love, Silas" And when it was our turn, Silas wordlessly handed it to him.
Silas and I made the kind of Christmas cookies Ben grew up with that involve rolling, cutting and icing (and, it turns out, a lot of work, but are fun nonetheless):
Ben's Favorite Christmas Cookies

These cookies tend to be a little more flour-y than buttery, which I like with the icing (and this is coming from a butter-cookie lover). I think they're best when rolled thin and cooked well. This recipe makes a LOT of cookies (at least 5 pans), so you may want to cut it in half. And parchment was my best friend.

1 c sugar
1 c butter
2 eggs
5 T milk
1 t baking soda dissolved in
1 t lemon juice
2 t baking powder
3 c flour
1 t vanilla
extra flour for rolling out the dough

-roll and cut
-bake at 350 til brown

For the icing, mix milk and food coloring; add powdered sugar til the mixture is think enough to spread (or even spoon) but not too runny.

Silas learned "Away in a manger" and performed for the first time with hand motions and all (he's front right):

Silas chose and gave Eden the first present she's ever received from him:
We loved spending time at the manger (even though this Jesus was blond-haired and blue-eyed -- come on!)

And had a visit from Santa (YES, Silas DID hear a "clink clink" on the roof during the night) for our California Christmas morning -- the pajama-ed, beaming anticipation was delicious.And Monday we will set sail, yet again, for DC, where snow is piling nearly to the windows -- a rare and wished for treat.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Without Me

I just closed the door of big black car and sent Silas off on his first play-date without me.
When his friend's mom offered to pick Silas up this afternoon, my first reaction was amazement at the freedom that would ensue -- Eden napping, Silas off with a friend who was not a babysitter, whom I did not have to pay, no strings attached, simply boys playing. Uncharted waters.

Yet, as I sensed his wee hesitation when I bucked him into their strange car, and as I watched them drive off, tinted windows obscuring his face, I was struck by how much of the rest of our lives will consist of separation; he going one direction and I another. In such a short time, it will be hard to remember these days when I crave even an hour on my own.

And I must say, that now sitting here without him, I feel a little sad.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

In Defense of Butter - or- How Christmas Cookie Baking is Going

Well, I have used 6 sticks of butter in the last two hours. Fortunately, I haven't eaten them all. But I do keep thinking about the Parisian sandwich -- I don't think we've talked about that enough. How IS it that Parisian sandwiches have visible pats of butter the length of the sandwich AND cheese and ham, yet people eat them for lunch regularly in France? I recently was sifting through a bunch of my grandmother's recipes and when she came to any sandwich recipe (of which there were surprisingly many), it began: "Generously butter each piece of bread..." And yet, like many French, my grandmother was a lean person. I think our society carries far too much fear of butter these days, don't we? Churned cream with a little salt -- it does add a lot.

Which brings me to baking cookies. I haven't actually baked any yet but have been making batches of dough -- glazed lemon cookies from a recipe I tore out of a magazine last winter; Ben's mom's sugar cookies that Silas and I will roll out and ice tomorrow; and, most intriguingly, Brown Butter Spoon Cookies with Jam.

There have been a few glitches along the way, like a paper towel falling into my bowl of carefully squeezed lemon juice and sucking it all up. Or water sloshing into my pot of carefully browned butter that was cooling in the sink. Or flour measuring. I have taken to measuring flour with a 1/3 or 1/2 c measuring cup because they fit into my flour jar (yes, wide-mouth kitchen jars are on my Christmas list). And I often lose count, even when I know that I often lose count and concentrate. When I couldn't slice the chilled lemon cookie dough without it pulverizing, I knew that once again, I had mis-measured (as I had earlier with a pumpkin cake).

Despite all the setbacks, though, I think cookies will ensue.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Twiggy Foto Pics

Chi-Lin Sun took some pictures of us the other day. She has a magical way of capturing children in their everyday way... Check out her beautiful work here.

Here are some gems from our tromp at the bay:

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

A Morning in Paris

I love how tastes, like smells, can magically transport us. This morning in the middle of a string of errands, Eden and I pulled into my favorite market for a cappuccino and a bite to eat. Wearing boots, candy cane striped tights, and dragging a bulky Handy Manny backpack behind her, Eden walked into A Market with me. I didn't want a muffin, cinnamon coffee cake, or gooey pecan roll (though they all sound like a perfect afternoon snack right now), but something savory... I asked about the Parisian sandwich I've eyed every time we've come in, and just as I'd hoped, butter, cheese, and ham filled the narrow baguette -- exactly what I wanted. The bread was crusty with some chew, and the combination of ham, salty smooth butter, and creamy, slightly sharp cheese -- perfect. With the first bite, there I was, standing on a grey Paris street, beaming.