Thursday, December 18, 2014

Randomly on Thursday

1. Feeling a little aggravated and stressed today. I wanted to be all in the Christmas spirit and start cleaning and decorating but it has not worked out that way. Nana decided to be a lady who lunches with her friends, which of course she has every right to, and the Bumper decided to overturn the living room chaise lounge to use as a tumbling platform and then dump all of her toys out onto the floor so she could find her favorite stuffed kangaroo, perfectly understandable, but she refused to pick up afterwards.

2. Started the Bumper's hat yesterday. It is a pretty easy and fun crochet pattern, but the author stated it could be worked up in an hour. The author probably does not have a small child who thinks it is the height of hilarity to unravel balls of yarn. The result being I have to work on such things after the Bumper is asleep.

3. We have company coming tomorrow. A friend I have not seen in fourteen years, it will be fun catching up. She has three kids and the third is not yet sleeping through the night , while I only have the Bumper I still feel her pain.

4. This Saturday the Bumper starts dance practice for the Fiesta. I think I am more excited than she is. I can't help myself the little kids always look so cute in their costumes.

5. I love Christmas carols.

6. I wanted to post yesterday, but I was still too upset about the news of  yet another Taliban school shooting. This time 148 people lost their lives. Most of them were children, just trying to get the kind of basic education we here in the States take for granted. I feel angry and helpless. All I can do is pray. I pray for the victims, their families, and the shooters and their families. Only God can change the hearts of such wicked misguided people. It is especially hard as we heard toward the celebration of the Birth of He who came to reconcile God and Man.

7. I am currently trying to decide if it will be worth it to make butter tarts and if it is possible it make a vegetarian version of French Canadian Meat Pie?

8. Famous last words: Next year I will be more organized.

9. The Bumper has been busy conducting water experiments in the bathroom. It is the least destructive thing she has chosen to do today.


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Drummer Girls, Cookies and Decking the Halls

Cookies by Bumper
There are only nine days left until Christmas and except for the Bumper's Advent Calendar from school and the few other decorations she has made, the house is alarmingly barren.  I am not really worried though, because our family has a habit of waiting for the very last minute to put up the nativity, the stockings and the tree. Last year we were a bit more organized and the Bumper was able to move the baby Jesus and the wise men closer and closer to Mary and Joseph each Sunday in Advent, this year she will probably be putting Him in on Christmas Eve. Last year I did everything in a haze of grief and forced cheer. This year, while I am not as "merry" as I normally get during the holidays, I am a lot more calm and having a lot more fun with the Bumper. We made sugar cookies together for the first time this past week, she used the cookie cutters all by herself and she decorated them too! I have been reading the nativity story from her Children's Bible and she is full of questions. Yesterday we sat and drew candy canes together and she has been asking to start decorating the house.

Happy Birthday Bumper!
We have just been so busy. On the 6th we celebrated the Bumper's fourth birthday. There were fifteen kids at the party plus two sets of grand parents, and her aunt and uncle  and cousins from Baltimore. The Bumper thoroughly enjoyed herself. She especially liked the pinata in the shape of a cupcake. Last week the Bumper had her school play and we had a Christmas party to go to. I discovered my Bumper is quite the party girl. She enjoyed playing with the other children at the Christmas party it was hard to convince her to leave! We also went through the Bumper's toys and she picked out the ones she wanted to give away, along with the shoes and pajamas she has outgrown.

We will probably put up the tree in the next day or so, or maybe not, but one thing is for sure-- we will be enjoying our friends and family to the fullest this season.


Monday, December 15, 2014

Meatless Monday -- It's All About Soup

Winter is upon us here in the Northern Hemisphere. Where I am on the Mid-Atlantic coast of the United States that means the weather has decided to go from too cold to play outdoors to just warm enough for chilly rain and no snow. Miserable weather. Huddle indoors, staring glumly at the pellet stove because it is not quite cold enough to justify turning it on during the day, glaring out the back window because it is raining weather. Soup making weather. I know most people don't associate soup with Christmas, and quite frankly neither do I, but sometimes a warm you from the inside out soup is what is needed to chase away the winter blahs and get me motivated.

 A squash soup from Weight Watchers did the trick. It was warm, it was soothing, had just the right amount of sweetness spice to be satisfying after one too many Christmas treats. the only problem with this soup was the fussiness involved in making it.  There were a lot of steps and when there is a little one under foot, I much prefer a soup you just throw together and let simmer. Final verdict -- really good and will make it again but will be reserved for special occasions. I served the soup with slow cooked greens (a mix of Collards, Kale, and Turnip, seasoned with olive oil, salt and pepper, and left to simmer in vegetable broth).

Happy Eating,

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Randomly on a Thursday

1. Bought pinata. Not enough time to make it and treat bags too. What does one put in treat bags for four year olds?

2. Spent the better part of yesterday shopping for the Bumper's birthday party.  She is worth braving department stores during the holiday season. I ran into three people I knew so the trip took longer than expected. Living in a small town this sort of thing is expected, but I don't know that many people.

3. The requests for Christmas are in; The Bumper wants a purple crochet hat with a pink flower (She was very specific), Nana wants a crochet blue hat with a black band and a scarf to match (She was also very specific). My sister and her husband are getting a new stove from us so they are set.

4. I ran out of yarn for my sister's scarf, when I went back to the store to buy more they were out of that brand and dye lot. I thought I bought enough, but I miscalculated when I doubled the length. Her scarf will just have to be ten rows instead of thirteen.

5. Instead of a live Advent wreath I used construction paper to make one and put it on the wall to help us count down to Christmas. The Bumper loves it.

6. Need to make banana bread for the Bumper's class tomorrow. Last year they really liked it. This year new kids, new tastes-- we'll see.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

It is Raining and I am Party Planning

 The picture is from September 2013, but the view today is exactly the same: cold and wet!
The Christmas rush is upon us and I am feeling stressed. Today is also the 1yr anniversary of my husband's funeral. It is raining just as it did on this day last year. I am trying not to dwell on it, but it is very hard. The Bumper's birthday is Saturday and we have a party to prepare for. Part of the stress I am feeling is unwittingly caused by the Bumper. She is old enough to tell me what she wants this year and in a word: Everything. Pretty much every toy she sees in the toy store she wants. This is a completely new experience for me. She has never asked, pointed out, or dragged me to what she wants before. Before now, I have been able to get by with telling her toys are only for birthday and Christmas. Well now her birthday and Christmas are finally here and she has a year's worth of pent up wants!

I have never planned a kids party before. I feel way out of my depth. I am not crafty and I am not very organized. We received an invitation to another little boy's party on the same day a month ago. His parents are hosting a party complete with a magician! That makes me want to stick my head under the covers. I wanted a small at home party with family, but circumstances being what they are that is not possible. So we are having an event rather than the small party I had hoped for. I wonder how I am going to convey my values of simplicity , warmth,  and family, when I don't seem to be able to live them? I certainly don't want to get caught up in trying to out do another parent!

Even though the venue is not what I wanted, I know the Bumper will have fun with her friends. Her Godmother is making the cake and her favorite babysitter has agreed to come even though he is sixteen. He has volunteered, or rather his mother volunteered him, to perform some card tricks for the kids. I over heard him telling the Bumper what he plans to wear ( a top hat and his band uniform), so I think he is secretly pleased to be doing this even though he pretends there are better things for him to do.

The Bumper and I are going to try an make a pinata for her birthday party-- I think I am going to need some extra prayers for patience!


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Looking Back and Looking Ahead

My heart is aching today. It has been a year since the Bumper's dad died. This past year has both flown by and passed agonizingly slowly. Last year on this date I was in shock. I was numb that day and for many days thereafter. I was fortunate that I took the chance to make amends and make peace. There are many others who never get to do so.

I still have nightmares, and sleepless nights. There are still times when I close my eyes and I see him as he lay in his hosptial bed. Sometimes I am tormented by the what ifs and if onlys. Every so often a song, a smell, or a place will bring back memories that shake me to the core and nearly bring me to my knees. I am told this will get better with time, but right now I still hurt.

What makes this even harder is the Bumper. I tried as much as I could to shield her from all that happened last November, but she remembers more than I gave her credit for. She asks about him now, she doesn't understand why she can not go visit him with God nor why Goad does not send her daddy back to her. I have no answers to those questions, save only to say I don't know, but God does and we must trust Him even when we do not understand or are angry and in pain. We (the Bumper and I) lit candles for him at church on his birthday, our wedding anniversary, Father's day, and All Souls day. She likes to tell her classmates her daddy is in the clouds with God. I do not dissuade her.

Everyday it gets a little easier. I have our daughter to raise, to enjoy and to spend time with. I am unable to answer all of her questions just yet, but she seems content with my honest responses. As she gets older we will continue to have this conversation, and her questions will get harder, and she will not always like my answers, but we have each other and in the meantime we will keep living the life God has given us the best we can-- as a family.

Today I am sad and that is okay. I will not always be this sad and the holidays won't always be this painful. The Bumper and I have much to look forward to. There are many firsts to explore and many new discoveries to be made, but the past and the future will both have to wait, because I right now I have a sick Bumper to tend to for that too is part of life and the joy I have at seeing her well eclipses all else.


The fuzzy pilgrims have landed
I went to the Bumper's Thanksgiving play yesterday. This is only my second year of having a child old enough to participate, so I am still very excited to see her perform in things. The three and four year olds put it on, the four years olds  dressed as the Pilgrims, and the three year olds dressed as Native Americans. They sang songs around the fire together, thanked God together, and sat down to their Thanksgiving feast together. The whole thing was so cute I could hardly sit still, this mother's heart melted when the Bumper shouted out "Hi Mom!" Setting of a chorus that took the teachers a good five minutes to settle down.
Wonky but nice
My heart also melted when I realized I was witnessing the true spirit of Thanksgiving. These little ones did not care that the costumes they wore were stereotypical and historically inaccurate,they did not care that the feast they reenacted probably never took place, nor did they did not care that they were eating cold cuts, corn muffins, and crackers instead of perfectly browned turkey, pumpkin pie and all the trimmings. The kids were happy and excited to be with their friends and family, they were hungry so the snack was good and they were grateful to have something to eat.
A moment I will treasure forever was when the Bumper looked over at her paternal grandmother and upon seeing she had nothing to eat offered her a grape.
This for me is the heart of the holiday: to give thanks to God for what we have, take joy in our friends and family, be mindful of those among us who are in need and to be willing to share.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving