I'd hoped to post a final picture of this rather than a work-in-project picture, but I'm still about two sides away from finishing attaching the binding to this. So for the moment, here's my latest little wallhanging. The center is a preprinted panel I discovered in the midst of a fat quarter bundle I bought; the rest of the design I just made up. All the fabrics are part of the Holly Jolly line, from Moda. (Which is also what the balls were all made from.)
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
I love Christmas almost as much as Mommy does!
This year, she may not have had any context for what was going on -- Christmas? what? -- but she thoroughly enjoyed the concept of getting presents, having grandparents over multiple times, visiting the neighbors, driving around to see sparkly lights, and playing Christmas music with good dance beats.
Sofie had a great day today -- she's such a delight to give presents to because she's just so thrilled by everything. Give her a stuffed animal, even though she already has probably forty, and she hugs it and kisses it and carries it around with her for half the day. Give her a puzzle and she sits right down to do it. Give her a baby doll and she's all goofy with happiness. What a sweet kid.
Among the many gifts she got today, she got her first set of big, fat little-kid crayons and a pad of paper. We set her up with these in her high chair and after a few attempts, she produced her first picture, proudly documented below by her mom at left.
Some of the squiggles are mine, showing her how to use the crayons. Her contributions are in the two red boxes.
I think she shows real talent, no?
She got sooo much new stuff today - she had something like sixteen presents under the tree, thanks to her generous relatives. We split the booty up into several sessions, opening two or three the night before, another set after breakfast on Christmas morning, and another set later. And now, Christmas night, I'm realizing we put her to bed without opening the biggest one -- the big Fisher Price gift my sister sent is still under the tree in its gift bag. We'll assemble it later tonight and leave it out for her to find tomorrow.
She was happy to get seven -- SEVEN! -- new books, half of which we read multiple times tonight. She got two new puzzles with nice big pieces she could manuever easily into their slots:
Also she got a baby doll, a duck and an elephant, a couple new animal blocks, a pinball game, a little hello kitty purse (from Aunt Dana), a bowling set with animal pins that she spent over an hour happily arranging and rearranging in the basement (this kid loves nothing so much as sorting things - she's a born organizer), a see-n-say animal sounds toy from Erica that she loves, a really cool outfit from Jacki that she opened on Christmas Eve and carried around for hours (she likes bright colors) -- here she is wearing the hat and carrying the pants:
...and probably a few other things I'm forgetting. But they were wonderful gifts and I'm happy to say that she enjoyed them all and will have a lot of fun playing with them.
Most fun, though, was having family around. My most heartwarming moments of this Christmas were three things:
- On Christmas Eve, Sofie gave me her very first kiss, complete with MUH! sound effects and a big big hug. Which just made my holiday, right there. Then she did the same for Daddy, Grandma, and Grandpa. And then she tried to do the same with the cat, which scared the crap out of him, but the thought was nice.
- This afternoon, after she came back downstairs from an extremely short nap while the rest of us ate dinner, she came careening into the living room at a high speed and wrapped herself around Grandpa's legs, giving him the biggest, most spontaneous hug ever. Such a sweetie, this little girl.
- It snowed! Shortly after we finished the presents, and right before we sat down to dinner, it started snowing big huge flakes outside and continued off and on for most of the afternoon. It didn't really stick, but it sure was pretty. This is only the sixth time in the last hundred years that it's snowed on Christmas day in Seattle, and we felt pretty lucky to see it.
Now it's seven thirty and Sofie's fast asleep in her bed, one of her bowling pins clutched to her chest, dreaming of sugar plums. Brett's on the treadmill getting in a workout and I'm about to sink into a nice bubble bath and read one of my new books*, and think about all the fun we're going to have in future years as Sofie gets more and more aware of Christmas and excited about everything that comes along with it.
I'm so, so glad to have a little girl, our small family, and to see not only holidays but everyday life through totally new eyes because of it. I've never been so happy or felt so blessed.
Merry Christmas everyone! I hope everyone had a good day today too.
*I'm trying not to list every single present that every one of us got, but I will mention that not only did Brett find me a copy of the latest Sue Grafton book, he also met her and got it personally inscribed with "Merry Christmas Megan! Love, Sue Grafton!" How cool is that?
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Me: (tells him who)
Brett: "I hate to tell you this, but I might have to leave you for whoever baked these."
Me: "Hrm. Well, ok. It's been nice knowing you."
Brett: "Oh wait - is that a raisin in here?? It's off."
Me: "So our marriage has been saved?"
Brett: "Saved by a raisin. Yep."
I wasn't worried. I knew there were raisins.
Ten minutes later, I took a good look at her and noticed that she was totally naked from the waist down.
Apparently our little adventurer has learned how to remove her own diapers. There she was, just enjoying the breeze, casually perusing the books in my bookcase. La la la la. I don't need a diaper. No, not me!
Monday, December 17, 2007
These were a big hit with the kids, super-easy to do (I swear it took about twenty minutes each) and so much fun to make! And it gave me a great way to use some of the fat quarters I bought from the Holly Jolly line by Sandy Gervais.
- Tree -- up, decorated, surviving the baby's insistent attempts to bring it down, well-watered and looking likely to survive until New Years.
- Presents - all bought. All wrapped. All finished.
- Packages to distant family members -- boxes located, wrapped and packed, and shipped. (Seven boxes this year! Yikes.)
- Cards -- mostly sent. Including the world's most difficult to put together photo card ever. (What was so bad? Four photo sessions, two sets of 20 bad prints from Bartells online, three trips to a photo kiosk to print them myself only to find the kiosks occupied FOREVER by people taking their sweet time looking at hundreds of pictures, finally ending with me just waiting in line for almost an hour, with a toddler in tow, to get to use one of them to print my ONE picture.) Just have a few cards left that I keep around to write either a letter or a more substantial note in, which is a process I enjoy.
- Various crafty projects I was working hard on, which will be blogged about later today -- finished! And very satisfactory.
- Santa - visited, photographed, and displayed proudly on the mantel.
- Cookies to give away to neighbors -- baked, plated, and delivered.
- Cookies for cookie exchange happening later today -- baked and frosted. Some of my mom friends are coming by with the babies later this afternoon to swap cookies. We'll all go home with a half dozen each of everyone's offerings. Yay!
- Cookies for Ugly Cookie Day -- made! I thought I wasn't in the mood for making these when I started the process yesterday, after all this baking, but I'd forgotten just how much fun it is to make cutout cookies. I had a great time. I can't wait until Sofie can do this with me in a couple years!
And now, I get to relax this week and enjoy Christmas being right around the corner without running a ton of errands and tasks, which is what I was shooting for all along. This week is all about parties, both giving them and attending them; I think we have four in all, two here. This week is about wearing a santa hat and listening to Christmas music. This week is about sitting around in the evenings with the lights off looking at the Christmas tree lights. This week is about anticipating how much fun Sofie will have with her new toys and wondering what your own presents are going to be. Maybe it will snow!
Yay! All the work is done, now we get to have fun!
Friday, December 14, 2007
- My Christmas cards, I just noticed, are made in China. I've been sitting here all morning having visions of George Costanza's fiancee and her untimely cheap-envelope-caused death in my head as I lick and seal them, wondering if I'm about to keel over from massive quantities of lead or some other badness.
- My daughter, I just realized, will eat almost anything if it's presented to her in matchstick form. Present the same food in bite-sized cubes? No way. We've now tried this out with dried apricots (matchsticks? Yum! cubes? grooooossss), cheese, and apples. I'm wondering how many other applications this has. Can I get yogurt, formerly her staple food but now the most disgusting thing on earth, into a matchstick shape, somehow? Could I finally get her to eat tofu this way? Parenting is one big science experiment.
- A new list published of most popular names for this year has Sophia as the number one most popular name for girls. Sheesh. So much for being original. We're glad our spelling is different than the most common variety, but still! And our second choice, Isabella, is now number two. How does this happen?
That's all for now.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Max is really suffering from this latest injury. He'll be ok, but he looks like he had open-heart surgery -- he's got a line of stitches about six inches long down his chest and two separate tubes for drainage. Yikes. He spent yesterday laying on this box with his head propped up on a roll of placemats.
Now that it's been sent and received, I can post a picture of the first of the two turtle quilts I made recently -- this was a gift for Zoe for going to Hawaii with us. I did the background strips on the machine (the water is made from seven different blues, one inch strips) and everything else by hand. This was also my first experiment with outline quilting -- the water around the turtle is outline quilted in a ripple pattern, about every quarter inch or so. I was quite happy with how it came out.
The second version, for us to keep, is sitting in the basement waiting to have the turtle stitched down. As with most things where you make two copies of something, I'm less motivated to finish version two now that version one is done.
Monday, December 10, 2007
Not so unexpectedly, Sofie wasn't entirely pleased about visiting with Santa this year. We did get one nice picture out of the three they took in the five seconds she lasted on his lap before she melted down. But we also got this one, which is more indicative of the mood of the encounter.
Santa said she looked like Cindy Lu Who. Which we think too.
Sunday, December 09, 2007
Max is okay -- he had a bad abscess from someone biting him and needed surgery but he'll be home in a few hours -- but Phoenix is freaked OUT, man. Every couple weeks, some cat goes into a box and out the front door and doesn't come home! Holy schmoly.
I'm going to have a heck of a time getting him into a cat carrier for his next checkup, I think. At the moment, he's laying on the living room couch looking forlorn, unwilling to so much as lift his head to look around for fear that we might cart him away next.
Every day it has fewer ornaments on it. I'm finding them all over the house -- in the kitchen, under the china hutch, behind the couch, and (my favorite) piled inside Sofie's little animal train in a decorative mode that was almost display-worthy. This kid, she has an eye for design.
We got a Grand Fir this year, which I like very much - but it's a good thing it was a plastic ornament year, because the branches on this variety are very weak. A lot of my heavier, more breakable ornaments wouldn't have been possible to support on this tree. Still, it's lovely and it smells great and it's holding up really well. We like it!
Friday, December 07, 2007
It also helps to have a good stand mixer (new last winter) and two new great ovens with the option for convection cooking, meaning I can load up multiple trays and put them in one oven to make several dozen cookies in fifteen or twenty minutes. Would I be making all these one tray at a time with a hand beater? Probably not.
I love my stand mixer the way Brett loves his IMac. It's my favorite piece of household equipment and was worth every freaking penny.
All this baking is for various events -- I've scheduled a cookie exchange with some mom friends of mine, we've got a neighborhood open house in a couple weeks that will be cookie based, and of course we've got Ugly Cookie Day coming up. (I haven't baked for that yet.) Some will be gifts. Some will be taken as offerings to various parties we've been invited to. Whatever the reason, I love having the freezer stocked with all kinds of goodies I can just pull out and use as needed this time of year.
So far I've made:
- Chai shortbread cookies - very unusual recipe from Cooking Light with a combination of cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and black pepper. The end result is very fragrant and really interesting.
- Smitten Kitchen's rugelach pinwheels - these were SO good that they quickly came back out of the freezer and got eaten up. Oh my lord. I'll probably make another batch before the neighborhood party. And easy too!
- Cocoa slices - also from Cooking Light - very tasty! I made a double batch of these. I'm starting to not like making slice-and-bake cookies so much; they seem very delicate to me. One of my logs in this case was too dry and crumbled a bit when I sliced it for baking. It's possible, of course, to stick everything back together on the cookie sheet, but you end up with slightly misshapen cookies. Nonetheless, they taste good and are oh so chocolate-y!
- Mexican wedding cookies - working on these today. I've got a double batch of the dough for these cooling in the fridge now and will probably bake them up tonight or in the morning. Always a holiday favorite for us, and they just seem like an essential part of any mixed-cookie tray.
I'll probably make three or four more kinds before I'm done. Next to come: Mincemeat cookies - a tradition passed down through generations in my family and a favorite of mine and my sister's. When I give these to people without telling them what they are, they universally love them. But if they hear the word mincemeat in advance, people think they're gross. Hrm. I usually call them spice cookies now to get around this.And of course, cutout cookies for Ugly Cookie Day.
Thursday, December 06, 2007
Yes, that's right. Mama can watch anything she wants, except for Oprah. That's been v-chipped out. By a toddler.
Now I'm not an Oprah fanatic. But 4-5 is the longest hour of the day for many of us home with toddlers, and I occasionally cruise by NBC at 4:00 to see what the subject of the day is. Just occasionally. And sometimes we half-watch it, while playing with blocks or reading books or otherwise having a good time.
But no more.
Is there a message here? Did she come up with this on her own or has Brett been secretly training her in this very mission for months now? And how long does this parental lock stuff last? It's been blacked out for almost a week now.
Monday, December 03, 2007
She especially likes it if I say, "Oh THANK you, Sofie!" and pretend to put it in my pocket. And off she toddles to whatever she was in the midst of -- sorting books, putting shoes in the laundry basket, building a space shuttle. Yknow. Kid stuff.
Molly and her mom were over to play today, and I asked Kate if Molly does this too.
"She just did this! Just now! But she's never done it at home," she said. "It must be something about your house."
Maybe we really are surrounded by small invisible things? Or maybe our tidy little Virgos are attempting to pick up individual cat hairs off the floor. Messy messy.
It's great and I love it, but what gives? He'd occasionally visit me at night before but never with this kind of devotion. At first I thought perhaps he was sensing that I was sad and upset and trying to help. But a friend pointed out that it could also be that he always wanted to act like this with me but couldn't because I (and my side of the bed) belonged to Cassie, and that this is just part of the great reclaiming of territory that's going on around the house.
So maybe he loves me. Or maybe he just wants to own my chest.
Saturday, December 01, 2007
Earlier today, we went out to the Enchanted Winds* tree farm in Issaquah with our friends Erica and Bill and picked ourselves out a lovely Grand Fir. Brett manfully cut it down with a saw and hauled it to our car, while Sofie and I watched appreciatively. It was cold, cold, cold today, so this was a short visit. And while we were decorating it at home, it snowed almost two inches! Yay!
(Brett on the way: "I got your enchanted wind right here, baby.")
After watching carefully for a while, Sofie walked over and started putting ornaments on the tree. What a smart kid!
She really likes the tree. About 85% of the ornaments this year are plastic or fabric ones I picked up on sale after Christmas last year -- things she can't break even if she grabs them off the tree and throws them around -- so it's quite a different look for us this year. I'll show a better picture of the tree as a whole later.
Most of the time I was decorating the tree, Sofie amused herself by emptying out the big plastic bin with the unbreakable ornaments in it, climbing inside it, climbing back out, puttng the ornaments back in it, and repeat from step one. And carrying around the ones she liked, and loudly labelling all the round ornaments as "ball." It was a lot of fun.
A little obsessive-compulsive, this one. :)