Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Holiday Ramblings

I know this pic is blurry, but I just love it of the boys together, in their jammies, choosing a Christmas Eve present to open. Also, if you look to the left, you can see our couch; we live in such a tiny house that the tree is in the entry, and the stockings are hung (with care, of course) on the back of that couch:

It's been a great Christmas, with family visiting, and Santa, and all. I love how Owen plays with toys - he took and built a big playset out of all the different gifts he got. Here's the front:

And the back:

Another big hit was yo-yos from Santa. My Dad, as a boy, won prizes for his amazing yo-yo abilities, and so he got to teach his grandchildren a thing or two with the yo-yo (while the rest of us got out of the way!)

Luke, above, walking the dog. And Owen, below, with Ben winding his yo-yo.

It turns out that this was one of Ben's rare moments out of the basement, where he has been feverishly working to drywall as part of the remodel that's going to make our house somewhat less tiny, with my Dad helping out too. Here're a few pics of Owen and Luke, helping Grandpa put in some drywall screws:

We haven't spent as much time with my nephews (and their folks :-( as we would have liked, because they were sick over there, as is my Mom over here. When she started with a cold, she asked for Cece Soup ("As in Cheech and Chong?" asked Luke when he heard about the soup - we've been listening to their extremely funny skit about Santa Claus and His Old Lady, so he recognized the name). If anyone in your house is sick, Cece Soup might be just the ticket to help them get better, so I'm giving you the recipe:

Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil with 1Tbsp butter in your soup pot on med-low until the butter melts. Then add one chopped garlic clove and 1/2 tsp crushed rosemary, and heat until the garlic is golden, about 2 minutes.

Add 4 Tbsp of spaghetti sauce, and then simmer on low heat for ten minutes; in my recipe I have written that this is "v. important!" so don't skip it.

Then add 4 cups of rinsed canned chick peas (these are the cece, for any of you non-Italians out there) and 4 cups of chicken stock, and heat until boiling. In a separate pot, cook 1/2 a cup of tiny pasta (we like alpha-bits) for five minutes or so, until they are done; drain them and put them in the soup.

Serve hot, with lots of grated Romano cheese and some pepper on top. It is so good, just the thing for chasing away a cold.

Music has also made this a great Christmas; my newlywed brother and his wife made us a great Christmas mix, which includes some older songs that I haven't heard since I was small, and whole slew of songs that I've never heard but that we are all growing to love. Maybe you've heard the Jack Johnson version of 'Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,' which is so awesome? It's always bugged me that Rudolph is only loved after the other reindeer find that he's useful to them, and Jack Johnson's final verse addresses that:

But Rudolph, he didn't go for that, he said, "I see through your silly game/ How can you look me in the face when only yesterday you called me names?"

All of the other reindeer, man, well they sure did feel ashamed/ "Rudolph you know we're sorry/ We're truly gonna try.... to change"

As always, the holidays are going by way too fast. I hope yours have been wonderful, and that your 2010 is too!

Monday, December 21, 2009

New England at Its Best

This is what our front yard looks like in July:

And, it's pretty good. But it is also hot, and humid, and for a transplanted Canadian like me (admittedly, I was transplanted a long time ago, but still!), I prefer the front yard when it looks like this:

As is does right now. Here are some more pics of the boys out in the snow:

They are having so much fun, and they don't even know yet about the marshmallows waiting to go into their hot chocolate when they get back inside.

Friday, December 18, 2009

A Simple Twist of Fate

Well! I have a new obsession, and the funny thing is, I didn't see this one coming at all. It is knitting:

That up there is the first thing I ever knit, a hat for Owen's Teddy. I knitted it last Thursday, two days after a friend said, "You're not a knitter? That's a suprise..." Those innocently uttered sentences were the flint and, when combined with the steel of hubby's question, "what're you going to put on your wish list for Christmas this year?" they sparked the unexpected wild fire that is knitting.

One trip to the library, plus the snagging of a pair of knitting needles later, and I produced this excellent hat over the weekend:

I knitted it from yarn that we had around the house, hence its Free-Bowl-of-Soup-With-That-Hat look. I love it, and find myself wanting to keep the house extra-cold so that I have an excuse to wear it inside.

Finally, on the grounds that if I'm going to put knitting stuff on my wish list, I'd better 'make sure' that I do really want to keep up with it, I went out and purchased wool to make a sweater for myself - gotta be my own guinea pig! And now I am hooked (not just on knitting but evidently on bad puns, as well).

The best book I've found on the subject is one I can't even say the name of around the children, Stitch 'N B**ch: The Knitter's Handbook. It is funny, answers knitting questions in the right order, and has some really cool patterns too. If only I didn't have to hide the cover all the time!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Sayin' It With Photographs

Cristina over at Home Spun Juggling got me thinking about holiday pictures a few weeks back. So, I decided to post a photo essay of the pics we've sent out every year since Luke was born, back in 2000.

I look at them now and think, 'they were never that small!' But of course they were, making this trip down memory lane even more amazing to me, who was there.

Luke, at about four months.

When he was about 16 months - not walking yet, but he loved to balance on his tootsies!

A friend took this of us in our backyard - Ben and I have changed somewhat since then too!

Luke at three - when he saw this pic a few minutes ago, he got all nostalgic telling Owen about the amazing leaf piles we used to have at our old house. Nostalgic for him, maybe, but not for the grown-ups who had to rake all those oak leaves!

In this one, Luke is four and Owen is about six months old.

Our five- and one-year-olds, on a hike in the New Hampshire mountains.

The Halloween that Luke was six and Owen was two.

The boys with Jeffrey the Snowman in 2007

Luke and Owen last year, at ages eight and four.

And now they are nine and five. Amazing how time flies, isn't it?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

In Which I Get Mushy About My Youngest

Now, I love them both, very much, and just because I am writing tearfully about Owen, that in no way is meant to suggest that Luke isn't every bit as wonderful. It's just that, right now, Owen's really tugging at the heartstrings, know what I mean?

From december 09

For starters, he wants to knit his favorite teddy a scarf.

From december 09

Then, a few weeks ago when the horsey in this pic above required 'surgery,' because Owen had been too rough with him, he was just overcome with regret. He cried and apologized again and again to Horsey, and was consoled only when I started talking in a Texas-type accent, saying "Aww, it's okay there little guy, ah furgive yeh..."

Sometimes he'll just come out of nowhere with these amazing sayings, like when he started to be afraid of the dark and one night, just after we'd given him a flashlight with rechargeable batteries, he tearfully whimpered, "I've always loved the way that bright light shines."

And then the other day, when we were out in the (prepare yourself, Topsy!) snow, he looked up into the sky, then at his newly-shoveled 'Planet Hoth Hide-Out,' and then at me - and said simply, "Mom - snow is joy."

I ask you, isn't that something to mush over, at least every once in a while?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Holiday Prep

Isn't our door thingy cute? I am proud to say that I made it. The greens come mostly from our Christmas tree, with a few fronds from our yard. The ribbon has been kicking around for years, and three of the four ornaments Owen and I thrifted a week or so ago are wired onto it. Here is a heartbreakingly adorable chat that he and I had as I finished up the door thingy (anybody know what it's actually called?):

Owen: "Hey! This ornament wants to go up on the door with her sisters and brothers!"

Me: "Honey, we do this kind of decoration with three ornaments. That one can go on the tree, and she'll see her sisters and brothers every time the door opens."

Owen (speaking in the ornament's voice): "But I will miss them! I want to be with my family!"

Me (thinking, why didn't I just buy the three? ... oh yeah, because I wanted to keep all four together, like a family. I remember having that thought in the thrift shop.): "Your family are very close by - you'll see them every time the door opens!"

The Ornament: "Oh, you're right! I am glad I will see them."

These little windows into Owen's mind are always so interesting.

Here are some more prep pictures:

When I was a kid, we made an advent calendar out of wrapping paper chain links. And now that I'm the mom, we still do it:

From the kids' perspective:

Here's the Santa and reindeer that my Mom made and then placed on our mantel every year from when I was small:

Last year, my Mom gave it to me, since she and my Dad come here from their Colorado home for the holidays. Every time I look at it I get a little thrill.

Here is the tree - the 'sister' ornament is in the lower middle:

It is sort of skinny, totally asymmetrical, and still too big to fit into our tiny house. And like every year, I just love it.

As we made our preparations, the weather hadn't even dipped below forty degrees in many weeks and it still felt like fall. Then the day we got our tree, we also got our first snowfall!

Now we're ready.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

December Carnival of Unschooled Life

I know December is a busy month, but I hope you take a few minutes to go check out the Carnival of Unschooled Life at Susan's The Expanding Life blog.

I enjoyed all the posts, but I think my favorite this month has to be "You're Not Really an Unschooler Until Somebody Calls The Cops," posted at Roots and Wings. And, I think my favorite part of the post is the way that the cops reacted! It cracked me up.