Thursday, December 23, 2010


It's our first Christmas with Picklebug and we are so excited to share some of our favorite family traditions with him.

When I was growing up there were lots of things I looked forward to each year around the holidays.  For example, sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas my dad would drag out the plastic light-up nativity scene and arrange it in our front yard.

Like this one - except my Jesus was wrapped in an old towel for added authenticity.

I also knew that about a week before Christmas my mom and dad would hop into my dad's truck and head out to find a Christmas tree.  And forget the traditional Frasier fir - my parents didn't believe in buying a Christmas tree.  Instead they would drive around town until the spotted a suitable bushy cypress tree in someone's cow pasture.  We always breathed a sigh of relief when they got it home without getting caught.

But some of my favorite traditions were the simple things we did each year.

I loved how my Mom always made a little paper chain out of Christmas ribbon for my brother and I to use to count down the days until Christmas.  The chain had 25 links, and every night starting on December 1st we would get to cut a link from the chain before we went to bed.

I also loved how we would always eat dinner and open presents with my Grandma V on Christmas Eve.  And afterwards we would gather in our living room and watch "A Christmas Carol" (ONLY the one with George C. Scott of course) before heading off to bed.

P.S. This particular tradition was so deeply ingrained in me that it presented a major dilemma when my parents separated.  The only way my brother and I could resolve it was by watching the movie twice; once at Mom's house and then again when we got to Dad's house.

P.P.S.  Frank Finlay as the Ghost of Jacob Marley gave me nightmares as a child.

Taking all of these special memories into account and keeping in mind all the special feelings I still feel when I see a bushy Cypress tree growing along highway 18, MG and I knew it would be important to establish some of our own traditions for Picklebug.

One of the things we decided to do was spend Christmas Eve and Christmas morning here in VA as a family before packing up and driving south to visit with family.  We didn't want to get lost in all the chaos that typically takes place in my childhood home - especially when all four of my brothers are there.

 Our plan was to do presents with each other on Christmas Eve and then do presents with Picklebug on Christmas morning.

But due to the fact that neither myself nor MG are very good waiting to open gifts - and because we are VERY good at coming up with excuses to do things our way - we've already given PB most of his Christmas presents.

And thank goodness we did.

By giving PB some of his presents early we learned two things:

1.  Always take the gift out of the packaging and assemble it BEFORE you try to get an 11 month old to play with it.  Otherwise he'll think the box is the gift.

2.  With little kids you have to PACE YOURSELF.

We only got Picklebug 6 or 7 gifts - and most of them were "little gifts" like a book and a ball.  But after the rush of ripping paper off of a bright new toy (especially the ones that make noise) PB is NOT interested in opening something else. It's just too much stimulation.  After we gave him his See-N-Say he didn't want to look at anything else for at least 30 minutes!

So we decided to spread out the rest of his gifts over the next two days.   Tonight we let him have his BIG (pre-assembled) present - the LittlePeople Wheelies Stand 'n Play Rampway.

Don't you love the wrapping?  :)

And after all the excitement - he let us know he'd had enough.

Merry Christmas!


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Evening News

The following conversation happened at 5:23pm on December 11, 2010.

Radio: "... in other news Sister Marie Thornton, was charged with embezzling $850,000 from Iona College in New Rochelle, N.Y. during her time as chief financial officer..."

MG:  "Did they really just say a NUN embezzled $850,000?  Wow.  I wonder what she needed the money for..."

Me: "I don't know... maybe she had a bad habit?"

Bwah hah ha hah ha!



Friday, December 10, 2010

What's for dinner?

As far back as I can remember dinner time has always been a time of stressful decision making.  Growing up next door to my Grandma Vivian had lots of perks, including the fact that she would cook dinner for our whole family 3-4 nights a week - but she would always call the night before and ask "what should I make for dinner?"  As a young person I would roll my eyes and wonder why she insisted on calling and demanding our help in planning the menu.  Why couldn't she just make something?

In college dinner time didn't get any easier.  The campus dining hall provided SO MANY options it was hard to decide.  Especially when the options included cheese or frosting. 

Early in my relationship with MG it became clear that dinner time would continue to be an issue.  I can't tell you how many of our evening conversations went around in circles -

Me: What do you want for dinner?
MG: I don't know.  What do you want?
Me: What do we have?
MG: Pickles, bread, raisins, jell-o and sesame seeds
Me:  Well I don't want any of that.
MG: Then what do you want?
Me:  I don't know.  What do you want?

In fact, I blame my weight problem on those many nights of indecision that eventually led to the old standby: Papa Johns.

As if deciding on and making dinner weren't hard enough - we now have the bonus challenge of feeding a baby.  And you can't always fall back on pizza with babies.  They tend to choke on the pepperoni.

It was deceptively easy in the beginning.  I would grab a jar of  orange mush labeled "sweet potatoes and beef" (YUM!), pop the lid and shovel little bite-size blobs into Picklebugs mouth.  But then we made the mistake of letting him taste real food at Thanksgiving - and our laid-back, easy-to-please baby has become a food connoisseur.

Last night I buckled PB into his high chair, snapped on his bib and walked to the pantry to get his dinner.  All the while he's banging his tiny fists on the tray, kicking his feet and smacking his lips in anticipation.  I pop the lid on a fresh jar of vegetable chicken and extended a spoonful of mush - to which Picklebug responded with a loud "BAHP!"  He wrinkled his nose, pursed his lips and defended his little baby mouth with both hands.  When I took the offending glob away from his face he pointed at the fridge with another "BHHAAAP!"

Lucky for me the fridge held more than pickles and raisins.  So Wednesday night's leftover spaghetti allowed me to narrowly escape a food war with a feisty 11 month old. 

But come 6pm tonight I will have to once again come face to face with this hungry little monster - and I'll once again face that ever lingering question: What's for dinner?