Tags: Children, Christmas, Dogs, Family, Growing Up, Holidays, Lights, Outdoors, Photography
“Live in rooms full of light.” — Cornelius Celsus
Our lights are up. Our tree is lit. Until yesterday, though, we were still taking Christmas pictures in short sleeves and sandals. The cold front finally blew in overnight, so it’s finally, finally, beginning to feel like December. And the only thing under the tree? Our fat napping cat. But we’re getting into the spirit by eating our weight in candy canes and soaking up the light of the season — whether it comes from the neighbor’s electric reindeer or the gleam in Lollipop’s eye as she crafts her thank-you note to Santa: “Dear Santa, Thank you for the presits. I love them.” (Can’t hurt to plan ahead, right?)
What’s your favorite Christmas-light color? Is someone furry sleeping under your tree? And what kind of “presits” do you want this year?
See more light at Beth’s.
Tags: Children, Christmas, Expats, Family, Holidays, Outdoors, Photography, Travel, Vienna
“The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.” — Buddy the Elf
We’re in Vienna for Christmas, part of a 10-day vacation that will also take us to Slovakia and Hungary. The best part? Navigating the city by bus, subway train, and trolley. The worst part? Walking to, from, and between the various buses, trains, and trolleys. I’m newly back on two feet and still achy and slow. The kids take about twice as many steps as we do on their tiny little legs. And the baby wants nothing to do with the stroller, which we would all give our earmuffs to ride in. To keep the mood light (and occasionally drown out the crying) as we traverse the city on our way to the Butterfly House or the Riesenrad or the nearest mulled wine vendor, we sing Christmas carols. Lollipop and Giggles take turns belting out the Romanian ones they have learned at preschool, arguing over who’s pronouncing the words better. My husband and I opt for standards like “Jingle Bells” and “Rudolph.” And Bun chimes in with the occasional “Hooah!” or mitten toss. We’re spreading Christmas cheer — and handfuls of Cheerios — uptown, downtown, and through town.
What’s your favorite Christmas carol? Ever sung it loud for all to hear? Ever made it through a winter vacation without losing someone’s glove, scarf, muffler, blanket, or hat?
See more festive photos at Beth’s on Thursday.
Tags: Architecture, Christmas, City Life, Expats, Holidays, Outdoors, Photography, Romania, Winter
“In the right light, at the right time, everything is extraordinary.” — Aaron Rose
By sunlight or starlight or streetlight, this city is extraordinary. Sure, there are potholes. And terrible traffic. And run-down buildings. But around every corner there is something, something extraordinary, waiting to be found and photographed. The live sheep in the city nativity. The line of taxis in the piaţa. The flower stands near Mihai Viteazul. Everywhere, there is something. If only I remember to look.
Bask in more light at Beth’s on Thursday.
Tags: Challenges, Christmas, Crafts, Creativity, Expats, Holidays, Perfection, Pinterest, Romania
Reason #173 I miss the USA: Michaels.
Aisles and aisles of ribbon. (Solids. Polk dots. Stripes. Glitter. Wired or nonwired.) Tubs of buttons. Tubes of finger paint. Bags of beads. Yarn. Pipe cleaners. Felt. Hot glue, Elmer’s glue, fabric glue, wood glue, tacky glue, glue sticks.
I better stop before I make myself cry.
See, I don’t have any of the other crafty goodness I mentioned above. I’m having to improvise. To let go of perfection. To lower my creative standards. And be cheerful about it. (You saw how that turned out with the reindeer.)
Add pages and pages of Pinterest craft ideas tempting me with descriptions like “quick,” “simple,” “adorable,” and “no-sewing required.” I’ve spent the week feeling like a big fat 3/4-inch-circle-scrapbook-punch-less crafting failure.
Like I said: Big. Fat. Feltless. Failure. Until I saw this one.
I turned on Christmas Vacation and watched Clark fumble his way through twinkle lights as I made pompoms from one of the two precious skeins of yarn I had brought with me from the States. I wrapped-and-tied-and-cut-and-strung and wrapped-and-tied-and-cut-and-strung and wrapped-and-tied-and-cut-and-strung all the way through the pass-the-Tylenol speech.
And then I put my garland on the tree. And it was lovely.
But the best part? It’s fabricat în România. By me.
Now, what was I saying about Michaels??
How do you let go of perfection? Are you a crafty person? And what store would you miss most if you moved far away?
Tags: Challenges, Children, Christmas, Creativity, Expats, Family, Fun, Imagination, Motherhood, Relationships
We got a Christmas tree this weekend. (Are we nuts, or what?)
And we put it together. I’m sitting on the couch looking at it right now. (Are we really nuts, or what?)
But Lollipop and Giggles got so excited about it. I’m talking jumping-up-and-down-hands-clapping-tiny-voices-squealing-Christmas-is-magic-is-Santa-coming-tonight excited. How could we say no?
And then, while my husband was sleeping off a sinus infection and longing for Mucinex, the kids and I made ornaments. I scoured Pinterest for ideas. I even pulled out the glitter pens and bag of confetti sparkles I had been saving for when the first blizzard comes and we’re snowed into our apartment surrounded by Lego towers and put-together puzzles and longing for pizza delivery.
I found an equally easy and adorable idea for hand-print reindeer. I mapped out the logistics in my head and made substitutions for the supplies we didn’t have. (Interestingly, Romania does not stock googly eyes.) I gathered the children and traced their beautiful hands on brown foam. They chose pipe cleaners for antlers (purple for Lollipop, red for Giggles). And off we went.
Mommy and her darlings sitting ’round the table crafting together. Just as I had planned.
They decided to give their reindeer red-glitter eyes. They glued heart and bow sparkles on the collar where the gold sequins/bells should have gone. They squirted glob after glob of teal glitter-glue on the reindeer bodies. When Giggles slapped a green birthday cake on his reindeer face, I made one of those low guttural growls I’m pretty sure lions make before they pounce on an unsuspecting antelope herd.
Every bone in my mothering body (even the broken one) wanted to “correct” them. To remind them of the adorable finished product we were shooting for. To tell them that reindeer do not, in fact, have bling on their hooves.
I didn’t. I kept my mouth shut. It was very, very hard.
As the dominating perfectionist corner of my brain battled with the teeny-tiny enclave of spontaneity a few synapses over, I watched my children laughing, thinking, and sharing. I watched them exclaim over sparkles shaped like flowers and stars and footprints and witches on brooms. I watched them have fun.
Two hours of fun. How could I interrupt that, simply because they weren’t doing it “my” way? It was a hard mothering lesson, one of those that reminds you you’re raising creatures with fragile spirits that need nurturing, not a manicured iron fist.
If I’m honest, I can’t say I’m entirely pleased with the finished product. But they are. And even my perfectionist brain knows that’s most important.
Besides, I bet Picasso’s mom felt the same way from time to time. And look how that turned out.
When it comes to parenting, how do you do what you know is right, instead of what you want? How do you nurture your children’s creativity? What are your favorite Christmas crafts?
Tags: Babies, Children, Christmas, Christmas Tree, Curiosity, Family, Holidays, Kids, Ornaments, Photography
And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow,
Stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so?
It came without ribbons. It came without tags.
It came without packages, boxes, or bags.
And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before.
What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store?
What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?
— Dr. Seuss
What was your favorite moment this Christmas?
Tags: Children, Christmas, Fun, Holidays, Imagination, Kids, Play, Presents, Snow, Surprises
Tiny fingers turned wrapping paper into confetti like it was an Olympic sport.
Santa visited two children and one stuffed bunny. (Bun got a bye.)
After 11 consecutive viewings of the Word World holiday special, everyone in the house could recite it from memory.
Giggles pooped in the potty. It was a Christmas miracle.
In a last-minute crafting project, one finger was accidentally hole-punched. No one swore — another Christmas miracle.
Lollipop has not spoken since opening her new Leapster. Her hand-eye coordination skills, however, have already improved exponentially.
Bun ate a bow. Almost.
My children and I celebrated our first white Christmas. I remembered to marvel at the snow.
Jelly beans and Reese’s peanut-butter cups were eaten for breakfast.
And a rug caught fire.
What were the highlights from your Christmas? What toy was the big hit in your house? And did anything go up in flames?
Tags: Children, Christmas, Family, Food, Fun, Holidays, Joy, Kids, Motherhood, Poetry
Haiku Friday: Joy
Joy is glue on each
Finger after making the
Star for the tree top.
Joy is twenty-three
Ornaments steadfastly crammed
on one sagging branch.
Joy is fudge straight from
The pan and sprinkles licked off
the kitchen counter.
Joy is retrieving
Brown boxes from the porch and
Guessing what’s inside.
Joy is piling on
Warm blankets and belting out
Carols at bedtime.
Joy is seeing my
Children believe and finding
That I still do, too.
What does joy mean to you? Wishing you a wonderful Christmas!
Tags: Children, Christmas, Christmas Tree, Family, Fun, Growing Up, Holidays, Outdoors, Poetry, Traditions
Haiku Friday: A Cut Above the Rest
They spot it when the
Jeep first pulls off the paved road.
“That one, Pawpaw! There!”
Coats zipped, hats smooshed down,
Hands stuffed in mittens, they skip
To the chosen one.
They pause. They confer.
With heads tilted, eyes sharp, they
Examine each branch.
They grin, their faces
Twinkling like tufts of tinsel.
Yes, we have our tree.
What are your family’s holiday traditions? Have you decorated your tree yet? Do you go for real or artificial trees — and why?