Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

Wordless Wednesday: Matt & Charlie

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

What the Season is All About

Monday, December 21st, 2009
A Wish for Christmas album cover

When someone asks you what good social media can really do, or when they complain to you about the commercialism of Christmas, show them this link.

It really brings home the fact that we all need each other, that social media can bring us together in amazing ways — and that the best way to have a meaningful Christmas is to “get out of yourself.”

A Father’s Gift

Saturday, December 12th, 2009

A Father's Gift

The children’s theater program at our church puts on a Christmas musical every year, and my son has been in these productions since he was 5 years old.

But my husband? He’d never set foot on a stage, and I would have bet the farm that he never would.

But when the choir director asked him if he’d play Santa (with a bunch of lines!) in “Babes in Toyland,” Randy — bless him — said yes. What a wonderful family memory.

Matt gets to play the bad guy, Barnaby, and Santa tells him off and saves the day at the end of the show, which makes it a real hoot.

Thanks, Randy, for being such a great dad and for giving Matt — and me — this wonderful Christmas memory. It’s better than anything we could find under the tree.

What Really Matters In Your Life?

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009


I love stopping by frequently to see what my new friend Stephanie has to say over at Metropolitan Mama. And something she said recently, on the subject of gift buying, gift giving and what really matters in our lives,  caught my attention:

THINGS are so overrated. Things get tossed aside and put under the bed and – eventually – given away. People stick around. People matter. As such, the gift of time is a thousand times more valuable than the most expensive present.”

It’s important to make memories with those we love as opposed to allowing presents to shape occasions, she adds. Instead of concentrating on presents, I think it’s fun to focus in on special experiences. Rather than purchasing a gift, plan a special camping trip or a fancy dress-up dinner or a picnic in the backyard. Spending money on good hiking boots or brilliant watercolors or ingredients for making a cake (WITH your child) is money that is well spent.”

I applaud Stephanie’s values and I think she speaks about them so beautifully. She really lives what she believes. It’s good food for thought as I make my own Christmas gift list.

The Shots That DIDN’T Make the Christmas Card That Year…

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

It’s that time of year again…

I’ve been talking with friends who are trying to get that perfect holiday-card family photo. And that reminded me of the time we decided to take our own family photo for the Christmas card, complete with an (oh-so-sophisticated) white-sheet backdrop. Let’s just say that between the sheet continually falling down, the dog wandering off and the flash on the camera working sporadically, it was a loong afternoon — but funny, now that I look back on it.

Exhibit A (Dad still fiddling with the camera)


Exhibit B (Losing it while Mom fixes the sheet for the 14th time)


Exhibit C (“Do I STILL have to hold Charlie, Mom?”)


And finally - The Winning Shot!


Yep, the sheet was still wrinkled, but what the heck. I still smile when I see that picture.

Why Men Are Never Depressed

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

Yale Varsity line-up (LOC)

A fellow harried mom sent this to me, and I just had to share it. I don't know the author. If you do know who wrote this, please let me know because I'd love to give credit and link love! What mom — what woman — can't relate?

Men Are Just Happier People. What do you expect from such simple creatures?

Your last name stays put. The garage is all yours. Wedding plans
take care of themselves. Chocolate is just another snack. You can be
President. You can never be pregnant.  You can wear a white T-shirt to
a water park. You can wear NO shirt to a water park. Car mechanics
tell you the truth. The world is your urinal. You never have to drive
to another gas station restroom because this one is just too icky.

don’t have to stop and think of which way to turn a nut on a
bolt. Same work, more pay. Wrinkles add character. Wedding dress
$5000. Tux rental-$100. People never stare at your chest when you’re
talking to them. New shoes don’t cut, blister, or mangle your feet. One
mood all the time.  

Phone conversations are over in 30 seconds flat.
You know stuff about tanks. A five-day vacation requires only one
suitcase. You can open all your own jars. You get extra credit for the
slightest act of thoughtfulness. If someone forgets to invite you, he
or she can still be your friend.

Your underwear is $8.95 for a three-pack.  Three pairs of shoes are
more than enough. You almost never have strap problems in public. You
are unable to see wrinkles in your clothes.  Everything on your face
stays its original color. The same hairstyle lasts for years, maybe
decades. You only have to shave your face and neck.

You can play with toys all your life. One wallet and one pair of
shoes — one color for all seasons. You can wear shorts no matter how
your legs look. You can ‘do’ your nails with a pocket knife. You have
freedom of choice concerning growing a mustache.  You can do Christmas
shopping for 25 relatives on December 24 in 25 minutes.

No wonder men are happier.

Let Krista Colvin Help You Get Orgnized For the Holidays

Saturday, November 22nd, 2008

I love Krista Colvin's organizational tips, and she's got a terrific post for the holidays (about gift hiding) over at Real Simple.

Krista is a lifestylist and organizing maven who "wouldn’t be caught without lipstick, a morning cup o' joe + fabulous girlfriends." My kind of gal! She writes a fun, helpful blog, Organize in Style, and she's the creator of The Shebang - The Smart Woman's Guide to Doing it All! (See the link on Organize in Style.)

No pressure, Krista, but I plan to follow all your great tips and turn myself into a fabulously organized, on-top-of-it-all woman in 2009! So keep 'em coming.

Bursting with Milk, Smelling Like Coleslaw: One New Mom’s Journey

Friday, October 24th, 2008

The baby monitor started squawking as I finished the dinner dishes. Walking into his room, I found my 10-month-old son, Matthew, sobbing and clutching the crib railing.

We settled into the rocking chair, the glow from the night light shining across his pudgy cheeks, highlighting a tear and a quivering chin. As we rocked and I hummed a lullaby, I could feel Matt’s weight sink into my chest. With each rocking movement, he let go a bit more, until, with his trademark little shudder-sigh, he fell asleep.

It was a scene I dreamed about when I was expecting. That is, when I wasn’t devouring pregnancy books. I didn’t have to be hit over the head with a breast pump to get the message: It’s All About Bonding.

Talk to my baby in the womb? Check. Play music that he will recognize later? Check. (I even bought a tape, “Yosemite Sounds,” to commemorate the vacation my husband and I took while I was pregnant.)

But these were small potatoes compared with the two mommy-baby-bonding biggies: natural childbirth and blissful breastfeeding.

I never missed a Lamaze or breastfeeding class. I even stopped by a La Leche League meeting, looking for tips. By my eighth month, I was more than ready to bond with my little guy, who was probably ready to bolt from the womb screaming “Mom, enough with the Yosemite tape!”

Somehow my well-planned birthing experience turned into 32-hours of labor, an hour of pushing and finally — with the mother-to-be cursing and “hee” breathing all the way to the operating room — an emergency C-section three days before Christmas.

So much for placing the naked baby on my chest while my husband and I wipe away tears of joy.

Actually, there were tears of joy. And I did get to touch my son while the doctors sewed me up. But I could almost feel the experts’ disapproval.

In the Bonding Olympics, breastfeeding wasn’t our strongest event, either. After consulting with two obstetricians, three lactation specialists and one nurse, I still found myself in a frustrating, exhausting, every-two-hour cycle of pumping milk while my husband fed Matthew with an eye dropper. I think we all were relieved when, after several weeks of round-the-clock angst, we threw in the towel and switched to formula, at our pediatrician’s suggestion.

But even quitting was no picnic. I had to bind my chest to decrease milk production, but my breasts still ached miserably. Then I read somewhere that applying cabbage leaves could reduce swelling. So there I stood in the kitchen, in tears, holding cabbage leaves to my breasts while my husband wrapped my chest with an Ace bandage.

Looking back, I can laugh. But standing there in the kitchen, full of milk, pain and guilt, I felt like a failure. By the experts’ accounts, I had blown it big time.

Never mind that I held my newborn son on Christmas eve as we listened to carolers singing “Silent Night” outside our hospital room.

Or that, after bringing him home on Christmas Day, we’d spend evenings in the living room, lights off, listening to Bing Crosby while Matthew clutched my finger and stared, wide-eyed, at the twinkling tree lights.

And never mind that he gazed into my face as we snuggled in his grandma’s afghan for 3 a.m. feedings, with Matthew eating happily until every part of his tiny body was asleep except for his bottom lip, which kept making little sucking movements.

Never mind that 10-month-old boy who nestled peacefully against my chest that night as we rocked, heartbeat-to-heartbeat. Or the happy squeals that greeted me the next morning. Or that little tango we do that makes him giggle in anticipation of the “dip” at the end. Or the hundred other simple ways we weave ourselves into each other’s hearts.

When it comes to “proper” bonding with my son, the experts would probably throw the book at me.

But finally, I can honestly tell myself, it’s OK. After all, my sweet Matthew, you and I didn’t do it by the book.

Holiday Family Photo Tips: Part 2

Sunday, November 25th, 2007

Yesterday, we talked about ways to include yourself in your family’s holiday photos. But of course — let’s admit it — much of the time you’ll still be the one taking those family photos. And in her gem of a book, Mom’s Little Book of Photo Tips, author Lisa Bearnson offers the non-technical photography ideas we’ve all been looking for. The suggestions here can be used right away, with any camera. Just thumbing through the book got my creative juices flowing. Here are some tips to get you started (and they’ll work both at the holidays and all year long):

°    Get great group shots. To add symmetry to your shot, try having your group pop up over a fence or peek out from behind a big tree. Or give everyone something similar (and fun) to wear, such as sports gear, pajamas or Santa hats. Another nice look: Have your subjects wear the same fabric and color, such a blue denim with white shirts.

°     Try black and white. Every baby deserves a roll of black and white film, Bearnson says. It evens out skin tones and gives portraits a timeless feel. When shooting black-and-white film, use natural light and move in close to baby’s face to avoid distracting details. (This photo shows Matthew, now age 11, at one day old.)

°    Look up.
Shooting upward in the outdoors often means you can place your child against a clear winter sky — a beautiful, bright-blue backdrop unhampered by clutter on the ground. Be sure to position your subject to minimize squinty eyes and dark shadows. And try putting your camera on the ground below your child and pressing the shutter. (Don’t bend over the camera, though, or you’ll get in the shot.)

°    Surround your child’s face.
Jumping into a ball pit full of colorful balls, enjoying a bubble bath, making a snow fort… In a child’s life, there are many opportunities for total immersion. When you see your child’s face popping up through a pile of balls, snow or bubbles, grab your camera and get in close. Use a zoom if you have one. And remember, water and snow have reflective properties that brighten photos.