The Christmas List

I was going to share my elving list with you today – the good, and the bad. I have scaled back this Christmas, and then scaled back again, and again. There is just so much a third trimester mamma with a sick toddler can do. There are gifts that didn’t get made, gifts that were wrapped in store-bought paper instead of the lovely gift bags I planned to make, some home-made gifts that got put away for next year, recipes that weren’t made.

Instead though, I want to talk about what did happen.

I have had a trying third trimester. But baby is practicing his yoga stretches in my belly as we speak, and is doing well. My little boy has an ear infection, the kid version of a sinus infection, and has been sick for over 2 weeks now. However, he is still his happy go lucky self in between bouts of clinginess. He is saying thank-you unprompted, and has made the transition to a toddler bed proudly and effortlessly.

We had a lovely quiet Christmas in our own home for the first time since we’ve been married (8.5 years.) We tried to give each other thoughtful gifts. Christmas dinner was lamb chops, peas and carrots, and mashed potatoes. Desert was gingerbread with whipped cream. A simple dinner by former standards, but wonderful. And I discovered a new gingerbread recipe I adore. (Unfortunately no pictures.)

My parents came for a visit on boxing day, and will stay for the week. Having them here has been so wonderful. My father finally explained that ISO setting is not the problem after all, and showed me how exposure compensation works. Eureka! My mom and I sat around looking at patterns of beautiful things to make, and a few simpler things I may be able to complete in time for my babies to enjoy before they head off to college.

We had a second Christmas dinner – this time, a grilled turkey. I can tell you that it was the most beautiful and most delicious turkey I have ever eaten. (Again, even with 3 photographers in the house, no pictures.) We ate it with potatoes and roasted brussels sprouts, and my Mom’s amazing pound cake with cherries for dessert. There is enough turkey for several meals in my freezer, and we made stock that will turn into delicious smoky bean soup later this week.

I don’t want to remember how I “failed” at my ridiculous Christmas to-do list. Instead I choose to remember this: Sitting with a sick boy snuggled on my lap while he tells baby brother in my tummy about his new legos. Sitting quietly with my husband, enjoying the eclectic mix of Christmas ornaments we have picked up through our travels. Chatting with my parents about the things we hope to do this coming year, learning new skills from them as they patiently continue to teach my even in my (later) thirties.

If I can carry this lesson with me into the coming years, I have truly received a gift worth having this Christmas. Merry Christmas my friends – and may you too enjoy the quiet moments more.


“It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child”  Pablo Picasso


“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you” Jeremiah 1:5

After a scary night in labor and delivery I’m happy to say my silhouette still looks like that (in fact I’m considerably bigger than in that picture.)

I’m inspired by the generosity and kindness of my friends who stepped up immediately to care for my toddler and even walked my dog.  Thank you, thank you.

December Happiness

I am reading “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin, and I have to say it’s been a while since something resonated with me that much.  Her “epiphany” is one that has happened for me several times over the past few years, but I was too complacent, tired, stressed, and worried (all or some of the above) to do anything about it.  Sure, I make New Year’s Resolutions with the best of them.  I make elaborate to do lists (in spreadsheets, on Remember the Milk…)  Heck, I have even done a month-by–month implementation plan for my resolutions – January is usually about exercise and losing weight, February about clearing paper clutter… You get my drift.

Like the author, I have a wonderful life.  I have a husband who loves me (most of the time.)  I have a little boy that gets more adorable by the day (speaking in sentences!  making rude noises! teasing! making jokes!)  I have a great job, that I (mostly) enjoy.  My family is loving and supportive.  We will have plenty of adventure in our lives this coming year with a new baby and an international move.  I am generally happy.

Honestly though, there are things life that sap my energy and joy.  The clutter/general mess in my house.  The overflowing inbox at my office.  The never-ending financial papers everywhere.  The guilt of not spending enough time with my family.  The very very long to-do list that never seems to get done.

So in December (why wait for January after all?) I will start my own Happiness Project.  And December will be all about establishing a few routines and making a few changes that I hope will start to reduce my stress, and like Gretchen’s January project, restore my energy.

Here’s the list:
December – Reduce Sources of Stress

  • Make the bed.
  • Take a walk (third trimester is not kind right now, so 10-15 minutes will count)
  • Reduce work inbox to zero.
  • Declutter 15 minutes every day.
  • Deal with finances and paperwork for 15 minutes every day
  • Be kind.
  • Celebrate Christmas.
  • Write one sentence in my gratitude journal daily.

Today’s happiness?  My son opening his very first Christmas stocking (handmade by his Grandmother of course) and finding a soft toy Christmas moose.  Pretty cute.