There was laundry to be done, and a checkbook to be balanced.  There was also a little boy sitting at the dining room table, patiently lining a muffin pan with silicone cupcake liners.

So I decided to introduce him to baking.  He is at the stage now where his vocabulary and curiosity explodes exponentially every day.

“What that,” he says.  “Mixer” I answer.  “Miher?” (pointing.)  “Yes, mixer.  Look, we put some butter and sugar in here.  Would you like to turn it on?”  I lift him high enough to touch the knobs.  “Miher,” he squeals as it comes to life.  He insists on watching me crack eggs into a custard cup one by one, and then I guide his chubby little hands to drop the egg into the batter.

I sift flour and cocoa powder.  “What that?”  Flour and chocolate for making our cakes.  “Fower?”  he points at the daisies in a vase on the table.  “Close enough, “ I laugh.  Let’s add this to the mixer.  “Miher,” he squeals.  The process of mixing becomes long and boring to a 19 month old, and I’m about to lose his interest.  The batter is dark – almost black.  “Would you like to taste?” I conspire in a whisper – trying to pull him back in.

I show him how to drag a finger across the spatula.  He is unsure as he touches his finger to his mouth.  Soon, his whole face is covered in dark batter, and he tries to lick his hand, but can’t figure out how to get his tongue far enough out of his mouth.

I let him hand me the empty cupcake liners, fill them with batter, and place them in the pan.  “Cake?” he says every time I fill another cup, trying to be sneaky about the finger dipping repeatedly into the blue cupcake liner in the front corner.  “Cake,” I answer, grinning with the pleasure of introducing him to something new.

Soon, I put the pans in the oven.  “Hot” I warn.  “Hot,” he mimics.  He sits in front of the oven, watching the cupcakes rise the entire 14 minutes – a long, long time for such a little boy.

It is magic.

My Happiness Project in January

My focus this month is on spiritual growth.  I’m sure this means many different things to many different people, so I’m not going to discuss it at length.  Anne Lamott says there are only two prayers necessary: “help me” and “thank you.”

Here are my goals:

  • Read a devotional daily  (I chose one I can read on my phone – less excuses)
  • Ask for help when I feel overwhelmed
  • Write one sentence in my gratitude journal daily
  • Say grace at mealtimes

Not related, but related to my annual goals:

  • Take a picture every day (I started a personal 366 project)

From my December list I will keep the following habits:

  • Make the bed.
  • Declutter 15 minutes every day.
  • Deal with finances and paperwork for 15 minutes every day
  • Be kind.

Today’s happiness?  Watching my son “read” a book to the dog.  It was pretty sweet.

This is Vital – 2012

It’s my favorite day of the year – the one where I typically start a shiny new planner, shiny new resolutions, and feel hopeful about the progress I will be making this year.

It’s a bit complicated to plan too much for this year.  We have two life-changing events to prepare for: the arrival of our second child, and an international move.  While there is much to plan for both, much cannot be planned.  I have no delusions that I’ll be in control of my schedule with a newborn around.  There is also much that is still uncertain about the move; we will simply have to roll with the punches.

However, I do have a few areas of my life I want to focus on improving this year.  I’ll define them by my most important roles:

Wife:  I have some personal goals in this area – being more mindful and present for example.  I need to read a few books before I make a specific list.

Mother:  This will be a huge motherhood year for me.  If all goes well, I’m giving birth to our second boy in February.  My firstborn will turn two in March.  I have to guide them both through an international move, not to mention the many milestones they will experience this year.  I want to plan more specific activities with my older son, and plan for some one-on-one time with him after the baby arrives.  I want to breastfeed the baby for a year – something that seems simple and intuitive but requires much planning with our working lifestyle.

Family and Friends:  with the move coming up I want to be better about keeping in touch with people, updating through social media where appropriate, and sending birthday cards.

Photographer and writer:  I have spectacular camera equipment, but sadly my equipment outguns my skill.  I will spend more time with my photography this year – I have a 366 project in mind, and have a stack of books I should actually read instead of just dust once a week.  I am pretty happy that I have maintained the blog for almost a year, but want to be more consistent about posting schedules.

I also have goals related to my spiritual life, profession, and various other things.  Of course I have the usual resolutions: eat healthier, exercise more, be more mindful of our budget.  You will see these general areas again, as I will be combining my version of The Happiness Project with my resolutions.

I’m off to write a few birthdays in my new self-designed and printed planner – I’ll be back to talk about January’s Happiness project tomorrow.

PS: You may see a few backdated posts show up over the next week.  I have a bunch of posts sitting in my draft folder waiting for the correct pictures.  Due to technical difficulties involving a much too small hard drive and a much too slow computer, I have been unable to get pictures off my camera for a while.  Rather than waste the effort I’m going to do a bit of retroactive posting.