Abundance, part one.

So Christmas has marked another year, and it was yet another good one!  My most wonderful BFF and husband extraordinaire was absent from the day time celebrations this year on Christmas Eve and Christmas day because he’s one of the good ones, and he was helping his patients in the hospital.  We knew that working in an ICU would mean nights, weekends and some holidays, because for some reason life-threatening illnesses don’t ever seem to take any time off (weird, right?) and we both have been on board with that from the beginning.  This was one of those holidays, and I sought consolation in knowing that if ever someone I loved had to be in the hospital over a major holiday, or any day of the week for that matter, I would feel so grateful to the men and women that gave up time with their family to help tend to mine.  And I do feel that way, really and truly.  That being said, everything in my life is that much better when Drew is there, and Christmas is no exception.  So while we had a fantastic day ridiculously rife with abundance and good cheer to boot, unlike years past, the best moment of Christmas day was not the excited rush to the living room in the morning, or the clasping of hands before our good meal, but it was the snowy hug at the end of the day as Drew made it home safely and we were able to wish each other a merry Christmas in person.  I love that guy, I really do.

Knowing that we were taking a different approach to the holidays, Drew and I were very very very lucky and thankful to be able to accept a gift of dinner and a night away on the 23rd at a nearby B&B, The Clifton Inn.  My parents kindly kept Asher for most of the day and over night, and Drew and I spent the afternoon at the movies with an ungodly amount of sushi nestled between us (sorry if any of you work for Regal Cinemas, but we promise that we were very neat).  We saw the newest Cohen Bros movie, True Grit, which left us with plenty to talk about after.  From there we dashed off to the Clifton where we were greeted with a surprise announcement of an upgrade to a sublime suite.  This of course was cause for celebration, so we ordered martinis to sip on and read out loud to each other from our favorite Christmas book, Holidays on Ice, by David Sedaris.  From there we were treated to a heavenly meal with too many course options to list, but let’s just say that it all began with homemade pork belly ravioli and ended over a gorgeous cheese plate and some chocolate mousse that left me speechless.  Drew tiptoed out in the wee hours to slip off to the hospital, and I woke up later to croissants, the Washington Post, and visions of sugar plums dancing in my head.  It was all, in a word, divine.

With a full belly and a rested mind, I bustled out to my Mom’s with homemade peppermint ice cream and last minute gifts in tow (while listening to this fabulous broadcast about A Christmas Carol on the radio program, On Point) and from there we settled into our favorite annual routine of prepping food for the next day, listening to an endless stream of Christmas carols, and sipping on a little champagne.  My sister Shelle and her family arrived that afternoon and we had a really delicious and luxrious Christmas Eve meal with family friends at their bed and breakfast, Fallen Oak.  Fast forward to Christmas night, Drew’s blustery return (we did get a white Christmas in these parts) piles of wrapping paper and big smiles all around, and all Drew and I could do was whisper to one another, “we dwell in abundance” as we collapsed into bed and fell asleep listening to the sweet sounds of Asher’s sleeping body in the crib next to us.

Drew’s absence provided me, us, with an essential perspective in this holiday season of indulgence, and that is, every day is Christmas around here.  We are (mostly) excited about the promise of every day, we always seem to have gifts waiting for us in one way or another, and Drew is always quick to say how thankful he is for our health, a very real statement of gratitude from a man who deeply understands what loosing one’s health can actually mean.  For a weekend that was marked with beautiful, thoughtful and really fun gifts, with an endless stream of rich and filling food, with twinkling lights, glowing candles, and that precious sound of a child sucking in air in delight as he sees what’s under the wrapping paper, with laughing and clinking silverware and glasses, and with the feeling of loving and being loved, it seems that we might be pushing our luck a little to say that we needed to be physically together to appreciate it any more.  Drew’s work in the hospital is a near daily meditation on what really matters in this world, and you combine that with the abundance and glow of this special time of year, and I am left wondering how we will ever offer an adequate thanks for all that we have.  But I will keep trying, and I will try here too: Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.

The death and devouring of Mr. Torrance Lewis Turkeyleg, Esq.

The players:

That’s right folks, we named the bird, soaked him in a brine, roasted him, boiled his neck and other various innards and danced around his delicious smelling body the whole time.  No wait.  I mean, we said Thank You, thank you Torrance Lewis Turkeyleg, Esq for your humble life and delicious death.  You were good, we loved you well.

With my parents in Australia, and the Walton family house sitting for them in their absence, it was a lovely Thanksgiving built for three.  We started early, brining our young tom turkey on Wednesday and making the cranberry sauce the night before.  On Thanksgiving morning, we went for a hike and came home in time to put Asher in the oven and the turkey down for a nap.  (Just kidding Mom!)  While Asher slept, Drew and I made a rosemary pumpkin au gratin, green beans with caramelized shallots and lemon, sausage stuffing, and of course the bird and the gravy!  And also some popcorn because I was hungry, and this cook needed a little more than champagne to keep her going.

I had fun using my mom and grandmother’s things (or possibly my great grandmother’s? I’ll have to get set straight on which china pattern belonged to which lady) to set the table, and took a lot of pleasure in making it festive despite the small crowd.
(clearly I’m not encumbered with the need to “iron” and “starch” for the holidays…I’m pretty sure that sound you’re hearing is Martha tsk tsking from somewhere in Connecticut.)

For Asher’s part, he started out like this:

Which quickly turned into this:

Which then looked like this:

And it all ended here:

Drew and I both gave thanks for the abundance of our lives, and of course for the little turkey smearing cranberry sauce all over himself next to us at the table.  Looking into the grinning face of our son at any meal is enough to send us into fits of gratitude, but on this day, enjoying a quiet but celebratory meal as a family, listening to The Band in the background and enjoying the simple meal that we prepared together, it bordered on overwhelming.  We’re so thankful for this life, for the joy, for the shelter, and even for the occasional storm.  So Grateful.

We finished the meal (that’s right, the bath happened mid-meal) smiling as Asher crawled around entertaining himself while we heaped our plates again.  This is the first Thanksgiving that I’ve ever been to where someone ended up naked at the table, but after seeing how much more fun Mr nudie booty was having, we might make a family proclamation.  Kidding!

Happy (belated) Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Holly Jolly

I was thinking this morning about holiday planning stuff and realized that I need to get on the ball in a pretty major way.  So this is where I launch into full-on confession mode.  Well no, what I’m actually launching into is full-on-awknowledging-that-I-am-as-cheesy-as-you-already-know-that-I-am mode.  Does that make any sense?  Lemme ‘splain.

I have been in semi-denial for years that I actually love a lot of stuff that us young folks are supposed to be too cool for.  I read crafty blogs like it’s my job, I love glitter, I love good thick paper, I love holiday decorations, I love (most) Christmas Carols, I love spending my time thinking about cupcakes and slip covers and organizational bins, and tiny clothespins, and coordinating nurseries and whatever else goes on to this list of domestic cheese.  And while working and being a mama and trying to maintain some semblance of a social life does not currently allow me to be the domestic diva that I aspire to be, rest assured that the life that I’m living in my mind always smells like baked apples and is outlined with the loveliest of felt tipped pens.  So with that in mind, here we go…

It’s Holiday Card Time, friends.  I am not making our cards this year as I have sometimes done, because…well.  You know.  I’m just not.  So I’m ordering them from Shutterfly, and I thought that today I would take you on a brief tour of what the fine folks at Shutterfly are offering for all of our holiday paper eye candy needs…


Gift Tags:

And my personal favorite…Stickers!

But this is really just the tip of the iceberg.  They also make great photo books and calendars and pretty much anything else that you think about sticking a picture to and sharing as a gift.  And guess what?  Bloggers get 50 free holiday cards from Shutterfly! Sign up here: http://bit.ly/sfly2010

So that’s the gist, thank you Shutterfly, and thank you friends for putting up with me, my cheesiness, and this shameless commerce promotion!

Is it too late?

I’m failing the blog-o-sphere with this late Halloween post, but my computer is on the fritz so I am at the mercy of its electronic whims.  That’s my disclaimer, here’s my post:

We dressed Asher up as a dog for Halloween.  He didn’t especially like it.  (Can you blame him?  Didn’t I say I would never do things like this “when I have kids”?)   Exhibit A:

Pretty funny, right?  I mean, Asher’s misery isn’t really funny, but that look is just incredible.  I joked that if folks didn’t hear from us for a couple of days, they might want to check in and make sure that Asher hadn’t exacted his revenge in our sleep.  In the end though, he warmed to the whole floppy-ears-on-my-head situation, and quickly reverted back to his usual smiley self.
Exhibit B:

And brace yourself for some serious cuteness, because Asher the dog kept company with a pumpkin, a California Raisin, and a Super Austin when we went “trick-or-treating” on the lawn at UVA (read: sitting on a blanket taking 10,000 pictures of each others kids).  Cute Overload.  We discovered that it’s nearly impossible to get four children to sit/look/stop chewing on whatever at the same time for a picture, so first their cute faces…
And now their sweet costumes:

(note that Super Austin and the California Raisin are homemade!)

It was cool to watch the 1,000+ folks that turned out for this (if not a little overwhelming) and oooo and ahhh over the costumes of all of the kiddos, all under the shadow of Thomas Jefferson’s Rotunda.  To be completely honest, I’m not sure if we’ll go back next year, as my inner wallflower was feeling a little panicky in such a large crowd, but time heals all wounds, and more than likely I will have forgotten about that by next year.

And what about Drew and me?  Well…

We celebrated on Friday night as garden gnomes at a friend’s party.  Unfortunately this is the only picture that I have of the night, but really it sums up the evening nicely.  And here’s something that I didn’t know to expect as a parent: I never thought that there would be a point in my life when we would be texting a 16-year-old (our babysitter) and asking if we could stay out for just one more hour.  Maybe that makes us sound like lame parents, but secretly, I think it makes us kind of awesome.  The Waltons love a good dance party, especially when costumes are involved.  There’s nothing to validate your status as an adult like asking a 16-year-old for permission to have a little bit more fun.

So that’s it…all in all it was a great holiday and a fun weekend, and I have so enjoyed seeing everyone’s pictures!

Happy Halloween!

It’s beginning to look a lot like…

We took a look at the calendar and realized that between Drew’s work schedule and company, we had exactly one day to get a Christmas tree unless we wanted to wait until the week of Christmas.  So…

Here’s a look at some old and new Christmas ornament favorites…

A yellow submarine, a gift from Ruth in high school when I was in the middle of my Beatles obsession

A blown glass bird from Mom

Jo Ellen gave this to us...This is Drew in 1981, an ornament made in daycare maybe? So cute!

This is an ornament that my aunt Vicki gave me from her collection. I *think* it was my great grandmother's.

A new favorite...a gift from Ruth, I just love this fat beaded little chick.

A new treasure! Mom gave me this tree skirt this year, I think it's really lovely.

Presents waiting to go out to family

A scene from the Advent Calendar. It's a little German street, and as the windows and doors open, everything gets decorated for Christmas.

And on this snowy day, a whistling tea kettle ties the morning together nicely.

I will put pictures up of the snow (we’ve got about 2 inches so far) but right now I’m pinned under a sleeping cat and baby, so those will have to wait.  Happy Holidays!