Monday, December 10, 2007

Christmas cookies

We've had so much craziness going on this past week, I was beginning to wonder if we would be able to pull it all off. We had heating problems, a stink in the house we couldn't pinpoint, and greenery to cut down for wreath making. We had my son's birthday, my first grandbaby was born, and our Christmas cookie decorating event. In amongst these major events were baking, dinner parties to attend to, decorating, and a scrapbooking album for 2007 to make for my mother-in-law. But some how, some way, we pulled it all off. Or almost. I'm still working on the scrapbook and we still need to go cut a tree.

Our cookie decorating party is no small event. You're looking at a ten hour ordeal over a two-day period!

It started with just my daughter and me getting together to decorate cookies. But now we include other female members of the family. This year we missed Michelle, who was busy having a baby, but Shodie, my nephew's significant other, was happy to join us.

I make the sugar cookie dough the day before, so all we have to do is decorate the next day. The dough is chilled for hours before it's rolled out and cookie cutters get busy. This year it turned out to be so much more work. Imagine yourself in your red holiday bib apron, rolling out cookie dough. And the phone rings. It's baby news. You're not on the phone long but long enough for the dough, that's supposed to be chilled when rolled, is now soft, gooey, and sticking to the counter. So you pull it all up, re-flour the counter, and start over. If you're lucky, you have time to cut the cookies out and get them in the oven before the phone rings again. More baby news. You forget about the cookies in the oven so now you have burned sugar cookies.... But you don't give up. You take another handful of dough out of the fridge, roll it out, cut it out, and, yep, the phone rings again. More baby news. Once more, you try to lift all the gooey, soft dough up from the counter, re-flour, and start over. This goes on for literally hours. We're talking hours. For five hours I struggled to get these cookies cut out and baked. FIVE HOURS!

I'm covered in flour from head to toe. My apron is covered in flour from wiping my hands every time the phone rings. The floor is a floury mess. The phone was covered in flour and dough as was the front of the stove. I had such a mess going everywhere and couldn't fully concentrate on any aspect of it.

Eventually the cookies got baked, my grandbaby was born, and all was well. Day One of our annual cookie event was officially over.

Day Two is another five hour day reserved solely for decorating the cookies, visiting, laughing, and munching on the ones that get broken. It's definitely a highlight of my year; any time I get to spend with my children making memories is special.

In a couple years we'll have four new little hands helping us.... I can only imagine the flour that will be flying!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

being a parent

Do you remember how you felt the moment you carried your new born into their new home? Or the moment you put them down to sleep for the first time in their bassinet? Or the first time you had to wake up in the middle of the night to feed them? We think we'll remember these moments and the feelings generated for a lifetime, but we don't always. As the years pass, so does our memory. I wish I could remember the exact moment I brought my daughter home, but sadly, I don't.

As our children grow, they say their first word and take their first step. We don't write these most important dates down because we're certain we'll remember this moment for a life time. How could we not?! But we don't. We grow older and our memories fade....

I wish I could have been a little bug inside my son's home last night as they returned home with their new little bundle. Who carried Hunter inside? Where did they first set him? How did Kona (their dog) react? Did he cry? Did he look in awe at his new home? Was he warm enough? Did they pick up on the sign that he was hungry? I know they all laid down to nap, but who woke up first to the sound of a crying baby? And how long did it take before they realized it was their baby making that noise?

Today is a brand new day. The first day of the rest of their lives. The kids are back home, with their new little baby. All on their own. It's no longer just about themselves. They are now responsible for a new life, one that is totally dependent upon them. For every, single basic need.

I hope the kids are never too proud to ask for advice or help. I hope they know that there's no such thing as being a perfect parent; we all made mistakes. I hope they understand that their most important role as parents is to provide love and a safe home and environment. I know, without a doubt, that both kids will be great parents. You could just see the love oozing out of them. And watching Michelle hold little Hunter, you'd think she had been practicing that moment all of her life. It came so natural for her and she didn't appear nervous or apprehensive at all.

I'd like to introduce you to Hunter James. Isn't he beautiful? I can hardly wait for the moment I get to see him next. Maybe this afternoon? Maybe tomorrow? We visited at the hospital for a short bit yesterday and I took the plunge and held him for a few minutes. Yes, I was nervous! What if I forgot how to do it? It's been 24 years after all! Or what if I dropped him? But once I had him in my arms, I really didn't want to give him back. I just wanted to sneak off to a corner somewhere and cuddle him and tell him all about myself and all the good things we had in store for him. The special cookies that will always be waiting for him, the treasure hunts we will go on, the baking we will do, the bugs we will catch. I just look at his little face and my heart melts.

Friday, December 7, 2007

new beginnings

Today I became a grandma. To say it feels great is an understatement. There's no words to explain how I'm feeling right now. I guess a mix between wanting to cry and cry! Yet I've not even held my little grandson in my arms. Nor have I given him any smooches. I was given an opportunity to hold him, but declined. I wanted little Hunter James to enjoy the love and security in the arms of his momma and daddy for today. There will be plenty more days for cuddling. I did talk to him though. Got close enough so he could smell all the sweetness and goodness that comes with baking sugar cookies all day! As the days and years go by every time he gets a whiff of baking, he'll have fond thoughts of me!

I know my son will be a good father but when I walked into their room today and saw him holding his precious little bundle, just grinning ear to ear, I knew, without a doubt, that this child will have an everlasting impact on my son's life. It's funny how babies do that.

Besides that, today is my 100th post!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Christmas decorations

I love looking at Christmas magazines. Every year I bring the same stack of magazines out and look through them, oohing and aahing over all the creative decorating ideas. Some times I actually create them for our home. Like these wreaths. It's a simple idea. I found some inexpensive berry wreaths at Joann's and the perfect red and white ribbon. Or so I thought. Once I got it home and hung, it was just too stark for the green cupboard doors. Even with the garland and lights on top, it still just didn't look right. A friend and I were contemplating this problem when she said, "I have just the thing!" She went out to her car and brought in this berry vine that I added to the garland and lights and it finished the look. Now when you look at the cupboard, you don't just see the red berry wreath, but rather it is blended in with the berry vine above. I love this look.

A new addition to my Christmas decorations is The Village. I've always loved the cute, little cardboard village homes from years past. My village isn't vintage, but they are precious. I got these from Room Service Home. They're not small but about 10" high, but are a perfect size for the large cabinet I have them on.

What I like about these village pieces is that you can put a string of lights inside the homes so colored light shows through the windows.

As you can see, I love twinkle lights this time of year and will include lights in most of my decorations. There's just something magical about them. Plus, they brighten our otherwise dark and dreary winter days.

Ho ho ho!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

at our home....

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas....! In our home, things are taking shape and we're slowly getting ready for Christmas. Lights and garland are hung outside and decorations are nearly done inside. It's been a slow process this year, for some reason. Maybe I just have other priorities on my mind--like a new grandbaby due any minute! Well, by Saturday anyway. The kids go into the doctor's tomorrow and even though Michelle is only a little over a week overdue, it sounds as if the doctor is going to induce labor.

And with the temperatures being so cold, as low as zero this week, our brand new boiler system has decided to not keep the house warm. Getting the inside temp from 57 to 62 degrees has been a major undertaking and has only been achieved by plugging in a couple heaters. I can hardly wait to see our electric bill next month.... So we've been struggling with keeping the house warm, having repairmen in and out trying to figure out if there's something wrong with the boiler (couldn't find anything), and have concluded that our boiler just can't keep up with the cold.... Never mind that it's the top of the line and it keeps other homes in the area warm.... Not exactly the answer I wanted to hear and I can't help but think there's just one small detail that has been overlooked by the half dozen men that have been researching this problem the last few days. I've asked the questions, but I'm a woman after all and what do I know about heating systems.....? I have to admit, nothing! The best I can do is ask questions that might lead them to keep looking. But the decision has been made. The boiler just isn't sufficient for temps in the teens and below.

So the solution? A pellet stove. My husband has wanted one for a long time now. I'm not so happy about it. I still believe this boiler should be sufficient and we're just overlooking one teeny tiny thing that would fix the problem. But, then, a lot of homes in Juneau rely on alternative heat systems to keep their homes warm in the winter and often run two different heating systems at the same time.

Besides the heating problem, our house stinks! It started yesterday and we cannot find the source of the problem. I personally think a little rodent died in our crawl space but my husband thinks the culprit is the Food Saver used to process salmon last April! I don't think it would start to stink eight months later. Honestly.... We thought maybe some tuna juice spilled and so have cleaned every inch of our counter with bleach to kill the smell, but with no luck. You open up the cupboards and drawers though and it stinks horribly!

So this is what we've been up against this week. Limited heat, stinky smells, and still no grandbaby!

But on a brighter note, here's some pictures taken outside on a cold morning. I usually display a variety of Christmas ornaments in our bird bath with greenery, but my bird bath is further out in the yard this year so I just put some greenery in a large planter dish and set it on the table on our front porch. It looks lovely!

Ho ho ho!