Sunday, December 21, 2008

Let it Snow!

It snowed all afternoon and evening yesterday.  We awoke to 8" of fresh powder.  In a normal year we are lucky to get and inch or two that lasts for a day before turning to rain again.  It is rare to have wintry weather like this for so long.  Everything is covered in white and that excitement is in the air.  We are hunkered down and enjoying a quiet Sunday at home together.  
Here are a few photos from this morning.

Snow on dried lily stems

Annika eating snow - again

Clematis Cap

Snow on Bird Bath

Looking up into the Deodora - red, green and white

Bird footprints

Cat Footprints

We got to watch our red-breasted sapsucker at work today.  We sat only a few feet away, and quietly watched it feeding.  Annika wanted to hold it.  We could hear the soft pecking noises and the scratch of its claws on the tree bark.  A few times it made an alarm call, which sounded like a dog's squeaky toy.  It made Annika laugh.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

What we've been up to this week...

I've been taking pictures all week and meaning to post, but somehow by the evening I don't feel like it, and need to work on the handmade gifts I am madly crafting before the Big Day. So here is the condensed version of our week.

We had snow last weekend.  Then the weather got clear and cold, some days not even making it above freezing.  We had school delays in the beginning of the week.  This rock was interesting to me.  It is in the front yard at Gabriel's school.  I don't think I noticed it before, but with the snow all around it I could see the pretty designs in the stone.

Annika will not stop eating snow.  She is obsessed with it.  It took us forever to get to school and back, because she keeps reaching down and grabbing snow to munch on.

We finally got our Christmas Tree Tuesday evening.  Gabriel really wanted a two-foot tree that was just his size.  I wanted a big one that almost touched the ceiling.  We compromised.  It smells wonderful.  The kids decorated the tree the next night all by themselves.  I put the lights on, and they went to town on the decorations.  I just sat back and watched as they picked out the straw ornaments I brought back from my semester in Vienna in 1990.  They also picked out the ornaments that they have made or that were given to them.  Because the tree is small, we only put some of the ornaments up this year.  But it is special, because they cared so much about the ones they were placing.  Gabriel put up the angel he made in preschool a few years ago.  It is made from a paper plate, and most of the glittery details have fallen off.  I don't care if it's tacky, or if the ornaments aren't spaced artfully all around the tree.  I love our tree this year.
This is what it looked like outside while we were decorating.

On Thursday the kids and I walked up the street to the park behind the school, where we did some sledding.  The kids had fun.  It snowed the whole time we were out.  The hills are small and short, but enough for the little ones to feel like they are going fast.  I felt fine letting them go down by themselves and trudge back up the hill themselves.  I mostly watched and chatted with the other parents, though I did go down a few times, too.

Today we watched a red-bellied sapsucker working on our deodora cedar in the front yard.  This photo is taken through a window with a point-and shoot, so it's not the greatest, but if the bird comes back tomorrow, I'll try to get outside and get another shot.  The bird was drilling holes in the bark to get to the sap.  I haven't seen this species in our yard before, so it was fun to identify it, observe it throughout the morning, and learn a bit about its habits.  We pulled out the Sibley Guide, which gives more information than the Peterson Guide.  The kids and Aaron all enjoyed the bird, which makes me so happy.  My little naturalist family!

We have more snow tonight, a light, dry, powdery snow that nevertheless in relentless and thick.  It is filling in all the footprints from the past few days, and covering over the grasses and bushes that had begun to peek out from the last snowfall.  I look forward to seeing what the morning light brings us.  Then it should warm up over the next week.  That's good, because the ice is making it difficult for everyone.  But sometimes I wish we lived somewhere that got snow for more than a few days each winter.   Of course, then I'd have to learn to drive in it...  I guess the rain isn't so bad after all.

Stay safe and warm everyone.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas Cookies

We managed to squeeze in some cookie making this weekend.  I searched the internet to find some recipes for wheat-, dairy-, corn- and soy-free cookies.  I decided to try this recipe from The CELIAC web site.  They turned out pretty good.  They are sweet enough to eat on their own, but would be nice with some frosting.  I want to try making some corn-free powdered sugar to make frosting. This is our first year trying to get through the holidays on restricted diets.  It is challenging, but I am so thankful for the internet, which makes finding alternative recipes easier. 

Gabriel helped me with making the dough, and was involved in cutting out most of the cookies.  Annika got to cut out a few, too.  They baked up quickly.  Once again, the only reason we did this was because Gabriel begged me over and over.  I feel like it would be so easy for me to skip a lot of these traditional activities.  Having a child who cares, and who thrives on the traditions and special activities of each season really helps keep me moving and forces me to make the extra effort.  I am glad to have cookies to snack on, and I enjoy the memories we create.  

In Memory

In Memory...

Of our Angel Baby
And all the other babies 
we know only in spirit.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Light a Candle

I'd like to tell you about an event coming up tomorrow.  At 7pm, whatever time zone you're in, you are invited to light a candle for an hour in remembrance of children who have died.  Imagine, a wave of light continuing all around the world, shining brightly so we don't forget the babies or children who are no longer with us.  This moment of remembrance is sponsored by Compassionate Friends.  I am not a part of the organization, but I plan on participating.  Three and a half years ago I had a miscarriage.  I had a hard time figuring out how to grieve the baby that barely existed.  This seems like a good idea that is comfortable to me.  If you're interested, you can go here for more information.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Christmas Ships

Last Monday we met some friends in Edmonds for the annual Christmas Ship viewing and caroling.  It was a brisk evening, but thankfully dry.  We all walked out onto the fishing pier and snagged a spot at the railing overlooking the Sound.  The pier quickly filled up as people gathered.  A little after 7pm we heard the music broadcast from the lighted ship, and it sailed into view.  The ship stopped in front of the pier, and we were treated to a 20 minute concert by a chorale from Everett (I've forgotten the name of the group.)  The concert ended with caroling.  Gabriel enjoyed it, and asked if we could come again next year.  He also liked hanging out with two of his friends.  We walked back to the car and blasted the heater to warm up.  I made cocoa for the kids when we got home.  

I'm thankful I have a family to share traditions like this.  My son finds comfort in this kind of yearly tradition.  I remember before I had children, I wistfully imagined what it would be like, yearning to build memories like this with my future kids.  Now I have my little family, and it takes effort to pull myself out of the myopia of daily survival to do these little things that make our family special.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Walk at the Arboretum

I took Annika for a walk to the Arboretum last Friday.  I used to get outside so much more when I just had one child at home, but Annika has missed out on some of the activities that Gabriel enjoyed.  So, off we went for an outing that I could do with my still-healing ankle.

We watched the ducks, watched the airplanes fly over, enjoyed the fresh air, and even got to observe a bald eagle perched in a tree.  It was so nice to be out again and clear the cobwebs. If you want to read the whole report and see all the photos, go here.  

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

I Did It

I did it.  I finally submitted my first essay for possible publication in a magazine.  I won't hear back for awhile if it gets accepted or not, but it feels so good to take this big step.  I feel like A Real Writer, even though I haven't been published.  I celebrated and bought myself a new pen.  Nothing expensive, just a gesture to reward myself.

I'm working on another essay to send out to a different publication.  It's hard to find the time to connect two thoughts together, but I am finding it rewarding to have projects to work on that are just my own.  When I made the decision to stay home as a mother, I thought that should be reward enough.  But recently I admitted to myself that "just" being a mom wasn't quite enough.  I needed a career of some sort to pursue.  Many things happened to help me along and encourage me in the direction of writing.  My husband bought me a laptop, and so many people gave me advice and have helped me get to this point.  

So that's why I haven't posted much of interest lately.  I am behind in things I've wanted to share with you.  I'll try to catch up over the next few days.  I'm trying to get into the swing of Christmas preparations, too.  So much to write, so little time!