Happy Halloween, 2016

Baguette has never been that into trick-or-treating. From her perspective, Halloween is when you knock on your neighbor’s door, and they answer it–but then they don’t let you in. What’s the point of that?

It’s always been a struggle. Not because it particularly matters to us whether she wants to, but because we want her to understand what it is, and see if she can find a way to make it fun for herself. There would be a parade at her day care that she had to be wrangled through–the teachers made those costumes–and then in the evening we’d try to get her out into the neighborhood.

Each year, it was harder than you’d think. There was the time she refused to wear layers (shirt and tights were fine, but not the elephant part of the costume). After many tears, she decided to wear all of her Elmo clothing. It worked. The next year, she rejected the costume we’d bought her AND the one from day care, finally settling on my shirt worn backward. The year after that, we laid out every costume and clothing item we could think of, and she chose soccer ball fleece PJs–although once she was done with her abbreviated neighborhood circuit, she added Anna’s ball gown from Frozen.

This year, we looked at the restrictions required by the school and settled on gray leggings, gray t-shirt, and elephant headgear (we bought two headbands with ears and a hat). But yesterday I pointed out that she’d spent the week saying “I am a fire fighter” and “I am a doctor,” following a LOT of viewings of Elmo’s World DVDs. And I remembered that at some point, someone had given her a doctor costume. So I unwrapped it, and she instantly fell in love with the idea. She wore it all afternoon, and tried to sleep in it, and put it back on enthusiastically for this morning’s parade at school.

Small girl in scrubs costume running
Paging Dr. Baguette

She was still wearing it when Mr. Sandwich picked her up, and didn’t take it off until they were in the store looking at fire fighter costumes. They brought one home, but its velcro fasteners proved unacceptable. Out of all of the costumes we’d spread across the couch, which one did she pick?

The elephant-ear headband.

So we headed out with our elephant for trick-or-treating, but it turned out that Baguette had no interest in that–she just wanted to go for a walk around the block.

The whole point is to have fun, and for the first time, Halloween was really fun for her.

I couldn’t be happier.

Finessing Christmas

When I was young, our Christmases were extravaganzas. My parents weren’t Clark Griswold/Christmas store-style decorators, but we had lights on the house and a big, full tree that was overdecorated and surrounded by piles of presents. On Christmas Eve, we’d don pajamas and curl up on either side of my father so that he could put his arms around us both as he read The Night Before Christmas.

On Christmas morning, we’d get up as early as my brother and I could persuade my parents to wake; make tea and coffee; go through stockings; have breakfast; go to Mass (when we were very young–later we switched to Christmas Eve Mass); come home; and open presents.

When we lived within driving distance of grandparents, we would spend the afternoon with my mother’s parents and the next day or two with my father’s. When we didn’t, my mother’s parents often traveled to spend the holidays with us (this is its own story).

We would spend the whole day at home with each other and our new gifts, playing board games and reading books–and watching movies, once VHS technology had been invented and acquired. And we’d cook our traditional Christmas dinner.

Times have changed, as they do. Most years we trade off holidays, so that we’re spending one with my side of the family and the other with Mr. Sandwich’s. Our own trees are smaller, often in height and always in diameter. I keep forgetting to locate the copy of The Night Before Christmas, and I never remember to buy stocking stuffers. Mr. Sandwich goes on an early run, as is his family’s tradition, and we eat some breakfast. We haven’t been to Mass in years.

The presents don’t all get opened on the same day. Baguette enjoys opening a few, but then loses interest, so we open one or two of hers a day until we’re done. Or we don’t. So far? Not done.

But there are 12 days of Christmas, right? So I figure there’s no rush.

On Mother’s Day

I love Mother’s Day, sort of.

I mean, we don’t make a big production of it. We don’t have the time or energy to make a big production of much of anything. But I love being a mother, and I love being Baguette’s mother.

I wasn’t always Baguette’s mother, though, and Mother’s Day has an iffy track record with me.

My mother was great. But she passed away, which continues to be heartbreaking. I don’t remember a lot of Mother’s Day celebrations, although we always did something. Typically, my present to her was along the lines of a movie we could watch together and food we could eat together while watching the movie together.

My mom was really about togetherness.

But she died in 2002, and Mother’s Day 2003 was The. Worst. I went to church, which turned out to be a mistake. (Too many moms.) And that night I went to pick up Chinese food, which she had always loved. I could barely make it into and out of the restaurant–I was so glad I had decided to order ahead, rather than eat there. (Too many moms. Way, way too many moms.)

Since then, Mother’s Day has been bittersweet.

Frankly, I can’t tell you what I did for each of my Mother’s Days since becoming a mother.

Wait, maybe I can. (Looks at back blog posts.) Okay, I have no idea what I did in 2011. The other years, it was mostly casual dinner, with or without inlaws. One year, Baguette put stickers on my arm.

We know how to party.

But I do remember my first Mother’s Day. Mr. Sandwich said, “What do you want?” And I answered, “See’s Candies. Wait. See’s Candies and a chance to wash my hair.” And I got them.

This year, we went to Discovery Cube LA, a new science museum that’s opened in our general part of Los Angeles. Baguette found a few things that interested her, but I think it may be a better match in another 2-3 years. And Mr. Sandwich is out back, building me the charging station I want for our “office” that I want to totally reorganize and make less of an office and more of a reading/project/play space.

Nothing bitter about that. Today is feeling pretty sweet.

Happy New Year!

So we planned a quiet New Year’s Eve at home with just the three of us. This was to follow a morning of snowshoeing at sort-of-nearby Mt. Pinos, with Bestie and her parents and another family.

Baguette had a lot of trouble getting to sleep Tuesday night; she and I were up until at least 1 a.m. Still, we were on the road at about 7:45 this morning and at the parking lot at the top of the road just over an hour later.

But then something very unusual happened: Baguette refused to get out of the car and play in the snow. Our girl loves the snow; she’ll put on all her gear and ask for it in August. We’ve made two other snowshoeing trips this month, and she had a blast both times.

This morning, though, she was tired. And it was cold. How cold? It was 13 degrees Fahrenheit in that parking lot. While that just means adding a layer of clothing for Mr. Sandwich and me, it has quite a different meaning for Baguette. I guess she’s not completely impervious to cold after all.

Bestie and her parents couldn’t make it, and eventually we packed up and headed back down the mountain, spotting the third family on their way up as we were on our way home. (Although by that time, we’d have been pretty much done even if Baguette had been willing to leave the car.)

So then a lot of texts went back and forth, and Bestie and family came over to our house for an impromptu New Year’s Eve dinner of take out from a local Mexican restaurant. We cut technicolor snowflakes out of colored copier paper and finished up with ice cream for dessert

A good time was had by all. And Wicket didn’t even have to wear a hat.

Happy 2015, everyone!

Auld Lang Syne

When I was younger, I thought it would be fun to go to a big, blowout New Year’s Eve party.

I never did. I’m totally fine with that.

First of all, I didn’t want to go by myself; I wanted to go to that kind of party with a boyfriend. And I almost never had a boyfriend, which limited my opportunities. (I did once go to First Night in Manhattan with a friend, her husband, and her brother, but I’m not even sure that was a set-up; I think we just all wanted to go to First Night.)

So what have been my favorite New Year’s Eve celebrations?

Growing up, we would have dinner at a Chinese restaurant and then see some blockbuster or other. That was always good.

One year–I can’t remember whether I was dating Mr. Sandwich yet–another friend invited me to a party at her brother’s Manhattan apartment (different friend, different brother, same Manhattan). But it was supposed to snow, and my block was always last to be plowed, and at the last minute I canceled because I wasn’t sure I’d get home. Instead, I spent New Year’s Eve curled up on my couch, watching movies I can no longer recall and eating either Chinese food or pizza. The details don’t matter, because what I do remember is that it was a great evening.

When we were dating, Mr. Sandwich and I spent one New Year’s Eve with his friends, starting at Cheesecake Factory and moving to one friend’s nearby apartment; we spent others playing board games with some of my friends.

The year we moved into our house, we hosted a party at which I learned that if I’m going to drink, I really need to eat dinner. Or at least lunch. But that lesson didn’t make itself clear until after everyone else had gone home, so the party itself was a lot of fun.

Since then, we tend to stay home, safe from the drunk drivers of the world. Last year, Bestie and her parents came over for dinner (we planned to start early, to reduce their odds of being menaced by drunk drivers on their return). A good time was had by all, including Wicket–although the hat placed on her head spoke more to her tolerance than to her awareness of the passage of time.

This year, we have planned absolutely nothing. It’s been a busy couple of weeks, with lots of events filled with people who want to see Baguette. She’s done really well with it, but she needs plenty of downtime. We all do. So we have no plans, and I think it’s going to be another great evening.

So to all, near and far–may you have a Happy New Year. And those good wishes aren’t just from me. They’re also from Wicket.

small dog wearing Happy New Year hat and leis

Keeping the Holiday Stress in Check

Impossible, you say? A lot of people would agree with you; the Washington Post reports that holiday stress makes this the most challenging time of year for many women.

I have wonderful memories of childhood Christmases. There were always lots of gifts.

There were decorations–lights on the house, and a tall, full tree festooned with ornaments, and tinsel. There were cookies–my mom’s shortbread cookies remain some of my favorite Christmas cookies, even though I haven’t had them in years. There was a big meal–roast prime rib, Yorkshire pudding, creamed spinach, and baked potatoes, with gingerbread for dessert.

But none of that was what made those Christmases special. Fun, sure, but not special.

No, what made them special was the love. The time we spent together, taking turns exploring those gifts. Making dinner. Watching movies. Playing new board games.

That’s what I want to give Baguette. And I want to make those elements part of her childhood, too. But that doesn’t mean I have to make it stressful. My secret? Setting boundaries.

Christmas tree, Baguette, and Ernie

Tree: I want to have a tree. But it doesn’t need to be the 8-foot-tall Balsam I grew up with. We’re just as happy with a 4-1/2 foot Noble fir (Mr. Sandwich and I like trees that have layers of branches, the better to hang ornaments). In fact, we only had a tall tree once–and that was because we were so late in buying our tree last year that the tree lot was out of the small size we’d hoped for.

Decorations: Mr. Sandwich strings lights on the house each year. I love them. But we don’t need to go all Clark Griswold in the process. (I have plans to make a door wreath of buttons. I’ve had this plan for years. Someday, it’ll happen.)

Gifts: We don’t need to give a lot of them to each person. We just need to open them together.

Food: Well, I do like that traditional meal. But, really, it’s not that hard to make, and it’s pretty easy to plan it so that everything comes out hot at the same time.

Cookies: I don’t make Christmas cookies. I want to, but what I really want to do is make them with Baguette, and she’s not quite ready to do that. Maybe next year. I feel like next year’s going to be a big one.

So our Christmas may be smaller-scale than many, but we’re spending it together, with our focus on each other. And that really is all I want for Christmas.

Halloween Costume, 2013: A Brief Pictorial Recap

After last year’s Halloween costume experience, we tried to keep it simple, with a costume idea that was as clothing-like as possible.

The Plan
The Plan
The Backup
The Backup
The Reality
The Reality

You really can’t get more clothing-like than Mommy’s actual clothing.

I think we may not buy a Halloween costume next year. We may just amass some items, let Baguette pick, and then decide what she’s dressed as.

Happy Halloween!
Happy Halloween!

Traditions: Easter Dinner

Last year was our first effort at a family Easter. This year there was no snowshoeing, but we did dye and hide eggs.

Easter Eggs

Baguette hunted them, with help from Elmer the Patchwork Elephant.

Hunting7

Then there were deviled eggs.

Deviled Eggs

And Mr. Sandwich’s parents came over for a dinner of ham (my great-grandmother’s recipe),

Ham

roasted asparagus (shown here pre-roasting),

Asparagus

and beer bread (my grandmother’s recipe),

Beer Bread

as well as mashed potatoes and root vegetables and Lawry’s creamed corn.

I may have gone a little nuts.

Dessert–because I lacked time and energy to make a pound cake–was vanilla ice cream and lemon cookies, both from the store.

Verdict? The ham, asparagus, and creamed corn are definitely keepers–although we knew that going in, because I’ve made those before (a quick shout-out to Lawry’s for sharing their recipes, BTW). The beer bread was fine, but not at the top of the food priority list for us, and the mashed potatoes and root vegetables were tasty–but when Mr. Sandwich said, “I just really like your regular mashed potatoes,” well, let’s just say that it’s tough to embrace the experiment.


This post was not sponsored by Lawry’s. I just really like Lawry’s.