09 December 2010

Lazy Parent Potty Training

Lola discovered the convenience of toilets many months ago, but at night she still sports a pull-up. We were almost ready to give those up as well when we moved to Rhinelander and the nightly flow started back up again. And I was so looking forward to not having to buy diapers again. Alas, not just yet.

She would, from time to time, tell me she didn't want to wear diapers anymore. After all, she is a big girl now and none of her friends at school wear diapers either. (Apparently that is what toddlers talk about when they're by themselves.) I would answer her that I would be happy to put the pull-ups away if she was able to keep it dry. I know she can do it, because nine out of ten times when she crawls into bed with me in the wee hours of the morning, she is still dry. She is just a little lazy about going potty in the morning and when it's time to get up, she's wet.

She must get this laziness from her parents because last night at bedtime, when we realized we were out of pull-ups, we did not run to the store that is a mere five minutes away. Too late, too cold, too lazy. Instead we asked Lola if she was up to the task of not wetting her bed. Of course she was, she assured us. We happily chose to believe her.

She almost succeeded. At 1 o'clock this morning, she woke me up to inform me she had just gone potty. Wonderful! When I took her back to bed, I noticed her pyjama pants were a little bit wet. I took that as a good sign because peeing had apparently woken her up. Fresh jammies and back to sleep she went.

At 5 o'clock she was back by my bedside, this time naked from the waste down. Again, she had gone potty in the bathroom, but there was a fairly big wet spot in her bed as well. So, first thing this morning I was stripping her bed and doing laundry. That's what I get for not running to the store last night.

I think I am going to tough it out for a little bit and not give in to the urge to buy pull-ups because I think this might be a good way to learn. And 5:30 AM is as good a time as any to do laundry, don't you think?

08 December 2010

Cranberries, Pine Cones, And Epsom Salts

Cranberries, pine cones, and epsom salts: mixed in with a few odds and ends and a string of lights, they make for lovely Christmas decor on our fireplace mantel this year. And since our Christmas tree is very large and colorful, I kept the mantel simple and white with a touch of red.

07 December 2010

Sweet Surprises

The lovely ladies at Twig and Toadstool picked me as the winner of the beautiful handmade gnome home and gnome give away last week. It is so much fun to open a post in your google reader and see your name in great big letters. Thank you, Maureen and Shanti!

Sinterklaas surprised Lola with an overflowing stocking yesterday. He surprised me too, but I didn't get anything...

Grandma's Briefs is sending me a parking target, another blog give away. Perfect timing because we have just started parking the cars in the garage and it's a very tight fit, I tell you. Thank you, Lisa!

It took me more than a week and several trips to Home Depot, but we finally have a lighted Christmas tree. I have strung up 900 lights over the past few days. The tree is bigger than I thought. I wonder if we have enough ornaments?

The itty bitty snowflakes softly falling all day long covered Rhinelander in a blanket of snow.

Green Girl in Wisconsin surprised me with my third give away win in one week. I can pick out any gift I want from Anne Marie's NaDa Farm Shop. That bank bag has my name on it. Thank you, Green Girl and Anne Marie!

At yesterday’s Christmas get-together organized by the YMCA's Children's Learning Center Lola would not sing. She has been practicing Christmas songs for weeks with her friends and teachers, but at the sight of all those moms and dads in the audience she was overcome with shyness.

I just spit out seventeen seeds from my supposedly seedless clementine. It was very sweet though.

Any sweet surprises for you this week?

05 December 2010

The Original Santa Claus

Many summers ago, I visited the small town of Patara in Turkey. Lonely Planet describes it as “scruffy,” a title that suits the town very well. There are few tourists to be found there, the people are friendly, the beach is stunning, and the archeological dig site is quiet and fascinating. It is also the birth place of Saint Nicholas.

As an adult Nicholas became the bishop of nearby Myra in Lycia, where he died on December 6, 346 AD. He was known for his kindness and secret gift giving, such as placing coins in the shoes of people that left them out for him. His acts of generosity inspired the myth of Sinterklaas as he is known to the Dutch, or Santa Claus as we know him here in the Untied States.

Dutch tradition has Sinterklaas scaling rooftops on his horse on December 5th, Saint Nicholas Eve, leaving gifts behind in children’s shoes set out by the fireplace. Children leave drawings in their shoes for Sinterklaas, and carrots, straw and water for his horse. His helpers are Black Piets, black because of the chimney soot, merry gentlemen much like Santa Claus’s elves.

Over the years, Sinterklaas has become a snowbird, moving to warmer Spain where he spends most of his days. Around mid November he arrives by boat, an event nationally televised. Rain or shine, thousands of young and old believers flock to the harbor to welcome him to Holland. Whenever I stumbled upon Sinterklaas’s arrival in later years, I instantly became a believer again. I am to this day.

When Dutch and English immigrants arrived in America, they brought Sinterklaas and Father Christmas with them, and eventually the two merged into one. Clement Clarke Moore’s poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” (‘Twas the night before Christmas…) was the first to introduce Santa’s sleigh with reindeer and the man himself as jolly and slightly chubby, an image immortalized by the Coca Cola Company in later years.

Tonight is Sinterklaas Eve, and my friends and family in Holland are all celebrating and exchanging gifts. I read on Green Girl in Wisconsin’s blog that Sinterklaas is celebrated in certain areas of Wisconsin, due to the large numbers of Dutch living there. As much as I like the thought, it will not be the case in Rhinelander tonight. We're sticking to one gift giver for now, peace on earth, and goodwill towards men.

Happy Holidays!

04 December 2010

Juror 310

I have a confession to make. I don't believe in a Jury of Your Peers. Two, three hundred years ago, sure. But the United States have evolved into a different country since then and its laws have evolved with it. They are more complex than ever and to become an expert of the law is a long and expensive process. Yet every trial is conducted in front of a jury made up of people with a rudimentary knowledge of the law.

In my opinion trials by jury invite emotions into a courtroom and lawyers that pray on those emotions. The law, unfortunately, is not about justice. It is far too complicated to be left to laymen. Not to mention the inconvenience of being pulled away from one's daily tasks to serve on a jury. I am sure if jurors wanted to spend more time in a courtroom they would have either studied the law or broken it.

My personal opinion notwithstanding, I was very excited to find a letter yesterday, telling me I am being considered as a prospective juror in the Forest County Court. All that is asked of me at this point is to fill out a short questionnaire to determine my eligibility.

Needless to say, I flunked the test. I am not a US citizen, nor am I a Forest County citizen. Therefore, I can never be one of your peers.

03 December 2010

Christmas Lights

The Christmas lights came on in Crandon tonight. And just like last year, the town folk gathered in the square, caroled their way to Dr. Perry's house to admire her Christmas display and visited with Santa Claus afterwards whilst enjoying a cup of hot chocolate and a cookie.

Lola wasn't as shy with Santa and Mrs. Claus this time. She sat on Santa's lap and told him all about the purple suitcase she wants. When she couldn't think of anything else, Santa advised her to write him a note and leave it out for him. Something she immediately set out to do when she got home.

Unlike last year, Ryan was with us this time. He missed out on the fun a year ago because he was still in Washington, packing up the barn. It was good to have all of us there. And this is one tradition Lola definitely loves to be a part of. Her Jingle Bells was heard loud and clear through the cold wintery night.

01 December 2010

Making Family Memories

It's beginning to look alot like Christmas! The seasonal spirit has taken a firm hold on our household. Ryan and I both want to create family memories and traditions of our own that Lola can look back on some day with a smile on her face and happiness in her heart. I am not sure if she's catching on, though.

When we went to the Christmas Tree Farm to pick out our tree, the adults were almost skipping along, very much enjoying the experience. But Lola? She just wanted to go home, she was cold.

And I have been sewing up a storm to finish my Advent Calender in time for the first of December. Bursting with pride, I presented the finished product to Lola this morning and told her she could take one ornament from a pocket every day to hang on the tree and when all the ornaments are hung, it will be Christmas!

"Go ahead," I said, "hang the first one."

Her response? "Uhm, maybe tomorrow..."

Nicole's Brown Paper Package

Today all the participants in Craftaholics Anonymous' Handmade Holiday Gift Exchange reveal their gifts. Here's a peek inside my brown paper package.

Wrapping the presents I made for my handmade holiday gift exchange partner Nicole was just as much fun as making them. I sewed two white felt bags to hold the goodies, which I did tie with string, and made a gift tag with some odds and ends found in the great big bin marked "X-MAS" that inconveniently sits in the middle of my craft room.

Inside the bags are a necklace, earrings, and a crystal ornament. I did not have red in mind when I set out to make the necklace, but as so often happens, the piece made itself. All I did was find the right order for the beads. I took Nicole's gifts outside to make some pictures. I love the vibrant red on the grapevine wreath in the snow.

Silver and Holly

Chandelier Crystal Ornament

I hope Nicole likes her gifts. And I cannot wait to see what she made for me!

30 November 2010

Handmade Holidays

A brown paper package, tied up with string. It really is one of my favorite things. For Nicole, my handmade holiday exchange partner, I fancied the brown paper package up a bit.

I would love to do a handmade holiday gift exchange in my family, but I don't think there would be too many takers. Fortunately, Linda from Craftaholics Anonymous provided me with a way to get my fix by hosting a handmade gift exchange on her blog.

I was filled with ideas for gifts. Felted woolen slippers, paper tree ornaments, miniature wreaths, to name a few. And if I didn't have a family and a full time job, I am sure I would have made all of them. Instead I designed a necklace and earrings for Nicole, and sent her one of my handmade glass ornaments. The package goes in the mail today. I'll show the gifts off tomorrow, during the big reveal on Linda's website.

27 November 2010

Oh Christmas Tree!

In search of the perfect tree
Found it!

High ceilings call for big trees

Taking it home

21 November 2010

Giving Thanks

The saddest Christmas song I know was playing on the radio Friday, when I drove home after taking Lola to daycare. (Yes, I have broken my own rule of no Christmas before Thanksgiving, what of it?) The song is "The Little Boy that Santa Claus forgot", a 1937 classic made famous by Nat King Cole, among others.

"He's the little boy that Santa Claus forgot,
And goodness knows, he didn't want a lot.
He sent a note to Santa, for some soldiers and a drum,
It broke his little heart, when he found Santa hadn't come."

Doesn't this bring tears to your eyes? Or is it just me, am I such a sap? Either way, while I was driving home, listening to the soft baritone voice of Mr. Cole, I thought about the child we have been assigned by the Rotary to buy Christmas presents for. A little girl, one year old, who needs warm clothes and loves Minnie Mouse. There are many more children like her out there, the little boys and girls that Santa Claus forgot.

I am so grateful Lola is not one of those children, that we can afford to dress her and buy her gifts. I am so grateful we are in the position to help when and where needed, after coming dangerously close to being on the receiving end. It seems like an eternity but it was just last year our situation was so different from what it is now.

During our trials and tribulations I would, from time to time, voice my frustration and anger at the universe on my blog. And without fail, the universe would answer me somehow. I realized I haven't properly and publicly thanked the universe for our reversal of fortune. I think it's time.

Thank you.

20 November 2010

Hunters & Gatherers

I like my men in orange
Today is Opening Day of deer hunting season up here in the Northwoods. The alarm was set for 4:30 am. While I do not hunt, I did rise to assist my mother-in-law in making a hearty breakfast for the N. boys. They took off an hour later in their coordinating orange outfits. It was 18.5 degrees outside.

On the way to work I encountered dozens of pick-up trucks parked by the side of the road and many more men walking around in blaze orange. It was a colorful ride. I overheard some locals complain about it being very quiet this morning with hardly a shot fired. The bucks take care to stay out of sight.

A large, eight or nine point buck has been spotted several times this week, leisurely strolling down our street. Moving inside city limits is the smart thing to do now, if you're a deer. I wonder if he knows...

15 November 2010

Counting Down

The craft room is being put to good use these days. Instead of allowing my usual holiday ADD to manage my time ("Ooh, I can make that. And that. And that too, it's so simple and charming!" And then nothing gets done of course, because I cannot make up my mind, I don't have enough time, etc.), I took control this year and wrote down what I would really like to do, what it entails, and when it needs to be done. And then I submitted it to a firm reality check.

For instance, I would love to make an advent calender for Lola. One that is not all about candy or presents, but creates the spirit and excitement that go with Christmas. I stumbled on a design by inchmark featured on homemade by jill, a blog I read. I love it just the way it is, but instead of ornaments, I thought it would be nice to fill the little pockets with tiny figurines for a nativity set, another thing I have wanted to have for some time now.

A quick trip to JoAnn's last week turned out unsuccessful. I considered making my own nativity set, but let's be real here, people. There is no way I am going to take my figure saw and cut out twenty four itty bitty pieces for a nativity set, paint them and have them all done by December first. Ornaments it is then, and store bought at that. The calender itself is coming along nicely. It will be done in time for the count down.

Something else I have wanted to do is sign up for a handmade gift exchange with a total stranger on Craftaholics Anonymous, one of the many craft blogs I read. I thought long and hard if I was really able to do it this year before I signed up for one, keeping it simple. That also needs to be finished by the end of this month.

The next thing on my list is sending out Christmas cards. And on time for a change. I am not making any promises, but I did manage to retrieve the address file from my laptop that will only start up in 'safe mode' these days. It just might happen this year.

And then there are the teacher and neighbor gifts. I am hell bent om making them myself. Fortunately I have a wonderful simple idea and all the necessities. Unfortunately it turns out Lola has three teachers. We have four neighbors and I only have supplies for six gifts. The good news is I have five weeks to come up with a solution.

Oh, and I suppose I should shop for my loved ones, too. There's still time.

13 November 2010

First Snow

6:46 a.m.:
I am blissfully asleep, curled up under the blankets in my parents-in-law's guestroom, enjoying the chance to sleep in.

[Whisper] "Mommy. MOMMY! It's snowing outside!"

7:32 a.m.:
I am wide awake, sipping my coffee on the front porch, watching my daughter admire her footprints in the snow.

The first snow is the best snow! I can always sleep in another day.

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