Saturday, December 27, 2008

Holiday Ornament Making

This year Eliana made a few Christmas presents in the form of salt dough ornaments. I would like to see her take a more active role in our gift giving, and this was a first step. We went over to Erika and Zoe's house and the girls made ornaments while we did other holiday baking. It was a lot of fun and I'd love to do it again next year!

Holiday Gift Making

Holiday Gift Making

Ellie and J flattening out the salt dough.

Holiday Gift Making

Baking the ornaments...

Holiday Gift Making

Singing Christmas carols!

Holiday Gift Making

Painting the ornaments at home the next day... Eliana painted them all by herself!

Holiday Gift Making

I think they turned out very nicely for ornaments made and hand painted by a 2 year old! I think they were appreciated by the grandparents. I kept a couple for her to have as keepsakes, too.

Food Log: December 27

Eliana's food log for the today:

3 small whole wheat pancakes (casein free) from the freezer.
Fiber One banana muffin - she licked the frosting off the top and nibbled just a little of the muffin.

A half grilled cheese (soy cheese) sandwich.
5 or so green olives (and she even ate the pimento!)

Bread with margarine and jam. She ate the whole slice.
Half a banana
A couple slices pepperoni

I don't know that I'll record Eliana's food every day, but every so often it seems like a good idea so I can gather some information on her eating habits. Right now we've got family in town and our schedule's a little wonky from the holiday vacation, but Eliana seems to eat much better when she's just drinking water or rice milk instead of drinking juice. I'm not surprised. =D

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Single Life

My anniversary is Tuesday. That means for the past 8 years, I have not been a single woman. I never had to be a single woman living on my own, as my husband and I got married in college. I went from living with my family to living in a dorm to being married. I really have never been alone and I often find it hard to relate to those who are single adults. Most of my single adult friends do not live locally, so I read their blogs or catch up on facebook and that is the extent of our conversation unless we happen to get together for dinner or an afternoon during an out of town trip. If I think about it, though, I am sure I can come up with more than one single friend here in town, some of whom I avoid talking to because I just don't know what to say. And so, as I was blog reading this morning, I came across an article one of my single friends posted and I gained some new insight. It's a little lengthy, but worth it.

What I'd like you to know: A Single Adult

The year I turned 30, my birthday happened to fall on Father’s Day. A few days before the combined event, I phoned my dad to tell him I wouldn’t make the three hour drive home to visit. I had just recently moved back to the city of my youthful stomping grounds after 3 years away, and I was the first of my friends to hit the big 3-0.

Dad graciously understood, and asked “So, how old are you this year?”

“Thirty.” I replied.

“Oh.” He sighed, and paused. “I never thought you would be an old maid.”

I know what you’re thinking. But coming from my dad, I wasn’t offended. I knew that in his generation, that was the plain truth. Moreover, I knew that he was really saying, “I can’t believe some man hasn’t snapped up my charming, smart and attractive daughter.”

Eight years later, I’m still not married, and still have no children. I am sure that many people I encounter see an old maid. Of course they don’t say it in as many words as my dad. They show it instead.

They show it when they say, “Not married? Oh, you must be picky.”

I hear it when others, incredulous, refuse to take it as fact. “Just kidding.” I want to say in such cases, “ I am married. Don’t worry. I’m normal.”

I think the inability to categorize me makes some people uncomfortable. If I were divorced, they could make sense of it. Were I a single mom, I’d find sympathy and compassion. But by admitting my single, never married, no-child status is akin to announcing there is something wrong with me. I’m reasonably attractive, funny and pass for intelligent, so people are only left to ponder my fatal flaws. Some people actually ask, “So what’s wrong with you?”

Our society sort of views marriage as a given. A rite of passage. When I read news accounts of a young woman or even a child who died tragically, her parents inevitably say “I’ll never walk her down the aisle on her wedding day. I’ll never hold her children.” It is assumed that everyone who was born will marry and have children. I assumed I would too. When it just doesn’t happen, knowing that it is expected of us only deepens the pain.

That is why it is so hurtful when it is suggested to a single person that they “must be picky.” As if we can just pick a guy and get married. After all, did you settle? Now you’re suggesting that you could have married just anyone. Would you have had as successful a marriage if you had ended up with one of your exes? As much as I long for marriage, I sure am glad I didn’t marry any of the men in my life so far.

That’s the trick about marriage as a goal. It’s not like learning to dance, or committing to losing weight. It doesn’t take will power to find a mate. It takes a mate. It takes a miracle. Oh, that I could just go to the store and pick one up!

True, single for some people is a choice. For those of us who truly desire marriage and children and family, it is not. Marriage is a vocation that two people agree to take on together. I can’t do it by myself. I learned, in just the last two months that I can’t make someone love me. No matter how much I love him, or how strong in faith he might be. Not even that our shared faith made us both stronger. No matter how happy we are together until all the Ifs and Buts step in.

And the simple fact of the matter is, I’ve never been asked.

That alone makes me question my womanhood and my desirability. It’s a very uncomfortable place. I am a woman who desperately desires motherhood. My clock is tocking not ticking. I am very aware that my best reproductive years are over.

What not to say

Please don’t remind a single woman that her chances for a healthy baby are diminishing every year she is over 30. But also, please do not try to encourage us with stories of women who successfully bore children well into their 50s. All of this is completely irrelevant to a woman without a husband or serious boyfriend.

While we’re on the topic, yes, I know adoption is an option. I am adopted myself and believe that adopted babies are indeed the best kind. If I were blessed with marriage, adoption would defiantly be a consideration. But adoption is as far out there as infertility treatments when there is no man in your life.

You’ll find him when you’re not looking

I’m never not looking. Yes, my life is full and happy. But I am a mother without a child. I am a wife without a husband. I want my other half. Think of the loss you would feel if your husband or child suddenly were not there. I feel, not daily, but often, that an important part of my life is missing.

And by the way… dating after age 30 is not fun. It is a chore, like scrubbing the bathtub but less rewarding. It’s hard to look forward to dinner and disappointment. I want to anticipate a nice evening, but this much experience has taught me what to look for in a man – and more often than not, it’s not there.

In the meantime, sometimes I just want to dote my pent-up motherhood on your kids. It’s probably terribly inappropriate, but I will snuggle your baby and sniff its’ head to soak up that sweet smell. I’ve been guilty of tickling and twirling a smiling baby until it spits up. Sorry. I will nosh on your toddlers’ chubby legs and lift his shirt to plant a raspberry, just so I can hear that throaty, from-the-gut baby giggle that makes my heart sing. If it’s no trouble, please just indulge me. (I promise not to do that to your husband.)

Seeing women my age or younger with kids in tow – can stir a pang of deep pain. I once called my church office to ask when Baptisms were scheduled, as I needed to avoid them. Second Sunday of the month, I would attend a different church just so I didn’t have to see the happy couples with their beautiful babies.

That’s another point. Church is no place for a single woman. Church is all about family. That’s why you see so few single adults there. It’s not that they no longer believe, the fact is they don’t feel welcome. When your pastor asks you reach out to share a blessing, do you turn to your family first? I stand there waiting for a hand to embrace.

I worry this writing might sound all bitter and lonely and sad. I am happy. I am blessed with an incredible network of friends. My family is amazing. I enjoy my single life to the best of my ability. People remind me that marriage is not easy. I remind them; neither is being single.

Oddly, Barb in last week’s post on Empty Nesting provided me a point to expound upon. She wrote:

“Life is a circle. You flow from one stage to the next. And with a little time, you become comfortable with the newest stage.” --Barb, A Chelsea Morning

For a perpetually single person, that’s not so. My life is a wandering squiggly line – darting in and out of other people’s circles. Everyone else is buzzing along on a predictable cycle but there is no circle of life in my world. There are no ‘stages’ for me to move through, save the aging process.

I am not Less Than

I realize I may sound contradictory – as I have already pointed out here that I feel a part of me is missing. But I am a whole person. Perhaps I have not yet realized that God intends for me to be alone, and that to Him I am complete and not in need of a husband. I’m still working on trusting God’s divine providence.

What I mean to emphasize is that you need not view me as pathetic and alone. I am not waiting for my life to begin. Marriage is not going to make my life worth living. My life is worthy now. I’m just a little lonely.

Invite me over to play with your kids while you tackle the laundry. Seriously.

Think about introducing me to someone. Don’t wait until you find the ‘perfect guy’ for me. It’s just nice to meet people. You never know who they might lead you to!

If you do make an introduction, don’t make a big fuss. Don’t tell either of us you’re setting it up. Just put us in the same room. If we’re interested, we’ll figure it out. But feel free to point out after the fact, that you introduced me to so-and-so if sparks did not fly.

Pray for single adults. There are ministries for single moms, working moms, elderly widows/widowers, and petitions for the sick. But when does society reach out to the single? Pray that your single friends might daily, feel the love of God and of their friends and neighbors in a tangible way.

Invite your single friends for a meal. We’ll help prepare. I attend my church’s weekly fish fry during Lent – even though I’m allergic to fish. My priest teased me until I explained at home, I have to eat alone.

Keep in touch with your single friends. They’re not out tearing it up and having orgies. We’re not out to steal your husband. Sometimes we just want to experience the hum of a household with a family. Look for things in common with single adults. We might not share your challenges, but we can still relate.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Remember when I said we ordered a train set for Eliana because it was a really good deal?? Well, it arrived yesterday. I opened the outer box so I could wrap up the box with the train set in it and I discovered two boxes inside. Confused, I asked Leif about it. It turns out, that in addition to the 100 piece train set we ordered for $30 with free shipping, we also received this train station set:
for FREE! So that will tack onto this:

and we will have made out like bandits! I'm still reeling from the shock of it and SO GLAD I didn't pick up the simple 8 track design for $30 that I was about to buy the day before we saw this deal.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Santa Clause....

I didn't grow up believing in Santa. And I don't feel deprived. We really have no intention of teaching Eliana about Santa, either, though I would have liked to get a picture of her sitting on Santa's lap this year. But we missed that opportunity (by mere minutes) at Murdoch's the other day for a free photo, so we probably won't do it. It's not THAT big a deal, I just thought it would make for a cute picture. I have never heard a really convincing argument against teaching your kids about Santa Clause, because I have seen people do it without taking away from the focus of Christ. But today my friend Jaime posted an excellent reason behind their family's decision not to celebrate Santa Clause. It's not because Santa is evil, nor because Santa secularizes Christmas. It's because if you use your power as a parent to convince your children to believe a lie (that Santa is real, that he lives at the North Pole and brings kids gifts, etc.) then the time may come when they question the truth of other stories you have told them are true (that Christ is God's son and that he came to earth in the form of a baby, born of a virgin, and that his death has provided a way for us to be reconciled to God and be saved). Because if you lied about one, how will they know you didn't lie about the other? We need to be honest with our children and make sure that we act in a manner that is worthy of their trust.

Anyway, I am not nearly as eloquent as Jaime on the subject, so please read her post instead of just taking my summary of it. =D I appreciate friends who think through their parenting in light of Scripture and who are willing to post their thoughts online to spur the rest of us to deeper thought and more deliberate parenting. Thank you, Jaime!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Putting a little Holiday in the Everyday...

As I'm doing the Daily December this year, it occurs to me that I'm making an effort to make the every day things just a little more special this holiday season. It doesn't take a lot of effort or energy, but I think it makes the everyday a little more fun and turns our focus from the mundane to the season. It's the simple moments in life that are great. Yes, Christmas day is wonderful and beautiful and magical, but I'm not convinced it would be if we didn't take the time and effort to build the excitement throughout the season. Simple memories. We bake cookies. We take pictures. We send cards. We decorate the house. It's all the little things that add up to make this season so spectacular. So I thought I'd share a little of how I'm putting the holiday in our everyday this year, just to make things a little more special.

  • Reading Christmas stories instead of our regular stories.
  • Watching Christmas movies instead of our regular Word World, etc.
  • Baking muffins (or cornbread, like we did tonight) into gingerbread men shapes (using a Wilton silicone pan).
  • Playing Christmas music and dancing to it.
  • Singing Christmas carols
  • Making snow angels outside
  • Making some Christmas cards (or Thank You cards) for grandparents and other family members.
  • Talking about the Christmas story as you decorate the tree (the star or angel on top, why we give gifts, advent candles, etc.)
  • Pointing out Christmas lights as you drive around town.
  • Playing with holiday specific toys (stuffed snowmen, etc.)
  • Making and decorating cookies together.
  • Making baked goods together to give as gifts.
Those are a few of the things we're doing this holiday season. What are you doing to put some Holiday in your Everyday?

Friday, December 5, 2008

How's it going?

Well, it's been a few days since I took 2/3 of Eliana's toys away from her and put them up until later. Wanna know how it's going?


Her room looks empty, if you ask me. It made me realize that I really do need to finish the decorations I have half done to put on her wall. That would make the room look better. I moved the easel to the craft room. It has a place in there and she actually got to paint on it -- and LOVED it! I'm so excited for the crafts she's going to get to do down there now that I have a place I don't have to be so concerned about getting all dirtied up by toddler creativity!

Now that Eliana doesn't have as much clutter in her room it's amazing the creativity she has. She's been playing "Birthday Cake" a lot and has been playing with her activity bags sorting things by color and threading beads on pipe cleaner. She never played with those before! Plus, it takes just a couple minutes to clean up her room now instead of taking half an hour or more. Hooray!

The basement is tidier, too, now that I've moved out some of that stuff. I still need to clean up the rest of the family room and get her puppets arranged in a way that she can easily play with them, but it's good. She's playing with her Mega Blocks all the time down there!

So it's good. I'm really glad I took the time to separate out her toys. When she gets her Christmas gifts I'll put some of them aside so she can play with them later, too. Then there will be newness all through the year instead of just on one day!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

S is for Star

The other day I was at Barnes and Noble looking for some Christmas / Winter books to read with Eliana. She was happily playing with the train set when I stumbled upon this little gem of a book:

I assumed that S is for Star would be just like all the other secular "____ is for _____" alphabet books published by this company. We have the "B is for Big Sky" book and it's cute, but it isn't anything spectacular. I figured the Christmas book would be the same way. You know, C is for Candy Cane, P is for Presents, F is for Frosty the Snowman.... It turns out, though, that this is a surprisingly good book for the Christmas season. It is pretty much an alphabet book centered on Christ's birth, which is awesome! Each page, in addition to the "_____ is for ________" statement includes scripture verses and tidbits of history that pertain to the focus for that letter. I was pleasantly surprised at the number of scripture verses throughout the book. The side information also makes the book more interesting for older children, making this a book that can be read as a family for years.

Like I said, pleasantly surprised. Not only that, but the book retails for under $7. It really makes me wish I had nieces and nephews - I'd buy a copy for each of them for Christmas this year. Instead, though, I'll just settle for the copy I bought for our household. =D

If you click here you can see some of the pages inside (I'm a big fan of the "surprise me!" button on the side bar for seeing what a book is like inside). But just to give you an idea of the way the letters are incorporated to give a picture of why we really celebrate Christmas, here is a sample...

A is for angels and archangels
B is for Baby Jesus
E is for Epiphany
I stands for Inn in Isreal
Joseph begins with the letter J
K stands for King
L is for Love
M is for the straw-filled Manger
S stands for Shepherds
W is for Wise Men
Zion starts with the letter Z

I love that the books draws in not only the nativity story, and cultural Christmas traditions, but also starts to give the big picture of Christmas, mentioning Christ as the King of Kings, born into King David's line and Christ returning again. It really is a good book and I can't recommend it enough if you're trying to find a good book to read with your kids this season.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Daily December

This year I am going to do Daily December activities with Eliana. We're going to spend time doing something for the holidays every day, and I'm going to do my best to take pictures and record what we're doing. I made a little Daily December album last month in which to record these memories so that we can look back on the things we did to celebrate Christmas this year.

And wouldn't you know it, but today is December 3 and I haven't yet recorded what we did on the 1st or the 2nd. The good news is that we DID something those days, though! Here's what we did:

December 1 - Drove around the subdivision looking at Christmas lights. It turns out that Eliana is a big fan of decorated houses and calls the houses with lights on them "castles". As in, "WOW! Look at that big castle over there!" It's cute.

December 2 - Eliana and I bought some Christmas books to read this season (including How the Grinch Stole Christmas and S is for Star) and we put up a new little Christmas tree in her room. It doesn't have any ornaments or a star on it yet, but it does have some red garland on it, which she picked out. I hope to use the Christmas tree this year to talk about the symbolism of the different decorations.

And today? Well, we'll have to see what we do today. She has friends coming over this afternoon, so we might bake cookies (in the shape of ginger bread men!) or we might make salt dough ornaments, or we might make cinnamon hard candy (in the shape of ginger bread men!) or we might play in the snow and learn to make snow angels or we might do something entirely different. We'll just have to see how the day goes. =D


Ha ha! This is going to be funny post coming right after the last one, but I promise I'm not crazy. =D This morning we ordered this train set:

for Eliana to play with on her train table. It's the third part of her Little People / Cars / Trains rotation. Want to know the best part about this particular train set?? It was $29.99 with free shipping!! I have been looking at other train sets and for $30 all you get is a little 8 track with 2 train cars. So this set is a great deal! I'm pretty excited about it, especially since Eliana LOVES playing with the train sets at the Children's Museum, Barnes and Noble, and Giggles toy store. The set can connect into other brands of wooden train sets, too, which is nice. The reviews are pretty good on this particular train set from this particular website (there were 66 reviews) so I'm excited to see the set when it actually arrives. I assume we'll give it to Eliana for Christmas and then put it away until the middle of January or sometime in February when it's time to switch out the toys in the basement again. I know she is getting a Little People house from Mommom and Poppy, so I want her to play with that on the table first. Plus, her Christmas toys get to be new and fresh then when she doesn't get to play with them all at once.