Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Christmas Decorations No. 1

I've finally gotten all the decorations up - well, except the tree. We'll wait on the grandparents for that. Can't wait to try to keep the Tominator out of that. Ugh.

This is an olivewood musical creche that my grandmother brought me from Israel when I was a little girl.

Our new stockings and the Advent calendar.

Front door wreath.

Evergreens over the mirror in the family room.

Our advent wreath. I can't find purple candles this year, so white will have to do. Trader Joe's used to sell the best purple candles this time of year; now it seems they only sell white. Bah Humbug to them too.

My mom's Santa collection. It doesn't show up well in the pictures, but it's really neat.

And last but not least, Frosty. Tom insists he's a bird, because of his pointy carrot nose. I have not been able to convince him that Frosty is, in fact, a snowman.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Back On

Ok, so clearly I fell off the NaBloPoMo wagon. Eight days without a post. Arrrgh.

But I'm back, and ready to post. Thanksgiving week really threw me for a loop, and although I had plenty to write about, I just could not make myself do it. But I'll try again.

We returned from our weekend at the in-law's last night, and I finally started decorating for Christmas. The few decorations I have up look really nice; I'll post the pictures later today.

We're going to wait to do the tree until my parents arrive in a couple of weeks, but that should be fun.

The only thing I don't have any of is decent Christmas music. Any suggestions? My enitre collection consists of two grocery-store CDs from the early 90's called Christmas with the Stars, which may have a track by Mariah Carey (the only name I recognize) and Country Christmas which is just really, really bad.

Save me people! Tell me where to find some good music to put me in the holiday spirit.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Movie Review Monday

You must see this movie. Seriously, get thee to a cineplex tonight. SuperHubby and I went to see it on Saturday night; I laughed until the tears ran down my face. I never quote movies, but I am constantly quoting this one.

Will Ferrell plays Harold Crick, an extremely boring IRS agent whose life is suddenly turned upside down when an omniscient narrator (Emma Thompson) begins describing his daily life. When the voice tells of his impending death, Crick embarks on a journey to find the voice and change his fate.

On his way, he meets Professor Jules Herbert (Dustin Hoffman.) Lit majors will enjoy Hoffman's scenes - he steals the show with his portrayal of an eccentric lit prof. The inventive quiz he gives Crick to see what novel he is in is one of the best scenes in the entire movie.

Although the ending is too neat, it really doesn't distract from the excellence of the rest of the show.

Go see this movie!

Wishful Thinking rating: 5 big, sparkly stars

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The Name Game

I know, I know, I have months to come up with a name for this baby. But I've got nothin'.

So I'm petitioning my tens of readers out there for some of their favorite names. Give me boys names. Give me girls names. Keep them in first/middle combinations if at all possible.

Give me names that I absolutely SHOULD NOT use.

And to help you out, our last name is Duck. Yeah, like the bird. Fantastic, mais non?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Happy Face

My baby has a face. It's a little sad that I just realized this yesterday. Until that point, in my mind she was still a little bean, a little lump of cells without any real definition.

She's been growing inside of me for 14 weeks now, persistently asserting her independence by telling when to eat, what not to eat, and when to bring everything I've eaten back up again. When her brother was this age, I knew everything there was to know about his development. I knew when his heart started beating, when he grew eyelids and ears, when his fingerprints developed.

But things have been different with this one. I've been so busy keeping up with life that I haven't thought much about the life that is growing inside of me.

So yesterday, when I realized my baby has a face, with eyelids and a nose and a beautiful mouth, I was surprised and ecstatic. How did she grow so fast? I wondered. She would nearly fill the palm of my hand if I could hold her, but I hope not to do that for many months yet.

She has ears and fingers and toes and if I could see her, I could confirm for you that she is, in fact female. Or maybe she's really a he. It will be a while until we find out.

She is beginning to be able to hear, a feat SuperHubby was glad learn last night. "I should be singing to her," he smiled, as he pressed his mouth close to my belly. "Hi baby, this is your Daddy. Be nice to mommy."

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Ma Barton's Christmas Cookies

Ma Barton's Christmas Cookies

These are by far the very, very best rolled Christmas cookies I have ever tasted. They freeze beautifully - baked or unbaked - for later decorating. The icing included in the recipe is the best sugar cookie icing ever. This recipe makes a lot (about 8 dozen, depending on how big you cut them) of cookies, and is easiest to make in a stand mixer.

Preheat oven to 400.

1 c butter, softened
2 c sugar
3 eggs
2 Tbs. milk
1 tsp. vanilla

5 c flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt

Sift together dry ingredients in a large bowl. Cream butter and sugar in mixer bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. Add milk and vanilla, mix well. Gradually beat in dry ingredients. Divide the dough into two or three smaller balls. Roll out on a floured surface and cut into shapes using cookie cutters. Bake 6-7 minutes, or until edges are just golden and cookies are set.

(Purists only roll the dough out twice, however, I roll and re-roll the dough until all the scraps are used, and the cookies always turn out beautifully.)

Once the cookies are cool, frost with Butter Cream Frosting.

Butter Cream Frosting
(this may be tinted for really colorful decorations)

Beat together
6 Tbs. Butter
1 lb. confectioner's sugar
1-2 tsp. vanilla
add milk 1 tbs. at a time until creamy, but still stiff enough to decorate with.

Once you have the cookies decorated, let them sit at least 2 hours to dry completely before storing in a covered container.

Monday, November 13, 2006


This song is stuck in my head.

The Tominator and I were busy making chili this morning, when I noticed he had gotten a hold of one of my spice jars. The lid was on, so I let him play.

When I looked over a minute later, he had removed the lid and liberally shaken the herb all over the kitchen floor.

"Oh no!" I said. "Let's keep the thyme in the bottle."

And there it was.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Mothering Advice

Owlhaven asked: “What advice or information do you wish you had received to prepare you for motherhood? Or, on the contrary, what advice do you think women soon to become mothers should not be given?”

The best advice I can give is to practice patience. As a new mother, nothing comes as quickly as you expect it to. Breastfeeding is worth it, but it's a lot of effort in the beginning. Your body will take a while to go back to its prepregnancy shape. Have patience. Everything will work out.

Plan to spend the first month doing little more than feeding the baby, changing the baby, feeding yourself, and sleeping. Everything else - laundry, cleaning, reorganizing the attic - can and will wait. Be patient with yourself. If you plan on a "free" month, anything you do get accomplished during that time will be a great bonus! Let go of your to-do lists.

Take time to marvel in your baby's smallness. They are tiny and dependent for such a short time - I wish I had spent more time holding my son when he was tiny. At 15 months he doesn't much want to cuddle with momma anymore.

And finally, listen to advice, but listen to yourself more. Tons of people will be willing to tell you what to do and how to do it; some people (family members especially) may have very strong opinions on the "correct" way to raise a child.

Tip: there is no one correct way to raise a child.

Follow your heart. If your mother insists that you should let your 4-week-old infant "cry it out," but you don't agree, thank her for her advice and continue doing whatever works for you. No baby has ever turned out wrong from attention and love.

Believe in yourself; you can do this! And when that 3 am waking is driving you up a wall, hold your baby and pray. It helped me to have a "memorized" prayer to rely on in the middle of the night - like the Lord's prayer. That way I didn't have to get all creative. But it doesn't really matter HOW you reach out to God, just do it. God will not give you a greater burden than you can carry.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Have You Hugged a Veteran Today?

My PawPaw served his country with honor during World War II. He never saw foreign soil, but he trained hundreds of young men who did. During the war, the US arms supply was so low that he trained his men with broomsticks, because they had no guns. Even under those circumstances, he, and the men he trained, made a difference.

This is the flag that draped the caisson when he was interred at Arlington National Cemetery.

I have a dear family friend who is a young marine serving in Iraq right now. This is his third tour, and every night I pray he will make it home safe and unharmed, as he has before. He is on or near the front lines, and I often find myself holding my breath when I come across lists of the dead.

Men and women like my grandfather and my friend spend their lives protecting our nation. Remember to thank a veteran today.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Nine Weird Things

Heth tagged me for this meme a while ago, so now I will tell you just how strange I am. Although I am not sure I can top Chili's number one weird thing. Really. Check it out.

* I edited number 7 after reading Chili's comment *

1. I have a terrible memory, and if I don't write something down, it's completely gone. I frequently forget doctor's appointments, dates with friends and birthdays because of this trait.

2. Having a poor memory makes me an excellent person to hear secrets. I would be the ultimate confessor, because I would never remember anyone's sins longer than a day or two.

3. Before I had children, I walked around with a running commentary in my head, sort of like a voice-over in a movie. I think I was a cross between Walter Mitty and Will Farrell.

4. Since I have become a mother, my voice-over has been drowned out by repeated singing of "The Wheels on the Bus."

5. I have secretly looked forward to wearing maternity clothes again, because most of them are inherited from other people and are in styles that I would not normally buy for myself. It's like 6 months of dress up.

6. If it's only immediate family in the house (myself, SuperHubby, Tominator) I rarely close the bathroom door.

7. I prefer to sleep in my all together (you know, my birthday suit. Also known as naked. Wonder what this line will do to my Google hits?)

8. Some of my closest friends are IM buddies whom I have never met.

9. I get very irritated with people who put on a show and pretend they are something that they are not. With me, what you see is pretty much what you get, cluttered home and all.

And here is an amazingly accurate personality quiz:

Your Five Factor Personality Profile


You have medium extroversion.
You're not the life of the party, but you do show up for the party.
Sometimes you are full of energy and open to new social experiences.
But you also need to hibernate and enjoy your "down time."


You have medium conscientiousness.
You're generally good at balancing work and play.
When you need to buckle down, you can usually get tasks done.
But you've been known to goof off when you know you can get away with it.


You have high agreeableness.
You are easy to get along with, and you value harmony highly.
Helpful and generous, you are willing to compromise with almost anyone.
You give people the benefit of the doubt and don't mind giving someone a second chance.


You have medium neuroticism.
You're generally cool and collected, but sometimes you do panic.
Little worries or problems can consume you, draining your energy.
Your life is pretty smooth, but there's a few emotional bumps you'd like to get rid of.

Openness to experience:

Your openness to new experiences is medium.
You are generally broad minded when it come to new things.
But if something crosses a moral line, there's no way you'll approve of it.
You are suspicious of anything too wacky, though you do still consider creativity a virtue.

I tag: Mopsy, Jess and Jill, if you haven't done this already.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Itsy Squishy Spider

I crawled my hands across the floor, imitating a spider as I sang "the itsy bitsy spider." The song is one of Tom's favorites, and generally reduces him to a rolling ball of laughter.

But today, Tom had other plans for spidey. With great concentration, he raised his right foot and stomped down, just inches from my fingers. When he saw that he had missed, he picked up the foot and tried again.

Spiders of the world, beware. My son is out to get you.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Kitchen Help

Tired of a fussy toddler pulling at your legs while you try to cook or do the dishes? A nice step stool will generally solve your problems. The Tominator loves to help me cook, and we even get in some math practice when we bake.

Whenever he's being particularly difficult, I ask him to get his stool and help me cook. He always runs right out to the sun porch and tries to bring his stool in, even though it's much to big for him to do. Once we get him set up, he is happy as a clam. He has helped me make pizza (although he ate all the olives off before it got to the oven,) brownies, cakes, apple pie and a million other things. It's a great way to keep him entertained and educate him at the same time.

For instance, if we are baking from scratch, I let him help me scoop out the flour, baking soda and spices, counting as we go. Then I let him help stir the dough or batter. Sometimes he makes a bit of a mess, but that is cleaned up easily enough.

Don't forget to check out more Works for Me Wednesday tips over at Rocks in My Dryer.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Confessions of a Bad Mom

Today was not an easy day in the Thinking household. My sweet fetus apparently did not get the message that she is supposed to stop torturing me after the first trimester; thus I spent most of my day on the couch or hiding in bed, attempting not to lose my breakfast.

The rest of the day was spent battling a screaming, biting, tantrum-throwing toddler.

By the time dinner rolled around, I had just about had it. Tommy said he was hungry, I set him in his high chair and dished up some ham and navy bean soup. Two bites in he started screaming. Just screetching. I could not figure out what was wrong. He was still eating, but every bite was puncutated with high pitched shrieks.

I threatened time-out if he didn't stop. I yelled. I ignored him. But after about 20 minutes, I decided I'd had enough and it was time for dinner to be over. When I picked him up out of his high chair, I noticed his diaper felt like it needed changing. So upstairs we went.

Imagine my surpise and shame when I discovered that Tom's endless screams were not the result of temper, but the result of a horrible, bright red diaper rash. A new diaper and a little cream turned my screaming boy into a sweet thing once again.

I feel like such a bad mom.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

A New Phrase

When I came home from the grocery tonight, the full moon was so beautiful. I came inside and bundled Tom in his coat, then took him outside to see the moon. SuperHubby came too, but somehow in the exiting procedure, SuperMutt escaped. Off he ran through the moonlit streets, stopping only long enough to lift a leg here or there.

Tom and I said, "Goodnight, moon!" and strolled along the sidewalk, while SuperHubby and SuperMutt had a Benny Hill-style chase through the neighborhood. When the dog finally gave up the chase and allowed himself to be caught, I scolded him.

"Bad Dog!" I said. "Bad, bad dog!"

Coltrane went to his kennel. A few moments later, Tom followed. "Ba dog, ba ba ba!" he said, standing outside the dog's kennel. Then he turned to me and made the signs for dog eat. "Cookie?" he asked.

Explaining to a one year old that naughty dogs don't get cookies is harder than you would imagine. Tom was adamant that the dog should have a cookie. He stomped. He pleaded. He screamed.

Ah, for the love of a bad dog.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Big Sentence

Today, the Tominator uttered his first sentence. He has been signing in sentences for weeks, letting us know, for instance, when the dog is eating, but he has never so much as uttered more than one word in a row.

Until this morning.

He had dumped out a carton of toys, and carefully placed each one back in the container. When he had finished, he closed the lid and said, "all done."

How cool is that?

Friday, November 03, 2006

Me me

Stole this from Mopsy. What should I do next, do you think?

01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink
02. Swam with wild dolphins
03. Climbed a mountain

04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
05. Been inside the Great Pyramid
06. Held a tarantula
07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
08. Said “I love you” and meant it
09. Hugged a tree

10. Bungee jumped
11. Visited Paris
12. Watched a lightning storm at sea
13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise
14. Seen the Northern Lights
15. Gone to a huge sports game (and survived the crush afterwards)
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
18. Touched an iceberg (no, but I touched a glacier. Does that count?)
19. Slept under the stars
20. Changed a baby’s diaper

21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
22. Watched a meteor shower
23. Gotten drunk on champagne
24. Given more than you can afford to charity
25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
27. Had a food fight

28. Bet on a winning horse
29. Asked out a stranger
30. Had a snowball fight
31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can
32. Held a lamb

33. Seen a total eclipse
34. Ridden a roller coaster
35. Hit a home run
36. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking
37. Adopted an accent for an entire day
38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
39. Had two hard drives for your computer
40. Visited all 50 states
41. Taken care of someone who was drunk.
42. Had amazing friends
43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
44. Watched wild whales

45. Stolen a sign
46. Backpacked in Europe.
47. Taken a road-trip
48. Gone rock climbing
49. Midnight walk on the beach

50. Gone sky diving
51. Visited Ireland
52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love
53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table and had a meal with them
54. Visited Japan
55. Milked a cow
56. Alphabetized your CDs
57. Pretended to be a superhero
58. Sung karaoke

59. Lounged around in bed all day
60. Played touch football
61. Gone scuba diving
62. Kissed in the rain
63. Played in the mud
64. Played in the rain
65. Gone to a drive-in theater

66. Visited the Great Wall of China
67. Started a business
68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken
69. Toured ancient sites

70. Taken a martial arts class
71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight
72. Gotten married
73. Been in a movie
74. Crashed a party
75. Gotten divorced
76. Gone without food for 5 days
77. Made cookies from scratch
78. Won first prize in a costume contest
79. Ridden a gondola in Venice (been there, didn't ride a gondola. How lame is that?)
80. Gotten a tattoo
81. Rafted the Snake River
82. Been on television news programs as an “expert”
83. Got flowers for no reason
84. Performed on stage

85. Been to Las Vegas
86. Recorded music
87. Eaten shark
88. Kissed on the first date
89. Gone to Thailand
90. Bought a house
91. Been in a combat zone
92. Buried one/both of your parents
93. Been on a cruise ship
94. Spoken more than one language fluently
95. Performed in Rocky Horror
96. Raised children
97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn’t stop when you knew someone was looking
103. Had plastic surgery
104. Survived an accident that you shouldn’t have survived
105. Wrote articles for a large publication

106. Lost over 100 pounds
107. Held someone while they were having a flashback
108. Piloted an airplane
109. Touched a stingray
110. Broken someone’s heart

111. Helped an animal give birth
112. Won money on a T.V. game show
113. Broken a bone
114. Gone on an African photo safari
115. Had a facial part pierced other than your ears
116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol
117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
118. Ridden a horse
119. Had major surgery
120. Had a snake as a pet

121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
122. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours
123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states
124. Visited all 7 continents
125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
126. Eaten kangaroo meat
127. Eaten sushi
128. Had your picture in the newspaper

129. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about

130. Gone back to school
131. Parasailed
132. Touched a cockroach
133. Eaten fried green tomatoes
134. Read The Iliad - and the Odyssey

135. Selected one “important” author who you missed in school, and read
136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
137. Skipped all your school reunions
138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
139. Been elected to public office
140. Written your own computer language
141. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream
142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
143. Built your own PC from parts
144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you
145. Had a booth at a street fair
146. Dyed your hair
147. Been a DJ
148. Shaved your head
149. Caused a car accident
150. Saved someone’s life

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Are You Prepared?

Elections are in 5 days. Do you know who you're voting for? Do you have good reasons for voting for him/her? Have you looked at your candidate's stance on issues across the board, or have you narrowly focused on one issue? Are you voting strictly on the fact that you think the person is moral?

Before you vote, make sure you know where your candidate really stands. I love this ad from AARP that I saw this morning. It actually made me laugh out loud.

If you don't feel that you know enough about the candidates in your local races, check out before you hit the polls Tuesday. (Hat tip to Heth for the link.)

And no matter WHO you're voting for, head to the polls Tuesday. The people need to be heard. All of us.

This advertisement was approved by Goslyn. Please don't vote for me.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Love Songs for Tommy

Last night, as I relaxed in a warm bath, I listened to the music drifting up the stairs and wafting under the bathroom door. SuperHubby had caved to Tom's demand for guitar music, and was singing away to our son. I heard Tom's favorite If You're Happy and You Know It, and then I think a rendetion of Wheels on the Bus.

SuperHubby tooled around with a few other melodies before breaking into Pure Prairie League's Amy, What Ya Gonna Do? Tom's laughter bubbled up through the steam in the bathroom, and I smiled.