Today marks the beginning of Advent, a season of expectant waiting and preparation in the weeks leading up to the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ the Messiah.
Come, Thou long-expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
Hope of all the saints Thou art;
Dear desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.
I know it won’t yet mean much to a young toddler, but we will be starting our traditions now so that they are a part of our celebrations right from the beginning. It also helps me to prepare my own heart during this Advent season, a way to reflect on and anticipate the coming celebration at a time when it becomes so easy to get caught up in the busyness of gift buying, decorating, attending Christmas parties, watching Christmas performances, packing and travelling.
Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
May this Advent season be a blessing to you as well as you look to the coming of Christ. O Emmanuel, Jesus Christ, desire of every nation, Savior of all peoples, come and dwell among us.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.
…and her name is Betty Crocker.
I’ve had the worst luck with cookies lately. I couldn’t figure out why – I’m not a completely inept individual, I can follow a recipe. I used to be able to make good cookies. But for months now, every time I bake them, they spread way out into flat little cookie-flavoured pancakes. It’s really no wonder we usually just eat the dough raw (yummm).
I wanted real cookies last night, so brilliant me figured it was probably time to find another recipe, since the one I was using was clearly not working for me. Fortunately, my MIL had bought me a cookbook for Christmas last year (no, I wasn’t insulted – but my husband tells me she was worried I would be!). It’s a wonderful Betty Crocker cookbook. It has so many useful things, like the basic way to cook vegetables, how to identify all sorts of different veggies and spices and whatnot, what to substitute if you don’t have a particular ingredient on hand, and what the problem may have been if your baking didn’t turn out quite right. So useful.
So I flipped to the chocolate chip cookie recipe, noticed that it had quite a bit more flour and one less egg than the recipe I was using (gee, you think that might have been my problem?), whipped up a batch of cookies, waited anxiously for them to finish baking…and ended up with this:
Deliciously plump chocolate chip cookies.
I won’t tell you how many of them I ate.
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 1/4 cups Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup coarsely chopped nuts (optional)
1 package (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips (2 cups)
1. Heat oven to 375ºF.
2. Mix sugars, butter and egg in large bowl. Stir in flour, baking soda and salt (dough will be stiff). Stir in nuts and chocolate chips.
3. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet.
4. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light brown (centers will be soft). Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet. Cool on wire rack.
*nom nom nom*
Today was a long day, a sadly unproductive attempt to get all of our Christmas shopping done. Ikea was sold out of the activity mat we had gone to buy for the little guy, and we found nothing there for my SIL who loves the store. The big toy superstore was sold out of large buckets of Duplo, and apparently there is a general shortage of the blocks. Shopping for my sisters, my other SIL, and my in-laws didn’t go much better. I did manage to find a few things, but still have more to do.
We had one last store to go to and then I was done for the day. Well, so was the little guy. He was about five seconds away from a completely justified hunger-induced toddler meltdown, and he needed something to eat now.
I scooped him up and made a quick detour to the grocery store, where what did I spot but these:
I believe it went something like this:
“Oh my goodness will you look at these, what sort of lazy parent do you have to be to buy pre-cut and pre-packaged apples and grapes?? And look at the price of these things! You could buy a bunch of grapes and a few apples for a fraction of the cost! Slice them yourself and toss them in a baggie with a few grapes! For goodness’ sake, the things they come up with to cater to our laziness nowadays!”
And so on and so forth.
Well…when you’re in desperate need of a quick and healthy snack, with no place and no time to prepare it, no knife to slice the apple, no sink to wash the grapes…suddenly those oh my goodness how lazy do you have to be snacks look really darn wonderful.
Yeah, I bought them. Yeah, my kid ate them. Yeah, he loved them.
Yeah, I’m eating my words.
(Yes, there’s more.)
That “one last store” I had to go to just happened to be Walmart. I despise the store, I really do, and I try to avoid it whenever I can, but I was having such a hard time finding gifts that I gave in and went there. I do that occasionally. I feel bad, but I do it. I’ve made my peace with that.
But on top of Walmart, I also generally try to avoid Disney. Big corporation, disgustingly unethical, always always always shoving their merchandise in your face everywhere you turn – I just try to avoid getting caught up in that. It helps that my husband’s opinion of Disney is even lower than mine.
So we don’t have a lot of Disney stuff in our house. There are a couple outfits that were given by my Disney-obsessed family members – that’s fine, he wears those, as much as I cringe at letting him be a walking Disney billboard. But he really really likes the Cars stuff. One of said gift outfits is a Cars shirt and is one of his favourites. He points Cars stuff out everywhere we go. And honestly, it was kind of a cute movie (I give the credit to Pixar).
Get to the point, I know, sorry.
So we’re at Walmart. So, it seems, is everyone else in the area. There are no shopping carts left. I’ve got an arm full of bags, my purse, a toddler who has had enough of shopping (though much calmer now that he’s had his oh my goodness so lazy pre-cut and pre-packaged fruit) – and, irritatingly enough, a baby carrier I’d left in the car at the other end of the mall because I hadn’t planned to use it. He finds this Cars book that makes him squeal with delight and gives him something to focus on while I quickly finish shopping, I buy it for him, and wuddayaknow, this Disney book doesn’t leave his hands for the rest of the day.
Proof positive? Here ya go:
Of all the books he has in this house…his favourite would have to be a Disney one.
Like I said.
*nom nom nom*
Melody at Transitions of an Overachiever has asked me to write seven random things about myself. How fun – so here goes!
1. I am the oldest of six kids. When I was growing up, I didn’t want a large family myself. Now that I have one child of my own, I love the idea of a large family. But it seems they’ll be quite spread out, as my son is 19 months old and my period has yet to return. Go, breastfeeding. I hope to foster and/or adopt children at some point in the future.
2. Everyone has at least one silly little fear. (Right? You all do? Because that’s what I tell myself to make myself feel better about having this silly little fear.) I can’t dangle my arm or leg – or even my hand – off the edge of the bed during the night. Why? Because I can’t see what’s down there. There could be – who knows? – an alligator under the bed ready to snap my hand off as soon as it dangles over the edge. Or someone could grab me and yank me off the bed. You just never know. Similarly, even though I am a very strong and comfortable swimmer (passed all my levels up to lifeguarding, participated in several mini triathalons, etc), I don’t like swimming in lakes where I can’t see the bottom – because again, who knows what’s down there just waiting to bite my foot off or grab my ankle and drag me under? Okay, fine, so I realize that both of those are completely irrational – that doesn’t change the fact that I can’t bring myself to let my arm dangle over the edge of the bed at night.
3. I worked in a library for seven years. I loved working there. If I could, I’d work in a library for the rest of my life (once my children were grown). I love libraries. I love books.
4. As a work-at-home mom, I work four different jobs at the moment. I am an accountant for a public accounting firm (my boss let me start working from home instead of coming back to the office when my maternity leave ended), I am a distance education instructor for a college, I do program development and investment tracking for a man I used to work for, and I do some bookkeeping for another man I used to work for. The last three are all jobs I do for employers in a different province than the one I currently live in (I moved away from there two and a half years ago).
5. I did all of my education (a professional Certified General Accountant designation and a Bachelor of Applied Business Administration degree) by distance education over the course of five years. I took a double course load in my first year and did summer courses to cut down the time on the seven year program. I also worked three jobs at the same time and graduated debt-free. I highly recommend distance education to those who have the self-motivation to do the course work yourself.
6. I met my husband when we were in the seventh grade. We didn’t start dating until two years after we graduated high school (eight years after we met). He is such a nice and loving man and I am very blessed to have married him. He’s also an amazing father, so patient and silly and fun.
7. I raise hermit crabs. I think they are the neatest pet ever. I also have two cats, but pretty much they just drive me nuts.
Our Family is His at It’s a Boy’s Life gave me this amazingly sweet blog award. I was so surprised and touched by this!
1. Put the award up on your blog
2. Add a link to the person who awarded it to you
3. Nominate at least seven other blogs
4. Add links to these blogs on your blog
5. Leave a message for your nominee on their blog
Heather at A Day in My Life also gave me an award recently, the Marie Antoinette, Real Person Award. That meant so much to me!
Both of these awards go to the following seven incredible bloggers (Just seven?? But there are so many!):
I’ve been pondering the idea of self-perception versus the perception others have of us for quite while now. I mentioned recently that I’d often been labeled as “stuck-up” in the past because of how painfully shy I was. I knew that I wasn’t stuck-up, I knew that I was just too horribly shy to talk to other people – but they didn’t. They just knew that I kept to myself and didn’t talk to them.
Last year a group of moms in our church had a weekly meeting where we could get together with our kids and let them play at our feet while we did a Bible study. We discussed the fruits of the Spirit over the course of the year:
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
On the day we discussed self-control, we considered whether it maybe meant not just controlling in the sense of holding back, but in the sense of taking action as well. People often talk, for example, of having self-control over what they eat – which generally means restraint. Or self-control in the sense of not hitting someone when you’re angry. But maybe, it was suggested, it means forcing ourselves to do things we don’t necessarily want to do, rather than just not doing things we do want to do. Maybe, for example, it would include forcing ourselves to talk with people and carry a conversation despite this not being something we’re generally comfortable with.
I’ve thought about that a lot since then. I think I’ve come a long way over the past two or three years. I still have a long way to go – I always will, in some area or another – but I’ve discovered a sense of self-confidence that was most definitely lacking in prior years. I’ve become better at initiating and carrying conversation. I’ve become less easily intimidated, less sensitive, more calm, okay with the fact that not everyone is going to like me. So maybe I’m less likely to be thought of as being stuck-up now (or maybe I’m more likely – eek!), but I’ve little doubt that other perceptions have risen up to take its place.
With that in mind, I find myself wondering – does it matter what others think of us? I grew up hearing that it doesn’t – forget what they say, you know yourself, just ignore them, they’re wrong about you, it doesn’t matter what other people think.
But why do they think those things about us? And if that’s the perception we’re giving off – regardless of how true it is – shouldn’t we care? Shouldn’t we do something to change the way we come off? Why are we generally thought of as being [fill in the blank] – selfish, spoiled, hypocritical, self-righteous, callous, uncaring, stuck-up, whatever – despite not seeing those things in ourself? Maybe we should care what others think after all.
Forgive the rambliness and lack of clarity of these thoughts…I’m not sure where exactly I’m going with them. They’re just some thoughts I’ve been pondering over the past few months. Now, to figure out what to do with them…the hardest part being, I suppose, figuring out just what others’ perceptions of me are in the first place.
I am creating my wife’s Christmas present-the Mother Letter Project. Simply stated, I am collecting a series of “open letters” from mothers, to mothers. Share your stories—no matter how raw or difficult. Share your concerns—no matter how foolish they may seem. Share your wisdom—no matter how you came by it. Share your mother story. The only request? Start the letter “Dear Mother” and sign it. I will compile all of the letters in a Christmas book for my wife. If you share a letter here or by email (email@example.com) before Christmas, you’ll get your own copy of the letters.
What a neat and thoughtful idea! I’m already putting ideas together in my head (and trying to remember that he’s asking for letters here, not books).
So, mothers? Anyone else with me?
We’ve had a few more dry diapers and pees on the toilet over the past couple days. I need to get out and buy a smaller seat to put on the toilet, as he (understandably) doesn’t always seem comfortable being held on the big toilet seat, and then we’ll start giving him access on a regular basis. So, I guess we’re starting potty learning!
Just like with infant and toddler sleep, there are a lot of misconceptions out there about what is normal. The generation before us prided themselves on getting their babies toilet trained before the age of two (I’m guessing the fashionable question at the time was “Is she toilet trained yet?” instead of the “Is she sleeping through the night?” question that we hear so often these days). Elizabeth Pantley has a great quiz to help you assess your child’s readiness for potty training: Potty Training Readiness Quiz.
So we’ll see how it goes. I don’t intend to make a huge pressure-filled deal out of it and turn him off of the idea altogether; we’ll just take him to the bathroom every hour and give him the opportunity to pee if he needs to.
As an amusing little side note, I turn on the tap every time I set him on the toilet so that the sound of running water sort of helps him along (Is that cheating? I don’t know.). So far, every single time, my husband has said, “Great…now I need to go!”
You go on a date with your husband for the first time in months…and you each spend intermission reading your own books.
I pointed this out…we laughed…and went back to reading our books.
Ah, the romance.
It was a very nice night. The concert (Handel’s Messiah) was incredibly well done. I confess it’s not necessarily my “thing”, and by the third hour I was getting a bit fidgety, but my husband absolutely loved it. It was definitely interesting though, and I enjoyed the opportunity to reflect on the scripture surrounding Christ’s birth, death and resurrection in a new way (as they sang it over and over and over again). Beautiful.
The boy did wonderfully with the couple who was babysitting him. They said we had “the most perfect little boy ever”. I’m inclined to agree, but then again my husband insists on pointing out that I might be a bit biased in this regard. Pff, whatever.
(Am I allowed to be just the littlest bit hurt, though, that the boy apparently hardly even noticed we were gone? Four and a half hours, and he didn’t even miss me? Just had fun playing with the babysitters? My poor feelings. *sniff*)
We came home, put the little guy to bed, then played Risk. The husband won…again. Le sigh.
I hate that stupid game.
(Yes, I’m bitter.)
All in all, it was a very enjoyable evening. I have a Christmas party coming up that my boss has told me I will be there for…so I guess we have another date in a couple weeks!
My husband and I used to have “date night” every Friday night. I don’t know when we fell out of the habit, but now with him unemployed we spend lots of time together anyway. But tonight! Tonight we are going out on a date. By ourselves.
Oh, the craziness.
This will be only the second time we have left our son with someone else, plus once or twice when we left him with my husband’s parents when we were out there visiting. So it’ll be sort of strange. Perhaps a bit nerve-wracking. I admit it, I have a really hard time trusting him with anyone else – but more than that, we just haven’t felt the need to. He joins us wherever we go and we enjoy being with him. We have time alone together after he goes to bed.
But my husband wanted to go to a concert of Handel’s Messiah (hardly the most toddler-friendly activity) and really, an evening out together will be nice. The couple who will be watching him this evening are truly wonderful people, I don’t have the slightest hesitation over leaving him in their care.
Which probably won’t stop me from worrying just a teensy bit anyway.
Off to tidy up the house a bit while looking forward to our date. Ooh, whatever shall I wear?