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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Be the Memory Keeper

Here is my bit of wisdom for the ages:  

Force your family and friends to take photos.  

They'll be glad you did.  Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but some day.  And for the rest of their lives.    :)

Robi's brother, our sister-in-law, and our new nephew!
cousins! (aren't the tiny feet the best?)
Flanna with our dog Padme
Flanna oogling over the baby
a self-timer shot of Robi's family
This is the only time Blane will ever look shorter than Molly!

The grandparents with their two grandchildren!
a Proud Poppa
Christmas morning -- everyone piles on Granddad, even the dog!
A self timer photo of my side of the family!  
Grammie's decorated stairs are so nice for photos!!
Grammie, Poppa, and Flannery in her fancy Christmas dress. 

Are your family members and friends good sports about taking photos, or do they resist it?  I am lucky to have such good natured friends and family who will put up with at least one self-timer photo per year!  

Indulge your Imagination

This Christmas was filled with American Girl Doll gifts and fun for Flannery.

Today, my mother-in-law and I took the girls to have lunch at the American Girl Bistro, and they got to do a little shopping with their Christmas money at the American Girl store.

I have to admit, even I was blown away by how realistic some of the doll accessories were--A flute that actually has padded keys, an American Indian dress with real beadwork, a cool wheelchair that has brakes and everything!  It was cute to see the girls' imaginations spinning as they studied everything in the store to decide what they wanted (and could afford--yikes, how expensive things were there!).

In the end, Flanna bought a soccer outfit for her doll, and my niece got a cute flowery skirt and cardigan set and a hair styling book for hers.  And then they came back to our house and pretended for hours with their dolls -- fixing their hair, dressing them up, having them argue, having them make up  (I actually think doll play can be really therapeutic for two young girl cousins!).  It was nice to see them using their imaginations rather than relying on anything electronic for inspiration in their play!

Nellie is all ready to ski! (in shorts!)
My niece diligently braiding the new horse's tail.  Grandma knows what girls like!

the doll jeep - a pretty big hit!
Grammie and the girls, with their dolls in their doll carriers from Grandma-- so stylish!
hanging out at the boutique

Flanna matched her doll, Nellie today
lunch with the dolls-- and the food was actually pretty fabulous!  (salmon and orzo for me, yum!)

What did you love to imagine as a child?  What did you pretend to be or do?  I used to love to pretend to be an explorer outside in the woods, and had a field journal and binoculars I'd carry around.  I also loved to pretend to be a mom--hah, so original, I know, but it was always my dream!  :)

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Share and Create Family Traditions

It makes me so happy to celebrate holiday traditions.  I love creating a sense of stability, routine, and predictability to Flannery's life, and holidays are a nice time to create that.  Our annual "cookie cutter cookie" making day was yesterday, and my BFF from California was able to join us, hooray!  We made my husband's aunt Sharon's recipe, and they turned out beautifully!  It was sweet to see Flannery using so many baking tools -- the cookie cutters, the rolling pins, the icing set.  Hopefully by the time she's out on her own, she'll be a pro and can share this tradition with her friends (and one day her own family!).

Flannery started out in her apron from Grammie

She changed into her ballet outfit (a gift from Kelley!)


testing one!

The finished products!

our Santa and reindeer turned out pretty cute

Flanna wanted us to both pick her up together--kind of hard to do!

What holiday traditions do you keep?  Which ones have you let go?  

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Make New Friends, But Keep the Old

In Girl Scouts growing up, we sang this song:

"Make new friends,
but keep the old;
One is silver,
and the other's gold."

And it's so funny how often that song has gone through my head throughout the years, because I really do find that my friends both new and old bring me such happiness.  
Flannery dancing with my friend's little one

Today, I was lucky enough to get to spend some time with my "old friends."  (Haha--I hate to call them old!  They are all really young and gorgeous, as you can see!)  And there is just something about being with people that I have known for ages, whose character I have seen proven repeatedly in zillions of moments over time, whose lives have intertwined with mine so often that we have our own collective memories--that just really makes me feel connected to the world, and to eternity.  I know that's cheesy and a little grandiose to say, but really, it's true.  Especially seeing so many generations of amazing folks in one room today, with our parents and our children all together singing and laughing (and the kids even dancing!), it was at once a grounding and an uplifting moment for me.

Flannery and my friend's daughter have an eerily similar profile.
Maybe we share a distant relative with a cute tiny nose?

My BFF Kelley trying to ruin my photo!  But it didn't work--she still looks amazing!
(And Flannery said after the party--"Kelley is so much fun!" --too sweet!)
So here's to "old friends!"  I can't wait to spend some more time with mine while we have a bit of time off this holiday!

Now, go forth and call your best friend from high school.  Or college.  Or preschool.  

Friday, December 21, 2012

Be a Gatherer

intent on the movie, or maybe the cocoa
I love to have friends over to our home.  It makes me so happy to host folks I love and gather my friends together.  And I think I passed that trait on to Flannery, because when I mentioned the idea of having a small "Christmas movie party" to her, she couldn't wait to invite all of her little friends from school.  Unfortunately, our house is not big enough to hold her whole class, so we had to settle for inviting 6 little girls over.  Flanna kept calling it a "girls' night," and when Robi came home from work mid-way through the movie, the guests all gasped--"But he's not a girl!!  It's a girls' night!"  (We did let him stay, though, hah!)

The girls wore their pajamas, had pizza, cocoa, and cookies, and watched a Christmas movie together.  But the big hit of the night was definitely the Barbie house upstairs in Flanna's room, and of course, the life-sized pink stuffed horse named Strawberry.

I managed to wrangle them into one location long enough to snap a few group photos.  Hopefully one day when they're grown up, they can look back at their kindergarten selves and smile.

As for parties, this one was relatively simple to throw, and I'm hoping to make it a new Christmas tradition.  Plus, I'm not ready for hosting little girl sleepovers yet, so this was a good start and a taste of what's to come (many years down the line, right?  Did I mention I'm not ready for that?)

Flanna and her good friend checking out the ornaments

playing Barbies
Strawberry horse
What simple gatherings with friends do you love to host?  I love pot-lucks, outdoor cook-outs, and game nights or poker nights.  Such relaxed fun!  (Now I just need a maid to keep my house party-ready so I can entertain more!)    

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Days are Long but the Years are Short

If you haven't ever watched the "Days are Long, but the Years are Short" video by Gretchen Rubin, you owe it to yourself to watch it.  It's so true.  

Anyway, that's all I could think as I tromped through the woods where I grew up this weekend with Flannery and my niece.  "The days are long, but the years are short." 

That day had been especially long, with me getting up early to get Flanna ready to take Xmas portraits with my niece that morning, and then going to my parents' house to hang out until a party we had at 4 that afternoon. But what made it seem eons long was that I got a horrible migraine with an aura around lunchtime.  It was so awful that I ended up turning all the lights out and laying on the couch with a towel over my eyes to block out any speck of light, while the girls played.   That was not at all what I had planned for our fun experience that day!!  And then, finally, the medicine actually kicked in and I felt well enough to go outside with the kiddos, thank goodness!

And as we walked through the woods and found fallen trees that we have climbed and balanced on year after year, that are getting more and more decayed and interesting, I realized that the girls were just so. grown. up.  That their chubby cheeks and cute tendency to want me to play with them were passing away, replaced by lanky long legs and funny phrases like, "OMG," and "Mo-om!," and "I don't need help!"

And so I took some cute photos and videos.  And tried to document the changes since last year.  And as we walked back along the trail to the house, I remembered all the times I had walked that trail as a skinny daydreaming 8 year old, when time seemed to go so slowly, and a day held endless potential.  And I hoped that it was that way for these girls--that to them, this one day of being silly and discovering strange things in the woods, wasn't just one tiny memory for them, but a long string of happy moments in a magical quiet beautiful place, that will stick with them as these years fly by.  

finding good walking sticks by the hut

the "toilet tree" is still there!  (don't worry--it's never been used as a toilet, hah!)

scaling a fallen tree

Can you believe this flower is blooming in December??

What was your favorite thing to do during the long long days of your childhood?