7 Quick Takes- Travel Prep!!

1. We are leaving TOMORROW night for California, for the next two weeks! I have packed zero anythings yet, hooray! Not by choice, mind you. I was the person in college who would start packing up my dorm room before finals started, and then re-pack my room two weeks before summer break ended. I like to be prepared, what can I say. Real life and baby makes that a little less a priority, so I suppose we’ll pack tomorrow morning…

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Proof of my little "helper"

Proof of my little “helper”

2. Since the last air travel experience con el bebé left me scarred for life, I have stocked an arsenal against all possible dire circumstances: teething, earaches, boredom, exhaustion, hunger, you name it.

Insurance?

Insurance?

3. Due to the sweetness of my sister home on break, I had the rare chance to make a solo Target/Starbucks run while she fed and entertained Lucy. It was sooo nice. I suppose my standards of “exciting” have changed slightly. But, Target is the land of all things material, so it’s hard not to let one’s pulse quicken whilst determining which of the 20 contact solutions to choose, or if that knit hat looks too much like a military helmet.

4. The weather! Yesterday was the first day in many weeks where it was temperate enough to go for a nice, leisurely walk to to the park. It was in the upper 50s and felt downright tropical. I think Cali blew a warm, sunny kiss, and it landed all the way over here in Virginia. Not complaining! Looks like we have more of the same today, and then when we land tomorrow night… mid- to upper 70s for the next two weeks!!

Heyyy, La Mirada, we're coming for you!

Heyyy, La Mirada, we’re coming for you!

5. Tis the season for… teacher Christmas gifts!! Though or stash will be halved this year, with only one teacher, it’s still pretty sweet. So far, Tom hasn’t even gotten a single, stale, baked good! Just cash via gift cards and pipe tobacco and Despicable Me 2 (very funny and cute…those minions!!). We are grateful to all the thoughtful and generous parents!

6. Tis also the season for Advent and Christmas hymns. I’m loving them especially this year, as they double up beautifully for lullabies. Silent Night, The First Noel, O Holy Night, What Child is This, etc…so soothing, so lovely. Night night, Lucy…

7. I’m slowly getting our Christmas cards signed, stuffed, and addressed. I can’t believe how many of our friends or family have relocated since our wedding, which was only a year and 4 months ago… I’ll be hitting up many of your for your new address, and then your card will arrive sometime in the season of Christmas (thanks be to the Church for having a long one!).

I will try to do an update or two while in California, but I can make no guarantees. The sun and heat and many hands to swoop up the baby will probably go to my head! Merry Christmas, everyone!

See more Quick Takes at Jen’s!

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Enjoying the Now

Something that’s been difficult for me in this whole parenting thing is appreciating the stage that Lucy is in when she’s in it. I find myself wishing she were old enough to sleep better, sleep through the night, be done teething, entertain herself better, eschew her diapers, and deliver the freshly folded laundry to the proper drawers. Ok, so slight hyperbole, but what I’m not doing enough of is simply appreciating what she’s doing now. And then I realize that this is what causes frazzled, middle-aged parents to shake their heads and sigh, “They grow up in the blink of an eye!”

As a parent, I’m letting that happen. I’m wishing away her precious and fleeting babyhood days for something bigger, better and ultimately, more convenient for me. Of course these early months are hard. Any parent or full-time nanny could tell you that. More acute than any of Lucy’s growing pains are my own as a parent slowly being drained of the selfishness I didn’t even know needed draining. A small, clingy, helpless child will do that to a person, just as that person did it to someone else, and so on as far back as we humans have been procreating.

And yet, when I pause between the exasperating moments and the counting down the minutes till Daddy comes home, I look at my baby and realize she’s almost walking. She’ll be a toddler before I know it. Her first year of life is 2/3 complete! I know that I will miss these baby things when they’re gone– the way she lights up with a smile and waves at her image in the mirror; her excitement as we pass by the light switch and she triumphantly flicks it off; her giggles when we play peek-a-boo over and over and over. She’s a sweet, innocent little gift, even if she is a terrible napper and clings to my pant legs half the day.  It sounds obvious and simple, but I need to stop and marvel more every day, and allow myself to enjoy her little life, just as it right now.

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Little St. Lucia

Poor Lucy. Today was the longest day of my life. Officially. Lucy had a terrible day which made me question why I’d thought life without infant motrin was a smart idea. But, we were prisoners of the freezing temperatures, so there was no walking to the pharmacy for us. Anyway, I’m going to pretend that the day never progressed beyond this lovely moment at 9 AM:

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The Swedish have a great tradition where the eldest daughter dresses in a white robe with a crown of candles, and delivers sweet buns and coffee to the family first thing in the morning. I whipped up a ghetto felt crown late the night before, and swathed her bottom half in an old Italian linen towel…tablecloth…? Who knows. Wrapped the dollar store ribbon around her waist, and voila! Instant baby St. Lucy. She failed at the treat delivery, so we’ll work on that for future feast days. Here’s praying her patron bestows on her the miracle of sleeping through the night.

 

Five Favorites

1. SNOW DAYS. Days!! Who saw those coming?! Maybe the weather forecasters, but they are rarely to be trusted, plus I live in a bubble/never see or hear the news sooo, yay! When you’re married to a teacher, snow days are possibly even better than scheduled vacation time, because surprise factor! Plus these came on the heels of the weekend, which made for a very spoiled mom and baby. We slept in (as far as that’s possible with a Lucy in the house), made fancy coffee in the morning, and got caught up on a few projects. Best of all, I didn’t have to struggle to the death to get Lucy to nap. Dad’s the nap-master around here. We haven’t figured out why I suck at getting her to nap, so I try not to mind (HA!) and mostly go through my days with a zombie baby who sleeps for 30 minutes max at a time. In my arms. Only. People tell me this gets better with age. Let’s hope. Let’s hope.

2. Lucy’s new chair! Talk about snazzy!!

Lucy baptizes her new chair with berry pancakes

Lucy baptizes her new chair with berry pancakes

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We had been using a weird contraption consisting of a kitchen chair and her Bumbo seat as a high chair, and it wasn’t working out. Not to mention, she has completely figured out how to get her whole body out of the Bumbo. We knew the time was right when my mom called yesterday to say the chair had arrived, and at that very moment Lucy was twisting her chunky body out of the seat. My parents generously gave her this Keekaroo high chair for Christmas, and it’s beautiful! The wood is solid and smooth and all the parts work great. Plus, it’s one  of those chairs that grows with the kids. Supposedly it can hold a 250 lb. person. Tom and I will sit on it together and let you know if that holds true.

3. OUR new chair! We have been on the lookout for a chair to add to our living room, considering the fact that exactly 2.5 people can be seated comfortably on the couch. We really wanted a classic wing-back recliner, but evidently we either have our standards set too high, or all the wing-back chair owners are happily sitting in theirs and refuse to put them up on Craigslist. So on the way home from my parents yesterday, we stopped at Home Goods and found this little gem:

Ignore the unsightly ironing board. Salvation Army is going to take it off our hands tomorrow!

Ignore the unsightly ironing board. Salvation Army is going to take it off our hands tomorrow!

No, it’s no wing-back, but we both really liked the pattern and style, and it was on sale. We still have a ways to go in the whole getting our place to look put together department, but as I said, we’re picky. And we’re very, very slow. I’m pretty sure home decorating and furniture shopping is a full-time job. So, we’re still searching hard for a secretary desk, which the clutter in our apartment needs badly. One of these days…

4. Wintry Blend Coffee from Trader Joe’s. I’m usually a coffee snob and hate flavored coffee, but this isn’t so much flavored as spiced, with amazing things that truly taste of winter in a cup. When Tom tasted it yesterday, he found it “weird” (that was all I could elicit as a description), so I don’t think he shares my devotion. But this limited edition coffee has gotten me through many a frosty, early morning (student teaching in freezing Ohio, I’m looking at you!) and it sure doesn’t disappoint now as I sit in my pjs at home. Thanks, Trader, you know I love you for life. Seriously though…we are not allowed to ever move to a locale which doesn’t boast a TJs within a decent distance.

5. Naptime... see #1. Although, I DID just get her to sleep an hour ago, and it only took me 30 minutes, and she stayed asleep an entire HOUR. Why does that matter?? Because that NEVER HAPPENS with me. So it’s monumental. And I just heard her stirring, so I’m out.

Check more favorites over at Hallie’s!

Pfeffernüse and Baby Mum Mums!

We celebrated St. Nicholas’ feast day on Friday with Lucy waking up bright and early, as usual! Our three shoes were lined up by the door and filled with various treats appropriate to the recipient. The tiny, pink, sparkly shoe was stuffed with two things (thank goodness her foot’s so small; I was already having a hard time trying to decide what I could possibly give a just-started-eating-solids baby)- one of those squeezy packs of baby food, which she loves, and a packet of baby crackers called Mum Mums. Which she loves SO much that she screams whenever she spies the yellow and white packaging. It was cute to watch her discover her treats (and immediately eat them). Behold!

The moment of discovery

The moment of discovery

What's all this?!

What’s all this?!

Mum Mums...

Mum Mums…

Nothing better than dry, paper thin rice rusks. Mm.

Nothing better than dry, paper thin rice rusks. Mm.

Later that night, after we finally had the crazy asleep, we made traditional German St. Nicholas cookies called Pfeffernüse. Basically, they are soft, round cookies reminiscent of gingerbread, and rolled in powdered sugar. There are no pictures because we ate a ton  several, and took the rest to a party the next day. Sooo good. They definitely earned a place in the Cox Family Traditions. 

I should also mention that while we enjoyed our cookies, Tom and I sat down to watch NBC’s live (one day later) airing of The Sound of Music. I was interested, but highly skeptical. Anytime mainstream TV or movie studios take on musical productions, my curiosity is piqued. With a few notable exceptions, they generally fall flat and disappoint. This, sadly, was no exception. Carrie Underwood is a cute girl, but she cannot act. And while country suits her voice, Rodgers and Hammerstein classics just don’t. I kept thinking her neck would explode as she tried to belt through each of Maria’s supposed-to-be-soprano songs. I did like the nuns, and Captain Von Trapp (though he was no Christopher Plummer), and the inclusion of several songs from the stage musical that the original movie cut, but that was about it. And the girl playing Gretl was ummm…not cute, and terribly, terribly flat. I can’t believe they couldn’t have casted some other highly precocious and actually talented 7 year old girl.

      

Helloooo, original Gretl…way, way cuter. Look at that pout.

Anyway, today Tom is home from school (yay, ice and snow!), which is so, so wonderful! So much so that Lucy, in all the excitement, is refusing to sleep. (I keep trying to come up with logical reasons for her highly illogical behavior. I know it’s futile but it makes me feel a bit less insane).

Forging Traditions

We’re back from blog-death over here. I figured the beginning of the new Liturgical Year was a good time to resurrect. Speaking of which, this is my very favorite Liturgical season. I really love Advent for the sake of Advent, not just because it heralds the coming of the Christmas Season (which is also pretty fabulous). The candles on the Advent wreath, gathering light as the weeks go by; the beautiful and haunting songs we sing; and the call to remember Who is, or ought to be, the center of the entire Liturgical Year. Love it.

As a culture at large, American Catholics do a pretty dismal job at celebrating the various feasts and fasts that make up our rich heritage. Advent seems to get lost between Thanksgiving (not a religious feast!) and Insta-Christmas, which inevitably begins on Black Friday. It’s such a shame, because so many traditions could be celebrated during those four weeks.

When I was young, my parents began to become more aware of the many ways to draw families into the Church’s calendar, incorporating the Jesse Tree into our Advent repertoire, as well as learning more hymns besides “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”, and digging into some books centered on Advent. We put out our shoes for St. Nicholas Day a few years, too. We waited until Gaudete Sunday, or sometimes later, to pick out and trim our Christmas tree, and we watched the little wooden Three Magi travel from one end of the house to the hearth Nativity scene over the course of the month.  As an adult, I’ve come to discover even more feasts and ways to celebrate them, thanks to a few books and the trusty Google.

Tom and I want to be intentional, now that Lucy is here, about the traditions we begin and carry on in our life as the domestic church. I’d love it if my children grew up saying, “Oh yeah, we always do such-and-such on St. X’s day, or sing this song during Lent,” and so forth. Family traditions are the framework on which children begin to pin their ideas of time’s passage, celebration, and a season for everything. Including one that comes before Christmas.

So, we’re making an effort this month to do normal Advent things together– the candles, the hymns, and reading through the book of Isaiah. But what I’m also excited about are all the feast days tucked into this month: St. Nicholas, Our Lady of Guadalupe, and of course, the one we’re most looking forward to- St. Lucy! We’re planning our meals so that they reflect that day’s feast in some way. And I’m still trying to figure out what one stuffs into an almost-8-month-old’s tiny shoe on St. Nicholas Day??

Stay tuned for pictures of Lucy dressed as her namesake, our attempt at pfeffernüsse, and more!

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{Lucy spends 90% of her day using every surface in our house to pull up on, and then tries to let go. Gravity’s got her down a few times already.}