Little Victories

Several months ago, my friend E. and I spent a few days calling each other to report how many times we cursed in front of our children. “I made it all the way to 10:30 AM before I let out a goddammit,” I’d report, a little proudly. It was a measure of how nuts we felt we were going.

And then we started listed the few things we did right in a day. We congratulated each other for accomplishments as minor as brushing our hair. (All day with the kids can be brutal. Now that I think of it, I’m pretty sure this was back in the summer.)

I told her I wanted to try keeping a record of the little victories I have during the day, because I see so many failures in myself that it gets depressing. The times I lose my cool. The times I give up and let the boys watch too much TV. The days I don’t get enough housework done.

I’ve been thinking about that plan a lot more lately, maybe because I’ve been sick, and the holidays were upon us, and there was little energy or time to be as intentional with my parenting and wifing as I want to be.

And I’ve been up late at night, too, unable to sleep, which isn’t like me. So my head spins. I catalogue the events of the day. I remember more good things.

My intention, then, is to record them here when I can, so that I can look back and remind myself that it’s not all bad. I mean, I brushed my teeth AND my hair today. Score!

Today’s Little Victories:

Went to church
Surprised kids with Golden Grahams for breakfast, which they loved
Matched up 10 pairs of separated pajamas in Brady’s laundry
Wrote 2 overdue product reviews
Talked to my Aunt Jeannie on the phone
Stayed off the computer until after 2pm
Ate a tangerine
Got Stewart fix our bed frame and our vacuum cleaner
Vacuumed the snowdrifts of dust on the stairs
Took a walk around the neighborhood as a family
Made delicious margaritas for me and Stewart
Remembered to hang dry Stewart’s coach jersey instead of destroying the polyester garment in the dryer
Finished washing the inside of the refrigerator
Washed and changed all the sheets on all the beds
Did some research for my book
Read an article that my mom sent me that I’d been saving
Snuggled with Brady on the couch
Listened to Kyle talk about a video game without interrupting or checking my phone while he talked (this totally counts and if you have a kid who loves, say, Minecraft, you understand)

This exercise feels good. I’m going to do it again, especially on a day when I really feel like a shitty mom or a lazy writer or a terrible housekeeper or a bad wife. If you try it too I’d love to hear your little victories.

Christmas Card 2013: …and this one was JUST right!

When my parents were visiting, we all headed up to a picturesque hilltop so they could help take our family Christmas card picture. It was a very short uphill hike, but the kids started complaining about three steps into it. We did manage to capture one good image for the card, but as usual, the outtakes are hilarious.

This spot was too squinty:



This kid didn’t want to smile. Plus there was a spot on the camera lens. Duh:





This kid kept wandering away…



And this spot was just right, if we could only get all four of us to look at the camera and smile at the same time:





Finally, success!

xmas card 2013


(Later, there was a scorpion:)


Merry Christmas!

Christmas Morning Breakfast: Apple Puffed Pancake

Puff Pancake

This is what my mother made for breakfast on Christmas morning. Now I make it every year. But also every year, I lose the recipe and I have to call my mother for it. Luckily, I remembered that last year she emailed it to me, so I found it nice and snug in my Gmail archives. I am posting it here for posterity, and so that you might also enjoy:

Apple-Puffed Pancake

6 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup flour
3 tbs sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 lb butter
2 apples, peeled & thinly sliced
2-3 tbs brown sugar

Preheat oven to 425. In a blender or large bowl, mix eggs, milk, flour, sugar, vanilla, salt and cinnamon till blended. If using a mixer, batter will remain slightly lumpy. Melt butter in a 12″ fluted porcelain quiche dish or a 13×9 baking dish in oven. Add apple slices to baking dish. Return to oven until butter sizzles. Do not let brown. Remove dish from oven and immediately pour batter over apples. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Bake in middle of oven 20 minutes or until puffed and brown. Serve immediately with bacon and some Lipitor. 6-8 servings.

Photo courtesy of Our Cooking Cafe, with permission.

Gorgeous Day Stuck in the House

lego xmas treeAnyone who read this post probably chuckled and thought “Wow she totally just jinxed herself.” Well, if that was you, you were right.

I started feeling sickly last week on Saturday evening. Stewart had been sick – he still is but he stoically pushes through it, just doing his thing, clearing his throat and moaning every now and then, but still going to work and coaching flag football and picking up Christmas gifts and changing the brake pads on the car, ETC. – and I unfortunately caught his bug.

It really kicked in Thursday afternoon, and I’ve just been getting worse. The timing is good and bad – good because Stewart’s semester is over and he is around more often to help me out, and because the boys are out of school so there’s no ferrying around of one or the other of them to various school functions or practices, but bad because there are plenty of things I’d like to do before Christmas Day that require energy that I don’t have. Gingerbread cookies – I wanted to make the dough from scratch this year instead of using the pre-made refrigerated tube. Elfing the neighbors – we walk around the neighborhood dropping off bags of cookies, one of the children wearing a Santa hat. Driving around to look at holiday lights on the houses – last year we drove out to the Christmas Tree lanes in San Marino and Altadena, where the residents go over the top with their decor. We had hot chocolate and joined some friends and had a lovely time.

But time’s running out now and I’m on my third day of just staying around the house, carrying out one task or another and then taking a nap. The boys have been mostly tolerant of my lame state, snuggling up with me in bed and asking for snacks much less frequently than usual. But I’m sad that they are stuck inside without me to captain an outing to the park or the beach or even the grocery store to pick up some eggs and coffee creamer, (two things we are never lacking in this house, so you know I must be feeling pretty bad).

Today’s activities included:
-Forced LEGO building. Their assignment was to create a Christmas tree out of LEGO’s.
-The cleaning of the rooms and the trying on of the clothes they own, to weed out things that no longer fit.
-Thirty minutes of outside play. I timed them. Their reward was a TV show. It is sad that they must be forced to play outside. Whatever happened to my free-spirited little roamers who loved their swingset?

Stewart came home from his errands and finally took them for a walk. I’m sure it won’t last long, but at least they’ll get to see some holiday lights. I’ll get some peace and quiet. I’m already needing a nap after writing this post.