Every year in October and November I start preparing for one of my favorite Christmas traditions: the Advent Calender.
I will make one for son and one for daughter. Husband gets one. And each year I will pick someone special to me, whom I feel should have one.
This year, for the first time, I also made one for my godchild.
Which means I needed to wrap 120 little gifts and notes. There were times I thought I would lose it and I had to eat lots of chocolate to keep on wrapping.
But come December 1st, daughter will wake up at 5am (and she will continue to do so till December 24th) to open another pocket of her advent calendar, she will be singing Christmas songs and dance around the apartment. And I will decide that come next November, I will wrap another 120 little packages.
Here is the one for my "special person, Helenchen" this year:
Thanksgiving is turning into one of my favorite holidays. Not being American, this is husband's day and he does all the cooking and planing, unless his mother is flying over for a visit. Then she is the one stuck in the kitchen with my 3 pots and a lonely pan.
But yesterday husband did all the work. He made his delicious mashed potatoes that are truely the best I have ever eaten. Turkey and corn. We even had cranberry juice. He did all the cleaning up afterwards while the kids and I were laying in bed rubbing our bellies.
Part of our family is into mermaids the other part likes music from Slipknot. Husband went to see them the other day and took lots of pictures, most of them too scary to show. Why do they wear those masks?
Anyhow, husband met the band and hung out with them and talked about his second favorite thing in the world (guitars, first being us, the mermaid part of the family) and had a blast.
I remember figuring out that there is neither a Santa Claus bringing gifts nor an Easter bunny delivering eggs, fairly early in life. Nobody told me, it just didn't seem logic.
But I always loved the magic of it so when son was born I went all out with the magic of Christmas and the happiness of Easter. My American husband insisted on the existence of the Toothfairy and I was happy to add her to our life also.
I decorated and told stories, mixing husband's and my culture into a nice, a bit confusing mixture. Son always loved it and so did his sister when she came along.
What I never considered though, was that by living it so whole heartedly, my kids would believe in it forever. I just didn't know how to tell them. I hinted but my hints never amounted to any critical thinking on their part.
When son was in second grade, and still a believer, he got into a heated discussion with a third grader about the non existence of Santa Claus. He was sitting at the kitchen table telling me about the ignorance of his schoolmate when I sat next to him and told him we needed to talk.
He took it pretty hard. Actually, he said he needed some time alone to get over Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.
He was just about to leave the kitchen when he turned towards me and said with relief: "at least there is still the toothfairy." It was very, very hard for me to shake my head and say "no, no toothfairy, either."
Similar situation with daughter. She must have been the oldest believer, ever, and she is not very happy with the truth. I can see that she still wants to believe in the magic of it all. So we both just play along but once in a while she winks at me to let me know she's in on the whole thing.
Two days ago a tooth of hers fell out. She made a big production about putting it in a plastic bag along with a letter for the "toothfairy". She even taped a ribbon to her pillow and arrows to the floor so the "toothfairy" wouldn't have to search for the tooth too long. All the while, winking at me.
The next day, after the "toothfairy" had picked up the tooth and daughter had found her little present under the pillow she looked at me and said "what did you do with all my other teeth, Mom?"
Well, truth to be told, I saved one and threw the other ones out. One of them, I remembered, I threw into the ocean because at the time it fell out, we were vacationing and I had it in my pocket while walking on the beach.
"I threw them into the ocean." I said.
That was when she started crying.
And I started to panic. Was she upset because she wanted them back?
"What happens if fish swallow them and die?" she cried. "Why would you throw them into the ocean?"
Yes, why the heck would somebody do that???
"Because the mermaids like playing with them." I said. "I put all your teeth into a little pink box and threw it into the ocean. At one point a mermaid will find the box and will play with your teeth."
Daughter was still wiping the tears off her face when she said "I like that. That was a very good idea of yours."
One of my favourite things to do at Christmas time is visiting other houses and see how their owners decorated for the season. Yesterday, fairy godmother and I went to a Christmas craft sale, located in an old private home. There was "Gluehwein" (hot, red wine with spices) to drink, cookies to eat and beautifully crafted items to buy. Which we did.
Picked up daughter from school late this afternoon. She was holding a jacket that clearly didn't belong to her. "Can you wash this, please." She asked me. "What did you do?" I asked.
Looks like my daughter, the protector of all animals no matter how slimy or hairy, the friend of every little kid, the visitor of older ladies in the nursing home, spit on a boy's jacket. Just because. Just because the jacket was there.
Someone was sent to bed at 7pm. After she wrote an apology. And drew a ladybug for good luck. Poor boy looks like he needs it.
You would think that since husband is in Miami, daughter is visiting the local zoo with fairy godmother I could sit down, read a book and enjoy the afternoon but - noooo - son's overzealous math teacher (the one who doesn't use the school's math book because it is not difficult enough) has given him homework. So much homework that he needs help from his mother who isn't exactly fond of math.
I am kind of fed up with the whole school thing altogether. Foolishly, I thought I was done with school after I graduated, but having children, you have to relive everything again. Son is drowning in exams and tests and marks. Daughter's school is equally ambitious and there is barely a week when she doesn't have to memorize poems or songs. Everytime the school celebrates an event, (and there are lots of them) the students have to recite poems or sing endless songs. I am starting to wonder: can't they just get together and have fun?
But what bugs me most are a few of the other mothers. Whenever I pick up daughter from school I get a cold shoulder from them. Or a whole back. And I cannot figure out why. We are all adults, we can be polite to each other, right?
Rereading this, I think that my first Gingerbread Latte from Starbucks this winter, isn't going to cut it. I think I need to go to a Louis Vuitton store and get myself the "Hudson" bag. (I could hit a math teacher or one of those friendly mothers over the head with it they next time I encounter them. Hit them over the head with style.)
I went to the farmers market to buy some apples when I saw these mushrooms. An old lady was selling them. After telling her that I am not much of a cook she supplied me with following receipe:
* a handful of mushrooms
* 2 small zucchinis
* a few potatoes
* bit of butter
* few spoonfulls of cream cheese with herbs
Boil potatoes. Cut mushrooms and zucchinis in small pieces/slices. Let butter melt in pan. Add zucchinis and later, mushrooms. Add cream cheese to vegetables while still in pan, mix well. Eat with potatoes.
Now this is my kind of receipe. Only a few ingredients and very easy to prepare!
I bought the mushrooms from her, went home, cooked and was very impressed with myself. So much, that I have made the same meal twice in the last week. It really is delicious. Husband likes it, too. Son pretends to like it. I haven't offered it to daughter yet since I fear her reaction. (ZUCCHINIS!!!)
Why there are more pictures of daughter on here than of son? Daughter loves to have her picture taken and is very willing to be her mother's model. Lately I have gotten mostly grimaces from son whenever he sees me with my camera. He is too polite and sweet to just walk away.
But here is my very favourite picture of Nik, taken by husband in 2006 while we were visiting Rome. Son was looking out on the Tiber river, convinced he had seen a Roman treasure in the dirty water. He really wanted to get into the water and dig up an old rusty box.
Rome is one of his favourite places and he keeps on asking us to go back.