Thursday, August 04, 2011

Keeping it Real

It's hard to believe I'm sitting here composing a blog post nearly 4 years after my last one. Maybe one of these days I'll give up the ghost for good, but for now I'm feeling the pull again to join in. With whom, I'm not sure. But it's an opportunity to organize my thoughts and that's enough for me.

Let's see, where to start. Well, new house, new school, new baby. It's been a busy couple of years. My days are spent making to-do lists that never get completed. I'm always working towards some goal or other, rarely just being in the moment. Over the summer, I find myself driving more than I ever have, from one activity to another. Always rushing, of course. Let's not even talk about what I do while I'm driving. Suffice it to say that I am the queen of multi-tasking. Recently, when I picked my son up from camp, I longed for an hour or two to just sit or walk in the woods. It felt so peaceful and slow in there. Next week we go away for a week to family camp. Hopefully, when I'm not following my wobbly 20-month around to make sure he doesn't kill himself, I'll find a moment or two of peace.

Next up, expectations. They're a bitch, aren't they? I expected my 9-year old would have best buddies, ride a bike, read for pleasure like I did as a child, ask lots of precocious questions I wouldn't always be comfortable answering, grow up and away in a good way. Well, he is funny (often too much) and kids like him, but he has trouble with real social engagement. He still can't ride a bike, but at least he rides his Razor scooter now, instead of the 3-wheeled one he clung to forever. He loves books, but even though he is finally learning to read, it's more work than play, so he'd rather play Nintendo or Wii. He's never asked many learning questions, and when he does ask a question, it's often one he's asked before. He is growing up, learning and maturing, at his own rate, but while some things have gotten easier for him, others have gotten harder. I think he's more aware of his differences now, and this creates more anxiety. Is it all doom and gloom? No. But is it what I'd expected it to be, either? No.

Second chances. What are the odds that you'll get one? In my case, not good. Second child, same situation. More pronounced, in fact. Whereas I spent the first five years with my first child in blissful ignorance (oh, he's just shy), with my second it only took a little over a year to realize that he was different. Sweet, loving, sociable, totally adorable. But different. The silver lining is that he is getting help sooner, rather than later. Let's hope this neuroplasticity thing is for real.

How to make peace with the unexpected? I'm not sure yet, but I'm working on it.


jacob 007 Jacob and Ezra

On a final, tasty note, I start nearly every day with a cup of PG Tips tea and a well-buttered english muffin, often spread with the best jam in the world. I've never made my own english muffins - Trader Joe's are pretty darn good - but were I to, I'd start with this recipe from pinchmysalt. Just looking at them makes me drool.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Advent of a Jew

Hello. My name is Inga and I am a Jew. Or, one of "those Jews who, while not practicing Judaism as a religion, still identify themselves as Jewish by virtue of their family's Jewish descent and their own cultural and historical identification with the Jewish people." Suffice it to say that, sadly, I have a limited knowledge of my people's religious traditions, and, instead, grew up celebrating - in a purely secular fashion! - the multitude of Christian holidays. My mom grew up in a secular Jewish, socialist home, wistfully observing her gentile friends' yuletide festivities. Her family didn't even celebrate the Jewish holidays. So, we got the Christmas tree, instead of the menorah. Here's last year's:

A peek at our tree

I would love to celebrate all of the holidays, and to embrace both aspects of my heritage, but, not having grown up with the traditions, I find it difficult incorporating this into our lives. It is so much easier to follow the path that has been lain down than to forge a new trail. Two years ago I did hold a Passover seder and it was extremely intricate and time-consuming to execute. I enjoyed it, but swore I would never do it again! Perhaps not the best celebration to start with. . .

Our token tributes to our maternal ancestors were the Hanukkah gelt in our Christmas stockings (oy vey!) and the gold Stars of David we hung on our tree. Those lovely stars - painted yellow, with our names written on them - were my favorite ornaments, but fell apart many years ago. This year I made new Stars of David for our Christmas tree, so my son can enjoy this same tradition. And we're lighting the menorah! I'd love to incorporate more traditions, but for now, at least, I have these silvered beauties:

Star of David

On my paternal side, my Swedish heritage is dominant. My son has the traditional, Scandinavian chocolate advent calendar that I had when I was little - lovely picture of Santa bringing joy to all and delicious chocolate shapes hidden behind numbered windows. I have a nostalgic fondness for these calendars and he seems to share my liking, as the first thing he says upon waking is "can I have my chocolate?" Still, last year I saw all these wonderful crafty advent calendars, and swore I was going to make one this year. No such luck. I am not known for planning ahead and I am always over-ambitious!

So, I've been sitting around, looking at this year's crop of crafty cuteness and bemoaning my shortcomings, when, lo and behold, I stumbled across Bella Dia's wonderful idea of a book/activity advent calendar. We're a few days late in starting, but no matter. I can get the books from the library and just start with whichever book/activity strikes our fancy. It's a wonderful idea - and Day One is all-inclusive!

Day 5 of Advent, Day 1 of Hanukkah:


Or, check out wish jar's list of ten things to do instead of shopping for more inspiration on how to spend whatever free time you have during the holidays.

Not quite sure where gingerbread houses fall in the Christian-Jewish spectrum, but we think they're fabulous! Especially, when you can buy a real Swedish house for only $4.99 (NOT the $8.50 noted in the link) and use up all the candy that's been sitting around since LAST Halloween. . .


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Fortunate. . .

in so many ways.

If I'm being honest, my default approach to life is to see the glass half empty. Today's challenge is a simple exercise in appreciating that which makes my life full. Although there is much more to strive for, having the following is a great blessing:

Family - living and nearby
Friends - few, but intimate
Health - excellent
Hearth - warm and dry
Sustenance - available in abundance, both nutritious and delicious
Time - for crafting and being
Freedom - of religion, choice, speech and lifestyle, to name a few!

In thinking about what I have to be thankful for, I've also come to the following realization - that, if you don't raise these blessings up for recognition and appreciation, they don't exist. That isn't to say that they don't apply to one's life, but the benefit is not felt.

The following quote says it best. I would like the balance of my days to be a feast, not a famine. . .

"It is literally true, as the thankless say, that they have nothing to be thankful for. He who sits by the fire, thankless for the fire, is just as if he had no fire. Nothing is possessed save in appreciation, of which thankfulness is the indispensable ingredient. But a thankful heart hath a continual feast."

W. J. Cameron, The Ford Sunday Evening Hour Talks, 1930’s

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Grateful. . .

first and foremost, for my son. For his continuing laughter, smiles, and affection. I hope that two years from now, I will still be the grateful recipient of his unrestrained love.

two years ago

Autumn leaves Me and my baby


IMG_5952 IMG_5954

IMG_5956 IMG_5962

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A Happy Place

For all you gnome enthusiasts out there, go on get happy! And if that's not enough to satisfy, here's more than you ever wanted to know about gnomes. According to a review of Gnomeland, "gnomes are 'so out there', they're 'in' again." I wouldn't go this far, but a soft, huggable gnome is welcome in my garden anytime!

Mrs. Gnome

Mrs. Gnome

Mrs. Gnome

Thanks again to Hillary for letting me test-ride her newly available, just-in-time-for-the-holidays, how-can-you-pass-it-up gnome pattern!

And, if you've been feeling the gnome vibrations, but are lacking a garden, this is just what you need.

Don't say I don't gnome how to have a good time. . .

Monday, November 12, 2007

What To Do With Felt

I've got a lot of felt. Not so much that I won't buy more (the nice, wool felt, that is) when I happily and unexpectedly come across it, as I did this weekend! But enough that it will be sitting around for a few years unless I think of more ways to use it than the occasional softie.

Enter this lovely felt garland by Anna Maria Horner. I NEED to do this. Now if only I could figure out how to stretch a 24 day into at least 28 hours! I think I need a wardrobe to craft in, so that time will stand still.

Off the crafting tip, please examine this picture of moi. Not supermodel status, but not exactly chopped liver, wouldn't you agree? Sadly, according to My Heritage celebrity look-alike, my "strong" (my quotes) features have me parsed as a boy. Mouseover picture to see my celebrity counterparts. I suppose I should be greatful that Cary Grant appears here, although I would have preferred Grace Kelly. : )

The second go-around cracked me up!

(psst... mouseover!)

Go on, try it! You know you want to...

Friday, November 09, 2007

Good Intentions

Okay, so I've wrapped up my swaps (pictures coming soon!), refrained from joining any new ones, and I'm all set to start holiday crafting for my loved ones, when I find my good intentions blindsided by an innocent visit over at Hillary's place.

Did you really expect me to pass up the opportunity to test-drive one of her fabulous patterns? Now I've got to ask myself one question: "Who can I make a gnome for? Well, who?”