merry

I’m halfway through the travel, food, and family fest that is Christmas. Whatever you are doing, dear reader, I hope you’re warm and happy and with someone you love.

Merry Christmas.

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devastation

“The streets of heaven are too crowded with angels tonight. They’re our students and our teachers, and our parents and our friends.” -Josiah Bartlett

Tonight is a tragic night for too many families. It’s a tragedy for us all. When confronted with such grief, it always seems as if there is nothing I can say that even begins to offer any consolation or comfort. Probably because there is nothing that can comfort in the face of a loss so great.

There is so much I don’t know. “Why?” always tops the list in times like this. I don’t know the names of the ones we lost, or how we can ever be the same again. I don’t know anything about the person who did this. He may have been well-liked, or much-avoided. He may have been angry or sullen, or seemed like a nice guy. I don’t know.

I can guess a few things, however. One thing I can guess is that as he drove to the school today, he wasn’t thinking about the mother who tonight is sobbing in her only daughter’s room. He wasn’t thinking of the father who, this afternoon, had to explain the unexplainable to a toddler who wanted to know where her big brother had gone. He wasn’t thinking of dozens of Christmas presents that had been so lovingly selected, but will go forever unopened.

He did this the only way anyone can ever do such a thing as this–by denying the goodness and humanity that connects every one of us to every other one of us. Whether because of sickness of the mind or of the heart, or sheer force of evil will, he left his ability to feel empathy and humanity outside the door of that schoolhouse in Connecticut.

As we go forward we will hear more about the children who were ripped from us, and the “how”s and “why”s of the terrible deed. Our hearts and prayers will go out, and we will light candles and wish desperately that any such balm could slay the fearsome grief that even now is ripping holes in the hearts of the families of Newtown.

And I already hear it, on the television and the internet. People, made desperate by horror, asking how can we stop this from happening to our children. How could we do anything else in such a moment, but fall to our knees and ask, “Why?”

But then it starts. The talk of guns and rights and lock down procedures and concealed carry and mental illness and waiting periods and video games and…God it’s just pretty much the same debate we have every time this happens. Oregon, Aurora, Gabby Giffords. And all the same players seem to say the same thing.

But this time, I beg you, whether you’re a private citizen or a public figure, whether your discussion occurs in person, or over the great anonymizer of the internet–please remember that a man did this because he lost the ability to see those he was hurting as human.

As we go forward, see each other as beautiful and vulnerable and precious. Respect each other in your debates and replies. The person with whom you are exchanging grammatically incorrect invective over the internet–that person is connected to you in brotherhood just as much as the victims of this tragedy. When we deny the sacred humanity of one another, we profane ourselves.

Hold your loved ones tight. Breathe in the scent of your child’s hair, squeeze your spouse’s hand a little tighter, call your mother. But also remember that the way to honor those we lost, is to be honorable and good to each member of our human family.

Blessed be.

12 days of knitmas

12 days left, and we’re in the Christmas home stretch. I am just now getting into my gift knitting. Done this week: a pair of socks modeled by Miss Wiggles.
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I have more in progress, but I don’t want to give too much away. Just a sneak peek:
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I think one of my gift recipients might be able to guess which is hers by the color. But she doesn’t know what it is!

How about you? What are you making for the holidays? And how far do you have left to go?

baking day

Yesterday was baking day in the uglythreads household. My husband had a cookie carry-in at work, and I had a wicked craving for some homemade sugar deliciousness. To wit:
chocchipChocolate chip cookies. Classic and delicious, I used mini and jumbo chips to increase the chocolaty goodness. I adapted from the New York Times recipe here. I used regular AP flour, and mini & jumbo semi-sweet chocolate chips instead of “bittersweet chocolate disks or fèves” which I assume is foodie for “chocolate chips that are much more expensive than the ones currently on special at the local foodmart” (2 for $4!)

I also made a treat to keep at home. We’ve always called these “Seven Layer Bars” though that’s a misnomer, because it only contains six ingredients. Some internet research tells me these are also sometimes called “Magic Bars” and may have originally included butterscotch chips. The recipe is super easy, and yields this gooey wonder:

7layer

Seven Layer Bars:
melt a stick of butter in a 9×13 baking dish
crush a package (about 8) of graham crackers, and pour in the dish with the butter. Mush it down into an even layer with your fingers.

Next open up a can of sweetened condensed milk and pour evenly over the graham cracker layer. Next comes a layer of chocolate chips, followed by one of shredded coconut, followed by nuts (I use walnuts, you can also use pecans, cashews, macadamia nuts, whatever) then pop it in an oven at 350°F for about 20 minutes, it until the coconut gets toasty.

Let it cool a bit to set up, and then cut into bars and eat with a big ol’ glass of milk. Holiday baking: accomplished.

 

carrots

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Check it out! Approximately 22 ounces of homemade baby food (carrots, if you’re curious) batched up & ready for the freezer. Yeah, I’m that kind of mom. Tomorrow we’ll have something much less healthy: xmas baking.

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sleep

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There is nothing like sleep to make a new mom feel insecure. When the baby (and by extension mommy) isn’t getting enough sleep, everything else comes into question. Is it because she’s not nursing enough? too much? Should I cut out dairy or soy or peanut butter? Add solids? Maybe I need to let her cry for a few minutes, or maybe that will make it worse.

You question your bedtime routine, your daytime activities, your feeding, napping and your relationship. Sometimes, at four in the morning you question your sanity and fitness to parent.

The crazy part is, you do this even when you should know better. I’ve read books and blogs that warned about the 4-month sleep regression. And for most of the past month, I’ve kept perspective & as positive an attitude that one can muster on 3-5 hours of sleep nightly. But last week I just lost it and had a good cry right along with the baby.

The hubbs stepped in and took baby duty for a night, and I can’t tell you what a difference it made. For everyone, really, because even though we’re not sleeping all night every night, the Wiggles has at least stopped screaming every time I put her in the crib. She and I seem to have been in some kind of negative feedback loop that required outside intervention to fix.

All this is a roundabout way of saying I’m sorry I haven’t updated in a while, but now that I’m clocking more than two consecutive hours of sleep on the regular, I will remedy that. Christmas knitting and baking time is upon us. We’ll talk about that next.