Archive for December, 2011

The longest night

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

Well, we’ve made it.  When we get up tomorrow morning, we will have made it through the darkest (although not yet the coldest) part of the year and winter will have begun.  From here, the days get longer, and we begin to move, however slowly, towards spring again.  We’ve held the darkness at bay with our lights and our candles, and all around the world, people will be holding festivals which celebrate (overtly or not) making through the darkness and coming back towards the light.

I like winter.  I don’t mind the cold, or even the darkness.  But even so, the thought of waking up to sunlight instead of darkness is appealing.  I’ll be grateful when Benjamin begins to remember that the sleep he has at night and the sleep he has during the day are different (right now the poor kid wakes up from his naps asking if today is a school day).

There’s a lot of winter yet ahead of us.  There will still be plenty of cold (and hopefully some snow).  It’ll take a few weeks, yet, for the sunrises to even start coming earlier, and months before it feels like anything has changed.  But it’s coming.

I feel so fortunate here, in my cozy, warm apartment with my family.  Tonight, I’ll turn on the lights on my Christmas tree and celebrate turning the corner of winter.  We’ve made it through the deepest part of the darkness, yet again.

Ok, the pressure is starting to get to me

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

I’ve been talking a good game:  focus on the experience, not the details;  I do all this work because I want to, not because I have to;  Christmas is about being with people, not about gifts.  But we’re getting to the 11th hour, and all of this sincere and well-intentioned talk I’ve been doing is starting to fall apart in the face of HOW MUCH I STILL HAVE TO GET DONE.


Appreciate the magic fairies

Monday, December 19th, 2011

Holiday celebrations don’t happen by themselves.  It takes a lot of thought, planning and A LOT of work to get the halls decked, the table set and the gifts wrapped under the tree.


Making cookies

Sunday, December 18th, 2011

I’ve never been much of a cook.  There are a few things I can make pretty well (only a few) but I follow directions really well, so I can fake my way through just about anything with a good recipe (the simpler the better).  It’s always been the eating part of cooking that I enjoy the most, so if someone else volunteers to do the actual cooking part, I’m happy to oblige.  Really, the only time of year I get excited about being in the kitchen is Christmastime.


Oh, Christmas tree

Saturday, December 17th, 2011

It’s really starting to feel a lot like Christmas here at our house.  We went out and got a Christmas tree today.  We’d been a bit concerned about acquiring one — we don’t have a car, so we wouldn’t be able to transport it very far (although we do have a wagon).  And we’d also heard they do Christmas trees as a very “last minute” thing here (they typically aren’t put up, or at least revealed, until Christmas Eve) and we wanted to have ours a bit sooner.  Really, we didn’t know how the experience would be different, and I knew we’d end up with a tree one way or another.


Ooh, sparkly

Friday, December 16th, 2011

I like sparkly things.  In fact, a significant part of my enjoyment of ballroom dancing came from the sparkly dresses (and I’m not entirely kidding about that).  As a dancer, the more sparkly the dress, the more beautiful it is, and the best sparkly dresses were adorned with rhinestones made by Swarovski.  Swarovski makes all manner of crystal things:  jewelery, knick-knacks, keychains, Christmas ornaments, chandeliers.  They are all really sparkly.  (Have I mentioned that I like sparkly things?  I often catch myself looking at various items around our house — clothing, furniture, children – and trying to decide how many rhinestones I could get away with applying to them . . . usually 0).


A field trip . . . this time, on purpose

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

A couple of weeks ago, after completely missing that the kindergarten was going to take our child on a trip for the morning, the teachers at the school gave us a detailed and carefully translated list of upcoming school events.  (Which we then promptly misunderstood. . . or thought we did.  It appears that St. Nicolas actually WAS at the school — we’ve seen pictures — but B still says he wasn’t.  He keeps saying, “He wasn’t there, he was just a surprise when we came back in from the garden”, so there’s some nuance we’re missing, but I have no idea what it is.)  For today, there was a note about an excursion to a children’s theater to watch a play.


Ho ho ho!

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

Just call me Santa — today I got the last of my Christmas packages for the States packed up and shipped out.  Whew.  Only 10 days until Christmas Eve (yikes) and nearly a full week after my “very latest day” I wanted to send them, but they’re out there, in the Austrian postal system and out of my hands.  (It’s very much like the feeling I get when I’m on a plane and it starts rolling down the runway — whatever’s going to happen, there’s nothing I can do about it now.)



Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

We hosted a dinner party, of sorts, this evening:  Dan’s French officemate, Samir, came over and brought a contraption called a “Raclette” so we could all have dinner together.  I had never heard of Raclette, but I’m a quick learner — it’s basically like fondue except that rather than cooking your food in the cheese, you melt the cheese and pour it over a variety of meats, breads and vegetables.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience, and now I know of yet another way to prepare and ingest cheese (just what my waistline needs).  But,  as with so many culinary experiences, the real pleasure comes from the social experience, not the eating experience.  We ate, we drank wine, we chatted.  Dan & I taught him at least one word (“melted”) to augment his already excellent English, Samir & I chastised Dan for words he doesn’t yet know in German (“später”), Liam ate Raclette with enthusiasm, while Benjamin all but abstained.  We all laughed about the period in recent American history where we ate “Freedom Fries” instead of French Fries, and Samir assured us that the French hadn’t gotten their feelings hurt about the name change, since there’s nothing French about them anyway.

It was, in short, exactly the kind of evening we’re so fortunate to have here in Vienna — learning about another culture, enjoying each other’s company, helping the world feel a little smaller.  And, as it turns out, we all like Raclette, as well as Samir’s company, so I imagine this is an experience we’ll repeat again before too long.

My horses make me a better mom

Monday, December 12th, 2011

Liam got a nasty splinter in the bottom of his foot tonight.  (I actually don’t know when he got it — I found it while he was in the bath tonight.)  He’s walking and running now, and we have wood floors — it was pretty inevitable.  So, after bath time, Dan held him as still as possible, and I removed the splinter from his foot.