Thursday, December 25, 2014

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Santa Question

Dash has been suspicious of the whole Santa thing for a while now (which, what the fuck? I was like 19 when I found out about Santa). Josh and I bent ourselves into pretzels to keep the dream alive for as long as we could, but eventually it started to feel less like "keeping the magic alive" and more like "looking your kid in the face and lying."

So. A couple of months ago Dash started grilling me about Santa again, and this time it felt different. Like he knew the truth, but was honestly mystified about why his parents would bullshit him. So I told him. This is what I said:

You asked if Santa is real, and the answer is yes. But not the way you might think. Santa is not an actual magical man that flies his sleigh all over the world to deliver presents on Christmas. Santa doesn't literally come into every kid's house to personally place presents under the tree and eat cookies. Santa is a feeling.
Santa is the sense of love and kindness and generosity we feel at this time of year. He's the reason we spend the Solstice season making sure that our most beloved feel honored and cared for. He's the reason we open our homes to friends and family, and the reason we sing and laugh a bit more and a little louder in December. He's the reason we think more often about those who have less than us at Christmas, and the reason we feel more moved to share what we have with them.
But, Santa's not just a feeling. Santa's also a team. He's a team of mommies and daddies and grandparents. Of aunties and uncles and teachers and friends. We are all on Santa's team, and our job is to share the lessons of love and kindness that were shared with us by the team members that came before. So while Mommy and Daddy are the ones that wrap the presents and light the candles, the feeling of Christmas can only come when the entire team works together to spread love and magic and hope and generosity.
And now that you know the truth, you're on Santa's team, too.
And then I threatened him with severe bodily harm if he breathed a word of what I had said to another living soul.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Mr. Z

Year three tea towels. I'm pretty happy with them.





I packaged them up elegantly.

I like that he looks threatening.

And, because of course, I made some Blueberry Meyer Lemon Marmalade to go with. That sound? That was the sound of the mic dropping.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Solstice 2014

We celebrated our fourth annual Solstice last weekend and it was glorious, as I've come to expect.


  The house & its residents got tarted up real good.

And I debuted a new member of my Crazy Lady Christmas Village--The White Rabbit Bookstore. Yay!

There were lots of treats, as labeled by young Dash.

I came up with the greatest craft idea! Wind chimes made from lovely, unusual beads and jingle bells. I spent weeks collecting fallen branches to hang the chimes from. Josh meticulously cut them into appropriate lengths. I provided sweet little paper cartons so each kid could collect the beads they liked before we started. And I cut special knotting cords to length ahead of time.

I even screwed tiny little eye screws into each branch.

Don't they all look so sweet working on their chimes?

What I didn't count on was that not one of these lovely, otherwise-perfect little dummies could tie a knot. They all gave up after about 15 minutes and the next day I trashed 14 half-finished branches.

Then they all went upstairs to trade baseball cards and play Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots.

The littlest girls got hand-knitted (by me!) kitty hats.

And Dash & his bros got their annual Liz-made Solstice jammies (this was Nate's first year as a member of the pj crew and he was pretty stoked)

I conclusion, I got silly nose cups and made our poor, put-upon guests pose with them and I'm going to have this collage blown up, printed and framed and I'm going to hang it in the living room.

Thursday, December 04, 2014


Another December, another step I take to ensure that no woman will ever measure up to Dash's sainted mother.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Solstice Invitations

I've been escalating my Solstice invitation game each year. If things continue the way they're going, I'm going to have to hire a skywriter soon.
I made these guys out of wooden balls (heads), clothespins (bodies) and doll stands (feet). They all have pipe cleaner arms, and I hand-painted their hair, faces and striped tights. 
I made their clothes templates out of card stock, then just assembly-lined the felt pieces. Everything is attached by hot glue and although I burned off all of my fingerprints, I think the little pom pom buttons were worth my small sacrifice.
Each elf is clutching a snowball in one hand and a tiny, cork-stoppered bottle in the other.
In each bottle is an itty little scroll...
...tied up with striped string.
I included a small magnifying glass with each elf, to help the kids read the tiny print on the scroll.

I made up the poem. It's not that great, but it gets the point across.


Here's the text:
The days have grown short
And the nights have grown long
But that won't stop us from singing a song
For we know that Solstice will soon be here
And, soon after, the Sun will appear
So please celebrate with us
We'll feast and we'll toast
We'll share this day with those we love the most!

Yay! Solstice!

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Gobble Gobble Muthafuckaz

I like to joke about how I'm a poor Soviet immigrant, ignorant of the ways of my shrewd American friends and neighbors (despite the fact that I've been here since I was 4 years old and have no memory of ever living in Russia). But I was raised by Russian immigrants, so there is some stuff that feels completely new about creating our own American family traditions.

Thanksgiving has always been a REALLY big deal for my family growing up. In addition to giving thanks for our more abstract blessings, we used the day to enumerate the many, very real, very specific blessings we received after coming to this country--things like being able to discuss our government without worry of being jailed. The ability to go to the store and just buy a pineapple if we felt like it. Living without fear that our home would be burned down because we are Jewish.

So creating our own new Thanksgiving traditions has been an important and beautiful (and maybe sometimes fraught) opportunity for us to imbue the day with meaning for our family and our loved ones. One of the most meaningful steps we've taken in that direction is to open our home to our beloved friends as well as family. Since we three are only children, I think it may be more natural, possibly more important, for us to build families of friends around us. And so every year, when the head count grows, when the kids' table gets more crowded and more raucous, I count one more thing to be thankful for: the blessing of friends who honor us by sharing this most important day at our table.


Some street hockey to get them good and hungry (and sweaty) before dinner.
Kids' table "centerpiece." (I try. I really do.)

Dash spent the day with our beloved Verlaques while Josh and I prepped dinner. They made these excellent pine cone turkeys. Will is thankful for, among other things, cheese.
Dash is grateful for, among other things, "my personality." It's nice that we won't have to worry about confidence issues with him.
The calm before the storm. (This year I finally came to my senses and rented tables, chairs and tablecloths. Not having to cobble together seating out of fifteen rickety card tables and dozens of borrowed & mismatched chairs was another thing I was very thankful for this year.)


I love that you can just stick a couple of hydrangea stems into a vase and it looks like you know what you're doing.
These potatoes, tagged by Josh, were tight. You make regular mashed potatoes, but then mix in some caramelized onions that you've pureed with a stick of butter. Then add Parmesan. You can only eat them once a year if you want to live past 50, but damn, that day is a good day.
It's time to baste the turkey, son.
Look at this mahogany miracle. Josh's turkey game was on point this year.

IMG_0837[1] (1)
The kids table, right before they started throwing food at each other.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Saying Thanks

We made our second annual pilgrimage to our local fire station to thank the firefighters for all they do to keep our community safe (and maybe sneak in a small lesson about gratitude for the smalls).

Except the boys completely ditched our entire cookie-baking and card-making effort (as Samantha was giddy to point out to the firemen). So while the girls got to lick the spoons and taste the cookies before we packed them up, the boys got dick. Ungrateful little turds (I say it with love).

Here's Lucy's lovely card.

And the front of Samantha's.

And this is one of my top ten things that has ever happened ("p.s. Dash and Will and Ben did not help make the cookies.")

Then we delivered the still-warm cookies and the stood there batting our eyelashes until the lovely firemen gave us a tour of the firehouse.