Happy Christmas!

I have been watching the flood of holiday cards arrive in our mailbox, with more melancholy than I did last year. You see, last year we didn't have a mantle or a fireplace or a mailbox on our front porch. And last year I was still hazy with new motherhood, that my efforts in creating my very first e-card seemed more than satisfactory. You can see that creation here.

But as I lamented my decision again to not send a printed paper holiday card, I realized what I missed was the ritual, of sitting down, with pen in hand and writing each address, stamping each envelope. I used to write letters. I used to love writing letters. These days my fountain pen and ink collection is sitting there, in a drawer, perhaps waiting for me to rekindle my love affair with the paper and pen.

For now, on this rainy Tuesday, a few days after Christmas, I embraced the e-world, again. I went straight to Pingg (my favorite by the way) and played around with the photobooth pictures we took at Thanksgiving and came up with this. Happy New Year to all of you.


The nugget's room on Oh Dee Doh

Take a look...the nugget's room was featured on Oh Dee Doh yesterday! Click here

I was so pleased when I got the email that it would be featured in their "My Room" series. The timing is slightly ironic, considering the nugget's crib is currently upstairs in our room, his changing table is next to my closet and Opa is camped out on the twin bed downstairs in his room. Not sure what the nugget asks for first when I get him out of bed: Oba, choo-choo or woersch (a brilliant toddler fusion of Wasser and water). Guess that is what happens when you learn two languages at the same time. At any rate, its perfect - because the idea is to make the most of the space we have and what could be better than having Oma and Opa downstairs, every morning.

Thank you everyone over at Oh Dee Doh - you continue to share and find the greatest inspiration and ideas for baby, kid and family friendly design! And thank you to your readers for the wonderful dialogue and sense of community. Your site is truly one of my favorite places to spend some time on the web.


A toddler friendly tree

Home for Christmas.

Our house was full of family from near and far and yesterday's winter storm (yes, rain in Northern California counts as a winter storm) kept us inside with a fire and puzzles and craft projects and the like.

I promised a few shots of toddler friendly Christmas decorating, so before the next week takes on a plan if its own, here you go.

As for the wreath, obviously not toddler friendly but its on the front door, far away from little hands and remote control helicopters that Nikolaus brought to the man size toddlers this year.

For the how to, click here

As for our tree, it makes me happy. And little hands were allowed to touch every part of it.

And yes, those are real candles. And no, he wasn't allowed to touch those.

Wishing you all, a few more days of Christmas magic.

Frohe Weihnachten auch noch!


Finnish Tonttu (elf) available here

My little red capped nugget has a big welt on his head, from not one but two big falls onto his forehead. We've made friends with the triage nurse.

My iPhone is in the hands of some scoundrels who broke into our car window and claimed it for their own.

So, I am taking a small step back to just be. No photos, no blog posts. Just some candles, our tree, making some peppermint bark and getting back on the floor to play some much needed cho cho.

May you all be surrounded with the joy and holiness of this season. May the elves find time to enjoy all the good that we are surrounded by.

Happy Christmas.




Day 15

Baking cookies with Oma.

More accurately, putting sprinkles on top of the wooden eggs.


Day 14

Watching the huge revolving doors at SFO's International Terminal, waiting for Oma and Opa to arrive.


On the 13th day of Christmas

A healthy again and happy nugget.

He got the hang of this Advent Calendar thing, right away.

As for the calendar itself, well that arrived, as if perfectly planned on the 1st of December, from a very clever Oma. When she started on this, I have no idea. Each bag is hand painted with a Christmas image, one more darling than the next. She even included the string and the mini-clothespins. All I had to do was fill it.

Really, this was the best surprise package from Germany I could have imagined.


On the 12th day of Christmas...

The nugget and I set up this.

I grew up with this nativity set. So last year when my mom decided it was my turn to own it and actually boxed it up and sent it via the USPS, I knew a new tradition was about to begin.

Today, when I pulled it out of the paper towel it was still wrapped in, the nugget looked it over and then proclaimed with absolute certainty, "Baabi." Yes, nugs, that is a baby. And then he tried to put it in his mouth.

The set is actually a funky plastic material, aged in the crevices, to resemble ivory or marble, I think. And the design is vaguely modern, with its simple lines and abstract features. I don't know where it came from or what its story is, but one of my fondest memories was setting it up while others handled the more fragile Christmas decorations. So again, toddler friendly decorating. Perfect.

I do remember there being a cow in addition to the donkey and an angel for a top the manger. Wonder what happened to them.

The scene felt a bit bare without the sanctuary of a manger, so I snipped a few branches off our tree, got out the hot glue gun and crafted together a very humble enclosure. But somehow, it feels just right.



On the 10th day of Christmas

On Wednesday, the nugget brought home this...

Today he brought home a fever, cloudy eyes and a droopy disposition. So he got a nukki (pacifier), his comforter and 15 minutes of Pippi (Longstockings, if you weren't sure). I put on the red hat for the photo - yup, I'm THAT mom.

And then, he went to bed, without one complaint, at 5pm.

So no Christmasy picture of the boy in a red cap today, just a snap shot of the real deal.

As for me, it's 6:39 on a Friday night and one of my men is sleeping and the other is busy with a construction project. What is a girl to do?

Ooooh, the possibilities are endless...

Angels we have heard on high...

Sometimes I just find things that I love.

These angels are available at Linda Ferrol Studio, one of those other things that I found and loved, immediately.


Day 9 of December Photo Project

First Playdough for the nugget - as today's Advent calendar gift.

How is it that this stuff smells exactly the same as it did 30 years ago?

Modern rustic details

Woodland place setting from Danish Bohemia

Pillow case from Impressionen

Heart decoration from Impressionen

Felt Heart Garland from Danish Bohemia

Rheindeer collection from En Gry og Sif

In case you like the red, white, woodland, rustic theme as well. Here are some of the darling decorations I found along the way.


8th day of Christmas...

A toddler friendly tree trimming. This is today's picture for the December Photo Project.

(I know - bad lighting and its not clear. Forgive my amateur photography - I have to be fast with this little man)

First, tiny finger friendly ornaments. Felt, wood, straw. My favorite wooden snowflakes are TOTALLY not toddler friendly - in fact we had two casualties. So I hung them high. Everything else glass and ceramic is put away - maybe for the next ten years.

Second, you give him space to create and the opportunity to amaze you. And then you sit there with these real tears of joy streaming down your face because your baby isn't ripping down the tree like you thought he would. Instead he is watchful and careful and attentive and mindful and meticulous about carrying the hook between his chubby little fingers, finding the perfect spot and then coming back to you for another one.

Third, you accept that every ornament he "placed" went in the exact same spot. And some are upside down and others are face down, leaving more bare branches than your adult artistic self would have liked but you leave it.

Just because.

Unexpected inspiration

I don't usually go for what is the newest, or the coolest, or the biggest, but maybe you gathered that already. And I am certainly not against what was last season or even two seasons ago - in terms of trends. I like what I like, don't really care how cool it is or for that matter how past due it is. When I bought a stack of old design magazines at a neighbor's garage sale for $3, I didn't think I would come across this very unexpected inspiration.

In a Veranda Magazine from several years ago, I stumbled onto the most delightful story about an inspiring room for the holidays. Inspired by Scandinavian design and aesthetic, its rustic and earthy and simple and folksy and eclectic. I love it. I love everything about it.

My favorite detail is the branch with painted red pine cones.

I started last year with a red/white theme when I started to pick out felt and wood ornaments that would withstand the hands of a growing little boy. Our tiny Charlie Brown tree was just the start - seeing this Nordic inspired room has only encouraged me more.

My friend Leigh of Found, Now Home posted her holiday inspiration for decorating with branches. Take a look here. I love the hanging white wreath with the candles over the dining table. So yes, branches are in.

This weekend, the toddler safe holiday decorating will be done. I'll take some shots when the elves are through...


On the 7th day of Christmas...

...I tried to choose the picture for our holiday card. What do you think?

I think we have to take some more pictures! For more of our outrageous photo booth fun over Thanksgiving, click here


On the sixth day of Christmas...

Nikolaus comes to visit.

In Germany children await today almost as eagerly as the coming of the Kristkimd on the eve of the 24th of December. In my memory, we would awaken to shoes or a plate overflowing with nuts, tangerines, chocolate coins and of course some sort of silver foil covered confectioner's delight in the shape of Nikolaus himself. I read yesterday that children these days might even receive an iPod or video game - seems a pile of nuts is just not that exciting anymore.

Our nugget - well, his red boot was full of walnuts, a few satsumas, two Lebkuchen and one gingerbread mini pretzel. Oh, and an airplane, that is going to be re:wrapped and put in the Advent Calendar that I hope to assemble tomorrow. He's not even 2 - I can still get away with this.

He was unimpressed with the sweet things, cared little for the satsumas and pondered the walnuts for all of three seconds. The plane took her maiden flight around the kitchen floor but was also quickly abandoned for something else.

Regardless, it made us smile. There will be more than enough Nikolaus days in our future. As for the iPod or video game, I have learned the hard way to never say never.


On the 5th of Christmas...

...my true love gave to me...

A trip to RiteAid for two boxes of white lights, 20 minutes of serious gutter puddle jumping, brunch with some of my favorite women and their families, the first marzipan Stolen of the season, a matinee of Marin Theatre Company's Happy Now and a conked out baby at 6pm.

Hence today's photo of the owl in the red hat - it was this or nothing.

At least you get to see the tiniest bit of our holiday decoration.