Thursday, December 17, 2009

Saint Nicholas

Celebrating Saint Nicholas is important to me. It's a big tradition in Belgium where Santa Claus was not even known when I was a child. By now people know of him, but he still is not the person who brings presents, etc. On christmas day, your family may give you gifts, but on december sixth, the good holy man comes.
The last few years we have attended a Saint Nicholas festival at the Orthodox Church in Columbia of the Holy Apostles. I have been so grateful for their hospitality, their graciousness and their celebration of this Saint.
This year however, our Parish hosted an advent celebration on december fifth, which included a visit from Saint Nicholas. Of course we could not miss that. I helped by participating in the set up, and by baking a few dozens of traditional speculaas cookies in the shape of Saint Nicholas.

The cookie cutter was bought from the Saint Nicholas Center Website, and I plan to add to my collection next year! The cookies were all devoured (okay, I kept a few back for my husband, who devoured the rest of them) and Joseph had a nice visit with the good Saint who gave him a sock filled with gold (chocolate) coins and a rosary.

In the evening we all had to put our shoe in front of the fireplace and long after everyone had gone to bed Saint Nicholas came in and filled the shoes with special candy and gifts. Again there were the coins that refer to one of the stories about Saint Nicholas providing dowries for poor women, as well as speculaas likening of him and a marzipan orange to symbolise generosity.

Joseph received MANY gifts. And mama, dada and Ama must have been pretty good as well! Joseph really enjoyed discovering everything, managing to sneak at least 4 pieces of chocolate in his mouth before mommy intervened. He received a camera (which he adored as you can see. An ornament in the shape of a train, many books and a calendar. Mommy received a knit shawl and a mug with her beloved husbands picture on (SO thoughtful!) Daddy received many cans of nalu, an energy drink he loves that he can't get in the US, a Star Wars ornament and a pair of brown, manly ovenmits, since he usually is the one who gets the pizza out.
Ama received a photo bag and an etui for her knitting needles.

It was such a fun time to discover everything in our pajama's. It was even more suitable to go afterwards to mass for advent celebration. And in the late afternoon, we set up our tree. Joseph helped hanging his own ornaments in the tree and was enchanted by the pretty lights....

A fitting celebration for the advent Saint I believe, and a good start for Christmas. I think we will add 'put up the christmas tree on Saint Nicholas day' to our family traditions!

Monday, December 14, 2009

A short note, and a promise

Our Saint Nicholas day was absolutely wonderful, and I promise you an update on it very, very soon.
I have been cooped up though with a miserable cold for nearly two weeks and on top of things took a tumble that left me with a bruised knee, bruised hands, a bruised side, and of course lots of monitoring for signs of early labour of baby distress. Everything is fine (aside from the swelling and bruising, etc.) but it was a bit of a scare.
Pictures and stories about the fun we had last weekend are to follow soon though.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Good mommy

I'm proud of myself of what I have accomplished so far, even with the horrible headcold that has taken over.
Joseph and I made 'cake' together. Ok, it came from a mix, but it was something we did together, and he could add the milk and the egg, which made it a big deal. Then I had the inspiration of using a mini cheesecake tray for mini muffins to make from the cakemix and all was well. So much easier to dole out a small portion.
Then we went outside(!) to blow bubbles. This is one of the things I like to do most with Joseph and we had lots of fun.

I also managed to go grocery shopping, not giving in to my thought that I could probably eche one more meal out of my pantry and procrastinate on this till tomorrow, because I didn't feel like going shopping with Joseph. His behaviour was a bit of a mixed bag while shopping. I am trying to train him to walk nicely beside or behind the cart. It depends on the day how succesful I am. He likes to run about and take stuff of the shelves, which of course is not allowed. So after two warnings, the third time he ran away, mommy put him in the cart. Which ensured a screaming meltdown. Especially since I didn't allow him to climb back down. In the end I had to strap him in the children's seat, which of course was reason for more crying and screaming "Out... out.. walk... walk". I will admit I wasn't feeling too great and pretty tempted bribe him with whatever to behave, but instead I spoke to him on normal volume and tone telling him that I was not impressed and that he was not embarrassing me with his behaviour, just himself. After one aisle the tantrum was over and we were ready to sing "I like the mommy, mommy" again. We finished our shopping, payed. and when I was trying to load the groceries into my bags I had an interesting idea. I am training Joseph to be a little mommy helper... so why not now? I gave him one of the grocery bags and while I filled the freezer bag, I handed Joseph items to put into the grocery bag. YAY! He did it. I didn't need to tell him to stop doing this or that or running away, instead he received lots of praise each time he put a can of tuna or the box of pasta into the bag. The cutest thing ever is when he says "You wecome" after I say thank you to him for putting something in the bag.
Maybe I ruined my good mommy status by giving him a hershey kiss when we came home, but hey... he deserved it!