Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy, Happy

We've been soaking up goodness lately. Jason's parents and sister came up on the 26th to celebrate Christmas with us, and we had a wonderful time together. They landed after Hadley went to bed on the 26th, so the next morning, she looked amazed when Grandpa came up the stairs from the basement and sat down on the floor next to her in the living room. He was followed shortly after by Grandma, and then by Auntie Crystal. I'm pretty sure Hadley thinks we have a magical basement, where people beam themselves in and out of our home.

(How cool would that be?)

Hadley seems to love a full house, lots of action, lots of arms, lots of faces to entertain her. We had our second Christmas celebration on Sunday night, which was festive and fun. Grandma and Grandpa spoiled all of us, and I admit that I'm enjoying playing with Hadley's toys as much as she does. Grandma bought her a toy food set, and I love sitting down with Hadley and saying things like, "Hm. Would you like an egg sandwich this morning? How about some fresh broccoli?" And Hadley looks at me with those big grey-green-blue eyes she has and then grabs whatever I have and puts it in her mouth. It's actually a rather fun game.

The day after our celebration, we went to a Christmas store--all things Christmas, all the time--and I wondered if the people who work there are tired of Christmas tunes by the time the holiday rolls around each year. I would be. Hadley was captivated by all of the lit trees and sparkly ornaments; it would have taken her all of five nanoseconds to get into the baskets of pretty things if we had let her. I thought about how different she will be next Christmas, how much more independent and curious and expressive, so I squeezed her extra tight. (I really did because she let out a little squeal, as if to say, "Whoa, Mama. I just ate.")

We did other little things--rambled around the mall, went out to lunch, took a stroll outside. It was very low-key and relaxing, and it's really nice to have extra people around to play with the Hadster. I actually got to go to the bathroom ALL ALONE. Fab.

Sandy and Crystal had a snowball fight, and I have to post the images here because they crack me up. I have a hunch that at next year's snowball fight, Hadley will find a spot smack-dab in the middle.

Sandy, Al and Crystal left on the 30th, but before they did, Jason and I got airplane tickets to go to Naples in April. (Thank you, frequent flier miles.) At least we all know when we'll be together again, and I'm already dreaming of how much fun we'll have with Hadley in the pool and on the beach. She's going to love Naples, and I'm so excited to introduce her to all of our good friends who live there.

So here we are, ready for the new year and all of the adventures it will bring. Happy, happy to all of you!

And now for one of my favorite photo series of the year: Crystal and Hadley model their red berets:

Friday, December 25, 2009


We are sitting on the couch after Hadley's first Christmas, feeling all glowy and warm and thankful. She was a happy little celebrant--and even woke up extra-early this morning, which makes me wonder if it's just programmed into kids' DNA to rise with the sun on Christmas morning.
Jason assembling Hadley's wagon in the basement on Christmas Eve.

We played at home until after her morning nap, and then packed up--Hadley still in her pajamas because kids are supposed to wear their pajamas to open Christmas presents--and headed to Mumsie and Granddaddy's house. The house smelled like yummy things: egg casserole, the same recipe from my Aunt Pam that we eat every year; good coffee; a faint hint of Christmas cookies baked the night before. We dove into breakfast, while Hadley, perched in her high chair, chowed down on a banana in her mushy-food-net-thingy that totally grossed out Uncle Graham. It is kind of disgusting, but she loves it--and it captivates her attention long enough for us to sit down and eat a meal, so gross or no, we're keeping it.

Hadley wore her red bow from Mumsie because, as Mumsie says, Hadley is our present!

Graham and I stuffed stockings while Hadley crawled around and looked at us with great curiosity--and then found a present and pushed it around on the floor. Fun, fun, fun.
Hadley snuggled Graham on the couch.

We exchanged stocking gifts--a tremendous Masell tradition, thanks to our enormous stockings. Hadley's, which Mumsie made for her, was filled to the brim. (Ok, who am I kidding? They were all filled to the brim.) She got bows for her hair, beautiful egg ornaments that my Granny made decades ago, darling pink pants, other goodies--and SOCKS. In our eternal quest to find socks that will stay on Hadley's feet, Mumsie tracked down nearly every brand of baby socks in the Denver metro area. We'll do our due diligence and report back on what we discover.

Hadley sported her new SmartWool hat. The ducky pjs make the outfit, don't you think?

We opened our under-the-tree gifts, and Jason wins the award this year for the most clever and thoughtful--and funny. I adore a nearby ice cream/coffee/goodies shop called the Pajama Baking Company (which gets big points for a super-cute name), and the good folks there make a killer watermelon-mint sorbet in the summer. But last summer, every time we tried to go get some, watermelon-mint wasn't on the menu (which changes daily). So sad. So my smart husband ordered up a batch of watermelon-mint sorbet--1.5 gallons, which is the least he could order to get a custom-made batch. He said that the women at PBC seemed puzzled about why someone would order sorbet in the winter, but they're just missing out on one of life's simple joys.

(Jason would like me to mention that he didn't give only sorbet. He thinks my enthusiasm might hint that it was my only gift. It was not, but it sure was the biggest surprise...and the sweetest. Get it? Sweetest? Ha!)

Hadley and Graham snuggling some more...Nice expression, Uncle Graham.

Hadley played for a while with her new toys, and then she joined me for a nap--a joy we haven't indulged in lately because we've been working hard on persuading Hadley to take good, long naps alone (and she's getting better!). But what's a Christmas Day celebration without some good snuggling and an afternoon nap?

Hadley loves her new toy. Stand up, sit down, stand up, sit down. Play the music! Great fun!

Mumsie whipped up a delicious dinner, and we ate plenty. More than plenty. We toddled home, put Hadley to bed and now, here we are. Sandy, Al and Crystal will be here tomorrow night for more celebrating, but for now, we're just soaking up the quiet.

I often wish that I could have just one day when all the people I love are together in one room. One BIG room, filled with good food and good music and good cheer. I haven't figured out yet how to make that happen (save making Jason marry me all over again), so wherever you are, I hope that you're basking in the glow of peace and hope and people who love you.

Merry, merry Christmas!

Graham and his friend Noaa loved on Hadley.

Hadley and Daddy built a house. (Ok, Daddy built and Hadley knocked it down.) Great Grandpa Jack-Jack cheered them on.

Hadley tried out her wagon on our basement...and liked it.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Simple Livin'

Our neighborhood is shimmering with twinkly lights; I'm addicted to the radio station that plays non-stop Christmas music; and Hadley and I made peppermint bark this afternoon. We are saturated in holiday spirit around here, and everything seems to sparkle just a little more now that we have Hadley.

Hadley also makes us think about all kinds of stuff that we've never had to consider. What traditions do we want to create for our family? What will we teach Hadley by the way we celebrate Christmas? Will she learn to love Target or love God?

Thankfully, babies are designed to be relatively oblivious to certain things (though not to power cords, outlets or fireplaces), so we have a little time to figure out these answers. But I do think that how people celebrate Christmas is a real reflection of how they view themselves in the world; Christmas somehow draws out who each of us is--for better or worse. Me, I tend to get caught up in the to-do list in the weeks leading up to Christmas, which is no surprise: I'm task-oriented. I like to accomplish things, even if those things are shopping for gifts and wrapping them up. So my challenge is to breathe in the spirit and inspiration for gift-giving, not simply to check off my list.

Which brings me to one thought I've been pondering lately: gifts. I'm not a proponent of the "more is better" philosophy when it comes to gifts. I don't much care how many presents I have to open; even when I was a kid, that wasn't very important to me. Because my parents are very thoughtful gift-givers, I always felt the thrill of opening a gift that was just right (even if it hadn't even occurred to me to ask for it). So I learned the joy and grace of receiving without learning to expect bunches and bunches of stuff.

That's what I want Hadley to learn. Oh, I want her to feel the joy of waking up Christmas morning and seeing her stocking full. I want her to feel the thrill of anticipation. But I also want her to appreciate simplicity. More baubles don't make for a merrier Christmas--and sometimes make for a less merry Christmas.

After all, God didn't give us tons of gifts on Christmas Day. He gave us one perfect gift. The only gift we needed. It's that spirit that I want Hadley to embrace, and somehow, piles of gifts tend to obscure our view of the manger.

So Hadley is getting a couple of goodies from us this year: a wagon (with super-cool, all-terrain wheels for the rugged Colorado backcountry) and an activity table that will, I hope, distract her from pulling herself up on the coffee table and reaching for the TV remote, which is her favorite pastime.

As for us, well, we already got our gift this year. And she's just right.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Meeting Auntie Ana

My best childhood friend, the incomparable Andrea Bergmann DeLadurantey, trekked all the way up here from Naples for two days of getting to know Hadley. Nobody I know has a busier schedule than Andrea and her hubby, so it's a real testament to her kindness--and our enduring friendship--that she spent her three-day weekend here and not curled up in her own bed getting some much-needed rest.

Hadley and Ana got along splendidly--and about an hour into their time together on Friday morning, Ana said to Hadley, "I think I love you." A short while later she said, "I KNOW I love you." And I'm sure Hadley would have uttered the same sweet words if she could figure out how.

So thank you, Andrea, for making time for us, for making us laugh, for singing to Hadley, for teaching us the "Gangoo Song," for reminding me of home, for loving such simple things as walks in the park and for loving us all so well and deeply. I'm looking forward to the day Hadley realizes just how wonderful you are--and how blessed she is to call you her auntie.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


Hadley is crawling, and we're busy trying to keep up. Check her out:

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Overheard at the Oswald House

[Scene: Jason was feeding Hadley in the dining room while I baked pumpkin bread in the kitchen.]

Loud noise comes from the dining room. Clearly Hadley has tossed her sippy cup onto the floor.

Me (ever so cleverly): That's why we bought the no-shatter, no-spill sippy cups.

Jason (ever so much more cleverly): Do they make shatter-and-spill sippy cups?

Touché, sweet hubby. Touché.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Being a Parent is Funny...and Not so Funny...

Since Hadley was born, I've discovered a few mommy blogs I adore--and I really don't know what our moms did before mommy blogs. Because mommy blogs make me feel normal when most of the things I experience on a daily basis are not normal for me at all. They are all new. And just when they stop being new, something new replaces them. It's very tricky.

I have a hypothesis: When a woman births a baby, her brain splits into two parts: One part is dedicated to pondering lots of big questions about parenthood. How will we raise Hadley not to be consumed with her own happiness in a world that teaches us that as long as something makes us happy, it must be good? I think about this about 20 hours a day. The other half of a mommy's brain is dedicated to the mundane but important details of daily life: When did Hadley last eat? How much did she eat? Come to think of it, when did she last poop? Should I call the doctor about [insert newest weird thing]? I think about these things about 22 hours a day. So see? The only logical explanation is that I'm now running on two mini-brains instead of one full-sized brain. (Coincidentally, this theory also fits in nicely with my newfound lack of memory. Seriously. Why else can't I remember anything?)

And the best thing about mommy blogs is that they show me that I'm not alone in this two-mindedness. For every BIG thought, there are about three daily issues that are immediate and consuming.

For example, I like Ask Moxie because Moxie is f-u-n-n-y, so she attracts other funny moms who comment on her blogs. But she manages to maintain an undercurrent of sincerity, so I can laugh and also feel like it's okay to wonder how in the world I'm going to accomplish all of my personal goals while being totally present for Hadley and being an active participant in my marriage and maintaining and building friendships and serving my community and...

[And she writes such things as, "Babies are weird." And she's right! Babies ARE weird, but if you say that out loud in the wrong crowd, you get strange looks. We're supposed to say that babies are cute and sweet and good-smelling. And they are! But they are also weird.]

On Wednesdays, Moxie posts her "Primal Scream," a (hilarious) accounting of the stuff that adds up and makes a mom feel overwhelmed--and not in the good I'm-amazed-by-being-a-mom kind of way. And then other moms post their own primal screams, which include most recently a three-year-old who refuses to poop; an 18-month-old who only eats raisins, yogurt and hummus; lots of moms whose husbands are gone on business trips; first-trimester pregnancy symptoms that prompted one mom to sit on the freezer case at the grocery store to rest; and a 10-year waiting list to get a parking spot at work. And then there are other posts--a son diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome; job loss; depression and anxiety--that make me wish I could invite these other moms to my house for tea and banana bread and a good, long cry.

And I realize: Being a parent is an amazing personal experience with universal challenges. Nobody else in the world knows what it's like to be Hadley's mom, but lots of other moms can relate to the sinking feeling that comes from pulling Hadley out of her car seat at the grocery store only to realize that I'm going to have to strip her down, change her diaper and find clean clothes at the bottom of the diaper bag. Nobody else knows what it's like to walk into the house after a day of work and see Hadley grin, but lots of moms know what it's like to anticipate and ache for the minute the work day ends.

So here's to Moxie and all of the funny moms who aren't too pious or self-important or proud to admit that being a mom is hard--and funny and heartbreaking and joyous. And here's to our half-brained selves, doing the best we can and trying to laugh along the way.

And now, for a few out-takes from our Christmas card photo shoot:

Thursday, December 3, 2009

YOU--Yes, YOU--Can Win These Fabulous Prizes

Ok, my beloved people near and far. Here's what I've learned in almost seven months of blogging. It's fun, but it's MORE fun when people (that's you) leave comments. Crystal and Sandy (my sister-in-law and mother-in-law, respectively) are excellent at said comments, but I'd love to hear from a few more of you. One day, I hope to print and bind these pages somehow and give them to Hadley, and I'd love her to see notes from the rest of you, too. (Of course, this presupposes that there are more of you than just Sandy and Crystal, and I suppose this experiment will show whether that's true or not. But at least a handful more of you are out there--Mom? Dad?--so I'm feeling pretty confident.)

SO, I'm awarding points. Yes, points! Brilliant, yes? You can win points for leaving comments after blog posts. You can redeem these points for undisclosed-but-totally-fabulous prizes. Hooray! Who doesn't love a mystery prize? Certainly no one I know...

Good luck! Mystery prizes await you. (I should write fortunes for cookies.)

Monday, November 30, 2009

[Ed. Note: Sometimes, I start a post and then get sidetracked--by Hadley, most often, but sometimes by the thought that the muse will visit later, that there's a better version of whatever I'm going to write if I just wait to write it. Classic writer's procrastination stuff. So this has been sitting in my "drafts" folder for a while. For it's tardiness, it's no less sincere.]

I tried to resist this urge for a few days--because it's rather clichéd--but I can't help listing a few of the less obvious things for which I am thankful. This list is not exhaustive--how could I ever list all of the blessings in my life? But this weekend, I'm feeling especially grateful for this good stuff:

--Christmas movie reruns. I love A Christmas Story ("You'll shoot your eye out!") and Miracle on 34th Street and How the Grinch Stole Christmas (both the animated and the Jim Carrey versions). But first, every year, comes Elf--which my mother thinks is the dumbest movie on the planet, but I like it. Very much. It reminds me of the Thanksgiving that Jason and I spent with our friends the Mixers in Chicago. That was the first time I saw Elf, and we had a smashing good time. So there, Mom.

--Glowy things, like our fireplace--which finally works!--and the Christmas tree, which is newly adorned in lights.

--Random acts of kindness performed by my little one. Today Hadley and I went to the grocery store, where no fewer than a dozen people stopped me because Hadley grinned at them (which I couldn't see because I was carrying her in the Bjorn). She's like a little goodwill ambassador. And we all could use a little more goodwill in our lives, especially the kind spread by a cute, round cherub of a baby.

--A husband who is a doer. Jason made most of Thanksgiving dinner, did most of the clean-up afterward and never uttered a complaint. In fact, he was his good-humored self at the end of the day. Jason is excellent at showing the people he loves that he loves them, and that's a trait I hope Hadley learns from him.

--Dancing in the kitchen. Jason will not be thrilled that I shared this with the world, but he and Hadley often waltz around our kitchen. She likes it. Sometimes we all have a little dance party in the kitchen. She likes that, too. So do I.

(Secret video footage coming soon.)

--Good wool socks. There's just no reason to have crappy wool socks. Life's too short.

--Naked babies.

--Beautiful paper.

--The fun that comes from downloading a series of photos (of Hadley) onto our computer and flipping through them.

--My Granny's handmade Christmas ornaments. We hang them on our tree every year, and I love that each is a one-of-a-kind original that one day, I will pass on to my kids.

--Graham crackers covered in Nutella and dipped in a large glass of very cold skim milk.

--The way Hadley stretches out her arms for me. Every time it happens, my breath gets a little shallow. If I think about it for too long--her reaching for me, this baby who I've reached for a million times already--I get choked up.

--And the glorious, glorious fact that this list could go on for a long while.