Archive for the 'Holidays' Category

Good Times.. Good Times.

This holiday is a busy one for us. But, in a good way.. Our usual hectic paced travels down to see family in Florida has been replaced with friends visiting from all over the country - and us having the best times of our lives.

One of my best friends will be in from Brooklyn later today - Saturday night we have a big Dirty Santa and an even bigger honky tonkin’ evening to follow. For those of you who don’t live in Nashville: Honky Tonkin’ is what we like to call going out to honky tonk bars and dancing the night away. None of us like country, per se, but just for the record - there is nothing more fun that watching (and then joining) a room full of drunken cowboys dance around in their boots and spurs. Yes. They really wear spurs.

And, the time with the kids has been heavenly. We are actually getting to enjoy each other. Despite the fact that, currently, we all have the flu - we are still making the best of our time together. One of the best things about being married to a professor; the holiday time is plentiful! He has been off since December 10th and will be off until January 13th. heaven.. heaven.. heaven…..

I hope everyone else’s holiday is starting off equally as merry.. To help ya kick things off - here’s a gingerbread recipe.. Nothing gets you in the mood like being in a kitchen with two kids, a bottle of wine, your wonderful husband and a killer gingerbread recipe to be knee deep in.. Enjoy….

Posted in Cooking, Holidays | 2 Comments »

One Whole Week… Are You Serrrrrious?

I have divulged to you my plans (or unplans, as the case may be) to stay home for the holidays - and not commit ourselves to hauling ass all over Tennessee, Alabama and Florida, crammed in a car for eight hours with two kids (and two grown ups) who want more than anything just to be home with their own tree and presents and friends and Christmas dinner, just to appease my mom. Everyone else understands - they have all admitted that they would never entertain the idea driving 8hours during the holiday season with kids. Everyone but my mom. She did it with us when we were kids - no matter where we were in the world, she made sure that we picked ourselves up out of our relaxing holiday and loaded every present, package and suitcase into our minivan just so that she could be near her parents for Christmas. It was crazy. And, I have decided that it is not how I am going to spend my holidays with my kids anymore. I say “anymore” because I tried - for the last six years I have felt obligated and was never prepared to face the insurmountable guilt that I knew my mom would hash out. Buckets of guilt would be slung my way - with precise aim.  It’s a gift of hers. Everyone’s gotta be good at something, right?

In her defense, though, these are her only grandkids. They mean the world to her and she means the world to them. But, when I gaiged how excited my son was to stay home, the decision was final. I broke the news to her in, probably, the least sensitive manner I could have mustered. Not intentionally - it just happened that way. I said it very casually and as if it weren’t a big deal - because, once we had made the decision, it wasn’t a big deal. To us. Her reaction was very similar to what I would imagine it would be had I told her that I was secretly a stripper and John was a full time pimp down in the lower east side of Nashville. Appalled. I gave her some time to work it out. After a week, she called and said that she and dad had decided that they, if it was alright with us, wanted to pick the kids up the day after Xmas and take them down to Disney World. I know part of the reason is she wants the kids to be around her family for a holiday - and that Disney World is a guise for that. But, hell, I’ll take it.

And, the she said “We’ll be back on New Year’s Eve”. Wait. That’s a whole week. Hold. On. Just. A. Damn. Minute. I’m torn. Half of me (the half that wants to feel like a cutloose and fancy free 29year old) is jumping for joy and spinning cartwheels out on the sunlit, dewey front lawn. The other half (you know, the mom part that can’t imagine her kids away from her - flying down the highway at warp speed with her half deaf father who can barely see through his five inch long old man eyebrows and her junk food addicted mother [godbless’em]) is flipping out and damn near an anxiety attack about it.

A week. That’s a long, looooong time. John, of course, is already counting the hours of sleeping in that a week without the kids amounts to. I, on the other hand, will probably wake up every morning at 630am wishing that a little boy would climb in my bed and warm his toes on my belly and that I could hear a two year old in her crib singing a morning song to herself.. Being a mother is quite certainly one of the most beautiful forms of torture on this planet.

Posted in Uncategorized, Daily Living, Holidays, Vacation and Travel, Mental Health | No Comments »

It’s All About the Candy. And Making Mommy Proud.

Wow.  Halloween was - how should I put it - nuts. 

Maggie opted out of her ingenius chicken costume - even though picking it out was, what I believe, to be one of the best decisions I have ever made as an adult.  It had everything - it was cute, cuddly, snot-shooting-out-of-your-nose-pee-in-you-pants-just-a-little-bit hilarious.  She wouldn’t go for it.  She was happy to give us her best chicken sqwack.  But she wouldn’t put it on.  She hated the chicken suit.  We begged.  We pleaded.  She almost gave in but, alas, there was no competing with the delightful bag of goodies that one of my best friends gave me.  The bag held two very new-like Disney Princess Costumes.  She has three daughters and an excess of such costumes.  I don’t have any feminist issues with the Princesses - I just think they are kind of lame girls that don’t have a lot of personal goals.  I was never a big Disney Princess girl when I was a kid - I was more of an Olivia Newton-John/Xanadu kind of girl.  I admired Kira in The Dark Crystal and the Ice Queen in my Chronicals of Narnia books.  BUT, Maggie is now the proud owner of a Snow White costume that she just won’t take off.

I have to admit - she looks pretty damn cute in it.  She spins in circles and sings and has already figured out the coy little spaced out princess blink that they all mug when they meet their prince.  Blech.  But, she was happy for halloween.  And it was fun to watch her dance around feeling pretty.  That was more than enough to make me change my mind and give in to her choice.  I even started to go with it - I gave her my blush and blush-brush and let her sit in front of the mirror putting on so much that she looked like she had some sort of rash.  John and I decided we would keep the chicken suit for our next friend who has a baby.

Now that I have bragged about how noble and mature John and I were about our chicken disappointment, I can now rag on the awful, nasty mother that my friends and I were accidentally in leagues with during our trick or treat rounds last night.  We tried to get away from them but, we couldn’t shake ‘em.

Her daughter was dressed as a fairy.  Adorable. Adorable. Adorable.  She must have been about three?  Four?  Hard to tell with the costume.  My best guess would be a young four.  Again.  Stupifyingly adorable. 

Star Wars seemed to be the prominent theme for the evening.  There were plenty of Princess Leias and Darth Vadars to go around.  I must have passed seven Princess Leias on one block alone - and so did the wench of a lady that was stealing her daughter’s halloween joy.

Wench (First time Pricess Leia passed): “Oh, look, she actually dressed up like an interesting person!  Too bad you had to pick something lame like a fairy.  God.”

Not kidding.  I am so not kidding!

Wench (second time Princess Leia passed): “humph. There’s another little girl who made a better costume choice than you did.  Don’t you feel so boring being a silly old fairy?”

At this point me and all my friends were very loudly saying “Wow, look at all the Princess Leias!  What this Halloween needs is some FAIRIES! Wait!  Look!  There’s one!  HELL YEAH!  That’s the coolest costume I’ve seen all NIGHT!!”

Wench (to us, very rudely): “If she was your daughter, you’d be tired of all the fairy, girly stuff.  Trust me.”

Yeah.  Whatever.  John and I grabbed our Snow White, who was incidentally walking around bawking like a chicken, and crossed the road leaving the fairy with her wicked witch of a mother, praying that she would find her fairy dust and find a way to fly away.

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Birfday Beauties…

My daughter’s second birthday is this Sunday.. We have planning on having a big bbq with lots of friends and some family.. It will hopefully be fun - of course I am getting that preparty worry that I won’t have enough food or that the kids (or the adults!) won’t have fun..  Lots of good advice to be found on several websites - I really liked the parents who said to keep it simple and fun. 

I have bought some soft crowns with glitter pens and stickers and markers for everyone to decorate.  We are going to bbq and have a pretty nice spread out with both kid friendly and grown up friendly foods.. A pinata. Some sidewalk chalk.. A little art station… A cooler full of cold drinks for kids and grown ups… Bubbles.. what else???  Ummmm… so far that’s all I’ve worked out.. But it sounds fun to me.. Anyone reading this, feel free to shoot some suggestions my way!

Posted in Activities, Arts and Crafts, Holidays | No Comments »

Happy 4th of July!

Today is one of my favorite holidays since having kids… A chance to get outside with your friends and eat as much wonderful picnic food as possible, true American style.  We have the whole afternoon/evening planned around bbq, slip and slides, baby pools and fireworks.  We’ll be secluded out in south of Nashville country and surrounded by folks who we thoroughly enjoy being around.  Fun times for all.  Here’s my contribution to the shmorgasbord:

1 cup (packed) mint leaves, chopped
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 cups vodka 

Crushed ice
Fresh mint sprigs 

Combine chopped mint and sugar in large bowl. Stir in lemon juice and vodka. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours.


Strain mixture into pitcher. Fill six 6- to 8-ounce glasses with crushed ice. Pour mixture over. Garnish with mint sprigs.



Have a happy 4th yourself!

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May Day

I can remember, as a child, some of my favorite memories were watching footage of sit-ins, protests, rallies, marches and demonstrations. There was just something very moving to me about it, even as a seven year old girl. The idea of people coming together to demand change or stand for the greater good was quite possibly the most utterly romantic character that human beings inhabit. We are, at the core, an impassioned and determined species.

May Day

May Day is the day that most causes embrace as their rallying day. It has historically been the day that people gather to take their stance against their opressors. Strikes, riots, marches - so much has happened on this day in history. Though it initially started out as a seasonal celebration of spring and the oncoming bounty of harvest, it moved on to be a world known International Worker’s Day.

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Mother’s Day Can Be Difficult for Those Experiencing Infertility

It can be particularly difficult to face the many emotional issues raised by infertility at a time when everyone is celebrating motherhood and fatherhood. RESOLVE urges men, women and couples who are experiencing infertility to plan ahead for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, acknowledge their feelings and prepare themselves emotionally to handle questions and comments from family and friends. The Coping with Mother’s Day and Father’s Day article has a list of suggestions to help those who are experiencing infertility get through the holidays.

For women experiencing infertility, Mother’s Day can also be difficult in places where they expect to get the most support — their church. Here’s a letter from an anonymous church member to her pastor describing what it’s like for her when mother’s are celebrated during the church service.

Dear Pastor,

It’s almost Mother’s Day again. They seem to come so quickly. I’m sure you are planning a very special service for all of the mothers. I know that it is such a special day for them, and I do not want to spoil anyone’s joy. It is important for all of us to rejoice with each other, and even those of us who are not mothers can give thanks for those who are mothers.

All I ask is that you remember that this day can be extremely difficult for a number of members in our congregation. For women like me who struggle with infertility, Mother’s Day can be the most painful day of the year. I’ve thought about staying home, but I know I need to be in God’s house.

The most challenging part of the service is when all the mothers stand and the congregation smiles and applauds them. It feels awful to be the only one still sitting. I want to be able to stand with them. I want more than anything in this world to be a mother. It’s something I have always wanted. I have carried children, but they were taken before they were ever born. I do have children in heaven, but I’m not a mother in the eyes of those here on earth.

So, on Mother’s Day I often go home and cry, not quite able to understand why I am unable to become what so many in the church consider to be “God’s highest calling”…a mother.

t is not only the un-mothers who feel lonely on this day. It must also be a painful day for single women who have never married, for mothers who have lost children, and for moms who have sons or daughters wandering from the Lord.

As Mother’s Day approaches, I pray that you will remember that it is not only a day of rejoicing for some, but a day of painful reminders for others. I know that God will help you to be a blessing to our congregation as you minister to us on this Mother’s Day.


From Bethany - Letter to My Pastor

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New Traditions

It is Easter Weekend - so much to do with the kids.. so little time.

We will, of course, do the wonderfully fun egg hunt and find some time to feast during this weekend.  What I am itching for is something that my family and I can call our own each Easter.  Something that my kids recognize as our family tradition.  I started to look toward my childhood in Germany for some inspiration.  For some reason I remember Easter and Christmas being utterly magical - lights and festivities everywhere.  Absolutely stunning.

Since I am not German, but have experienced it’s rich culture I figure it’s best to combine a sort of Spanish/Mexican (the richest part of my lineage) with my experiences in Europe.  Latinos (especially my mom’s family - where my mexican/spanish heritage comes from) are very family/community oriented.  Big feasts with close and extended family is part of every holiday and celebration.  Attention to detail and ritual are a large part of German Easter culture - maticulously painted, hollowed-out eggs hanging from trees, a formally set feast with one’s best china on display for the occasion, children dressed in their best suits and shoes.  Combining the two could make for a wonderfully warm and well thought out experience.

Of course, it might just turn out that we take advantage of the day off, throw on our coziest jeans and tennis shoes and make for a day at the park (our Easter chocolates packed with us, of course).

Posted in Daily Living, Holidays | No Comments »

Lazy Days of Summer… I mean Spring.

So, it appears I am already ready for the relaxation of summertime. This morning I just couldn’t bring myself to rush about in our typical “gotta get to school on time” manner. I really just didn’t care. I let both the kids sleep until they felt like it and then let them pick whatever they wanted for breakfast, rather than the typical “eat this peanut butter toast and glass of milk, it’s all we have time for” routine. We even drew pictures and talked about our weekend plans. My son was only fifteen minutes late for school - I am torn between feeling like an utterly irresponsible parent and one that is pleased to have had a nice, enjoyable morning with her kids.

I’m a pretty laid back person. But, I am pretty strict about being on time - it is just a personal issue. I really don’t care if others are late, I just hate to be late myself. I prefer to be early any day than late. We don’t have a stellar record at my son’s school - he has been tardy more than a few times. For some reason, I just don’t like rushing my five year old son around in the morning. I know we are supposed to. I know that it is important to teach them that getting to school on time is a significant goal to achieve. This coupled with my personal issues of punctuality, you would think that I would never let my son be tardy. Some days I will but most days I wouldn’t. Does this make me conflicted? I just don’t think that, at his age, he needs to be as rushed as the rest of the world. Some days I am quite alright with him just going his own speed, even if that speed does not decree his timeliness to school.

Anyway, this is just me reasoning out my inability to get my son to school on time. Today, it was nothing but a sickening case of wanting to be on holiday. I think, in the Donovan household, we are ready for a nice long summer break. A vacation with lots of sleeping in and lots of trips to the nice air conditioned art museums and cavernous aquariums in Chatanooga. Only a few more weeks to go until we can bask in our glorious talent of leisurely relaxation… we are so good at it.

Posted in Daily Living, Holidays | No Comments »

Stealing the Moments

Spring break has proven to be both exhausting and hilarious for us Donovans. My husband and I are rediscovering our children and realizing that the more love we give them, the more love we feel for one another. Strange how that happens. My son woke up with bad dreams last night and instead of having to rush him back to bed, we stayed up until the late late hours of the night (for us, that means 11pm) and talked about everything under the sun. After my husband tucked him into bed, we looked at each other and felt that intense sensation toward each other that I think you can only feel when you are married with kids. Sure, when I see young couples my age, without kids, sitting for hours drinking wine and soaking each others company up without even a slight distraction I occasionally feel a twinge of jealousy and (if they are particularly beautiful and well put together) occasional loathing. But, when moments like this arrive — moments when the thing you find sexiest about your husband is when he engages in a meaningful conversation with your son after a nightmare about Transformers — you wouldn’t trade it for any seemingly hallow lunch with hours spent gazing into each others eyes. Those gazes are usually about trying to figure out some one’s real deal anyway, right? I know my husband’s deal. I know it front to back — and he knows my deal. I like that I can look at him and enjoy all that we are and all that we have become, together.

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