The Straw

I know I've overloaded your camel's back today, but this couldn't wait.

You remember the baby above-- the one with scrawny, chicken legs? Tonight she took her first tentative steps, and because you all are breathless with excitement, I give The Moment, as follows:

I'm dialing my mother's number to talk business.
Ring, ring, ring, and so on.

Mopsy: Hello?
Me: Erk! Urrrg! Susannah! She's taking a step! Ahhh! And ANOTHER one! Oh....she's falling.

There was a giant (to her) rumple sticking up in the throw rug that caught her off guard, and she struggled to step over it for a few moments before crashing to the earth. Just wait. Soon, rumples or no, her plump, mutton legs will carry her all over the world.

Three cheers for the Bird!

Not Even One Partridge

As you can see, I took Christmas couch pictures before we left, and we're celebrating the 12 days of Christmas this year, which means--you bet!-- more snapshots. (Do they ever end?)

I am glad of this extended celebration for many reasons. Our girls were laden down with gifts and love while we were in Long Island, and this gives us a chance to parcel out our parcels (library bag sale books, a few board games, monsters I'm finishing, library bags still to be sewn, AND STOP LOOKING OVER MY SHOULDER, MILDRED!) in a digestible fashion while they explore the glorious gifts they've already received. Plus, I was sick for the week and a half leading up to Christmas, and my last minute preparations oozed to a halt. Now that I'm feeling spry again, I can finish gifts in time and still feel justified in procrastinating for 11 1/2 months of the year. Another plus, those wise men whom we placed many feet-miles from the others in the creche can move closer and closer to the Child.

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

-T.S. Eliot (portion of Journey of the Magi)

I think they may have felt mixed emotion just so with the knowledge given by their Destination. He came bringing death to our old but life to the new. I hope you all met this knowledge with unreserved joy on Christmas Day. The Redeemer has come!

And now I'm set because my dawdling gifts don't matter, anyway.
Nor does a shallow blog persona and excess snapshots, but here goes nothing... (Yes, I posted so many you'll have to click on the December archives again.)

I think she's lovely here but looks so grown-up. How and when did this happen?!?


And the littlest fishy.

I've recently learned to NEVER ask the Nixie to smile. She's reached that wonderful stage where she translates the word "smile" as "grimace." Let's hope she moves on the the "fake smile" stage quickly (e.g. Mildred's grin in this one).

Did ya notice that their heads are about the same size?

Due to moments like this,


And, mostly, this...

This and one other "almost-there" had to suffice.

She climbs now. Given our aesthetically pleasing but really-dumb-to-have-with-climbing-babies open staircase, we're in trouble.

Even though Dude and Dudette selflessly gave up their comfy bed for us, the girls slept on the floor most nights. Annika even wormed herself under the chair during the night. How cozy.

And her feet.

Stocking one.

Stocking, two (too).

I only made three kinds of truffles and peanut butter balls this year before Christmas. I didn't stay up late, and it was nice. A second candy-day is scheduled before we go to a late-Christmas gathering at my folks for New Year's.

Millie and I were both sick and sleepless for a week and a half. The Bird and Annie caught a touch, but not much. Here's miserable Millie, finally asleep on the floor.

On Sunday, we took a train into the city (NYC, that is). I'm a country girl through and through, but I love to visit the city. I'm a people watcher, a window shopper, a lover of the odd, the extraordinary, the simple, and the sparse, and I got a fine share of all. It was a thoroughly wonderful day. Our only disappointment was not being able to attend the 4 o'clock service at St. Thomas Episcopal Church (in the shadow of St. Patrick's) in its entirety. Their boy's and men's choirs were featured in the service, and when the solo boy soprano's voice rose to touch the vaulted ceilings in the hushed church, I rushed the Bird out before she squawked and shattered the moment. In John's words, "I always have these great ideas that just aren't always possible with a family." We were out, mostly napless, from the eight o'clock train until the night-time nine o'clock one, though, so I think he pulls off some of these great ideas beautifully.

Annika watching the blur of trees.

Susannah looking out the window.

Train Mildred.

Millie and Papa chatting about trains.

Train baby.

She was sleepy and rubbing her eyes.

Train family.

I love to visit the city with this good fellow. The one in the FOREground, not the other....

All alone in the big city.

St. Patrick's Cathedral. Beautiful.

Closer yet.

And inside, a bit fuzzy flashless, and a service in progress.

Here's Millie outside the entrance to the F.A.O. Schwarz toy shop, many stories of bliss, where one can stare at a stuffed woolly mammoth the size of a live (but extinct) woolly mammoth, along with a myriad of other material delights.

They had a candy section I drooled past.

The dress-up section was unreal. This yellow one in the second-floor window entranced Annie, and then she got a similar one for Christmas. (McGamma had her pegged...)

There were soooo many.

Hundreds and hundreds of dolls to look at, in all shapes, sizes, and prices.

Workers get to dress up in fun costumes and get paid for it! What a dream job. Millie and Annie kept stuttering to this beautiful snowflake princess. She was really sweet to them, too.

F.A.O. Schwarz is a dreamland, and I love to marvel at all the wonderful toys, including the carved rocking horses with real horse hair and leather saddles.

How much is that hand-carved horsie in the window? A cool 7,700 dollars, but isn't it gorgeous?!

John spent a lot of his time in the city weighed down like this.

Millie on John's head, sandwiched in between the Empire State building on the left and the anonymous building in its shadow on the right.

We walked past the library (on the other side of the street, through scaffolding, hence the slice of the library's facade instead of the whole shebang.)

We waited outside this stand for their 99 cent fries, but we were too hungry to wait the necessary minutes and ended up spending 99 cents across the street at Wendy's. Pathetic, but true. There's no question that fries from Papaya dog would have been both yummier and healthier than the ones across the street that may be seasoned with beef extract (like those from McDonald's are...Thank you, Fast Food Nation).

John took us to the giant Macy's with magical window displays and, on the eighth floor, a wonderland of moving elves, skating bears, etc., etc., etc., in Santa's Village.

St. Nicholas at Macy's. The girls know that this incarnation of Saint Nicholas isn't accurate, though he's jolly and fun to make-believe about. Millie keeps wondering if there's "Just one real Santa," though, so even though John taught them about the historical St. Nicholas, she remains hopeful of a fat man getting stuck in our nonexistent chimney.

Millie was extremely bashful, but she sat after a boy elf with a pageboy haircut plopped her on Santa's knee.

The girls eating a city soft pretzel on the steps of St. Thomas'. This was before we went inside to sit for the snippet of service.

Another John on the street.

Me trying to still their wheels for a picture.

We went to see the mammoth tree at Rockefeller Center.