Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!!

 The annual red-jumper Christmas picture.


Christmas morning.

Friday, December 14, 2012

This Christmas... I Choose Joy

In this land of "perfect" bloggy-world, I'm going to just say it like it is:  I'm not enjoying Christmas very much this year.

I *love* Christmas.  It is truly my favorite time of the year.  I *extra love* Christmas music and play it almost year-round.  Christmas music is one thing that I am really enjoying this year (thanks to Pandora and another radio station that is playing lovely Christmas music online).

The rest of Christmas?  Somehow the "Bah, humbug" bug came in a grinched away alot of my excitement.  I know what some of it is: busyness.  This past Monday at MOPS a mentor mom (who is also my "church mom" :) ) gave a devotional and in it she was talking about wanting different (to do more, to do less, to go to more, to go to less, etc.).  Afterwards I was sharing with her some of my frustrations with this Christmas, and one of them being that I do want to "do less" but I really can't!  I would love to have a much, MUCH clearer schedule, but I can't change that.  We have church on Sundays (usually 2x), this fall we're taking an 18 week parenting class every Monday evening (it is only offered in the fall), and this year our choir is involved with no less than TWO different Christmas concerts (one is our regular concert, the other a special concert with Steve Green).  So the concerts mean rehearsals... and extended rehearsals on Wednesday nights and then for several weeks rehearsals before church Sunday evenings.  With all of that, boom, I'm feeling rather scrooge-ish and just want (need?) to have some plain old me- and just us-time.  (Add in days that Daniel works 12+ hours, and yeah...)

Our tree is up!  It has lights on it. :)  Isn't it pretty with just the lights?  I think so!  Especially in the evenings when it's dark outside and just the lights on the tree are glowing in the living room.  Yeah, I want to put the other decorations on the tree.  I want to decorate the top of the piano.  I would love to hang and place other decorations around the house.  But it's not happening so far.  (Well, I do have a nativity up, and a Christmas centerpiece on the table.)

Today there's not even 2 weeks until Christmas.  In one way I think "what's the use?" in getting down the box of decorations and putting them on the tree.  Shucks, I still haven't taken down the last Thanksgiving decoration, haha!  (Maybe today Susannah and I will make some snowflakes to hang from the dining room light in place of the thanksgiving leaves!)

All this to say, my friend, Davene, posted over on her blog today, and her post spoke to me.  It's a short, simple post but it served as a reminder to me that *I* am the one who is in charge of choosing to enjoy Christmas or not.  I'm the one who can wish all I want that we didn't have as many things to attend.  I am the one who can make this Christmas be the very best that it can be (well, only within my own human limits, of course!).  That said, today is going to be a great day of having oodles of Christmas fun!

I mean, the house is never spotless to begin with, what does it matter if the floors aren't picked up for another 30 minutes while we make snowflakes?  Or put some pretty decorations on the tree?  Or find some garland to put on the piano?  Or wrap a gift or two and take time to have fun doing the wrapping?

Today I'm going to intentionally enJOY Christmas-time.

(And hey, I bet Mary had to choose joy when she found out she was gonna have to ride a donkey all those miles to Bethlehem while 9 months pregnant!)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Great-Grandma's Love

 On Thanksgiving Day, November 22, 2012, I snapped these two pictures of my daughter and my grandmother.  I knew they were "good" pictures, but it wasn't until I uploaded them and could see them on a larger screen that I saw the precious expressions of love that I captured.

My grandmother, Susannah's Great-Grandma, is 91 years old (she will be 92 in February).  Susannah is 2 (she will be 3 in March).  89 years is a really big age gap.  Yet the love and tenderness that is evident in these pictures puts a teary-eyed ache in my heart every. single. time. I look at them.

I love Grandma's happy smile in the first picture.  I love how Susannah was automatically gentle and careful with her Great-Grandma, yet did not hesitate to climb up on her lap to visit, show Grandma her Bearie and Blankie, and spend several minutes just snuggled in Grandma's lap.  Grandma seemed to thoroughly enjoy it.  I don't know if Susannah will remember doing this, but I know I will always remember watching this happen.

My only regret from that day is not getting a picture of Grandma with Sylvia.  Lord willing, I plan to remedy that at Christmas-time.  These pictures I will treasure for the rest of my life, and I'm guessing that Susannah will, to.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Thanksgiving ~ 2012

This year for the month of November, I wanted to do something special.  Something fun.  Something meaningful.  Susannah is 2 1/2 now and comprehending fairly well.  I wanted Thanksgiving to be more than a day with a huge meal at Grandma and Grandpa's.  So I thought about it and thought about it.

I had heard of "thankful trees" before, and as they started being mentioned among my friends, I thought it sounded like the perfect thing for us to do as a family.  Terribly enough, I was not very great at planning ahead, so between the last day of October and the first day of November, I combed Google Images for Thankful Tree ideas, and came up with my own version.

I used 2 pages of brown construction paper and drew out the tree.  I taped it to a nice open spot of wall in our dining room.  Then I had to figure out what to do for leaves!  It ended up at the evenings that we "did" the Thankful Tree, I just cut some out of red, orange and yellow construction paper free-style.

Since this was a special tree, we did it on evenings that we were all home.  When I went to take the tree down yesterday, I realized that we obviously missed some evenings. :)  I saved the leaves and the trunk.  I don't know if we'll re-use the trunk next year or not, but I do want to keep the leaves for memories' sake.

I well remember the first evening that we did the thankful tree:  On my leaf I wrote "Warmth".  You see, this was the first evening that we had a fire in the woodstove.  It was so nice and warm on that cold day!!   In no specific order, here are the other things that we wrote down:

Susannah: "Thankful for Sylvia, Mama & Daddy"
Susannah: "Bearie"
Susannah: "Supper"
Sylvia (with my help ;) ): "Clean Diapers"
Me: "Time together as a family of four."
Susannah: "Riding with Daddy in his truck"
Daniel: "Employment"
Daniel: "Home-cooked meals :) " (with a crayon picture of a plate full of food)
Me: "Music"
Susannah: "Leaves" (this was her very first leaf)
Sylvia (with my help again): "Duck-duck" (her stuffed duck)
Daniel: "My beautiful family" with stick people faces for each of us (his first leaf)
Sylvia: "Blankie" (her first leaf)
Daniel: "Imagination and humor :)"
Daniel: "Gifts to us making a larger living space possible" (again with a line drawing)
Sylvia: "Snuggles with Mama"
Susannah: "Cheerios"
Me: "The hilarious innocence of a 2 1/2 y.o. ... "Daddy's belly goes *squeak-squeak* like Moosey-Moose!"" (quoting Susannah)
Me: "Expository teaching of God's Word in our church."


For Thanksgiving Day itself, we were at my parents house where most of my immediate family gathered throughout the day.  The girls and I actually drove up Wednesday morning, did some shopping and then went on to my parent's house for the rest of the day and overnight.  I took along ingredients and enjoyed making several pies as part of my contribution to the big meal on Thursday.

Thursday morning Susannah loved helping Namma wash dishes.  She took it quite seriously, and had lots of fun even though we had to change her into a dry shirt by the time the dishes were finished. :)

After a big Thanksgiving Dinner with all the fixings, Sylvia went down for a nap and Susannah and I set off to walk around "Grandpa's farm".  Several weeks prior, Susannah had pointed out some silos as we were driving to town.  I told her that Grandpa (my dad) has silos, and that maybe we could see them the next time we went to Grandpa and Grandma's farm.  After that, she frequently talked about all the things she would see at Grandpa's farm!  Some of the things she wanted to see (pigs, horses, chickens, etc.) Grandpa doesn't have, but I told her that we would look around Grandpa's Farm on Thanksgiving.

The farm holds many, many memories for me and it was sad to see the barn and milking parlor sitting empty after decades of use.  It was bittersweet, for me, but for Susannah it was the most exciting thing ever. :)  She was so excited to see Grandpa's barn and silos, and I was excited to be able to show her first hand these things.   I'm guessing that when we are there for Christmas, she might ask to go see Grandpa's Barn and Silos again.  :)

Monday, December 10, 2012

Sylvia's Latest Adventures

Thank you, Emilie Barnes, for writing about 
feeding your kids snacks ON THE FLOOR. 
Great idea, and yes, I really do this sometimes.

Sylvia got up into this position over and over one evening.
(Don't you just love the big, cloth-diaper rear-end?!)

Then she'd get down...

...and wave for the camera, telling me all about how
exciting it is to do this.  Then she'd pull up all over again.
(Finding herself in the reflection of the oven door was pretty exciting, too!)

Another day she was studying world geography, 
perched atop Daniel's guitar case.

That evening she pulled into an actual standing position
for the first time.

Today she managed to get herself up on top of the toybox.
She was trying to get into or onto it more, but it wasn't 
working well.  Then she wanted down!

She does all of this, but doesn't crawl yet.  I don't think that's too far behind!