Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas moments

(Not much spiritual or profound here about Advent; I did write a week's worth of devotionals on Hope you can read here and click on Advent.  My contributions were the first week.)

Steve, the elf, lives at Norah's house.  I could beat myself up about the fact that I meant to start this tradition this year at our home. Instead I'm content for Anna Cate to think this little elf just lives at Leana and Luke's (and Libby's) house.

This is an example of how I'm not really the best Mom, but I do the best I can and don't sacrifice myself in the process. For all those Moms out there who lose sleep to do it all, I commend you. It is just not me. 

This Christmas I'm trying to find some balance, giving myself permission to not do it ALL!!! I believe there is next year and it is ok to not cram it all into one year. In fact, I may even skip the 2 hour line to see Santa (ahhh ghast).

Life doesn't really stop for Christmas since I still have to work, work out, sleep, do laundry, work out, et. While I could get all sappy about christmas memories for these young precious daughters of mine, I'm just spending my energy on enjoying the moments.  

The first year Anna Cate was constructing memories, I felt obligated to DO IT ALL. This year, I'm trying to enjoy what we are doing...

For the past several weeks, we've listened to a soundtrack for Anna Cate's Christmas peformacne with her children's choir at church.

She knew all the words and added some dance moves of her own to this precious rendition of the Christmas story from the perspective of the stars.  While these children of ours certainly make Christmas a lot more work, I would say that they make it shine a little brighter as well. Anna Cate is our little star, and we think Leana and Evan, her best friends from birth, have a special twinkle as well.  During the performace, Anna Cate and Evan held hands.  

And not to be outshined, Molly Mae enjoyed a craft night with Patti and Anna Cate. Since I'm not a craft mom, I jump at any chance for someone else to lead these activities.

This was hosted by our church's preschool minister, and we love watching our girls develop a foundation for religious education as well as forming kindred spirits....

thanks to the tireless efforts and talents of our dear ministers, like Erin.

The girls made these sweet angels with the wings in the form of their hands; I will treasure them forever.

Since the party fell on a Thursday night, I slipped out and let Patti have the reigns while BJ and I enjoyed a date night. It is so nice to feel like an adult.

On Friday night, Anna Cate and I went to hear our choir's performace, which was breathtaking, ending with the Hallelujah chorus.  My Dad says he could eat a deviled egg every day for the rest of his life and never get sick of them; I feel that way about Mendel's piece.  I enjoyed telling Anna Cate abou the tradition of standing up for it; I hope my kids know about those type things. 

Yesterday, the girls and I enjoyed a delightful day making memories with our dear friends, the Pences while the guys went to the Redskins game. We made memories and a ginger bread house. Norah and I would stop them to say, REMEMBER THIS!!!

Norah had hot chocolate and baked goods to snack on. She is AMAZING since she just had a baby less than 2 weeks ago.  I brought the wine.

Really, much of the work was in hands of the mommies, but we had fun, too.

While the base was constructed by us, the girls could do the fluff....the gum drops, sprinkles, peppermints.  Once Leana sweetly asked, "can we make a mess?"

Theses smiles are so worth the mess and the work.

My Christmas lesson from gingerbread house building: you focus on the big and the small picture.  The base and the fluff.  The Hallelujah chorus and the elves.

So no matter where the elf lives, or which memories we fit into this short season, Christmas time is good....and there is a whole lot of sweetness.

On the house and in these hearts.

A Norwegian proverb says, "Cookies are made of butter and love." I'm thinking the same thing about Christmas. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Welcome to the world sweet Libby

 We were so excited to go greet her.

Norah looks amazing and Libby is precious, and sometimes words are not enough to describe beauty, hope, love, peace and joy.  

And now there are three:

“A ministering angel shall my sister be.”–William Shakespeare, Hamlet

I have held each of these children the day they were born.

Sweet gentle girls, precious baby girl. 

"In the sheltered simplicity of the first days after a baby is born, one sees again the magical closed circle, the miraculous sense of two people existing only for each other."

~Anne Morrow Lindbergh

"Birth is not only about making babies. It's about making mothers~ strong, competent, capable mothers who trust themselves and believe in their inner strength"

~ Barbara Katz Rothman

So thankful for Libby.

In awe of her.

"A wee bit of heaven drifted down from above, a handful of happiness, a heart full of love."

~Helen Steiner Rice

Sunday, November 27, 2011

This Thankfulness Gig

As I mentioned on my last post, I was in a major funk.  This school year has been extremely hard for me both professionally and pesonally.  I need to feel good about what I'm doing, about what I'm accomplishing; I'm sure it is some cultural and personal flaw that I feel like I need to have a lot to show for my time.  I struggle with guilt and anxiety, and I just haven't felt good about the end result.

  Lately, I've felt like I'm really failing at it all, BUT I decided to focus on what I'm grateful for and I'll be damned, but it really worked.  You can't be grateful and in the self-pity state of guilt at the same time.  I wish I could be more effective teacher for every  one of the 180 kids I have (yes, budget cuts are a bitch), that I didn't have to choose between quality time with the girls and working out (my metabolism is a female dog as well), but as full as my life is, I've realized {again} that my life is full of good things.  I have a job I love, daughters who are happy and well-adjusted and a body I haven't neglected.  It isn't always good, but when I put I put it all together, it is all good. So the lesson of this whole month is one I have to learn over and over, and that is to STOP, look around and say I'm thankful for this.  When you say thank you, it sort of is like saying, "I am not owed this, I do not necessarily deserve this blessing, but it is good and I am grateful."   I have been writing, but not here, so if you are feeling like getting into the advent spirit, or just interested in the topics of advent (hope, joy, peace and love), you can read a series of devotionals here. I wrote about HOPE, yet all of them will be worth your time.

So back to blogging. I'm keeping it quick because I have a bunch of tupperware boxes and Christmas to get out, but I'm committed to stop and reflect before I enter the hustle and bustle of Christamas and setting out scenes of the nativity.

Before all the craziness, let me reflect upon what I'm grateful:

Fall lingering.

 Dear friends to share childhood.

This girl who is turing into the best big sister ever.  I know fights will ensue, but I just can't let myself believe it when I see her sweet, gentle compassion for Molly. And, she knows how to flash a smile that melts my heart.
The way these girls love each other.  Speaking of the guilt afore mentioned,  when they are playing together, I feel less guilty about doing all the chores around the house that need to be done in those few hours between work and sleep. They are getting quality time.

Molly's expressions and little personality. While her vocabulary is growing hourly, she does a great job communicating with gestures and facial expressions.  Check ou the crinkle of her eye brow.

And it doesn't hurt when I get this precious glare.

The monkey see, monkey do routine cracks me up:

 We had a fabulous Thanksgiving holiday with my parents coming up on Tuesday evening.  It is nice to get several days of quality visiting.

Not only do I not have to travel, but I also don't have to do the cooking on my own.  Something is so special about three generations of girls around a kitchen cooking a family meal.

Even if that meal is diametrially opposed to the way we think a family should eat.

The day was everything Thanksgiving should be, too much food, good fellowship, and family.

The next day, we were treated to an amazing experience hosted by my childhood friend, Dorinda, in her home on Capital Hill.  Dorinda is one of those people who is good at EVERYTHING with class about it all.  She even had goldfish in a crystal dish for Molly.

Lunch was divine..including home made ice cream with pecan pie.

Then, we went to look at the memorials near the mall.

The memorials paled in comparison to the joy brought to the girls (and BJ) by the company of Dorinda's french bulldogs, Lola and Blue (aka Bubba).

On Saturday, BJ and Daddy went to the UVA-VT game.

We stayed home to cheer.

Molly was dancing and it looked like she was doing Tai Chi. See how she is holding her chi ball of energy below:

We wrapped up the weekend by attending church and saying goodbye.

In wrapping up the weekend, and the season of gratitude, I hope to carry the calm presence of thankfulness throughout the season.  Long after the leaves are gathered, I pray my gratitude lingers for these precious souls who fill my life.

Home is where the heart can laugh without shyness. ~Vernon G. BakerIMG_6409.jpg