Monday, December 27, 2010

The Day After Christmas

Yesterday, while raising the blinds in the girls’ room so that they could see the snow fall as they awoke, we saw our across-the-street neighbor taking down all of his Christmas decorations.  Sunday morning, the day after Christmas, before 9am, in the snow.  The sight was really quite ridiculous.  The snow was falling pretty rapidly (a rare treat around here!), and he was pulling up candycanes, stripping garland, and dusting the snow off everything so that his yard could be cleaned of Christmas before we left for church.

We truly had a delightful Christmas -- perhaps my favorite Christmas in memory.  But I’m having to fight the temptation to not just check “Christmas” off the list, moving on to strip the house of decorations, organize new gifts, and scrub the house clean to prepare for a magical fresh start on January 1.  

But this year, I don’t think I’m ready to be rid of Christmas.  I’m still pondering, still meditating, and frankly, still enjoying the Christmas lights on the back porch and our sweet Christmas tree (even if it’s only half lit).  I still want to sing the beautiful hymns of Christmas. I want to appreciate the new that we’ve been given, not rush to organize it away in a closet or storage container. I’m not ready to be rid of the extra light in our living room, even if it means that I’ll be free of artificial pine needles.  As I reminded Michael, it’s really still Christmas until Epiphany -- and I intend to celebrate as such.

When we take down the decorations, it will be that light that I miss the most.  The house will seem bare (if clean), and our rooms will feel dark.  It seems that every year I'm yearning to add new lamps to our rooms, to find some way to replace those beautiful twinkle lights. Oh, how I need the Light... 

"In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."  John 1:4-5

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Praying you have a very merry Christmas this year, and that you may be encouraged by the Hope that is Emmanuel.  Rejoice! 

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Nutcracker Sweet

 Last year around this time, Phoebe learned that there was such a thing as the Nutcracker Ballet.  She wanted to go -- really knowing nothing other than that it was a ballet -- but we determined that our not-yet-three-year-old was just too young for a lengthy ballet performance.  But we told her than when she was three, she could go.

Throughout the year, Phoebe only became more interested in ballet.  She loves to twirl about the kitchen, read books about ballerinas, and to practice “steps” that she has learned.  We knew that she’d love the idea of going to the ballet this year, but we weren’t sure how the performance would work out for her.  But we bought the tickets, and a sweet friend who works at the studio also gave me the heads up that we could also buy tickets to a tea party with the ballerinas.  

Phoebe was absolutely overwhelmed when we brought her to meet the ballerinas. We had talked about meeting the ballerinas, and Phoebe couldn’t wait to show them her steps and warm up with them.  But when we arrived, she couldn’t eat, couldn’t even look up -- and yet, we could tell that she was delighted to see the glittering tutus and stage makeup of the big girl ballerinas.  When I took her to the bathroom, the previously silent little girl couldn’t stop chattering about the ballerinas and the ballet.  From this point on, her face was in a permanent smile... although she was still super-shy with the ballerinas when we returned.
 For the entire three-hour performance (which included a forty-five minute prelude), Phoebe sat spellbound.  We watched other children her age wiggle and talk through the show, but Phoebe remained motionless and talked only when she wanted to ask a question about the ballet or the dancers.  She couldn’t get enough of the show; her only disappointment was that she returned home without having had a chance to dance on the stage.
Phoebe has amazed me with her retention of the different steps and movements from both the prelude and the Nutcracker Ballet itself.  She twirls with a new intensity, and she imitates some of the smaller dancers perfectly.  She remembers costuming nuances and song choices, and she already can’t wait to take Nora again next year.

It has been a delight for me as a parent to watch this interest grow, really in spite of me.  I am not a dancer, nor have I ever been.  I haven’t instructed her with steps; I don’t even have a shred of rhythm.  My role has been really very mild exposure, and yet the Lord has developed this in her, has uniquely made her to delight in dance.  To watch Phoebe as a little ballerina in my kitchen has reminded me that He knits us together in such a way that will bring Him the most glory -- and for Phoebe, that may or may not include dance.  Whether she goes on to dance more formally, or whether she simply praises Him in dance in my kitchen, I am delighted to watch this sweet ballerina twirl.

Friday, December 17, 2010


We have had some serious sleep issues around these parts, and it's made for a tired, frazzled Mama who literally couldn't wade through the laundry in the hallway until last night.  In spite of it, I've desperately tried to count my many blessings.  And it has been seriously desperate around here.  My mom was here Monday for a baby fix, and I am so unbelievably thankful that her visit was so Providentially Ordained, as I do believe her presence may have prevented me from jumping off a bridge or getting myself committed.

But things really (in spite of the no-sleep, no-nap thing that's been going on from someone small) have been rather delightful.

We're dressing up like robots, Little Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty, and Mary (who, today, gave birth to the Lamb of God, aka Lamby).

We're also selling our wares at market, although this market is special:  you buy, the seller gives you the goods AND the money. Today, chocolate chip muffins were on the menu.

We're washing dishes and earning our keep.

We're getting into everything.

We're watching ballets, meeting ballerinas, and talking nonstop about the Nutcracker Ballet (and oh, how Nora can hardly wait until she gets to go next year!).

We've gone on scavenger hunts for Tinkerbell, dressed Mommy (and Jake) with "zebra stripes", had sisters reading to sisters, listened to Nora say "oatmeal" in the cutest way possible, tinkered in the kitchen, snuggled up with Praise Baby, and tried to remain thankful in all things.

There have been moments over the last week or so that I've really felt at the end of myself.  I've struggled to speak kindly, to wash or fold laundry (I believe there's a load in the dryer lingering right now...), to love my husband, and to even get a reasonable meal on the table at a reasonable hour.  Add to that the responsibility of "Christmas" in general -- or at least what I was feeling like was my responsibility at Christmastime -- and I've been categorically overwhelmed.

And yet, isn't that what Christmas is for?  It's so easy for me to sanitize the coming of Emmanuel, and my brain has been going through a retraining this year.  He came to us because we could not come to Him, because we were (and are) at the end of ourselves.  And oh, how I need Emmanuel... not just at Christmas, but every single day, to be God with me.

Friday, December 3, 2010

To tell

Over the last few months, I’ve been consumed, really, with work the Lord is doing on my heart. He’s exposing some really nasty selfishness and pride, and along with that, I’m discovering that I’ve developed a few unseemly habits. Lovely, right? In the midst of this, I’ve probably done too much navel-gazing, analyzing and over-analyzing what I’m doing and how. And really, I’m running around like a chicken with my head cut off doing who-knows-what, but it certainly isn’t important stuff, the stuff that He would have me be working towards, because Heaven knows his yoke isn’t burdensome like the one I'm bearing.
And so here I am. I keep neglecting the story here -- my story, our story, but most of all His story -- because I keep finding other urgent things to do. Spots on the floor. Dust in the windowsill. Dinner to be cooked. Dishes to be washed. Budgets to be balanced. Yet my heart longs, even aches, to record and share this story. My days are full from dawn until long after dusk, but I feel He’s calling me to pause a moment and to enjoy this easy burden, to plunk down some memorial stones for the next generation that’s tucked into blankets on the other side of the house. His mercies are too precious not to record, too important not to testify about.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Ruthie is Nine Months Old

How is it that our little Roo is nine months old? Have nine months really flown by so quickly?  I am delighted daily by this little Mouse as she grows and explores -- and oh, how she is exploring these days!  She’s up to so much!  

At nine months old, Ruthie is...
  • tipping the scales at 16 pounds, 14 ounces (15%ile) and is 27.5 inches long (50%ile)
  • sleeping 12 hours at night, waking some nights (okay, most) at least once.  Most of those nights she is soothed easily; she seems to be hunting for her nay-nay in the dark!  Occasionally, though, she will take a small bottle; Mommy is easily persuaded to give in to her desires.
  • napping two good naps a day, usually for about an hour and a half in the morning and two hours in the afternoon.  If her afternoon nap is shortened, she will often take a third short nap in the early evening.
  • working on getting some teeth, but none have emerged yet.  She is still generally a happy camper, although she has her moments... for those, I’m thankful that we have Tylenol and Orajel on deck!
  • crawling!  She spent last month perfecting her army crawl and backward scoot, but by the time we returned home from our Thanksgiving trip, she was crawling everywhere...and fast!  
  • pulling up!  And proud of herself, too!  I’m just thankful that she’s not walking...
  • making scrunchy face, which is one of the cutest things that all three of my babies have done.  I’ll have to capture this on camera; it’s accompanied by short, fast breaths.  
  • giving kisses, although selectively.  She does not do this trick on command.
  • flying away when in our arms; she literally flaps her arms and legs at a rapid clip while being held.  
  • into everything.  I’m having to re-learn baby containment strategies these days!  Fortunately, she responds to her name and a soft “no”... at least for now!  She particularly loves to check out Jake’s bowl and to dump the bookshelves.
  • on baby food strike, preferring whatever it is we’re eating to mush.  I can’t say I blame her!  I do try to sneak some pureed fruit into her a couple of times a day, but I’ve for the most part raised the white flag and started making her a plate.  She particularly loves her Cheerio’s, frozen peas (still mostly frozen), chicken, cheese, banana bits, noodles, broccoli, and green beans.  The other night, she couldn’t get enough Mexican ground beef... amazing!
  • jabbering and making lots of sounds:  mama, dada, nana, blah-blah... oh, how we love to hear her talk!  (She has an adoring audience, too!)
  • in love with her big sisters, and the feeling is mutual among the group.  She loves to wake Nora up from naps (and Nora asks to be tickled by Ruthie) and Phoebe will often play with Ruthie on her own.  Ruthie is happiest when she’s with all of us.  She also loves to take baths with her big sisters now!
  • wearing 9 month sleepers (although they still seem a little big), a size 3 diaper, and mostly 9 month clothes.