Sunday, December 28, 2014


Today is my birthday.

I’m practically an old woman now and will probably be dead soon. But, the awesome thing is, I don’t really mind. (Well, about the old woman part. I’m not totally on board with the being dead part yet – only because there are all these needy little people here that I feel some obligation to.) I recall being sad-ish when I turned 30. I was no longer in my twenties; those young adventurous twenties that I so identified with.

But, of late, I seem to have embraced some Native American or Asian (surely not American?) reverence for old age and all its accompanying experience and wisdom. I feel kind of awesome that there is a good chance I’ve already accomplished – maybe not half – but surely well over a third of this mortal living business. I feel admiration and borderline envy for those who have waded life’s storms and managed its troubles for 60 and 70 and 80 years.

Someday I will be them.

And I will be so wise.

Or . . . not (as the case may be), but we can always hope.

In the meantime, I’ll take 38 with a “thank you kindly”; and, also, I will quit pretending to not like my just-after-Christmas birthday. “Blah blah blah. It’s a busy time. It gets lost in the shuffle.” Actually, I’ve always loved that my birthday is all tied in and associated with Christmas (and with my dad’s birthday – which was yesterday, but which he often postponed a day to celebrate with me during my growing up years). I also like starting my own new years with . . . you know . . . the new year.

Anyway, happy birthday to me. 38 years ago . . . my mom and dad had me. My mom was just two years older than I am now – 40. My dad was 46. It was their tenth time being in the hospital about to welcome a little new person to this earth. And I got to be that person! 38 years ago. Today. I love that. Such a happy thing!

Earlier the kids painted a little wooden army of people with me. My four were pretty awesome. (As were red-beard, Chewbacca, the ninja baby and others.) Now, I’m off to eat the birthday dinner Mike has been making and the birthday cake all covered with whip cream and pudding that the girls have been making. And then, Mike will wash dishes and force the kids to clean up and insist everyone let “mom” relax.

That’s nice.

Photo Dec 18, 2 43 11 PMPhoto Dec 18, 3 00 46 PMPhoto Dec 28, 4 03 45 PMPhoto Dec 28, 4 05 16 PMPhoto Dec 18, 2 57 32 PMPhoto Dec 20, 9 37 37 PMPhoto Dec 23, 3 25 36 PMPhoto Dec 23, 3 34 07 PMPhoto Dec 23, 3 39 51 PMPhoto Dec 23, 11 26 14 AMPhoto Dec 23, 11 26 37 AMPhoto Dec 25, 11 32 23 AMPhoto Dec 27, 9 48 33 AM (2)Photo Dec 27, 9 48 56 AMPhoto Dec 27, 9 49 00 AMPhoto Dec 28, 4 53 45 PMPhoto Dec 28, 4 54 40 PM

Christmas 2014 -- Necessary verses Magical

Dec. 26, 2014

I'm sitting at the table in the small kitchen area of our cabin. The fridge is humming behind me. And, to the side of me, a strand of colored Christmas lights – draped and wound (haphazardly) over a window and around a lamp – are glowing extra cozily (all offset by round log walls as they are).

It's not incredibly late, but it feels late – what with only the one lamp and the one strand of lights on (in an otherwise dark cabin); and what with the kids all tucked away in beds and nooks; and Mike – after a full day of skiing with the older three – having dropped off to sleep right on the floor in the loft just above me.

I'm thinking back to yesterday morning – Christmas. Trying to imagine again how, for a few brief hours, life stood still. I felt no rush, no need to accomplish, no need to prepare or tidy. Our first true snow of the season had fallen quietly all through the night – nature wrapping itself in its own version of paper and bows for Christmas morning. Christmas music was playing. And the house which, only hours before, had been tidy, was covered in wrapping paper, discarded boxes, candy wrappers and half chewed marshmallow Santas. Kids were putting together Legos and reading instructions to new games; they were practicing Christmas songs on new handbells (those were a big hit by the by) and driving Thomas the train (along with Henry and Toby). I was snuggled on the couch happily taking it all in while Summer had her first go in a bouncy chair and Mike put batteries in various toys and freed other toys from the wires that held them bound to the boxes they came in.


For most of December, I fretted, off and on, that I wasn't giving my kids a proper dose of tradition and magic and memories. I kept feeling like a failure because life just wouldn't stop. I couldn't make it stop. Time kept going so quickly, and days were so full of homework, and concerts, and necessary chores, and baby feedings and comfortings, and laundry, and dinners, and birthdays (ohhhh December birthdays . . .). And I never did figure out how to put all those demands on hold while I spun a web of twinkly lights, baking, and snowy adventure (never mind that we had no snow until Christmas) all around my children.


Gingerbread houses were made amidst tidying up the house for home teachers to visit and trying to get Summer settled for an after-church nap. Christmas carols were sung in a it's-way-past-bed-time-but-we-have-to-stick-some-sort-of-Christmas-into-this-day-so-we-will-only-sing-three fashion. Neighbor treats were baked and delivered between finishing school projects, making dinner, and running kids to various places.

Somehow though, as I basked in the perfect contentment of those Christmas morning hours – the hours where all other demands finally did let up – I felt a spark of hopefulness. It occurred to me that all the magic had been there. Perhaps I’d never managed to present it “stand alone”. It had to be tucked in here, and squeezed in there, but it was there all the same. I could see it, dotted all through the month – shining out definitely and brightly from the mundane and the necessary and the stressful. There had been a hot cocoa party and a treasure hunt. There had been advent calendars and the excitement of not knowing what was in the latest Amazon box to arrive on our doorstep (and be hurriedly locked in mom and dad's closet). There had been names drawn, presents picked out, Santa's reindeer visited, Christmas movies watched, and Star Mother's Youngest Child read.


I need to remember that next time I start fretting. My job isn't to somehow stop life from needing to be lived in its normal and hard ways. In fact, taking care of all of that normal living is pretty crucial. But the fact that the necessary exists (and demands near constant attention), doesn’t diminish the magic of the bits and pieces of joy and happiness and marshmallow Santas that I stick in with it.

Photo Dec 20, 8 59 38 AMPhoto Dec 24, 1 24 05 PMPhoto Dec 24, 1 27 35 PMPhoto Dec 25, 5 19 31 PMPhoto Dec 24, 3 28 39 PMPhoto Dec 25, 7 54 59 AMPhoto Dec 26, 1 09 58 PMPhoto Dec 25, 7 56 42 AMPhoto Dec 24, 11 26 04 PMPhoto Dec 25, 7 23 33 AMPhoto Dec 25, 7 23 23 AM

Also . . . Goldie bought me a poinsettia. The kids drew names amongst themselves for Christmas Eve gifts, but Daisy and Goldie insisted on getting extra gifts even for those whose names they hadn’t drawn. Several days before Christmas Goldie made me wait in the car while she did some stealth shopping – shopping which included, among other things, a poinsettia for me and some striped toe-socks for Penny. (Later, after we’d opened our gifts, I loved thinking back and trying to picture little her . . . all alone, bringing her socks, and poinsettias, and the like to the register.) In the end, Abe dubbed her the “creative gift giver”. And, on Christmas morning, when she received the cactus plants she’d been hoping for, he added to that: “. . . and the creative gift getter”.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Birthdays, Baby Blessings, Etc.

Two grainy, black-and-white birthdays. Six and fourteen. (Fourteen!??):

Gingerbread waffles, anyone?
IMG_7738_edited-1Good work, Doodles!

Sight words, Christmassy things, and first cousins once removed:Photo Dec 06, 4 44 38 PMPhoto Dec 07, 7 27 46 PMPhoto Dec 07, 6 23 16 PMPhoto Dec 07, 8 16 35 PM (1)Photo Dec 06, 4 45 15 PMPhoto Dec 10, 4 53 34 PMPhoto Dec 16, 1 24 33 PMPhoto Dec 16, 1 26 52 PM
Remember how our tree was 16.5 feet tall last year? This year it’s slightly less impressive. Like . . . 14 feet less impressive. Ha! Mike really wanted one we could plant at the cabin afterwards. The kids were good sports and made the most of decorating our Charlie Brown tree.

Birthday cash, Goldie’s choir concert, Daisy’s choir concert, flying babies, and asthma attacks:
Photo Dec 09, 4 05 44 PMPhoto Dec 11, 6 35 53 PMPhoto Dec 11, 7 19 52 PMPhoto Dec 11, 7 20 00 PMPhoto Dec 16, 7 48 26 PMPhoto Dec 17, 2 50 10 PMPhoto Dec 09, 4 44 22 PMPhoto Dec 17, 2 50 07 PMPhoto Dec 16, 8 14 33 AM

Baby blessing (Summer Maren):
Photo Dec 07, 12 16 48 PM (1)Photo Dec 08, 3 49 26 PM
I knew nothing about Mike’s third great-grandma Maren (nor did Mike really) until, assigned with the task of middle-naming our baby, Mike spent a morning looking over family history records. Maren’s life was not a life of simple choices and angelic ease; and she died on the ship bringing her from Denmark to America on the very day land was sighted. She was buried on a little island in the Mississippi Delta (a little island that likely no longer exists). After reading about her, Mike felt that she should be remembered, this Danish grandma of his. It’s funny because Maren isn’t even my ancestor, but she is Summer’s, and I feel so strangely happy that Mike found her. I feel something bordering on fierceness in my feelings of loyalty to her. I am so glad a little connection has been forged between Summer and this fourth-great-grandma of hers!

Lastly: chickens – always wishing I’d let them in (and being disappointed in that wish); a Goldie-made Perry-the-Platypus ornament that I am quite sure I’ve wanted, without knowing it, for all of my life; and, a little Christmas-hatted baby girl.
Photo Dec 10, 4 11 00 PMPhoto Dec 13, 12 50 58 PM
Photo Dec 18, 8 37 58 AMPhoto Dec 18, 8 37 45 AM

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