Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas highlights

No matter how much we tried to put on the breaks around here, Christmas came in like a freight train.  In the midst of the peace of Julia in the role of an angel in the Christmas Eve children's service and the quiet moments with Charlie before Julie awoke on Christmas morning, we were bombarded with the joyful sounds and experiences of Christmas.  The unwrapping process took approximately four days due to Julia's insistence on playing with every gift that she opened and helping Charlie unwrap his packages.  We are still reading "Twas the Night Before Christmas" and Julia takes care of her daily arrangement and rearrangement of her 3 nativity scenes.  It is quite appropriate that it is a prolonged experience here.  I think by the time we squeeze fullness out of the season, the wisemen will be arriving at the Bethlehem manger stall.  
Christmas last year was quite different.  It involved an 18-month old who could care less about the volume of her gifts, but enjoyed every part of unwrapping the boxes.  I watched a video of her at Christmas-time last year and she was a wobbly toddler who spoke with words that only a mother could decipher.  Now, she is a surefooted little girl who is very clear about her needs.  Since Charlie and Julia are almost exactly two years apart, I can look at the pictures of Julia from last year and imagine how Charlie will experience it next year.  There are so many photos from this holiday season that are such fun reminders of how things have changed. They have familiar tones of years past and as I see them, I can't help but think ahead....
We were so excited to see Julia's reaction to the gifts under the tree on Christmas morning.  We couldn't wait for her to wake up, so we sent Charlie in to get his sister:
I always did this to my sister.  I find it to be one of the top reasons of all time to provide your child with a sibling (among other things...)
Julia's favorite gift was her kitchen.  She is such a good little cook and she has been diligently at work in that kitchen since she "unwrapped" it at 8:30am on Christmas morning.  At this very moment, she is making brownies - brownies with a plastic fried egg on top.
Top Chef, eat your heart out.
Her fairy costume was a distant second favorite.  
A fairy princess who cooks.  She just waves her wand and the cooking is complete.
Ha, brilliant!  I wish I had that kind of power.
Charlie enjoyed the wrapping paper the most, but he decided to hang out with George most of the day.  What a precious little gift.  Last year we didn't quite know who he was (although he definitely made his presence known to me).  Now he is celebrating his first Christmas.  We gave him sweet potatoes for Christmas dinner to celebrate - his first food.  He is off and ready to eat (and is quite willing to consume Julia's culinary creations!)
And finally, the only thing that could pull Julia away from her own kitchen is the opportunity to bake with me in the "big kitchen".  Mainly because it usually involves sprinkles and the chance to get messy.  I love these photos.  They remind me of the memories that I cherish with my family as every holiday involved cooking great recipes among the many generations in my family.  Although I longed for my mother and grandmothers in the kitchen with me this year, I was excited to continue this with my children.  Yes, the time in the kitchen is usually doubled, but it is priceless.  
My hope is that your Christmas was filled with thoughts of family, memories past and hopes for the future.  And more importantly, I hope it was truly special just as the New Life who came to earth to save the earth.
Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Dear Santa...

Dear Santa,
When my daughter asks you for a "kitchen with food in it and pots to cook with", please note that this is referring to the toy she wants wrapped under the tree, not an actual kitchen.  We don't need directions to the nearest food pantry.  And while we're at it, please don't judge me for the fact that we are rewrapping some of Julia's old toys for Charlie.  We couldn't possibly stand to have another toy enter into this home.
Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to clarify.
Julia's mommy

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas bow

I woke up early yesterday morning in a cold sweat.  It seems I have inherited the same dream that used to plague my mother around Christmas-time.  It involves waking up on Christmas morning with the sinking realization that I have forgotten to buy gifts.  
This season is bursting with busyness in this household.  Charlie will be 5 months old tomorrow, which is just another reminder of how quickly time seems to be flying by.  Though the giftless dream is a bit far-fetched, it is a little kick in the pants to get things done.  Getting things done around here is an elementary lesson in keeping things simple.  Most of our shopping has been done thanks to the internet, the ornaments that were hung during Julia's 10 minute window of attention are now the ones on display.  The others will make an appearance next year.  The advent calendar was a big hit the first week with the theme of JOY, but the focus on GIVING this week has been a bit more difficult for Julia.  Some of our daily challenges have come up empty.  
Keeping it simple is the only way to function around here.  
The other morning, Julia needed a bow for her hair - something special for her first meeting with Santa.  She goes through bows like outfits.  One minute they are there and accounted for, the next moment she needs a change (which often involves the extinction of the bow)...I don't know why I bother.  
So, I didn't have any red fabric to match her "pretty dress", but I had red felt, a piece ribbon, a stamp, ink, some pillow stuffing, oh, and five minutes.
I stamped Julia's name onto a piece of ribbon, sewed it to one of the 2 pieces of red felt, placed the circles on top of each other and sewed it around (adding in the stuffing when almost fully around).  I hot glued it onto a pre-made fastener - and she was all set.
And in prime Julia form to meet Santa to tell him exactly what she'd like for Christmas.  
She actually told him three times.
She is a girl who knows what she wants.  

Friday, December 2, 2011

baby feet

This week's advent theme is JOY.  Julia decided on the first morning that her daddy is the one thing that brings her the most joy.  Good call Julia, I have to agree!  Hands down my greatest joy is my family and on a smaller scale, baby feet.  Yes, you have read it right.  Baby feet.  There is no sweeter sound in the world than hearing Julia's little feet on the hardwood floors in the morning when she is going to sneak into bed with us.  I loved watching her little feet carry her as she spun circle after circle while dancing to her music this morning.  And capturing the fresh, new life scent of tiny baby feet and seeing each line and fold intricately designed brings me to a place of awe and reverence for how my children were knit together.  
moments after Julia's birth - June 2009
After each of my children were born, one of the first photos taken of the two of us together involves me studying their feet.  I wonder if Mary did the same for Jesus.  A powerful leader who was once so delicate.  I wonder if she just basked in the tiny miracle knowing that her precious bundle was the Savior of the world.  
I wonder what great things are in store for my children also - where these little feet will carry them throughout their lives.  
Hanging above our bed in our room is a reminder of this.  It is a collage of Julia's feet as she's grown and now pictures of Charlie are added too.  Among these pictures is the verse from Romans - "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news." - Romans 10:15.  It is our reminder as we go to bed and as we start our day for our daily blessings and our focus for the day.
How appropriate to continue this theme into Charlie's baptism invitations?  There is nothing like a great excuse to capture his footprint.  I had Julia's footprints all over everything when she was small.  Charles says that there are child labor laws against the amount of time that I spend utilizing my children to some extent in these projects.  My response: they are only little for a short time.  I have take it and run with it while I can.
What are the great things that bring joy this season?  I challenge you to look into the fine print of your lives to pull out the little daily miracles that bring such joy to life.