Declan joined me in my morning ritual of watering the garden today. I was hoping someone or everyone would join me in this little sanctuary of ours.
But today was meant for just Declan and Mommy.
So together, in this quiet space, we discovered how to make rainbows...
Feel the power of the hose, and yes, eventually spray Mommy!
and become an eager little gardener and helper.
Oh how I enjoy these alone times, where I can share in their individual curiousities and discoveries.
We sat on the deck, my love and I, to watch the sunset dip below the Olympic horizon. Absorbed with the peace and beauty beholding us, we couldn't help but be thankful for being right in that moment.
Then one of our darlings got out of bed to inform us that our other darling was making too much noise and she couldn't sleep!
So then our peace and reflection ended.
And we went to bed!
I thank God for rest. Yes, to bask in leisure, to relinquish all responsibilities save for dressing ourselves and driving ourselves from one amusement to another. To forget the holes in the wall that need drywalling, the hurricane swept toy room, to leave behind rushed pace as we're driving from one event to another.
But rather to find refuge in my mother's home, where she caringly builds a nest of peace and ease for all of us. Or to simply sit for a two hour drive in the car, visiting with my dear man while I indulge in a green tea Frappuccino. Or even to catch up on Season Two of Downton Abbey (now Amazon prime wants me to pay for Season Three and I'm ever so tempted!)
But that's me talking.
If you were to ask the kids how vacation went they would simply say "I thank God for FUN!" (I'm paraphrasing of course!)
Hmm....could it be the days spent by the poolside, chasing lizards in Grandma's garden, tea parties for Little Miss Socialite, roaming freely throughout the neighborhood (this was my one anxious bit of our Florida stay, to see my two big kids turn the corner and out of my view for about fifteen minutes at a time. But I'm remaining confident Christ will watch over them as they take these steps towards independence.) Or perhaps playing in Atlantic waves, zooming down monster slides at waterparks, driving junior sized Jeeps at Legoland or canoeing amongst man-devouring alligators.
And how could I have forgotten you Sun! You make all things glorious. Oh the weather was perfectly hot and sunny making all our restful and fun vacation dreams a reality.
Uh...why did this alligator cross the river? Why is he not scared just like all the others have been?
The answer is yes, to get to the other side of course but also to park himself right at the fisherman's fishing line float. Yep, that trickster (dare I say, cheater), had his eye on stealing the catch!
After all the rest and fun, it is good to return home recharged and repurposed and most definitely ready to tackle that toy room. For some reason it didn't clean up after itself when we were gone!
Our second attempt at hiking Pack Forest was a hundred fold more successful than our first attempt. The higher temperatures and improved preparedness (is that a word?) were key of course even though that pool of water at the parking lot continued to entice the children so that I did have to caution them to "stay away from the water". Oh my, did I test my parents this much?
With a backpack filled with pistachios and bottles of water we headed up the old logging trails, into some spectacular semi-old growth and peek-a-boo views all the while looking for any evidence of bigfoot of course. We did see one reoccurring sighting. I managed to photograph him, you can see for yourself! He's the one wearing the inconspicuous orange shirt!
Fresh air plus beautiful evergreen foliage of the Pacific Northwest and the beloved company of cousins makes for a very exciting day for young and old. Yes, we're hoping to return very soon.
It's so easy to lose the outdoor momentum in these winter months, but not on this particular day when we climbed out of our hole in the ground to meet up with some friends for a short hike through Point Defiance Park.
Not only was the weather perfect but our friends introduced us to new trails in our favorite city park I never thought of exploring. And I just love trails. Can you tell?
Maybe I find a lot of comfort in following the steps someone has laid out before me. Especially when children are involved. I want to follow a path I know my children and I will be safe on.
Because when you stay on paths you're guaranteed a rich reward at the end.
Yes, good weather, good friends and safe trails are a few of my favorite things!
I was rounding the kids out the door, in my usual no rushing way (ha!). The clock was ticking and I had to drive across town, pick up the babysitter, bring her to my place and then quickly head to the gym to lead my zumba class.
These "carefully laid plans" hit a sudden and frustrating roadblock when the main garage door, of all things, mysteriously just would. not. open.
I tugged at the emergency cord but it wouldn't budge. I interrogated my little suspects asking them if they had touched anything (I'm not the only Mommy in the world who instictively asks their kids "what did you do?"... right?!). I pushed buttons and touched wires, laughably ineffectual I know, but I was hoping, just hoping I'd get lucky somehow!
Panic started settling in as I imagined the forty or so people who were expecting me in about an hour.
My kids, heartbroken, cried in disappointment since their plans too, to spend their evening with our babysitter, their older cousin, were also being ruined.
So I activated "Operation HELP ME!"
With an alternative plan in mind, I called my carpool buddy, a friend who has been faithfully attending my zumba class, to ask if today she could pick us up. I'd have to cancel the babysitter and bring the kids along with me I said. I know it's not ideal, but I could bring along the laptop and a dvd to keep them entertained and, more importantly, to keep them absolutely very still while I performed my little job.
And here's one of those amazing moments in life, when a blanket of love tenderly wraps your soul, dissolves the stresses and the worries, when an act of kindness removes those road blocks and clears the way for safe and easy passage.
After suggesting my plan, my friend responded, "Why don't I just pick up your babysitter and come get you?"
Yes, she did. And not only that but she drove my niece back to her home after the class too.
Are there words for such generosity and salvation?
But wait, there's more.
At 8 am sharp the following morning, I contacted the garage door company who assured me that I could have tugged on that manual emergency cord all night and it still would not have moved because it sounded as if the spring was torn. Ok, now I don't feel so weak nor do I feel silly that there hadn't been an obvious or simple solution (you never know with me!). The springs need replacing, he said, but he wouldn't be able to arrive until late in the afternoon.
Oh boy! We can walk to Colin's speech therapy at 8:30, that's easy enough, but how am I going to tell the kids, especially my six year old party enthusiast, that we won't be able to attend the Homeschool Valentine's Day party at noon, this party she has been anticipating for over a month. She had eagerly constructed her treat box back in January and because she couldn't stand her brothers' procrastination she had prepared some for them too! Oh and I can't forget to mention that her handwriting practice for the month of February had been to write "Dear Friend, Happy ♥ Day From Thalia" on sixty five Valentine's Day Cards!
So once again, I engaged "Operation HELP ME!"
And again, I called a friend, my dear friend who has supported me through miscarriages and paint color decisions, all the while praying she wasn't previously engaged or even out of town.
And again, I got to experience that amazing and unforgettable moment when a rush of love and friendship is so generously poured out, when a selfless gesture cures anxiety, rescues and restores a Mother's heavy spirit and when a sacrifice opens opportunities for dreams as simple as they may be.
Yes, she drove forty minutes round trip to pick us up from the party.
How do you express gratitude for such kindness and faithfulness?
All this goodness came into my life lately because the garage door wouldn't open.
Zumba, the Valentine's Day party and the one-way bus ride were but small perks.
When Colin discovers an interest, he dives into it wholeheartedly. He explores library books, watches shows, plans, dreams and talks about his passionate subject until the whole family is well versed on the subject at hand too! Some of his topics are short lived and some have remained with him throughout his childhood, but they're always varied and amusing.
"What will be the next thing that he'll grab onto?" Joe and I often wonder. Will it be something he's never heard of before or will it be something familiar that captures his attention in a novel way?
Well, I'm here today to announce his new found interest but before I reveal it, I wanted to walk down memory lane and reminisce over his past hobbies with you. Reviewing these past years has been such cherishing and wonderful time for this Mommy, to see my boy growing, discovering and learning about the world around him. I hope you enjoy it too.
When he was about three he was absorbed with street signs and their significance. He was especially entertained by what he calls the "truck great big hill" sign and the infamously fatal sign, "dead end".
"Why is it called a Dead End?", he would continually ask. And for about two years, I couldn't drive by a Dead End street without diverting our journey down it in hopes that the question would finally be answered. I agree with him, it is truly a confusing and a macabre name when you think about it!
Next came a fascination with volcanoes and the Cascade Range, where he would absorb himself for hours mapping out the major mountains across our living room floor using blankets, rugs and pillows or by modeling and painting play dough. To fly over the Cascades with him is such a joy as he yells out the names of all the mountains outside his window.
There was a short fascination with castles, especially Neuschwanstein but Germany still remains one of his top destinations to visit.
I'm not sure when the appeal of snakes began but this curiousity, unfortunately for Joe and I, remains as he continually asks for a pet snake for his birthday. "Not in our house", we answer! Instead, we take as many trips to our co-op, blueberry farm and YMCA for some close encounters to satisfy that reptilian curiousity.
This post wouldn't be complete without mentioning the love of trains. It was because of him, after all, that I came to know what a hopper car was and it was because of his love for watching trains that I would sit at the "train park" and record the trains passing by so he could later watch them on my camera. But then, we discovered YouTube where there are plenty of other train fanatics willing to entertain my son while I try do some cleaning!
Ever since Colin was born we have been flying across the country to visit family, but on one trip the aviation bug hit him hard. He begged us to buy every commercial model airplane available on Amazon and wore the wings the pilot gifted him for days, slept with it (to my apprehension) and then was devastated when they were lost. This passion is also the second reason he'd like to visit Germany because when you have a love for model airplanes you must, just must see Miniature Wonderland Hamburg Airport!
And of course there's the Squatch. His bigfoot days are well documented on this little blog and the hunt for this "elusive creature" is still strong.
So now we are up to date and current and I'd like to introduce to you the next new topic that has captured this inventive and diverse mind. Drum rolls please!
Colin has been practicing some magic tricks over the past month and today with an added audience member (a visit from my dear sister) we had the great pleasure of watching him perform a living room magic show.
With tools such as pepper, water, paper, scissor and candles he performed his tricks perfectly. The guests were questioning "How did you do that?, he engaged his audience and came up with lines that had his proud spectators belly laughing.
It was a good show.
This one is going to be fun! Do I foresee a Magician's costume for Halloween?
There was a buzz going around the Homeschool groups this week. News that some homeschool rights were being disturbed with an Act.
I wanted to be informed. I read the House Bill. I studied the Homeschool legal opinion against the bill and with eagle focus I dove into the unchartered waters of writing to my Representatives and communicating with my fellow homeschoolers.
This matter, moving the compulsory age of early childhood education from eight to six, is infringing on my children's rights to be children, to learn at a slower and playful pace and it would certainly affect the freedoms of our everyday lives.
So I was driven and compelled to attend the public meeting that was being held at 8am in the morning in our State's Capitol. That meant I had to leave the house at 7 in the morning with three sleep deprived kiddos and find our way into the intimidating arena that is government.
I thought I was crazy the whole time (I even kept on asking Joe, "is this crazy to drag them out this early in the morning?") but he was incredibly supportive and so my resolve remained strong.
Now, I had no intention in speaking. I just wanted to sign my name and give any support that I could. But when we arrived we were miraculously approached by a Homeschool lobbyist who was genuinely glad to see us and encouraged me to make a brief statement and even educated me on the greeting etiquette, "Madame Chair and Committee". Yes, me! Your every day pony tail wearing homeschool Mom got to say those little words! And I did so with a three year old on my lap and two extremely well behaved older kids behind me.
And you know, there weren't any nerves as I spoke in front of the Education Committee, only a conviction of steel that speaking up was necessary in order to protect the rights of my children, these amazing persons. Oh, they're so worth it and so much more.
Afterwards, we did visit our Representative's office and though he wasn't present, his assistant welcomed us into his office for some photo ops. Then we crossed the street from the House of Representatives and toured the Capitol building itself, with all its ceremonious extravagance.
This was an extraordinary day. A moment where I got to stand up for the rights of my children, to step out of myself and boldly go where a Mommy has never gone before!
Swim class has been such an easy time for me now that I don't have to get into the pool with Declan anymore. He's a big kid now and in his own class with Teacher Skyler and five other kids.
This is his first session out of the instructional pool and without Mom or Dad. He fought the change at first. He did not want to be in the big pool with a brand new instructor. So for four classes, I would sit right behind him and encourage him to participate little by little and to bribe him with p-pops (his word for lollipops) if he tried one new activity per class.
The first class, he refused to enter the water until the final jump at the very end of class. The next time he added one swim with teacher to his repertoire until finally, on the fifth class after much prep talk he decided on his own that he would participate in the whole class.
He did so incredibly well. He sat on the edge of the pool with his little legs in the water, bobbed in the water, floated, used his kickers and his paddlers and worked hard in his every turn.
Jumping forward to week number four. Declan has now been feeling very comfortable in his swim class. So much so that he doesn't even blink when I sit on the bleachers which are about ten feet away from him. Yes, Mommy doesn't have to look for dry spots by the pool anymore. I can now sit with the grown ups on the bleachers.
This day in particular, I wanted to look for our shampoo in the lost and found since we misplaced it during our last visit but something told me I shouldn't leave Declan just yet. What if he were to look behind and look for me? Would he feel abandoned? No, I'd better stay put.
So I got my knitting out, (such a stressful time for me you know, this waiting by the pool while other people get all wet and cold with my children!) and settle down for a nice half hour of me time.
During every other stitch I looked up to watch Declan doing his bobs with the rest of his class. He's making sure I'm looking at him and I 'm giving him the thumbs up often. But my little guy is getting a little brazen and courageous and likes to throw up his arms and let go of the wall during some of the bobs and I start to wonder. Could he? Will he?
Yes, he let go and jumped outward and couldn't reach the wall. The instructor who was about two feet away from him was helping another student and didn't see my baby tredding water and reaching for the wall. The lifeguard sitting high in her chair was about five feet above him. She didn't see him either.
So what do I do? Do I say, "Teacher Skyler, get Declan!"? Do I say, "Lifeguard, my son has let go of the wall! Help him!"?
No, I run from the bleachers to the pool where Declan is just starting to submerge and jump into the water with my jeans and hiking boots on to rescue my little boy.
Declan was absolutely fine. Not a single cough was coughed. Not a single drop of water entered his little lungs.
But I certainly surprised a lot of people around me and may have started a couple of conversations like, "Did you see that crazy Mother who jumped into the water with her clothes on when the instructor and the lifeguard were right there"!
Declan continued his class like nothing ever happened but the aquatics staff were quick to attend to me, wrap me up with towels, find dry clothes in the lost and found and write incident reports. After all the explanations of "I don't know what I was thinking, I just reacted" and, "the I don't want to get the instructor in trouble, she was easily within arms reach of him" I returned to the bleachers.
I picked up my knitting project and yarn that had rolled across the wet deck and tried to go back to knitting but my hands were shaking. It was terrifying to see my littlest guy losing his control and I was so glad he was ok. So glad I was there to rescue him. So thankful nothing happened to him and that my only regret is the silliness of my being all wet. Oh Thank You LORD.
Below is a picture Joe took of me when he met us toward the ends of class. When he asked me why I was wet he asked, "how far out was Declan away from the teacher?"
"Oh about two feet." I answered, " And I bet you would have done the same!"
It's such a beautiful and emotional moment when kids connect with the world around them, especially when it comes to developing relationships with the natural world and admiring the special gifts of animals.
This week we had the extreme pleasure of meeting orphaned horses at Second Chance Horse, through an invitation from our awesome homeschool group (my goodness they enrich our lives.)
Second Chance Horse Ranch is an amazing heart-filled non-profit that adopts and cares for thoroughbreads, that after years of racing and physical wariness of competition and decomposition, they eventually become broken, unwanted, unprofitable.
But still in this place they remain wanted, loved, appreciated and valued.
We had a chance to groom these beauties, to feed them and even ride them. By the older kids at least. Declan still has reservations about meeting these gentle giants and would prefer climbing the bars and petting the docile old ranch dog who's always waiting for a treat or a good rub.
I'd like you to meet Erin, he's four years old and after a short career as a racing horse has just been operated on all four ankles and fortunately because of lots of tender loving care he's recuperating well and ready to grow some more. He's quite friendly by the way, and is always hoping you're holding a special treat for him in your hand.
We all are wanting to return and visit these dear horses soon. And there is a tiny fantastical dream of maybe one day of bringing one home with us one day, but of course, that remains in my far future dreams.
The weekend hike with the cousins was planned.
We had attended Saturday evening service. Sunday was free for the first hike of the year.
Two batches of popcorn had been popped and poured into a large Trader Joe's paper bag, eight PB&J sandwiches prepared, fruit and some lollilops were also packed to be enjoyed on the way home after the scheduled three hour hike.
The cars were filled up with gas and the GPS was set.
Ah, finally ready to go and only seven minutes behind schedule. It's not always easy getting eight people out the door, is it?!
We left a foggy city behind, a fog that hasn't lifted in over three days.
We left the city stresses and the bad moods there in the fog too.
On our trip eastward, we found the sun again. The blue skies opened and welcomed us and we got to see Mt. Rainier again. Oh how refreshing and breathtaking is that Mountain. It is zing for the soul.
And in those corners where the sun didn't hit, the douglas firs were decorated with a heavy flaky frost. We were entering a white wonderland.
Inside our car (the boys went with Joe while the girls went in my car) we played twenty-one questions (which can be quite challenging when playing with a six year old who doesn't quite understand all of her geography yet!), listened to gypsy jazz and talked high school with my growing niece.
We parked our two cars and the eight of us tumbled out into a frigid cold we haven't had in the city for quite some time.
The kids quickly amused themselves with a patch of ice right by the front of the cars. Oh they were giddy with excitement. And I was so thrilled to see them having a good time with each other and enjoying the outdoors. This is why we're here. This is why parents try so hard to get these city kids outdoors.
"Kids, don't step on the ice." I reminded them, "If you get wet, we won't be able to go on our hike."
It was feeling really cold and I felt the urgency to get moving quickly so Joe and I busied ourselves putting gloves on the toddler, harnessing the backpack and reviewing the map and organizing our sense of direction to find the entrance to the trail which I admit can take a lot of mental effort and preoccupation on my part!
"Let's head this way." we directed the kids.
At this moment, we looked back and walking towards us comes one very very wet kid. His pants are wet up to his pockets and his jeans are so saturated they're hugging his legs.
"What happened?" we say.
"The ice was thinner than I thought when I stepped on it." he says.
"We need to go back home." Joe and I announce simultaneously.
"It'll dry." he says.
"Water doesn't dry here, it freezes." I inform him.
I can tell he's embarassed and disappointed. They're all disappointed and a little shocked, after all they're completely silent. The only exception and objection comes from Declan, my three year old, who is pushing both Mommy and Daddy back towards the trail.
He sits down on icy grass and rings out the water from his socks.
A lesson is learned here without words. A lesson he is learning on his own.
This isn't the time for rebuke nor is it the time for "I told you so's."
And so we tell him with a chuckle in hopes of lightening the mood, "This will be a day to remember for sure. Can you imagine years from now, when you have kids of your own? What will you tell them when they're standing on ice in the middle of nowhere?"
He chuckles in return.
We returned home a little earlier than expected so I got to put a delicious meal on the oven to simmer for a couple of hours and then napped with my littlest guy.
It was still all good!
My nephew requested another hike to Twanoh State Park (pronounced Tu-wa-nu-ho, go figure!), so we squeezed six people into a five seater Sedan and made the almost hour trip out towards the Hood Canal.
Oh my bootie got squooshed! (Is that a word?)
With a couple of "are we there yet's?" from even me, we finally spilled out of the car to enjoy this delightful, calm and easy walk through woods and beach. It was so easy that I got to linger a few steps behind and practice my photography skills.
How can a shot go wrong though, isn't His artistry magnificent?
And the company as always was delightful. My nephew is such a gentle spirit and my do the cousins love having him along.
Now for the ride back!
Colin and Thalia had the privilige of being invited to perform in the Family Christmas Performance the weekend before Christmas. With multiple performances and much time spent at the House of God working hard and building relationships, this has to have been the best Christmas season yet.
With this opportunity to serve, I being a stage Mom, Thalia being a little lamb and an enthusiastic little dancer and Colin being a drummer and the letter R in "Merry", it has (ironically during this busy time) made me pause, reflect and reassess our celebration traditions during this time of year.
With all the efforts made in preparation for Advent and Elving, then the hampering of illness and the disastrous tragedy in Newtown, I came out feeling that I'm placing too much emphasis on self-centered traditions where instead this should be a season of serving, giving and a complete immersion into building the kingdom of God.
That's what the LORD came to earth for, that's why we celebrate this most magical and universal day.
The day the LORD stepped down from Heaven and to build His Kingdom Here on Earth.
Please enjoy the little production. May it bring a smile to your beautiful face and may it encourage you to praise God and thank Him for our little children.
I'm not quite sure about the timing of this trip. I suppose we could have gone to the craft store for some much needed supplies, or finalized the Christmas menu, or maybe even gone to the post office to send off our cards to our family in Portugal and Brazil (I'm postponing that inevitable long line. Is waiting to send them out until the 26th impolite? Oh, never mind! I'll go today!).
Instead we made a thirty minute drive up to Seattle to visit one of my favorite grocery stores, Uwajimaya, in the pouring rain no less. Not the kind of rain where the spray nozzle is set at "mist" or "soak", but with the cleaning power of "jet" mixed with that piercing wind that brushes debris off the asphalt and stings the cheeks.
We found ourselves safe and sound inside this little Asian world, oohing over the funny looking mushrooms and roots with holes in them (lotus), gawking at the aisle dedicated solely to ramen noodles, mesmerized by the mammoth sized tank of live crusteceans, trying to read Japanese unsuccessfully, salivating over the beautifully displayed bakery items and trying not to spend to much money. This Mommy felt like a kid in a candy shop, with all this deliciousness around us.
After shopping we dined in their busy food court. And I just had to ask the kids, "Which is better, Uwajimaya or McDonalds?!" They answered correctly and enthusiastically!
Korean Beef and Radish Soup
Bee-bim Bop served the right way, in a sizzling hot bowl.
After spending about twenty minutes in the produce section alone, we came away with some nostalgic fruit I used to enjoy during my childhood years in Brazil.
I used to suck on sugar cane as a little kid. It was sweet as candy and a cherished memory. Unfortunately, this piece didn't live up to that impression and wasn't sweet at all. The guava and starfruit, weren't ripe enough so they weren't as sweet as I remember either though they were still tasty. These tropical sun loving fruits can't be fooled. They know they've been moved to a cold howling windy state!
But in Northeast Brazil, you sure can't find yourself a fresh bowl of "Maguro Donburi", tuna sashimi served on a bed of rice. We sprinkled some shredded shiso leaf on top and ate it with a side order of seaweed salad. It's an easy peasy, healthy and delicious meal.
Now to finally sending those Christmas cards!
Our Advent Plans have not gone according to plans since Mama got the bright idea to get really sick. (All due to the busyness of the season I'm sure, and lack of sleep, which my husband has had the grace to not say, "I told you so!")
We're behind in the book and the puzzle hasn't been touched in over a week. And although, we've missed some Advent activities, the kids seem okay with it and have never shown any disappointment.
Yet, our home remains a flutter with the energy of three healthy little children and so other simpler child led activities have emerged.
Lovely ones I might add that are always better than what a Mama sometimes plans on paper.
Thalia has discovered the joy of embroidery and her little hands are eagerly making more every day.
When Mama makes oatmeal muffins for breakfast, a secret little elf throws in some chocolate chips when she's not looking! Now, why didn't I think of that!
When Mama asks for help mopping the floor I get an exhuberant volunteer who decides to dry the floor in this sensible way!
My new handmade apron!
Modeling! I forgot that was there. That's what happens when bored boys go hunting through closets and discover the incompleted Trojan Horse from last school year.
Aaah! The Great Train Expo. It truly is fun for the whole family, for an hour at least!
And of course there's some time for popcorn and a movie. We watched "Arthur's Christmas" which is sure to become another Christmas favorite.
Our Christmas Village was in need of some inhabitants!
Broccoli Soup was requested! I kid you not!
And then there's always time for some squatching! You can't visit this here little blog without me mentioning that play theme!
Wishing all my Friends and Family a Wonderful Advent Season, planned or unplanned.
Off-coursed and much better for it yours,
The Christmas season has begun in our home. A bright tree glows in our living room, there are carols in the kitchen and in the car, the first chapter of our Advent book has been read and all the jigsaw pieces of the Advent family puzzle have been flipped right side up in preparation for the 1000 piece one month challenge with the positive side effects of plenty of family togetherness.
It is time to set our hearts firmly in the celebration the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in time past and in the hope we have for the future.
It is time to cherish these days of childhood innocence and expectation.
It is time to enjoy the fun traditions of the season, one day at a time, with a full dose of a stress-free spirit.
These twenty four little boxes, which I made last year and they somehow managed to keep themselves in tact from a package loving little six year old girl, are being used again this year. After all, I've declared it to be a stress-free season and recycling always helps the cause.
I filled each box with an Advent Activity for the day, starting with today's which was the unwrapping of our White Mountain Puzzles O Night Divine jigsaw puzzle and the unveiling our Advent book, Jotham's Journey: A Storybook for Advent, a great book filled with cliffhangers that makes storytelling appealing for the entire family.
Other boxes have notes with activities such as:
Keeping the stress-free theme in full force during this busy month, I liberally allow no condemnation upon myself in case said ambitious list doesn't realize but rather I shall ever so stealthily replace the days activities with little Hershey kisses and call it a day!
Oh, shout it with me! May it be a Joyous and Happy Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ!
Even in the slumbering month of December when the skies are grey and the abundant wildlife hibernate at the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge there are plenty of treasures to discover:
The fresh air, running children, climbing children, laughing children, a distant eagle and a brave not-so-distant great blue heron.
The mallards are plenty and always beautiful to watch while even the ordinary gulls capture our attention as they impressively park themselves in the wind.
And then there are the rewards celebrated by all as we climb into a warm and dry car and then snuggle up with some hot tea with toast and honey upon our arrival home.
These wintry months are welcome in this place.
You're gonna miss this
You're gonna want this back
You're gonna wish these days
Hadn't gone by so fast
These are some good times
So take a good look around
You may not know it now
But you're gonna miss this
- Trace Adkins, You're Gonna Miss This
My husband sings this chorus often to me when I'm having some of those not so good days, when I lose my creativity and patience raising my three spirited kids. Oh I'm so blessed to have a man who so gently reminder and who will so kindly intervene with this little melody.
Then there are days when the turmoil still exists but I don't need reminding of the miracles of our many moments, and gratefully, I have more of those kind of days. The song plays naturally in my head as I take time to record these snapshots and freeze them into my heart. Every now and then I'm fortunate to record them in a photo too.
These are the Good Days!
What a treasured time this holiday has been. As busy as it has been with the traffic jams, cleaning, baking, cooking, the internal conversations to quit stressing over the gravy and my annual ultimate challenge...serving all the dishes hot off the stove, oh and I can't forget the amplified dishcleaning in honor of our three month old dishwasher which decided to malfunction three days before this Thankful feast (and the earliest service will arrive is late next week), it's all good and it is so worth it.
Yes, to dwell in that moment when the family arrives at our doorstep , we exchange embraces and my kiddos are giddy beyond measure to greet their cousins.
To sit at the table with an exhale of completion, hold my sister-in-laws and my son's hands and earnestly pray in gratitude for this time of togetherness.
To sit by the fire next to my husband and listen to our growing and talented Colin play Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" along with his guitar playing cousin.
To sing karaoke, all of us, and watch our reservations melt away into honest to goodness fun.
And to say goodnight only to hear that immediate plans have been made to reconvene for the next day!
Togetherness leaves us wanting for more and the holiday season is only beginning.
With the constant clouds hovering over Seattleland these days evening is arriving too early, leaving us yearning for some light and if I may say, some zing in these dark days! Putting up our artificial alpine white Christmas tree was just the cure for this gloomy night. With the lit up tree and the fire burning I was more than satisfied to recline and busy my hands with some working needles, but a tree can't remain bare with little ones in the house!
The excitement was more than they could handle so I laid an ornament box out for them to dig into and they raided into it like fire ants over a dead mouse (that may be a gross analogy but I think it's the nature Mom in me!). Thalia dashed to hang up her own creations from yesteryear; Colin tore into my Star Trek memorabilia playing with each vessel as they made their way into the alpine galaxy and little Declan followed their example quickly learning the appropriate procedures and pinning up the glittery stuff!
Oh the excitement and the busy hands!
So I, I sat back and watched with one hand tying up string on demand and with the other snapping away on my camera capturing the giddiness and joy I never want to take for granted but breathe in and enjoy completely.
And when the raid was complete, when the boxes were laid empty...
and when all was hung up and when the zing rush had died down, we circled the tree, carolled, admired the glow and reminisced...
over handcrafts made with friends,
five year old creations...
gifts from Grandma...
treasured wedding gifts...
Let's not forget the boys favorites...
and Mommy's pre-kid phases...
bells that really do jingle...
and the pièce de résistance for boys and girls alike, a present from Santa, the Polar Express!
Was I at some point feeling gloomy today? I can't remember!
Oh Happy Day! Finally after five weeks she can now return to her tumbly life, hold her drawing pencils in her right hand, swim and take showers. It was so good until the cast actually came off and surprisingly, she was in alot of discomfort. It's obvious now that I think about it but I should have expected that since her little arm was secured in one position unable to move for five weeks. Little tears were shed as she gingerly cradled her sore arm for a few hours but hour by hour I noticed her releasing the arm and it started to learn how to bend again.
By the evening, (and this should have been no surprise to a Mommy) I was already reminding her to not jump on the bed or wrestle with her brothers since she was warned to take it easy for the next few weeks.
Time to pray for no more accidents and yes the ER bill did arrive and it's not pretty! But she's safe and sound. That's all that matters.
We returned home today from an absolutely lovely and restful (minus the broken arm and asthma. but I'll get back to this in a future post. I won't leave you hanging forever!) visit with our northeast family.
Lovely because Uncle Bill's bear hugs still rock, Grandma 's kitchen is still a cozy conversation spot, I got to spend a weekend with my adorable and perfect Godchild, and hike mountains while gasping for air with my energetic nephew. I'm blessed, truly blessed!
Restful because our wonderful family reminded us of what it feels like to be ten years old again, kind of anyways! Great-Grandma, Mom and Pop, Tios and Tias and especially an older and wiser sister lavished their care upon us and spoiled us marvelously for two weeks! On their insistence that we rest (really? Ok!), they cooked delicious meals, took us out for ice cream under the harvest moon, drove out of their way for my Starbucks fix, drove six hours round trip to dine and spend the afternoon visiting, gave up their bedroom, babysat so Joe and I could have our first dinner date in seven months, went for long country walks, played Uno and Battleship a thousand times a day, planned apple picking adventures (tried a delicious Macoun for the first time, yum), took the kids on wagon rides, taught kids how to drive tractors (!), took the kids four wheel driving, hosted cook outs, , postponed birthday parties just so we could participate, and cared for broken arms and asthmatics.
Yes, I felt like a kid again under the love umbrella of my dear and loving family.
September is truly a month marked with reward and bounty. In this modern day of accessibilty, where the cycle of "want" to purchase to delivery can last only two days (any Amazon prime members out there!!), the planning, purchasing of supplies, seeding, caring, composting, replanting, watering, weeding and finally harvesting has taken us well into a six month process. We could have easily taken the five minute trip to the grocery store but what is the fun in that, right?
For us it has been about the process, the magic of seeds, the anticipation and excitement of the first sprouts, the discovery of the first fruit and the eager hands ready to harvest and taste these summer goodies.
I do it for them. Not for a commendable and necessary green agenda but for them. They drive me to to research planting schedules and fill up Saturdays hauling compost because I want them to connect with this amazing world God has created for our enjoyment. You can see, feel and taste his creativity and genius through even a garden. And hopefully, they'll love and appreciate His world a little more. Hopefully they'll adore and worship Him a little more as we celebrate our September Bounty.
We finally did make it back for blueberry picking. We stayed just long enough to collect enough blueberries for one pie and about two days worth of oatmeal accompaniments before we had to rush to a piano lesson, which the instructor was not there for!!!! Big breath! Be thankful in all things, right?! I'm still struggling to think of what that may be yet!
Perhaps we are simply to be thankful for an opportunity to go back. I, of course, wouldn't mind another pie and perhaps some blueberry jam. The kids on the other hand are begging to play with snakes. Apparently, they like blueberries as much as humans do!