Monday, December 20, 2010

Sacredly Magic Christmas

I LOVE Christmas time. I have memories galore of the magic, the excitement, the beauty, the giving...everything. I've celebrated in two different countries on two different continents with gatherings both big and small.  I've celebrated in the middle of the snowy mountains of Maine, the tea highlands of Kenya, on the shores of the Indian Ocean, and in the rainy clouds of the Pacific Northwest.

It's not new information but it's new for each parent; celebrating with kids makes everything even more fun and more magical. This year The Princess is really getting what's going on around her. She got to help pick out the tree and we oohed and aahed over all of the decorations. I've caught her kissing her favorites more than once! My carefully placed display on the piano has been moved and rearranged more times than I can say and at some point Woody, from Toy Story, was added to the silvery glitter ornaments; the missing touch apparently.

We've walked through the fairyland of Zoo Lights and have an appointment to make a gingerbread house at a local coffee shop. Each morning we open another window in the Advent calendar (or two when I've forgotten to do it the day before!) and enjoy the surprise of what picture is hiding behind the flap.

We're singing Christmas carols all month long and this year I'm explaining a lot of them too. We've put out out all of my nativity sets and this year the Princess is playing with the non breakable ones and telling the story herself. We'll go to the Christmas Eve service and remember again why it is that we celebrate in the first place.

In the midst of all the excitement and magic, while decorating the tree and dancing to another Christmas song, I'm also caring for an infant. She sits on my hip contentedly taking in the sparkle, laughter and energy swirling around her. She's sleeps swaddled in my arms or in the basket at my feet. She forces me to sit and rest when it's time for her to eat. She's completely dependent on us for everything and it is such a privilege and a joy to be responsible for her care.

Which of course makes me think of Mary and Joseph and the privilege and joy they were given when chosen to care for Jesus. And my breath catches at the perplexing and profound thought of Jesus as a baby, like my own precious girl, and the magic of the season becomes so much more sacred and meaningful.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

An 80's movie star!

We built our house in Maine. I say "we" in a loose sense. It was my Dad's work of art but we kids were able to help with a few things. Have I mentioned the hauling of the wood?

One sunny day we were out on the build site and Dad handed us three kids hammers and nails. Free child labor! Our job was to nail the plywood subfloor to the basement beams. We started hammering diligently, a nail every few inches following the penciled line on the plywood.

Of course, the task turned into a small competition to see who could pound faster.

We were neck and neck until Ben let out a shout. Two hits and his nail was all the way in! Gretchen and I hurried over not believing him and demanding proof. He set up the next nail, gripped the hammer firmly and took a cleansing breath.


The nail disappeared into the wood, the head flush with the floor.

Amazing! Do it again just to make sure!


Again, the nail was firmly planted in the wood. We looked at him in awe. Our brother was the Karate Kid!  Ben proceeded to show off, testing his strength with another 20 nails and offering us tips as we tried to summon our own inner strength.

Excited over his new found skill and sure that Dad would be thrilled with it (and want to put him to real work. Imagine how quickly the house could take shape!) we called him over to watch Ben OWN the nail. Dad listened with amusement as we explained what had happened while Ben set up a demonstration. When the nail went into the wood like butter his eyebrows shot up in disbelief.

He took a closer look at what we'd been doing.

Turns out that penciled line wasn't a guide for where the beam was underneath... We went down into the basement and looked up at the new ceiling. A line of nails was poking through the plywood hitting nothing but air!

Sorry Ben, no Karate Kid for you. But man, it was exciting when we thought it was true!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

I'm a winner...and crazy too!

So...I've been busy this past month.

No, not with the new baby or the precocious 3 year old. I've barely folded my laundry and done the bare minimum in making dinner. I haven't even made any Christmas plans.

What then, you ask have I been so busy with? Well, on November 1st I happened to read a couple of blog posts about NaNoWriMo and then saw that a couple friends on Facebook had decided to take the challenge. Curious about this strange acronym I hightailed it over to the website (what did we ever do without the internet?) to find out what on earth they were talking about.

Turns out the November is NAtional NOvel WRIting MOnth and there's a big challenge on the internet to write a complete 50,000+ word novel in 30 days. CRAZY!

So of course, without any thought whatsoever, I signed up to do it.

That's right. For thirty days I have been writing like a maniac trying to complete about 2000 words every day. In between crying babies/preschoolers, laundry, vacuuming and diaper blowouts. I'm ridiculous, I know.

However, after much craziness, a husband who has now confirmed that I'm certifiably insane (but was supportive anyway! Truly!), and eyes that have been permanently dry and red for the last 10 days, I am a WINNER!

Yep, that's right. I completed a novel in 30 days! It's a first draft, it's rough and needs much work but I got an entire story down in writing; beginning, ending and even a middle. It's a big accomplishment and I'm pretty proud of myself.

Now I have to go clean my house.