Tuesday, January 28, 2014

T-20 Years

Right now, most of the country is experiencing some kind of cold spell.  I hear it's 30 degrees in Florida and snowing in South Carolina.  Here in Spahnville, it's just bitter cold.  It's something like "feels like minus 30 outside" but honestly, once it's below zero, who really cares if it's ten below or ninety below?  It's all the same to me.  It's freezing cold-- the kind that takes your breath away and freezes everything in sight.  The kind where you can't drive your car without letting it run first or something bad will supposedly happen to it.  I mean, people's tires are freezing to the pavement.  What the what?    

It's January 28 and I'm already about to throw in the towel on winter.  It's no secret that winter weather affects me in mostly negative ways.  And honestly, I try, really try to make lemonade out of lemons. Or more accurately make snow cones out of snow.  But winter just seeps like poison into my soul.  I....Haaaaaaaate......It.  

But let's get some things straight:  I actually enjoy the snow and there are parts of winter that I find lovely.  I love Cross Country skiing.  I love snowshoeing.  I love sledding, and building forts and snowmen, and even taking long walks around the neighborhood.  I love the look of fresh, clean, snow.  I love the site of frost, heavy on tree branches.  I love winter sunsets-- nothing else looks so clean and fresh and alive.  I love sun-dogs and driving through ice-crystals.  The problem, is that we've had none of this recently.  We've had freaking colder than cold tundra like temperatures, where we all hole up in our houses and only see other people when it's absolutely necessary.  We don't hear birds, we don't see animals, we basically lose all touch with nature.  We look out our windows and see tracks and droppings and other evidence that we still share space with nature, but we're just entirely cut off from sharing the world together.  This makes me sad and mostly irritated.  This is why in T-20 years, we are moving to California.

I'm hoping for San Diego, but apparently housing is expensive and we're not millionaires.  Our alternatives are Arizona, Texas, Florida, and on most days, I'd even settle for Arkansas.  As long as we're somewhere we can actually "live" during the months of December, January, February, and March.  And maybe even April.  By "live" I mean be able to go outside, walk, run, swim, kayak, canoe, sail, fish, get fresh air, see the sun, see other people, experience all this world has to offer.  We'll write letters to and Skype with those who choose to stay back here with ice scrapers and remote starts and electric blankets.  And maybe, in 20 years, enough time will have gone by, that I'll think back fondly on these icy winters that I weathered in my past.  (But I seriously doubt it.)  

Until then, we'll just settle on taking some January vacations. (Not this year, unfortunately.)
Taking in the views of Arizona (January, 2012)

Soaking up sunny San Diego (January, 2013)

Friday, January 24, 2014

Healing is a Matter of Time....

This is where I am now.  In this strange space where healing has met opportunity--in the most abstract of ways.  I can't even quite explain it but I'm going to try.  (Apologies in advance for what's sure to be a rather wordy post.)

The 24th of the month:
One year ago, on January 24th, I was figuring out the most creative way to announce our exciting news.  But as I scanned Pinterest, my body sent me a message that I could stop racking my brain, there wasn't going to be a celebratory announcement after all.

Then, exactly five months later, on June 24, (which happens to be my late grandfather's birthday) we had a "routine" ultrasound that proved not-so-routine.  We saw a perfect little plum-sized object, with a perfect little yolk sak, but the perfect beating heart had ceased.

Even now, thinking of that image on the screen makes my eyes water and my breathing become shallow.  I'm not sure I'll ever forget the way the doctors and nurses silently filed out of the room--to give Mason and me...a moment.  I know I'll never forget the way my eyes caught his and I buried my head into his chest and literally sobbed that this was all my fault.  He tried to shhhh me and reassure me that wasn't true but I told him, (and I believed), that I had caused this miscarriage.  I had wished the baby away.  I had stopped a perfectly little beating heart from beating for 80 or 90 more years.  My brain, filled with worry and doubt and anxiety and unease must have seeped that nasty poison down throughout my body.  I pictured it lining my uterus and making it impossible for anything to survive. My thoughts, my body...me. I believed with 100% certainty that I had caused this.

And people let me cry and tell them that I had caused the loss and they all said things like, "No sweetie, you did not cause this.  We don't know why these things happen.  Bad things happen to good people.  We don't know why that happens either."

I'm not sure how much time passed after that second miscarriage before I had a sudden and almost uncontrollable urge to not just take care of myself, but really fight for myself.  And I don't just mean eating better and exercising more, but really getting back in touch with who I am.  Somewhere, over the course of the last few years, I let the "me-ness" of me slip away.  I can't pinpoint when this happened-- it's been slow and gradual.  But last summer, in the midst of grieving and living and writing, I realized how much of myself I'm missing.

What did I used to do? What did I love? What inspired me? How did I play? How did I create? How did I find happiness?  I've always have the ready-made answers to these questions (I love spending time with my friends and family, my hobbies include reading, writing, and spending time outdoors. I love crafty stuff and good food and good wine.  I miss my dog and will someday talk Mason into being a dog family again.) But there's got to be more to it, right?  I mean, Who am I?

For so long, I had felt like I was swimming upstream, and not making any headway.  What's my purpose? Who are my close friends? Does everyone find mothering difficult?  Is marriage a roller-coaster for everyone?  Am I okay? Is being "just okay" okay? Where do I belong? Why am I so anxious?  My job was trying and often left me feeling frustrated and overwhelmed.  Why couldn't I handle work?  My four-legged best friend was suddenly absent, after ten years of her steady presence literally at my heels.  Does everyone feel this much pain after losing a dog?! Does everyone feel this much grief after a miscarriage? I had lost two babies that I wasn't entirely sure we were ready for.  Was something wrong with my body?  What was wrong with me? Why was I grieving these miscarriages like they were live births? Or like they were children I had known and held and giggled with?  Other people had survived far worse things than me, what was wrong with me?

Ecchart Tolle wrote,  "When you live in surrender, something comes through you into the world of duality that is not of this world."  Last summer, I had no choice but to surrender a bit.   I had to let go of everything I just wrote-- the worrying about who I should be, the anxiety over nothing, the fear of not being enough.  I needed to give up the plan that I had so meticulously mapped out for our family.  I had to give up the ideas of what the future should look like.  I had to surrender to the authentic me and stop comparing our lives in Spahnville to those of others.

And like the Buddhist proverb so simply and profoundly states, "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear." After making the conscious decision to surrender, my teacher appeared in the form of a 21 day online Meditation Challenge being offered by Dupac Chopra.  I loved the idea of a beginner meditation class-- and anytime someone gives me a challenge, I'm much more apt to participate.

So I began listening to the guided meditations every morning.  During the summer, my "schedule" combined with the early sunlight gave me plenty of time to walk outdoors and then meditate on our warm, quiet deck.  At first, my brain balked at the idea of sitting in silence.  My mind wandered and thoughts drifted in and out incessantly.  I found myself making to-do lists and daydreaming about the upcoming day.  I felt discouraged and frustrated about forgetting to concentrate on my breathing and the sanskrit mantra.

But over the course of a few days, I began to settle into the quiet-ness of meditation.  I still noticed random thoughts interrupting my quiet time, but rather than battling them, I acknowledged them and let them silently drift by.   I inhaled and exhaled and relaxed.  I took notes, journaled my feelings, and recorded new insights.  I found myself noticing more-- the words people used, the lighting in the sky, the sounds of summer slipping away.  I kept a journal of profound quotes and strangely enough, they seemed to be made especially for me on that particular day.

For the first time in years, years, I started to feel connected to everything.  I found it in that space between thoughts, when you let your mind stop thinking, stop articulating, and just feel and sense and be.  This feeling was especially present when I was able to sit outside among birds and animals and plants and grass and a bean field growing right next to me.  Slowly, I began to remember the person I had forgotten in the past few years.  I felt a surge of creativity, an appreciation for art and vintage finds, and the need to do for others.

It was during those moments of silence, that I slowly began to surrender to the unknown future, and then eventually trust my body again.  At one time, every thought screeching through my brain revolved around another pregnancy and the 100 page list of "what if's" that I couldn't stop producing.  But slowly, those thoughts lessened.

I started to trust my instincts again-- for me, for my family, for others.  I started carving time out for myself.  I started to allow myself to be more authentic-- to acknowledge and accept the feeling I'm having at the moment, without comparison to others.  I stopped apologizing for doing things for myself.  I let the mommy/wife/teacher/friend/sister/daughter/everything-to-everyone guilt drop like a lead balloon.  I allowed myself to make my wants (not just my needs) a priority in our family.  And I started to feel-- really feel, for the first time in a long time.  I suddenly felt in control of the ship (or at least riding along in the bridge) rather than just weakly tethered behind it.  It dawned on me that had these miscarriages not occurred, I might not have received the nudge needed to get me to this point. How long would I have wandered through my life in this half-awake/ reactive way?  In many ways, I woke up last summer.

At this exact moment, one year after the first miscarriage, the grief of loss is not present, but I'm sure the memory of that grief will never completely go away.  I have no answers about what our future holds.  But really, who does?  I feel like the only thing I know for sure, is that we have this moment.  Last night, I watched the sun set quickly in the Southwest sky.  (Aren't icy cold winter sunsets the best?)  And as I try to remain grateful for the present, I realize that the future is like a sunset.  It's something that has an abstract similarity from day to day, but changes in color and intensity and even visibility.  I look forward to the future, but know that it will always be a little elusive, like the unknown of the next sunset.

Many mornings, I still wake up early-- not to jump on the treadmill or head out for a run, but to meditate quietly in our little guest room.  I light candles and think of those little souls who ultimately challenged me to get on with life again.  Five months ago, I began a daily 20 minute ritual that has given me a sense of silence, peace, and surprising renewal.   At one time, I only wanted to erase much of 2013, but I've started to feel grateful for the journey of last year.  As we enter 2014, I bid farewell to 2013, and even allow myself to feel hopeful as the future sunsets reveal themselves--knowing that things will turn out just fine.

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Day the Naps Went Away

At some point in the recent past, C officially un-officially stopped taking naps.  We had a good run, the naps and Spahnville.  And quite frankly, I'm equally sad and thrilled that most of our napping days are behind us.

For the most part, C transitioned to this new lifestyle pretty effortlessly.  He went from napping daily, to napping every other day, to napping just a few days of the week.  We instituted "Charlie Time" during nap-time, where the only rule is that he needs to stay in his room, playing quietly.  He challenges this sometimes, but usually not without some kind of justification.  ("I need my green guy so I'm coming out to find him.  I can do that, it's okay even though it's Charlie Time.")  Other times, he blatantly refuses to participate in resting or Charlie Time. (I think I don't want Charlie Time or nap-time.  I'll just choose just to stay out here.)  But for the vast majority of time, he plays in his room while the timer ticks down from 60 minutes.

This new free time has opened up our afternoons-- those once strictly reserved for napping.  We now venture out, grocery shopping, running errands, or walking lazily around the block.  We bake brownies and do laundry and every once in awhile I'll over-achieve and we'll make some kind of seasonal craft.  Sometimes, when I go in to excuse him from his exile, I linger at the doorway.  I listen to him reading book after book, or rescuing his farm animals from his book shelf.  Sometimes, I watch him as he fits together a puzzle or sprawls out on his tummy, intently playing his "Lets Go Fishing" game.  Other times, I go in and scoop him up into my lap and ask him if I can read the books to him, or join in his game.  Sometimes he allows it, other times he asks me to go away and come back in a few minutes.  And I smile, and chuckle, and think, "Wow, this little person has his own needs and wants and is old enough to articulate them in a pretty appropriate way."

In the evenings, his tank tends to run out of gas and he turns into a crazed wild-running animal, who appears to have been raised by wolves.  He's aggressive and short-tempered, and shows affection by head butting and squeezing.  By 8:00, his eyes are heavy and his body is limp.  He usually drifts off to sleep well before 8:30, something that never happens if he gets a little shut-eye during the day.

Last night, as I slipped out of his bed, I looked at him curled up under his cozy flannel sheets.  His knees were tucked up to his chest and his arms were wrapped protectively around his two most loved stuffed animals.  His eyelids twitched and he snored so softly, you had to bend down to hear it.  He looked so peaceful and sweet-- don't all kids when they're tucked in and sleeping for the night?  But he also looked so....big.  

Somewhere between dining on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and gaining the ability to go potty entirely on his own, Charlie transformed from a toddler to a little boy.  I'm not exactly sure when it happened, and sometimes (in the midst of a tantrum), I wonder if it actually has happened.  But then I glance again, and sure enough, my little chubby cheeked, squatty, blonde haired, grubby fingered toddler has thinned out and somewhat cleaned up.

In some tiny ways, I get a little achy thinking about what's behind us.  For the past four years, I've been curling into this tiny body at approximately 1:00 every day.  When he was a baby, I'd crawl into his crib, and nap right along with him (which sounds about as creepy as the "I'll Love You Forever" book).  But this momentary sadness is nothing compared to the excitement that comes with getting to know my little boy.  His personality is starting to shine, and his vocabulary constantly amazes us and cracks us up.

I love this new milestone in our family-- I love being able to spend meaningful time and interact with Charlie in the afternoon.  I'd be lying if I said I won't miss snuggling up together with books and a snack before drifting off to sleep in the middle of the day, always with his hand curled around mine and his little knees tucked up underneath both of us.  But I'm so grateful I had the chance to spend almost four years snoozing the afternoon away with this sweet little boy.  And now, looking forward, I'm so grateful to have two future years of afternoon downtime spent together.

Walks around the block on warm days...

Science experiments on cold days.... (float or sink?)

Shoveling on snowy days....

And hiking on sunny days.  


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Chain Reaction

Something from August to warm you up:

Golden Child

Child's Play

Play Date

Date Night

Night Cap

Love love love summer. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Little Boy With the Spiderman Shirt

Last night we attended a party with several other couples.  In total, there were thirteen adults, seven kids, and four infants.  Like most parties, there was good food, a plethora of drinks, good conversation and plenty of laughter (especially as the night went on).  For the most part, the kids played downstairs while the grownups kept things afloat upstairs.  I admit that I'm loving this new freedom in parenting-- the fact that Charlie can play independently from us while we enjoy adult company only fifteen steps away.

So last night, as I visited with the ladies, C pushed open the door and made a beeline for me.

"Mommy?  The little boy with the Spiderman shirt on was trying to hurt me."  His voice was soft and sweet, laced with just the tiniest hint of worry.  His blue eyes were huge and his lower lip trembled ever so slightly.

Shit.  I sheepishly glanced at Spiderman Shirt's mother and then bent down to talk to Charlie.

"Are you sure honey? What happened?"

"He was smashing things and smashing the floor and the playhouse and then he tried to smash me."

I gave Charlie my usual advice: "If you don't like how someone else is playing, then you need to tell them to stop in a big voice.  If they don't, then you need to find another toy to play with and move away from them.  If they hurt you, come tell a grown up."

As he headed back downstairs, I asked M to check on the activity in the basement.  I suggested he not interveine, but rather, just peek in from the stairs.  When M returned, he relayed the same story that Charlie had told moments earlier.

I'm finding myself in this situation more frequently, and unfortunately, it isn't getting any easier to deal with.  It seems that the majority of parents I know, who have three and four year old boys, describe their boys with words such as "wild, crazy, go-go-go, into everything, loud, rambunctious, rowdy, and noisy".  And while it's certainly true that C can be all of the above, he's much more a thoughtful, careful, rule-follower.

He loves to run and jump and crash and yell (especially in the company of his best friends), but for the most part, if we set a rule or an expectation, he follows it.  And if he does break the rule, he tells us right away.  ("Mommy?  Guess what I sneaked from the pantry?"  "Mommy, I'm playing with your sunglasses but I'm being very careful.")  He has rarely intentionally done something we just asked him not to do (although he does feign hearing loss extraordinarily well).  So when we set the expectation of how to treat others, he tends to follow accordingly.

While I'm proud of this, I know it's nothing that his father or I really instilled in him-- it's just his personality.  He's always been a bit cautious, a bit more apprehensive about taking the bait.  He's observant and thoughtful about the way the world works.  He's not the type of kid to push or hit or shove another person.  And yet, when it happens to him, this deep mama-bear instinct wants him to do exactly that.

When Mason asked Charlie, "If someone hits you, would you hit them back?" C's answer was, "Noooo!  I would never want to hurt someone."  And while I wish I knew more kids who felt this way, I also wish C had a little more initiative to protect himself.  I don't want him to be treated poorly by others or not be able to defend himself.  I don't want him to follow others without thinking, or feel that he always has to give in to what others want.  And I don't want to be "that mom", who's kid tattles on the others without solving his own problems.  So where's the balance?  How do we gently guide our children, teaching them to share and solve conflicts, without always jumping in and doing it for them?  How do we walk that line of "I'll help you this time v. You need to figure this out on your own, kiddo"?

As Spiderman Shirt's mother and I chatted, I mentioned this concern.  She seemed to understand, but laughed about the fact that her son is just plain ol' trouble.  Sometimes, I think it would be easier to admit that fact-- and definitely much more socially acceptable.  But for me, I often want to chuckle, "Yeah, I have such a rule-follower.  And if he said your kid hit/ kicked/ pushed him, then I bet it's true.  Not because my kid is better than yours, not because my kid isn't capable of lying to me, not because I have big ol' mama blinders on, but simply because my kid is a truth-telling, rule-follower.  And being the mama of a cautious one is just as hard on me as being the mama of a crazy one is on you."

Of course, I kept the thought to myself and Spiderman Shirt's mama gave the little Spidey a short lecture on hitting and sharing and things of that nature.  The boys ended up playing well together, right up 'till the clock struck bedtime.  And as we loaded up our van and scooped up our tired little three year old, I thought about the evening.  I know we'll face countless situations that will be similar, and I know I'll probably never loose the mama-bear pain that comes with knowing her kid was bothered-- no matter how small the offense.  But I hope we manage to teach Charlie how to stand up without pushing others over, how to be assertive without being controlling, how to lead when following is so much easier.  And ultimately, I hope he stays faithful to that personality so deeply rooted within him-- the one that really cares for others, thinks and considers and ponders, has an inkling for what's right and what's wrong, and really feels with all his heart.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

What Good is the Warmth of Summer...

This morning, Charlie wet the bed.  The distress call came around 3:00 am, and though I shot out of bed like the house was on fire,  I arrived too late.  Moments later, we had a clean boy, clean sheets, and a mama with insomnia.  So here we are.  And since my brain won't stop chattering, I find myself at the computer, sorting it out.  

John Steinbeck was quoted as having said, "What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness." ...... Meh.  I'm pretty sure I could live on the Equator and be perfectly happy without experiencing Tundra like temperatures.  But whatever, Steinbeck.  I get the point.

After all, Steinbeck is talking about life, right?  Without enduring struggles and hardships, we might just sail through life and all it's blessings without a passing thought.  Here's something: 2013 was a difficult year for me.  I struggled with parts of my j-o-b, I struggled with being a mama to a challenging three year old, I struggled with my own ideas of being a good wife and what that even means.  I struggled with the loss of our family dog, and wondered if normal people felt like their world collapsed when they said goodbye to their four-legged friends.  And on top of these "daily struggles" I had the experience of enduring two first trimesters of pregnancy, only to be sent home with plummeting pregnancy hormones and pamphlet titled, "Miscarriage; A Shattered Dream".  Sheeesh, so much for looking to brighter days.

On more than one occasion, I was ready to say "Good Riddance" to 2013.  I remember wishing the whole year would just end.  By April, I was begging Mason to move somewhere, anywhere, closer to the sun & warm weather.  I honestly felt like the continual grey sky and frigid temps were taunting me, daily pointing out that I'm stuck here in Iowa, like a turtle on a fence post.  In 2013, I decided I hated months that began with the letter "J"--for they were beginning to be associated with bad things in my life.  (January pet death, July due date...January miscarriage, January due date...June miscarriage.) And of course, this was an intentional act of the Universe as well.

But slowly, as six months of collected pregnancy hormones declined, I began to open my eyes to the blessings of 2013.  At first, seeking the blessings was like looking through Vaseline-covered reading glasses, but eventually the things in front of me began to come into focus.

Overall, we are healthy in Spahnville.  We have every need met, and most of our wants.  Often, when I'm dodging harried shoppers through Hy-Vee, I'm overwhelmed with the availability of food and amenities at my fingertips.  I realize that this luxury is far from reality for many people in the world.  We live in a clean, friendly town, on what may be the nicest block in the county.  We have caring neighbors who share the squash and tomatoes from their gardens, and bring us cookies for no reason at all.  We have a beautiful pool and several parks, all within walking distance from our house.  Our air is relatively clean, and maybe some day the farmers will get the memo to stop dousing our fields in chemicals.  We have endless enrichment opportunities for our son, and last year we watched him participate in swimming lessons and soccer for the first time.  We have the ability to travel, and have done so every year-- exposing Charlie to new places and sights and sounds that are so different from our own.  (Imagine! A state where it doesn't snow in January!  Yes, my son... that is the beauty of California.)  We have family and friends who call and text and email, ever reminding us that they are near and we are loved.  And in our home, we have singing and dancing and running, tickling and laughing and jumping.  And lots of farting.  We have soup made out of craft balls and rescue missions being conducted from door knobs.  We find plastic super heros under our pillows, and ragged Bunny in the pantry.  We have dozens of cozy blankets and more books than some small countries.  We have Despicable Me 2.  

And at the end of the day, we have each other.  We have you.  Though 2013 wasn't the easiest year, it had plenty of blessings, none of which have been lost on me.  And though I firmly believe that I could get used to a world without snow, Steinbeck was right.  The scars left from 2013 may serve as reminders for how sweet life is right now.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Ringing in 2014!

Before much more of this month (and year) slip away, I thought I should probably mention that we DID celebrate New Year's for once!  We all felt very festive and proud of our abilities to party like it's 1999.  Some of us even stayed awake until midnight (EST)!  And one of us (a'hem, charlie) would have stayed awake all night, had his mother not threatened to pack the bags and leave right then.  But, he had his fill of a fabulous evening and I guess I can't really blame him for wanting it to last a little longer.  Thanks to our wonderful friends for hosting a perfect kid and adult friendly shin-dig.  Cheers!

King crab legs and homemade mac & cheese!  It's what's for dinner. 
Is it bad when the kids call the shot glasses "party cups" and drink sparkling juice out of them? 
Most of the cool kids ring in the new year with a pirate sword.  
Confetti bomb!
She let them each choose SEVEN books.  She's craaaazy.
But there's nothing better than watching your friend love your kid. 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Still Smilin' ... That's What it's All About

One of the greatest things about our 2013 Christmas festivities was the lack of travel.  For the first time in my entire life, I didn't spend Christmas in my parents' house.  I'm guessing most people experience this milestone well before their 36th year, but heading "home" has always just worked out for us.  This year, however, we made a conscious effort to stay put.  I wish I could count the number of people I talked to who described their holiday break as "crazy" or "busy" or "too fast" or "frazzled"-- with the quick uneasy chuckle and the disclaimer of "that's what it's all about though!" tacked on the end like a last minute gift bag.

In 2012, our Christmas felt crazy and busy and fast and frazzled... and while we enjoyed being with everyone, in the end we had a cranky toddler and two exhausted (and maybe a little grumpy?) parents.  And a pretty neglected dog.  Is that really what it's all about?  Shouldn't Christmas be about hunkering down and just..... being? So this year, Mase & I decided we wanted to have as relaxing of holiday as possible-- with no traveling.  We want to create new Spahnville traditions and have Charlie's memories be filled of holidays at our home.  (That's not to say we won't travel again in the future.) Thankfully, my parents were supportive of this decision and chose to visit our house for a few days.  I know they love their own Christmas traditions, but realize that traditions change as their children begin their own.  (Sister and her family were planning on coming, but Miss N was sick so they stayed put as well.)

As you may have seen in the photo post, we had a lovely time.  However, we still needed to celebrate with M's side of the family in Dubuque.  After staying home for a week, the short jaunt over to Eastern Iowa was no problem, and we had another lovely celebration.

Is anyone looking?  (I love how his one cheek looks like a little chipmunk)

Slot cars!

Entertaining himself for a little while. 

Scrumptious!  (Grandma got C to eat all his ham!  How? By dipping in honey, of course.
Although C did say, "Well, it still tastes like meat." 

Spahn selfie.  

Just what we need!  A shoot-a-fly-with-salt gun.  Thanks Jeff.  

Testing out the frosting....

The finished product! 

"Hey kids, we'll give you candy if you try to act normal!" 

Silly Face.  Of course. 

Aunt Sherry made a "Charlie Minion" puzzle! 

She took to knitting right away.  Be still my heart! 

My little protégé 

C's cousins are a little older on that side of the family (especially compared to Miss N) and they were busier with big kid stuff-- like Minecraft and ipads.  And more Minecraft.  So there were a few times when his sweet voice would call out, "Can someone please play with me?" as he wandered through the house.  But for the most part, they were very inclusive of him and it made me smile to see him having so much fun with his cousins.

We had a gift exchange after a wonderful meal and then the kids (and Grandma) headed down to watch a movie.  As I sat upstairs with the other grownups and knitted, I thought "this is what it's all about".  The kids were so happy spending time together.  They were smiling and shouting and chasing and tattling and laughing.  They posed for pictures and snuck gumdrops from the gingerbread houses.  At the end of the night, they changed into jammies and snuggled into beds with each other, giggling way past their bedtimes.  And while we grownups smiled and rolled our eyes at them, something stirred deep within me--knowing that this is definitely what it's all about.     

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

All Smiles (aka: Christmas in Photos)

For once, I'm going to let the pictures speak for themselves.  I think they'll get the point across just fine.  But in case you were wondering, Christmas break was pretty freaking amazing in Spahnville. Take a look:

Christmas Eve:  Charlie & I were home alone.  With photo props.  Enough said.

Christmas Day: Santa came!

Definitely the gift of the season.  We haven't ever heard squeals of delight like that before!

Something sparkly for mommy!
Later that evening, the grands arrived.  Someone was just a tiny bit excited.  (As in, waiting by the door and pacing the living room, eager for the festivities to begin)

And things were pretty festive!

And look what happens when you give these people the photo props.  All sorts of crazy.

And why is it that we always end up playing in a gym over Christmas? Oh that's right, because we choose to live in the arctic.  (Well, might as well be, right?)

Don't worry, we did enjoy the blue skies for quite awhile.

I can't forget to mention that there was cookie eating, puzzle fitting, Sequence playing, cocktail sipping, and good conversation too.  And end the end, we even had a Silent Night.

Merry Christmas Everyone!