Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Bits: Love Came Down

Sure enough, for the second year in a row, Christmas went a little differently than we planned. 

The best laid plans...

I know, I know.  That's why I truly am refining the art of holding it loosely.

Instead of putting our packed by-the-door bags and tub of lovingly wrapped gifts to good use in the van's NC-or-bust trunk, we busted.  We hunkered down.  I refilled cups of electrolyte fluids, humidifiers of water and eucalyptus oil.  Rubbed menthol on little chests, administered honey and lemon and cherry bark herbs and pink goo around the clock.  Held buckets, swept strands of hair, took temperatures, continuously changed out movies, gave away early Christmas books and art tablets, read lots of "Little House," prayed and kept the washing machine humming and slept on the floor beside warm bodies.
You know, I was a Mom.

Though I hate to see my babies sick, there has been something special about all five of us sharing such an intimate space over this time period.  I mean we were living large by Saturday when a full day consisted of one short bundled up walk around the block, just a few DVD changes, the construction of cardboard box fairy houses, and several animated rounds of "Go Fish." 
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Come Christmas Eve and beyond, however, when we actually felt a good deal better... I couldn't help but recognize it, deeply and wholly.  Healing breaths of an important message, that touched me way down where it counts.
Feeling good enough to bake and decorate our cookies and Jesus' birthday cake. Yes! 

Love came down at Christmas.
That thought is deeply and wholly divine.

:: Sister Store took on a little different twist this year, to fit the theme that emerged, but we still earned us some "giving bucks" so each could shop for her sister up in the attic's "botique."  Again, the gifts from one another were hits as well as the self selected wrapping creations.
Veggie Tale shirts!  Christmas pj's were ditched the moment each received a shirt from one of her sisters.  Such great hugs and thankyou's.

:: We try to stick to three gifts each for the girls, sometimes with one bigger shared gift and a handful of stocking stuffers. I have been searching for this year's shared gift for three years now on Craigslist when, finally, what to my wondering eyes did appear?!
Wish I had been on the other side to capture their faces!  A real, wooden backyard playhouse (brand new in the box and talked down to a wonderful steal.)  Yippee!! I *always* wanted a tree house or such when I was little.  Thanks to Grandpa and Grandma for going in on half of this treasure!

 :: The day was spent together, playing and discovering.  We may not have been able to see our family, but we talked a good bit here and there on the phone with those we love.  Neighbors popped by bringing thoughtful gifts to the girls.  One was from sweet Mr. Fred, an elderly neighbor who fell off his retaining wall a while back as he was mowing, and the girls never forgot to pray for him until he made it back home.  Now he remembers the girls at every holiday with a card and a couple dollar bills stuffed inside.  It is precious.  For Christmas he included a handmade wooden Holy Family, and we really love it.  It is joy to my heart to see community every new place God plants us, little glimpses of Heaven- the place where all will be family even beyond shared DNA.

A few other little favoritey favorites:
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1.  Traditional Christmas morning fare.  2.  They loved their gift tags, sweet girls.  3.  I love stuffing the stockings.  4.  My favorite stuffer to make and theirs to devour.  5.  Hope's "Super Why" reading wand.  6.  Maddie's doll with earrings, a necklace, and removable Mary Janes.  7.  Alysse's Big Sister Dora with the twins... here the brother is being properly introduced to Baby Jesus.

But beyond the wrappings and shine, of course we celebrate the reason why such lavishness can be ours.  That every perfect gift is from Him, the very definition of love.  I celebrate, best of all, the gift of love that pulses within these walls.

A Daddy who, when his eldest finally feels like eating and really wants Chicken Minis for breakfast, rushes out to Chick-Fil-A in his pajamas and without a coat.  When his 10:34 arrival proves too late he sweet talks the employee into some empty cartons, the butter they use, and some nuggets.  Then he picks up take-and-bake yeast rolls, sneaks in through the back door, and concocts a delicious imposter.  She couldn't each much, but she sure loved them.

And one day I will love telling her the real story.

So thankful for our cozy, creative Christmas.  Especially since my girls' bodies did their things and got them healthy enough to really enjoy it.
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Lovely memory making to one and all.

Until 2013,

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Bits: Not for Granted

Leesie's Christmas Piggies, 2011

Every time one of my two bigger girls turns to me, usually in the dim light of bedtime, and asks a simple question it melts me into their very bunk beds.  Even if I've had a grumpy attitude because someone woke someone else up again, or someone spilled her water.  Even, and especially if, I've delighted in those last strokes of hair and nighttime prayers and wonder that is the three human beings God gave me for just a little while.

"Mama, what would I do without you?"

I can almost feel their hearts melt, little chests barely tighten as they ponder it for a minute.  Then weight gives way to happiness when they hear me reply, "No, sweetie, what I do without YOU?"

I know this feeling all too well.

I have a trio of bedtime songs that are often sung and among them is You Are My Sunshine.  Always when I come to the line about please don't take my sunshine away, my chest tightens a little.  Then it gives way to happiness because I see them there.  Their wet sheets, their reluctance to call it a night.  They are under my watchful protection and, for that moment, safe under my roof.

Dear God, I don't have words for the tragedy-- for the sunshine that was stolen this past week.  I cannot linger on it too much or for too long.  I am grateful for no cable, for limited internet forums because honestly I need to know this happened.  But I cannot know it too much.

For it will be too much.

I just know that tonight my heart, my tears, my prayers go to those mommies and daddies and families-- to all those little rays that should still be under roofs and spilling their waters.

And I know that tonight, I am so very grateful for the evidence of three baby girls in this house.  In the pile of sink dishes, in the mess of bathtub squeaky toys, in the stacks of books scattered about, in it all.  It's been a pretty quiet weekend here, one that comes with runny noses and tissues and soup, which gave me a chance to also really see the beauty in Christmas with my family.
A high privilege, the warmth of these bits.  Such miracles of life should never be taken for granted.
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Merry Christmas, our friends.  May you hug a little tighter, linger just a while longer, pray a bit deeper, celebrate the piles and puddles, take hope that there is coming a day when such evil will no longer be tolerated. When the darkness will be forever stamped out by beautiful light.
Atop the small tree right beside my angels as they sleep

May we all not take a single bit of it for granted.

Warmest blessings to you and all of yours,

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Bits: To the Van

Most of the time, I can handle my three wee ones out in public.  We like to stay home and we like to go too, so it is important I can get them out and about and back all in one piece. Like I said, much of the time we can go on adventures relatively unscathed.  Having had a great deal of fun, even.

Lately though we've had a couple of outings where my kiddos felt berserk or, rather, I felt berserk because of my girlies.  Granted it has been in large arena type settings where my missing third appendage was greatly needed.  But, true story, both times I've lost my cool and loaded everyone back in the van.

Phew.  Not fun.

I always say, babies-- sweet babies. Those people just want to eat, sleep, and be held.  It's the ones who are mobile and have opinions that get tricky.

Yet, it's the mobile opinionated ones that make this life so rich.  Their perspective, their wonder, their hilarity, their hearts, their questions, their little selves evolving right before our very eyes.

Them and a few of their bits:
:: I tell you, this past week had its competitive moments with the week before in stealing joy.  Grrr. A few times I had to break out the big guns.  Hand-me-down (but new to us!) sleeping bags + snacks + a Christmas movie/book marathon...
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= Take that, Sunday afternoon!  Even when I almost marched 'em out the van later on for complaining about my meatloaf.   But, since we were already home, I suppose that wouldn't have made a whole lot of sense.

:: My baking buddy.  She loves the apron, the messy hands, the creating.  Most of all, the time with just me as she proudly announces, "I'm Mommy's BIG helper!"
Right on, sweet girl.

:: Our efforts delivered.  Jolly little elf style.
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:: Time with family rooting for our nephew's team!  Made it to the Virginia High School State Championship. Go #74!
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:: Hot chocolate in to-go cups + a drive through live Nativity...
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= Take that, Friday night!  Loved it.

:: I also love giving with the girls.  Whether it's baked goods to neighbors, Operation Christmas Child, or Angel Tree-- it's sweet to watch their hearts for compassion grow.  Our shopping for Angel Tree started out awesome, Target popcorn combo in hand, but grew a little sketchy toward the end.  Alysse, in particular, almost made me march it out to the van.  But I knew we had pushed time limits so, boy, did we rally.
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Why yes, that is us-- up way past bedtime and wrapping gifts to Christmas music.  And yes, that is one gigantic tape-abused mess and three twirly crazy girls who could barely focus to take a picture.  Yet, oh yes, did I smile from ear to ear as they gushed over their selections and proclaimed how much better it is to give than to receive!  I guess that's what they call worth it.

:: I think I said this last week, yet it bears repeating.  Some Alysse Maribeth Martins.
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:: Christmas jammies, courtesy of Auntie Marcie who always blesses us with such goodness this time of year.  Christmas jammies visiting the library Santa surely kicked 'em up a notch.
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All things considered, there is no competition in reclaimed joy.

Even still, sometimes we just gotta get the kids to bed so we can eat Mexican and watch A White ChristmasIt's a Wonderful LifeElf.  All three.   These are refueling moments for me as I march on with my loud, lovely, opinionated, larger than life bunch.
Ack, they're awesome.

Even if I have to march it to the van a time or twenty along the way.
 ~ Katrina