Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Old Boxes

Ben and I spent an hour or so digging through a cupboard at my parents' house for Ben's old journal. I poked through boxes of my favorite childhood books, papers I wrote in college, my old sticker book, a handful of stuffed animals, paintings Ben and I made each other while dating, my journal from kindergarten, dolls, wedding notes and plans, photos and letters from high school. And for a few minutes we are 16 again, pink-faced in the snow on a winter retreat, in flannel shirts, running around Washington in easy familiarity, in early love --

Back downstairs, I hear Ben at the piano picking out songs like he used to, and my thoughts are drenched with so many comings and goings, summers in this house and late nights, the friends who still fill and empty it. A daughter on the rug smiling and flapping her arms calls me back to the room and to the task of packing. In the morning we'll leave this house again, not for college but for home, Ben and I and these two children we call our own.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

some of that cousin love

and Eden-

At the end of the trip

Finally, on day 10 of our trip east, both chillins are on their usual schedule and are napping at the same time. We are slowly gathering the gifts and socks and books and sweatshirts we have strewn about the house over the last 10 days and heaping them into a pile on the floor. I've bought bread, eggs, milk and peanut butter, to replenish some of the staples we devoured while in town. Ben is getting air in one of Kaia Joye's tires and her oil changed to thank her for letting us use her car as our own. There are many little things to say thank you for and many quiet goodbyes. (and really loud ones, if you are Silas giving them).

I can't imagine how Silas will ease back into our life and routine. In fact, i think there will be no easing but more of a thunking. For the last month he's been swept into a frenzy of non-stop celebration -- birthday parties (why so many birthdays in December??) with moon bounces, pinatas, train rides, chuck0-e-cheese's! There have been visits to Santa, first cups of hot chocolate with whipped cream, plane rides, train rides, cousins, aunts & uncles, god-sisters, more cousins, grandparents, gifts and gifts and gifts, train sets, more aunts and uncles, LOTS of sugar, ice cream, cake, candy galore, guns to play with (I have a lot to say about this, and have bit my tongue so far...), movies, on and on. (exhausting, isn't it?) For a while there, each time he climbed into bed he'd ask "what will we do after THIS nap?" And even if I could delay it, I couldn't really temper his excitement because there always was a next thing.

Tomorrow we will be home. The days will be l o n g because of the time change. The sugar will be gone. The cousins and grandparents and aunts and uncles (some of them) will be gone (SOB!). The DC friends will be gone and the constant adoring audience. The anticipation will be met with no firework-events, and we will settle back into home.

I've never had to manage the post-holiday time for a child before. And I've never felt the jolting gear-shift quite so jarringly. I already feel the withdrawal of leaving the busy visiting/playing/running/buzzing. And also the relief of leaving it behind us for a while. Parting really is such sweet sorrow.

The sun is out today. The breeze is quiet and chilly, and the sky is flat-blue, no clouds. Cleansing weather. A New Year lies ahead. I am ready to fly across the country, to detach from all locations and move through an overview for a few hours. I am grateful for a new year, that there is day we stop and look around and within, evaluate whom we are choosing to be and how we are shaping our lives.

I am ready now to unwind, to leave packing and gathering for later and to go stroll under the wintered trees.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of our dear Savior's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,

For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees!
Oh hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Chris was born.

Truly he taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His Gospel is peace.
Chains He shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!

O night, divine!

Monday, December 08, 2008

People over Program

One things I learned when I worked on high school staff with Jim Byrne is "people over program." (Jim had a way of boiling concepts into catchy phrases that I haven't been able to shake that still pop into my mind at opportune times -- people over program, lead from within, if you're not 5 minutes early you're late...). People over program means just that -- when it comes down to it, the people are more important than whatever great thing you are planning or working on.

This is the season when my DO tendencies are off the charts. True for a lot of us. The little Christmas-season voice pipes up incessantly: MAKE Christmas cards! FIND ribbon! START packing! RETURN those t-shirts! RUN to See's chocolates! BUY stamps! WRITE a grocery list, a gift list, a card list! MAIL presents! CALL a babysitter! GET ONLINE and order books, or toys, or etsy gifts!

The problem -- and great fun -- is listening to that voice and GOING! It's chilly. We are wearing sweaters. We stop for coffees. We fill up on cheap gas. We jump start the economy with all of our buying. We cross things off our lists. We, the people, are going!

And the problem -- and great fun -- is that I have two wee children who are interfering in all this going. I find -- as so many people have found before me -- that when I turn the focus of my day away from them and to myself, without fail the day becomes wildly bumpy and my patience instantly paper-thin.

So my true task is to boil down the fluffy-marshmallow-Christmas-excitement and sip what's really important: Silas and Eden (and the Christmas cards and present-buying -- see? this is hard to let go of). But I know The cards will get written and sent. I will finish gathering presents. My giant suitcase will be stuffed. Realistically I can hammer each of these out in a focused hour or two. What I can't do is rewind the month to refocus on Silas and Eden.

The quiet pressing fact is that Silas won't always ask me to play with him on the rug. Eden won't always be a smiling, squealing baby banging toys on the floor. They are actually what is fleeting; the season will come back around next year.

And so, once again I'm reminded to put my people over my programs.
[Thanks, Jim.]

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


Here are some pictures from the last month:

Graham Cracker Houses

Today was the day for gingerbread houses.

Somehow they began like this: (no, a 7 year old neighbor did not come over and make these, I made them while Silas was napping... and no, I wasn't holding Eden, she was napping too)

There was some excitement about the idea of candy houses.

And each kid got a plate of candy like this:

And at the end of it, Silas's house looked like this, and all of his candy was pretty much gone:

Recipe for ROYAL ICING should you need it:

-3 egg whites
-4-5 cups of powdered sugar (I found closer to 5 was better for this project -- the drippy houses before candy were with only 4 cups)

Beat together.
Be sure to let the house set for a few minutes before you start piling on roofs and candy.