Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Giftings :)....

Likely because of the legacy of my parents, some of my favorite gifts to give are hand made items. Growing up, we almost always had some home-crafted presents under wrappings. From doll clothes (that just so happened to match our christmas dress that year) to gorgeous pieces carved from wood, my house is still full of items that bear my parents "signature" in some way (my girls are still playing with doll clothes I used to cherish!) Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy getting and giving bought items too (the creativity is endless!!), but there's something about saying, "I made this just for YOU!" This year, between the fatigues of pregnancy, Sweet K's nighttime upheaval, and all around craziness of life, I wasn't able to do as many homespun gifts as I'd like. HOWEVER, I was able to squeeze in a few crochet moments :).....

This lovely scarf was a gift for my fashionista sister :).
She's always donning a new scarf or great accessories she's acquired somewhere.
Pattern: Mesh Posy Scarf

My second sister loves HATS! When I saw this funky pattern,
I simply could not resist.

Even Little Bro did not escape the crochet frenzy this year :).
Him & I have a long-standing love of classic Nintendo :)
and when he opened his gift this year, he laughed and laughed...

I had a lot of fun putting them together, and have already started more hats :).

Monday, December 21, 2009

How can it be that another year has passed!!

This morning, as I sat in my chair, basking in the silence and the cozy warm glow of the Christmas tree, I pencilled into my journal...
Monday, December 21, 2009 - Mikayla's 4th Birthday!!
"Four years ago today we met Mikayla face-to-face for the first time @ 3:39 a.m. What a great way to start the day!! Today, 4 years later, I smile. It is 7:30 a.m., the house is still quiet (except for Sweet K's occasional  squeak :)...) and here I sit, absorbing the moment. Another great way to start the day!"

In the respite of solitude I found my grounding for the day. Life has been full. Which is fine. It's the wonky nights that throw me for a loop!! And, of course, we've had both at the same time. And I wanted to be able to embrace and enjoy this day. Little M's 4th birthday party. What fun!!

With a shudder, I recalled the chaos of last year!! Once again, I discovered the joy of perspective :). This year, I LEARNED A LESSON. Or two. Or three.
1. Pick an easier "theme" to find "goody bag items" for!!!
2. Head out a little earlier in the day. This prevents sob-filled break-downs in the Dollarama parking lot :). Even shopping with kids in tow is better than not getting in a visit to the bargain bins!!!
3. Make it simple.

It helped that J was home on holidays this morning. He was able to get the girls fed and dressed for the day so that I could enjoy setting the last few things up. It helped that I did things in bits and pieces this week (pregnancy drains whatever energy you haven't used up throughout the day!!). And it helped that I  started my day off right. Quietly :).

We had so much fun!!

Here is the cake I made to help celebrate the day.

Notice the time on the clock when I actually BEGAN this project!!
My friends, that is not a.m., but p.m.

Two round little cakes awaiting icing.
Please take note of the nicely arranged spice cupboard.
It doesn't always look like that :P.

One hour later....

Little Tink, sittin' pretty!!

After a few short hours of sleep, it was time for the Big Day :). With a little "decorating" done the night before, this is what Little M woke up to on her special day :)...

The bargain store had little confetti in the shapes of Tinkerbells
that are actually STICKERS! Bonus :). This year we saved all those
"confettis"to be used on various craft projects :).

The few days before her birthday, Little M assured me in ALL seriousness that you simply
Birthday party
Of course, the one thing I HADN'T bought!!
Good thing we were planning to go shopping one more time :P.

These have to be my favorite finds!! Little Tinkerbell wings and wands!
These were part of the "goody bag" however, we also used them for a game --
The Dance of the Fairies!
Strap on the wings, crank up the worship music and let 'em fly!!!

My two little sweet peas :).

All in all it was a fun day. There were lots of giggles from every one :). What a great way to kick off the holidays!!!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Most Gracious Soul...

The past few days have been a whirlwind!

On Tuesday night, Sweet K decided NOW was the time to work on that 2-year molar. Sigh. I was up with her, no word of a lie from 12:30am-5:30am. Oh yeah, there was a brief break around 3, however Little M decided that she needed some TLC too, which also ended up disrupting Sweet K's slumber once again. Short night, followed by a looooong day :).

Wednesday included Little M's dance recital, which is a post all it's own! I'll save that precious saga for a different day!

Wednesday night was a bit better, however Thursday had many an adventure of it's own. A preschool christmas party in the morning (unfortunately I forgot to talk tylenol BEFORE, and certainly needed some AFTER!!), a quick lunch stop at home and the OFF to the city, all gals together ;), for some shopping fun? craziness? errands? :). At Dollarama I was convinced that instead of bringing Little M along, I'd grabbed an octopus instead!!! With incredible speed and accuracy, she was loading things I DID NOT WANT!!! into our stroller cart, which was getting all mingled up with things I did want!! AHHHH!! We scored some adorable bargains though (can't WAIT to do the post on Little M's upcoming Tinkerbell birthday party!! I am soooo excited!!) so it was worth it. Next stop, the MALL! A different mall than I'm used to, but the only one that had stores that I could call ahead and put items ON HOLD ;)! Off we trekked - and of course, on the way TO the bathroom, we pass by the PET STORE! We just had to watch these adorable pooches bouncing around for attention. Following the pit stop, the whining chatter was temporarily appeased with a snack. YEAH for snacks :). 2 hours later, after several tears, a few attempted getaways and some great finds :), we were headed for home. For a late supper. Which I had yet to put together.

Have I mentioned yet that the aforementioned tylenol had worn off right about now :)?

We were sharing a family dinner and there was a light knock at the door. I almost missed it, but so glad I didn't! There was a lovely, gracious soul, bearing the gift of HOME MADE COOKIES!! And not just 3 cookies, but THREE CONTAINERS -- BIG CONTAINERS!! -- of home made, delightful, sugary, tasty yummy CHRISTMAS COOKIES!!!!! After reading my last post, this kind person decided that she would bless me with baking! I'm not sure what thrilled me more --- having someone read my blog ;P or the fact that someone wanted to honor my family and I with such a gracious gift. My kids eyes were as round as saucers when I'm showed them!! All Sweet K (who is still teething and not eating her dinner very easily!) could say was "DAT DAT DAT DAT DAT DAT DAAAAAT!!!"and Little M squealed with delight. J looked pretty happy too!

It was so humbling to receive such a gift. I wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry! Either way :), however I choose to relax this evening, it will DEFINITELY include a tasty cookie treat!!!

You know who you are :). Thank you so much!!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Yuletide confessions...

I am allll about feeling ... cozy :). Some people gravitate towards beauty, others toward romance, and still others seek out heat and sunshine ----- I am thrilled with a cup of something steamy, twinkling lights, flurries, a soft turtleneck sweater and all things snug and comfy. Really. All this does my soul good.

I love the way fall colors blend into the first snow fall, when I get to reorganize my closet and whip out all my favorite sweaters and the old stand by pair of cords. This fall I had the thrill of unpacking my maternity clothes at the same time, delighting in finding the shirt I wore when Sweet K made her arrival and reveling in a few new-to-me items :). Good times!

However, this season brings with it some angst as well. A few confessions :)....

1. I don't really like christmas baking. Let me rephrase that. I don't like MAKING christmas baking. I really ENJOY eating it (especially when other people have put it together!!!). SO this year, I have abandoned the pressure-filled tradition of cookin' up something tasty and pretty. I might make a few favorite cookies, the kind that go over really well and I'm not tossing out the dried out ones at the end of the week :). But no major baking spree for me this christmas. I have decided to save this tradition for when it is meaningful for the kids as well. Then we can all decorate tasty treats together and craft our memories in fun!!

2. Christmas shopping stresses me out!!
- It is not because I don't enjoy giving people gifts. Because I do.
- It is not because J&I are NOT early shoppers. We shop the 2nd week of December (though we have r.e.a.l.l.y. detailed lists well before that - does that count :P?), and definitely the 3rd week. (I find that other people freak out about my not-finished-christmas-shopping far sooner than I do!!!)
- Full malls do not intimidate me (it's the -40 windchill with kids combo that prompts me to stay home!!). In fact, I ENJOY the craziness (well, maybe not the long trek across the walmart parking lot!). You see the funniest people! (Well, they see me too, so I can say that!!).
- The thing that stresses me out most is the fear of disappointing people! Nothing worse (okay, maybe there are a few things worse!!) than searching your heart and scouring the malls (or your own creativity) for the perfect gift, only to see that it was not meaningful at all to the one you love. And let's face it, some people are just plain impossible to shop for!!!

3. I really really really r.e.a.l.l.y dislike the question, "Are you ready for Christmas?" I know it's just a good conversation starter, like the weather or the things that your kids are doin' that are drivin' you crazy, but it chafes at me like a pair of tight leather pants on a hot summer day (not that I've actually worn such, but just the thought makes me shudder :P).

Why? Why does this bother me so?

- It adds to the perception that life is a race. The first person with their tree up and shopping done, wins. Sigh. I know this is not the intention of the question, but it's the pressure I feel with these kinds of conversations. Silly, but true.
- It triggers that aforementioned issue I have with gift-giving :P. And an ongoing issue I have with procrastination :)!!
- But mostly, because it's such a casual conversation that resonates deep meanings in my heart. This advent season I've been reflecting on material provided through our church conference. At first I was skeptical - would these short devotions be relevant (or understandable!!) for me at this season in my life? But they have spoken deeply to me. In the ambient light of the christmas tree, reflecting over coffee, journal and bible, I am challenged beyond the nativity story. I am called to examine again and celebrate with thanksgiving the freedom I've experienced because of my Savior (which has not been an easy journey). Increasingly, my attention has been drawn to the return of the King and the kingdom of justice, mercy and love He is beginning now and will establish in entirety at some point in history. And I am forced to ask myself questions - am I using the talents and time He has given for His glory? Am I truly surrendered to participating in serving Him, rather than getting lost in the distractions of life? In what ways am I contributing to injustice without even thinking of it? And more. So much more. I love the story of Advent - the liberty that came and the liberty to come! And I am challenged into self-examine, with no guarantee of what I will find and wrestle with.

Am I ready for Christmas? Go ahead - ask. I dare you :). I will smirk because it is a sticky question for me. Yes - I have lights up, garlands in place, I have lists like you wouldn't believe, some presents bought that I am TOTALLY PSYCHED about giving :) (others, I hope, that will do just fine!!) and I am on a christmas-baking strike, so that's one other thing off the list!! But am I ready for Christ's return? Yes and no. I cannot imagine that moment when I get to thank Him face to face for all he has done. Gives me chills just thinking of it. But no - there is much more person for me to become and much more that I hope to do in gratitude before that moment arrives.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The best 10 minutes of my day :)...

Yesterday was a good day, all things considered!
... I spent a significant amount of time in the kitchen, and all culinary concoctions actually turned out! (This is unusual. Typically I require therapy after coming out of the kitchen :P).
... I've been discovering the joy of finding myself "present" in each activity of the day - instead of rushing ahead or mentally working through situations that are not my present circumstance - I try to find the contentment of focusing on the "here and now." This slows me down, enables me to enjoy a moment (or not, if momma needs a b.r.e.a.k.!!), and helps me tackle the issue of the moment as fully as possible. I'm such a newbie at this, but it is freeing and exciting :)
... Little M's enthusiasm for the christmas program practice was contagious! One of the projects I tackled this year was to pull together a christmas program for our church. I love LOVE the creative part, pulling things together, allowing ideas to percolate -- and I get anxious ANXIOUS about the execution of it! However, yesterday I glimpsed that childhood wonder of christmas programs, excitement, anticipation - and it was contagious! I even squealed with delight myself :).

But the best part of my day was at 10:38pm. Little M should've long been asleep, but because of an afternoon nap, she was finding it difficult to settle down. I was getting quite exasperated already, and finally with threats of removing beloved stuffies if she ventured out again, I tucked her in one final time.
"Mommy, will you snuggle with me?"
Argh. Another stall tactic. "No. It's time for bed."
Being more of the "law and order" type, I tend to lean towards boundaries, consequences, etc. But as I sat on the edge of Little M's bed, I also realized that these types of requests will not last forever. So, I snuggled in and discovered the most precious moment of my day. She put her hand on my arm, scooched in beside me, tucking her head under mine. "Love you mommy." "Love you too, baby." In two minutes she was out, settled by the comfort of my warmth and nearness.
And there, when almost all my energy was spent, I discovered the best moment of my day!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Life's Unforgettable Moments :)!!

Every day, I wish that there are things I could remember forever.
If I could, I would gather these sweet moments that teach me or make me laugh right out loud and bottle them to keep forever and ever.
I know that I can never recall them all - or even a fraction of them.

Last week I had one of those moments.

It was the first real snowfall of winter. (We've had snow in October, but that didn't count!!) Little M could NOT wait to get outside and play. After tucking Sweet K in for her nap, I summoned as much energy as I could and out we went. While Little M made tracks in the snow, I swept off loose snow and shoveled off accumulated ice. We giggled as we skidded and slipped around :). We were heading through the garage to the fresh snow of the front yard when Little M slipped in her snowy boots and fell - directly bumping her tender, cold little cheek on the shovel. OUCH! Bleed bleed (any owie oozing red!!) was happening, so in we rushed, tears and all, to clean the gash right away.

Later that night, as we were saying prayers before bed, I asked Little M what she would like to thank Jesus for. Snow. Lights. What would she like to say sorry to Jesus for? "Mommy, tonight you need to say sorry to Jesus" was her reply! Ohhhhh? "What for?" I ask, suspecting she was thinking something specific, but unsure what it might be (after all, ain't I the perfect momma :P?). "For hitting me in the head with a shovel!!"

I laughed. And laughed. I also took her request seriously, explaining that our little mishap was an accident, but mommy could say sorry for not being more careful :P.

Sorry, Jesus, for those times in my day when my carelessness, ignorance or short-sightedness wounds another. Help me to be more care-full.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Our weekend getaway...

Let the detox begin :)....
The anxious twitch - what - or worse, WHOM!! - am I forgetting!?
Feeling slightly restless - is it wrong for me to just sit and veg in front of the tube :)?
The dull headache you've had for a while but just haven't realized it...
Ah yes. The affects of withdrawal from a busy life!

Last weekend J & I had the opportunity to spend a weekend at a cabin in the woods. It was delightful! The smell of pine trees and cedar cabin is truly divine. The quiet rustle of the wind in the trees, the deer right outside our cabin window, and the sugar-powder snowfall that greeted our eyes on Sunday morning - all wonderfully perfect. It was our first full weekend away without kids (the first in 4 years!!!) and it is something we shall do again :P. What, next weekend maybe :P?

It is hard to slow down, though. I had bad dreams about forgetting responsibilities and showing up late for everything. It is a challenge to intentionally slow the rush and resist the tide of "busy" that threatens to drown us all.

But it is so worth it.

When we picked up the girls from my parents, I asked mom if her ears were ringing yet :P. Mine, delightfully, had stopped somewhere along the way! She just laughed. Yes. They were :).

I desired to bring that unhurried pace into our week, but flus, bad nights, feeling downright crappy and trying to get back into routine reminded me that life happens, and the rest that happens in the midst of that can look different. A visit with a dear friend. Setting aside the towering list of chores. Letting the tears come if they will. Breathing.

The coming days will be full of good things, but full nonetheless. Here's to finding rest in the midst of it all!!


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