Saturday, December 29, 2012

Had Ourselves a Merry Little Christmas

I just re-read my post recapping last year's Christmas, and I guess nothing ever truly changes. Christmas is always sneaking up on me, there is never enough time, and I took even fewer pictures this year than I did last year. And I didn't take many pictures last year!

But, no matter how sneaky and busy Christmas can be, we always have a lovely time when it comes right down to it.

We begin our traditions on Christmas Adam, and this year, we ended up spending about five hours that day making and handing out treats to neighbors and friends because I procrastinated it until the very last second.

Sophia ran upstairs before we left and came down decked out as a holiday elf. She was loved everywhere we went, though she kept asking me why everyone kept saying she looked just like an elf. Since that was her original plan, I'm not sure why she was so surprised, but she was certainly adorable.

Christmas elf

After we finished delivering fudge and peppermint brittle, we put on our jammies and our new silly Christmas socks to watch George C. Scott's A Christmas Carol. That is our Christmas Adam tradition, and I love how important these little traditions we have gradually started are so important to the girls every year.

Christmas silly socks

On Christmas Eve, we had our friends over for dinner and dessert. They brought over their Christmas jammies to open, and then we all listened to Amahl and the Night Visitors together. I'm thankful they were willing to share that part of our Christmas Eve tradition with us. I love listening to this little opera every year, and I love how much the girls are beginning to love it, too.

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We all slept upstairs together in the playroom, 'cause that's tradition too! I'm so thankful for children who value their sleep and sleep until 9:30, even on Christmas morning! We saw what Santa brought, ate a lovely (gluten-free!) breakfast of pannu kakku (just use rice flour instead of all-purpose), sausage, and eggs, and settled down for gift opening.

Puccini wasn't quite sure what all the fuss was about, though she did enjoy her own gifts of bully sticks and new squeaky toys. She also found all of the wrapping mess to be a comfortable place to take a Christmas nap.

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After gift opening, we started food preparations for our annual Christmas dinner with friends. We didn't host this year, but we had a lovely time with wonderful company.

And now I am treating Christmas break with as much laziness as is humanly possible. I was one worn-out woman before the semester ended!

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday and are being just as lazy as I am during your vacation.

Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

To My Six-Year-Olds

Last week's Newtown Tragedy has upset me more than almost anything I can think of in my life.  I was happily doing some Christmas shopping on Friday when my mother texted me and asked if I had seen the news.  She gave some brief statistics and I sat in my car in the parking lot, absolutely horrified.  And then I began to sob uncontrollably as I thought of all of those sweet, innocent children whose lives had been taken.  I thought of their parents and the absolute and indescribable grief they were surely feeling.  Today, I think of the children and teachers who survived.  The first responders (I don't even want to imagine).  Nobody will ever be the same.  I, who doesn't know a soul affected by the tragedy, will never be the same.  I have shed tears over it on a daily basis, as I know many of you have.  It has affected all of us.

I have a six-year-old.  Sophia, my first-grader, is bright and happy and amazing.  I love watching her learn to read and write.  I love hearing her stories about her friends at school.  I love her indomitable will, even though it is often exhausting.  I love her pout.

I love how she won't let me take her picture, even though I also hate that she won't let me take her picture.  I love her passion.  I love the way her smile lights up her little face.  I love how she heard her first grade teacher mention it was her birthday, and she insisted upon taking a present for her the next day.  And I love how she asked before she gave it to her, just to make sure, and found out her teacher's birthday was actually in July and brought the present back home because she was embarrassed.

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I love how she can navigate the iPad and the computer and the iPhone with an expertise that I will never have.  I love how she still sneaks down in the middle of the night to climb into bed with me.  I love how she puts together crazy outfits for the next day at school and sleeps in them to save time in the morning.  I cannot get her to wear PJs anymore except on the weekend (remember her indomitable will?), but whatever, it saves me laundry I suppose.

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I love watching her play her violin, even though getting her to practice is nearly as difficult as getting her to wear her pajamas.  I love the questions she asks me every fifteen minutes, always wanting to learn something new, and showing just how deeply she thinks.  I love how she gives me a hug and kiss in front of all of her classmates whenever I show up to volunteer in her classroom.

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I love that I could keep writing this list for another hour and come up with a million more things I love about Sophia.  I love HER.

Having all of that ripped away from me is unthinkable, unimaginable, unfathomable.  And yet, twenty sets of parents are having to think the unthinkable now.

I have two other daughters who were first-graders not so long ago. I have thought a lot about their little first grade selves this week, too. How blessed I am to have also known their 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade selves.  And Bria's 5th, 6th, and 7th grade self. 

Bria's first grade self, (just before graduating) circa May 2007.  It's the only time she's ever had such short hair, and she asked for the haircut because her cousins had had theirs bobbed and she wanted to be just like them.  She never liked it much, and has had long hair ever since.
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Chloe dressed as a witch for Halloween in the first grade.  And she told me that everyone knew she would be a witch that year because she was "a little bit evil."  But, in reality, she was the sweetest thing on earth and didn't (doesn't!) have an ounce of evil in her body.
So, to my six-year-olds, past and present:

I promise to love you more than ever.  To listen to you when you have something important to say, no matter how much work I have in front of me.  To teach you everything I know about the Gospel.  To pray with you and for you.  To hug and kiss you daily.  To read to you often.  To forget about all of my commitments and spend time with you--the dishes will get done eventually.  To help you with your homework without frustration.  To answer your questions truthfully.  To be patient with you.  To teach you how to do the laundry.  To teach you how to balance your checking account.  To teach you how to clean your room "Mommy clean," but to do it for you sometimes just because.  To make you real dinners when Daddy isn't home instead of macaroni and cheese.  To send you off to school with kind words, a hug, and a kiss, no matter how difficult our morning was.  To take you on more Mommy/Daughter dates.  To make a huge deal over your successes and help you grow through your failures.  To teach you to treat others with kindness.  To be an example to you of all things I want you to become.  To be the best mother I can possibly be.  To forgive myself when I fall and to do better the next day.

I may not be able to change what happened in Connecticut last week, but I can change myself.  I can remember how I have been feeling and keep my children closer than ever.  If, heaven forbid, they are ever taken from me too soon, I want to be able to look back and know without a doubt that they knew I loved them and have no regrets.

And now, to give my girls the best Christmas ever--maybe not because of the amount of gifts they receive, but because of the amount of love that is in our home.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

How I Know I Married a Musician: Part 8

Things are especially crazy for us around the holidays.  Concerts, concerts, and more concerts.

I was lamenting to the Maestro about all of the concerts, and several more still to come.  I somewhat wistfully pointed out that we would be so much less busy if our children did not take music lessons.

His answer?

True, but we also wouldn't make it to heaven.

I suppose he has a point.  Please forgive me my moment of weakness.  I will go to the Suzuki Christmas concert tomorrow with nary a complaint.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Would-be Snow Angels

We had a ton of snow this week!  It snowed for a week straight, after all.  I was hoping to do the Christmas photo shoot yesterday, but Sophia has had an awful case of strep throat since Thursday, and yesterday she was still feeling pretty icky.  I kept her home from church today, but then I decided we were going to have to do the shoot once everyone else got home, so I got her all prettied up and away we went. 

ANYWAY.  Wasn't I talking about snow?

All of the snow melted today!  Because the temperature was in the 40s and it rained.  On December 2!  What is the world coming to?

So no snow angels.  Just plain angels on the beach.  Beach angels.

(Bria was in fine form today!)

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Puccini didn't really want to cooperate, but I did get one good picture with her in it.  It's going on the Christmas card, though, so I can't post it yet.

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I love to see my girlies laughing and being silly together.

But then I asked Chloe and Sophia to kiss Bria on the cheeks, and this is what happened:

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By far my favorite photo in a long time.  Love it.

And I love them.  Aren't they beautiful?  And isn't it astounding how much they have grown from last Christmas?  When will it ever stop?

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PS  Yes, I've made it another Christmas with matching dresses.  I guess I won't say it will be the last year anymore, because I might surprise myself next year!