Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Christmastime is here....

Lucas and lights....could there be more holiday charm?

The angels meet at the tree--the consequences of a preschooler
decorating by clumping all ornaments into categories!

Kyra and Matt enjoying Grandpa's pickup truck,

after delivering another load of firewood!

A swirl of smoke rises from the chimney. Ah, warmth....

While a bit early for some families, the celebration is in full swing here in CT! Enjoy some images of winter and Christmas arriving to our home.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Giving thanks, all hour--day--year long

I'll admit it--I'm poor with transitions, particularly the little ones through which most people glide. Sunday afternoon to evening is tough for me, particularly after an extra long weekend at home. Around 4pm I feel my stomach drop a bit as I realize time is "running out"--time at home, that is. Though I love my work, I crave more time at home, and the Monday morning return to work always looms larger than it should.

It was looming particularly large when the kids began waking continuously from 2:30-4am early this morning. While Matt did all of the getting up, soothing and comforting, those constant wake-ups (resulting in Matt resting on the couch downstairs and both kids on top of me in our bed at 4am) gave me more than enough time to ponder that yes, indeed, Monday morning was very nearly upon me. And approaching Monday morning from a state of sleeplessness is all the worse, typically.

As is often the case on this blog and in my life, I decided on my drive in I needed to extend the Thanksgiving holiday....I needed to express my gratitude on this, a sleepy, stressful Monday. It's easy to say a grace of thanksgiving when surrounded by family on a warm day at home with a table full of turkey, gravy and corn casserole before me. It turns out it's easy on rainy Monday mornings as well!

In no particular order, here are some of the things I'm grateful for today....
  • the clever person who determined that in between the green and red lights there should be a yellow to provide ample warning to slow down--how many lives has that yellow light saved?
  • a steaming hot cup of coffee....a true pleasure this morning, in particular!
  • a particular stretch of road on my drive to work where the trees hang fully over the road--it feels as though I am deep in the forest, held in the embrace of the trees
  • having two walkable legs on which I carry myself to my office, and two workable arms that could load in all my bags of work this morning
  • leaving Lucas and Matt beside the Christmas tree this morning, snuggling on the couch as they read a book together
  • the deep sighs that both of my kids make periodically as they sleep
  • work that provides for my family, and in many ways inspires and motivates me....even on a Monday!

Now back to that coffee....enjoy the day!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Stir crazy

The kids are wrestling in front of me, trying acrobatics perfected by a pair participating in the Macy's Day parade--an act far too advanced for my little ones. If I were smart I would have 911 dialed into the telephone just in case. Instead, I'm marveling once again (as I do any time I'm home with the kids alone all day) that Matt does this Every Single Day.

We're very different--if our kids were to depict for you "Mommy days" and "Daddy days," the pictures would be opposite in many ways. Matt's first instinct is to head outdoors. The kids dress themselves for the weather of the day, accomodating a span of some 80 degrees between their winter and summer playtime. Alternating between playing football with the kids and having an eye on them from a distance as he chops wood or rakes leaves, Matt thrives outdoors. It is now 4:45pm, and having had a day home with me, the kids have yet to see the great outdoors. I'm an inside kind of gal.

I suppose our instincts are similar, we just act on them in different domains. In between a few games of UNO, making collages with old magazines, and reading a Christmas story, I've managed to change all the beds, do a detailed vacuuming of all the upstairs and half the downstairs, put up the Christmas tree, and continually keep the kitchen table wiped down. Just as it is Matt's nature to shore up the outdoor resources for winter (the hunter in him, perhaps), I am continually cleaning a little here, neatening a little there (the gatherer in me, I suspect).

But I would be wise to follow Matt's example. My indoor kids are playing games that are better suited to the outdoors, and the volume level is rising by the moment. We're heading to a town celebration this evening for a parade and fireworks, and I can only threaten so many times to take this happy occasion away....off to the tub, threatening all along the way....

I asked both kids if they had something to add to this post. Lucas, always feeling guilty about some misdemeanor, immediately said, "Sorry???" Kyra's message is simple: "That's okay." You have to wonder about these kids!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Wildly wide awake

Friday night is "movie night" in our home, and while this once might have included overpriced popcorn and previews too violent for open eyes, of late it has been movies like "The Rookie" or "The Muppet Movie" with microwave popcorn for four. If my week has been like most of my weeks are, about 15 minutes into the movie, I'm attentive and watching, and about 30 minutes into the movie, I'm sound asleep.

Being awake on this Friday as the clock pushes on toward midnight feels positively reckless....particularly when I need to be at work at 8am for a conference. But I'm awake, nonetheless, and wild though that concept might be, tomorrow evening will bring a nap, I hope. Matt and the kids are away, visiting his parents while I trudge through a variety of work and school events that would have me feeling like a poor, absent parent if they were home, but attentive and loyal to my employer with them away.

It's strange to be alone in the house. I'm never alone in the house. When I open the door at 5:30 or 6pm each evening, I see Matt typically standing at the stove, and the first child to see me yells, "Mommy's home!" and comes rushing toward the door for a hug. It is a moment of bliss in days that are sometimes stressful and long. So what to do when they are away and there are no sounds, no hugs, no dinner on the stove when I come in?

First of all, I attended a concert. It was more the type of concert I would have attended in college than now--Bethany Dillon, Sanctus Real and Steven Curtis Chapman. I've been a casual fan of the music of Bethany and Steven for some time now, though, and they were playing down the road for a more than reasonable price. I won't enter into the full existential crisis I experience when I attend so-called Christian events and try to determine my current fit in that crowd. I will simply say that I enjoyed the message of love--the message that right now in this moment I am being loved...you are being loved...we are all being loved. And I enjoyed that Steven was up there playing with his two sons in the band--the 18 year old on guitar and the 16 year old a maniac on the drums. It was a wonderful illustration of how we might grow and learn and change with our kids. It was a reminder that I really, deeply, truly love my family. As I drove home, I did something I almost never do--I spoke aloud to God. I asked God--whether Being, Force, Big Person on High, Bold Idea in my Mind, Energy, or Pure Love--to open my eyes wide to the gift of my family.

I returned home to a still-quiet abode--listening attentively for any scratching or scurrying to indicate that the mouse Matt cheerfully released from our basement earlier had returned. Luckily no sounds--and so far no mouse. (I told Matt he would return home to a feline member of the family if a mouse pops in for a visit while I'm here alone.) I walked down to the basement (showing the mouse I'm not afraid!) and noticed for the first time all the wood Matt has been diligently stacking in the basement to keep us warm through the winter. It is literally stacked from floor to ceiling, and with it, the woodstove hums happily of heat for the whole house. Signs of Matt's love for us and his care for our home are everywhere, but particularly evident these days in the basement. We have an extra refrigerator/freezer combo stacked with food primarily purchased by him to be prepared almost exclusively by him. Where piles of laundry could sit are stacks of empty baskets--the clothes are clean and put away. And yes, of course, there is all that wood--as much as my eyes could take in. God was answering my prayer--I was noticing, seeing, and fully appreciating this member of my family.

I came upstairs to write this tale of love, of prayers answered, of satisfaction for having what I have and being where I am, and suddenly an alert popped up to add my in-laws' Skype address to my contacts list. As I was writing about the bliss of this knowing and noticing, I actually had a chance to see and speak with my muse of the moment--and now my eyes are not only open, I am wildly wide awake. Noticing. Appreciating. Feeling grateful.