I can't bear to take the tree down.

Maybe it's that we're never ready right after Thanksgiving for the tree, so ours goes up later. Maybe it's that I don't like to let Christmas go. Maybe I'm just lazy. I think it's the middle one (I am lazy - I just don't think that's my issue with the tree). Our tree is still up. I easily want to leave it up for another week. January is bleak enough, must we take down the festive tree?

Plus, the girls are home all day with Christmas break and it seems like a shame to take it down. We're not even done celebrating Christmases yet.

Speaking of Christmas break, my children are crazy. Today they've been wearing swimsuits, and trying on all my shoes. Mostly just the heels. Then they built forts with the kitchen table, and they're still wandering around in swimsuits.

I think maybe we might need to get out of the house a little bit.


Hunkered down

That's how we spent Christmas. Hunkered down. Natalie ended up with a bladder infection (Happy Holidays!), so we spent the days before Christmas running around to the clinic and pharmacy. Also, preparing for the Great Christmas Blizzard of Oh-Nine.

In the end it just rained here. But that led to ice, slush and who knows what else, since we didn't actually go outside. Captain America worked from home on Christmas Eve because of the ice. So we all stayed in Thursday and Friday. The girls wore jammies for a good 72 hours or more. Clean jammies every day. But if Natalie's home, she's wearing jammies. Even if it's just for an hour.

It was a very relaxing Christmas. The girls were definitely feeling the spirit. It was lovely. They were really excited about the gifts they were giving, especially each other, which was nice. So much "I hope you like it!" and "This is my favorite!" followed by Hallmark-style hugs. Just lovely.

And then it was Saturday. And we'd been cooped up together since Wednesday afternoon. So we decided a little chaos would be nice and we went to walk around the mall. And Natalie cried that her legs were tired. Before we even got in from the parking lot.

By Sunday afternoon, I think Captain America was counting the minutes til he could go back to work.

No school til January 4! How exciting! I am already planning some errands for as soon as he gets home from work today. ALONE. Santa brought Caribou gift cards, and I know how to use them.


It's true.

I had the opportunity (or rather, I made an opportunity where there probably shouldn't have been one) to see a Sara Groves concert last week. It was sweet Sara Groves perfection, and it was completely worth the 4 1/2 hour drive. One way.

Christmas is coming (what?). I have a tendency to get so caught up in the hype, that I'm often afraid I'll miss it. Two things can bring me easily back. Linus and Toby.

1. Linus
Is there a better moment in holiday television than when Linus explains the Christmas story?

2. Toby
There's a song of Sara Groves that's been following me since I got the cd LAST Christmas. And especially this year I am sort of soaking in it. It's called It's True. It's one of those songs where a kid talks in the intro, and I am SO not a fan of those generally speaking. That said, she has her middle child, Toby, say something at the beginning and the end that is essential Christmas to me. He did it at the concert as well, and I couldn't help but tear up. So I want to share it with you. The way it's worded just makes everything clear for me.

Mary, you're going to have a baby.
A little boy. You will call him Jesus.
"Wait, God was sending a baby to rescue the world?
But it's too wonderful!" Mary said.
"How could it be true?"
"Is anything too wonderful for God?" Gabriel said.
So Mary trusted God, more than what her eyes could see.

That same night, in amongst the other stars,
suddenly a bright new star appeared.
Of all the stars in the dark vaulted heavens,
this one shown clear.
It blazed in the night, and made the other stars look pale beside it.
God put it there when his baby son was born,
to be like a spotlight shining on him.
Lighting up the darkness.
Showing people the way to Him.
You see, God was like a new dad.
He couldn't keep the good news to himself.
He'd been waiting all these long years for this moment.
And now--
He wanted to tell everyone.

Honestly. That's just it for me. First, Mary trusting God more than what her eyes can see. Sometimes we all have to do that. And then thinking of that night, and God being like a new dad who can't wait to tell people. Most expectant parents have 9 months to wait, and it seems like forever. But I believe God always knew that night was coming. Can you imagine? He'd been waiting for that night since the beginning of time. And not just for the birth of His son, but for the chance to be with us. To rescue us. Rotten, broken, pretenders like us. All of us. Rescuing us in every way.

It's not a fairytale. It's not a story or folklore. It is real and true. The implications are true. The blessing is true. And The Gift is true.


So this is Winter

We had a snow day yesterday, after a good old-fashioned blizzard. The airport reports 17.5" of snow was dumped on us in around 24 hours. Today the high is 6 degrees.

Captain America hitched a ride down to work from someone up the street (a coworker - he didn't actually just stand on the street with this thumb out). This meant by afternoon our driveway still hadn't been touched. Watching the wind swirl snow around outside, I had zero desire to do anything to it.

And then the doorbell rang. My rescuers. Two 10 yr old boys. If they were even 10. They offered to shovel our sidewalk & driveway for $2 each. Apparently I looked surprised. "You look shocked. $3? $4?" I told them I'd give them each $5. DEAL.

Meanwhile the girls were still inside in jammies. I had big crafting plans for yesterday, but they had to clean their room first. Which meant we ended up with about 20 minutes at the end of the day to make ornaments. Every time they go to clean their room they get sidetracked playing. I'm not good about keeping them on task when they're being quiet and occupied. I kind of stop caring what the task is, and just enjoy the silence.

So it turned out as I should have expected. Instead of spending the day making ornaments and baking cookies and ending up reading by the fire with mugs of hot cocoa, it was more like, "Did you clean your room yet? Then no." But they managed the day without killing each other. Or me killing them. Success!


Lo, these many seasons

Up North we have something called Seasons. I think in places like San Diego, you just have one, WarmandPleasant. And in the south it might be more like two - Hot and Less Hot. We have an abundance of seasons up here.

June - August: Summer
September - October: Fall
November: Pre-winter
December - February: Real Winter
March - April: Less Winter
May: Spring (with potential for Less Winter)

This requires a lot of clothing options. Which means, we have a variety of coats and jackets. Light. Light with a hood. Light and water resistant. Warmer, for transition. Warmer with a hood in case of rain/snow mix. Wool. Down parka.

I'll try to hold off on the down & wool coats for a little while longer. You wear them for so long up here that you get really sick of them come March. And once it hits 35 or so again after Real Winter, I'll put away the wool for the warmer transition jacket.

Also, I change out my closet every few months. Apparently this week it is time for the change to Real Winter clothes. After summer, I pull out some Fall clothes. Light sweaters and such. But now that it's getting colder, I need to get out the really warm sweaters. And it's time to pack away short sleeves for the season. Their time has passed. The house we're renting isn't really conducive to such behavior. There's extremely limited storage. Which means I'm going to have to take everything out of the little crawl space to find the Real Winter clothes. So for now, I'm just layering the best I can. And I'm cold.

I seem to forget about the Real Winter clothes that are packed away every year. So when it gets colder, I rush out to buy warmer sweaters. And then I open the box of warm sweaters and discover I have no less than five that are gray. And at least two of those look suspiciously alike, and are both some sort of cheap cashmere blend.

I'm doing my best to resist the call of the warm sweater in the stores, until I've dug up the warm sweater tote. It's just that the combination of cabin fever from staying home with The Sickie and the cooler temps and living closer to things like Old Navy make me want to run out and buy this sweater in every color they have.

So which do you think I'll do first? Break down & buy a sweater, or put up the Christmas tree? Tough call.


Remember when I was thankful?

I mean, I'm still thankful. But we went out of town for Thanksgiving and I totally imagined myself sitting in front of my parents' fireplace with a mug of cocoa blogging my thankful heart out. Not so much on that one. If for no other reason than my laptop has given up being portable. I must remain plugged in at all times. Which somewhat defeats the laptop purpose.

Dear Economy:
Please pick up, so I can buy a new laptop.

Then we came home. And Natalie immediately contracted the plague. You see, my Natalie is a delicate flower. If she's off her sleeping schedule (HELLO, spending the night at alternating grandparent houses and All The Excitement), I can nearly guarantee you she will get sick. Yesterday I took her in to the doctor who said, "Looks like H1N1, but let's do a throat culture for those little red bumps in the back of her throat." Sure enough, Mini-Me has strep. She's definitely perking up though, because today she has become the Demanding Sickie. "MOOOOM! I SAID I wanted some YOJ!!!!" As you wish, Your Highness.

I'd like to clarify my thankfulness of my problems. It's not that I'm saying, "Yippee! I have problems!" I mean, we've been having an impressive ordeal with selling our house, and it has stressed me out here and there. But I'm so thankful that these are my problems, and not something horribly worse. So many people are going through way worse situations. I need to keep things in perspective. So really, my problems are hardly worth whining about. I wish that actually stopped me.

I'm planning to keep being thankful even though Thanksgiving is done, and I challenge you to do the same. I won't be posting it as much, but I'm going to keep a little journal of it for myself. Because nothing puts a kabosh on stress like reminding myself how good I've got it. Or a good chai. And, I'll be honest, maybe a glass of wine.

I leave you with this sad little face, post-doctor's office. Please remember that today she is fever-free and barking out commands like she runs the place.