In high school, Sarah was the kind of girl that was friends with everyone. We had the connection that same-named kids do. We were in some sports together (until I gave those up), and she was an amazing athlete. So quick and such a hard worker. After Captain America and I moved back to my hometown, he ended up working with Sarah for many years. We were pregnant with our first children at the same time, and then our second. We'd swap pregnancy stories. Sarah was still a hard worker. But she always had time for some stories and laughing, and smiled more than most people I know.

The last time I saw Sarah was last summer at a wedding reception. She was there with her 5 yr old daughter, because her husband was home with their sick 7 yr old son (he'd gotten the flu or something that day). They were having such a great time! Every time her daughter wanted to dance, she danced. I remember thinking how I was so relieved to be out without my children, and here she was having the time of her life with one of hers. Not that my children aren't enjoyable, but I noticed how she always seemed to find joy in the moment she was given. I thought about that for a long time. I still do.

I'm sure you can see where this is going by now. On January 12, Sarah collapsed while she was running on her treadmill. Today, her family had her funeral. Sarah was 33. While I didn't see her often, I'm sad that the world will miss out on her smile. And my heart breaks for her husband and kids.

But I know I'm a better person because I knew her.


Oh the possibilities

Sometime in the midst of Christmas, I was cleaning out my email inbox. Which I always run at an appalling 95% capacity or better. My inbox has over 3,000 messages at any given time. I have no plans to change it, ok? But what this means is every few weeks I need to clean out a month or so worth of the oldest messages before my friends at gmail shut me down. So I scan through the oldest and make sure there's nothing important before I hit the Almighty Delete Button.

This particular group of emails I had to go through brought the memories flooding back. Emails from right when we found out we were expecting Zoey. Me telling Captain America when I could best figure the due date was. Captain America suggesting more sports related names. And an email where he suggested "Zoughee." I had to file all of those away - I just couldn't delete them.

Then I started going through my calendar from last year. I try to do this at the beginning of every year, so I can write down the repeats like birthdays. It was full of doctor appointments.

I'll tell you what, if you'd told me last year as I put the birthdays on the calendar that I'd be filling up the months with prenatal appointments and adding a September birthday, I would have laughed at you. HYSTERICALLY. Well, maybe not hysterically. Because God was already working on our hearts and making us wonder if maybe just one more wouldn't be a good idea. But I still would have been surprised.

So as I transferred things over to 2011, I wondered what this year will bring. Because as I filled in 2009, I never would have dreamed it would end with us in Wisconsin. And I would have had a hard time believing 2010 would end with us as a family of five. But here we are. All five of us. I really can't imagine what 2011 has in store, but I'm excited to find out. Because some of the very best things don't make it on the calendar January 1st.


Good riddance, Christmas break

I feel like I need a pin or a bumper sticker that says, "I survived Christmas Break 2010." There were a lot of highlights, and Christmas itself was fantastic. But there was no arguing about getting ready for school this morning. And I'm not sure who was out the door faster. A long break like that was just too much togetherness for Ella & Natalie. Zoey didn't really get her quiet naptimes. The toy chaos. The bickering. The constant mess.

Still, I'm not quite ready for Christmas to end. I'm not somebody who is ready to take down the tree on the 26th. Mine will stay up til January 6. At least. I'm still listening to Christmas music. So today, despite the fact that I'm ready for the routine to start again, I'm still kind of longing for Christmas.

The highlights:
  • Sleeping in. Nearly every morning as Captain America left for work, the rest of us were all in bed.
  • Jammies. I think Ella & Natalie spent about 90% of their break in jammies. With birds' nests in the back of their hair.
  • Cookies. So many delicious Christmas treats. And I've got the pants size to prove it.
  • Christmas Eve. We ended up staying in on Christmas Eve (except for my solo trip to the grocery store with the rest of the town). The girls opened their Christmas jammies and put them on. We set out a buffet of appetizers, opened some IBC root beers for the girls, and watched Elf. Ella declared it THE BEST CHRISTMAS EVER. Thus solidifying my theory that Buddy the Elf is Ella's soul mate. "Good news! I saw a dog today!" "I love smiling! Smiling's my favorite!"
  • Gift opening. We follow one of Captain America's family traditions. We get the gifts out from under the tree, and give them to the people they're from. Then we take turns opening. I love that because it puts more emphasis on the giving than on the getting. Ella and Natalie couldn't wait to open their presents from each other. And they couldn't wait to give their presents to each other. And the opening ended with huge hugs. If this Christmas had a cover, that would be it for me.
  • The sleeping (during the first half of break). Zoey was an awesome sleeper around Christmas. Her Christmas gift to us was sleeping through the night. DELIGHTFUL. She did it a couple of times, and then I think she got so behind on sleep from All of the Excitement, that she was overtired. Last night was her worst in a long time. I think even she was ready for the girls to go back to school today.
There were a lot of great things and moments. While I work today I'll drink some holiday tea from my new mug, wearing my cozy new slippers. Sad to see the Christmas season go, and happy to see the routine returning.