Monday, December 31, 2012

Winter Wind-Down

It's snowing outside.Big fat, juicy flakes drift down from the heavens. They make the bare woods behind the house look foggy.

June naps in the room next door. She's tuckered out from getting into winter clothes and then sledding and then getting out of winter clothes.

I had a plate full of warm, hearty leftovers for lunch. I can hear murmurs of the voices of my husband and his mom talking downstairs.

I'm going on a date with my main squeeze tonight. I'm not entirely sure what we're doing, but I have a feeling that pasta with cream sauce and Les Mis are in my near future.

Last night my parents visited the house and our party of 12 played games and ate ice cream cake and leg-wrestled until I was hot and tired from laughing so hard.

I have fuzzy socks on.

So I guess I don't have a great blog post of our year in review. Maybe I'll find the time to post some pictures of our major accomplishments once I get home. It'll have to be after you poor souls indulge me in posting 10,000 pictures of June in the snow.

So for now I'll just say that I couldn't picture this year ending - and the next one beginning - any better than it already is.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Eve

We had a little early celebrating at our house on Christmas Eve since we wouldn't get to see him on Christmas Day. 

First we walked to a nearby park - with adult beverages in to-go cups - and played a small game of baseball. It mostly consisted of Kai batting and June running around after the balls. She might have been on the receiving end of a foul ball but we think she will one day approach a tennis ball again. 

Then we headed back to the house and opened some presents! We gave Kai our gifts and June got to open some from Kai and her Uncle JP. 






I love seeing June and Kai together. They are so sweet together.


Funny story: that little stuffed Elmo is the surprising favorite so far. She just loves that little guy.

Before June went to sleep (in her I Heart Santa pajamas), we set out some milk and cookies and carrots.


She was able to pose for a few minutes before the temptation of cookies was just too great. She sort of tried to sneak the cookies as if we all (with our cameras pointed directly at her) wouldn't notice if she just mmaaaayyybbeee snuck a bite or two.


With a kiss and a "Merry Christmas" and a promise that Santa was coming, we set her down for sleep. And then the adults proceeded to have a merry Christmas Eve.

Monday, December 24, 2012

It's almost here...

Merry Christmas Eve, everyone!


The last week has felt very Christmassy around here. I'll round the corner into the living room to find June playing with a winter hat on her head. Sometimes she insists on wearing it out.


She shows little interest in the presents under the tree. We'll see if that holds out after her cousin Kai comes over tonight to open a few. I don't think convincing her to open them will be an issue this year...the question is if we'll be able to get her to stop.


The other day she was feeling tired and I curled up around her on the couch, laying back with her against my chest as we read a book. Now whenever I sit on the couch she comes up to me with a book and asks to "cuddle" with me. Definitely one of my favorite little things she does. We read "Twas the Night Before Christmas" this morning in this way.


June will be in her I Heart Santa pajamas tonight (not too late for a little brown nosing), we'll be setting out some milk and cookies and then it will be time. Her second Christmas, our first Christmas morning in this house.


I'm wishing you all a wonderful night!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas Emoting


Yesterday I was walking past one of our conference rooms and I saw that a department holiday party was going on inside. I love to peek in when I see one of these happening…everyone is relaxed in their business casual clothing, someone is wearing a Santa hat, wrapping paper from the Secret Santa exchange is thrown about. From inside the room I heard about four seconds of conversation. “There is no Christ in Christmas anymore,” one person said. “It is such a commercial holiday,” another person said. And another: “The whole holiday just feels shallow.”

It’s not like these are new sentiments. Lord knows I’ve heard other people make these claims before. But for some reason it bothered me to hear these people say these things.

I wanted to walk in there and wax poetic about my feelings on Christmas. Wordy proclamations about religion are – it turns out – frowned upon at work but they are the very heartsblood of the blogosphere, which brings us here.

To me, Christmas exists so much in your heart. It’s a state of mind, it’s something that you create within you. If you choose to make this holiday about consumerism and knick knacks and seasonal annoyances, then of course the season will feel hollow to you. You say there is no Christ in Christmas? That only tells me that there is no Christ in Christmas to you. If Christ is important to you, you will make Him the peg that the spokes of this season revolve around. No amount of pressure to buy Things this season will change what’s in your heart or the hearts of those closest to you. No amount of made-for-TV movies are going to convince your children that The Puppy Who Saved Christmas is really what this holiday is about. They cannot supplant the ideas that you foster in your heart and your family, the things you believe are important. Those things come from you.

This applies even if you aren't devoutly religious (a category which I fall into). Those feelings of warmth and appreciation that surround the holiday, the magic of Santa and the feeling of goodwill toward men exists only because we make the choice for them to exist.

Is this one of those things I'll understand in a few years, once June is old enough to whine about wanting an iPad because all of her friends have iPads? Is that when the consumerism really sinks in? Or are people saying that Christmas is a shallow holiday because they see others treating it that way?

One of the things I love so much about being a parent is that I can shape the way my children view the world, Christmastime included. I'm sure that, as June and our other children grow older, we'll face the same pressures to fit in, to have it all, to buy buy buy. But I feel that it is in our power to control the feeling behind the holiday. To have traditions and conversations and quality time and community service. 

And that is the only thing I can control - what happens in my little family. I can't make the girl down the hall more reverent. I can't force anyone to really listen to the lyrics of Christmas songs. But I can control if I feel Christ in Christmas and if my family feels Christ in Christmas. 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

We Need a Little Christmas

Haul out the holly
Put up the tree before my spirit falls again
Fill up the stocking
I may be rushing things, but deck the halls again now

For we need a little Christmas
Right this very minute
Candles in the window
Carols at the spinet

Yes, we need a little Christmas
Right this very minute
It hasn't snowed a single flurry
But Santa, dear, we're in a hurry

So climb down the chimney
Turn on the brightest string of light I've ever seen
Slice up the fruitcake
It's time we hung some tinsel on that evergreen bough

For I've grown a little leaner
Grown a little colder
Grown a little sadder
Grown a little older
And I need a little angel
Sitting on my shoulder
Need a little Christmas now

For we need a little music
Need a little laughter
Need a little singing
Ringing through the rafter

And we need a little snappy
"Happy ever after"
Need a little Christmas now

Michael and I had a date night last night.
After dinner, we went to see the lights display at the Mesa Arizona Temple.
(Information HERE)
It was a little cold and rainy, but I needed a little Christmas.

Lyrics to "We Need a Little Christmas" HERE

Friday, December 14, 2012

Grief

No words I can say can make my thoughts and feelings coherent. Nothing I type will contribute to the nation-wide conversation of WHYWHYWHY? that we're all thinking and feeling.

I'm so very sad for those families in Connecticut. After a day of feeling totally numb (denial), it was on the drive home that I finally just started crying and couldn't stop. I was driving home to get my child. Just like all of those parents thought they'd be doing tonight. What would that drive home feel like if I'd gotten a call from the school or from the police? What would it feel like to walk up to my child's school, searching, searching for her. And finding her, Dear God, finding her. Or not finding her.

I'm sorry, I'm crying again. Shouldn't do this to myself, should eat ice cream and watch Love Actually and enjoy a Friday evening.

The conversations on Facebook and Twitter are happening at a dizzying rate. Blame guns, blame lack of access to mental health care, blame media, blame "removing God from schools." (That last one makes me sick to my stomach.)

What is happening out there? (anger) I feel like I just wrote a blog about the Colorado shooting, just wrote a blog about Gabby Giffords' shooting. My children will grow up in an age where mass killings occur. Where it is shocking but not totally unusual. Where one happens every 6 months? Is violence increasing or does it just feel that way? I keep thinking about what it is bullets actually do...they just tear through you, they just kill, that's all they were intended to do. It's just so messed up.

I just don't feel like there's an answer. (despair) We can't fix this. Gun control laws can lessen the chance that mentally ill people get ahold of guns, but it won't end all violence. Even if mental health care was free and available on a same-day-as-requested basis, there are plenty of people who deny that they want or need it. I don't think this is going to be fixed and I don't know what to do. Move to New Zealand? (bargaining)

The poor girls at daycare had to awkwardly witness me crying when I picked June up today. Maybe I wasn't the only one? June smiled and wanted to go on a walk in her "car" (stroller), then wanted to walk and push her car. Then wanted "dinner? Dinner?" She got so mad when I wouldn't let her bring this little battery-powered toy into the bathtub. But I was so patient, more patient than I've ever been before, more patient than anyone on the earth has ever been before, because thank God I had my little perfect girl here in the tub. A lot of people don't have as much tonight.

(acceptance)...I'm not there yet.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Twenty-Twelve Tree

As most of you know by now, by the time December gets here, my Christmas excitement cup floweth over. So by the time the first weekend of December arrives, I have my eyes and heart set on a Christmas tree. We decided to go for a real tree again this year, so last Sunday morning we found ourselves in a lot:


June went back and forth between wanting to be held/cling to our legs and wanting to wander like a little dryad amongst her kindred spirits. 





We brought her home on the car, set her up in the living room and set to making her feel at home.


JP happened to come over that evening, so he helped us dress the tree. June was pretty interested in pulling the ornaments down in the beginning. We strategically placed all the sturdy ornaments in the bottom 3 feet of the tree. Since then, though, she's become more interested in clicking the button to turn the lights off and on.


I think I'll go make a mug of hot chocolate and just stare for a while. Happy season, all!


Saturday, December 8, 2012

Dump Truck

When my mother in law last came to visit, she brought with her some of Michael's books from when he was little. They are old-school Sesame Street books (before Elmo was introduced) and one of June's favorites is called "What Did You Bring?" It's about Big Bird waiting for a package from his Granny Bird (we call her Grammy Bird since the book came from Grammy) and Big Bird asks what kinds of things different trucks bring. 

The Mail Truck brings mail, the Bakery Truck delivers bread, the Garbage Truck picks up garbage.

And then there's the dump truck. One of June's favorites to say. The problem is, she doesn't quite have it down. So... here's a video of June talking about her Dump Truck. You can see for yourself what it really sounds like she's saying. 

video

By the way, Michael and June are inside the fort they made of couch cushions and a sheet. If the setting needed explaining.

Friday, December 7, 2012

I'm Home, And Glad

The week is over, finally.

I've spent most of the last two weeks up in Payson for work. For those of you not in the know, Payson is a 90 minute drive northeast of Phoenix. The drive is pretty, so pretty, but making it over and over again - sometimes twice in one day, like today - got old.

Last week was the preparatory phase of a project rollout up there, and this week was the execution. This week was...challenging. There were some unexpected issues, some added stress, and mix it with the travel schedule and the driving and I'm just...tired.

I kept my energy up while I was there, I think. The people up there commented on my patience and enthusiasm, but still, driving down from Payson last night knowing that I'd be driving back at 7 am the next morning had me drained. I zipped down around the now-familiar turns, over the red rocky hills. I've started to anthropomorphize the uncountable saguaro cacti along the way, waving back to them, my silent green sentinels frozen in time. One or two waved back.

I'm glad to be home. I'm glad that I'm not planning on making anymore long drives for awhile. I'm glad that Michael will give me a back rub if I ask for it. And I'm glad that the week is over, finally.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Shoot!

A few weekends ago the old crew got together for a photo shoot. (The 'old crew' is our family and Remi, an honorary member of the family.) (She also did our beloved family photo shoot last year.)

I might be a bit biased since Rem is such a great family friend, but being photographed by her is so easy and fun. I wasn't worried about getting June to smile or the fact that she was just wandering around - I knew that Remi would capture the moments. (And besides, the candid ones are some of my favorites.)

I don't want to post the ones we picked for our Christmas card this year (I'm sure you'll all be waiting by your mailboxes in suspense) so I'll post some of my other favorites. (And this is just some - I just aodre so many of them that posting all would be impossible!)



(June got a lot of compliments on her fur vest when we went out to dinner afterwards. I'm eagerly awaiting the day that Arizona's 80-degree-weather streak comes to an end to break it out again.)






Be sure to check out Remi's photography blog here - she has a few more of us up on her site than I posted here!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Giving Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving!

June had a little Thanksgiving feast at school the other day. Since her daycare is so close to home and not particularly close to our work, it's been hard for Michael and I to get there for her funny little school events. Like the Halloween parade. And the Feast. I got a little down about it, but one of the teachers said that the kids whose parents come seem to enjoy it all the least since they're so thrown off by their parents hanging around at school, throwing a wrench in the routine. 

Anyway, one of the lovely ladies at the front desk sent me this picture. I sent it to Michael immediately because Turkey Hat. Enough said.


I thought about how sometimes it hurts how much I love her. Why won't she just...let me smother her with hugs and kisses every single moment of the day? And how lucky am I to have that? And to have so much? To have a dad who gives you advice any hour of the day you call, and good, even-tempered advice to counteract your hotheadedness? Or a mom who - now that I've reached a certain age - I can tell dirty jokes to and we'll laugh until we have tears in our eyes? To have a brother that you feel like you just get closer to with age? And a nephew with a good and gentle soul? To have in-laws that you love and genuinely want to be around, and who want to be around you? And a husband who makes the pies every year, even on nights when he had to work a game late?


And then I saw a full-grown man in Trader Joe's wearing a hat that looked like a full-cooked turkey while I was eating my sample, and then I turned a corner and was given another sample of pie and I just started crying because Turkey Hat. And pie.

And even when other things are tumultuous, or it seems like everything else is tumultuous, I still have these people, and people are the core of life anyway.