Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Official Xmas Card 2012

Around October every year I toy with the idea of a Christmas card.  I'd like to think that someday I'll actually get one done.  But not this year.  So, like last year's Official Christmas Card, I'll just post mine here...

And like last year, I do not have any good pictures.  In fact, the whole attempt went exactly like last year.

Except last year I tried.  For probably a half hour.

This time I just snapped off about 6 shots and then gave up in despair.  I'm not even going to edit them except to lighten them up so you can actually see the kids.


Smile Belle - No! Dalton, don't look at Belle! Keep looking at me!

Belle, no one is trying to steal crazy red-eyed Liam.

Will silly faces help them all smile?  Nope, just help them make silly faces.  FOREVER.

Dalton looks like he's being dragged away by a zombie into the tree.

Belle still blissfully off in her own little world, Dalton bored, Liam  decided to forget pictures and eat the blanket.

This really is the best one.  At least they're all looking.

Merry Christmas everyone! 

Monday, December 19, 2011


I don't love people quickly.  It takes me a fair amount of time and good conversations and shared experiences before I develop a love for someone.  Loving someone is deep.  And it is costly.  There is so much reward in it, but there is also so much of myself given to them, trusted to them, that it is a weighty thing to love someone.

And I feel like I need to reserve the word "miss" for those who I love when they are far away.  I miss my husband desperately when he is gone.  I have a couple of profound friendships with girls who live far from me and I miss them.  Missing someone is more than a wanting to see them to chat.  There's a tangible sense to the emotion I have of missing them.  A longing to be closer to them.  And I know I miss them because I took the time to grow to love them.

And so today, on December 19th, 4 years after my 9 week old baby passed away, I wonder how I can miss  someone I barely knew.  How I can miss someone who never spoke to me, never listened to my thoughts, barely was even capable of responding to me?   How is it that my heart could be wound up so completely in such a tiny person?

One thing Jack's life has made me realize is that even though the missing is so painful, there has never been a question of whether I would rather have never loved him at all to save myself this pain.  Never.

An acquaintance had a baby of hers die this last year.  Her daughter had a fatal birth defect but was able to come home and live with them for a few short weeks.  Her comment during those weeks was that her family was living in a sacred time.  That word "sacred" struck me and has stuck with me since.  Before I read that, the word "sacred" had awe-inspiring but pleasant connotations.  Like sitting in a silent, beautiful, old cathedral.  But the more the word rolls around in my mind, the more it feels that it is sacred to face the real essence of life.  To notice how different a human life is compared to the things and activities we spend so much time on. To be lifted out of the mundane to face eternal things. To step out of the daily rush of living and come face to face with the infinite worth of a life, even if you are forced to face it because that life is no longer with you.

So December 19th has become a sacred day to me.  Not in the sense of somehow idolizing the memory of my son, but in the fact that on this day I can not just let the day go by and not notice how deeply I love my children.  I can not ignore how precious this life is that I tend to gloss over on a daily basis.  I can't forget how terrifying the thought of losing one of my other children or my husband is.  I can't help desperately wishing that I never have to experience the loss of anyone else I love, even though I know that is hardly possible. I can't help noticing how much I admire and enjoy my little family.  And I can't escape the full weight of how much I miss my son.

Even though it is sad, it somehow feels more alive to have times like this when I am faced with the sacredness of living.  Of course, I wish I could appreciate all this without having experienced pain, but I admit that I didn't. I thought I did, but my comprehension of the preciousness and fragility of our lives is much greater now than it was.  So it seems that sacredness, like so many things in life, isn't made up of only pleasant things.  It is a mixture of love and pain and longing and joy and anger and happiness.  

Today I can't escape the sacred.  The loved ones around me are so vibrantly alive today.  Their eternal-ness is so evident. My thoughts are drawn to them, to God, to myself, to my fears, to my blessings.  Whether that causes me joy, pain, happiness or aggravation, I can't ignore how precious their presence is or or how much their absence is felt.  

Although many days I would like to overlook how much I love people so that there's no sadness when they are gone, no fear of losing them when they are here, no worry about them as they grow, that's not life. There's a part of life that sucks.  But I do believe in the end God will redeem it all.  That life will be set right and all of the pain in it will be done away with so that sacredness will include only joy.

But that time is not here yet, so I'll struggle through the sacredness of this day, knowing the sadness will seem to overcome the joy today and waiting for the day when the sadness will be done away with completely.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Fake Nail and Diaper Goo - the Diaper Part

... part two of the post started yesterday...

We join the story as I am fumbling around the house with my fake nails making my hands feel like my normal fingers have been replaced with useless, painful nubs.

Sabotage #2 - Dalton and Belle

But according to my PLAN, I needed to get laundry done.  And because all of my fingernails were achy (and my middle finger was downright painful since I'd accidentally glued the skin on the tip of my finger to the fake nail which was pulling the skin excruciatingly...) I solved my problem by recruiting help.  I perched Dalton on top of the dryer, held up a laundry basket and he tossed his and Belle's clothes into the washer for me.

And that was how Dalton tried to help me but inadvertently sabotaged me.  The laundry was started in record time and I smiled in blissful ignorance as we headed back up to do some school only an hour behind schedule.

(No, Dalton, I can't help you peel apart the papers you glued together wrong.  I can't use my fingers.)

45 minutes later when we went down to change the load I discovered the problem.  When I opened the washer every single item was covered in gooey gel.  

Belle's contribution to the sabotage was that she had left a pull-up inside one of her pairs of tights which Dalton hadn't noticed.  Do you know what happens when a disposable diaper is submersed in water?  The gooey gel inside expands and expands and expands until it explodes out of the diaper and coats every surface it can find - clothes and washer.

So between

  • Googling "PULL-UP WENT THROUGH THE WASH!" (which returns a surprising number of hits...), 
  • stopping to feed Liam, 
  • brushing off every single small item of clothing that was in the very full washer
  • stopping to change Liam, 
  • cleaning as much goo as I could out of the washer then running a load of old towels in an attempt to clean it completely, 
I wasted most of the rest of the morning.

Yup, no school done, no laundry folded, no floor cleaned and a nap time looming when I KNOW it's going to take me ten times longer to make each necklace that it would have if I had the use of my fingertips.

And these are the times when I drop my head into my hands (ouch - stupid nails) and think longingly of the days of being a cubical drone in an office.   That is until nap time is over and my sleepy girl wants to sit in my lap and read a book and her big brother shows up to help read and the baby wakes up and grins at me.

So I pack up the jewelry stuff, pull the now clean laundry out of the dryer, man up about the finger pain and count my blessings that I have so many interruptions in my day.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Fake Nails and Diaper Goo - Part I

I had one of those days last week.  I kept solving problems and my solutions had repercussions that rippled destructively through the rest of my day.

Since Liam appeared on the scene we've been a bit...fluid with our schedule around here.  Before he was born we had a rhythm.  Breakfast, school time, lunch, nap, errands, dinner.  And yes, Dalton and Belle provided innumerable interruptions and minor emergencies that had to be dealt with during the day, but in general we could keep the Progress Train chuggin' down the track.

No longer.  I have lost long chunks of time to do anything and instead spend the day not-quite-completing a half dozen things that I have attempted a half dozen times each.  Like emptying the dishwasher or folding laundry or finishing Dalton's math lesson or (the worst of all when left incomplete) trying to drink my morning coffee.

And every time Liam interrupts the schedule, the older two bolt away like hyper puppies when the front door is opened.

But I decided that Liam is old enough that I can try to plan a little more. So last Wednesday I was up before everyone and got my trusty daily schedule paper and filled it up - conservatively, (I thought) and allowing for a lot of Liam-time.  Just some homeschooling in the morning, fold some laundry, sweep and mop the floor.  Then during nap time I had a bunch of necklaces to make for my Etsy shop.  Cool.  Totally doable.  After all, I'm the one in charge in the house, right?  So I decide what we're doing, right?

RIGHT? (Cue crazy eyes and desperate voice.)

Unfortunately everyone, including myself, was out to sabotage my day.

Sabotage #1 - Myself

I was up early and as I was going to sit down and work on my Etsy shop I snagged my thumbnail on my sweater. Again. You see, I have two fingernails that are broken so far down that they just will not heal.  So I decided to buy some short acrylic nails and put them on to give the nail underneath time to grow out.  And I'm going to stand by the fact that this was a good idea.  At least as far as my nails were concerned.

(Side note:  I had fake nails once before for our wedding and my main memory of them was that I basically lost the use of my fingers because my nails felt so unwieldy.  I even remembered this fact and laughed at myself...but then kept going...)

So I rushed through putting on nails since kiddos were half a breath from waking up.  It took until I was attaching the tenth nail before the mental light bulb went on so brightly that I the kitchen actually got brighter.  There I am, holding my last fake thumbnail on with fingers that are now pathetically clumsy, and I froze.

I froze with a stupid slack-jawed expression as the ramifications of my actions sank in.  In an effort to fix a couple nails I had just made my hands UNUSABLE.   OK, maybe not "unusable", but they did have the approximate dexterity of my two-year-old's hands.  And I had done all this next to my computer with my Etsy shop open to the page showing that I had 12 orders for wire wrapped necklaces.  Twelve of these:

Because that sure doesn't look like it takes any fine motor skills to make, does it?  Oh no.  Tiny teardrops, thin wire, tiny rings, tools.  Oh crap.  I stared at my (admittely cute) french manicured fake fingernails in horror.  I even pulled on a couple to see if they'd come back off.  Ouch.

And then started a morning of feeling idiotic as I found task after task that now bordered on the impossible. Tasks like:
  • Typing.  It took me about 5 minutes to do a quick email. 
  • Picking up the wire for my necklaces.
  • Peeling a sticker off an apple
  • Scratching my nose without jabbing a nail into it so hard I made myself cry.
  • Picking up the baby without scratching the back of his head.
  • Moving my hands past ANYTHING without spearing my nail into it causing my real nails to feel like they had been pummeled by a hammer.
  • And I quickly gave up trying to text my husband about my problem. 
And yes, I acknowledge that this was very sad.  The acrylic nails were the shortest I could have possibly bought.  But still, they were completely debilitating.  So because of my own idiot decision, my morning began to grind to a halt. be continued....