Saturday, December 31, 2011

Advent and Christmas 2011

Advent Tree Trimming
I have been the worst about downloading photos lately. I have been so bad, in fact, that I just hooked up the camera and found 352 of these puppies ready to be downloaded. Oy! Talk about neglect...

Or shall we call it, intense focus on other areas of our lives, namely Advent and awesome family time and Christmas wonderment. It's all been fantastic, grand, wonderful--the type that's really good because we've been able to sit back and truly enjoy it all.

Celebrating GG's 33rd birthday (Dec. 22nd in the a.m.)
In the past, I admit there have been seasons where I've had to conjure happiness because I've felt so overwhelmed, I lacked authentic enthusiasm and spirit. For example, I might have enjoyed a good time of decorating the tree with our family, but meanwhile I was secretly harboring a million stresses about x, y, and z that needed to be done... or the child that needed tending... or... You get the picture.

Thankfully, it was not so this year!
Christmastown Dec. 23rd
This year it was joy for joy's sake. It was legitimate delight and presence in all the moments. It was THE BEST! I've been trying to put my finger on why this Advent was so magical and the two explanations I've come up with are-- 1) we got most of our Christmas preparation done by Thanksgiving and 2) we then jet-setted and had 6 days of a "break" from parenting.

The effect of #1 shocked me the most--I always rolled my eyes (because I was secretly jealous) when hearing of people getting things accomplished by Thanksgiving. It was annoying because I felt I could never measure up.

Throw in a trip to Italy for Turkey Day, though, and I was motivated to try to make it happen. GG and I made 3 orders--one to Usb.orne Books, one to Toys.r.us, and one to ebay for Star Wars jammies. The kids were done. Then I spent an evening at Koh.l's during a pre-holiday sale night and voila, our parents were done. One order to Ama.zon and we were set for godchildren. And one final one to Snap.fish and our Christmas cards were under control. Totally easy. Totally doable. I don't know why it's taken me so many years to do this?! As a result, our Advent was peaceful, Christ-focused, and full of appreciation. It was so different from Advents of the past. It was so awesome I'm going to try my darndest to replicate it again next year!!

After Christmas Eve Mass
#2 Italy was totally magical. Even though we scurried around the country, we returned feeling refreshed and renewed for our kids. We were able to then drink in the moments with them because we weren't backlogged from other seasons. We had the chance to download while away and it was so good for us. Alleluia! We are inspired to make this happen again in the not-so-distant future (shorter time away but hopefully with greater frequency!) Logistics are tough, but if we make it a priority, we will reap the dividends for sure.

All of this resulted in a wonderful Advent and now Christmastide. Our Christmas preparation involved some fun work parties, gatherings with friends, birthday celebrations (happy day to our GG and Mimi!), tons of Christmas movie nights with the kids and each other, Christmas Eve-eve at Christmas.town at Busch Gard.ens, a joyful Mass at our church and Christmas day at home, a visit from my parents... GG was even able to take this past week off from work which was a first for him in years. There have been so many reasons to celebrate!

Christmas morning
Christmas dinner

And the next day...

Our Savior is born! Christmas reveling still in full effect in G-ville...
Happy 2012 tonight,

Sunday, December 25, 2011

By the way...

It's a girl! :)

Reporting Live

It's approximately 7:15am and the G's are slowly emerging on Christmas morning...

M has been with us since 6:30am when he came bounding into our room, exclaiming that Santa had come and presents were under the tree! What joy for a 6yo!! And to think that a month ago he had stopped believing in the big red guy... (M to T before: "Go try and look for Santa at the North Pole and you're going to be looking for a really, really long time..." lol.) Thanks to a book we have, called A Special Place For Santa by Jeanne Pieper, he's back on board!! This is really good news for his brothers, who were arguing vehemently with him for days before we snagged him again. Whew!

What I love the most, though, is that while all the kids are Santa allies, they're also Christ's best advocates too! At Busch Gardens Christmastown the other night, both M and T were annoyed that all the Christmas songs sung at the Sesame Street show didn't mention Christ. "They got it wrong, Mom. The most special part of Christmas is Jesus and he gives us the love we have for one another."--T after the show. Bingo! That's my boy!!

As I type, boy #2 (J) is now downstairs and breathing down our necks. Better go! T will be soon following (poor guy has a yucky cold, but will undoubtedly rally)... We gave them until 7:30am before they were allowed to wake each other up!! :)

Pictures to come of all of our Christmas adventures. I also have a bunch of Christmas prep thoughts swirling in my head that I want to get down here. They will come, I promise!! We have 12 days of Christmas still to come, right?!

God bless you for a Merry Christmas!!
Prayers for a blessed day for you and yours,

Friday, December 23, 2011

To All My Prayer Warriors:

I'm asking tonight that you join me in prayer for a young man who needs a miracle.

He is a son, a father, a friend to many and has been told he has days to live. I know his family would love your prayers for a miraculous turnaround in events.

You can follow his story here.

We can storm the gates of heaven together... Thank you!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

20 week update

I think this little person looks a lot like our T!!
Our little peanut was resting comfortably and happily in utero this morning...
The babe was sweet and lovely and bring-us-to-tears healthy, thanks be to God.

In other lackluster news, mama gained 8(!) lbs. this last month, bringing my total so far to 15. Must have been all that delicious Italian pasta and subsequent Christmas party fare. Gotta blame it on something, right?! Definitely need to slow down. :)

My BP was also higher: 125/86, so I definitely need to chill out!!

We also know what we're having--the u/s tech wrote it on a card and GG and I opened it later at coffee. But... we're not telling! Not until Christmas!! :) See if mama can keep my big mouth closed until then. ;)

Thanks for rejoicing with us.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Ups And Downs

I wish I could pour out my soul to you right now, divulging all the nitty gritty details of this week past. But I'll summarize in saying there has been a lot of hurt among friends of ours right now. It is devastating to watch from afar and experience through the bonds of friendship. We are aching for others who ache... It is the ache of parents and their beloved children. It is thanks to the awesome, overwhelming vulnerability that accompanies the role of parenthood to these precious angel souls.

Their pain is raw. It is piercing. I wrote a little bit about it here, but since then more news has come our way and we are brought to our knees in prayer once again. We ask that you join us in praying for a family in Alabama who suffered a miscarriage, one in Illinois who lost their healthy 2yo son in his sleep, and another in Texas who just learned their developing baby has a fatal illness. We are so devastated.

The boys have become more accustomed to seeing mom crying. Dear ones. They were quick today to pat my back and fetch me a kleenex. I think it's good for them to see me deal openly with my emotions and know that life isn't an easy road, but that God is still present. We've talked a lot about these babies and the pain the families are suffering. They are learning. It is a tough lesson they will continue to learn, as I have.

Tomorrow marks our 20-week ultrasound and you can imagine how the recent events are making me wary. We are praying for a healthy baby and know God will give us what is perfect for His mighty plan. I just pray we are always open to that path... And in the meantime, I will be hugging my dear ones tightly. They are true gifts.

In prayer,

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

On a Wednesday of Advent...

Our morning has been a rather cozy one, complete with hot tea, a nice chat with Mimi, and time for play for the little ones. I love "down" mornings like this, where we're not rushing off to anywhere or anything... We can ease into our day.

But all good things come to an end. We are now off and running...

*to Tar.get for last-minute items like a teacher gift card, black stockings for a corporate event tonight, M & M's for M's school party tomorrow

*to the drycleaner to pick up some cozy sweaters that needed cleaning after Europe

*to the post office to mail those last few cards

But how I really wish our morning included the trip my sister and mom are making. They're head to Cincinnati to Santa shop for a pug puppy for my sister's boys for Christmas! There is a breeder there with a litter to check out... Baby pugs! Now that would truly make my morning sparkle!!!

Friday, December 9, 2011

"I think every human being has both the capacity and the opportunity to be wonderful, and that the best in us emerges as we allow life to transform us—particularly, as we allow pain to slough off the layers of self-protection that shroud our tender humanity and keep us isolated from each other. Again, this isn't easy—in fact it's often terrifying and agonizing, which is why we rarely volunteer for the process. But it comes upon us anyway, in one form or another. None of us can opt out of suffering; rather, our choice is whether to resist or surrender to its power of change." -Kathryn Lynard Soper in an interview here.