Monday, December 30, 2013

Friday, December 27, 2013

California Christmas

Santa wrote back!

We had such a lovely California Christmas with a housefull of family and talent shows by the cousins. We cuddled on the couch and watched the Grinch, we baked cookies and a fabulous Christmas feast. We took walks and played in parks and made music and just hung out in the sunny backyards. 

So perfect. 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Just a dusting

Just a sprinkling of snow, just enough to delay the last day of school, enough to make a snowball and then it's gone. But it's nice to watch and a cozy background for decorating gingerbread houses. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Brixton's hoodie

It's done! (Mostly.) Now I need to get both of them together wearing their matching hoodies....working on it. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Monday, December 16, 2013

Simply December- the parties

Ok our weekend was quite full. But in a good, festive, party kind of way. We went to a cookie and crafting party, a caroling party and the kids went to a parents-night-out sponsored by the teens in our Meeting who are fundraising for their summer trip to Guatemala. So yes, busy, but busy in that good kind of holiday way, where you see tons of people you know from different social circles and get to enjoy some of the best parts of the December craziness (the cookies! the singing! the kids romping around together!)
Truly, I love it. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

a breath

               I'm taking time to delight in the small things. Their cries of delight every time they see a wreath on someones door. Making snowflakes and wondering if we'll see the real thing. Playing games and working on our counting and math skills. (Certain people have a hard time with the difference between a $50 bill and a $500 bill, and certain other people believe the bigger the pile, the better, despite our attempts to explain that one $500 is better than a pile of 40 $1 bills. )

In the middle of all the excitement, and it's there, finding these spaces to rest is so important.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Monday morning

With my brain going in twenty directions at once, and the soundtrack of Brixton's bongo uke medleys behind me, I'm starting this crazy week.

(With a small alarm set on my phone reminding me to breathe.)

Yeah, I'm seeking that sweet spot between the frantic joyful energy and the stillness that I know is in there.
Trying to be cautiously generous, pouring out my love and resources where I know it will mean the most.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Simply December- singing and Santa

We braved the cold and bundled up to go and see the caroling competition called Figgy Pudding. We took the bus downtown because thousands of people were expected, between the singing and the Pear Jam concert. On the bus, the kids were leaning on the window, pointing out all the lights. One large downtown building had a light on it's top that changed from red to green and my kids were squealing in delight "Now it's red" "Now it's green." An older gentleman on the bus was delighted by their delight, and as we left the bus he said "thank you for sharing your babies with us." It's why we do all this stuff right? Not for us old and tired grown-ups but for those cries of joy as the light turns from one color to the next.

We rode the carousel and warmed our fingers with hot donuts and cocoa. We listened to the groups of choirs singing on all the street corners downtown- some with jazzy hats and jingle bell rock and some with solemn tones of angels. All was magic in the dark night, with the press of people and the voices lifting up around us.

And then through the crowd, we saw one particular visitor. The kids got to have their chance with him, bless him for saving me from a trip to the mall. Unity went first and chatted away. Brixton, after climbing into his lap, stammered and looked at me. "Mom, what do I want for Christmas?" He got down without deciding.
We stumbled home, cold and tired but their eyes were full of the shining lights and they were humming carols as they went to sleep that night.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Simply December

There's a lot of talk these days about simplifying the holidays. Talk of focusing on what we really value and letting go of the stress. I love that this conversation seems more prevalent, that we are sharing tips and ideas about giving more and buying less. About how being present is the best gift we can give each other. 

It's true, I have a very long to-do list. But, I also made a December fun list, to balance it out and remember that there's a lot to look forward to this month. I don't want to get to Christmas and realize that I spent the whole month with my head down just going from one task to the next. I was telling a friend about my fun list this weekend and she asked, reasonably, "won't you just get stressed about trying to do all the fun things?" But it's more of a reminder, a guideline. I know we won't get to them all and that's ok, it's just to help me remember to make space and time for special traditions. 

My feelings about Christmas have evolved so much over the years. From being so excited I couldn't sleep, to being bored and over it. I loved my time working in the bookstore, with it's crazy frantic energy. I loved being able to put the right book in the right hands and running on adrenaline and sugar cookies and the John Waters Christmas album all the way up until Christmas Eve, then collapsing on a plane the next day to see my family.

It's different now, of course. Now it's more about making the magic for the under-four-feet crew. It's taking pieces of Chris's and my childhood traditions and weaving them to make our own. On Black Friday, instead of buying more stuff, we cleaned out a closet and made a give-away pile. It was so satisfying, I'm thinking that will be something to continue.

The kids are excited about toys and Santa of course. But they are also excited about the songs and the stories and the parties and the family time. And I'm thankful to keep focusing on that. 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

a minute of gratitude

                Yup, Chris is  standing! Standing and starting to walk. The docs gave him the all-clear to drive and said things are coming along with his healing, so he is starting to put weight on the leg. He says it's like pins-and-needles, but it's good to be doing it. We also learned that his bone density is not good, which explains why it's so easy for him to break bones. (The man lived in the PNW for 20 years and never took his Vitamin D. Let this be a cautionary tale.) But, the good part of that is that it's reversible with diet and vitamins and exercise. It may take years but he can turn it around.

I am in awe of his determination to get better, and how quickly he's been able to do it. We're not all the way there, not yet, but when I think about how far he and our whole family have come, it really is so much better than it was.

In Quaker speak, a minute is a statement of strong belief that a Meeting or an individual would like to publicly share. Ever since the accident, I've been writing a minute of gratitude in my head. It's been hard and painful and scary, but we've also been so lucky and supported and nourished.

When Chris called me while waiting for the ambulance, I frantically texted some friends and asked for Light. From those first panicked horrible minutes when I knew he was hurt but I didn't know the extent of it, I knew we were being held, and it kept me going through the fear and anxiety.
That was the beginning of our communities coming forward to support our family, and when things were
really stressful, I would just recite my list of thank yous in my head.

For the friend who came over and just helped me think through what decisions I needed to make in those panicked early moments.
For the people who watched my kids, sometimes for most of a day on short notice.
For the people who brought us food, almost every night for five weeks.
For the friend who came over and jumped my car, when my distracted self had left the inside light on.
For the friends who conspired to send us each a gorgeous flower arrangement and give our days some beauty.
For the friend who came over and moved my couch so we could make space for Chris's hospital bed.
For my amazing mom who said "when can I come?" and co-parented with me for weeks. She's the only reason my kids had Halloween costumes, and the only reason I didn't go insane.
For the family who sent us love and support from afar.

I don't know what we would have done without all of you. I really don't.

I also really loved the honesty that people gave me. "Cooking is just not how I'm going to help you guys."
"I really can't do childcare but I could do this." I loved the gift of people being realistic about what they are capable of and offering only what they could. Because that gift of being authentic and honest is so valuable and precious.

I've been on the other side of this equation, I've been the one bringing meals and organizing the gifts. That part is fun. It's fun to give and feel generous and useful and connected.
Being on the other side is hard. It's hard to be the one who needs help. It's hard to feel vulnerable, to know that you can't do it on your own.
We all have our chances to be the giver and the receiver, all our lives. I hope that next time I am the giver, I can be as honest and realistic as the ones who have helped us. I hope that next time I am the receiver (please let that be many many years from now)  I can remember that we all have our seasons of needing help.

Meister Eckhart said "If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough."

I can't decide if they are the smallest words or the biggest words I know. Both, I think.

Thank you.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Cold and clear

It's been cold and clear here these days. Foggy mornings and sharp bright afternoons. School's out for the week so we are planning projects and playing with friends. Confession: I have started listening to Christmas music. Yes, already. It's funny cause I used to hate it, when I worked in retail and then as soon as I left I couldn't get enough. I like this one and of course, all of these.

Brixton is still on his writing fixation, it's new and it's exciting. He wanted me to help him write a sign that said no grownups absolutely allowed. I told him I wouldn't write something that excluded myself, so he made his own version of the sign.

We have some mostly good news about Chris but I'll save that for another post.