Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Christmas Still Has Its Magic

For the last several years, I find myself wondering each Christmas is this year is going to be it. The Christmas that loses its magic. 

Will my boys be too old to wake up in the still dark house, creeping to open their stockings, the glow of the Christmas tree the only light in the house? Will they be too old to wake us up ridiculously early, eager to be opening presents? Will they be too old to stay awake most of the night, whispering to each other about what is under the tree for them?

Each year I wonder if this will be the year. The year that I have to wake them up and drag them to participate in family gift opening. The year that they slink away back to their rooms after the presents are unwrapped. The year that they refuse to participate in carol singing and Christmas story reading and matching pajama wearing.

I'm happy to say, this year was not that year.

At ages 12, 8, and 2, the holiday magic is still going strong.

Christmas Eve found us around the tree, singing carols together and unwrapping the traditional gift of Christmas pajamas.

(Okay, fine. Bug does feel he is too old for matching pajamas. But apparently not too old for gorilla slippers.)

We finally shooed the boys to bed, only to hear giggles from their room for a long while after. We told them any time after 4 am, they were welcome to get into their stockings, but they were not to wake us up until 7 am.

At 6:58 am Christmas morning, all three boys came bounding into our room. 

Monkey stopped short, staring at our alarm clock.  "No!" he shouted, "That clock is wrong. It says 7 on the stove clock!"

Amid the flurry of ripped wrapping paper and empty boxes and squeals of delight, I just sat there and tried to take it all in.

There is still so much magic on that day.

Each year, the holidays feel so stressful. There is so much pressure to create perfect memories. Each year, I hope that I'm doing enough, but at the same time, fighting back against taking on too much.  Each year, I'm wondering if I'm doing a good job.

We've scaled back a little more each year, both to decrease the feeling of commericalism and to save our own sanity. I always hope we're doing the right thing.

And each year, when I see my children's faces light up, their wide bright eyes catch the Christmas lights, I know that it's all worth it. 

They'll have this memories to last forever. At least longer than Pokemon will be popular.

After all the gift opening, I walked by our hall chalk board that had our Christmas count down, the one that the boys had meticulously updated each night for the last month. The number of days until Christmas had been changed. The "1" was smudged out, and in sweet little kid handwriting, was "365". 

Monday, December 29, 2014

Review of 2014: Part 4

Just as suddenly as I have come to terms that it is 2014, here I am, wrapping up a review of the entire year. Every year, I hope to take things slower, more simply, but time just continues to race along, regardless of my feelings.

After a stressful spring and a busy summer, I was hoping things would settle down in the fall/winter. They didn't. Both due to outside events and my own doing, things stayed busy.


We visited the Field of Dreams - it only took over 5 years of living a hour away for us to do this.

My brother was in a very serious accident. It resulted in a long ICU stay and many many worrisome moments. He is in the process of making a full recovery.

The stress of being far away from family continued to be a strain.

I ran my first 10K.

We celebrated Hubster's birthday.

I started a chess club at Monkey's elementary school. I've loved every moment of it.

We tried to take advantage of everything autumn has to offer in the Midwest. Autumn here never fails to amaze me.  We did hikes, corn mazes, leaf piles, and pumpkin picking.

We celebrated Halloween.


I continued my job search. I spent (and continue to spend) a significant time freaking out about it.

It snowed. I worried that this would mean another terrible winter. However, that has been the only snow we received so far.

I had a mother-son date night with Bug and Monkey. We ate out and they just killed me with their cuteness as they ordered their own food without any input from me. We finished the evening at Cirque Du Soleil. I spent a couple days afterwards wondering if Monkey was going to run off with the circus.

Hubster's brother's daughter was born with a severe congenital heart defect and underwent several surgeries. She's home now and doing quite well.

Duck turned 2.

We celebrated Thanksgiving, doing our first one completely on our own without any friends or extended family.


I scheduled another job interview (to be done in January) There may be more details depending on how it goes. Hubster started his post-dental school job search. We decided that living in the same state is a high priority for us.

Monkey had a lot of Boy Scout activities - fire safety, and swimming, and bell ringing. 

We continued to have a lot of chess - both at the school club and a few tournaments that Monkey did.

We had our traditional fondue night for winter solstice.

We tried to focus on Christmas. Hubster's school schedule lightened a little, making that easier.

We picked our tree.

We baked a ridiculous amount of cookies.

We had more pajama days than I care to admit.

It didn't snow. 

We had a lovely Christmas.


I wish I could say that 2014 was a good year. There were plenty of good, even amazingly wonderful parts of it. But overall, it has been a difficult year for us. We've had one family crisis after another. Hubster and I are almost to the point of decided that if our phones ring after 10 pm, we aren't going to answer, because we can't take any more bad news.

I'm continuing to try to focus on the beauty and not be weighed down by the stressful, but it's often very difficult.

As for 2015, I have no idea what it holds. There will most likely be a move, but I don't yet know where. There will most likely be a job change, but I don't know to what. There will be more birthdays, more miles logged, more holidays celebrated. I hope there will be fewer late night phone calls and less hospital visits. But even if that hope doesn't hold up, there will still be us, attempting to take things a day at a time and find enjoyment and quiet where we can.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Review of 2014: Part 3

2014 Review Extravaganza
We celebrated the Fourth with Popsicles, sparklers, and glow sticks.
We left on what I started calling our epic family road trip, traveling to the Great Smokey Mountains, Disney World, the Gulf Coast, Atlanta, Nashville, and other locations.
We took awesome family pictures like this...
I fell in love with road tripping and have spent all the time since trying to convince Hubster that we should buy an Airstream.
We spent a weekend in Chicago.
We sent the two oldest boys on their first solo trip to visit their grandparents. We all survived.
We tried to make the most of each hot day. We ate our weight in Popsicles.
Monkey turned 8.
Bug started middle school. Monkey started 3rd grade.


We all survived.

I started seriously looking for my next job. Hubster and I flew to the West Coast to interview. I didn't get the job and for very complicated reasons, I was ok with it.
We redid our deck.
We went apple picking.
Overall, we did our best to take it slower. And enjoy every moment that we could. After how stressful the first part of the year was, it was just what we needed.