Thursday, December 31, 2009

Christmas Eve Lights-and THE Light

Some of our new friends from church who live in our neighborhood invited us over for Christmas Eve dinner and then a tour of some of the Griswoldesque houses in the area. We were happy to join in on their festivities- it was a delicious dinner, and the houses we saw were definitely over the top. Thanks Stephens family!

This was the first one-it is amazing- they must own every blow up lawn decoration ever made. And the front porch is full of every annoying singing Christmas toy ever made.

This was the third house we saw- it has been featured on TLC. The guy broadcasts on his own radio station and syncronizes the lights with the music. Over the top.
It was so cold- we drove home and snuggled up by the fire and read our Jesse tree devotion- and sang Christmas carols, our hearts warmed as we sang of the child born in a manger, the child foretold and long awaited by a people who desperately longed for someone to save them. How they must have daily yearned-looking forward to his coming- like Simeon in the temple-who knew he would see the Messiah before he died. When Jesus was brought to the temple he cried out:
“Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace,
According to Your word;
For my eyes have seen Your salvation
(Luke 2:29-30)
What tears of joy must have coursed down his wrinkled cheeks! How his heart must have nearly burst with joy, pure joy, at seeing the promised one. It says "he took him up in his arms and blessed God, "(v28) and said those words above. Can you see him reaching eagerly for the tiny baby boy, the Consolation of Israel, Emmanuel, God with us! He knew the verses from Isaiah. He knew that somehow this child would drink the full cup of God's wrath, and He, Simeon, would receive mercy. Jesus did what we could not do for ourselves. "For our sake he made him to be sin, who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."(2 Cor. 5:21) We are no longer enemies of God. He comforts us. His mercy is poured out on us. It is too wonderful to be believed! The extravagance of it should make us tremble as Simeon probably did, from joy, just heartwrenching joy. This is why my heart is full to bursting at Christmas- not just the beauty of the story, but that somehow I have been woven into this story- this scandalous, extravagant, beautiful story with a happy, happy ending. "Mercy and truth have met together; Righteousness and peace have kissed."(Psalm 85:10)
1 And in that day you will say:
“O LORD, I will praise You;
Though You were angry with me,
Your anger is turned away,
and You comfort me."
Isaiah 12:1
Sing, O heavens!
Be joyful, O earth!
And break out in singing, O mountains!
For the LORD has comforted His people,
And will have mercy on His afflicted.
Isaiah 49:13

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Snowed In! (Day Two)

Look at the awesome icicles hanging from the eaves!

Maybe next year little Harris.
What does this remind you of?

Digging out! It was fun and neighborly to be out today. Everyone was digging, dogs were frolicking in the snow. One of our friend dogs, Toby, got stuck it was so deep. And he got matted furry ice dingleberries all up and down his legs that his mom said took an hour to get out. He was the picture of doggy joy bounding through the snow. We made sure to tell the kids,"Don't eat yellow snow!"

That path is our sidewalk that I partly plowed through. Our neighbors yard is still pristine- they have no kids to mess it up.

Like wise Chinese man once said: when blizzard is approaching, always park car in driveway.

I love our dapper snowman with the holly bow tie!

Snow friends!

Darling snow girl...

And another snow girl in sheer bliss...what an angel!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Snowed In! (Day One)

This is what I will remember: the kids running in to our bedroom when they woke up- thud, thud, thud..."It's all snowy! Everything's white!" The excitement of children on waking up to a big snow for the first time in their lives. Jay and I opened the blinds on the window over our bed and we all sat on our knees and gazed in awe at the beautiful spectacle of our yard and street under a blanket of pure white snow! The kids eyes were so wide- they just looked and looked, and exclaimed, and pointed, and talked about what they saw. We all could hardly wait to go out and PLAY!

Snowy hugs!

Ruthie in the snow fort.Our neighbor with the handy-dandy snow-blower.

We wanted to all go out together so Harris got bundled up too. He hated it. He reminded me of a baby starfish, beached. Poor guy.

Ruthie could not wait to get outside (i.e. asked me every 4 seconds if we could go out now) and when she did she was laughing uncontrollably and just flopping around in the deep snow. It was hilarious. She even somehow made it out without her hat on.

Holy cannoli!

Our faithful mailman! The mail must go through!

Too cold for baby boys. Blizzards are not good for babies.

Site of our previous night's festivities.

These were our first pictures, but there was much more to come. The snow fell heavily all day. Ruthie and Jay were out almost all day, with breaks for eating and naptime. The snow was so deep that Mac had trouble getting through it, and it just wore him out. He loved it, but he couldn't stay out as long as Ruthie. Jay was like a kid, playing and romping. He was a great snow horse, built a snow-fort with Ruthie, flopped and played- with intermittent bouts of shoveling the driveway. The snow was falling so fast that his work was almost undone as soon as he finished! We figured we probably wouldn't make it to church in the morning, and we were right. But the day dawned beautiful and bright, and with fresh snow, since it had kept snowing after we messed it all up the day before!

Grillin' Weather

Due to Jay's aforementioned disappointment with the buffalo burger, or maybe just because the man loves burgers, Jay grilled out in the freezing cold on the wings of a blizzard. Jay's Coast Guard buddy Ed, who lives nearby braved the traffic (crazy people stocking up on everything) and came to eat with us. The kids love Ed and get so excited when he comes over. They wanted him to come for Thanksgiving, but Ed does have family so, maybe next year. By the time Ed left around 9, the snow was falling thickly, as you can see by the picture. I felt like a kid, giddy, looking out the window every few minutes. It is so wonderful to go to bed knowing that it is really snowing hard and you will wake up to find a wonderland the next day. The weather guessers were calling for 10-20 inches! I was skeptical, but excited. And turns out they guessed one right! The storm that dumped all that rain on our friends on the Gulf Coast came up here and blanketed us!

Las floras Blancas

Look at these beautiful, pristine, white blooms! Reminds me of SNOW!

Fun in the District

Lincoln Memorial, and,
Family Favorite, Washington Monument.
Seagull, standing on the pool in front of the Capitol. He is wondering where that place called the Bahamas is and how he can get there. Quickly.

The Capitol's Christmas tree.

The White House.
A Capitol Girl!

Friday was Jay's day off so we ventured out before the big storm, and in hindsight, I am glad we did (now on day three of being snowed in). It was very cold, but we went into the warm misty Botanic Gardens to see the holiday displays. The first one we saw and were amazed by- models of the most famous buildings and monuments in DC made out of plant materials such as moss, leaves, seed pods, mushrooms, gourds, etc. The detail and creativity were just breathtaking. The second seasonal display was a train that winds through villages and scenes, all made from, you guessed it, all natural plant materials. Again- amazing. We also walked up to see the Capitol's Christmas tree, said to be much prettier than the National Tree. It was decorated by school children in Arizona, with fun ornaments such as cowboy boots, snakes, and cacti. For lunch we walked across the street to the Museum of the American Indian, because Jay had heard that they had buffalo burgers and he wanted to try one. The cafeteria was very nice, with food from Indian groups around North and South America ( I had fish stew and a tamale- South American cuisine). Not bad for a museum cafeteria. Jay was not impressed with the buffalo burger, being the burger connoisseur that he is, but we had a nice lunch and then headed home.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas Crawler Top Ten

Our Christmas tree is officially under siege. Harris has been crawling for about two weeks, just in time to launch an all-out assault on the huge sparkly tree with presents underneath.
10. Notice Ruthie's hands, ready to snatch Harris away. Notice also that Harris is wearing his stripey hospital hat, looking rather gangsta. Ruthie picked his outfit and she wanted him to wear it.
9. Harris has ripped wrapping paper off two gifts, removed the bow from one, and spit up on one.
8. Note the words BEEP BEEP on his bootie. Very appropriate. He should have a warning siren as well.
7. The best treat he's found on the floor yet was a dead cricket. He chewed on it for a few minutes before I discovered it and dug it out of his mouth, small creepy parts at a time. Shudder. Awful. Ruthie reminded me that John the Baptist ate locusts. True. Thank you Miss- Know-it-All-Sweet Daughter.
6. Harris is still a nasty spitter-upper. This and the fact that we have carpet on the level where we are most of the day means, I have become a constant carpet cleaner. Seriously, I hated carpet before, now I despise it. I clean up an average of 5 spots a day. It makes me want to not feed the kid bright veggies and fruits either. Dear Lord, I want wood floors for Christmas. But I am a renter, ruining someone else's carpet. I guess that is a consolation.
5. Baby proofing all over again has been quite a challenge. I am trying to drill this into the older kids' heads too. PICK UP the crayons and other little kid debris that could KILL your baby brother. Please.
4. In addition to the Christmas Tree, Harris also finds himself strangely drawn to the gas fireplace located in the playroom. Thank goodness it has a screen built in to the front.
3. I love getting down on the floor and making Harris laugh and watching him come to me. So sweet!
2. He has not attempted the stairs yet. Note to self: get baby gate ASAP. Once the tree is down I bet he'll discover the stairs.
1. Harris is crawling sooner than Ruth or Mac did. He feels like he has to work a bit harder to catch up to where his big sis and bro are. It won't be long!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Preschool "Pretty Cool" Christmas

Lunch time!Mac with his tree.

Granville really enjoyed making, and eating, his edible Christmas tree!

And so did Ryan!

And sweet Mella!

Ruthie too!
This past Wednesday was my day to host preschool, and it was three hours of crazy, chaotic fun (and learning, of course)! We talked and read about baby Jesus, sang Away in a Manger, made Christmas tree ornaments and edible Christmas trees, ate lunch, and had free time for play! This is a fun group of kiddos to be sure. I think there is a budding preschool romance between Mac and Mella. They were holding hands during story time. We tried to do a live Nativity but we were having squabbles between the two girls who both wanted to be Mary, and Granville was not interested at all. He, understandably, wanted to play with Thomas the train. Ryan did want to be Joseph and then the donkey, but all I had were bunny ears, so he wore a brown grocery bag and pink and white bunny ears. I guess he was a rabbonkey. Or a donkunny. Or a bunnkey. Whatever the name, it was super cute. And Mella did a solo- Away in a Manger- so precious. Ruthie is definitely the mother hen as the oldest kid, very funny to observe in a group like this. After all was said and done I sent the kids home hopped up on frosting; I know those moms were so thankful!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

In the Bleak Midwinter

In the bleak midwinter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter,
Long ago.

Our God, heaven cannot hold him,
Nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away
When he comes to reign;
In the bleak midwinter
A stable place sufficed
The Lord God incarnate,
Jesus Christ.

Enough for him, whom Cherubim
Worship night and day
A breast full of milk
And a manger full of hay.
Enough for him, whom angels
Fall down before,
The ox and ass and camel
which adore.

Angels and archangels
May have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim

Thronged the air;
But his mother only,
In her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the Beloved
With a kiss.

What can I give him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb,
If I were a wise man
I would do my part,
Yet what I can I give Him —
Give my heart.

-Christina Rosetti

Our choir at church sang this beautiful carol last week and I wanted to share it with you. "Our God, heaven cannot hold him..."

Monday, December 07, 2009

Snow Day!

The weather-guessers, as Jay and I call meteorologists, got it right on Saturday. It snowed all day long, starting around 11:00, right when we were at TISCOM's (USCG base where Jay works) Children's Christmas party. Santa arrived in a flurry of flurries to give out presents, and the kids and I went on a carriage ride with the flakes falling thickly (one horse open carriage?).
The snow was very wet and only accumulated an inch or so, not the best for playing, but great for the kids to run around in and for me to see out the window as I finished my Christmas decorating. I love the hush that accompanies a good snow, a sort of muffled stillness that surrounds you as the flakes hurry past. There is also a muted brightness, gray and white, that is very singular to a snowfall. We can't wait for our next one- hopefully a good packing snow on Christmas Eve!
I'm dreaming of a white Christmas
With every Christmas card I write
May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases be white!