Monday, December 8, 2014

Christmas Breathing

It's the smell I love the most. Spicy cinnamon with a hint of fir and nutmeg and snow all mixed in. And strings of white lights. And nativity scenes. And evergreen. And candles. Happiness.

We are well into the Christmas season around here. Right after Thanksgiving (and by "right after" I mean later in the afternoon when we had finished our feast), I started decorating for Christmas. Now, just for clarity sake, let me state this: I love to decorate for Christmas and generally do start decorating the weekend after Thanksgiving. I started Thanksgiving day itself because we had NO KIDS for Thanksgiving (well, other than my two monkeys), and we were going off duty Sunday night. So in order to ensure it was 100% finished (keeping in mind I'm decorating our little 500 sq ft in addition to our huge cottage) by Sunday, I started Thursday.

It was so much fun to have transformed the cottage before the girls got back from their various visits. The ooohs and aahhhs as they walked in were rather gratifying. And since the Christmas festivities on campus started by December 3, I really had to have everything done by the 1st. Because trying to decorate after the 1st would be a nightmare.

What is the Christmas season like as a houseparent? Busy. I know, I know. Christmas is a busy seasons, yadda yadda yadda. No, you don't understand. Take the already, normally, very busy lives of houseparents, and then add 19 types of parties in the span of 17 days. That kind of busy.

Christmas is the season when everybody wants to reach out and help those less fortunate than themselves. And who better to help than the children at the home? Which is great! But it means we get a rush of activity it is exhausting to keep up with.

It started with a Christmas party on Wednesday of last week. Friday was our open house for the cottage where the kids get to invite people from the community to the house and we get all sorts of visitors for several hours. It's a fun evening and the girls get really good at giving tours of the house and enjoying being hosts. Of course we were off, which meant that we really weren't off because things like that you still go out and do. It's just part of the job...because this isn't just a job. It's a lifestyle and a ministry.

Then Saturday was the beginning of the feast of parties. Two parties actually. Followed by another one on Sunday. Followed by one or two and, I believe three on one day, every day from then until about the 20th. (Yes, they are still in school during all this). One of those parties is a banquet in which the kids do much of the program, so add rehearsals into all that. Oh, and don't forget rehearsals for the church program.

For us houseparents, there is also decorating the campus, and all of our regular paperwork/medical work/newsletters/shopping, etc on top of all the parties. The one major blessing is that many of the evening parties will provide dinner for the children, which gives us a break from cooking (Hallelujah!).It's a never ending stream of celebration and pizza for several weeks. Fabulous and exhausting (and almost guaranteed, I will have one child stay home from school one of these days so tired she needs to sleep all day--I have my bets placed already on which one it will be!).

And then come December 21st it will all STOP. Abruptly. It's like slamming on the breaks of a runaway train. Many if not all of the kids will disperse to various places for the next few days/weeks. The campus will become so quiet. And we settle into the peace of a normal family Christmas (always with open places and hearts for those children who stay with us).

So back to the smell of cloves and cinnamon and spices....I have a basket sitting outside the door to my apartment which is filled to the brim of all good smells Christmasy. And every morning I take moment to just breathe in the smell and remind myself of the whys and wherefores of this season, in order to keep myself from stressing out from the extroversion and never-endingness of the next few weeks, and enable myself to cherish every busy moment as a reminder of peace and love and giving and celebration of the birth of the Baby who changed the world.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Daybook September 23, 2014

Outside my window...fall has come. At least I'm hoping that's what this cooler weather and crispy feeling in the air means. I confess to loving fall. It's a season I didn't have much of growing up, but there's something about this time that I adore. The colors, the cooler air without the bitterness of winter, fall activities, boots! What's not to love?

I am thinking...about babies. No, no. This is not a surreptitious announcement of any sort. But just saw an amazing video on the development of a baby, and have one friend who has had her baby recently, and waiting for an aunt to have hers, and you know...babies. And how precious every life is.

I am thankful kisses and "Lub you" statements combined with strangling hugs

From the learning rooms...[or in our case--the learning brain]...Baby Z is picking up new words every day.

From the kitchen...came chili today. I couldn't help myself. The fall spoke to me.

I am wearing...pajamas and fuzzy socks. Love fuzzy socks. Another plus for fall.

I am creating...preschool plans. This week we're reading Goodnight Moon. An oldie but still a fun one to read. We had a "bowl full of mush" this morning and Blueberry is now learning how to write M.

I am going...walking or running almost every morning. I hate running. But I needed to do something, and at least we have a convenient park across the street to go to. Maybe I'll grow to like it. But for now, it is what it is. 

In my mailbox today.. .was Blueberry's new pedipeds. Her feet suddenly grew a whole size, seemingly overnight. So we had to get some new shoes in a hurry. I'm normally extremely careful about shopping the sales for her shoes because I am picky about the quality, but with that comes a larger price tag. I did my best this time, but shopping in a hurry is never good. Cute shoes though :)

I am reading.. .Gilded by Christina Farley. One of the main things I immediately loved about this book was that it was obviously written by someone who has spent time as a TCK or at least an Expat and has worked or been a student in (worked as it turned out) an international school. She spoke my world. And that was happy.

I am hearing...violin music. There is a fabulous all-classical music station around here, and I keep it playing in the kids room at night as it seems to help them sleep. Everywhere else I've lived, the classical stations only played classical music for some of the time. This one, the only other programming I've heard on it is an Episcopalian church service on Sunday mornings that they play. Good speaker too.

Around the house...I'm pretty pleased with how I've managed to keep up with our personal house this shift (another four weeker). Sometimes things get so busy, keeping our personal apartment clean becomes impossible.Which I hate.

One of my favorite things...did I mention I love fall? Crunchy leaves. The smell of woodburning stoves. Hot chocolate.

A few plans for the rest of the week:
- decorate the cottage for fall
- take my babies for shots (ugh)
- go to some kind of Fall activity this weekend (apple picking; corn maze; fall festival--still deciding)
- Skype my parents before they die from lack of contact with their grandbabies 

Here is picture (or more) for thought I am sharing...

My newest hobby: learning to do my twin's hair well. Tired of not being able to help. This was my first attempt. Have conquered the cornrow. Well, started on it, any ways. Been fun if challenging. It just takes soooooo long.

Want to join in? Go check out The Simple Woman's Daybook.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

"When you are not feeling particularly friendly…put on a friendly manner and behave as if you were a nicer person than you actually are."
~A Year with C. S. Lewis

Friday, July 18, 2014

A Mommy's Prayer

Dear Lord,

Help me to see the world as my children do. Remind me of the wonder and excitement of the small things, the importance of the insignificant, the agony of minor wounds, and the joys found in day to day events.

Forgive me for my moments of impatience and irritation. Help me find the extra burst of energy when I'm being called upon, yet again, when I'm already tired and ready for a rest. Grant me an double dose of patience when I'm on the verge of melting down myself.

Lend me a glimpse through your eyes and the understanding of your ears in seeing my kids and hearing their words.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Daybook 07.15.14 - Tuesday

Outside my window...the sunshine is shining beautifully without being to miserably hot. Just the we like it best.....Since I wrote the above, we clouded over, the heavens opened up, and now it's bucketing down with rain. But I see sunshine in the horizon, so we should be dry soon.

I am thinking...about how quickly this summer is going. We still have a month before school starts, but realistically, time is slipping away quickly and it's going to be over before we now it!

I am thankful for...moments of down time...sweet, blissful silence during the day.

From the learning rooms...[or in our case--the learning brain]...Baby Z is exploding his language. In the past week, he has begun to copy all sorts of things that he hears. "Ba-Be" is a current favorite phrase (baby), but he really has taken off. So much fun to see.

From the kitchen...Roast chicken satay. I've discovered that cooking a roast chicken with satay sauce is delicious; and makes all my children very happy.

I am wearing...sandals, a skirt, a nursing top.

I am have the girls pick out new backpacks soon--Baby Z and Blueberry included. A generous couple who is a sponsor for our cottage just sent us instructions regarding ordering beautiful new bags for all the girls for school. They're all excited.

In my mailbox today.. .a letter for Blueberry from her Nana and Papa. Always full of interesting objects.

I am reading.. .Kes, by Robin McKinley. I've been not reading blogs lately, but I had to catch up on her weekly serial on her blog. So good!!

I am hearing...a very kind teenager weed-whacking around our house. Blessings on groups who come and help out at the home. Such small acts add up into freedom for us to focus on the key portion of our job--the children--rather than the house maintenance that can take up so much time.

Around the house...change has come again. We came back on duty last week. One child we thought was returning did not. And so we were down to six. And then we added another child yesterday, bringing us back up to seven. The crew we have right now is fantastic and has been so much fun the last few weeks.

One of my favorite things...Cow Appreciation Day at Chic-fil-A. So much fun! And as it fell on 7/11 this year, we all went and got icees from the nearby 7/11. Free food day. What's there to not love?

A few plans for the rest of the week: 
  • going to the Lake
  • going to a park with splash park and mini golf and animals and hunting for gems
  • board games 
  • movies
  • laughter
  • pizza

Here is picture (or more) for thought I am sharing...

Ballerina Blueberry

Cow Appreciation Day

How to Feed a Family of Ten for Free--Dress them like cows!

Want to join in? Go check out The Simple Woman's Daybook.