Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Our Christmas morning

It's Christmas morning at our home. Santa made an early drop off since we're leaving later today to spend Christmas with Brent's family. The kids are still sleeping. And since I was lying awake, part with excitement for the morning and mostly with aches and pains, I decided to get up and make breakfast.

I am just hoping the kids - Noah especially - will be excited about this visit from Santa. We've been doing Christmas in phases this year so we can see all of our family. And I'm afraid Noah is slightly confused. Or, she is thinking that Santa is just alright, since he keeps coming and coming.

The only gift she has asked for over and over again is a pink house - namely a particular pink doll house. This is what Grandma and Grandpa...also under the disguise of Santa...had got for her. And that present was delivered over the weekend.

So while sitting on Santa's lap Monday evening (our neighbor plays a great Santa and makes house calls to kids around town every year), he asks her, "What do you want for Christmas, Noah?"

She matter-of-factly replies, "A pink house, but I already got it. You can get my brother one."

Santa, Mommy and Daddy are deflated.

Mommy and Daddy have really been looking forward to giving our budding performer a preschool karaoke toy (Fisher Price Star Station). And now we're just hoping she will feel the same way about it.

I'll let you know how things go.

Until then, cherish and treasure this time with your children, your families and your spouses.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Down and dirty

I see dust everywhere. I don't know if it's because I have just six weeks left to go in this pregnancy, or that my mother and my very neat and organized sister-in-law are coming to visit this weekend, but whatever the reason, I feel like I am living in a dust pile.

I spent 30 minutes yesterday morning wiping down every surface in the refrigerator. But that wasn't enough. I soaked the "yucky looking grill thingy" at the base of the fridge in a vinegar bath in the tub.

Handprints and smears on the walls started to jump out at me. Nearly every wall surface within the reach of a three-year-old has been scrubbed with soapy water.

Yesterday, I cleaned the bathroom in all those corners to which I usually turn a blind eye. You know what I'm talking about - that hard to reach place all the way behind the toilet, the dust bunnies behind a decorative basket of towels. And just when I thought I was finished, I noticed the dust between the window and the window screen. That's where I'll be starting my day.

And I will also be dusting the wood blinds, disenfecting door knobs, and attacking the yuckiest place of all - the buffet that has accumlated under my kitchen table.

Happy holiday preparations, ya'all!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Annual Christmas Letter

Why waste creative effort only to mail out the letters? I say spread the effort around, and blog it!!

A few days after Thanksgiving, I began the process of decorating for Christmas. This year, it meant Brent had to climb into that awkward closet and begin lugging down box after box of my favorite things. I told myself, that at this point in my pregnancy, just the tree a few small things would be enough decorations for this year. But with each box I opened, I just couldn’t resist.

Alas, snowmen, Santa’s, strands of garland, stockings, three nativity scenes and five days of work later, the job was complete.

In the days that have passed, I have spent some portion of time each day on my hands and knees – remember, very pregnant - looking for baby Jesus. Of all the figures in the two out of three nativity scenes that are within reach of little hands, baby Jesus seems to be the favorite. I have found him under the couch, nestled among the Christmas books, baking in the toy oven, and sleeping at the bottom of the toy box.

I just could not stand to look at an incomplete nativity scene – especially one missing baby Jesus, himself. After all, we’re celebrating his big day!

During one particular search and rescue mission, where I found baby Jesus deep in the cushions of the couch, Jesus had this message of thanks for me,

“My dear, you are looking for me in all the wrong places.”

I heard his message. Loud and clear. And I’m wishing the same for all of you this year…

…that you find baby Jesus, not in the mess strung across your house, but in the faces of the precious children who made that mess…

…not in the crumbs under the kitchen table, but in the blessings of food and warmth…

…not in the broken decorations and ornaments, but in the grubby little hands that just wanted to throw a ball…

Some days, it can be so hard to see what is right in front of you.

Brent and I strive to be mindful each day of just how precious, and fleeting, these messes truly are. Noah, now 3, and Tucker, 18 months, can really wreck havoc on Christmas trees and nativity scenes. Oh and next year, when there are three of them, I just hope baby Jesus is up for a solid month of hide and seek.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours!

Brent, Sarah, Noah and Tucker

Monday, December 8, 2008

Invisible moms

I am devoting full creative energy to our annual Christmas letter. But I received an email today from my Aunt Donna that I thought was soooo worth sharing. Thanks, Donna! And enjoy everyone!

Invisible Mother......

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store.

Inside I'm thinking, 'Can't you see I'm on the phone?' Obviously, not.

No one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all.

I'm invisible. The invisible Mom. Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this? Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, 'What time is it?' I'm a satellite guide to answer, 'What number is the Disney Channel?' I'm a car to order, 'Right around 5:30, please.' I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated sum a cum laude - but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's going; she's going; she is gone! One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England.

Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in.

I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself.

I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, 'I brought you this.'

It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe.

I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription:
'To My Dear Friend, with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.' In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work:

No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names.

These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished.

They made great sacrifices and expected no credit.

The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything. A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, 'Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it.' And the workman replied, 'Because God sees.' I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place.

It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, 'I see you. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become.' At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride. I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on.

The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.
When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, 'My Mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table.' That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, 'you're going to love it there.' As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right.

And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.