A reason to celebrate

The house is quiet as the snow falls outside my window. The world is awash with white, hushed and still. Branches bend under the weight of the wet snow; there are no cars passing by on the street. Ryan took the kids sledding and Hazel is curled up and sleeping on the couch after a romp through the fresh snow.

My Mom and Dad left yesterday for their annual month-long stay in California, just escaping the snow storm. It was this same weekend last year, the day after my parents left, that my brother’s house caught fire.

It was just after midnight on Saturday night and my brother, sister-in-law and their three kids were all sleeping in their second floor bedrooms. The fire started in the basement. My sister-in-law woke to the scream of the smoke alarm in their bedroom. They opened the bedroom door to find smoke waist high in the upstairs hallway. After going half-way down the stairs and glimpsing flames through the floor grate in the kitchen, my brother ran back upstairs to get everyone…

Memories made

We made new memories last Saturday.

Somehow we found a day when everyone could get together to make Christmas cookies. We were three generations in a place that has been my family's home for at least that long, and all was right in the world. Mom was having a good day and was energized with all of her family at home. KU won a big basketball game earlier in the day making everyone, especially my Dad, happy. The girls made cookies while the boys played basketball on an especially warm December afternoon. Our cookies weren't Pinterest-worthy, but they were delicious.

Mom was much more interested in taking care of her newest granddaughter, 5 month-old Hartley Paige, than in helping decorate cookies. She lights up and is her happiest when around the baby. Hartley has this effect on all of us. Any hint of sadness gets snuffed out with her around. Baby smells, baby sounds, a touch of her soft skin, those big eyes smiling up at you - that's all a person needs to fill their soul …

Making memories

I pull myself out of my warm bed and shuffle in the dark towards the kitchen to make a pot of coffee - a must before braving the frigid morning air to walk the puppy. Dim lights from a holiday wreath blink from the living room wall and I realize I forgot to turn the lights off the night before. The batteries that power the string of lights in the wreath are from last year, replacing them is on my to-do list. I decide I like the softer, muted effect on the lights and I’m not going to replace the batteries just yet.

It’s December. That crazy time of year when my kids run on candy canes and sugar cookies, and each day they wake with the hope that an overnight snowfall will cancel school. They are 9 and 7 this year, old enough to know Santa isn’t real, but still wanting to believe. My son differentiates what he calls the “mall Santas” from the real thing - proving to me, and to himself, that he still believes. The season is filled with the promise of magic and the innocence of believing.…

Grading on a curve

I give myself a B for today’s parenting. Breakfast was uneventful (if slightly less than nutritious), the dog was a bit less crazy than usual, lunches got made and we all got out the door with completed homework and full water bottles. Importantly, there were no tears and no yelling. Success.

I try not to grade my parenting daily, but more often than not I end the day feeling inadequate. Some days I feel like an outright failure as a parent - days that begin with a hurried morning to get to an early meeting, a meeting where nothing gets accomplished and that I should have skipped. Days that start with forgotten lunches and misplaced library books lead to an evening where I’m late to drive the soccer carpool and dinner gets on the table at 8:45. Everyone is tired, some of us cry, some of us yell. No one goes to bed happy.

But even on the days I give myself an F, I hug my kids before they go to school. I feed them a healthy dinner and tuck them into bed with a kiss. I ask them about t…

That Christmas feeling....

My grandparents' Christmas with Conniff record was my favorite thing about Christmas when I was a child. If they had other Christmas records, I definitely don't remember them. I only wanted to hear this one over and over again. My request to hear the record was never denied, even in the middle of Summer. Hearing the traditional Christmas songs channels everything good about Christmas for me. I used to listen to the CD when I was away from home in college, graduate school and across the pond. This record always transported me back home and put me in the holiday spirit.

I don't remember one present my grandparents gave me for Christmas as a child. Not one. I'm sure there was a special doll or toy each year - they always tried hard to get my brother and sister and I just the right gifts. My grandparents did not have much money and I remember my grandmother used to put things on lay away (remember that?!) at the small department store in my hometown. The gifts were not ex…

Roxie and my babies

Thinking about and missing Roxie this time of year....The similarity of these two photos of Charlie and Izzy at almost the exact same age (about 8-10 months) with Roxie is amazing, but not surprising. She was the most patient of dogs and wonderful with the kids from the time they were born.

Failed Holiday Photos 2.0 - #TBT Izzy's first Christmas

I would be remiss if I didn't include my valiant attempts at getting a Christmas card picture on this blog. I started early this year, knowing two kids would be more challenging than one. I am happy with the picture we used for the cards (none of these) but a few of these are cute, funny and perfectly imperfect.