Christmas thoughts

Our tree is so pretty. It was also so very much fun to decorate it this year, which makes its beauty all the more enjoyable. The kids pause on their way through the room to admire it from afar, or perhaps run over just to make sure their favorite ornament is still in that special spot. Our tree night was filled with dancing and laughing and Christmas music in the background — and free from frustration or dashed hopes or any of the other things that can so often accompany traditions.

tree night photos here.


Christmas isn’t about getting presents. We all want our kids to know it’s so much more than that. No one’s happy when suddenly their children turn into greedy monsters the day after Thanksgiving. But this year, I’ve been challenged by the idea that Christmas isn’t about giving, either. At least, not presents. I needed that little reminder from the Holy Spirit because I love this excuse to give gifts to my kids, my family, my friends—so much fun! But I can get uptight, too, about choosing the perfect gift. So maybe my kids need to lift their eyes from the getting, but I need to lift my eyes from the giving sometimes. I need to remember that Jesus is all that matters. (And if I’m going to get caught up in giving, give love.)


We are dancing loosely through these days of December. We fit in chores here and there, quickly pull out a page of math, surreptitiously fit in a reading lesson while doing Christmas crafts. But we also linger in PJs a little longer. Bake cookies. Visit friends.

Saturday, after being out late at the CFA Christmas concert, I declared a Christmas holiday. We ate rice pudding (a rare treat these days), wore our pajamas, and watched The Nutcracker from under afghans. Nana (my mom) came to join us. It was the slow family day you dream of. What a blessing.

boys getting ready to decorate the first rum logs of the season!


As I add greenery here and a candle there, and in general just go all out with making the house pretty and cozy, I am more aware than ever of my ability to quickly slip into Sounding Gong and Clanging Cymbal mode: warm, cozy home without a warm, cozy Mama. Good works without love behind them is always a rather ludicrous idea, but it becomes only more so when my efforts at “warmth” are so concerted. If I have cookies baked for the neighbors but have snapped at my husband, what have I gained? If every window is lit and the garlands carefully hung but I banished my kids in frustration, what have I gained? I remind myself of this as I plan each day and carefully weigh each moment’s decisions. Better to have a little less “cozy” and little more love, I’d say. A wise woman builds her home—and her home is people.

favorite Christmas decor from Germany


We have a surprise guest this Christmas. In case you didn’t get the message via FaceBook, here it is:

(Guess that last post will come in handy!)

baby news

Baby #3 is growing — fast! There are so many kicks and wiggles these days, and my belly is huge already! Before I know it, summer will be in full swing, and it’ll be time to dust off the Moses basket and wash the teeny tiny diapers.

Since moving back to upstate NY last year, I’ve had my ear to the ground regarding birth options, knowing I’d have to cross that bridge sooner or later. A few weeks after this baby made himself known, I started looking for real — and wasn’t very encouraged. I followed every lead I had. I scoured the internet, using every search engine and forum I could find to locate an upstate midwife. I really, really wanted a homebirth. I just kept holding out hope, but by week 18, it was getting pretty hard.

I was trying to come to terms with what seemed like the only option: finding a cooperative doctor and hoping for the best in a hospital. I knew I could trust God in that scenario. But I was so disappointed.

Finally, realizing that if I didn’t act soon, I wouldn’t get accepted by anyone as a patient, I started making phone calls and scheduling preliminary appointments.

And then Ryan had a brilliant idea: “Why don’t you call your old midwife down in NC and see if she knows of anyone who’s running under the radar?”

Sure enough. After searches that said the closest licensed homebirth midwife was in Ithaca, I found out there’s one in Canton, NY. My jaw dropped.

Too good to be true?

We tracked down her phone number (Ryan did, because she’s no where on the internet), and just a brief chat — her mellow voice, her pace, her no-nonsense brand of friendliness — made me jump up and down a little.

And when she came — because all of her visits are house calls!! — I almost cried. The first time we heard the baby’s heartbeat, I was laying on my own couch, with Ryan and the boys and this incredibly easy-going woman who just sort of slipped into the family room like an old friend.

She dots her i’s and crosses her t’s. She’s careful and cautious and courageous. She’s incredibly informed. She’s been through the wringer. She’s everything you expect from a lifelong advocate of natural childbirth.

And most of all, this has the distinct fragrance of gift from the Lord, dropped right into my lap. Really. A little miracle, just for me.

christmas 2010

My two little boys are still playing their way through the stash of new gifts. Jameson successfully followed the directions to build his first Lego set, and William has won every round of alphabet bingo we’ve played. World maps have been assembled, Toy Story figures flown through the house, and lots of books read by the fire. Have two boys ever been so thoroughly indulged?

We celebrated our first Christmas Eve in our own home this year, and enjoyed having my grandparents here to share it with us. We woke up to stuffed stockings at our own fireplace, and then scurried to pile presents and breakfast and ourselves into the van so we could join the festivities at my parent’s house. It was a wonderful, relaxing day of just being together. And, of course, of yummy food and lovely tables.

The highlight of this Christmas season, though, was finding out that Baby #3 is due this summer! Jameson, especially, has been asking and asking about another baby (“Mom, don’t you want more boys? Like, ten? Wouldn’t that be fun, Mom?”). Boy or girl, we definitely think this will be fun.