Tuesday, July 2, 2013

How can it be July already?

I turned the page on the calendar and I asked myself if I had turned one too many pages.  July 1?  That just can’t be!  Half of the year is over and I feel like it just began.  Why is it that as we get older, it feels as though time goes faster?  We plot and plan and then we turn a page on the calendar and realize we flew through another month and didn’t make a dent in the ‘To Do’ list. 

May and June are a bit of a blur, as usual.  My whole life really is a blur these days.  I told a friend last week that I was exhausted with stress.  ‘What are you stressed about?’ she asked me.  It wasn’t that she didn’t think my life warranted my exasperation, it is just that she knows my life is always a certain fever pitch that I just kind of roll with it.  What she was trying to get me to analyze is WHY does it feel worse now.  The answer I came to is that recently we have had a few experiences that have left us emotionally drained.   Being emotionally drained is a VERY different thing from being physically tired, or from having a packed calendar.  Emotionally drained takes a little while to recoup from.  I will work through it, but it will just take a bit.  Sometimes those highly erected personal boundaries crumble and you end up having to rebuild that wall so that you can remain emotionally healthy.  The past month due to a series of difficult encounters and exchanges, my wall has a big hole in it.  I am working on plugging that hole, but sometimes it is tough.

The last year plus Dean and I have been involved in a start-up nonprofit mission based organization.  We were first approached by the founder and his wife over a year ago.  We were excited at the planned focus and potential and opportunity.  We quickly signed on as initial Board members and we got to work.  We have spent countless hours working on the organization’s framework and structure, brainstorming, planning and dreaming of what this organization had the potential to accomplish.  There were ups and downs, which were to be expected, but over the last month we have been asking ourselves some very difficult questions as to where we felt the organization needed to focus its efforts and resources versus where the founders wanted to focus time and energy and funds.  We were growing increasingly uneasy with how things were being said and done and prioritized.  Finally, we felt that we needed to step down from our roles and move on.  It was a difficult decision but one that has been reaffirmed repeatedly since making that decision.  Again, a wide range of emotions that has left me feeling a little drained.

So, yesterday was July 1 and we have a lot going on.  Last night I was cranky with Dean and I felt bad.  It wasn’t his fault, I was just really tired of his preoccupation with classes.   He is enrolled in a program through UC Berkeley and lately it has been a bit all consuming.  He has been doing this for quite a while, but this time the class work has a definite schedule and I’m missing my partner.  I miss his undivided attention.  Selfishly, I miss his time for housecleaning duties.  PLUS it is summer so he only has time for either outside work or inside work and the last couple of weeks the time has been spent outside.  The yard looks good, but the dust bunnies are starting to multiply!  We have a deal in our marriage, I do the meal planning, shopping, cooking, laundry, financial management, and general tidy-up duties and he handles the yard work, home repair and maintenance, and all the housecleaning (except for dusting before planned company—I cover that one!).  It is a good system and I like it that way.  Lately though we have both fallen down on the job.  I lost track of how many times we have had frozen pizza the past month.  Oops!  I’m trying to get back on track, this morning I spent an hour going back through recipes and making a meal plan for the next few days.  I was glad to see that the ‘produce’ section took up most of my grocery list!  He promised me this morning that tonight he would spend cleaning house (we are getting overnight guests in a couple of days!) Back on track??  I hope so!

Annika left Sunday for the month of July.  On the one hand, I was anxious for her to go because I know she will have a fabulous time and it is always a little bit of a breather to have one less person in the house.  She is our easy one these days—but knowing that we don’t have to be home or check in with her does give us a little more freedom which is nice sometimes.   On the other hand though, it is weird to not have her around AND to not have her continual texts and questions and her company.   When Dean is up in his office studying she and I spend a fair amount of time together.  So it is strange when she isn’t there.  It is also strange that her room is spotless and her bed is made!  I know the month will go fast, but it is still a little strange.  She hasn’t been away from us this long since she was in Utah.  She had a little bit of apprehension when she was planning to go this time, and verbalized that she was worried we would move all of her stuff out of the house when she was gone.  Funny how far she has come but yet there is still that inner abandonment/rejection fear deep in there.  I guess we all have that to a certain extent.

Kirsten is home for the summer.  I should say that Kirsten and James are home for the summer.  When you have 1, you have the other!  We cleared out her dorm room 3 weeks ago tomorrow.  We drove the stuff home and unloaded it into the garage and into her bedroom.  It is still there.  In her defense, she was home for a couple of days and then left for 2 weeks of camp.  She came home from that Saturday and then they had a softball tournament this weekend (they play together on a co-ed team).  Yesterday she worked, so today she was going to tackle the bags and boxes and baskets of stuff that is overflowing everywhere!  I see that she just posted at 1 pm that she hit her snooze at 10 and had just gotten up.  So much for a full day at home unpacking!  I can’t wait to get home and see how far she got!  Oh and then let’s not forget that there is a wedding to plan!  Yikes!  The planning has gone well (considering she has been in college and buried with school work).  Some days I feel very comfortable with where we are at and then other nights I wake up in a panic obsessing over some minor detail that she needs to address.  Someone told me recently, ‘it doesn’t really matter, at the end of their wedding day they will be married and that is all that really matters’.  She was right, who will remember what the guest favors were, or what kind of cups and plates we used, or, or, or???

Josh and Evy.  They are 2 months away from their 1 year anniversary.  Now THAT seems really crazy to me!  We get to see them on a somewhat frequent basis which is always great.  In another week they will move into a new apartment which will be a little closer (it is right down the street from my office!).  The new apartment has its own washer and dryer though so I think their overnight visits will probably stop.  Maybe, maybe not.  They liked to show up with a car full of laundry and stay overnight so they can get it all done.  They are still not sure exactly where life is going to take them (they are still trying to get their Peace Corps applications finished!).  For now, Josh keeps working at Target and Evy is doing her final internship to complete her college degree.  What will happen next is anybody’s guess.

So, life is a blur, but overall it is good. 

Friday, May 10, 2013

Mother’s Day

My Mom

I know I am a few days early, but lately I have been thinking a lot about Mother’s Day.  For me, Mother’s Day is more than just Mother’s Day, it also falls right around my own Mother’s birthday.  So it has always been a double-whammy kind of thing,  May 10, today, is my Mother’s birthday.  She is 78.  

This week I was a little confused on what day it was when and all week I was planning that Thursday was May 10.  WRONG, Friday was May 10.  That didn’t stop me from calling my Mom on Thursday to wish her a happy birthday and ask her what she was going to do on her big day.  She politely thanked me for calling, shared what she would be doing and then we ended our conversation.  It wasn’t until about an hour later when I realized (after staring at my email and outlook calendar) that I was a day off.  Of course my Mom never corrected me, that wouldn’t be what she would do.

And so, lately I have been thinking about Mother’s Day and mothers in general.  You see I have an interesting relationship with my Mother.  I love my Mom, she is after all my Mom and that is what you are supposed to do, love and respect them, but I don’t really have a relationship with her.  Sure I call her frequently to make sure she is still breathing and I stop by and see her on a somewhat frequent basis.  I accompany her to Drs appointments.  I make sure that she gets her car fixed when needed and refills her medications.  When she got into a small car accident I took care of the insurance company and the police department and getting the car fixed.  I am a dutiful daughter.  But when it comes time to actually sharing my life and what I think and feel and who I really am, and she the same with me, well that doesn’t happen.  It never has.  You see my Mother is incapable of doing that.  No that isn’t really right either.  Maybe what I should say is that my Mother won’t allow anyone to really engage with her on anything more than a surface level.  You ask her how she is and she won’t answer but will instead turn it around immediately and say ‘how are you?’.  

Mom and Me
My Mom suffers from mental illness.  I have an Uncle that gets very upset when I say this, but it is true and I’ve been done covering that up for a long time now.  I understand that she was a fun big sister growing up.  Her college yearbook reflects a vivacious and popular collegiate coed.  So what happened along the line I’m not sure.  What exactly is her clinical diagnosis is anybody’s guess because it was never a priority for her and Dad to deal with the issue.  When I was a toddler, my older brother remembers that my Mom had a doctor tell her and my Dad that he believed Mom to be manic depressive/bipolar.  The doctor wanted to start investigating treatment options.  Jeff’s recollection is that Dad said ‘No’ and that he and Mom could take care of the issues on their own.  Whether or not that was a proper diagnosis for Mom is besides the point.   All we do know is that growing up in a household where you have a parent that has serious mental health issues that aren’t being properly addressed is no picnic.

Growing up we knew that we were loved by our parents, but we also knew that there was a huge level of dysfunction going on behind closed doors.  Mom could be ridiculously kind and sweet to someone on the phone only to hang up and scream at us kids or at Dad.  Sometimes she would be in bed for days and when asked would simply respond ‘my nerves are shot’.  I remember her more than once threatening to kill herself.  One time in particular I remember her and Dad in a screaming match and she went to the bathroom, broke a glass bottle and tried to slit her wrists with the broken glass.  Dad stopped her, with my older brother’s help, and she spent the next several hours silently laying in bed in the dark.   There was also her incessant requirement for perfection.  Whether it was how our rooms were kept, the clothes we wore, or how we did our hair, everything always needed to adhere to her perfection standards or we would hear about it.  To this day I still cannot wear my hear completely straight because her nagging voice is in the back of my head telling me that I ‘look like a drowned rat’  unless my hair has some curl to it.  I have gotten more relaxed with my own housekeeping and lawn care routine over the years, but it took me a long time to be comfortable with dust bunnies and weeds.  

I realize this is a bit of a gutsy move blogging about this.  After all anyone could see this.  I’m not sure really why I am doing it, other than the fact that it is Mother’s Day week and I find myself dreading picking out a Mother’s Day card  because none of the sentiments seem to fit.  I find myself dreading hosting yet another Mother’s Day/Mom’s birthday dinner without my siblings present to share the joy and pain that is celebrating our Mom.   In these days of social media, I feel a profound sense of loss when I see others post and blog about their multi-faceted relationships with their own Moms.    I am tired of people telling me ‘be glad you still have your mom around, one day you will be sorry when she is gone’.   I want to respond, you have NO idea what you are talking about, but I don’t.  And yes, please be assured that I know my Mom did the best she could with what she had.  I know and I respect that and appreciate that.  But for me, for now, I just really don’t get too stoked at Mother’s Day.  It just feels a little like work.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

That which is beyond control.

I’m out of sorts the past couple of weeks.  We went away for our anniversary, but then we had to return home.  Lately I dread returning home more and more.  It isn’t that I dislike being at home.  There are advantages…my own bed, bathroom and kitchen, the kids within close proximity.  Instead it is returning home and having to face the reality of those situations in our lives which you have absolutely no control over.  I shouldn’t say NO control, because like I always tell our kids, we can always control how we respond and react to people/situations/realities.  I don’t listen to my own advice, so instead when it is time to return back home after being away I get into a big funk over facing those re.

The last year or so has been a struggle at times for me, on a variety of fronts.  One of our biggest struggles has to do with our church home.  We have attended the same church for almost 24 years.  The last couple of years it has been a very difficult place for us to be.  We loved our Pastor and his wife very much, but not everyone in the church felt the same way as we did.  Many, many people didn’t like them.  AT.ALL.  Many people blamed them for all of the problems (or at least most of them) in the church.   While I don’t want to debate this here, let’s just say that no one person (or 2) can be responsible for ALL the problems in a church—takes a group people, it takes a group!   Being close to Pastor and wife, we sometimes lose perspective a bit and lean way on their side of the invisible line.  I readily acknowledge that everyone is entitled to their opinion and perspective and view, but I don’t feel as though people behaved very Christlike at times during this period of time.  I watched people walk into a room and completely ignore that he was even in the room, even when he would speak to them.  I heard things said about them behind their backs.  I read anonymous notes filled with bitterness and hatred that were directed towards them.  I watched our dear friends weep over the pain that they felt and the hurt and confusion over why they were being treated with such open contempt.  I fully acknowledge that our dear Pastor and wife were not innocents in all of this.  No, they are stubborn and outspoken and feisty, BUT I honestly do not feel that they did anything to the degree of severity that  warranted the way they were treated by some of the members of our congregation.  We were vocal in our support of Pastor and wife.  We tried to express to anyone who asked that we loved them even though they were flawed just like the rest of us.  However, with our expressions of support came a wall.  A wall that was put up by some who didn’t share our view and who, I believe, were  uncomfortable by our differing perspective and view.  The result, we soon felt as though we were strangers in what had been a vital part of our lives.  To this day we keep hearing those in leadership roles stating ‘well you don’t know the whole story’ when people express their concern over how Pastor and wife were treated.  What is that?  What does that mean?  Every time I hear this I am saddened.  I feel that statement does nothing to build up the church, instead I feel that statement only makes people question and conjure up what horrible things Pastor and his wife may have done.  Instead of saying ‘you don’t know the whole story’, why can they not say ‘I thank you and appreciate your perspective, we are all going to have a different perspective on the situation.’ 

We would stay away for a couple of weeks and encourage each other with reassurances of all the good people that were at church and how it was our home and we needed to plow through our own insecurities and focus only on the positives.  We would return to worship, determined that we were going to dismiss any negative feelings.   Then we would walk in the door and it would hit us.  We felt like strangers.  No one would instigate conversation with us, or seem happy to see us.    One Sunday (after we had been gone for 3 weeks) I had someone stop me to pick my brain about a committee I used to chair and what did and did not fall under the umbrella of that committee.  As I explained the committee’s mandate, the person clearly did not like what I was sharing and started to argue with me about the mandate.  Nevermind that I have known this person for years, nevermind that she didn’t make any attempt to speak to me as a friend, nope she was just bent and laid into me.  I didn’t write the mandate, if you don’t want to know the darn history of the committee and its functions then don’t ask me, do whatever you want!  That morning I left feeling very warm and fuzzy for sure!  So, what to do?  Our church home of 24+ years wasn’t feeling very homey.  We weren’t being fed, worse yet, we didn’t feel as though we could truly worship there.  So we made a decision and we decided to try to find a new ‘home’.

It hasn’t been easy.  It feels awkward and unfamiliar.  To walk into a new church and be the new ones.  To not know the ‘behind the scenes’ stuff is refreshing and difficult at the same time.  We tried one place for a little while but that didn’t quite fit.  So, we decided to go where Annika has been involved in youth group.  The first time we were there I ended up telling the Pastor that we were finding ourselves in a very strange and awkward place, after 24 years we were looking for a new church home.  That man didn’t miss a beat…he looked at us and said, well you need to pray about it and discern where God wants you.  If he wants you to be here with us, then we welcome you with open arms.  If He doesn’t want you here, then we don’t want you here either just because your daughter is attending youth group.  In the meantime, he told us, while you don’t have your own Pastor I am here for you as your Pastor, anytime.  With those words we knew, that was where He wanted us to be for now.  It doesn’t mean we will be there forever, but for now, we feel it is where we need to be together with Annika.  We only have a couple of years left with her under our roof full time, so we want to be attending somewhere together, the 3 of us.  She feels very comfortable there and that is something she has missed for a long time.  At Bethel she felt like a bit of an outsider because she attended public school and the other girls were at the Christian school.  Some of those girls have said some not so nice things about the public school and that was always a very sensitive subject for Annika.  Anyway, for now this is what we need to do, but we still miss our former church home.  We still wish that we could be there and feel as though we belonged.  Since we quit attending we have only had 2 people tell us that they missed us being there, two.  While I am thankful for those 2, I am saddened and a little surprised that no one else has noticed we are gone.  It is a big of an ego blow, but I can get over that. 

And that is just one of the realities of our lives that has been beyond my control and difficult to absorb lately.  That feeling lost and without a home has been harder than we care to admit.

to be continued…

Monday, March 18, 2013

Happy 25th Anniversary to Us!

Today, March 19, is our 25th wedding anniversary. We have been talking about this day for a long time, plans for a big trip to Europe, maybe a large ticket item purchase in commemoration of the big event. Then reality set in and we decided that this year probably wasn’t the year for a huge expenditure. We are good with that, knowing that instead we will put those funds towards throwing Kirsten and James a wedding of their own later this year. But if I’m honest, part of me really wishes we were in the midst of trip to Turkey and Greece. Maybe next year.

So, what did we decide to do to mark this auspicious day? Well currently we are in a lovely historical hotel in downtown Walla Walla, Washington. Odd choice? Maybe, but for us it has been just perfect. We drove here a few days ago and have enjoyed just hanging out, tasting lots and lots of good wine and buying probably a few too many bottles to take home! We have lingered over meals, lounged in the evenings with books and just enjoyed being together in a small town that runs at a little slower pace than we are used to. I actually think I could live here, the slower pace is kind of nice, lots of cute old homes and let’s not forget hundreds of wineries to choose from. Hmmmmmm, maybe???

Today we head back over the mountains to Seattle. We will stay downtown in another gorgeous hotel, only this time one that is sleek and modern with views overlooking the city around us. I LOVE staying downtown Seattle. For me there is always a certain nostalgia about staying downtown. When we first met and were dating (and then married) we lived in Seattle and I worked downtown in one of those glass and steel buildings. Even though it has been many years since we lived there, I still feel as though I belong there. So maybe one day we will move back there too. I just can’t decide today, slower pace or faster pace? I like the idea of both---depending on the day.

Today we celebrate 25 years of marriage. I really cannot believe it. I don’t feel like we are old enough to be celebrating 25 years of marriage! But then I realize that we have a 22 year old married son, a soon to be married 20 year old daughter and another 16 year old daughter and I guess it makes sense. Still though, we seem so MUCH younger than our parents must have been when they celebrated their 25th anniversaries. I have faint remembrances of my parents’ 25th anniversary celebration. My parents were both 46 at the time, a year older than me and 2 years YOUNGER than Dean. WEIRD! I always thought they had to be older, then I did the math. I tried to find the picture of my family from that day so I could post it here, but I couldn’t, but I can picture it in my mind. All 6 of us perched on the fireplace mantle in my Aunt and Uncle’s living room, my Dad with a big smile, my mother with a pained one. Mom and Candy and I dressed in our Sunday best dresses, Dad in a suit coat, Jeff and Doug in their Sunday best. I remember Mom and Dad getting several gifts made out of silver. After all, your 25th anniversary is traditionally the year to give and receive items of silver. We celebrated with my Mom’s siblings and their families and her parents. That family is always great for a celebration!

Today is our 25th wedding anniversary. We could have had a party, but we would have had to organize it ourselves and I just wasn’t up to that. I LOVE to celebrate with other people, but the thought of cleaning my house and making food and inviting a large group over just wasn’t going to happen right now. No, instead we decided that what we wanted most was time alone, together. After 25 years we still really enjoy spending time alone together. Exploring new things, talking, not talking, any of it is good. When we get back home tomorrow night, we will plan a dinner out with our kids to officially mark this day as a family. Then, we will get back to the normal routine of our lives. Seems strange that today should come and go so quietly, but it is all good. We are together. We may not be the perfect storybook marriage, but we still make each other laugh every day, and we enjoy being together and that is all that really matters. Happy 25th Anniversary to us!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Mean Girls

I am really tired of mean girls.  You can say what you want about boys, but you don’t usually hear the phrase ‘mean boys’ when you think about how boys treat other boys.  Girls, well girls are just different that way.  For crying out loud they even made a movie, and a sequel, ‘Mean Girls’.  Of course they weren’t cinematic masterpieces, but you get the idea.  GIRLS.CAN.BE.MEAN.

I am a mother to a 16 year old girl.  She is bright, she is cute, she is fun-loving.  She can also be a typical teenage girl that can be annoying sometimes, BUT that doesn’t give her peers the right to be MEAN to her.  As a parent, I have told my kids (more times than I can count), TREAT OTHERS HOW YOU LIKE TO BE TREATED. PERIOD.  It doesn’t matter what they do to you, say to you, say ABOUT you, TREAT OTHERS HOW YOU LIKE TO BE TREATED.  That means if you wouldn’t want someone to ask you ‘why are you wearing THOSE pants?’, then don’t ask someone ‘why are you wearing THOSE pants?’.  If you know it would hurt your feelings if people planned an event (and you weren’t invited) and they talked about it in front of you, then don’t do it either.  And the list goes on and on and on.

Now, my youngest daughter is NOT perfect.  BUT she is also not overly sensitive, so when she comes home upset, I take it seriously.  And today, I’m home and she came home upset.  The reason?  MEAN GIRLS.  One in particular.  There always has to be AT LEAST one in the group right?  I should interject that Annika’s BFF’s family moved out of state last summer, so this year has been a bit of a challenge, again.  BUT, she is involved with a great group of kids in a local youth group and most of them were in the recent high school musical together, they spend a fair amount of time together  Like, I said, a great group of girls, but there happens to be one that likes to push Annika’s buttons, ALL.THE.TIME.  Well this one, I have taken to calling her ‘Annika’s nemesis’ in my head, well she is just MEAN and I’m blogging right now so that I don’t pick up the phone and call her mother and chew her out for what a mean daughter she has  BECAUSE again, I’m trying to follow my own mantra of TREAT OTHERS HOW YOU LIKE TO BE TREATED and so I am typing fast and furious instead of dialing and yelling.

Again, I know my child is not perfect.  BUT I know that my child is also warm and open and loving and has a killer sense of humor.   I know my child has an over-developed empathy gene due to all of the crap she has had to endure her short 16 year life.  I know that she is not one to be pushed around and that she definitely advocates for herself (again she has had to grow up in this area MUCH faster than most kids her age, again due to circumstances of life).  BUT there is nothing that makes her deserve to be on the opposite side of her nemesis.  I will give you some examples:

Example 1:  Nemesis tells Annika, “I’m so pretty that I can get any boy that I want, it is a good thing that you are smart or you wouldn’t get anyone’.

Example 2:  Nemesis and several other girls have planned to go away together on Spring Break.  Annika had heard some rumblings of this trip, but she figured it was one of those things and even though she was disappointed she wasn’t invited (because it of course feels like EVERYONE else IS invited), she took it in stride.  THEN, last week, Nemesis brings it up IN FRONT OF ANNIKA, and begins bragging about what fun they are all going to have on their Spring Break trip.  Again, there was no reason for her to bring this up in front of her, it was just plain RUDE.  Nemesis then shrugs it off saying, oh well it is only for upper classmen, oh uhm, guess what, NOT.  One of the invited girls is Annika’s age and someone that she happens to spend a lot of time with.  RUDE.

Example 3:  Nemesis brings up today to Annika that she and 8 other girls are going to a play tomorrow night but Annika isn’t invited.  WHY??????  Why would she do that?  MEAN GIRLS.

I could go on and on with examples like this.

I could give the girl benefit of the doubt that maybe she is from a difficult home and she is just acting out on someone she sees as a weak link.  BUT, guess what??  This is a girl whose family I know goes to church, a family who is very ‘front and center’ in the Christian community.  They are a very nice family, so WHY does Nemesis think Annika has no feelings and that it is ok to do this, over and over and over?  Why doesn’t this girl treat others like she would like to be treated??

Again, I know my daughter isn’t perfect and I am sure that she annoys Nemesis at times because I know she gets attention from boys (they consider her one of the boys—she has no desire to have a boyfriend right now, so she is easy for the boys to hang out with), I know she gets attention from teachers (at a recent conference, all of her teachers told us how much they enjoy her and her humor and wit), so maybe that is why??  Maybe?  For now, I’m just really tired of MEAN GIRLS.  I want high school to be over so we can move into new territory and leave those days behind.

Ok, I’m done….and I promise I won’t call anyone’s Mom and chew them out.  Promise.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Happy 20th Birthday Kirsten!

Kirsten at 6 months.

 Our oldest daughter, Kirsten Ann, turns 20 today.  It is hard to believe that it has been 20 years ago today that she was born 4 1/2 weeks early and ready to take on just about anything!  It has been a lot of fun to watch her grow up into an beautiful young woman who will soon be getting married.  Yikes!  How DID that all happen?  (She has reminded me more than once that I was her age when I got married and that didn’t turn out so bad.).  She and I are more alike than we both care to admit at times and sometimes that means a little head-butting, but that’s alright, we still love each other a lot.  It amazes me at times how confident and grounded she is at a mere 20 years old!  Her empathy and acceptance of others is inspiring to me at times.  Her fun-loving nature and ability to not take herself too seriously will always be a benefit to her.  So, here is to an amazing year Kirsten.  Happy Birthday!  We love you and can’t wait to see what happens for you next!
Kirsten.20year Happy 20th!!
A few pictures from the past few months…
It is too bad that it seems like these two don’t have any fun together….
the part where I said she doesn’t take herself too seriously….here she is showing that side as a Camp Counselor, she would be the nerd in the middle!  I can see why her cabin girls love her!
Always surrounded by friends having fun, childhood friends….
and college friends, never a lack of laughter…
Makes you almost wish you were 20 again doesn’t it???

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Christmas 2012 Highlights

This Christmas was a little different from previous ones.  Our family grew by 1—Evy (officially) + 1 James (unofficially).  I say James is an unofficial addition because I don’t hang a stocking for you until you marry in and are all legal and everything.  That being said, this year I made all new stockings.  Annika was thrilled (she never liked her stocking, it has buttons on it—don’t ask), Kirsten and Joshua weren’t so sure—change isn’t their favorite thing.  They liked their old stockings and they really didn’t want to part with them.  I gave Joshua’s stocking to him and said he could hang it up in his new home.  Evy saw it and CRACKED.UP.  I wish I had a picture of his stocking so that you could understand.  It is a rather strange stocking, His Grandpa and Grandma C gave it to him on his second Christmas.  It is fashioned to look like a red Converse hightop sneaker, only instead of saying ‘Converse’ it has a badge that says ‘Santa’s Helper’.  Then there is what looks like a red and white striped sock that comes out of the hightop topped by a white fur cuff.  It is rather ridiculous really, but Joshua loves it.  When he was little he liked to put it on and wear it around the living room.  Honestly, I was glad to see it go so that I could create new stockings that were a bit more coordinated and traditional.  Kirsten’s old stocking was a simple one I think I picked up for a few dollars at a drug store, it had pictures of nutcrackers on it.  She can hang it up in her new home next year.


IMG_4210 Each one has a silver bead initial.


IMG_0749Picking out the tree.

IMG_4219the finished product…I LOVED our tree this year, I hate to take it down!


So, we had new stockings [check], new family members [check], and time together, Dean and I and the kids, ALL the kids.  The ‘other Haans’ were gone to Florida this year, so we didn’t have the traditional Haan Christmas on Christmas Eve (good thing because Joshua had to work until late that night).  Joshua and Evy came and stayed the night and we all did our stockings together in the morning.  Then Kirsten and James were off to his Dad’s family for lunch, then back to our house by late afternoon.  We had time together exchanging gifts and laughing, always laughing.  Christmas night we had Grandma H over for dinner (Grandma C was in Portland).  Grandma went home early and then we ended the day watching A Christmas Story.  No matter how many times I see that movie, it still cracks me up.  It was nice to be able to have time with just our kids, but part of me misses the years when the kids were younger and we would spend Christmas Day with my cousins and aunts and uncles.  The kids still ask me every year ‘are we going to be with the Johnsons at all this year?’.  Sadly, it is part of getting older and everyone having their own families and traditions, some traditions end and new ones begin.   All in all, it was a pretty great day of celebrating the birth of our Savior.