Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas Morning: In Pictures

 She came upstairs dressed for the day.  I told her we had to wait for the boys to wake up before we could open presents and snapped this picture.

 Checking out the goodies while Dad gets out of bed.

 "Show me your excited face."

 An attempt to try on his new jammies.  Not quite, Ben.
Our Christmas was full of calories, gifts and friends.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

A Very Cathy Christmas

Miss Cathy is so good to our family.  Each Christmas we find a way to celebrate together.  This year we were unable to do our typical family dinner and gift exchange but Cathy did come over for the morning, share some cheeseburgers with us, and shower the kids with generous and lovely gifts.

It's a shame these children will have nothing to play with this Christmas...

We're so thankful for Cathy and her family.  She knows the kids so well.  Each gift she brought has been a hit.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Side By Side

Residency is a funny time.  It's a period of transition (for us 5 years) where you are uprooted from where ever you call home for your husband to train in his medical specialty.  The hours are long.  The pay is meager.  It's a little world that few understand.  But, it's a community.  Especially in a town like Rochester, where many people are touched by the Clinic in some way.

Because if your husband is a resident, he may rarely eat dinner with you and the young family you created while he completes residency.  He may or may not make it to the 5:00 PM gymnastics class.  Not for lack of trying, but because the hospital controls his schedule.  He may tell you he'll be home at a decent time and you don't see him until well after the kids are in bed and you're into your second episode of The Good Wife.  He may have no idea what day is trash day and where you keep the extra trash bags for that matter.  When you hang out with friends he may fall asleep while sitting up, mid conversation.  You get used to doing Christmas on the 26th and driving long road trips with the kids by yourself.  In fact, it feels normal.

Side by Side is a medical spouse Bible Study that meets Friday mornings.  It's a place for women to come together and walk through this unique phase of life together.  We become family for one another when literal family is miles away.  We take each other's children when emergencies come up.  We make meals and celebrate births (there are many in this community).  We pray for each other and our marriages and the great demands placed on our husbands.  We're from all over the map.  Rochester is our common ground.  We laugh because it's so cold here, because if we didn't laugh... we'd cry.

I'm so thankful for the many women I have known and walked alongside in SBS.  Thank goodness we don't have to walk this road alone.

My group this year is so wonderful.  We recently had a little Christmas party that miraculously all of us could make it to.  Thanks to husbands and babysitters for taking our kids so we could have a night together.  We did a favorite things gift exchange.  Each woman brought 5 of her favorite thing.  We drew numbers and came away with five new items to love.  I brought some fuzzy leopard print socks from Old Navy.  Because I love warm toes and a good animal print.  Who doesn't?

 I made mini 7 layer dips.  My honest opinion? Much easier to scoop when you have one big platter.  It was a Pinterest fail.
 Lots of holiday treats.
 Not to be outdone, I brought mini sugar cookies and Oreos from the Target cookie aisle.  I tried to make jello pretzel salad and failed.  Do you see a theme here?  Well intentioned food fails?
 These were a piece of heaven.

Back: Maggie, Bethany, Alisa, Laura, Casey, Sara
Front: Ssonia, Marlene, Michelle, me, Heidi
Not pictured: Katherine - a sick little boy sent Katherine back home as soon as she made it to the party.

This morning we put together some breakfast bags for the Ronald McDonald House.  It was fun to make our bags festive with holiday stickers and drop breakfast treats and toys into the bags intended for children staying in the home.  After SBS we took our bags to the RMH house and got a tour of their beautiful home.  As I wrestled my fiercely independent one-year-old away from the train table so we could leave and encouraged my energetic three-year-old to quit tongue kissing the Ronald statue, I reminded myself what a gift it is to have healthy children.  Bless those mommas and babies spending Christmas in the hospital.

 I don't think Sara takes a bad photo.
 And Isaac is just delicious.  I think I'll miss him more than his mom when he goes to the nursery after the first of the year.
 Bethany got really festive with her stickers.
 Love that enthusiasm.

 I loved the animals with Christmas hats sticker set.  I tried to incorporate those into every bag I decorated.  It's not every day you see a hamster wearing a scarf.

There you have it.  I have found a group of women who don't mind that I'm super weird.  They even embrace it.

Friday, December 20, 2013

The 2013 Christmas Card

I was so excited to create a Christmas card this year with some of my newly learned Photoshop skills.
It was a labor of love and I really was happy with how the card turned out.  Chris checked it multiple times and even help write the back of the card.  We ordered a few copies for review and then sent it for a final printing.

That's when I saw the typo.  I'm not going to tell you where it is, so as to not tarnish the magic of the Christmas card.  :) But I was a bit devastated.  I'm so not a perfectionist but little things like typos on my Christmas card really bum me out.  They eat away at me and cause unneeded stress.  I was really making myself sick over the teeny tiny mistake I'd made.

But you guys, the point of the card is to wish those we love a merry Christmas.  To give them an update and let them know we're thinking about them.  Mission accomplished.

So this Christmas my cards have a typo.  My Christmas tree stands at a crooked angle.  All my valuable ornaments are broken or stored away.  Baby Jesus went missing from the nativity the day after Thanksgiving.  But my home is filled with magic and wonder and giggles and joy.  Sometimes I'm blinded by my need for perfection that I forget to see the beauty in the imperfect that is right before me.

Mary's Christmas was far from perfect.  Sister gave birth in a stable, among the animals, without a stylish birthing gown and a kickin' birthing playlist.  That first Christmas was a disaster by the world's standards.  But the beauty lies not in the elaborate tablescapes, clever Elf on the shelf scenes, fancy Christmas cards, clean floors, homemade hot chocolate and the shiniest gifts under the tree.  It was in the simple fact that God came to earth.  He chose to do so as a sweet, vulnerable baby.  To a young, scared teenager.  In a dirty stable.  God has a way of taking the ugly, the sick, the needy, the broken and making it beautiful, giving it value, and restoring it's true nature.

Merry Christmas.  May you see His beauty among your mess this holiday season.  

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Best Christmas Pageant EVER

So Lakin was in a little production.  NBD (no big deal).  It was her school's Christmas program and it was so adorable I almost exploded.  They paraded about seventy kids onto risers and told the nativity story with songs and motions.  It was every bit as cute as you are imagining.  The children were never together in the songs, so each one was sung in unintentional rounds.  Every so often a random kid would call out and wave to their parents.  The momarazzi was snapping photos with their mighty DSLRs like they were catching a glimpse of Jennifer Lawrence at the Olive Garden.  Epic.  Tears.  Powerful.

 I anticipated crowds so I got the kids to the program thirty minutes early.  Ben plucked off about ten ornaments in the wait period.  I breathlessly replaced them only to discover him around the back side of the giant tree of temptation reeking havoc.  It was a game of skill and speed.  Ben won.  He always does.
 Here's Lakin waving as she marched into the sanctuary.  She saw Chris and exclaimed, "Daddy, you're here!"
 The kiddies give their parents a wave.  Cue a million camera shutters now.
 I have conveniently placed an arrow so as to designate the location of our sweet caroler.  Giving us a wave.  Love the parental thumbs up down below.
 And here she is throwing her hands up cuz the ceiling can't hold her.
And finally, before we left, I requested a sweet holiday photo in front of the tree.  This is what I got.