Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

Photo courtesy of Urban Rose Photography.


1747. Jack's attempt at adult conversation, "Myra's such a little childhood."

1748. How Lucy calls Craig's spiky hair, spicy hair.

1749. Jane's confesses when we ask about Christmas grafitti scrawled on the dining room wall: MERRY CHRISTMAS with holly berries.

1750. How Lucy says she like her baby because it has happy eyes.

1751. Jane's response when I ask her to tidy up the bathroom, "Momma, I don't really want this to become a cleaning day."

1752. Lucy up early from nap, "Mom, my thumb hurts. I took off the hangnail carefully my own self."

1753. How Jane tires to talk politics, "Why won't they grab the bull by the horns?!"

1754. Her commentary on me making Christmas goodies, "Mom, you're actually cooking, like COOKING-cooking."

1755. How Myra pushes a recipe book off my lap and climbs up to snuggle.

1756. How Lucy taps my leg, "Momma, I want you to dance with me where you hold me."

1757. Jack with a handful of grapes, "Guess what I did? I presented treasures to Myra."

1758. How all our kids want to dip their Springerle cookies in my coffee.

1759. All the family and gifts gathered to celebrate Christmas down on the farm.

1760. The bliss of cousins wound up and full of cookies and nuts and cheese and candy canes.

1761. A movie and popcorn with husband.

Photo courtesy of Urban Rose Photography.

holy     experience

Sunday, December 18, 2011


Photo courtesy of Urban Rose Photography.

"And God," I squish my eyes shut, lean against the bunk bed, "please forgive me for being so cranky today." I sigh.

From the top bunk, "I couldn't tell you were cranky," Jane whispers.

A smile pulls the corners of my mouth, "I know you don't want me to treat these kids and Daddy that way," I pray. "I'm sorry, God."

The night rocks in quietly like a ship docked in still water. We snug covers around children's shoulders, kiss their warm foreheads.

I climb the ladder and smile at Jane. "Did you say you couldn't tell I was cranky today?"

"Huh uh," her voice like a songbird, "You were just your normal self."

I hug her, her warm cheek against mine. "I love you."

I trundle down the bunk ladder, step into the hall. My normal self. Am I cranky so often it's the normal-me or does she just see normal-me in all I do?

Like most days, I pray for grace to cover me.

Photo courtesy of Urban Rose Photography.


1732. How Lucy breaks up our writing lesson with a whispered, "Momma, you have stinky breath."

1733. How she mimics Jack sounding out words.

1734. Her charge to Jack, "Let's pretend we're RATS."

Photo courtesy of Urban Rose Photography.

1735. A day of Christmas shopping, a new vest and Christmas clothes, the festive clomp of our feet on tile floors and camaraderie of looking together.

1736. Jack's examination of Daddy's Lincoln Log house, "How'd you DO that?" And Jane's spontaneous, "It's cause he's amazing." And Jack's, "You're TOO amazing Dad."

1737. How Myra keeps kissing the characters of the nativity on our hearth.

1738. Jane and Jack's chorus during dinner, "Dad, you're the smartest man in the world."

1739. Craig's appreciative, "Wow. THAT hit the spot," as he polishes of a plate of pot-stickers. And Lulie's, "Why'd you eat a SPOT?"

Photo courtesy of Urban Rose Photography.

1740. Jane's continued infatuation with my growing belly, "Do you think people think you're fat or pregnant?" We stare at each other a moment. "Probably pregnant," she adds.

1741. The gathering of family to celebrate Christmas with my side. And how weaved between the gifts and fancy food: two days that unfurl like a long sigh.

1742. Playing Pit for the first time and laughing to tears in the playful banter.

1743. The full feeling of spending time with a people who love me for who I am, the weight of that anchor.

1744. Loving them the same.

1745. In the teetering excitement, Craig's question to Jane, "So, do we need a present for you?" And her confident, "No. I don't really need anything."

1746. How every gift is perfect in that moment.

Photo courtesy of Urban Rose Photography.

holy     experience

Sunday, December 11, 2011


"Why does Emma and Jack get to do two pages of writing?" Lulie plops her three-year-old self next to me on the hearth, warm fire at our backs. She blinks her wide eyes.

"Do you want to do two pages?" I tilt my head.

She nods. "I already did one."

I curl my back so my blue jersey shirt pulls tight and warm against me. "Ok, you'll have to do another one," I say.

She nods her head, bobbling and serious. "I will," she says.


Later children gallop through the house. The kids hang on for dear life, piggyback on Jane. All bomble and chortle, they climb off the ottoman onto her back and thumb-drum the house full of squeal and gallop.

She dumps them in bed for naps and soft as a bunny pads back out to the living room.

"You just have to enjoy 'em when they're little," she says to me. She shakes her head, "Each year just feels like half a second." We nod in that grown-up way, let an adult moment pass between us.

Half a second. Grown-up moments spliced in between.


1708. Nutmeg logs. Christmas cookies, little brown logs that taste like butter rum.

1709. Pulled pork and black beans Brazilian style, a whole week's worth.

1710. How Myra puts a pair of Lucy's unders on her baby doll.

1711. Janie's hands rough with callouses.

1712. Expressions of genuine respect from her. The growing ability to risk social awkwardness to show respect.

1713. How every time I'm pregnant I'm a little more aware that this body won't last forever and savor the moments.

1714. How when I go to bed upset at Craig, I remember all the ways he overlooks things I do and loves me anyway. How I'm not mad anymore.

1715. Knitting with my mom.

1716. Lucy's admission, "I was getting out of bed to be naughty," when the babysitter tells on her. Her sorry note.

1717. How Jane points to Jack riding piggyback, "There's a backseat driver!"

1718. How half through tidying the living room Lucy announces, "Jane and me are just enjoying the time we are laying here [on the ottoman while everyone else cleans]."

1719. How Jane opens the cottage cheese at dinner, furrows her brow and reads, "LOWFAT. There's not much fat in this. Guys, I'm sorry."

1720. Roasted nuts crackling as they cool.

1721. The snarl of wrapping paper spread across the living room. And how the kids keep wrapping up their toys to give to each other.

1722. When I ask why, Jack replies, "Well, we've got other ones. And I know Lucy will share. She's really nice."

1723. And how when I suggest we take away his remote control car if he's naughty he adds, "Well, good luck with that. It doesn't really belong to me anymore," before getting in trouble.

1724. Jane's, "You did a great job, bud," in response to Jacks masking tape encrusted wrap job.

1725. How when I fall into an afternoon nap down on the farm Craig's parents somehow fill in all the gaps and keep the world spinning.

1726. How Jane tries to talk politics, "I hope someone like Aunt Janey and Uncle James gets voted president when Obama gets voted out."

1727. Jack's conclusion, "Mom, sewing machines are REALLY expensive. They are like a thousand dollars, 'cause I know they're really expensive -- like a thousand or a hundred."

1728. How Myra tries to pull her red corduroy pants onto Madeline, the rag doll.

1729. Jack's joyous, "I heard an egg rolling around so I just reached under the chicken and grabbed it," as he bounds in from the hen house.

1730. How Craig surprises me with an early Christmas gift, and how I repeat over and over like a parrot, "I can't believe you did that!"

1731. Letting this Christmas season pass slow and even, full of presents wrapped with masking tape and cookies with finger pokes in the frosting.

Sunday, December 4, 2011


"Mom, a rooster is in the nesting box," Jack calls all a-tumble into the living room, winter coat and boots molted by the back door. "Looked like it was grunting," he says out of the side of his mouth, eyebrows raised.

I fold a pair of blue jeans, watch him lilt around the room. "Oh," I say and add the jeans to a stack of folded laundry.

"I guess that rooster comb isn't a rooster," Janie adds and shakes out one of Myra's white undershirts, folds it into a square.

Jack jumps off the hearth for the bliss of it all. Jane gathers laundry piles and heads for the bedroom.

"What if the chickens actually lay a baby?" Jack whispers, a marionette puppet at my elbow. He makes his eyes wide and round.

"Oh, they can't do that, honey. They just lay eggs 'cause there's no rooster."

"But Momma, what if they accidentally lay together in that special way?" he persists hardly able to stifle a giggle, smile round in his cheeks.

"But if there's no rooster, they don't do that," I say.

He hops on one foot, makes lap through the kitchen, then trots back out to the henhouse for another look. Oh, the mirth of all these eggs.


1685. How Myra says, "Yay," and hugs her head when we give her Greek olives.

1686. How Lucy holds her baby's finger to follow along with the words while she reads.

1687. Jane's comment, "I don't love love math, but I love arithmetic," her grin and teehee. "It's a grown-up joke," she says.

1688. How she tells us, "My favorite part about Christmas isn't getting the gifts. It's GIVING them." And the subsequent hours sewing away on her machine.

1689. How we decorate the tree and they want the backstory on every ornament.

1690. How so many are from my Gramma, and Jane determines, "She spoils you rotten, Momma."

1691. The children trying to make a compliment, "Mom, this tastes as good as store bought!"

1692. Jane's determination, "If you love Jesus, you can't love animals more than people."

1693. How Craig's parents treat the kids and I to a night out when Craig's out of town for a couple days.

1694. How the children whoop into laughter and a heap of wrestling chortling screams when Craig returns, a tornado of glee.

1695. How Myra climbs up and rests her head on my tummy when I fall asleep on the couch.

1696. An afternoon with dear friends, 10 children between us, miles and miles of history.

1697. Fresh eggs.

1698. How the children mop up their own messes, clean white hand towel not withstanding.

1699. Watching Myra Rosie try to sort laundry.

1700. Feta with charred pineapple sauce.

1701. Meyer lemon cookie thins.

1702. The continual tap-tap of baby limbs in my womb.

1703. Lulie's exclamation, "Momma, Momma -- we're playing where I'm a bear and they're shooting me." How Jane and Jack pound by hand cuffs, goggles, and nerf gun in tow. "Not with a REAL gun," Lulie adds.

1704. The kids tidying the living room before lunch. Jane's frown and, "Momma, I'm trying to work, but it's hard when a bunch of kids are acting like one-year-olds."

1705. And her assessment as she seams a bookmark, "This might kind of clash together, but it's just what I made."

1706. How when I ask her what God's been teaching her lately she says, "To not be angry when I do something wrong." And while I pause she adds, "'Cause when I do something wrong I just want to get all worked up."

1707. All that drive for perfection gradually, day by day, smoothed still by grace.

holy     experience