My New Year's Gift to You

Last year around this time I entered a phase of unbloggable uncertainty and personal heartache wholly unrelated to the raising of the magnificent and busy tiny ones. 2011 proved to be no easier than the year 2010, which was one panic-inspiring surprise after another; because even good surprises start to feel horrific when they keep throwing one off course. You remember when I was on bed rest with a PICC line and didn't leave my room for several months and thought our adoption was on hold and we got a referral call? At the moment, that was not a "good" surprise.

Looking back I would label 2010 Upheaval and Survival. 2011 was Survival and Recovery and 2012 must surely be Growth and Gratitude. Of course, God may have other plans for me, but I want to allow the experiences of the last two years shape me into a better human. I feel primed for it. I feel the not-always-gentle hands of Providence have found me finally, almost willingly mold-able.

And I wanted to share with you an area in which I hope I will grow. If you are anything like me, ya know, overly emotional, grab a tissue. (This talk is 20 minutes long and worth every nanosecond of your time. Please, if you don't have time now come back and watch it. It's wonderful.)

May God make us more willing to be vulnerable and more connected and more loving in the new year. And for more amazing talks like this one go here.


All Things Christmas, Belated Softest Ever Gingerbread Recipe and Squirrel Saga Continued

I've already shamelessly bragged about how peaceful and lovely Christmas Eve was, but it can't hurt to document it for posterity, right?

Tsega is starting to pull (or push rather) his weight around here.

Samantha and Cookie Monster met up with the fearless Liz McGovern, our inspiration in all things philanthropic! Samantha added a years' piggy bank savings to our donation to help with the surgeries in Ethiopia, and we appreciate Liz for accepting the donation and making the kids feel so special.

Goofing around while I whip up some dough

a chilled dough disk coming out of the plastic wrap

a royal, happy mess

my newest cookie cutter that I love

Straight out of the oven. Do not over bake these or they will be hard as a rock.

Friends over to help decorate

Brady is into the frosting

Cookie and Tsega do not waste time admiring their cookies

Acting out the nativity, Mary has a midwife

Two new ornaments this year!

The next morning was simple, sweet and had very few tears, as is rare in our house. Honestly, I think our hard work to keep the amplitude and sheer numbers of actual gifts to open way way down helped. It was perfect.

As it turned out, Santa did come, and this is what he had to say.

At the end of the letter, Santa told the kids he cannot wait to see who else they are going to help next year.

Our friend Liz helps the little comes down the stairs

Cookie fails to realize that Cowboy Woody does not do a perfect ballet attitude when elated. But we won't tell him that.

Still enjoying the slow, quiet bliss of a perfect Christmas over here. Hope you are enjoying a few peaceful days yourself.

Oh! I almost forgot! Santa left us a surprise and we caught two more squirrels on Christmas. And then I saw this video, an entry in contest to have one's commercial air during the Super Bowl. My friend's hubby made it and it felt very familiar. Go watch it, give it a little thumbs up and enjoy! Hilarious....


Merry and Bright

Today was perfect. Right now my wee ones are snug in bed after a blissful day of crafts, treats, coloring, singing, cooking, baking, nativity acting out, reading, friends. Hubs relaxes watching the Pats.

The kitchen needs attention. The finishing touches on the stockings are calling as is my electric blanket and soft pillow. The frosting from the gingerbread men has been routed directly to my behind but I am too gloriously happy to care right now.

I am overcome by my blessings. It's not fair that I should have this home. This family. Friends. Ridiculously excellent heath, doctors, libraries, warmth, food in excess for my children, clean, running water, sanitation, a paved road, hundreds of books in my home and years of education so I may enjoy them.

The burden of these blessings rests forever as a mantle on my shoulders, but maybe especially tonight.

I renew my promise to God that I will not let him down. I will share, I will give. I must become less selfish and do more with what I am given.

I cannot remember a less stressful Christmas. And even though my life isn't perfect, my relationships or kids or parenting skills are not perfect, I cannot remember in recent history a more peaceful day than today.

To quote my favorite Christmas song Christ was born for this, Christ was born for this.

Merry Christmas!


Hanukkah and the Kids' new Favorite YouTubes

Today for home school we learned about Hanukkah and had one of those miracle (indeed, a Hanukkah miracle) activities where the kids sat, listened and gave me hope that home school really can work.

I am not gonna lie, the latkes were amazing. Go make these immediately.

Coloring project!

Someone was ticked we wouldn't let him hold a lighted candle. Ticked.

Though this picture may suggest otherwise, I did not spike this kid's latkes with adderall. Apparently he just likes listening to a story about the festival of lights...

Thanks to Auntie J for teaching us about Hanukkah! 
And now our little present to you for Christmas and Hanukkah, some of our favorite YouTubers.


One or Two Liners

Hubs Holiday work party. We clean up real nice.

Gingerbread house complete

Nibble nibble, little mouse, who is nibbling at my house?

Nap, Interrupted

We don't "do" privacy in this house

They won't stop wrestling.

Why, with my boys, does higher = better?

Christmas craft that actually did not end in bloodshed or tears or colossal mess.

Sneaky snitchers

Outtake for the Christmas card


This post is brought to you by a trail of cashews and the Havahart Trap