Trimming The Tree (Ummm… Sort Of…)

As our beloved Christmas tree nears the end of its lifespan, its once fragrant green needles becoming dry and crispy, Ken begins to get a psychotic twinkle in his eye. He walks by the tree, testing the crunchiness of the needles, counting down the days until his most favorite time of the year.

Then one day shortly after Christmas, out comes the Santa hat and the reciprocating saw.

And the tree is “trimmed” a second time, but this time with a lot less finesse.

This time it is hacked limb from limb while a saw blade revs relentlessly and and a crazy man in a Santa hat fills the air with maniacal laughter as he unceremoniously hucks the pieces through the open second-story window out onto the front lawn. (more…)

Choosing To See Beauty…

Parenthood. It all started out so simply. A blank canvas of wonderful plans, hopes and dreams. Nothing but a future full of potential — potential that I had filled with my own ideas of how it would be.

But then something happened. And then something more. Shadows on my crisp white sheet of parenting plans. Marks from an unexpected pen. I scrambled frantically, trying to wield it all back toward the pattern I had been so carefully crafting.

But it was out of my hands. Our world buckled and folded as my husband and I watched — disbelief, fear and grief heavy on our hearts.

Loss. Loss of so very many things. So many hopes snipped away before they could even begin to be cherished. News, diagnoses, speculations — on and on they came, cutting away until my heart bled dry.

The pieces of me were left scattered. And it hurt. And I grieved. When I looked around me, I saw the wreckage of a dream, of a family, of me.

But then I noticed something among the wreckage. Something that didn’t look like wreckage at all.

Not an accident of untold grief and tragedy, but something special. Something carefully planned and crafted — and not by my hand.

A child. A special, brilliant, beautiful child. Placed with design and purpose in my hands — gifted to me.

And there is still pain. There is still grief. There is still fear. Only now I realize that I have a choice. I can look at the holes in my pattern — I can focus on all that I have lost. Those blank missing pieces, the new marks and shadows of things yet to come. They are still there and I can choose to fix my gaze on them and grieve if I wish. Sometimes I do.

But when I do, I miss what is there. The beauty in-between the missing pieces. The beauty made possible because of those missing pieces. It is there — just as real and rare and beautiful as any snowflake. I just have to choose where to look.

Where Did My Day Go Wrong And Why Does The Minivan Smell Like Apple Cider?

1. Woke up early and decided it would be a good day to get some things crossed off the “To Do” list.

2. Agreed to let the two-year-old sit in a booster seat for breakfast instead of in the high chair.

3. Served banana slices, mini pancakes and a sippy cup of milk to the two-year-old and cereal with rice milk to the six-year-old for breakfast.

4. Left the rice milk and box of cereal sitting on the table.

5. Answered the phone and walked around the corner from the dining room into the kitchen enabling children to have unsupervised breakfast time. (more…)

A Belated Birthday Post…

So the girl had a birthday — six years old now, if you can believe it! We have lots of cousins with summer birthdays so we sort of partied all summer and are only just now coming down from the frosting-induced sugar high. Jacqui wanted a Hello Kitty themed birthday so we started it off with what else? A Hello Kitty cake. (Which of course, she could not resist poking with her little six-year-old fingers.)

Next stop for the summer birthday party extravaganza was a combined birthday zoo trip with the cousins on my side of the family. So we took a road trip and met up at the zoo. The kids all had a blast — especially with the dino-themed section of the zoo. Jacqui’s cousins live near the zoo and have season passes and were sooooo cute playing tour guide and showing Jacqui and Kyle around! Jacqui adores them and hung on every word. (more…)

If I Ever Doubt…

This particular rock and I have a history together. We first met eight years ago. Eight years ago on one of the darkest days I’ve ever known. Nearly 90 miles separate us, but on that day, I came to visit and to take solace in its cliff-side view of the sea. I came for many reasons.

I came to sit, to breathe, to find courage to live — but most of all to pray. I came to beg and plead with God for a child — to lay my heart, hopes and dreams bare. I came to remember what faith was and to find a way to fit it back into my life alongside all of the heartache over the consecutive losses Ken and I had faced together. (more…)

Imagine…

Imagine a child. A beautiful Child. A child with sparkling eyes and a smile that lights up a room. A child loved by a young mother, a young father — as precious to them as the air they breathe. Can you see this child?

Imagine the color blue. Softly at first. So faint you’re not even really quite sure you see it. But it’s there. Sensed before it’s seen. Creeping, seeping into cherished features… lips, fingers, toes.

Now imagine the color white. Stark white. Chillingly sterile. Antiseptic whiteness enveloping this child — pulling them back from a horrific shade of blue in a tangle of wires, tubes, and beeping alarms. (more…)

Ten Minutes Of Jungle Book… As Narrated By Jacqui

Look! Dair’s Bagheera! He’s a kinda wild kitty, huh?

Look! Look at dat basket! Know what’s innit? A baby! Idn’t dat silly?

Lissen what dat baby says… why’s he say “Ahhhhh?” Does he fink Bagheera’s a dentist?

What kinda kitty is Bagheera?

Is dat da kinda kitty dat sleeps all day and wakes up all night?

Dat means he’s nocky-turdle, huh? (nocturnal) (more…)

Little Quiet People…

Some time ago, I was smitten with one of Michelle’s posts at Scribbit, where she outlined instructions for making a “quiet family”. Michelle, in turn, had borrowed the lovely idea from the clever author of Simply Stork.

I read both posts and thought of the numerous, nay countless times we have found ourselves waiting in doctor offices over the past five years and the many times I had wished I had something small, fascinating and quiet to command Jacqui’s attention as we waited. And here it was. An adorable, clever, and affordable answer. (more…)

Counting Little Blessings…

Kyle: “Wun-fee-fibe-nigh…TEN! (claps hands) ‘Ray!! Bwass-awv!

Jacqui: “No, Kyle. Dat’s how you don’t do dat. Like dis: “Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one… blast off! Like dat. Try ‘gain.”

Kyle: “Wun-fee-fibe-sebin-TEN-BWASS-AWWWV! DEEEE-ENNNNN! Gackie shush!

Jacqui: “Kyle, don’t tell me to shush. Dat’s not polite and you’ll make Emily sad. I’m jess tryin’ ta help you not count all wrong. Count downs start wif ten, not one. An’ you missed a whole buncha numbers. You bedder start over… Ten, nine… (more…)

Moooom!! Looook!! Have You Ever Seen Anything Like It… Or No?

These are literally the very first moments of our morning. I was yanked awake by a little girl shouting, “Mommmmmm!! Comere quickly!! Dair’s dis most ‘mazing super-ize in da backyard dat I’ve never seen before!” And then she shoved the camera in my hand while tugging me upright, “Here! You’ll probly need dis!”

As you can tell in the clip, Jacqui is a morning person. Me? Not so much. I was still waking up and not yet ready to meet her inevitable onslaught of chatter with the enthusiasm it deserved. And to be fair, possums are not exactly on my ‘Top Ten’ list of things to be excited about in the morning. Or even on my list of things to be excited about ever. Jacqui now claims she is no longer interested in having a hamster for a pet (as she had previously informed us yesterday). She states that “a possum would make a very more clebber pet, don’t you think?” Hmmmm… clever? Perhaps. Conceivable? No.