Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

Chris did it, but it sums it all up.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Ornamental Challenge

A few whiles ago, my friend Jen posted a few pictures and the stories behind her favorite ornaments. I opted to do a bit of the same.

Yes, it is Burt from Sesame Street! Back in the days, when I was young, and my parents were married to each other (eek!), I recall putting this set of ornaments on our Christmas tree. I think there may have been more characters, but there are 4 left: Burt as you see, Big Bird wearing a Christmas wreath (who's hanger has been reduced to old sewing thread), Oscar in a stocking, and Cookie Monster eating, you guessed it, Christmas cookies. This must be from the late 70s or early 80s not sure.

This one is from 1977, it's the earliest one I could find of Eric's. I'm not sure how we got a hold of it, but it just cracks me up, especially since it has a dog on it. He would've just turned 3, and this would've been about the only kind of dog he could have since he was found to be allergic to dogs at age 2.

This was a gift from my Mom the year we got married, 1998. Wedding Bells. It is a Lennox ornament, which was who made our China too.

In school, Eric played saxophone. Eric loves blue. (as evident by the blue ball ornaments around this ornament) When I was working for the corn mill, I went to Las Vegas (on business...for real) and visited M&M world. I found this ornament for Eric, but we were months away from Christmas, so I put it in a safe place. I put it in such a safe place that I forgot about it and I didn't find it again until 2 years later!

Eric and I went to Maui the summer of 2004, with his parents, his brother, and the entire Ben Davis marching band. We tacked a few days on either side of when the fam and band were there, and we had a lovely romantic anniversary. This ornament is a hibiscus, which grow all over the place. Ahhhh. Maui. Mele Kalekemaka!

In the background, there's also a White House collection ornament, Chris hung all of them this year, so they are all low and quite close together. We don't have very many of these, but all vintage scenes are from different presidencies of the White House.

Sure, you'd think that a Ronald McDonald ornament would be super sweet and cheesy and have nothing but warm fuzzy memories. Not for me. This one was a gift we received while staying at The Ronald McDonald House at Riley when Chris was born. Christmas Eve, my blood pressure went up to 150 (I was induced for pre-eclampsia, and though I was passing protein, before the birth my BP never got THAT high) and my ankles disappeared, and they made me promise to go lay down, and basically not come back until I had anklebones, which was about 2 p.m. Christmas Day because Eric didn't like the looks of them in the morning. Chris's first Christmas was spent in the NICU at Riley, and as we slept away from him, Santa came and brought us presents. It was so sweet of them, they really are miracle workers over there, bringing Joy in such terrible circumstances. Santa brought us clothes, toys, toothbrushes, and even Christmas ornaments. But it still reminds me that I wasn't home with my baby on his first Christmas. And there's a certain level of twitching fear that possesses me when I see this ornament, or see Riley decorated for Christmas or think too much about the Ronald McDonald House.

When Chris was sent to Riley, Daddy went with him. I was stuck recovering from my c-section at Hendricks...alone, for 36 hours. Except that I wasn't really alone, my Sister-in-law, ever a voice of reason, came, and my friend Caryn, and my Mom, all spent most of the day with me. Amy was the last to leave, and as she was putting on her jacket at 8 p.m., my father showed up. Uninvited. With 5 of my extended family members. Can you imagine that? He told me, well, if I'd called you'd have said No. Hell yeah, I would've. I didn't want to behave for company, I wanted to sit in my hospital gown, whip my boobs out to pump as necessary and just try to get through the day and night until I could get the flip out of there. This was not your typical Joyful recovery from having a baby. My baby was not there, I had an empty bassinet in my room. My baby had a major birth defect, (for those who don't know, his anus didn't go all the way through and he couldn't poop, among other things) and was looking at major surgery the next day. 3 Great grandmothers were all asking me questions about Christopher, all at the same time, not listening to each other and barely listening to me(ok of the 3, my step-grandmother [stepmom's mom, and most sane] at least would wait for the other two to breathe before asking a question) and surrounding me. Amy stayed, and fended off a grandmother or two for me.
My Step-grandmother (Dad's Stepmom) had brought a present for me, for the baby, well for us. It was the Baby's first Christmas ornament. Well, I burst into tears. It had been an emotionally trying day, as you can imagine, we'd sent Chris to Riley at 2 a.m. a mere 13 hours after birth, and the day had just been tense, and sleep eluded me...well, it's totally understandable why I burst into tears. But what Meb didn't know was that because I'd been put unexpectedly on bedrest before completing my Christmas shopping, and because Christopher had been induced 3 weeks early, we hadn't expected that 2005 would be his First Christmas. He wasn't due until January. I had NO "Baby's First Christmas" stuff. My friend Caryn had kindly enough stopped off and actually shopped the day she came to visit me, and had brought Chris 3 My first Christmas outfits,(3!), which he got to wear, (the NICU nurses actually put one of those outfits on him on Christmas day) during the month of January as we had belated Christmases, and those were the days when his ostomy bag would never hold and he'd blow through 6 outfits a day. We got wear out of those Christmas outfits!
But I hadn't thought of a Baby's First Christmas Ornament. We hadn't gotten the tree up. We had a Christmas Chair, where all our presents were leaning on the living room chair. Ornaments had escaped my mind. I have no idea how old it is, it's not from 2005, she likes antiques, so this may very well be the oldest thing on our tree. And here was my step-grandmother, driving me crazy, but appearing with something, that I don't even think she had a clue (probably still doesn't) how much I needed that ornament. It was a like a sparkle of hope, to hold that ornament, and know that someday it would hang on our tree, and we would all look back on the memories of those days. Not laugh, but just remember, and that remembering gave me a bit more hope and strength to just get through it.

There's this little town in Michigan, called Frankenmuth. It's heavily german, and boasts the "World's Largest Christmas Store" which is open 363 days a year. When my sis and I were younger we'd do Christmas (or other vacations) with my Aunt and Uncle who didn't live too far from there, and we'd often make a trip to the town and visit the shop (and eat Well in that town for the eating there is Very Good). One year, we picked up these giant ornament balls for the three of us with our names on them; not only do they have almost every name imagineable, but if they don't have it, they'll make it. When Eric and I got married, when we were in Michigan, (I don't think it was our first year, it may have been a year or two) we stopped at Frankenmuth once and picked Eric up the same kind of ornament (different color from mine of course). Then when Chris came along, and we were in Michigan for my aunt's funeral when he was 9 months old, we took a day and went to Frankenmuth, and got Chris his own ornament. We'll have to make sure to get up there again this summer or fall once QT arrives and we settle the great debate and get him his own too.

This was a treat we picked up while we were in the Badlands of South Dakota last summer (2007) on our big Cross Country trip. It really was a once in a lifetime trip. I look back now and think, dude, we traveled about 6 hours a day when he was 18 months old, and now we can barely even make it 1 1/2 hours away without severe meltdowns in the car from the boy.

This is a Sterling Silver Snowflake, from Towle. They produce a series that matches the silver we registered for when we got married, Old Master (though we only got 2 sets of that), but my Mom gets us the snowflake in the series every year. This is 2008! My parents (back in the days when they were together-ah!) used to have Sterling Silver Snowflakes on their tree. Someday I dream of decorating a tree entirely in blue lights and sterling silver snowflakes. At this point, it would be a tiny tree.

Monday, December 29, 2008

5 Onion Rings

One of my favorite versions of the song, 12 Days of Christmas, is sung by the Disney characters: Mickey, Donald, Goofy...the whole gang. Day 5 is Goofy's, and he's supposed to call out 5 Gold Rings, but wouldn't you know, he gets a little "goofy" and calls out 5 Onion Rings. My sister and I always loved it. Today is Day 5!
For Christmas this year, my sneaky husband found a way to get me this Disney Album, Mickey's Merry Christmas Carols, which oddly enough I mentioned last week as being my favorite album, but I rarely hear it anymore because it's a record and it's at my Mom's. My husband used the internet, and groveled and begged with people that have better equipment, and managed to get EVERY song on that record, and burned it to CD for me. I was so excited, I listened to that thing all day long! Is it weird that a Christmas record was my favorite present? Probably.
This got me wondering. Why was it again, this was a code for early Christians? So, I thought I'd post some of the details I found.

On the 1st day of Christmas my true love gave to me...
A Partridge in a Pear Tree
The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus the Christ, the Son of God, whose birthday we celebrate on December 25, the first day of Christmas. In the song, Christ is symbolically presented as a mother partridge that feigns injury to decoy predators from her helpless nestlings, recalling the expression of Christ's sadness over the fate of Jerusalem: "Jerusalem! Jerusalem! How often would I have sheltered you under my wings, as a hen does her chicks, but you would not have it so . . . ." (Luke 13:34)

On the 2nd day of Christmas my true love gave to me...
Two Turtle Doves
The Old and New Testaments, which together bear witness to God's self-revelation in history and the creation of a people to tell the Story of God to the world.

On the 3rd day of Christmas my true love gave to me...
Three French Hens
The Three Theological Virtues: 1) Faith, 2) Hope, and 3) Love (1 Corinthians 13:13)

On the 4th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...
Four Calling Birds
The Four Gospels: 1) Matthew, 2) Mark, 3) Luke, and 4) John, which proclaim the Good News of God's reconciliation of the world to Himself in Jesus Christ.

On the 5th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...
Five Gold Rings
The first Five Books of the Old Testament, known as the Torah or the Pentateuch: 1) Genesis, 2) Exodus, 3) Leviticus, 4) Numbers, and 5) Deuteronomy, which gives the history of humanity's sinful failure and God's response of grace in the creation of a people to be a light to the world.

On the 6th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...
Six Geese A-laying
The six days of creation that confesses God as Creator and Sustainer of the world (Genesis 1).

On the 7th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...
Seven Swans A-swimming
The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: 1) prophecy, 2) ministry, 3) teaching, 4) exhortation, 5) giving, 6) leading, and 7) compassion (Romans 12:6-8; cf. 1 Corinthians 12:8-11)

On the 8th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...
Eight Maids A-milking
The eight Beatitudes: 1) Blessed are the poor in spirit, 2) those who mourn, 3) the meek, 4) those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, 5) the merciful, 6) the pure in heart, 7) the peacemakers, 8) those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake. (Matthew 5:3-10)

On the 9th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...
Nine Ladies Dancing
The nine Fruit of the Holy Spirit: 1) love, 2) joy, 3) peace, 4) patience, 5) kindness,
6) generosity, 7) faithfulness, 8) gentleness, and 9) self-control. (Galatians 5:22)

On the 10th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...
Ten Lords A-leaping
The ten commandments: 1) You shall have no other gods before me; 2) Do not make an idol; 3) Do not take God's name in vain; 4) Remember the Sabbath Day; 5) Honor your father and mother; 6) Do not murder; 7) Do not commit adultery; 8) Do not steal; 9) Do not bear false witness; 10) Do not covet. (Exodus 20:1-17)

On the 11th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...
Eleven Pipers Piping
The eleven Faithful Apostles: 1) Simon Peter, 2) Andrew, 3) James, 4) John, 5) Philip, 6) Bartholomew, 7) Matthew, 8) Thomas, 9) James bar Alphaeus, 10) Simon the Zealot, 11) Judas bar James. (Luke 6:14-16). The list does not include the twelfth disciple, Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus to the religious leaders and the Romans.

On the 12th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...
Twelve Drummers Drumming
The twelve points of doctrine in the Apostles' Creed: 1) I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. 2) I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. 3) He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. 4) He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell [the grave]. 5) On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. 6) He will come again to judge the living and the dead. 7) I believe in the Holy Spirit, 8) the holy catholic Church, 9) the communion of saints, 10) the forgiveness of sins, 11) the resurrection of the body, 12) and life everlasting.

Leading us to Epiphany, January 6

How I got on this tangent...we were asked today if we'd taken our Christmas tree down. What? Heck no! We didn't even get it up until the 20th. It's not even Epiphany yet, it's still Christmas! That was our response. I realize now, that a lot of folks don't celebrate the "season of Christmas" in the same way we do. Our church celebrates that Advent runs the 4 weeks prior to Christmas, and then from Christmas to Epiphany is the season of Christmas. Epiphany is celebrated as the day the Wise Men made it to Jesus.

In our family we have a couple traditions, which now that I think about it, may be a little unusual to some.

A. We leave the tree up until least. I must confess that often Ephiphany rolls around and we are caught up in things, the tree may not come down on January 6th, but usually shortly thereafter. At least we make sure to turn the lights off. We leave them on 24/7 as soon as they go up until Epiphany.

B. Epiphany is traditionally celebrated the day the Wise Men brought their gifts to Baby Jesus. To that end, our nativity scenes the wise men don't make it to the manger until Ephiphany. They literally are moved around the house. We try to remember to move them a little closer every day. Now my Dad and Stepmom play the music "We Three Kings" to move kings by, and they move them all over, and have multiple sets. Our old set is too fragile to have around Chris. This year, we have 2 sets out too, but 1 of them the wise men are attached and moving people is not an option. The other, Chris got as a gift, a LITTLE PEOPLE NATIVITY. It's so cute. And of course, Baby Jesus (normally not put out until Christmas morning)was played with too much to hide, but the Wise Men are on the mantle and moving closer daily. They'll arrive next Tuesday.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Chris and Fina say Oh Boy! May Timmus! (Merry Christmas!)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Jesus is the reason

I read this somewhere: "Jesus didn't come to earth to bring us a nostalgic, family oriented, commercially successful holiday."  And it really got me thinking.

That just came along as a bonus.  I love this time of year, and this year, in spite of all the difficulties, we feel so Blessed to be sharing in this "nostalgic, family oriented, commercially successful holiday" with our loved ones. No, Jesus didn't come to suck us in to a commercial business, but to bring us love, light, and joy.

A Top Ten of our Family Holiday Favorites so far this holiday season.  

1.  Christopher buries himself in all of his Christmas Stuffies.   What does Santa Pooh say, "Ho Ho..Honey!"

2. Slightly Belated Birthday Celebrations for Oma and Eric.

3. Chris and his cousin Annie dress like Reindeer. 

4. Christopher plays in the snow and he won't go anywhere without his Santa hat. 

5.  Some sweetboys are just perfectly suited for winter.  

6.  A Big Boy helps put ornaments on the Christmas tree. 

7.  The Biggest Little Boy gets to put the Angel on top of the tree. 

 8.   The whole class celebrates that Jesus is the Reason for the Season!

9.  The most Prayerful of the little sheep. 

 10.  And lastly, our little Miracle turns 3 today.   Happy Birthday Christopher!

Christopher means Light of Christ, and this one sure brings a bright light to all of our holidays.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Thursday Thirteen

My 13 Favorite Christmas Carols

Songs or albums that get me feeling festive. I've been feeling a bit rushed and tense these last couple weeks, and I find I need to do some remembering of what makes Christmas fabulous.

1. Do you hear what I hear? -Third Day (Best Arrangement I've ever heard of this song, normally it ranks right up there with Little Drummer Boy in terms of suckiness, but not this one)

2. Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth -Bing Crosby and David Bowie (this doesn't stink either, and the little bits where they talk to each other just proves how Awesome Bing really was!)

3. Silent Night (When our church does this on Christmas Eve by candlelight, it is Awesome. This year, we're hoping that Eric can pull together a small bell choir ensemble to accompany, the bells arrived early, it would take a miracle, but hey, that's what God does best!)

4. O Holy Night (solo is the only way for this one, unless I'm accompanying in the car ;))

5. Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, ah heck, the whole Nutcracker Suite by Tchaikovsky (There's just something great about the Nutcracker at Christmas Time)

6. John Denver and Muppets Christmas Album (Flipping Awesome Album! I could never pick just one song!)

7. Feliz Navidad -Jose Feliciano (You can't be sad or stressed about Christmast time listening to this one)

8. White Christmas -Bing Crosby (Something is just right about the world when Bing sings it.)

9. White Christmas -Drifters (A completely different feel when they do it, not just for Home Alone, but just because it's fun!)

10. O Come O Come Emmanuel (This hymn was one of the most effective lullabies for Chris in the NICU, and remained his lullabye, still is. We sang to him a lot in the NICU, home of his 1st Christmas, and on Christmas, another mother came up and thanked us for singing, providing a little Christmas joy, her thanks made me cry.)

11. Carol of the Bells (When it's well done, not like fake bells, but with bells and voices, and all that, oh yeah!)

12. What child is this?

13. Disney's Merry Christmas Carols-sung by Mickey and the gang, and joined by Molly Ringwald and Larry Groce. (We used to listen to this record every year, even when my parents were [AH!] Married. Ma still has it, but we're never there to hear it. I wish I had it on CD, it's just not the same not listenting to it all the time during the holidays, but we have no record player.)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

Monday, December 15, 2008

Picture Tag

The object of the picture tag is to:

1) Choose the 4th folder where you store your pictures on your computer

2) Select the 4th picture in the folder

3) Explain the picture

4) Tag 4 people to do the same

I'm sure you can totally tell, but this is Eric's youngest brother, Karl (11 years younger) as a senior with the Ball State Marching Band from the end of September 2007. Chris and I joined Mom and Dad to go to Muncie to see the game, and got to see him march (for the first time since seeing him march with Ben Davis in high school). I'm pretty sure he's on the 37 yard line, but you could only tell when he was moving, he had Great Form! I'm glad we went too, because though we were exhausted, it was such a pretty day, pretty show, pretty band.
Yeah Band!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Sunset Sunday

OK, so this wasn't taken today, but Eric read that Right now the moon is the closest to Earth that it's been in some whiles, and the closest it will be for some years. Anyway this was how it was looking at sunset Thursday night from our back porch. While I did not get a close up of a large moon, it's unusual for us to see it so prominently while it's still so light out. Lovely.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

Taken 2 years ago.

Taken yesterday.

The Mommy Diaries, Ch. 3

I've been slacking on my writing for these chapters. I keep on reading, but I have not taken to time to sit down and Think. This chapter was on Relationships, and really makes you think about who and how, and all of that.

1. Can you point to key relationships in your life that pour into you and your personal journey as a mother? Of course. My relationships, with my friends, my mother, sister, mother-in-law, grandparents, father, husband... all of them have made me who I am as a mother. Some of them have given me insight of things to do, and others show me things I don't want to do as in my role as mother.

2. What differences have they made in your experience? It's funny, how much I sound like my parents now. I use phrases that used to frost my cookies, on Chris. I just caught myself this afternoon, Chris was calling "Help Mommy" for the 47 millionth time that day, in his casual tone,indicating he really didn't need help, he needed patience, for he was doing an activity I know he can do by himself. I found myself saying, "I don't need any help." Just like my father. He used to say that all the time, and OH! how it drove me nutsy, and yet here I am, telling my son the exact same thing.

3. Are there places in your life where you feel you're stranded, navigating the path alone? With Chris. Yes. Sure, I have friends and family that have been through motherhood before. Even parenthood of a high maintenance child. But sometimes, when Chris's medical issues get extremely high maintenance, yes, I feel lonely. I hesitate to use the phrase "Special Needs" Child, because it's not entirely Chris, there's so much more to him than just his technical difficulties. So I am not quite comfortable with that label, for it makes me feel even more isolated. But when we're deep in the muck and mire of the Riley days, yes, I feel isolated, and lonely. That's probably why Eric always comes with Chris and I, he's so good about that, and least we're trudging through the muck as a family.

4. What forms of support could you really use in these areas to help you flourish instead of merely survive? Pray. That keeps me sane. Lately, when I overworry, I've been waking in the night and reading the bible. Even if it's a book where there's lots of so and so was born, did this and died, at least, I'm stepping out of myself to get into the Word. I try to maintain everyday normalcy so as to not get bogged down in the dark places. Then, I blog! It's my therapy. I can vent and request prayers for Chris, for us, and I know that you all are out there reading and praying. That helps. Today, I baked cookies. Tomorrow is a Riley day, multiple appointments and whatnot, and I always get the willies on those days, so today, I blog, and I bake.

5. Are you preventing yourself from creating healthy, caring relationships by holding back parts of yourself? Nope. I have found through experience, that holding back portions of myself does no one any good, especially me. You never know who God will touch with a portion of your story. It's been amazing to me how many people are touched by Chris and his story, or moved by our struggle just to have him. It's God at work. Plain and simple. So I don't let my own fears get in the way...anymore.

6. What do you need to let go of in order to begin flourishing in your relationships. That's easy. Bitterness. I am working on forgiving, but forgetting. That's a bit harder. I have a good memory, and where part of me learned from my experiences (or mistakes) to not go there again, that's not working as a key to the forgiveness process. I need to let go of all that bitter baggage. The people that hurt me don't even realize it's there. Why should I? That's a bit harder.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A Crazy Man

My husband is a crazy man. Crazy. I'm sure you're thinking, how's he crazy now? He's discovered a fundraiser for Riley Hospital. Most of you know that Riley holds a special place in our hearts, for Christopher spent the first 10 days of his life there, his first Christmas, and well, he probably owes his life to the miracle workers on staff there. We are still frequent flyers at Riley. Anyway, he learned there was a Fundraiser for Riley and he just HAD to participate.

What is this Fundraiser? It's called the BOP TO THE TOP. It's a race to run up 37 flights of stairs, to the top of the OneAmerica (formerly AUL) building. 37 FLIGHTS!

That's how crazy my husband is.

But it's for a really good cause...for Chris, and for others like him.

I'm going to request that anyone that read this website, please prayerfully consider sponsering Eric. Please make a donation toward this cause. He's created a web page to accept donations.

Eric's Bop to the Top Page

Monday, December 1, 2008

View Haloo

A heron and a crew of geese padding in the snowy pond out our back window. Ahh...winter.


Once again I am very proud of my boys. Eric spent a lot of the weekend on the back bedroom. We cleared out and moved lots of stuff, all that's left is the dresser and nightstand, and a couple small odds and ends. Woo hoo! I helped do some taping, but as I couldn't do lifting, kept pooping out and gagging on fumage, I didn't do any painting. So, by himself, Eric did both coats on the ceilings, and 1 coat on the trim, and the doors, and the closet. Now, we've got evening plans for the next three days, so we moved the nightstand back in, and I'll help Push the dresser later. So productive.

Chris was productive too, he kept running around wearing our back up pair of safety glasses. He's begun helping me with the laundry, even understanding that we check the dryer, and say Bye Bye Fuzzies! The best was once the back bedroom was empty Chris would run into the empty room, and yell out, Hello! Daddy Where Are You? Once he discovered the echo, he was calling out for Tiffer? Tiffer, Where Are You? He even once called the mysterious voice, close.

**AND Eric managed to get the Christmas lights up too!**