Monday, November 28, 2011

A little like Scrooge

            I have a confession to make.  I have not been really looking forward to Christmas.  Back in October, when the first realization of the upcoming Christmas season hit me, I felt a sense of mild dread.  All I could think about was:

·     the same old Christmas music on practically every radio station on my car pre-sets (does anyone else loath that upsetting song about the dying mother and her special Christmas shoes, or that inappropriate song about “Baby, it’s cold outside” as much as I do?), 

·     the crowded traffic I would have to fight and the long lines I’d have to stand in at Wal-Mart when all I need is a bottle of shampoo or a case of diapers, 

·     the stress of trying to find time to do some shopping when my children are with me ALL THE TIME,  

·     trying to find a better place for the Christmas tree but probably  having it take up all the space in my classroom, forcing the kids and I to be creative in where we do our work each day,  

·     to-do lists, and Christmas card lists, and the children’s wish lists, and junk mail asking for charitable donations for charities I have never and would never support, and special Christmas sale coupons and catalogs, catalogs, catalogs, etc. etc. etc. cluttering my countertops.  

I was feeling quite a bit like Scrooge as I thought about all the chaos and madness the season brings with it.

    Then, last week after Thanksgiving had passed, I started really thinking about everything I needed to do to get ready for the rapidly approaching beginning of Advent.  I had to get the Advent wreath out of the storage bins in the garage,  pull out our Advent prayers, find our version of “O come, O come Emmanuel” amidst my children’s recent MP-3 downloads on the computer, and get our Jesse tree ornaments ready.  As I thought about it, I realized-- I was not dreading these things at all.  In fact, the more I thought about praying our beautiful Advent prayers before our wreath with (this week) one purple candle glowing and our Advent music playing in the background and the scent of incense wafting through the kitchen, the more I was filled with joy.   When we went to Mass on Sunday and sang (just like we would later at home) “O come, O come Emmanuel” and saw the church all decked out in purple and listened as the priest blessed the Advent wreath and watched the lighting of the first candle, I was filled with even more joy.

     It seems a little silly because it should have been so obvious but it was not Christmas season I was dreading, it was all the distractions that come with the season.  I was dreading the busyness and craziness and materialistic commercialism-- not the joyful anticipation of our Savior’s birth, or the beautiful, peaceful preparations we make in our Church, our home, and our hearts.  It is the preparations that are spiritual and meaningful that I look forward to each year and it is all that other stuff that I sometimes dread. 

I still wish I could avoid the streets and the stores this month but since that is probably not possible…….  I guess I should just offer up those unavoidable trips to Wal-Mart for diapers and focus most of my energy on the stuff that really matters this time of year. 

Friday, November 25, 2011

We did it! and more....

I feel like I’ve been gone for weeks- busy in a sort of fog of accomplishing a life-long goal of writing a book.  But, today it is official—  I wrote a novel!  

I actually met the 50,000 word goal on November 17, and finished up the story on November 20 but today the NaNoWriMo website validated my novel and pronounced me a winner amid the cheers of the website staff!  Then I proceeded to enter my children’s novels (with their help, of course) into the system and hear the shouts of joy all over again-   because they too met their goals and wrote whole novels successfully in *less than* one month!  The experience required lots of prayer and lots of creative time management, but we did it!  It was quite a journey and SO MUCH FUN!  My son is already planning his novel for next year.  I am too busy editing, editing, editing to worry about that yet.

Believe it or not, life did go on in the midst of the writing and a few significant things happened between plot twists and character development.  

            So here is a sort of catch-up post on our November happenings….

            Tim and I renewed our wedding vows in a beautiful ceremony with our children and my parents present.  I have always wanted to do that and, as I suspected, the words meant every bit as much, maybe more, the 2nd time around!

            My oldest daughter decided to have her hair cut and since we were doing it anyway, we looked into Locks of Love and ended up donating her thick, curly, auburn ponytail to them to be turned into a wig for a child in need.

            Of course, yesterday we celebrated Thanksgiving.  It was a lovely day that we spent with my parents and a few of their wonderful friends.  We got to try real English Yorkshire pudding for the first time.  My children took advantage of the gorgeous Florida day and went swimming in the heated pool for quite a while.  Then, too full to drive home, we spent the night there, which is always another super special treat for the kids!  The only down side to it all was that our oldest son woke up this morning not feeling too well. :(  I guess we can all be thankful his tummy did not hurt on Thanksgiving Day.

            Now, we are all looking forward to the beginning of Advent and the changes at Church on Sunday as we start with the New Roman Missal.    

There is just never a dull moment but, still mindful of yesterday’s day of giving thanks, I am grateful for the love of God and family to see us through it all.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Show me the smile!

My little one, now 2 years old, is a very serious little girl.  She has always been very serious.   When she was about 2 months old I remember anxiously watching for her first real smile and trying many days to coax one out of her, only to be met with a stern glare or a curious stare.  Her siblings could do it without any trouble, but for me her smiles have always been fewer and farther between.  If it is difficult for me to get her to grin, it is impossible for people she does not know.  Little old ladies stop us in the store to tell me how cute she is and she glares at them.  Friends smile at her and ask how she is doing and she stares back blankly.  On Halloween, all decked out in her furry Elmo costume and receiving candy from countless friendly faces, she walked straight mouthed along not showing any signs of enjoyment.  

Last summer we spent a day at my parent’s house.  They had invited a lovely British couple who they had become good friends with as well, and we had a great day of swimming and eating and fun.  The woman, who had never had any children of her own, loved kids.  Really loved kids and spent as much time playing with my children as she did visiting with the adults present.  She tried everything to get my little one to smile for her.  She sang her songs and played crazy games with her but my daughter would not crack even the tiniest of smiles.  At best, she gave her a concentrated look of interest.  The man later commented to my father that something was wrong with our baby.  It just wasn’t normal, he said, for a child so little to be so solemn.  My dad assured him the baby is fine.  And she is.  She is not an unhappy child just serious and VERY wary of strangers.

I started playing a game with her when she was about 18 months old.  It was my sneaky way to trick her into smiles but don’t tell her that!  I would say, "show me your silly face" and we would, together, stick out our tongues and roll our eyes.  Then I would say "show me your scary face" and we would both make monster faces at each other.  Then I would say "show me your sad face," and she would stick her bottom lip out and look as though she had lost her best friend.  Then I would say "show me your happy face," and voila- 

                  A SMILE!!!!!  

She is a lot bigger now than she was then but it still works every time!  I wonder sometimes when I see those oh-so-rare, oh-so-beautiful toddler grins-  

"show me your.......shy face"
Is it wrong that I love this kid so much?!?!?!?!?!?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A quick word about the 1st 3 days

November 2011 is here!  In our Church this month, we remember the souls of the faithful departed and prepare for the upcoming changes to the Roman Missal.  In our country this month, we focus on thankfulness.  In my house this month, we write!  

We are on day 3 of the crazy novel writing endeavor my children and I have undertaken as part of NaNoWriMo (national novel writing month).  The goal is to write an entire novel in one month’s time.  The kids and I have been counting down to this month since late August.  We had originally planned to stay up and start right at midnight on October 31st, figuring the candy from trick or treating and the excitement of finally being able to start would energize us.  We scrapped that plan early on in the day on Monday.  I could tell that no amount of Halloween candy was going to sustain me through an all-night writing session so we went to bed about 9:30.  I did not sleep well, so at 6:20 the next morning I got up and snuck out to the computer to start.  The first two sentences had been written in my mind for weeks and I just had to get them down on “paper”.  Of course, from there I really did not know where I would go but the words have been flowing pretty well since.

            The kids and I are taking turns in front of the computer.  Most of our conversations become discussions of word counts and last minute character additions.  My 6 year old, feeling left out, has decided he will write a novel in December.  He now joins in when we talk about plot twists and turns.   I asked my 10 year old son this afternoon if he felt like he was only half here because his brain was focused half on his novel every minute of the day.  His answer?  “¾ of my brain is in my novel!” That pretty much sums up how our first three days have gone.

So far, it really is as much fun as we’d hoped but I keep warning the kids at some point it might start feeling more like work.  Still, we are committed to seeing this through and are here to support each other.  Now, I have more writing to get to and the 406 words here are doing nothing to get me closer to my 50,000 word goal…..


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