Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas 2010

This has been the most lovely and love-filled Christmas I remember in my entire life. It was like a Hallmark made for TV movie.

It started on the 22nd, actually, when we were all unpacking groceries in the kitchen after a delightful (and delicious) trip to Costco, (the Center of the Universe, according to Jaynee and now me, too!) Guy just looked at me, and in front of all our kids, asked if I'd make him the happiest man on the planet and marry him. The kids were excited, I was excited, and I said yes, of course. He put a REALLY pretty ring on my finger, where it will stay the rest of my life. I am so excited to marry him! He is my true love, and is the most caring, loving, gentle, patient and kind man I have ever known. Even if we are simply doing chores, or sorting mail, or flipping channels, I just LOVE being with him, and near him. Try not to gag, but we sometimes just look at each other over our readers and smile. His eyes sparkle when he looks at me, and my heart just pounds. Ally says, "blech!" Bobby interrupts our hugs and says, "you guys are the cutest couple ever!" and steals his own hug away from Guy or me. So anyway, Ally wants us to get married on a cruise, Pod wants us to get married in Duluth where we met, and Bobby just says, "tomorrow!"
After we got engaged on the 22nd. Honey, thank you for not making me wait until Christmas!

So here we are. Engaged! At last! It has been a long strange trip getting here, but we arrived in one piece, and the kids couldn't be more thrilled. Nor could we. I love you, Guy. Thank you so much for loving me and loving us.

Guy has this great, non-dysfunctional family. They have a schedule of family events all year long, around all the holidays. They're like a pot-luck, loved-filled, happy, series of gatherings. We went to his parents' house for Christmas Eve. His mom made spaghetti and his sister Pam made lasagna. (So delish that I had both, but it's the holidays, and what fun would New Years be if I didn't need to lose a couple pounds?!) We sipped wine, told stories, listened to all the kids and cousins laughing. Then we opened presents. Oh. My. Gosh. Do his parents do "presents"... wow. The kids were in total awe and amazement. Every single item on their lists was under Grandma and Grandpa's tree. And then some. They both kept saying, "this is the best Christmas ever!!"

So we had this great Christmas Eve. Like I said earlier, The kids got everything they had on their lists. But when we got into the car to go home, Bobby grabbed my shoulder from the back seat and said, "Mom, I got everything I ever wanted for Christmas." I said, "I know! I can't believe you got an XBox 360 from Grandma and Grandpa!!" He said, "no, what I mean is I got a real family. That is so much better than all the presents. I always wanted that. And nobody was drunk or high, either."

It was so sweet. Bittersweet. He has said this at least two more times since that day. It's so sad that, until Guy came around, I had not been able to provide that for him. I think he has friends at school who have these normal, amazing, extended families, and they hang out with their cousins and do stuff with them... and I guess Bobby always secretly pined for it. Now he has it. I don't think we could have lucked out like this, with all the kids' relationships and instant love for one another, without Divine intervention. There is just no way that it was just chance that they all get along so well.

On Christmas Day we opened our own gifts to each other at our house:

Pod gave me the running headphones I desperately wanted! Thanks, Pod!!!!! I have the worst-shaped ears for ear buds and they fall out constantly and I whine about it constantly, but now I have the kind that hangs behind your neck. Phew. Thanks, Pod!

Bobby really wanted a new study NIV - the kind Guy has - so we gave him his own for Christmas. He was really pumped 'cause we also put tabs on the fringes for easy reference!

Hugs all around for Bobby getting the Bible he wanted.

Ally and Pod probably sharing a laugh about the crazy, insane amount of Justin Bieber items Ally got for Christmas.

... And then we went to Guy's sister Lisa's house, for you guessed it - more pot-luck and fellowship. We ate her awesome ham and green beans, watched a movie, the kids hung out, and then we got in the car to go home and again Bobby said, "I have a family!!" Grinning so wide that surely his face had to be sore.

When Guy and I sit and marvel at it, we know that these kids will grow up together, calling and texting each other, visiting each other at college, being in each other's weddings, godparents to each other's kids... It is so beautiful. And we are so undeserving, and so incredibly thankful.

Today, the 26th, we slept kinda late, went to church, hung out, and then our own "little family" went snowshoeing.
Family portrait.

Pod and Bobby taking a rest at the gazebo.

Boys and Sticks. It's a universal picture. You could insert your own kids here. ;-)

So here we are, chilling out (chil-axing as Ally calls it) and thinking about how blessed we are. Guy and I rescued each other. Not with the timing that the textbooks would have liked, and we made mistakes like everyone does. Maybe more. But we did the best we could, and the best we knew how to do at the time, and we landed in a peaceful, blessed place. I wish there were words to express our gratitude. God had a plan for us. Not so much just for Guy and me, but a peaceful, fulfilling, blessed, comfortable place for Bobby and Ally and Pod.

As Bobby and Ally kept saying, "It was the best Christmas ever."

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Thousand Gifts, pg 5

Doing this Thousand Gift exercise is incredible. It makes me feel so incredibly blessed. I would never have all this love in my life, all this peace, all this joy, if I were going it alone. I have a Savior. And all the gifts He showers on me are in ADDITION to that. I just shake my head, weep a little, and give thanks. I could never thank Him enough.

181). My kids each day. I have them in my life every single day. It wasn't going to be that way. I was going to have to fight for them.
182. My kids' love for me. Even though they are 10 and 12, they still want to hug, kiss, snuggle, and laugh with me every day.
183). Bobby telling me I am the best mom ever. And he tells me this every day. It's like he never gets tired of it.
184). The blessing that Ally STILL hasn't hit the snotty stage. I hear it from other girls her age and think to myself, "What a gift, that that isn't happening to us." I was snotty to my own mom for at least ten years, so I surely don't deserve Ally.
185). Bobby holding my right hand all through church this morning.
186). And Guy holding my left.
187). Having to let the love fill up to my eyes, and the tears of joy just spill down my face, because both hands were busy being held.
188). Guy being so crafty for a guy. Right now he is putting chapter tabs on the new Bible that we are giving Bobby for Christmas. (He wants to have the same Study one that Guy uses.) And his man-ish gear-head's hands can nimbly affix those teeny little sticky tabs, 'cause he wants Bobby to love his new Bible.
189). Watching Guy wrap Christmas presents, after he demanded everyone keep away. He really gets into Christmas and it is so cool! He makes really pretty bows and is very careful about the ribbon.
190). Going for a coffee date and just sitting, talking, and holding hands for an hour.
191). Finding out this week that the cells that "looked like basal cell carcinoma" were actually only "benign lichenoid keratosis."
192). Knowing that the still-painful biopsy and pending nasty scar are a reminder that once again, my Savior came through for me.
193). Geico insurance commercials.
194). Watching Bobby swim at practice yesterday.
195). Pearson's Salted Nut Roll Bars.
196). Homemade nut roll bars.
197). Taking a nap for 90 minutes in the middle of the day.
198). Going headlamp snowshoeing at night with the kids and listening to them talk about how cool it is.
199). Kissing Guy with my eyes open.
200). Bobby seeing us hugging, and breaking us apart so he could take a turn hugging Guy.
201). Getting invited to go night snowshoeing on the winter solstice - I hope it's not too cold! But it will be very neat!!
202). The bracelet that Ally just made and came to show me. Teal beads of oval and round shapes.
203). Her sweet little kiss just now.
204). And her little hug and "Aw, I love you Mommy" when she saw I typed that.
205). Street rod tv shows that Guy watches when he's chilling out.
206). Being in my pajamas since 5:30 pm.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

A Thousand Gifts, pg 4

151). Snowshoe-ing with the kids and having Bobby say no less than three times, "I love this!"
152). Christmas carols.
153). Seeing an owl with a 6-foot wingspan flying through the trees (how can they DO that?) after hearing him half an hour earlier, but now knowing where he was until he took off flying above us.
154). Painting supplies.
155). Coffee with Baileys in it.
156). Salted nut roll bars.
157). Pants that still fit during the holidays.
158). Getting juicy sweet oranges during the winter cause somebody brings them all the way from the southern hemisphere for us to enjoy them up here in Minnesota in December.
159). Swimming in the same lane with my kids yesterday for a 1+ hour workout cause we're all about  the same speed now.
160). Realizing that Bobby was sand-bagging the whole workout just to be with me. The last 50 yards he pulled ahead and started racing me, and in only 50 yards, beat me by more than two full body lengths. What the...?! When did THAT happen!? ;-) I was really gunning it, too!
161). Ally's fashion sense.
162). Watching Guy make his own Christmas bows. They are beautiful and so full and fluffy!
163). Comfortable yet stylish boots.
164). The sound of my kids laughter.
165). Thinking about Jesus, as a man, living among his peers 2000 years ago. He had friends, a job, got blisters when he outgrew his sandals, and surely smashed his thumb a few times with a hammer at work. But He was special. He was the Son of our God. Immanuel, God with us. How amazing it must have been to know him.
166). Knowing Him anyway, 2000 years later, even though I can't actually see Him. I feel Him like He really is here.
161). Neosporin and bandaids.
162).  Gazing as a stranger's 16 month old baby at Dunn Bros and remembering my kids being that age like it was just yesterday.
163). 3-D movies
164). Watching little kids at the mall today as they met Father Christmas who was milling around, talking to the kids and handing our trinkets.
165). Writing my own notes from Santa to my kids when they were little, and they were so certain Santa had written them.
166). Not having to "be" Santa anymore, and have to wait up on Christmas Eve until the kids went to sleep, and then start putting toys together from 11:00 to 2:00 am.
167). Electric toasters.
168). Still being able to smell my fabric softener even after wearing an outfit all day long.
169). The contrast of white snow and black, leafless tree trunks and branches.
170). Brave men and women who keep the rest of us safe: police officers, firefighters, military personnel.
171). Pine and holly Christmas decorations that smell like the real thing.
172). Down blankets.
173). The unseen guys who plow the roads before I go to work.
174). The energetic feeling I get when I walk into Lifetime, even before I step on the treadmill or sit at a machine.
175). Actually appreciating climatic seasons we have here. Even the sub-zero days and 90+ degree days have their purpose. I may complain at the extremes, but I am nonetheless amazed by the gift.
176). The feel of breeze on my face.
177). Popcorn with real butter and parmesan cheese sprinkled on it.
178). Going to bed early, so I can chill with a Sudoku puzzle before I turn the light out.
179). Being comfortable enough in my head and my heart to sleep soundly.
180). Watching street performers do crazy tricks. For a living.