Thursday, December 23, 2010

Things I Want to Remember About This Christmas. (And it Hasn't Even Come Yet.)

... how good it felt to start shopping early this year... how Michaela repeatedly called her Christmas blouse "Dutch" because it has puffy sleeves... how grown up Alec looks in his Christmas vest and corduroys... how fun it was to find new spots for old decorations at the new house... how cozy it felt the night I addressed our Christmas cards: tree on, fire roaring, feeling peaceful... how happy I was to discover a new cookie recipe: tender gingersnaps... how angelic the kids looked in the Christmas card... how nice my mom was to babysit while I wrapped gifts... how good it feels to be all done by December 23rd... how much I'm looking forward to being with family on Christmas Eve and Day... how excited Uncle Jimmy is for Christmas to be at his new house... how chaotic Christmas Day will be with three one year olds and three other kids... how Alec is starting to walk but still looks drunk when he does it... how fun it was to look forward to the Christmas specials with the girls, especially Charlie Brown Christmas... how many times the girls worriedly asked if they were getting coal for Christmas... how beautiful the soft light of the candles in our windows look at night when we go to bed... how Michaela asks me to turn her candles off every night because she apparently doesn't find their glow as beautiful... how good the oranges sent by my aunt and uncle were this year... how Jenna asked me many, many pointed questions about Santa yummy the fudge we made was... how Alec seems to enjoy Christmas M&Ms as much as I do... how much I am blessed... how much I love my friends and family... how much I treasure every minute of the holidays with my (growing) little family.

Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Recent Conversations at 3am.

This week, with Christmas looming large before us, we've had some interesting nighttime adventures with the kids. Well, with Michaela and Jenna, since we threw Alec into his crib a few weeks ago and let him cry it out, which he did with little gusto (certainly nothing like the strong will and anger that his five year old sister displayed when we did the same thing to her four years ago) and now he sleeps through the night.

No, this is the Big Girls, who slither into our bedroom with the carpeting softening their footsteps to near silence, so when they get to my side of the bed (and why is it ALWAYS my side?) I am generally still sound asleep and when they lean over me, mere inches from my face and say, "Mom?" I wake with such a terrified start that it takes me 30 minutes just to get my heartrate back down.

Finally last week I laid down the law: IF you HAVE to come into our room at night, stand at the doorway and call my name, because you're scaring the bejeepers out of me.

And these are the reasons I have been startled out of a sound sleep:

"My ear feels empty."
"My hand is asleep."
"My nose hurts."
"I can't sleep."

My recent favorite came at 10pm, when Michaela came downstairs and told me this: "Spit is squirting into my mouth and when I swallow, more squirts in."
"Why don't you get a drink of water?" I suggested.
"No! I don't want a drink of water!"
"Well, Michaela, I don't know how to fix this problem. Go back to bed."

The other morning Michaela woke up super early- around 5:45am- and came downstairs where I was laying on the couch with Alec. Shivering, she pulled her arms out of her sleeves and hugged herself. "Grab a blanket, Michaela, if you're cold," I told her kindly. "No! I don't want a blanket!" she replied. Well, okay then.

This is what I call a Posterity Post: When the girls are older and ask why I have so much gray hair, or they have their own children who pull these kinds of stunts, I can smile sweetly and point them to this entry.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Taking a Moment.

O Holy night
The stars are brightly shining
It is the night of our dear Savior's birth
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary world world rejoices
for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

Fall on your knees!
O hear the angel voices!
O night divine; O night that Christ was born.
O night, O holy night, O night divine!

Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother
and in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we
Let all within us praise His Holy Name.

Christ is the Lord! Forever, ever praise thee!
O Night that Christ was born.
Noel! Noel!
O night, O night divine.

And that's what Christmas is all about.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Haircuts and Cookies.

My baby boy Alec, who is quickly becoming less and less a baby each day, got his first haircut on Monday.

Our hairdresser Erin, who performed the first haircuts on the girls, did a great job.

He is now neat and trim, just in time for getting his picture taken today at Picture People. That also turned out adorable: Alec standing up, on his own, against a black background.

We did a little Christmas shopping and then came home to bake some cookies.
Alec helped.

Here is some photodocumentation of all these events.

Monday, December 13, 2010

On Being Worn Out.

I, like most of America, was pretty fascinated by the interview Oprah Winfrey gave last week to Barbara Walters. I have grown up watching Oprah, from afterschool to after work to on maternity leave to being home and looking forward to it as a time out for me. Nowadays I can watch maybe once every two weeks, as the four o'clock hour in my house has become increasingly chaotic with afterschool homework, discussions about the day at school, beginning dinner preparations, and caring for a one year old.
I honor her desire to strive for greatness, her motivational speeches, her work ethic, her honesty, and her integrity. I think she's a great human being.
Part of her interview was about what she wants to do with her life, and how she wants God to wear her out: use up everything she's got to help other people.

And all I can think of is how obvious it is that she is not raising children.

I am struggling right now with the question of What Is My Purpose On Earth, and I completely and fully embrace and adore that God has blessed me with three healthy children to raise. But is there more? Am I so exhausted by meeting the day to day demands of these little miracles that I can't even imagine life beyond their childhood? I trust that God has a wondrous, meaningful plan for me that will become clear as time goes on: if anything, God's plan has always been fairly clear for me.
Because I want God to wear me out, too, and use me for greatness.

But after waking up at 5:45am, making breakfasts and lunches for the kids, sending them off to school, giving Alec a bath, getting myself and Alec dressed and out the door, going grocery shopping, managing Alec's first haircut, taking pictures of my suddenly grown-up-looking boy, grabbing some lunch, going to my parents' house, making 15 pounds of fudge for Christmas parties and gifts, coming home, checking my mental to-do list, unpacking groceries, answering emails, talking to the girls when they get home, putting some new family pictures in frames, getting dinner ready, helping Jenna with her homework, reminding Michaela to practice her viola, negotiating too-numerous-to-count peace treaties between the girls, making dinner, clearing the table, doing the dishes, talking with Dan about his day, supervising two reluctant shower-takers, one in one bathroom and one in the other, getting their jammies on, drying their hair, blogging, playing with Alec, and putting the girls to bed.... I am completely worn out and totally used up.

Mom greatness is just different than Greatness-With-a-Capital-G-Greatness.
It's not flashy, it's not breathtaking, it's quiet and it's a marathon.
It is ego-less and it is not about me in the least.
It is not about MY greatness, but Michaela, Jenna and Alec's Greatness.
And I love them.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Nothing's Wrong; I'm Just Blonde.

I was super excited to get an early start on my Christmas card this year.
I got the Christmas outfits early, got the picture taken early, and in a rapid-fire swirl of efficiency, made up the card online and had them printed.
When I proudly showed off my creation to Dan, he said,"Mmm, nice pictures. But you didn't put OUR names on the card."

Ooooooohhhhhh, right.

I just signed them "With love from Michaela, Jenna and Alec John".
Well, no biggie, I thought. People will certainly make the jump that it's from our family.
Which would have worked out well, except for this little detail: halfway through assembling the cards, I realized that the return address label I was using was a preprinted label I got for free from Disabled Veterans, labels I was (trying to be) so proud to be using instead of my usual plan of buying new custom labels. We did buy a new house this year, you know. And these labels read: Cheryl B. Libutti.

So here I thought I was really ahead of the curve, on a train to Practical-ville, when it hit me: Dan's name is NOWHERE on this card. Nowhere.

So if you knew us from our old neighborhood, it is entirely possible that you will get our card and think, "Oh, how sad. Made that move and that must have done their marriage in."
Or, "What the heck happened to DAN??"

So let me assure you 100% that we are 1) still very happily married; 2) healthy and all alive; 3) a thoroughly intact family.

And we ALL wish you a Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Meet the Sicky McSickersons.

Four out of the five of us have a stomach bug. A bad one.
It has been a miserable few days.
Michaela is the only one unscathed.
Alec started on Tuesday night by puking all over me at dinnertime. (Side note-now all three of the kids have puked directly on me.) Then it was Jenna, then me, then Dan.
I feel like I've been hit by a truck.
The silver lining: I stepped on my scale today and have lost about 8 pounds.

Jenna, Alec and I hunkered down all together on the couch for a three hour nap yesterday. When we all woke up, Jenna looked around and asked, "How long did we sleep for? Have we been sleeping for, like, three days? Did Michaela go back to school?" And it took me quite a while to convince her that it was the same day.

I am wishing I could sleep until next week and wake up all better.