Saturday, December 31, 2011

Our Year in Pictures - 2011

It amazes me how much can happen in one year.  How much a child can grow and change.  How much changes in our daily life from the year before.  Here is our year in pictures.  These are some of my favorite pictures from the year and also some that just say something about what we've been through this year.

Here's to a year that changed our lives.  To a year that challenged us in ways unimaginable.  To a year that shook us and made us aware of how strong we are.  Here's to year of beauty and growth.  To a year of family.

Happy New Year's Eve everyone.

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Friday, December 30, 2011

A Private Recital of Jolly Old St. Nicholas

This Moment

A Friday ritual. A single photo-no words-capturing a moment from the week.  A simple, special, extraordinary moment.  A moment I want to pause, savor, and remember.

inspired by SouleMama

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

After Christmas Walk in the Woods

We have spent the holiday weekend as a whole family.  Steven and I decided that Christmas was a time to be together with the kids. It has honestly been a wonderful few days.  After the year we've had, I think we all needed to know that, bent or broken, we're a family.  And as a family we still share a love for one another that can't be erased.

 This way we were able to keep all of our Christmas traditions in place.  We went to church on Christmas Eve, we had a lovely meal, and the kids opened their gifts from each other.  Then we were all here on Christmas morning for gift opening and merry making. The day after Christmas we decided to take a walk in the woods.  Note in these pictures that the little one is wearing a sleeve-less shirt.  It's been unseasonably warm around here.  I would consider the air outside cool and crisp, but I guess when you're a firecracker you warm up faster than everyone else.  All in all it was a great afternoon.  Even if we did get a little lost due to poorly marked trails.  That just added to the adventure of it.

 We've had a great holiday.  It's been a great way to end a very hard year.  It's given me hope for the year to come.  Most importantly, I've had time to love on my beautiful family.  My heart is warm and full.

Sunday, December 25, 2011


We've had a lovely day.  Gifts were given and well received. We played and ate and laughed until the day was done.  Now the little ones are nestled all snug in their beds with visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads... 

 And I, after a day of loving on my family, am ready to curl up in front of the fireplace and watch one of my all time favorite movies, Love Actually.  Today I  am happy.  Love is brimming all around our little home.   It was a perfect Christmas day filled with my beautiful family.  

"I've got a sneaking actually is all around."

I want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas full of love and peace.

Friday, December 23, 2011


this moment

A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week.  A simple, special, extraordinary moment.  A moment I want to pause, savor, and remember. 

*inspired by Soule Mama

Country Family Christmas

We packed up for a few days and ventured down a country road to visit my family.

 Everyone (except for my brother-in-law, a hard working cop who we missed) met up at my mom's house.  Including my sweet little sister, (married to that cop all the way out in Dallas), who's expecting her first baby this coming year.  My other sister and her family were there, so I got some good baby therapy from my super cute niece.

We were all showered with gifts, especially the four (and a half) kids.  We got nostalgic over passed down maternity clothes.  We played lots of games, ate lots of sweets, and just generally loved on each other.

 It was the first time in over a year that we were all together.  The first time in four years that we've spent Christmas together.  So we savored it until the last minute, when we all went our separate ways again.

 Even though we're far apart, all of these people mean the world to me.   So I'll do whatever it takes to keep them present in my life.  Run up the cell phone bill, send "I'm thinking of you" packages, Skype, drive and drive.  That's what family does.  At least, that's what my family does.  And I'm so thankful that we do.  

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Today is the winter solstice.  The shortest day of the year.  Today the darkness creeps in early and sends us inside to cozy fireplaces and the warmth of family. 

Winter feels right to me this year.  Winter is a season for rest and quiet.  A season to reflect on what has been and what will be.  The season to hope for the newness of spring, the sunshine of summer, and the abundance of fall.  My soul needs winter.  To let the ground rest and to prepare for new things to come in Spring.  Beautiful things.  

In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer. 
-Albert Camus 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Gymnast

Sicily is a born athlete.  She just has the right body for it.  Not to mention the energy.  I thought that given the overly aggressive spirit she's had since birth, she would end up in a team sport.  But the the soccer episode made it clear that team sports weren't for her.  She doesn't like to be led by a group.  She's Ms. Independent.  But she needs an aggression outlet.  She's just too feisty for her own good.  She loves to dance and she's a great dancer.  But she really needed something more.  So this fall we decided to give gymnastics a try.  Gold.  Pure gold, I tell you.

She took to the mat and bars like a monkey to a tree.  The girl has incredible upper body strength.  She can pull her self up and over the high bar with ease.  And yet she has grace enough to glide swiftly down the balance beam.  In the gym, she's fearless.  She flips and falls, tumbles and crashes, then gets up and tries it again, until she gets it right.  She loves it.  She absolutely loves being there.  My girl has found her sport.

This week she got to prove herself.  Thursday was her day to show off.  She got to work through the series of skills she's been working on in front of coaches and parents.  She was great.  At the end, she got her first medal and she was moved up to the next level.  She slept with her medal that night.  She was so proud of herself.  And so am I.  My beautiful little gymnast.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

My Little Toy Soldier

Analiese got to put all of her dramatic, imagination to use this weekend. Earlier this fall she began a drama class at our local community center. As a result she was cast as a toy soldier in our local community theater's performance of Babes in Toyland.

I've loved watching the excitement build as she went to class each week in the beautiful one hundred year old building. I have a slight love affair with this building. You can feel the ghosts of the past smiling at you as you walk the halls that they once walked. I love watching my girls giggle and dance with friends all the way down the halls with the creaking wood floors. I love the old theater, perfectly cozy for a small community with stage floor well worn from Nutcracker ballerinas and performers, old and young.

My sweet Analiese got to be one of the spirits that graced that stage. She came face to face, for the first time, with the nervous excitement that comes from being in bright lights. A few weeks ago she went in for a costume fitting and she could hardly contain herself on the way back home. The week before the first performance was full of long rehearsals. Then the day of the first show arrived, and so did the butterflies. The lights went down and the show began. We watched and waited until the toy soldier march and there she was. She ran in with the others and lost her shoe! I thought surely this was going to be a tragedy. But she grabbed her shoe and ran on with a smile. Then they all came out and sang their part. My eyes teared up. My love for my children swells when they are brave and beautiful.

It was a lovely performance overall. They all did so well. But I have a special place in my heart for one particular toy soldier who I happen to think performed magnificently. Even if she did lose her shoe. Instead of flowers, I gave her a nutcracker. A wooden soldier for my lovely, Clara girl. Much twirling and story telling has been going on, and I see much more in our future.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

What I Did Do

Thank goodness for the little things I thought to myself. To be gathered back to life. To moments of simplicity.

I wish I was better at dwelling on what I did do, instead of what I didn't.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Seeking Beauty

Cold winds can never freeze, nor thunder sour
The cup of cheer that Beauty draws for me
Out of those Azure heavens and this green earth --
I drink and drink, and thirst the more I see.

To see the dewdrops thrill the blades of grass,
Makes my whole body shake; for here's my choice
Of either sun or shade, and both are green --
A Chaffinch laughs in his melodious voice.

The banks are stormed by Speedwell, that blue flower
So like a little heaven with one star out;
I see an amber lake of buttercups,
And Hawthorn foams the hedges round about.

The old Oak tree looks now so green and young,
That even swallows perch awhile and sing:
This is that time of year, so sweet and warm,
When bats wait not for stars ere they take wing.

As long as I love Beauty I am young,
Am young or old as I love more or less;
When Beauty is not heeded or seems stale,
My life's a cheat, let Death end my distress.

-Seeking Beauty, William Henry Davies

Friday, December 2, 2011


{this moment}

A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

* inspired by SouleMama


We got away for Thanksgiving this year. We went to visit my sweet sister, Hilary, and her beautiful family. It was a lovely departure from our everyday. Simply put: we needed a break. So we had our turkey in Tennessee. We ate and slept and saw Santa. Some of us, the younger one and her cousin, were not so fond of the jolly fellow. Screaming scared to be exact. They made it clear that jolly, or not, sitting on a stranger's lap is in no way fun. So they rode a moose instead.
This was after their crazy moms stayed up until 3am the night before waiting in line in 30 degree weather to buy them the perfect presents. At one point we devised a plan for surviving the mobs which basically came down to "forget me and save yourself". Good times.

Overall, I'd say it's a Thanksgiving I won't forget. Not only because of the turkey, the crazy shopping, and the scary Santa, but also because this was a Thanksgiving I needed. It's been a hard year. A year that has made it hard to be thankful. I didn't get out our Thanksgiving tree this year. I just wasn't in the mood for another holiday to remind me that I had lost something that I loved. But I think I missed out by not taking the time to be thankful. What I needed was to be reminded that I still have so much to love. So much to be thankful for.

This year has definitely been hard. I'm hurt. But I think I've started to miss a lot in this fog of a broken heart. I don't want to miss anything else. When I step outside of myself I know that I have a very good life. I have beautiful children. I have a family that loves and supports me. I am very well provided for. I have all that I need and more. I'm going to be OK.

I need Christmas this year. I need it to soak into my very being and bring me back to life. I need to let myself feel again. I need to feel beauty. I need to see it. I need the peace and joy and love of Christmas. I need to start picking up the broken glass. I need to find the celebration in life upside-down.