Thursday, December 10, 2009

Home is where your story begins

Scoutie is 9 months old today!!

The prettiest little angel in the Christmas band

The cutest goat in the manger

What we wake up to every morning in our bed

We all know that our houses are simply physical structures that are made of tangible pieces - bricks, mortar, insulation, wood, nails, shingles, etc. And we've all heard "home is where the heart is." But rarely do we, or should I say, I , stop to think, really think, about what intangible things make up a home. I started thinking about it a couple nights ago.
When I was newly married, and even more so when Piper was an infant, I spent a lot of time at my parents' house. You men out there may not understand this as well as us womenfolk, but motherhood in the early days can be quite a daunting and confusing task. Its not the basic act of caring for this new life so much as your new role. Suddenly, you are supposed to fit the bill. You will not only care for this baby, but also make it seem like you've got it all together. House clean, check! Grocery shopping done, check! Laundry clean, folded and put away, check! The wonderful aroma of dinner cooking when your husband gets home, you bet! Somehow in the middle of this though, you start wondering how you went from being a little girl to someone else's MOM!! For me, I think I blinked and suddenly I was the one in charge of all the things that my mom used to be in charge of, and let me tell you that is a scary thought!! Nearly nine years later there are still days its a scary thought :) So, anyway, I think thats why I spent a lot of time at my parents' house, because it made ME feel secure, taken care of and like everything was going to be okay even when I wasnt sure what I was supposed to be doing.
Why, you ask, did I start thinking about all this now?? Tim was working late so I took the kids to Nana and Papa's for dinner. No special occasion, no birthday to celebrate, just to be together. Okay, the crockpot full of homemade meatballs and marinara played a little part. Let me rewind just a bit and tell you that my parents moved about a year and a half ago so the house we go to now wasn't the memory making house per se. But it was when I was walking to the freezer in the basement to get another loaf of garlic bread before going home (Nana's great for carryouts) that I had a moment. I realized that even though my mom and dad have lived in this house only a short time, it has their mark on it. It has that "feeling" to it - you know the one where it's like a big hug, a deep breath, a weight lifted off your shoulders.
One of my favorite things in my home is the sign about the doorway that reads, "Home is where your story begins." My sister-in-law gave it to me several years ago, and it's so true. It really doesn't matter where you live, or how long you've lived there. Your memories travel with you. It's how you treat the people you make part of your family, the times you share together. Coming back home, wherever home is at the time, is a great feeling.
I'll probably never have it all together the way my mom did. I'm still scrambling to get lunches into backpacks when the bus is rounding the corner, my daughter ate mac n cheese for breakfast this morning and I was late turning in my kids book order forms. But, those lunches were nutritious and tailored to each child's personal tastes, the mac n cheese was organic, and I read with my kids every day. It is rare that all our shoes make it into the closet at the end of the day, they often have to be located under the chair or couch and you can usually scrounge up a full ziploc baggy of Annie's cheddar bunnies under the seats in our Suburban.
Despite all this chaos, I hope that my own family feels the same way about the home we are making together that I do about the way my parents still provide emotional comfort for me. This time of year is obviously full of Christmas traditions in our home, but we also celebrate two December birthdays. Piper turns 9 on the 14th and Carter will be 5 on the 15th. (How's that for planning???) There are three things that always have to happen on birthdays in our house. Number one, the birthday child picks the dinner meal. Number two, breakfast is ALWAYS the birthday coffee cake which is a gooey concoction of butterscotch pudding mix, cherries and frozen dinner rolls. (A huge challenge for a dye-free fam, but go ahead, challenge me!!) Yummm!!! And finally, the birthday child picks their cake. This sounds simple enough, but is apparent that my children have been spoiled with an abundance of homemade treats. No simple chocolate or vanilla here. Carter has chosen carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and Piper requested a chocolate peppermint ice cream cake. The carrot cake is in the oven for Saturday's celebration and I begin the search for all-natural peppermint ice cream free of the dreaded Red 40 tonight. Trader Joe's and Whole Foods, here I come. I like to think that these simple traditions (complete with the aroma of ginger and cinnamon wafting through the house) will be part of the story I'm beginning for my kids.
Here's hoping that all my friends and family get a chance to come back home this holiday season, wherever home may be. May your holidays be filled with old memories and plenty of time to make new ones.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Tis the season . . .

Tim and the kids before the Bears game they attended

The Kids' Tree

Nana, Dom and Scout

I know I probably say this every year, but this time I REALLY mean it - I can't believe it is already December!! I am in better shape than many years past though, so I can't complain. The halls have been decked (with a lot of "help" from some very eager elves.) The stockings have been hung by the chimney with care. Go with me here, okay. I realize we don't have a chimney. And we're missing a few stockings that somehow didn't make their way back into the tub of Xmas decorations. But, the tree is up and decorated. How long it will stay that way is mystery, though. Scout hasn't taken much of an interest in it yet, but given the fact that she crawls like the Energizer Bunny and is (shakily) starting to cruise along furniture, I think it will be a matter of time.
The kids were very proud to decorate their own "Kids' Tree" in the basement, complete with hot pink glitter ornaments, popsicle stick creations, twinkling multicolor lights and homemade paperchains. This is one good looking tree. Trace is very good at the "cluster method" of decorating in which he hangs several like ornaments on the tip of one poor, wobbly branch of our Charlie Brown Christmas tree. I am fairly certain this method is an offshoot of his father's present wrapping technique, the "consolidation method." What is this, pray tell? Step 1 - Find the largest, most beat-up shipping box from work and bring it home. Step 2. Dump all your wife's presents in there (mixing bowls, shower gel, hat, gloves, it's all good.) 3. If it won't shut, give it a good dose of packing tape. 4. Wrap up that bad boy!
I am admitting before the word leaks out and you are all in shock - I was among the crazies this "Black Friday." Let me just say, it was fun and I would do it again, just to have my shopping done early and get a few deals. However, I will never ever set foot in a Walmart again during Thanksgiving and Christmas. My time in there lasted a whole five minutes, and I left empty-handed. I'm still reeling from the things I saw in there. I felt dirty. We have significantly scaled back on the gift-giving this year, which made shopping that much more pleasant. Instead, we're trying to not just tell, but SHOW the kids that the time spent together looking at Xmas lights, watching a movie, decorating the tree, baking cookies, giving to others and just being together - those are the things that Christmas is about. I think they really get it . . . and in the meantime, I listen to Carter as Max & Ruby is on commercial break. Every "boy" toy that is advertised, he asks Finley, "Can you get me that?" and every girl toy he says, "Fin, I'm gonna get you that." Tis the season . . .

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