Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2014 -- It's Going to Be a Doozy

I am somewhat in denial about the fact that it's New Year's Eve. Yet, even so, it is easy this year to look back on a particularly eventful year, and look ahead to a year that promises ever-more of the unexpected.

2013 was wonderful. It was busy. It was full of all those things that life should be full of: family, blessings, adventures, love, laughter. It was the sort of year that I would never, ever, in a million years have envisioned for myself, but that I would not change for anything. It was a year of trusting God and being rewarded many times over.

This I think pretty much speaks for 2013. Smiling in Wichita, KS.

But 2014 . . . oh, 2014, the adventures and surprises you have in store. And that's only taking into consideration the stuff we can anticipate.

Like the final steps of this never-ending residency application process.

Like Charles' home stretch of med school rotations (and getting back into that routine after all these lovely weeks off of it).

Like learning our (Charles') fate for residency. And making plans accordingly.

Like welcoming Mr. Man, and adjusting to life as a family of 4.

Like Charles' med school graduation, and the (very) necessary celebrating that will go along with it.

Like moving . . . somewhere . . . and getting settled into life there.

Like moving . . . with two under 2.

Like Charles beginning residency, and all that will bring for all of us.

Like Clare and her brother continuing to grow up . . . and all the adventures, heartaches, headaches, laughter, and fleetingly beautiful moments that brings.

So, 2014, you've been warned. We're waiting for you . . . Bring. It. On.

Happy New Year!!! (and stay safe out there)

*insert lots of cheers and hoots and hollers and noise maker noise and confetti here*

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Monday, December 30, 2013

In Which Life Happens and I Learn from It.

As I mentioned on my 7QT post last week, Advent this year was a big, fat fail. A good chunk of that was thanks to not being home for most of Advent, unless we were packing/unpacking. The Jesse Tree fizzled out after about a week. The second, third, and fourth candles of the Advent Wreath never saw a flame until Christmas Eve. We decorated in the most liturgically correct way we could muster -- the weekend before Christmas. I did sing lots of "O Come! O Come! Emanuel," if that counts for anything.

I wasn't overly concerned, though. I was looking forward to the hustle and bustle of the last few days of the season. I thrive on it. I was going to do all my Adventing in a week.

Then, as luck would have it, Clare got sick with some lame virus. Thursday night, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and even Monday turned into a blur of fevers and medicine, doctors and worry. And prayers. Lots of prayers. All my poor, sick, miserable girl wanted to do was lounge on Mama. It was all I could do to sneak away for a few errands, get a bare minimum of stuff done, keep Charles and myself alive. One-by-one, items were crossed off the to-do list; not completed, but not necessary either. That's why there are no lights up at our house. Why there were only two kinds of cookies (both already made and frozen) for Christmas. Why visits never got paid. Why things slowed down.

Thanks to lots of answered prayers, when Clare woke up on Christmas Eve, her fever was broken.She had enough energy to watch Nick Jr. somewhat independently and let us pull everything together to have some family over for a nice Christmas Eve celebration. One where it was easy to thank God for answered prayers.

Also feeling well enough to climb in the block basket.

The (not so surprising) thing about Christmas, though, is that it comes, whether you've had a good Advent or not, whether you're ready or not.

Maybe that's why Christmas Eve is my favorite day of the year. I wake up to anticipation and the ever-present holiday to-do list. There is a buzz in the air. Inevitably, the deadline, whatever it may be hits, and then . . .

Then, then, then . . .

Christ is there.

He is there in anticipation of children, waiting for their gifts, even when they don't (fully) recognize that Christ is the real gift of Christmas.

He is there in the music, the readings, the candlelight.

He is there in His Church, gathered in worship.

He  is there in families and friends. In food and fellowship.

He is there in the midst of the sickness, hunger, sadness, and loneliness that plague so many during the holidays.

He is there, body, blood, soul and divinity in the Eucharist.

He is there, a babe born in Bethlehem, the Word Incarnate.

He is there, seeking a way to enter our hearts, to fill us, to change us. He is there, beckoning us, waiting for us. That is what Christmas is all about. We might be waiting for Him in our liturgical celebrations, but really, He is waiting for us.

I might have spent my last days of Advent frustrated with my inability to do. I might have "gotten busy" and pulled a lovely evening together for our company. I might have failed to meet my own expectations for what the day should be, but I actually saw what Christmas can be. I saw through the trimmings and trappings. I saw what mattered most. I saw Christ.

I know that, time and time again, I get distracted. I fail to pray as I should. I fail to see Christ where I should. I fall short. But thankfully, God is loving and merciful, always waiting for us to come back to Him. I thank God for this Christmas, and another chance to return to the embrace of He who was born lowly, laying in a manger, and later rose to eternal Glory.

God bless us, everyone.

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Friday, December 27, 2013

7 Quick Takes, Vol. 47

On the 3rd day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: a chance to sit down and write for the first time in ages. Using this to link-up with Jen (feel better!) and a quick Christmas wrap-up!

1. Life. Happened. (Y yo no blogo.) I've actually got a nice, reflective post coming tomorrow (or maybe next week) on alllllll of that, but in the mean time, consider this a teaser and a (* * *) in your book to indicate that time has passed, and pretend that the in-the-mean-time happenings are of no consequence.

2. We made it nice and early to get good seats for the early Mass on Christmas Eve. Clare was really good for about an hour-and-a-half (meaning, up until the Liturgy of the Eucharist, if you take the wait time into consideration). I was extra glad to hold my own little ball of energy this Christmas, and actually had the opportunity to reflect on the Incarnation and the Nativity in spite of her taken-outside-antics.

Cutie McCuterson in her Christmas dress.

3. From there we came home to begin the feasting with Charles' parents, along with some present opening and a cameo by my sister and brother-in-law (and their in utero little one, if we're being technical -- and since this is the first time I've mentioned his/her pending arrival on here . . . . eeeeeeeeeeeee! I'm awfully excited for her, and for our kids to have 6ish week apart cousins). And staying up filling stockings and putting together tables and princess castles.

4. Christmas morning was enchanting. Clare still doesn't quite get the whole present thing, but was pleased as punch to sit down in her new little chair and play with her "cattow." I think that would have left her pretty satisfied for the rest of the morning. We helped her rip into the rest of her packages, exchanged gifts between Charles and me, set up some still-boxed toys, and sipped coffee. Finally, we made and enjoyed a late breakfast. Pretty much exactly what Christmas should be, I'd say.

5. It was early afternoon before we were dressed, packed, and in the car to head north to my dad's house for dinner and time with the folks up there. It was another round of feasting and gabbing and present opening and jammies (I don't have pictures ahora. Lo siento.) and laughing way too hard while playing some version of charades meets Catch-Phrase.

6. We came home yesterday afternoon, and I think alllll of us were Christmas-ed out. I was plum exhausted, and I think Clare and Charles were, too. We had a nice relaxing evening with pizza and DVR.

7. We have a couple of days of restful quiet this weekend, before next week. Charles' brother will be in town, which always makes for a fun, but busy, few days. Hoping to do some reading and some sleeping. Maybe even make use of a Starbucks gift card. :) I can think of nothing more celebratory for the 4th and 5th days of Christmas than that!

Have a lovely weekend! Merry Christmas, everyone!

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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Frozen Odds and Defrosting Ends

I blame it on the unbelievably cold Denver weather.

But can't actually complain toooooo much, because most of my experience with the weather has been running between a warmed car and a heated building. Usually while whisking a 20ish pound toddler between locales. On the upside, I am now convinced that we can survive winter weather in and of itself should we Match into a cold climate. Ever the optimist am I.

The good news is that, as of writing, Charles' interview status is 7 down, 2 to go. A week from today, it will all be over. God willing.

We survived our first-ever plane ride with child. Clare fell asleep on Charles' shoulder at the airport and woke up at cruising altitude, clearly confused, but equally reassured that Mama and Daddy were right there with her. She quickly decided the plane was all kinds of fun with a smiling college student across the aisle, a cup of milk, and a weird, round window with clouds outside of it. If only she could have run up and down the aisles, I think she would have deemed it perfect.


I'm also loving that we are staying this week with Charles' sister. In addition to having 3 "puppies" that Clare, of course, loves, K lives in a lovely home in a lovely neighborhood that is currently covered in snow and full of Christmas lights. Which gives me warm fuzzies, by golly.

I'm starting to get giddy excited for the end of Advent and Christmas. I'm excited for a little pause to reflect on God and family and fasting and feasting in the days leading up to the beginning of 2014. I've got more rambling to insert there, but I'll save it for a later date/post. :)

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Friday, December 6, 2013

7 Quick Takes, Vol. 46

Joining Jen and others for my weekly 7QT fix.

1. I joined Charles in Tucson for interview fun yesterday and today. It was my first night away from Clare, so I tossed and turned a good chuck of the night. Lovely. She and Grandma & Grandpa seem to have survived the night, and it was nice to get some R&R yesterday afternoon. I've also eaten a couple of meals without toddler antics, which is freakishly calm. Even so, gotta admit that I miss my girl. I almost even miss reading Hop on Pop. But not quite. I'm not in need of counseling or intervention. Yet.

2. My mom grew up here, I had extended family here who we visited frequently while growing up, and I went to college here (go Cats!!), so there are about a million memories around every corner. That makes it annoying to drive around with me. "That's where bla bla bla. And that's where bla." I'm shiny eyed and happy. My companion is glassy eyed and regretting that muzzles on humans are not considered appropriate.

Raising her right!

3. Sadly, too many of those memories involve food. My sister and I (and probably other family members) are allllllllllll about eating our way through town. Charles asked about my plans this morning, and sadly, they involved my college hangout coffee shop and family favorite lunch spot. With some other time killing in between.

4. Which brings #2 and #3 together in the craziest story. I was at this coffee shop (and by this, I'm somewhat literal, since I'm sitting in said coffee shop typing this morning) with a couple of friends one evening, drinking lattes and having Deep Collegiate conversations, I'm sure. Randomly, (for reals, the most random ev-ah) we were approached by a strange Russian septuagenarian with an accordion. He played, we smiled politely. Then he started encouraging us to dance. And play his accordion. What???!?!??! Yeah. So, a couple of us do an awkward linked arms circle dance. A couple of us play a couple of off key notes on his accordion. I don't remember how the situation finally ended, but, as was pointed out when I texted the recollection off this morning, we were dancing like little Russian puppet monkeys. So weird.


5. 23 weeks pregnant and obsessively talking about food. Could I be more cliche?

My magic, bump shrinking shirt!

6. Fine, I'll talk about the weather instead. It's cold for Arizona, but that's not actually my main concern (for once). Instead, my concern is the absolutely frigid weather we'll be facing when we go to Denver tomorrow. Charles and I have cold weather odds and ends, so we'll be fine, but we're piecing stuff together for Clare, who is an Arizona baby with an Arizona wardrobe. Should be interesting. Expecting to spend lots and lots of time indoors in the next few days, and looking forward to things getting back to seasonably cold weather mid-week.

Modeling Daddy's beanie.

7. Oooh, I know what I nearly failed to mention -- wishing everyone a happy Feast of St. Nicholas!! Clare's shoes will be getting their inaugural treats tonight (a day late since we were gone, but she'll never know!) in accord with my New (Liturgical) Year's resolution to live more liturgically.

Have a lovely, safe, dry, and warm weekend!

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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

O Come, O Come!!

{Linking up with Michaela from California to Korea to share what I love about Advent.}

I have mentioned before that I love Advent. Rather than adding to the hustle and bustle of a busy season, I find that it gives me an excuse to slow down and do things differently. It also gives a purpose to, or at least an excuse for, the busy-ness. Some of what I love:


1. Traditions. I love that Advent is so easily marked by traditions. Advent wreath? Check. Jesse Tree? Check. Liturgical colors at Mass? Check (at least for me). It becomes easy to build time for prayer, for scripture, for quiet into that framework -- and still keep it from becoming so burdensome that it is not sustainable.

2. "O Come, O Come Emmanuel." Yes, I know you're sick of it by Christmas. Know what? I'm not. I love the song. I love that it gets stuck in my head and I find myself singing it all day/week. And the fact that they are directly tied to the O Antiphons of Evening prayer?!? Sign.Me.Up. Or, more accurately, ignore my off-pitch singing. It's better than when I bust out O Holy Night. I promise.

3. Easing into Christmas. Because of Advent, I don't feel pressure to go from a pure Thanksgiving focus to a pure Christmas one at midnight on Thanksgiving night. Instead, I get eat my pie in peace. I can my Advent stuff together (See: #1). I try to knock my shopping out early, so as not to focus on it. I decorate after Gaudete Sunday (the 3rd Sunday in Advent). It marks a subtle liturgical shift in Advent, turning toward the preparation for the coming of Christ in the Nativity. I see it as a sign that it's time to get Christmas prep into high gear. I'm preparing for the coming of Christ in the Nativity by wrapping and baking and "elfing." And belting those O Antiphons in song loud and proud. Know what? For a week or 10 days (13 at the outset), that is fun for me!

I don't generally draw a sharp liturgical line in the sand and eschew all things Christmas before the 25th. I just don't think that's realistic. I'm a both-and Catholic. It is both Advent and the time that society celebrates Christmas. I can keep right on celebrating until Epiphany, and they don't need to worry their pretty heads about that, either. I'm okay with it. It's a season for magic, and light, and ohmygosh! Christmas!!

 Have a blessed Advent!

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