Sunday, December 26, 2010

(deep sigh)

We made it.

I have never



been so glad that Christmas was over.

Sweet, sweet bitterness.

So many people softened the blow of the first Christmas for us. . .

Someone reached his tiny grave before us on Christmas morning. . . all of the snow brushed away, that small little pine blanket brushed clear of six inches of snow.  We tried to follow the tracks of the angel who did this for us. . . but I think they wanted to remain a mystery.  Thank you, precious friend.

The little tree at his resting place; covered in tiny blue bows and blue snowflakes and blue butterflies.  Breathtaking.  Bless you. . . unknown friend.

tiny ornaments in memory of our little man. . .

pictures. . .

journals. . .

cards with his name added, too (thank you, sweet Becky. . .)

We are so blessed by so many who poured out, unselfishly caring and carrying our grief during what is supposed to be the happiest time of the year. Thank you to each one who chose to face our pain, and not turn away. . . 

It is hard to dull the throbbing ache of loss.

I am learning so much.

I am blessed beyond belief to have a man who loves me so well, even through these dark, dark days.

I am learning that a grateful heart is sometimes also an aching heart.

I am finding out how strong the love of a Father really is.

I am shocked at how weak I am.

I am in awe of how strong HE is.

I am savoring the joy of my children and the crazy hilarity of their age.

I am loving watching JD's thrill {still} at being on Christmas vacation. "Dear God, thank You so much that I can have Christmas vacation, because some kids don't get a vacation from school, so thank You."  (I didn't set him straight.) 

Laughter at Cambria's honest efforts to rhyme words. . . some are perfect combinations, others not so much.  "we and me! we and he!" {good}  "eat and car!" {not good}  "you're the best mommy!" {perfect}

Hanging on to Daniel. . . drawing so much strength from him this week.

Still incredulous that Daniel discovered both of my Christmas gifts for him. . . wireless internet + gifting him with my {treasured} Blackberry.  {Sigh.}  I was never the best at keeping secrets anyway.

Planning what day to schedule my hour long massage birthday gift.  (Yes, my birthday is in May.  But that massage has motivated me through hundreds of thank yous over the summer, weddings, packing and unpacking, cleaning, rentals, Thanksgiving, diets, Christmas cards. . . and well, it's just time to use it.)

{another sigh}

Thank You God. . . thank You for never letting go. . .  I love You. . .

Thursday, December 23, 2010

love from. . . us

{thank you to sweet Rebecca who continues to bless our family with the gift of her photography}

merry christmas, little man

Hi, my little man. . .

How are ya doing?

I was hoping that the angels are singing you Away in the Manger; I think you could almost do some of those actions. . .

I missed you, little man, every minute this month. 

We made our tree for you. . . we got little lanterns like you helped mama order for the weddings this summer and big tissue flowers like at your baby shower and we put them all over our tree with tinsel. . . and that was all we could do.

Your brother and sister had their cracker sandwiches without you and we all wished you were there, so bad.

I was trying to be brave on our Christmas day and then your daddy said "this is really hard for me," and then I just laid my head down on the table and cried for you, little man. Neither of us want anything but you.

Your daddy wrapped gifts for you that he picked out. . .

Baby mittens {cuz he totally would have taken you sledding on his Christmas vacation}

Handwarmers {so you wouldn't get cold}

A little fire truck {cuz he wanted you to grab it and put it in your mouth and then he would take it out and explain to you how it worked}

And he even bought you some ice cream of your very own - Chunky Monkey, for our little Chunky Monkey.  {it's in the freezer }

Ahhhh, little man. . , my little Gabe. . . . I wish you were in our house, buddy.

I filled the kids stockings last night, and we didn't leave you out, little man. . . you got some cheerios and a little flashlight and playdough. . . mostly just for your big brother and sister to open because they wanted to do a stocking for you, too.  They aren't up yet; they're all tuckered out from their big night last night of caroling and sledding.

I wish lots and lots of things, little man, mostly that you were here;  none of the things I wish for this Christmas can change until Heaven, so I have to choose to hold on to the gifts God has given me.

You were a gift, Gabriel.  We loved every minute with you.

Life is a gift.

Eternal life is a greater gift.

We know we will see you - in just a little while, Gabe - because Jesus left all of the gifts that God had given Him and chose to come down to our little messy yucky crummy selfish aching world and give us

hope when there is no hope

peace when there is no peace

love when there is no love

and life when there is death.

That's what Christmas is about. . .

And I celebrate that with all of my heart.

Tell Jesus Happy Birthday for me, little man. 

Mommy loves you.

Merry Christmas, buddy.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Gumdrop Wreath

{Inspired by Cheryl at A Pretty Cool Life. . .}

I love it!!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake

{subtitle:  yes, I still like to eat}

1 3/4 cup oreo crumbs

3 T. butter

Mix together and press on bottom and up sides of 9 x 13 springform pan


3 packages cream cheese

1 cup sugar

3 eggs

1 cup sour cream

Pour into crust.

Cookie Dough:

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 T. milk

1/2 cup flour

1 t. vanilla

1 cup mini chocolate chips.

Drop by teaspoonfuls into cheesecake.  Push down with a spoon and smooth cheesecake batter  Bake at 350 fro 50 minutes, cool for an hour on wire rack and then refrigerate overnight.

I tweaked a recipe from an ancient Taste of Home magazine. . . credit where credit is due. . .

And the breakdown of where this went and how much is left. . .

1 piece (warm, yuck) -Daniel

4 pieces (snuck into McD's while clueless children played ha ha ha ha) -da girls

1 piece to pacify the whistleblower at McD's - JD

4 pieces to my friend minus 1 piece JD stole off of her gift plate (while I was on the phone with my mom) = 3 pieces for her

2 large pieces to Station 2

And this is what is left.  . . .

Oh so very tempting.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

24 Days before Christmas

. . . well, actually, its more like 13 or 14 days before Christmas. . .

I put up our advent calendar last night . . . er, this morning, at 2 am. . .

This is my very cheap spin on the advent calendar on Infarrantly Creative.  I went to Dollar Tree to buy the cute little buckets and realized I was going to spend about $10, which I don't mind, but these little white bags in packs of 12/$1 caught my eye.

Then, since I don't own one of those cool cricut machines, I sent a humble request to my friend Pam for numbers 1-24 in green and orange.  She was kind and made them for me. (Thanks, Pam! )

I (shhhhh) hot glued the green ribbon to my chalkboard wall.  I think when I take it down, there will be some sadness, i.e. chipped paint, but no worries, I have tons of chalkboard paint.  I pinned the bags up with green paper clips.

They are filled with little tags that say things like:

Make Peppermint Bark

Read Luke 1

Sing Away in the Manger

Play "hide the Christmas candy kiss"

Put a string of white lights up somewhere

Read a Christmas story

Put together Christmas puzzles

Look at Christmas lights with hot cocoa in Daddy's truck

Go to Fareway and pick out Brach's candy mix

and so on . . .and on. . . 

I'll be honest, I don't have them all filled.  I can think of what to put in there as we go along.  It's the right of the mommy in her mommy kingdom.

And I've always wanted to try this idea. . .

. . .sorting clothing into outfits for each day of the week.  I don't know if it will work, but at least it looks really cute!

I am such a conundrum of beautiful design and absolute chaos. 

Really?  Advent Calendar on the 11th of December at 2 am?

Please, tell me I'm not alone.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Deuteronomy 18. . . and The Three Trees. . . and Jesus

Lots of things swirling around in my mind today.

Cambria, while I was organizing her {extremely messy} room. . . Mommy, Jesus died on the cross for me.

I turned to look, wanting to burn that moment forever in my heart.

Cheesy grin.

Reading The Tale of Three Trees.



Lately the issue of communication with the those not here has surfaced frequently.  Maybe because someone I love has died. . .?  I know that the grace of God has kept this desire from my heart and I'm thankful for that;  today I went searching for answers from God's Word.  As a believer, it's easy to pass off, gloss over, and ignore this issue, but when you are faced with it, I don't want to simply dismiss someone and their earnest desire to see or hear from their loved one again.

I expected to find what I thought was there; a negative command.  Don't do it.  I found that.  I also found an
incredible promise, right there in the middle of the Old Testament. . .

. . .proof to me that the One who created our hearts also knows how to care for them, even in unthinkable sorrow. . .

After God says not to ask for answers from the dark. . . He says this. . . "The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet. . .listen to Him. . ." {Dt. 18:15}

In one of those light bulb moments, I realized that once again, God always gives so much more.  Instead of psychics, how about eternity with all of the answers and Gabe?  In place of shadowy quests for bits of hope. . . Jesus, the Light of the World, and our firm foundation.

I'd pick Jesus any day.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

$20 Master Bedroom Makeover

I just never get tired of makeovers. . .

. . .ever.

So this is my $20 master bedroom makeover.

There were several components that went into the inspiration for this idea.

1) mess everywhere from hundreds of books that needed shelving

2) the chalkboard headboard wall in the movie 500 Days of Summer {not worth watching except for decorating ideas!}

3) makeovers make me so so happy.  I have been rearranging my spaces since I was a little girl.  One night when I was probably only four, Mom and Dad left me with a sitter who dutifully put me to bed, but I didn't go to sleep.  I pushed my bed against a different wall and toodled around in my room til Mom and Dad got home, then crept down to the landing to listen to the sitter's report.  "I don't think she's asleep, " said the sitter, stating the very duh obvious.  {relating that story sounds an awful lot like Cambria.  Hmm.}

Anyway, on with the remake.

Ceiling Fan : repaint+ clean = free
(the amount of paint used is so minimal and I always have black paint)

free shelving (it was headed for the dumpster, seriously) + more black paint and organization= free

            This was our nice, safe, tan colored headboard wall which is now black.  ( $9 chalkboard paint)

Lamps from Goodwill (matching, even) $6
(I will probably paint these black)
I already had the lampshades, so I'm counting those as free, but originally they were $15 apiece

You may be wondering what Daniel thinks of coming home to black walls.  He's cool with it.  He likes order, and really could care less what color organization looks like, but he happens to like black, so lucky me. My tip for painting wild colors:  Do it, (unless it's woodwork or brick that is going to be forever altered) and then meet him with "Babe, it was $20 and if you don't like it I'll happily change it back."  It works for me every time.  I realize I'm stereotyping here, but guys usually don't have vision for this kind of change and they have a really hard time visualizing the idea; however, they are usually okay with the outcome.

Hey, for $20, why not?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Bittersweet Christmas

I changed our playlist.

The regular cheerful holiday music. . . just not doing anything for my heart these days.

I'm struggling with winter and Christmas.  It's just so not what I expected. 

I woke up yesterday morning - and felt like I got kicked in the stomach when I discovered it was snowing.  why is this so hard for you. . . Daniel asks. . .

I don't know. 

Maybe because his grave seems a little colder.

Because one more season has come and gone without our little man in it.

Because it's cold, and I don't want his resting place to seem cold.

I don't know.

The black hole of the summer has faded. . . and so instead of just letting myself grieve and weep I keep going. . .taking out my frustration and grief and tears on things that don't matter. . .

This is such a long process.

Sometimes I just wish it could be over.

Fast forward button. . . where are you?

I cheer when I find tiny orange japanese lanterns to hang on the tree. . . yay. . .  yay?  I'm happy about hanging stuff on our tree in memory of our son?  It seems so wrong.

I struggled this morning. . . usually I do fun stuff for the kids on the first day of December, channeling my mom and her incredible abilities to make the ordinary special.  {snowman pancakes, anyone?} 

I just couldn't do the special stuff.  It's so sad.  This afternoon we dug out all of the Christmas storybooks and snuggled in our big bed upstairs and read until my voice was hoarse.  I can handle that.

Cleaning out the basement. . . I find the high chair and calmly set it aside.  I can handle this. But it lingers in my thoughts, all day. . .  he would be hilarious sitting in it. . . can just see his three dimples and throwing his spoon on the floor.

I don't know why I feel the need to be brave. . . maybe for my little people. . . for Daniel. . . I want to shield them from more sadness.

This is a journey. . . and it will include lots and lots of bittersweet moments.

Including a bittersweet Christmas.