So yesterday I had the most awesome privilege of seeing brand new life appear on earth. Lesli and Jimmy, parents of Henry, had their second child, a precious little jewel named Catherine. I was over-the-moon excited to be there with them to capture her first few hours.
She is a beauty. Now, between Susan, Lesli, and me, we have three boys and two girls. My heart is bursting. I want them all in a room together as soon as possible.
Don’t think I didn’t freak out when Jeremy said, “When Catherine is ten years old, I’ll be twenty!” Wait, what?
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention our little baby, who officially turned one year old yesterday.
This was Major at six weeks old, sleeping soundly next to his older brother:
And here we were last night, cuddled for about ten minutes until Salem was over it:
I’d forgotten that it was Major’s birthday until I came home from the hospital and the boys told me I needed to join them in a round of singing Happy Birthday to the dog.
When I was in elementary school my family lived in Germany. Even though I attended an English-speaking Department of Defense school on an Army base, all students were required to take Host Nation, a course led by a German woman who taught us all about the country’s traditions, holidays, and history. We also learned basic German – enough to order from menus, to ask how much something cost in a store, and how to find the bathroom. We lived on base for only a short while, until my parents found a rental house in the German town. We became immersed in culture, riding our bikes back and forth to base, going to German shops, and swimming at the city pool. The best memories, however, were from the Christmas holidays.
St. Nicholas Day is a big deal in Europe. Children leave their shoes outside the front door so St. Nicholas can fill them with little trinkets and coins. He’s the centerpiece of every town parade and festival, dressed as Father Christmas the religious figure, not like Santa who slips down your chimney.
Like every other religious holiday, we’ve done well to commercialize it. St. Nicholas is why we hang stockings on the fireplace, after all. But originally, St. Nicholas was a compassionate bishop who cared for the “least of these,” particularly children. It is his goodness and generosity that we celebrate.
Since I put my shoes on the front porch for St. Nicholas when I was a kid, I decided to make that a tradition with my boys. They put their shoes outside last night and paced the living room this morning until I finally gave them the okay. The each received a few chocolates and a little toy. Then our advent lesson was on generosity.
I wouldn’t say that I’m anti-Santa Claus, because I’m not. I’m just pro-St. Nicholas. I just like having the historical reference to lay as a foundation next to Mary, Joseph, and Jesus. I like that we can marry Christmas traditions together instead of picking sides.
Traveling St. Nicholas is our tree topper. Oh – and guess who used my typewriter last night without permission? Silly elf.
Now that Literary Theory is officially over (THANK THE SWEET LORD), I can put my entire brain back into homeschooling. That sounds bad, doesn’t it? Like I let the boys flounder while I drank high dollar coffee and read philosophy drivel. That’s not what happened, at least, not entirely. We’re doing fine on all of the core subjects, but we’re miserably behind on electives. It’s my intention to spend the next three weeks catching up to a significant stopping point before Christmas. The boys aren’t thrilled, let me tell you. They preferred it when I passed out on Norton’s Anthology and they watched documentaries from National Geographic.
My brain is still on the novel, but I reserve that work for the evening after they’ve gone to bed and Major is sufficiently passed out for the night. I’ve already registered for next semester and, from what I can tell, there should be no philosophy or theory or anything written above my pay grade. Short Story and Performance Writing should be manageable.
I’ve not taken photos of Timmy yet, but he’s reemerged. So far he’s just hiding in different places around the house, but I’m sure he’ll start his mischief soon. We’ve also begun our Advent tradition, where the boys receive a note each morning telling them something special. They either get a small piece of chocolate or we do an activity together. Today we played Candyland. Jackson smoked us and won all four rounds.
Speaking of Jackson. For all of his simplicities, he has a fantastic imagination. I’ve been putting words on a white board each week and having the boys write stories using all of them. I purposely give them words that generally don’t go together – like feather, star, sword, garbage – just to see how they’ll weave them together. Jackson never fails to write full scenes with dialogue and sound effects (you knew it would be an action story). He’s also started setting up his stuffed animals on his bed and giving them lines to say, as if he’s directing a film. Am I raising a George Lucas? A Joss Whedon? A Christopher Nolan? Can’t wait to find out.
I was dead set against getting a massive tree like last year. The Clark Griswold in Chuck Miller showed up when we bought a house with 12-foot ceilings and he felt we needed an 11-foot tree to go in it. I could not reach the top, even with a ladder, so this year I told him we were getting a normal tree that is easier to manage.
But then he said I could get my own little tree if he could still get a big one. I caved.
We went back to Santa Land Tree Farm in North Georgia. The following photos are from cutting down the baby tree. Chuck chose his tree from a group that had already been cut.
My cute little baby tree: Chuck made his selection from this bunch.
I put the little tree in the library/school room/office so we could enjoy it every day, all day.
Chuck’s tree is in the den, where it nearly touches the ceiling. It’s beautiful, Clark.
When we go to Chattanooga, we squeeze in every moment we can with friends and family. It used to be our home, so not only is the city nostalgic, it’s also home to some of our favorite people.
This year Thanksgiving was with Chuck’s family. I admit that I was glad to be a guest and not a host, but only because November has been a tiresome month. Normally, I enjoy all the cooking and whatnot. This month, I enjoyed lounging.
Do you think these two are related?
So grateful Tami and Jeff could host this year. I can’t say that everyone was well-behaved (Chuck), but that’s how little brothers are (Chuck).
Before we stuffed our bellies with turkey and dressing, Chuck and I got up early to meet Karin and run the Turkey Trot 8K. It was Karin’s first road race and I was so happy to run alongside her.
On Black Friday, while everyone was blowing cash and fighting lines, we were with our Fred and Ethel Mertz.
We also drove down to Santa Land Tree Farm to get our Christmas trees. That’s right – plural. As in two trees. I’ll post pictures of that tomorrow.
Finally, for those who are wondering, I haven’t finished the novel but I’m in the 70,000-word range. I completed NaNoWriMo, which was really satisfying, but I have a little less than two weeks to finish the story and turn it in to my creative writing professor. So far, so good.