Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
1 Corinthians 3:17

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Our December Birthdays

The older boys aren't interested in themed birthday parties anymore - good thing I've got Levi coming up in the ranks, ha! - so Caleb invited two friends to go see the Star Wars movie, and instead of cake, I sent them off with loads of movie candy and money for ginormous Cokes.

Isabelle doesn't know it, but she's getting a Surprise Pool Party for her half birthday, something she's talked about wanting since before we even had a pool. I can't wait! We had been planning on bringing her and a friend to the American Girl store near Boston but we keep getting sick, or the weather doesn't cooperate... maybe in early spring!

Here we are about to head out for our annual Birthday Cocoa Christmas Lights Pajama Drive...say that five times fast ;)
Such magic in the air, and everyone was so excited to share this tradition with the baby, even though he had no clue what was going on. He did like all the extra attention, I'm sure, if that's even possible since he pretty much captures everyone's attention every minute of every day.

Pops for school!
One of my favorite birthday traditions

More birthday snow
At least it's better than when there's birthday snow for October. Ugh!

We enjoyed a fun but low-key family party to celebrate the birthday kiddos this year.
How can Caleb be fourteen!?!

And this one went and turned double digits on me!
She doesn't look excited At.All, right?

Here we are just after getting Isabelle's ears pierced
She did great, but it makes my stomach turn so I couldn't watch. This is totally odd, as I pierced my own ears - true story! - in high school with ice and studs. Weird.

Lukey is with her every single night. It's so cute! He jumped up to rub on my arm when he saw me come in to turn off her Christmas lights.

Well. This one is on the lengthy side. Just things I don't want to forget. Feel free to stop here and save yourself the hour, ha.

Two posts within one week! Just trying to stay on track so I'm not writing about their birthdays in February. I can still remember being slightly upset that I'd be having a baby so close to Christmas when I found out I was expecting little Caleb. His pregnancy came as such a shock to us anyway, and I had a hard time thinking ahead to what it would be like. Well, after dealing with his traumatic birth - there's a post about it, I think, just look for the label- I learned that I couldn't have been more wrong. It was such an exciting time of year to have a birthday, such a magical time. And then when Isabelle came along, we learned we'd be celebrating another birthday just three days later, and just ten days before Christmas day. It was all, well, exciting and fun.

I have to admit, this year that same spirit of celebration has been different. Missing a little, maybe. I was surprised because I assumed the joy would be magnified getting to experience it all with Levi. And it hasn't been. This year, stress, discontentment and even hopelessness seem to have taken up residence in my mind and heart. Our kids are good kids with generous hearts, so I don't mean to put this on them, but it seems like the wants - in general, everywhere- have become much bigger, much more expected, and of course, waaay more expensive. I didn't put up any decorations for Christmas until last week because I just couldn't will myself to do it, and then I didn't even enjoy it. This is so different for me because I always love making our home look festive and merry! Perhaps it's because I've been so busy, and I'm so tired. Or maybe the chaos of a new baby, the stuff that comes along with having a baby in particular, has me feeling overwhelmed- it has been a while, you know, ha- and everything feels cluttered and unmanageable. Regardless, I'm simply being honest and admitting that things haven't felt quite so joyous this year.

Caleb's birthday fell on a Monday, and it just to happened to coincide with a major snowstorm that cancelled school, so we sure took advantage of that! Although a certain little someone has not decided if he likes the snow yet or not... I'm glad we went on our annual Birthday Pajama Cocoa Drive to see lights the night before because the roads were a disaster the next day. We enjoyed a nice, slow, lazy morning, ate chocolate chip pancakes, and tried to give Caleb a wonderful day. Bill stayed home, which was a nice treat, so they went out shopping later with his birthday money and excitedly returned home with... more video games. Ugh. I just had to laugh. I am so not a video game kind of person. The boys are allowed to play on the weekends, and usually it's only Caleb who wants to, so he isn't complaining that he doesn't have to share with anyone. I was happy that Levi played happily in the kitchen that day so I could make a chocolate swirl cheesecake for the birthday boy. He said again and again how much fun he'd had, and that's really all that ever matters to me. We've experienced some growing pains- in every sense of the word- lately, but Caleb is a delightful son. We are so proud of him and the godly man he is becoming.

Isabelle's birthday was Thursday, the big 1-0. I think that made it a little harder for me too. My only daughter, and here she is, going and turning double digits on me! She woke up to balloons taped to her door and spilling out into her bedroom...well, technically, she woke up to the cats tearing through the upstairs, which included pouncing on her bed in hot pursuit... Technicalities. There were more chocolate chip pancakes, plus bacon!, but there were also tears. From both of us. Not gonna lie, there were times I really had to push through to fake a smile because all I really wanted to do was run and hide. I think it's best that's that all I share about that, for now anyway.

I wish I could say things vastly improved as the day wore on, but... Quick story. We were heading to the store later, so I bundled up Levi because the temp was below freezing and the wind was picking up. I really didn't want to go. But I also really wanted my little girl to feel special and celebrated on her big day. We were picking up a few things for dinner, mainly because she kept changing her mind about what meal she wanted, and then getting a few balloons to surprise her at school. Levi fell asleep on the way to town but perked up pretty well once inside the grocery store. We braved the arctic wind to put the groceries in the van, then I carried him into the party store for the balloons. I could tell it wasn't going to be an in-and-out kind of trip because the girl behind the counter was just plain clueless for the few people ahead of me. She seemed actually get more and more clueless with each customer, so by the time we were up, well, never mind. Just picture me holding onto a curious baby, bundled up like a marshmallow, with flailing arms, and a bunch of balloons. What could wrong, right? We approached the door and I looked outside but could not see a thing. Nothing! A snow squall popped up and everything was white and swirly. There was no visibility at all! I waited a long minute but then had to get to the car, so pushed open the door and the second we did, the wind pelted snow all over our faces and the balloons were whipping around like madmen. Levi started screaming- snow is still new to him, and he wasn't such a fan of it blowing all over his poor little face- and it took me a second to find the van. I couldn't even see it from two rows away! A gust of wind picked up again and I just knew one of the balloons was a goner. Yup. Couldn't even see it fly away with all the snow blowing every which way. Even though it was freezing cold, I think I broke into a sweat trying to get Levi into that car seat. He arched and screamed and looked up at me with the most pleading eyes. "Why are you torturing me, Mommy?" Snow was falling off his hat and onto his face, and every time I tried to brush it away, I ended up just getting more on him. Poor baby. Another balloon nearly escaped through the open door but I caught it punched it to the front seat.

I started the car but had to wait a few minutes because there was still zero visibility. Car horns were blaring and people were shouting. I was afraid of hitting someone, so we stayed put. Levi finally stopped yelling. A few minutes later, we were on our way to the school. I prayed he wouldn't fall asleep because he needed a nap so badly, and I wanted it to be at home at least.

The roads were a mess, as they often are when a storm pops up out of nowhere, but I made it. Sure enough, Levi was fast asleep. Oh was I so tempted to just go home, but we had both been upset when she left for school, and I knew how happy she'd be to see Levi in front of all her friends. So as gently as I could, I got him out, and covered his whole head and body with a fleece blanket. More wriggling, more balloon wrangling, more wind. Balloon number two falls victim. I tell you, I was near tears before I even stepped inside the school.

Apparently the storm was making children go bananas, as there were several naughty students waiting in line for the principal, and the secretary making frantic calls to other teachers and counselors to come deal with so and so, of course, spoken in the most polite and civil of tones. I think I would have been a little less diplomatic. Anyhoo. I should have known, just by the look on her face. When she finally had a minute to talk to me, I explained that all I wanted was to surprise my birthday girl and then go home. Five minutes, in and out. She said no. It came as a shock, and I almost lost my resolve. She went on to offer what was probably a reasonable solution, but it didn't matter, I was done. Tears brimmed, she apologized, but I told her that I would just go home, and I adjusted Levi on one hip, tightened my grip on the last two balloons, and headed out the door.

We made it to the car. The wind was relentless and I hated having Levi outside in it. I think I was pretty much sobbing by this point, and I remember more back arching while trying to get him buckled in. I was about to push the button to close his door when I happened to look in the front, and there was no balloon. I never even saw it go! It must've escaped out the door in the wind. I looked up but didn't see even a trace of it. All I had wanted to do was put a smile on my little girl's face. What a disaster. The lone balloon, which was a small one on a stick, was the sole survivor. And of course I forgot it in the car, where it stayed until two days past her birthday. Figures. Sigh. All in all, however, it was a nice day, and I hope she felt wonderfully celebrated. Her Daddy agreed to take her to get her ears pierced when she asked about it a while back, so they had a date over the weekend to get it done. Better him than me, makes me queasy just thinking about it. ;) I went into her room after she was asleep, just thinking about how hard we fought to bring her home, how quickly the years seem to be going by. That little pink tree is such a symbol for me, one of the first things that ever made me feel like a "girl mom," and Lukey, who sleeps beside her, saw me and jumped up to rub on my hand. He's been extra naughty lately, so this was a good reminder that he can be sweet and cute.

So now here we are, just five days away from Christmas, and excitement is mounting. I'm trying not to allow the pressures of all the things that matter far less than the real meaning of this season distract me, or make me feel less somehow. I want our kids to experience the joy of giving and to value the gift of Jesus and his perfect love, freely given to all. So from my family to yours, have a Merry Christmas!


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