Tuesday, January 15, 2019

stir crazy January

The days are dark and short.  I struggle to wake up in the darkness because the sun doesn't rise until we are eating breakfast at this time of the year.  Every one of us are all doing a lot of reading here in the dead of winter.  With no garden to tend to, no flower beds to water, my attention has been mainly indoors, but we are starting to go a little stir crazy.  Today I insisted that the girls and I bundle up and spend time outdoors, even if it is cold.   I (practiced) splitting firewood which the girls stacked, and then we played tag as little snowflakes quietly drifted around us and our laughing, squealing game.  Hot cocoa on our return inside and more reading.  In the evenings we are listening to Daddy read The Open Gate by Kate Seredy, and I am reading aloud Betsy~Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace - a favorite from my childhood, and one we've already read 3-4 times, but now Rosie is old enough to "be Betsy."  Kate Seredy is another of my childhood favorites, although I have never read this book of hers.

For school, Lyddie and I are reading Children of the New Forest and it is so full of children's innovation and ability to accomplish big tasks that we both are dreaming of how to increase our garden, how to get a milk cow (coming soon, we hope), and so on.  I love books that expand our view of our own abilities.  Another book we recently read that did that very thing is Swallows and Amazons in which the parents allow their children to do a lot of hard things and the children's world just grows and grows.   Of course both of these books are fiction but they provide a great jumping off point for self-confidence.  Because of the chapter we read, Lyddie helped me make dinner tonight (this Chicken and Wild Rice casserole which was delicious!) and cooked the chicken and vegetables and made the salad by herself with just some supervision from me.  This evening I created a few recipe pages as a beginning to a "Kids recipe book" that we can add to as they learn new recipes, until they are each able to plan and cook an entire meal regularly.  That's been my goal for awhile, although we haven't worked diligently at it for some time. Being cooped up in the cold provides the perfect time for it and mental stimulation when we otherwise start to get a little crazy and wild. Searching for the good and beautiful in January helps make the time until we see the sun and warmth seem less interminably long.

{For those interested, the game we are playing in the photos above is Stuffed Fables, a really fun kid-oriented story-based role playing game we first learned about from my sis-in-law, Holly.  The girls got it for Christmas and it's already brought several hours of family fun that we each genuinely enjoy.  Check it out!}

Friday, December 28, 2018

people I love at Christmas

My pictures from this Christmas are pretty much just all of my favorite subjects:  people I love. I didn't take any pictures of presents under the tree, very few of the numerous baked goods I made, or decorations.  I pulled up my photos afterward and glanced through, smiling to see just face after face. Usually I am self-conscious or forget to use my camera during holidays or celebrations, but I decided to go for it this year and now I'm glad I did!

Over the actual days of Christmas we were with my family this year, and it was so joyful and fun.  We got to spend a significant amount of time with each of my brothers and their wives, as well as my parents, and extended family all tucked into three days!

This year after watching White Christmas, sweet Rosie came to me and said, "Mama!  I looked in the mirror and I look like the older sister in the movie!  What's her name again?"  -- Betty, I said.  Her joy was made complete when my mom told her the important detail that the real name of the actress was Rosemary, just like my girl!  Our little Betty was so much fun this year, being so interested in Christmas, and so excited about the gifts she was giving.  She was more excited for me to open her gift than she was, I think, about anything under the tree with her name on it.  

Lyddie had been begging for a new pillow because *embarrassed grin* her old one was so flat.  So I sewed each girl their own new pillowcase and surprised them each with big fluffy pillows!  She is changing so much, a little self-conscious when she is goofy but not so self-conscious that she ISN'T goofy.  Which I love.  She is helpful and kind and beautiful and loved her new American Girl doll from her Mimi and Poppi. Rosie wants to be just like her big sister. 

Millie told me this year that she enjoys giving gifts more even than receiving them.  She likes how it helps her show people that she loves them, which rings true since she is always leaving me little gifts and drawings and notes on my pillow.  She also is very concerned right now with being different than the other two girls, which seems to me like a very middle-child thing to think about.  She was very excited that she got the blue china tea set when the other two both have green.  Also she is relieved that her cast is off and gone and she is back to normal.  Praise the Lord for her healing!

I loved spending the time with all our family this week and continue to be excited to know my adult siblings.  I moved away when my youngest two brothers were still young and they are all such grown men now, fun to be with, kind and strong, and loving to our girls.  We are so loud, and so fun, and so rambunctious, our people.  I miss them when I'm away!  

Since coming home, I have sat and been still for long amounts of time.  It is so tempting to try to tackle all the cleaning and tidying and unpacking and laundry all at once.  Instead, I have held myself back, allowed an hour or two of tasks and then done something restful. This is good for me.  Motherhood and ministry at Christmas means a flurry of constant activity beginning in early November, and I realized I am tired out. So now I knit myself a hat, cross stitch a little spring time sampler from Posie Gets Cozy and think about doing some drawing, my newfound interest.  As if I didn't have enough to keep myself busy lately, I find myself thinking about and planning little drawings for when I might have time.  I never knew I enjoyed drawing and painting so much and have never identified myself as artistic  - and not that I'm very good at all, but it is a source of happiness to me that I think I will develop more this coming year. 

So now we prepare to push on into the new year, and who knows what it may bring? 

Monday, December 03, 2018

O Christmas Tree

For a couple years after we moved to the Rez, we got our tree at a corner lot in town because they were affordable and easy to find and there were no other more fun options that I knew of.  One year, the tree we got at that spot completely died and began losing its needles about a week later, so we ditched it, (cried a little at how irritatingly difficult life can be), bought a new one, redecorated and that one made it a couple more weeks through the season.  We began buying them at a local farm and garden store after that, and even though they were a bit pricier, the trees were always nice and lasted most of the month.  As I look back at photos and read old blog posts from those times (2014 and 2015), the memories flood back from the different years and times we walked through, many of them very hard. 

Now the Lord is doing something new in me and in my loved ones.  Our "new house" (of two years) is a symbol in my heart and mind of the promise He makes to restore to us the years the locusts have eaten.  This home is not my home, and the beauty He surrounds me with every day is only a pointer to the great Beauty of His own heart.  He is doing a new thing and a very old thing and it shouldn't surprise me but it surprises me just the same. 

For the past couple years we drove by a field full of spindly little trees on every trip to town.  In the summer they looked like nothing but slowly they are growing to something.  This year I noticed a big sign out front:  "U-Cut!"  Yesterday afternoon we hopped in the car and headed those five minutes up the road. Free cocoa, a wagon ride, a glimpse of Santa's reindeer, and several games of bean bag toss later, Jesse was loading our tree on top of the car and the girls finished up their last game of ring toss before clambering back into the car.  

Decorating the tree is a big special deal in the Dempsen house.  The lights are dimmed, a spread of exciting food is placed on the table: deli meats, fancy cheese, chex mix, cookies, crackers, fruits and veggies and dips.  This year we made a new addition:  fresh tamales from our favorite place in town and we're never going back!  We munch and spend the evening together, reminiscing about ornaments as we pull them from boxes, recalling the times of plenty and the lean times, and finally, sitting and gazing at the twinkling lights, and making fun of mommy who keeps secretly moving ornaments, we rest and admire our adorned tree.  We've carried the tradition on from my own family (even from my mama covertly moving ornaments and being lovingly jeered at).  Rosie, who has the fewest ornaments of anyone, hung hers and was more interested in cuddling with her daddy on the couch while the other girls and I kept playing with the ornaments.  I loved glancing over and seeing her with her arms around his neck, nestled into the crook of his arm.  They both looked so peaceful and at home together. Millie, in her walking boot with hardly a limp, smiled her toothless smile so big, and I noticed a new tooth just peeking through the top gum.  And Lyddie, flitting here and there, asking constantly where this or that ornament came from, picking her favorites, never silent, always looking for just the right spot on the tree.

This tree, another new thing, another unlooked for joy.  All those hundreds of days driving by, this tree was growing and waiting for us and we had no idea.  And most likely next year's tree is tucked in among the others waiting for us still.  Gifts are waiting around the corner in unexpected places and I look forward to seeing the new things God is clapping his hands over like a parent on Christmas Eve, just eagerly anticipating the look on his daughter's face when she realizes what He's done now.