Merry Christmas from all of us here at the Mac and Cheese house. We woke to beautiful, freshly fallen snow and it has just started snowing again. I have tried to say something pithy here about love and loss and grief and hope, but nothing sounds right. So instead, I will share with you my favorite non-carol Christmas song. Merry Christmas!
The holidays can be a very painful time if you have lost a child.
There is a an emptiness that cannot be filled and these days of love and joy and togetherness just emphasize that hole in your heart.
I have a sign like the one above,but I haven’t hung it since Christmas 2003. I think about it every year, wondering if this is the year. No, not this year. This year it stays in the closet.
2012 might be the year. I think I might just be able to put it out, next to the Nativity scene, on Rebecca’s birthday – December 22nd. We’ll see.
December 9th is the Annual Worldwide Candle Lighting to honor and remember the children who have died. By lighting a candle for one hour at 7 PM, your local time, we can create a 24 wave of light. Will you join me this year? Pray for those family whose grief is new this year as well as for those whose hearts at heavy at the thought of yet another holiday without their child. It doesn’t get easier, really. You just learn how to cope.
We are well used to the wildlife here by now. Still, it is cause for excitement when a bear shows up in our backyard. We haven’t actually seen *that*, but we know it has happened. Our current bear friend actually frequents the creek that is behind our house.
This picture shows the top edge of our fence, to get a perspective of where the bear is in relationship to our house.
We’ve been watching this guy all summer. He was particularly taken with a drain pipe that empties into the creek. He sits on it, looking cute and thinking his bear thoughts.
We’ve seen him a couple of times a week for the last few months.
I’ve had my suspicions that he’s going to take up residence in there for his long winter’s nap. Bears don’t really hibernate, did you know? They have a “winter lethargy”. (Me, I get a summer lethargy.)
I was right. The children have been watching him tear up the dead grass on the creek bank and carry it back to his cave. He’s got quite a cozy nest going there.
Here he is a few days ago, trying to decide if he needed just a little more cushioning.
How cool is that?
Wow. Just wow. Just yesterday it was Halloween. Seriously, it really was. My kids were dressing up and heading out with friends, then coming back for some birthday cheesecake. Somehow I turned around and Thanksgiving is already over. Sigh.
We had a crazy Nutcracker season. Pumpkin Girl was in both casts, so she danced all four shows. Each cast had its own rehearsals during the weekend, so by the time all was said and done, she had danced that party scene 7 times in three days. She was wonderful, as always.
On a slightly star-struck note, if you watched the ballet reality show called “Breaking Pointe”, one of the dancers on that show was here performing with Ballet Idaho for Nutcracker. Katie Martin is the dancer who did not get her contract renewed with Ballet West, but then auditioned for and was hired by Ballet Idaho. I was excited to see that she was part of the cast that travelled here last week! I played it cool though, and didn’t stalk her. Much. Pumpkin likes to get pictures and autographs from all the professionals during the cast party, so I just made sure she got Katie’s.
And now we ramp up for one more Nutcracker, this time with Pumpkin’s pre-professional company. Rehearsals before or after most of her regular classes plus dress rehearsals for the next two Saturdays. When I can, I’m in the costume room, helping with the adjustments or mending split seams.
I need to take the time to breathe, or the next thing I know, Christmas will be over!
Two years ago today, Pipsqueak was born at home.
It was a long time coming, a homebirth. I have a history of quick and pretty easy labors. I can’t stand hospitals. Nobody likes them, though, do they? But I really, really can’t stand them. Especially for giving birth. I was reading somebody’s blog the other day. She’d just given birth and showed a picture of a sign in her room. “Babies are weighed between 2am and 7 am.” Seriously? Like, someone is going to come in during the time that both mother and baby should be getting some much needed rest – just to weigh the baby? . I tend to ignore lame rules. Reason number one right there for having a homebirth.
OK, so questionable hospital policies and previous quick labors were in my top 5 reasons for choosing to birth at home. Here in Colorado we have laws dictating exactly who can give birth at home. Your health history, including prior births, current health, position of baby, number of babies (singleton vs multiples), health of the baby – all factor in. I got a green light in all of them.
I wasn’t scared that something would go wrong. Well, just a little. Not scared that something would go wrong because I was at home, but because sometimes things happen no matter where you are. But I was mostly scared that I couldn’t deal with the pain. I’d had 3 unmedicated births before Pipsqueak, but each time the safety net of the epidural was right there. Any time I needed to I could get some relief. My midwife was really great, though. Not only did she address all my “what if this happens” questions, she also helped me through my lack of confidence in myself. When she told me that she had never transferred a mom to the hospital because of pain, I knew with her help I could do it.
And I did.
It was truly the best birth experience I’d ever had. I was in my own bedroom most of the time. I was encouraged to eat whenever I needed to and in fact I had some of the gingerbread that my mom and Pumpkin Girl had made for dessert. Several times an hour someone was putting my water bottle in my hand and having me drink. My children were in and out of my room whenever they needed to touch base with me. I got a full night’s sleep in my own comfy bed. When my contractions finally got started I had a team of midwives supporting me. They frequently reminded me, “This is all about you.” Never in my entire life has something been completely about me. Whatever I wanted to do, go, or say was fine. It was all about making things as easy for me as possible, while keeping both me and baby healthy.
I labored a bit in my bathtub. Then I leaned on Phil and did the labor waltz, my arms around his neck, his hands at my waist. I got tired – weary – of that, so I laid down. I got sleepy and my midwife nodded sagely, knowing that this urge to sleep sets in right before the pushing is about to happen.
Pumpkin Girl came in to my room to witness her brother’s entrance into the world. She sat quietly on a chair and was one of the first people ever to see him. The boys and my mom were waiting not too patiently in the hallway and as soon as I was ready, Pumpkin Girl let them in. Within minutes of his birth, Pipsqueak was surrounded by the very people who love him the most.
Within the hour Boo was holding Pipsqueak and reading fairy tales to him while Pumpkin held the book up. My mom made me Polish sausage and eggs for breakfast. When everything was cleaned up and packed away, my midwife and her team left. She returned the next morning and again two days later. I was confined to the upstairs of my house to recover and it was wonderful and restful. It was the easiest recovery I’ve had.
I wouldn’t change a thing.
Happy 2nd Birthday, Little Pipsqueak! We are glad you are here.
Several people were canonized today and among them was Kateri Tekakwitha. I don’t always follow Catholic news, so I just found out a couple of months ago that this was going to happen. Pumpkin Girl was so excited because she has been praying for Kateri to get that last miracle. She wanted to use Kateri as her Confirmation name and wasn’t sure she would be able to if Kateri was not yet canonized. And with her Confirmation just 2 1/2 years away, she was running out of time.
But it turns out the miracle that Pumpkin had been praying for occurred in 2006, so the Lord was already answering her prayers. And I can’t help but think of this day as a special little present for Pumpkin Girl, a way for her to experience God’s love for her. It is always a good thing when God tells you “yes”. Not, “no” or even “not yet.” But a resounding “yes”.
Saint Kateri, pray for us.
I got this recipe for crockpot lemon chicken off of Pinterest, but the link to the original is now dead, so I’ll give you the recipe myself. It meets all my criteria – it is easy and yummy, with a bonus that I usually have all the ingredients on hand. The original said to shred the meat when it was done and serve over rice or noodles, which I did the first time. After that I just served it whole. I don’t have time for unnecessary shredding!
I always knew Pumpkin Girl would be a dancer. Well, not always, but I knew early on.
When she was 5 we tried again, with a ballet-tap combo class. At the last moment she didn’t want to go. It was time for class and her eyes were filling with tears. Miss Renee, her teacher, bent down to her level and asked if she wanted to have fun. Pumpkin said yes and Miss Renee said they were going to have lots of fun, then took her hand and led her into the classroom.
The road has not always been easy for her. We had her switch studios after we’d been here for a year to a school with ballet as its primary focus. She struggled learning new terms and unlearning some bad habits. She even cried almost every day of her summer classes.
Over the last 6 years, Pumpkin Girl has been growing in grace and skill. When she dances, her face lights up and it is clear that there is no place in the world she would rather be.
This past summer we waited and waited for an important email to arrive from her ballet studio. We were on vacation when it came, about to get in an elevator.
When we got out, we stepped to the side to read the email on my phone. It was the news she’d been hoping for: she had been selected to start pre-pointe classes over the summer and go en pointe this Fall.