home is what you make of it

I sit in my dear friends’ home, enjoying [another] cup of coffee and staring in amazement at the winter wonderland around me. I don’t want to be too hyper-spiritual about the weather, but I certainly feel like the snow is a special present for me. how I love it! being home in December is such an amazing blessing.

it is New Year’s Eve, as well. I don’t want to be too sentimental about one date out the year. resolutions seem silly to me. [unless you have a plan, and then well, they’re more like goals. which I do like.] it has been quite a year though, and reflection concerning it seems appropriate it.

at the start of January, I lived with my mother-in-law & brother-in-law. in a basement. with a then three-year-old and another kiddo clearly on the way. R had no clear cut idea what he’d be doing come August. he was in the midst of his dissertation, trying to navigate a before unknown world of employment. I was just trying to get through a day without a nap.

no, I was no always successful.

I was trying to sub part-time, which didn’t always happen. R needed plenty of work days, which meant I stayed home because there was no one else to watch S through the day. alternatively, I watched my nephew as well, and we did what we could to get by.

then, March came around and brought a gift in R landing a job. a tenure-track, full-time, benefits, by the ocean job. a dream! we each breathed a sigh of relief; bills would be paid, food could be purchased, and the thought that we’d be living off relatives for an extended period of time had settled into dust. as we announced the job placement, families & friends equally rejoiced with us and were saddened to discover the distance. 1100 miles is a long, far away place.

we had a baby – a healthy, lively, adorable son who insisted he was hungrier than any kid I’ve seen before. already, he’s over seven months old, sleeping through the night, attempting to crawl all around our apartment, and eating like a champ.

and then we moved. moved so, so far away. I’ve written all about it, and you can see how I’ve handled that emotionally. I would argue, considering I’ve never lived away from home, I did okay. we all did okay. there are still some sad days.

I miss my sister. a lot.

but, through it all, I think we’ve made it all right. R is nice and settled in; he made a few friends, and we have not been without fellowship and interaction. S is still in love with school, and clearly Charleston will be her hometown. the same holds for G, as he was a solid 10 weeks old when we moved him cross-country.

we found we still like each other, as a family. that’s a nice bonus, given how much we had to rely on one another through it all. we love our new city – so much so, R has sworn off all KC sports teams. [yes, he is a hypocrite and apparently doesn’t like football all that much.] he now is a Carolina Panthers fan; though, I can’t say too much. I follow the Saints now, so the Chiefs may not get too much play in the near future. we love the beach, and the parks, and the historic downtown, and all that comes with living in a city that was originally a colony before the United States officially formed.

so, you take the bad with the good. we knew for six-plus years we wouldn’t live at home, and I think that time period allowed for us to adjust in a decent amount of time. I look forward to this new year, as an official South Carolina resident, and experiencing all that the city offers.

2013 will be a grand year. first birthdays, new nieces [& possibly nephews], the start of kindergarten. the ability to grow in wisdom and love, to find life enjoying and fulfilling in ways I wouldn’t have thought possible before. I eagerly look forward to it.

happy christmas!

we’re eagerly awaiting Santa in the Midwest! and enjoying the snow that surprisingly came the night we flew in! as our cousin noted, it was definitely the universe saying “Welcome home!”

out east, we prepped our letters for Santa. S is so very, very excited to inform Santa as to her wishlist. a-dor-able.

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And now, the eagerly awaited drop off!IMG_1611

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and … face plant. but she was excited! IMG_1659

we were somewhat prepared for the winter. we did know snow was a possibility. does she have gloves? no. does she have boots? no.

regardless, we made it work and she had a blast!

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R was not prepared either. he stuffed his jeans into his dress socks into his shoes. it was hilarious. [I say, as I stayed inside with the baby, drinking coffee. I was nice and warm]

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and they had a blast! she ran around for as long as her legs could stand it, and then she ran inside with a freezing cold face and legs. it was an incredible welcome back to Kansas City. as Christmas is tomorrow, we’re in heaven. we’ve seen my family, R’s family, friends, and then we’ll repeat. it’ll be an awesome week!

I hope all of you have a wonderful time with your own families, should you celebrate this holiday!

weep with those who weep

tonight I write this, heartbroken, as I know many of you are as well. I’ve been following the events coming from Newtown, CT with wide-eyed astonishment and sadness as it broke late yesterday morning.

I caught the initial report, as I sat down with G for his lunch. reports of a school shooting were beginning to come across the AP wire, the local affliates picking up specifics. I was saddened, and then went about my day. while the news certainly increases ones blood pressure, there weren’t enough details to know exactly how to feel. I had a job to apply for, and kids to pick up. and so I did.

not until I came home that afternoon and checked the NYT headlines did I know how I would begin to feel. the number of victims reached its final count, and my breath was taken away. 26 people?  20 children. I sat at my desk, disbelieving the news reports. it couldn’t be as awful as that. it just couldn’t.

but it was. and it remains. for the families and residents of Newtown, it will not fade quickly, if ever.

I’ve tried to turn off the news coverage, or stop by my hand from typing nytimes.com, but I can’t. I keep flipping the tv back on, or headed to my search engine, in the name of recent updates. and there have been many; press conferences, interviews, eye witness accounts, etc. not everything that has been published was accurate, which I saw some news agencies struggling with. many a news column has been adjusted as new information has come out.

regardless, the story that hits me is twenty sets of parents heard simultaneously that their children – their babies, their six & seven year old babies – were not coming home.

if you’ve read my blog for more than a moment, you know I have two kiddos. my daughter is four, who attends a preschool. all I have to do is think of myself in those parents shoes, and my eyes begin to well.

mass shootings like these have happened all too often recently; Arizona, Colorado, Wisconsin, and now Connecticut. there has been sadness and horror at all of these events, but this last one, I feel anyway, has really hit the nerve of the nation. children – first graders, going about their normal school routine – were the victims. not adults at a shooting range; not a gang member involved in a dangerous lifestyle; not a hunter in the woods. all of these examples & incidents are tragedies, as well. this, I feel, just hits another level.

it reminds me of the bombings in Oklahoma City. I was only in elementary school when that occurred, but I remember the looks on my parents faces when the news began to come in that children were endangered, or dying, from one madman’s decision. children grip a nation like nothing else can.

so many things in my life now seem small. working on goals for 2013; watching Lost; what should I plan for dinner? it all seems so petty in light of what’s coming out. at some point, there will be a shift in the nations thought process. we’ll move beyond initial shock and grief, and become reminded of what we live life for. family, friends, love, grace, forgiveness. this is what carries us through good times, and the bad. I pray the residents of Newtown can be reminded of that as they struggle with their losses, heavy as they are.

and so, tonight with my heart heavy and my eyes red, I lift up my prayers for those of Newtown. the loss of a child is something I hope to never endure. these parents have to, though. this is the deck they’ve been dealt, and they need more than anything, our nations love and support.

for many reasons, being a parent foremost, this hits me square in the chest. I am grateful for one more day with my children, my husband, my family and friends. I am grateful I got to snuggle with G as he went to bed, and I got to give S extra kisses tonight as I tucked her into bed. and through my gratefulness, I remember this passage “Weep with those who weep” [Romans 12:5]. and through my own mixed emotions of thankfulness and sorrow, I will carry those families in my heart and lift them up in prayer. I encourage you all to do the same, in your own unique way.

books, boats, church, cops, & the holidays

right off the bat, I’ll just go ahead and apologize. I haven’t posted in a couple of weeks now [when the goal had been weekly]. I definitely let the ball drop, and haven’t got back on top of my planning like I thought would.

therefore, there’s plenty to talk about! I’ll be writing a couple of posts to make up for it, and hopefully make up for it all before we head home for Christmas.

[happy sigh – home for Christmas!]

speaking of the holidays, things have been going swimmingly here. Thanksgiving Dinner was a massive success. we had a couple over, who we had met a handful of times, but not really got to talk with, and our friend, J. unfortunately for all of us, his wife was out of town [working], but she came back the Friday after. which meant, of course, we had to meet up with wine & nerdy card games. it was awesome.

regardless, my cheesecake came out awesome, the turkey J roasted was amazing, and everything else that came to the dinner table was fabulous. we had a great day of getting to know each other, wine & other libations, football, and more nerdy card games. [some of you may have heard of Settlers of Catan – we’re heading into EVEN nerdier card games than that. R is VERY excited about this prospect in his life.]

S had her singing concert, for Thanksgiving, just a couple of days before. I have it on video, and will be posting it soon. anytime li’l kids gather to sing cute songs, I just crack up. it’s so adorable, I can barely stand it. she just had her concert for Christmas, too, and R & I about died. her class of 4 year olds were awesome – the 3 year olds next to them were beyond adorable. those of you parents who have been to your fair share of school concerts, you know what I’m talking about.

so, the Christmas concert came and went, in all its adorable-ness. we’ve been trying to be out about some more, enjoying the things that Charleston has to offer in a civic fashion. we found out through J & A that they hold a “Parade of Boats”. yeap, you read that right. it’s just what you’re thinking of. it’s a bunch of people who own boats decorating them up for the holidays, and taking them on a tour of the Ashley & Cooper rivers, the Battery, and Charleston Harbor, and parading them in front of other people who don’t necessarily have their own boats. so, you know, that’s cool. it lasted all of 20 minutes, but we arrived early at Waterfront Park. we met up with J & A, meet some other folks from the College, and had a good time throwing the football around and having a picnic. it was definitely nice to be out and about.

[total side note: I definitely got pulled over that night – argh. we were headed from downtown to our friends house, and got pulled over at a stop sign. after a mild panic of “what in the heck did I do!?!?” the officer came up, saying that I didn’t, in fact, do anything wrong, but that my license tag light was out. after calming down [kind of], he then proceeds to ask why we have South Carolina licenses but Missouri license tags. (uh-oh. cue mild panic!) we knew that we should have done it a while ago, (and also know the ticket AND fee we could be charged is huge) so we were vague in our answer as to how long we’d been in town. they asked us a couple different times, and our vague answer remained. fortunately, they didn’t pursue it, and we only got a warning. [whew!] but, it did mean we had to buy a license tag light, only to find out the connector has fallen down in the back door. so, that’s one more thing we need to fix and don’t necessarily know how to. oh boy.]

we’ve made it to church a handful more times. S loves their children’s church, G loves the attention he receives in the nursery, and everyone there has been really friendly. every time I’ve spoken with someone, they’ve immediately asked if we’ll join their Life Group [as they call their Collectives or Care Groups or Small Groups or anything else you can call a house church]. I’m not sure if this is the place yet, though, and with traveling, I’m waiting to check those out until the first of the year. regardless, the services on the weekend are good and insightful. we’ll see if this is the place or not.

I made it to book club this last month! last month was cancelled, as I explained before. this month, we met at a nice coffee & wine house, and discussed “The Round House” for a while. the leader is great, with a lot of insight into the novel and great questions stemming from it. the other folks who made up the group were a lot older than me. at first, I was a little nervous, because well, they’re older. or they look like they have professional jobs. or, whatever it was that I could have let bother me that was different about them from me. but, then I got over myself, pulled on my big-girl-pants, and jumped into the conversation like the English Lit major that I am. it was really fun, and I’m sad I’ll be missing the Christmas party this December. but, I’m already signed up for January and can’t wait.

for those of you who follow me on Facebook, you already know: 13 days until travel day! see all of you fabulous people soon!