Saturday, December 31, 2011

So rock me mama like a wagon wheel...

Rock me mama any way you feel
Hey mama rock me
-Old Crow Medicine Show, "Wagon Wheel"

Been quite a bloggy absence, eh?  (I'm a little frightened to look back at the percentage of my posts that start out with an apology for disappearing from the blogosphere for weeks at a time.  Maybe I ought to just embrace the once a month posting, and trust that y'all can sign up for that nifty little email thing at the top right side of this page.  You did know about that, right?  My blog can automagically send you an email when there's something new!  Ahh, technology.  I'd post more often, but I have to wait for musical inspiration to strike.)

And I know that I can't sum up the highs and lows of a month all in one post, so I'll just hit a few highlights, include a few adorable kid pics and trust that y'all will understand.

We made gingerbread houses.  This was one of my fave memories from my childhood.  And like every childhood memory, it's far better in my mind and memory than in reality.  Reality was that the kids had minimal to zero interest in actually constructing said houses.  And honestly, they weren't even that excited about eating the candy (unlike the cat, who promptly began licking the entire thing).  What is WRONG with kids these days?!

Joye and I, however, thoroughly enjoyed both the making and the eating.  Even more, we enjoyed chatting and allowing the kiddies to play outside on their own.  It's good to give them wings.

I spent lots of good time with my mom.  Cancer is an awful, miserable, ugly thing.  We've found lots of good times together, in spite of her feeling mighty awful some days.  All the more reason to celebrate the good days - and those have been plentiful, too.  We even squeezed in some shopping, which was the most fun we'd had together in months.

I read a book.  For the first time in I'm-embarassed-to-admit-but-probably-several-years a really long while, I read something that was just for me.  Not a textbook.  Not a board book or Dr. Seuss book. Not a blog/web article/newspaper but just a good ol' fun reading book.  My chosen sister gave me Elizabeth Edwards' "Resilience" and even hinted that I'm a resilient woman.  Not sure I deserve that accolade, but I absolutely did deserve a night on the couch under a blanket with a glass of wine in one hand and a book in the other.  I will do more of that in 2012.

After MUCH anticipation, Christmas morning did eventually arrive and we opened presents.  Santa was good to us this year, bringing too much stuff (as he tends to do sometimes).  Jay got a bike and a much-hoped-for pencil sharpener (what kid asks Santa for a PENCIL SHARPENER?!), Luke got a train set, Jen & Derek got a fridge which came not in the sleigh but in a truck from Lowe's.  Everyone was happy with their haul.

(working away on one of THREE varieties of pencil sharpeners he received!)

more sharpening!

We went bowling (GO WOLFPACK!!) at the game in Charlotte.  We met up with my college roomie and her hubs, as well as one of Derek's best vet school buds.  Hanging with people we love and largely have lost touch with - again, something we should do more of in the coming year.

We went to Derek's hometown and hung out with his family.  I stayed up chatting with my sister-in-law-in-law (aka SILIL) until 1:40 a.m., catching up on all the stuff we had missed.  We won't let that much time go by again.  The kids played happily together though would not consent to looking toward a camera simultaneously.  Jay is now the proud owner of a chainsaw.  It was good times.  

Mom and I went to meet her namesake, Little Laura.  I cried happy tears and fell head over heels in love with that sweet little gal, even if she is a bit of a crybaby.  It made me want a baby in the house again.  Derek is not *quite* so enthralled with that idea and suggested I travel up to VA to babysit anytime I need my screaming baby fix.

We watched the acorn drop in downtown Raleigh (for you out-of-towners, Raleigh is the City of Oaks and we do love our acorn/oak tree references.)

We toasted the start of good things in 2012 (some of us toasted with the good stuff, some of us with cranberry juice, and some of us toasted with marbles from the new game of Hungry Hungry Hippos.  Whatever blows your skirt up.)

So, you're still wondering about the song lyric reference?  Derek got an Old Crow Medicine Show CD for Christmas, and the song has been in my head nonstop since.  GREAT song and great album for the bluegrass lovers in the crowd.   Jay, like his momma, finds a song he likes and wants to hear it over and over and over.  (I once made a "mix" tape that consisted of UB40's "Red Red Wine" over and over on one side, and a few other songs on the other.  Not much of a mix.  But I digress...)

Anyway, last night Jay wanted to hear "Wagon Wheel" three times in a row, and somewhere in the middle of the third time, we ended up with a family dance party - spinning in crazy circles, singing at the top of our lungs, laughing hysterically, and falling down dizzy.  And I couldn't help but think about what a great way it was to end the year, rockin' with my sweet little family.

So, a belated Merry Christmas from the Foster Four, and Happy New Year!  May the coming year bring you nothing but health and happiness and love.  Most of all, may you spend 2012 with those in your life that matter.  Know that each of you reading this matters to me!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Radiant beams from thy holy face...

...with the dawn of redeeming grace
-Silent Night, Traditional Christmas Carol

Sorry for the blogging absence.  The week before Thanksgiving was mighty crappy with my mom in the hospital and me hating every moment of that experience.  I just haven't felt much like writing, save for one whiny, half-written diatribe about how much I hate hospitals and the smell of Purell hand sanitizer (PTSD anyone?!).  No need to post whiny-ness so that's still in drafts where it belongs.

Thank you to all of you who have prayed for my mom and for me and for her being home for Thanksgiving and for answers and for sanity and all of the other things we've managed to hang onto.  I could not do this alone.

But even with all the support, I've been fighting crabbiness and bah-humbug-ness.  I just haven't wanted to welcome Christmas and definitely haven't much focused on the reason for the celebration.  We put up our tree, and that cheered me a bit.  There was no perfect hot chocolate-sipping, fireplace-gazing, angel-on-top moment.  There were more than a few "Be careful!  That's fragile!  Crack."  moments.  But the tree is up and pretty.  I'm trying to embrace the good enough mentality.  Perfection is boring.

We made an advent wreath (hey, it's only a week late!  Gimme a break!) from the greenery in our yard and Christmas tree trim offs.  I laughed at Jay calling it "scenery" instead of greenery, but even that didn't do much to ease the funk.  I got fun and funky snowflakes on my fingernails (Rock on, Michelle!) but the 63 degree weather still made me feel un-Christmasy.

Until tonight.

Both boys dressed in their Christmas finest for church this morning.  I mean, if you're ever going to wear a size 4T navy blazer, Christmastime is it, right?

Undecorating the tree (or is that rearranging the ornaments?)

I might cut off his toes when he outgrows the saddle oxfords.  Adorable!

 He's not keen on this photo op - every photo delays lunch by another 1/16 of a second.

What a little grownup!

I can't decide whose outfit I like better - the smocked romper or the blue blazer!

Such cuteness.  Cute boys + long naps = happier mama.  

Then tonight we headed to our church's annual Hanging of the Greens service.  Adorable kids singing and awe-inspiring music and candles.  I can't describe the emotion it brings out.  I absolutely love every moment ... but I will always remember this moment:

That, for me, was Christmas.  Forget presents.  Forget shopping.  Forget the wrangling and convincing it took to get them to wear the adorable Christmas outfits.  Forget all of it.  Christmas is right here.  I am reminded again what a miracle it is to have that little boy here with us and fully alive.

Everywhere, everywhere Christmas tonight.

(PS - Great big thanks to my dad for snapping those cellphone shots - I *love* them!  So glad mom was up for the occasion so y'all could join in the fun.)