one christmas

Recently me and Shaun took advantage of the fact that we were paying for childcare over the 2 week Christmas break whether we were using it or not.
The kids went to school.
We went to a movie.
Movies are very rare these days. Well at least ones with out talking cars or robots.

We saw 4 Christmases with Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon.
Mainly because there weren't very many good options at the time ( it was before all the Christmas day releases.) We wanted something light and short and funny. Besides we like all those dysfunctional family Christmas the "Family Stone", "Dan in Real Life" and the mother of them all "Home for the Holidays". In case you haven't seen the movie...let me give you a brief synapsis. The main characters have plans to spend Christmas on a beach somewhere, but their flight is canceled. They are busted and end up committing to spending Christmas with their families. All 4 of them. Both of them have divorced parents and they spend the day hopping from one dysfunctional family to another.

We split holidays between our parents. They do not live close enough to try and do both. My family is in BCS, Shaun's is in Pampa. There is at least 9-10 hour drive between the two. This year Thanksgiving was with my family, so we spent our Christmas in Pampa.
It was just the 7 of us. Us, Shaun's parents and his sister. We didn't leave the house all day. I stayed in pjs until late afternoon. O only took his off, to put on a clean pair before bed.
There was a knock on the door around 7 pm, just as we got into a round of Apples to Apples (great game by the way!). It was Shaun's cousins who live nearby. They were inbetween Christmases. The seemed exhausted as we dealed them in and served them up a bowl of cobbler. His cell phone kept buzzing while we played our even more Christmas events. They are newlyweds still trying to appease all sides of the family and step families. They asked about the rest of our Christmas plans and we said this was it. It then clicked in their heads that both sets of our parents were still married, and they reminded us how lucky we were. Thanks mom and dads.

Earlier that day I called my house to wish everyone a merry christmas. They were about to sit down to a big crazy meal ( and my dad is an amazing chef). My family Christmas is always a zoo ( with 8 gradkids)....and many more showing up. The table usually fills out with well over 20. I missed the crazy, the cooking and the wine. Being passed around on the phone isn't quite the same.
But I wouldn't trade it for my quiet Christmas on the couch.
good food.
dragging O kicking and screaming into the living room ( he was afraid of Santa).
not wearing make up.
board games.
a nap.
just one Christmas to revel in and remember Christ.
rather than trying to squeeze in 2. or even 4.

Christmas letter

I love going to my mailbox this time of year. Usually it is only filled with junkmail and bills. This month it is filled with friends. Their faces and letters make me smile.
The Christmas letter has always baffled me a bit. I love reading them and getting to catch up on people's lives. But I have never quite known what to see.
Most of these letters seem a bit too polished. I don't mean grammatically.......more like some of the stuff of life has been left out. One of my good friends has always joked about writing a REAL Christmas letter. Starting out with something like, " This year we filed for bankruptcy" or "we managed to stay married for another year" or "my son is failing half of his classes". Imagine the response those would get!
So I will attempt a REAL letter. Some of the highlights as well as some of the lows. My tendency is to be super wordy.....but I'll do my best to keep it to a reasonable length.

When I reflect on the first thoughts are of our newest addition. Tess. Or according to Owen, Owen's Tess. Our year began in January with 2 suprising pink lines ( a positive pregnancy test). Yes we were going to start trying for baby #2... but were aiming for late Spring. Tess apparently was impatient even before conception. Owen had mixed emotions about having a sibling and mom-to-be threw up a lot. In the doctor's office sometime in May, the sonographer announced that it was a girl ( or maybe a boy, well...probably a girl). Owen threw himself on the floor and shouted "no baby sister". Despite his initial reluctance she warmed on him ... even before her arrival. A few weeks before she was born, Owen decorated my belly with Star Wars stickers ( dozens of them). Just the other day, he told me Tess could be Princess Lea. Owen loves his sister and is always asking to hold her. So far he has only dropped her on her head once.

Tess arrived on September 25 and has taught me that me and Shaun are not the parents we thought we were. Owen was pretty easy. We kind of knew that, but mostly we thought we were just really good at it. He slept through the night early and was so content because of things we had done. Tess blew that theory out of the water. We could tell even at the hospital. Don't get me wrong, she isn't extra difficult. She is probably normal. But normal is really hard. She hates to be set down and is already very opinionated. She is creeping up on 3 months and still isn't even thinking about sleeping through the night. But she smiles big and coos cutely and smells so good, and I kind of savor holding her all the time.

Owen is 3 learning new stuff every day. He's got his letters, numbers, colors, shapes and all that preschool-y stuff down. He has mastered the tricycle and even knows a little Spanish. He also has learned a few new words such as shit, damnit and the latest new phrase "what the hell?". Not only does he look and sound exactly like his dad but he has also developed his dad's love for Star Wars and legos.

We took 2 great vacations this year. One to Colorado where the fishing stank, but the bears abounded. While we were there we made the trek to the Great Sand Dunes. These were amazing. While driving up we saw a few cute dunes with large towering brown mountains behind. Driving a little closer we realized that the large brown mountains were actually the dunes. We were amazed and dazzled, until we got out of the car and were sandblasted beyond recognition. I was cleaning sand out of my teeth for weeks. We also hit the beach with my family. Owen played with his cousins and ran and out of the waves until he was silly. Dad suffered from second degree burns. Not only did we travel to the mountains and the beach but we also made many trips to the involving a 2night stay and another ending with a few staples in Owen's head.

In addition to our trips (and Tess) some of the other highlights of the year were: Owen watching ( and re-enacting) the Olympics, many summer days at the pool ( even if I did have to wear a maternity bathing suit), some good weekends at the lake, watching Owen with his sister and if you asked Shaun he would throw in the Texas Tech 10-1 season.
The lows would have to include the great flea infestation of June, ending our every-other week cleaning service, the plumbing incident that costs us a few grand and split our driveway down the middle, my November paycheck of 4$ ( teacher maternity leave stinks) and once again if you asked Shaun the Tech - OU game.

Overall it was a good year. A new baby, a new tattoo and we recently re-enstated the cleaning service. We hope the new year brings in lots of needed rest, that I can fit into my skinny jeans again and to go an entire week with out one of my kiddos getting sick. So I wish anyone reading those same things. A healthy and restful new year ( in skinny jeans).

free to conspire

maybe some of you have noticed that i have taken a break from blogging for a while. a month.
an entire month has gone by since my last post.
i didn't even take that much time off after delivering a baby.
my absense has not been due to lack of material.
i have plenty.
not even necessarily lack of time.
although it is in short supply these days.
i just haven't.
i have been decorating cookies, and looking at christmas lights, not sleeping and occasionally grading papers.
it is probably the attempted balance of 2 and going back to work and sick babies.
instead of trying to do more this Christmas, i have tried to do less. buy less presents. send out less christmas cards.
only slightly less. it still isn't like me to skip a party. but things like blogging, laundry and pictures with santa have been put on the back burner.
time just passed. email went unchecked and the dished piled up in the sink( ok...the dishes part isn't so abnormal for my house).
maternity leave has left my paychecks seriously lacking ( last month's check was 4$) so the gifting had to be seriously trimmed. I have also had this icky too much feeling lately. I look around my room and see so many clothes ( all on the floor). I look around my livnig room and see so many toys. How much more do we really need?
And then I watched this video:

I can't say that it has been my inspiration for slowing down and spending less. My motives weren't quite as pure ( lack of sleep and money). But this is it. This is the better picture of Christmas than the one I can find at the mall.....or even my beloved Target.