Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas memories (Part III)

The holidays carry such memories with them.  My childhood Christmases were full of celebration with grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins in a similar way to how my kids experience it now.  
Ayla and her Great Grandma opening a gift

This year when we visited my grandparents on Christmas Day, we stood around my 89-year-old Grandpa's bed and talked to him, kissed him, and told him that he was loved.  Each of my girls sung him a special song (Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, Peace Like a River, and Happiness Runs).  He briefly opened his eyes while I talked to him.  I could tell that he felt our presence and heard us, but he wasn't able to communicate. 

My Grandma told stories of when they first met and she clearly remembered the color of the sweater that he was wearing the first time that she laid eyes on him and how handsome he looked.

On the very next day, surrounded by every one of his children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren, he had moments of clear lucidity, could smile, and speak clearly at times. 

 Camille, Sylvia, and Ayla sung to him again.

 He smiled and said, "I sure am glad to see you."
 Two days later, he passed away at home.

I am so deeply saddened that he is gone, and I am so immensely grateful that we were able to see him on Christmas and that he was able to see us.
  I love you, Gramps.

Christmas with Family (Part II)

We headed out on Christmas Eve just after sunrise to join our families in Minnesota.  We had a four-day whirlwind of cousins and grandparents, treats and gifts, and full-on Christmas celebrating.
 starting the 4 hour drive


 Christmas Eve presents at Grandma and Grandpa's

snuggling Auntie C

In keeping with our theme of (mostly) homemade gift giving, Sylvia made each of her cousins a felt stuffed animal and Camille knit headbands, a bracelet, and a stuffed family for family members.  Together, we also gifted homemade lotion bars, lip balm, ginger-roasted cashews, and ornaments.

Every year, we make the grandparents a small photo album of the girls from throughout the year, and even though I lost most of the original pictures when my computer crashed, I pulled pics from the blog so that they wouldn't miss out on one this year. 

My mom set up an elaborate smoothie bar for Christmas morning, including frozen fruit, ground flax, nuts, fresh pomegranate seeds, coconut, dates, juice, yogurt, candied ginger and more.  Camille asked for spinach to add to hers, and everyone made up their own individual cup of goodness to start out the day. 

 Then, it was time for more presents!
Christmas morn
 From all of the various family members the girls mostly got craft kits, science kits, and clothes, plus a skateboard and scooter, as well as baked goods and a gift certificate.  They were totally thrilled!

Papa and I even snuck away for a couple of hours to see a movie (our first 'date' since Christmas three years ago when we brought little nursling Ayla along). 
playing with the cousins and a Kinect dance party

making rubberband bracelets with my cousins' kids

On the day after Christmas, we visited the cousins and Papa's brother and sister-in-law, and then went to my Grandma and Grandpa's for treats, drinks, and a rousing game of Taboo.

helping Great-Grandma open her presents

snuggling with Papa
with Tia Courtney and Fella
On the fourth day, after lunch out with my parents and brother and sister-in-law, we headed home, hearts and bellies full, to uncover the woodpile, pick up our pup from the doggie spa, and settle back in.
The beauty of Christmas (for me) lies in connecting with those we love and we did that in abundance this year!  More on that in the next post....

Solstice and Christmas (Part I)

We are very easy going about gift giving in our family.  The girls get their presents from us on Solstice and a little something waiting in their stockings to be discovered when we get home from holiday visiting.
Camille and Sylvia each received a mama-made doll when they were 3, so naturally it was Ayla's turn.  I think she was quite pleased!  

Camille's doll, Ella, and Sylvia's doll, Emma, got new outfits and were happy to welcome Violet into the family.

On Solstice evening we had a small fire out in the snow and ice.  We wrote love notes and intentions on scraps of paper and tossed them into the fire to symbolically release them . . . and then we roasted marshmallows, of course.

Camille and Sylvia joined friends in a Christmas play.

Here's Camille playing guitar and singing Peace Like a River.  I think I need to work on my cinematography skills, though :)

 Ayla was happy to watch her sisters and friends up on the stage and to rejoin them afterwards.

Christmas finery

After several inches of snowfall, Papa had to clear off the solar panels.  The days are ever-so-slowly lengthening and although it is bitter cold outside, the sun's power is heating the floors of our house and the fire in the woodstove is making up the difference.  Add in some wool socks and a sweater and it's down right cozy 'round here.

Friday, December 20, 2013

carrying on

Since my computer died (last month) and the brakes on the van went out (safely, in the driveway), we have been pretty out of touch with the rest of the world.  We are in hibernation mode, naturally, if also a bit enforced by circumstances.  We've stayed oh-so-busy with learning and playing and secret elving projects and on-going home projects and the usual business of life. 

I've been pretty quiet here on the blog and my camera has been mostly sitting on the shelf untouched (by my usual standards), but we're still here, carrying on, and gearing up for Solstice and Christmas.  Soon we will celebrate surrounded by family and loved ones, but for now, we are breathing deeply in the (relative) quiet and peace that is our home in the winter.