Today is my 35th birthday. I am officially in my mid-thirties. It doesn't feel much different than 34, really. I woke up to a terrific celebration of coffee, a banner and presents! My lovies got me a beautiful dress and shoes to wear out for my birthday date of winetasting and dinner. Kalli so graciously offered to babysit and everything was lined up nicely. However, poor Rylie woke up sick with a runny nose and watery eyes this morning. We have given her a lot of vitamin C today in hopes that she would feel better, but alas, she is not doing well, poor thing. She is napping right now, and we are hoping she will take a long one and get lots of rest. We cancelled our plans, or I should say, we postponed them, because I have to wear this dress and shoes out on the town soon (not just in my living room.)
There are a few advantages to having a birthday between Christmas and the new year:
* The world is jovial
* The world is on break (I have never spent a birthday in a classroom or at work)
* It makes for a very festive last week of the year
* It is perfectly timed for reflection and plans for a fresh year
It seems that the years between turning 30 and 35 have been moving at lightning speed, which certainly makes sense given all that has happened. I've gotten married, transitioned into working at home, and I've become a mother. I haven't got much of an issue with age. Each year brings with it more experience and wisdom that helps me to realize and refine my true self. I remind myself daily (if not hourly) to live an authentic life because that is what I would like to model for Rylie. I want her to understand how much the world expands when we exercise our courage and freedom to live as individuals. The passage of time reminds me more than ever to stop and look around, to soak it in and to be fully present. Life is not going to start once we buy a house or move to a new city. Life does not start when we have a certain amount of money in our savings account or an investment portfolio. It is right now. This is life. We are making memories. I want each moment to count and I want to experience it as it is happening. Every little diaper change, sick day and last minute change of birthday plans, there is joy to be found in even these things.
Now that I am officially in my mid-thirties and every day narrowing the gap to 40, I more than ever want it all to count. I want to do my best and live fully and deeply. That is my wish for the coming year and the rest of all of my years. Live this life - now. I keep this quote close and it seems especially poignant today:
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.
Live the life you've imagined. - Henry David Thoreau
Photo by Kalli
These days between Christmas and New Year's feel both eventful and restful. I find myself pausing and planning, reflecting while looking forward. I hope you are relishng in this week that is decidedly different than any other on the calendar. Here is what we are enjoying during these short and fleeting days:
*All of the wonderful food, treats and luxuries that are so prevalent this time of year.
*Awe-inspiring upcycled, repurposed and handmade gifts made by wonderfully talented friends and artisans.
* Our sunny backyard, as the temperatures have been topping out at 80 degrees each of these days.
* Art supplies galore, including bathtub crayons (!)
* The full splendor of our twinkly and festive holiday decor. All too soon, it will be tucked away for another year.
*An interview with me over at Fat Quarter Shop. I am so humbled and flattered to be part of such an inspiring community.
What are you up to thihs week?
We were busy. Just a few days before Christmas and the house was in a flurry of festive activity - present wrapping, treat making, the soft glow of the white lights warmly lit the house and the Christmas standards were in heavy rotation. Every thing was disheveled and out of order as we were focused on preparing for all that was to come. Tonight, there was even more to be excited about. Daddy was coming home early from work and we were going out to meet Santa Claus for the very first time. We cleaned up and made sure to look sharp and headed out the door. To visit with Santa a few days before Christmas is a popular endeavor, it requires taking a number for your spot in line, some clever distracting of the children and to be perfectly honest, heaps of grace. A few elves let us know that based on our number we could expect to see Santa at around 8:30 pm. In the meantime, we had dinner and met up with Rylie's best friend, Fauna. With all of the good cheer in the air, Rylie wanted to give Fauna her Christmas present - a wooden ababcus. When we returned at 8:30 we found that there had not been much progress in the line. After a bit of consultaiton with a nearby elf, we found out that our visit to see Santa coincided with the one night of the season Santa sets aside to meet with pets, as well as children. Apparently, the line was moving particularily slow because of the extra time it took Santa to put on and remove the red velvet pet apron he wore in order to not mess his suit. After doing some calculations, we figured we may not see Santa until 11 pm. The babes were all dressed up, ready, and anxious. So us four adults put our heads together and thought, well, there must be a lower number ticket around here some place. Perhaps, stuck in the gutter for the trolley rail. Why yes! Yes, indeed! There were two tickets with lower numbers right there in the trolley rail! We would get to see Santa after his break at 9:30. We let the girls run a bit to get out all of that energy while the dads held the line. Behind them stood an older woman with two tired, gray weimaraners who asked Ryan if he could move forward because her dog's paws were getting cold on the pavement and she wanted to get them onto the red carpet aisle that spread out before Santa's house.
The girls ran in and out of shops with the abacus in tow everywhere they went. They discovered elaborate and delicate china in the windows of spendy shops. They delighted in crossing above and below the velvet ropes that surrounded the line to Santa's village. Rylie was particularily excited that it was pet night and said hi to all of the dogs. She ran up to one giddy labrador puppy and he licked her whole face and head and made here hair stand straight on end. She returned the favor by kissing him back.
Santa came back from break and it was time to go inside and meet him. He was very gentle and skilled at talking with the littlest of children. He very calmly spoke with Rylie for a few minutes while she was still in my arms and then we set her on his lap. She let out a short cry for the first five seconds and then relaxed and just stared at his beard and glasses.
Ahhh... it feels nice to take a breath. The month of December is, by tradition, a busy one. All of the wrapping and giving, the cooking and baking, the planning and gathering, the decorating and general merry making has filled our days around here. The past week has been overflowing with extraordinary and beautiful moments. I am savoring this time now - this time to slow down and see, to feel and experience these magical days.
Part of what I love about this time of year is how everyone is given license to give a little more, to open up a little more, there is an excuse to soften. We were out on a neighborhood jaunt yesterday because it was 80 degrees and sunny. There was a little girl of about six on a perfect new bike with hot pink training wheels. She waved at us and I told her I loved her bike, and asked if it was new, she said yes. As we passed her parents they were grinning from ear to ear and wished us a Merry Christmas. People really are jolly during this week in December, aren't they?
Rylie has had wonderful fun this year tearing all of the wrapping from her presents. That is still certainly the best part for her. With her advent bounty, she has opened a gift every day this month. I wonder what she will think come January. She seems to be growing in front of our eyes. She sprouts hair overnight, I think, and she was chasing her four-year-old cousin around this afternoon, intent on learning to run.
As much fun and full these last few days have been, I am looking forward to the quiet moments that are part of the week in between Christmas and New Year's. The world seems to be at least half shut down, definitely not at full operating capacity. Ryan is off work, and for a few days, we do not have plans. I am anxious to resume knitting this sweater for Rylie, to do a bit of reading, and to take it slow. You know you've been busy when you look forward to doing the laundry. But for now I am sitting, remembering all of the season's wonderful moments, and feeling incredibly blessed.
The final stretch is upon us and despite all of my preparations, there are feasts to be made, ribbons to tie, and a stocking to be made for Rylie. I am going to take a short break from this space until Monday. I wish you moments full of joy, love, peace, blessings, magic and all that is good in the coming days. May your heart grow enormous with gratitude and abundance and may true contentment find its way to you, wherever you are. Good tidings, friends.
I have never in my life been so prepared for Christmas. Really! It feels great. Sure I still have things to do, but if you could rewind and see me on December 20th in years previous, you'd find a much less calm me walking running around. I attribute it to a few things like starting my Christmas shopping before Thanksgiving. I've never done that before. I ordered everything online and have only been to Target twice, once for scotch tape and yesterday for Rylie's Mary Janes. I have set the intention of a peaceful holiday season, and stuck with it day in and day out. I think it is a worthy goal for the New Year, too!
Approaching this time of year with a sense of quiet calm, has allowed space for some very wonderful moments to happen.
* We have taken several walks through the neighborhood to see all of the festive and inspired decorations.
* We made our Christmas cards by hand. Something I've always wanted to do, but is usually the first thing to get cut off the list when time is running short.
* There have been plenty of delighted surprises as we've made a sizeable dent in the Advent Bonanza.
*We've wrapped most of the presents and reflected on how it is so much of a nicer experience when not done in the wee hours of Christmas morning.
* We've watched a Christmas movie or two with a hot mug of cocoa complete with whipped cream, sprinkles, and yes, even a splash of Kahlua.
* We have enjoyed an abundance of treats that have come through the door, and have sent out an equally abundant amount of treats to friends and loved ones.
* We had a laugh at Rylie's confusion over all of the fabric and layers that comprise her Christmas best.
* We've made a huge mess of the whole place. But the best kind of mess, the mess of making!
We are headed out to meet Santa tonight and to pick up a few last minute things. Last year, we gifted this book to Rylie and want to continue the tradition of picking out a Christmas or seasonal story for her each year. Maybe this one. And last, but not least, I need to make Rylie's stocking. She points to our stockings and says, sosh, her word for sock, every time she walks by them. Must get busy now and make her one of her own.
How about you? Are you feeling ready?
I am from up North. Me and snow, we have a history - a long and storied past. Growing up, nothing compared to the very first time those white flakes would fall from the sky. It was incredible, a miracle, really. How can something so delicate, be so immobolizing, destructive, and, well, cold? It would show up around the same time year in and year out, but for me, the magic of the first snow never became ordinary. After the storm, my mom would lug a big cardboard box up the stairs from the basement. There was one word scrawled across the side in Sharpie: Winter, but it might as well have read Nylon because that box was full of the stuff. I put on layer after layer, pulled my knit hat down over my ears so far it was grazing my eyelashes, and wound a striped scarf tightly around my neck, mouth and nose. I ran clumsily towards the door and out to be greeted by a sting of cold air. Within minutes, my scarf was scratchy and soaked with hot breath, so I ripped it off, leaving it behind as a stream of color in an endless white landscape.
Some days the snow was waist deep and I would pick my legs up high under the resistance of all of that frozen water. It was like walking through sand dunes, or maybe something equally resistant but more wet, like Jello. Our backyard had a sizeable hill and all of the neighborhood kids would bring their sleds over. We would slide down over and over again for hours. Going solo, or sometimes with three of us piled high. Despite our best efforts to avoid chaos, someone would always crash. Always. Perhaps the most treacherous obstacle was the creek that ran through the backyard at the bottom of the hill. Inevitably the fun would come to a screeching hault after one of us slid full speed, straight into the creek. Soaking wet and freezing cold, we ran to the house crying and begging mom for hot chocolate, which she always delivered.
Last night, we took an evening stroll around the neigborhood and admired all of the beautiful lights that are in full abundance right now at the height of the season. A harvest of sorts. As we walked along, I thought about the excitement and warmth that would fill my body after school when I shuffled up the freshly plowed driveway and spotted the lit Christmas tree. Trembling cold in the gray fade of the late afternoon, I knew that once inside I would be warm and there would be snacks and tv and that tree. Oh, that tree, and what it meant in the days to come.
Recently, a nearby park here in LA covered one patch of a small hill with snow on a bright and sunny morning. The kids in the neighborhood came out in droves with all manner of creative sledding apparatus. I saw the plastic piece from underneath the dish drying rack, laundry baskets and cardboard contraptions - some crude, some sophisticated. When you live in this climate, your garage is not readily stocked with sleds, snow shovels or skis, as ours was back in Michigan. It made my heart glad to see kids wearing cropped pants and sneakers while playing in the snow. The laughter and smiles were abundant, as well as the snowball fights and speedy collisions.
Reflecting upon snow seems especially poignant when we are just a few short days away from Christmas. I have grown used to not having snow on the ground, but that does not keep me from dreaming of a white Christmas year after year.