/> Raising Angels: December 2011

Monday, December 26, 2011

Something Like That

Last night, after the third Christmas celebration of the day, we were making the twenty minute drive home with one cousin along for the ride and the boys chatting with glee that they were getting to spend the night with their other cousin.

Mackenzie told Dawson, "It's already 9:30. You'll probably be asleep before you even get there."

"Nuh, uh," Dawson insisted.

"You will," she countered.

"I won't! I can stay up til the dawn crack," he shot back, not understanding why everyone was suddenly laughing.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Every Parris in Parris-ville
Likes Christmas a lot.
And each year it comes quickly,
Whether we’re ready or not.

So in this brief letter we’ll give you the scoop.
We’ll recap the highlights of 2011.
We’ll tell tales of us six. Yes, still six and not seven.

Let’s start with Mackenzie, who’s in sixth grade and middle school.
Having her own locker and changing classes she thinks are quite cool.
She played volleyball and basketball - victorious in just one game.
Thank goodness she handles the academic side with much higher acclaim.
She adores playing with kids. In fact, she’s quite a kid magnet.
She loves art, music and writing, her talents run the gamut.

Aiden’s in third grade and made it to eight.
On January 1st he suffered a terrible fate.
His one leg was impaled, his finger was smashed and his nose got a scar.
I have a feeling that soon I’ll know by first name all the staff in the E.R.
He’s smart as a whip and can throw the football with accuracy and far.
Nelson is dreaming of an Alabama quarterback star.

Next up is our Dawson, the middle of the brethren.
He’s a first grader now and the ripe age of seven.
He’s got front teeth at last, after nearly a year.
He’s a sensitive soul, sharp as a tack, and to me it is clear,
That those qualities work well.
For I’ve noticed he’s garnered the love of every Southern belle.

And of course, there is Max, who is quite nearly four.
He is sweet, he is cute, the babe we clearly adore.
Our baby though he is, he quite often lets me know
That he is NOT a baby, yet, still steals the show.
Each time I see him walk, run and jump…just being a boy,
I’m reminded that he’s a miracle in our midst, the cause of such joy.

In June Nelson and I celebrated being married thirteen years.
Together we’ve experienced many adventures, joys and faced a few fears.
In March his work took us to President’s Club in Vegas.
The sights were amazing. The food was delicious. The rides were high and left me quite breathless.
He’s on parish council and a bank board of directors, but his favorite pastime is coaching the boys.
Football, it seems, is one of life’s greatest joys.

And what happens next?
Well in Parris-ville we say,
That even though we’re all getting older, age is not something we’ll let get in our way.
Since with age comes some wisdom, we see how much God’s blessed us.
We wish you joy in the New Year
And a very Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Making a List

Remember when I said this? I'm happy to report that I do and even happier to report I have (basically) stuck to my guns this year.

It started with a discussion Nelson and I had about making a concerted effort to try to take the materialist elements out of our celebration this year. I have always been a bargain shopper consequently; the kids have always had lots of gifts under the tree. Most years, they've had very nice gifts that I got for free or very inexpensively. Regardless of what I paid, what they got was stuff...lots of it.

This year I wanted to avoid the stuff. We don't need more stuff.

A month ago, I remembered something a friend of mine told me she did with her kids for Christmas. It was going to be a startling difference but, I figured we’ve got to start sometime. So around Thanksgiving I told the kids to make their Christmas lists. "You can ask for something you want, something you need, something to wear and something to read," I floated, expecting a barrage of protests.

Instead there was a silence. "So we can only ask for four things?" one child finally noted.

"You can put more than one thing in each column because other people will be getting you gifts, but we are going to stick to four,” I said with feigned resolve. And that was it.

The lists were made with much thought and little greed. I saw these young children really mulling over what qualifies as a need and what qualifies as want. It was beautiful. The lists were simple and easy; therefore, so was shopping.

That’s how it started and we’ll see how it all pans out. Whatever the case, I definitely think we’re headed in the right direction.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Perhaps It Was a Not So Silent Night

We were watching The Nativity Story tonight. In a scene in which Mary awakens in the middle of the night in her home, someone noted, "It's a good thing that nobody is snoring," because of how many people were piled up close and sleeping.

Aiden quickly observed, "Uh, it's because they're acting."

Friday, December 16, 2011

Sometimes, They Win

Max, you know, that sweet baby of mine who's nearly four, has totally got my number.

I've never been a fan of kids sleeping in bed with me. I mean, the idea of it is kind of sweet but the reality of it with my kids is more like a kick-boxing match. I get no sweet feelings out of these sessions, but bruises and sleeplessness. Therefore, when each of the kids has come to this stage during which they try to crawl into bed, I nip it in the bud right away.

Except for Max, who I know I mentioned is the baby, he is not quite as restless a sleeper. He sometimes comes into bed and I don't realize he's there until it's time to wake-up. Now this has come and gone in stages like the other kids. I've carried him back upstairs. Now, I send him back up there on his own. Nelson and I agreed, if he comes down in the middle of the night, it's back upstairs, but if he times it so he's there right before the alarm goes off, he gets to stay.

But every once in awhile, I'm too tired to fight the fight and I let him climb in. This, in a large part, has to do with the way in which he approaches the situation. He doesn't just push me over or say, "I want to sleep with you." No, he's much smoother than that.

Sometime right before dawn he comes down and I feel a little tap and open my eyes to a pair of baby blues looking right at me. "May I please snuggle with you?" he asks in a sweet, soft tone. Then I, in a total puddle of sleepy mush, say, "Sure."

Last night we made a very big deal about today being his Christmas party and the fact that Nelson and I were going to join him for lunch. So this morning he was up much earlier than normal. I awoke to the stare of eyes at the level of my own. "Can I snuggle with you?" In he climbed.

We settled in and I closed my eyes. But there in the dark I felt his little eyes staring at me so I gave in and oepned mine back up. He was bright-eyed and staring. The minute he saw me awake, he asked, "Is today my Christmas party?"

"Yes buddy," I whispered, "so get some rest."

He clapped his little hands and almost shouted, "Yeah!" He was so cute, my giggle woke Nelson up. By the time he asked me what was so funny, Max was out of there and up, no snuggling required.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Better Late Than Never

Last year we arranged a family photo for my parents' Christmas gift. These days, having us all in the same town happens less and less and we needed to commemorate the occasion. That, and well, the last time we had a photo taken together Dawson and Max hadn't been born and Brian wasn't married.

Now any of you who have ever tried to orchestrate something like this knows how much a project like this involves. What colors should we wear? Where should we take it? Who will we hire? Needless to say, there was a lot of back and forth between me and my brothers. And, finally we all agreed on an outdoor location, some shade of blue and a personal friend of my brother’s, who happens to be a professional photographer.

Unfortunately, the day we arranged to take our photo, it was snowing. I know, crazy right? I mean, we live in Augusta, GA, it almost never snows. We thought for half a second about doing it out in the snow but it wasn't that beautiful, fluffy stuff. It was cold, wet, grey...and freezing. So there we were, the night before the big photo with no idea where we'd take it. In swoops divine intervention and I threw in, "Hey what about Enterprise Mill?" We all agreed and called the photographer.

My family is pretty cheesy so it’s not too difficult to get a good photo. I think he took pictures for maybe 15 or 20 minutes and we were out of there. At that point, as is the case with many things I do with my brothers, the ball was in my court. It was my job to take the digital photo and turn it into the wall portrait my parents needed. Except the company I always work with doesn’t do the size we wanted. I called a few other places, school started back and well, I kind of forgot about it.

I don’t know why, but sometimes I let things like this really slide (exhibit A, just had Max get his three-year-old wall portrait ….three months before he turns four). Yes, sometimes, I do not have it all together. So when Thanksgiving rolled around…and several family members ribbed me about getting it done before it turns into this year’s photo, I started the research again. I don’t know why but it’s not a piece of cake to find an online place for large photos that aren’t posters. And the crazy thing is that they want you to believe that the posters are so what you really want. I know because I talked to all of them.

When I finally found one that was reasonably priced I bit the bullet and uploaded the picture to their site. Of course, that involved downloading a new program, viewer and several other technical steps that I can do but always make me a little nervous. Once I waded through the process of simply looking at the photo on their site, I was given a plethora of styles, papers and editing decisions to make. When I finally clicked the purchase button, I felt freedom.

Here was something I let hang over me for nearly a year. It was definitely more involved than I had planned but not a year’s worth of involvement and I knew it. When it arrived the day after Thanksgiving, I called my mom immediately. It was beautiful and I wanted her to see it right away.

As I reviewed these pictures, I remembered how amazing they turned out. When I opened the final portrait, I saw something much more beautiful than the photo. I saw my family. For all our shortcomings, we clean up pretty nicely and when it comes right down to it, we have a fierce love for each other. We thought that was worthy of capturing in time. And now I know it was worthy of a little extra work.

Kind of like family isn't it.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Yes, Jesus Loves Me

Dawson is going to be the ring-bearer in a wedding in January and the bride asked that he wear a black suit or tuxedo. Being the practical-minded, provident and resourceful gal I am, I just didn't see the point in buying a suit the kid is only going to wear once.

I put out a feeler on Facebook expecting to be overwhelmed with offers to borrow a boy's black suit for the weekend. Instead, I got one measly reply for a dark grey suit. Although it was a very cute suit, it was going to be very obviously not black in the pictures. I declined.

Next I searced the internet and found a place that offered a new tuxedo for $40. That price was definitely better than the rental fee and I figured I could lone it out and make another mother very happy. For some reason I didn't buy it right then.

Today, the day after my internet find, I found myself in a children's consignment store searching for a dress for Mackenzie for Christmas (I told you about the whole provident and resourceful thing). I picked through the rack and found one I thought might work. I was walking to the check-out counter when I passed the boy's section.

I glanced over at the rack and it was as if a light came down from heaven and shown on one suit hanging by itself smack dab in the middle of the rack. It was so unusual I almost didn't want to look...but I did. There in my hands was a good as new black tuxedo in the exact size I needed and...wait for it...the price tag shouted out $14.95!

I held that suit and said outloud, "Oh my gosh, this is a miracle!" I know I said it outloud because an elderly shopper stopped and acknowledged, "Isn't it great when God does that for you?" I told her my story and assured her I had and would continue to thank God for the gift of this suit.

Now if I was not a praying woman, that whole seried of incidents would have just been a happy coincidence, hardly acknowledged or shared with anyone. However, because I do believe in God and the power of prayer, what happened to me today is a miracle that I've shared with whoever would listen.

Today was not about me being good, or faithful, or even prayerful. Today was about God's love for me. I didn't need that to happen. I could have bought the other tuxedo and been just fine. But God had something better than I imagined. He had a gift for me that I could never deserve. It wasn't earth shattering in its significance and yet, to me it was.

God loves me so much that he parts the racks of the boys' clothes and shines the light on the suit I wasn't expecting to find. He loves me so much that it was just the right size and at a price that was unbelievalbe. That's how much He loves me.

And you know what? He loves you that much too.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

A Season's Change

I'm shooting for a different kind of Christmas season this year. I'm making a conscious effort not to over-commit or volunteer for more than I can peacefully do. It's not that I'm not doing anything (seriously, that would be crazy), I'm just doing a little less. More than that, it's the way I'm doing things that's going to be the difference.

I refuse to let myself get frantic. What needs to get done will get done and what doesn't...well, that's ok. This season is going to be more about time spent than things accomplished. I'm letting go of the stuff.

I tried my theory out today. This morning I had to make a grocery list that included the ingredients for the homemade ravioli I'll be making Sunday to put in the freezer for Christmas. Max and I made a major shopping excursion to Sam's and then got home and had to find places for all of those giant containers of food. As I put the last thing away, I made ready to load back up to make the Wal-Mart run. Then Max interrupted, "I'm kind of hungry. Can you please get me some lunch? And then can you play a game with me?"

This is the kind of request I usually put to the side without any thought. I needed to get things done and only had about an hour and a half before heading off to tutor. But today, I made a decision for peace. I have to go to Wal-Mart tomorrow while Max is in school anyway. Why not?

I actually sat down at the table with Max and ate lunch, a luxury I rarely allow myself. After we finished, Max and I played a game of Memory. We ended and cleaned up just in time to get to the school.

It was fun. I was peaceful. I like that. Oh yes, there will be more moments like this.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Just for Kicks

I laughed until tears rolled down my face with this one. Of course, that may have a lot to do with the fact that I'm working on very little sleep and am a bit slap happy right now.

I hope you enjoy this. Happy second week of Advent!