repeat the sounding joy, the lights, the love.

I wake, and

see to the following three things pretty immediately: kettle on, Pandora Christmas station on, twinkly lights and tree lights on.  I then assess the temperature in the house.  either it's cold or damn cold and so, a fire.  first there's usually a little kindling hunt & gather since lately I've not been planning ahead on that front and papa's been away more than here to reload and stock the pile as he so dependably does.

(that santa mug set me back $0.25 at my favorite little thrift store.  I couldn't pass it up, could you?)

there was the Nutcracker, with our same dear friends that we've gone with for the past three years.  so, we started when she was a couple months shy of two.  much easier now- not as much doling out of snacks and shhhing.  no nursing.  mostly we mamas watch out girls with happy tears burgeoning along the edge of our lower eyelids.  happy happy happy.  of course there was dressing for the occasion.  that dress came from Nana's basement- probably belonged to Aunt Tricia or Jenni, not worn for 30 years.

yesterday, some greening.  fir branches we had, a walk to acquire various other lovely bits.  neighbor friends came and made some swags of their own and we decided to adorn our front and back doors as well as the gate to the chicken yard.  chickens like Christmasy things, too, I think.

last night before bed I wondered what to put in her little advent calendar for today.  had no plans.  remembered the little Phoebe Wahl paper doll set from a taproot issue a while back and voila!  perfect.

(tomorrow there will be a little note that says "let's go help grandpa Bruce decorate his tree")

this morning she helped me with some cards.  I don't go crazy with cards, just a handful.  I keep thinking I'll make a nice photo collage card one year and send them to everyone I know.  one of those artsy ones with the classic or retro font, the matte finish and some witty well wishing.  maybe even splurge for the little rounded corner upgrade if I'm feeling rich..... but I tend to start thinking about that right around the third week of December and, well..... well that's why I haven't done it yet.  but next year, just you wait.

my happy little reindeer helper.  looks like such a serene, holiday-cheer-filled kinda morning.  but a few minutes on one side or the other of this last photo there was a fair amount of yelling and tears.  from both of us.

we'd had a rough go at things with this little one after she was ill in late October.  a lot of anger and what seemed like (but I know wasn't) just hateful ill will streaming out of her in amounts that we were not at all accustomed to.  a lot (a lot) of caring very very very much about exactly what order things were done in, exactly how and when we helped/didn't help, etc.  things like holding the tissue just so as we helped her blow her nose, or which way I walked around the table to get to where she was, would set her way off.  a series of seemingly endless and frustrating little particulars (with nasty words and some grabbing and pinching thrown in for good measure) that began with waking and kept going through frequent night time wake ups.  we were exhausted, frustrated.  as was she.  being sick is no fun and she'd had a nasty bout of something, but man, it just wouldn't give.

part of me thinks she was just so worn out from being sick, and I felt so sad for her as I watched her not able to figure things out, not able to get back to a happy, comfortable zone.  especially hard since she wanted no help from me.  I would just be there, waiting to hold and comfort and soothe as soon as she was ready.  ready to stop screaming and crying and grabbing and hurting.

I can't help but think about how much of a mirror people can be for us when things are rough.  it drove me nuts how particular she was being, how long it's been taking her to get ready to do something after I've given her ample time to get ready, how the littlest (to me) things have flipped her switch so seamlessly from content and calm to angry and impatient.  which means, I know, that I've got some real work to do myself in those departments.  a little bit of letting go and a lot of deep breathing.

so there's that.  for a few weeks it was just. so. hard.  the last week or so has been delightfully easy and we've got our groove back.  and then this morning there was an hour or so where everything kept falling apart and nothing I did was right and I was tired of guessing whether I was supposed to be leaving her alone or picking her up at that second and I just didn't have it in me to try to help/fix/soothe anymore and I got angry and began to feel impatient and frustrated and bitter.

what was happening to my delightfully easy time, dammit?  I was really quite enjoying it, thanks.

I went and sat by the fire.  she came in and asked if I was sad.  I said yes, sort of, and we talked about how much we love each other no matter what and decided we needed to give each other the biggest longest hug in the world.  and so we did.  I rocked her and sang to her and she rubbed my back and all was well.

we're both working on letting go, in all sorts of ways.

the tree lights sparkling in the corner of the room were a nice touch, and ella or gene or johnny or elvis or whoever was singing out holiday tunes from the computer speakers in the office didn't hurt, either.


  1. Your sentence made me laugh~the one that says, "It's either cold or damn cold...". It struck me as hilarious and I almost spewed my coffee. ;)

    That dress she has on~oh my goodness! I don't remember it, but that doesn't surprise me. I "saved" your picture to my computer so I could show my mom...if it's handmade, it might be one she made. I have a bunch of my old dresses that she made.

    On the past few months or weeks of difficulty you've been having with her, I wanted to encourage you to keep doing what you're doing. You're doing a wonderful job of raising this beautiful child, and even when it's the most hard, every single hug and back rub are worth it. As she gets older, she will continue to grow and spread her wings, so to say, and that means maybe saying or doing things she doesn't mean. I think you handled the situation beautifully, though, and you hugged through it. The hardest and most important words to ever be uttered in parenting kids are the words, "I'm sorry". The good Lord knows how many times I have had to say that to my kids, and how difficult it was to have to say it. Sounds like you've got it handled, though.

    I love you dearly, and Mike and Claire, and in case I don't say it before next Wednesday, have a merry Christmas!

    1. Merry Christmas, Jen!

      gosh, it's true about the temperature. we heat with wood and don't keep it going all night so come morning it's pretty chilly!

      Okay now- this is really funny... are you ready?? Aunt Tricia and Jenni are Mike's sisters. Nana is his mom. I hadn't even thought about that- about how there are Aunts Tricia and Jen on both sides- isn't that funny? (his mom's name is Terri, too ;) So no, your mom probably will NOT recognize it! sooo funny.

      thanks. I think after a difficult patch, once it's relatively easy again and then we hit another unexpected bump, it throws me more. and oh yeah, I've got no problems with apologizing to her when it's appropriate- no problem at all.


  2. I tend to order Taproot in fits and spurts, so I don't think I got the one with the paper dolls. Do you know which one that was?

    As for the rough patches, are you familiar with the books from the Gesell Institute? Sure, they're dated, and because of that I pay no attention whatsoever to their suggestions for discipline and a few other concerns, but when it comes to helping you normalize children's development, they're wonderful. I have every year up through age six so far, and I always find mine on Paperback Swap.

    1. I'm almost positive it was (Issue 4: Wood)

      I am familiar with those books- I've seen them at the library and actually recently thumbed through the one about "Your 4 Year Old" (we're nearly there) and found some parts of it to be very interesting- particularly the parts about acknowledging/working with their individual personality types, which are really trying to come through and shine right about now~ and the bits about gauging (to an extent) their personality by their body type/shape? at first I laughed it off. that is, until I zeroed in on her body type and was floored by some of the accuracy in the descriptions of the often accompanying personality traits and challenges.

      I find more and more that so much of it is working on getting myself where I need to be first, so that I can calmly and lovingly help guide her.

      thanks for reminding me about those books!

  3. Whenever my children acted like that it seemed to be tied into a growth spurt, was she eating lots?? Just a thought. My daughter was an intense child (and at times an intense adult), I learned a long time ago to accept that. She looks so happy and beautiful and I'm happy that she is acting a little better and being snuggly.

    1. she's a grazer, so it's hard to say if it's been any different lately. BUT, she is totally into measuring herself against the wall where we mark her height, asking (almost every other day) if she's grown at all again yet. so maybe you're onto something. I'd definitely call Claire intense. And I do accept and even appreciate that about her- but it still throws me at times. Maybe time to break out the Momma Zen and Buddhism for Mothers books and do some reading to get mama here back to center so I can more easily weather the storms ;)

      thanks- she is quite beautiful and usually quite snuggly :)


thanks for taking the time to read and comment~