Thursday, December 27, 2007
Another year is almost gone. They seem to come fast and loud with fanfare which is drowned out by the whooshing of the rest of the year as it whizzes right by. Every year of my life has been a mix of joys/sorrows, achievements/disappointments, victories/defeats, happiness/sadness, gains/losses. Some years standout as incredible highs and some unspeakable lows - most however fall in the "normal" range. Lost loved ones, lost jobs, arrivals of children, physical and financial health, marriages, divorces, and graduations tend to define the peaks and valleys. Every year starts with hope and promise. Every year brings new challenges and opportunities: 365 new days to grow and learn; 365 dawns and sunsets to see.
As each year comes to a close, I always try to reflect back on the last 12 months and look ahead to the next 12 months. I take a mental tally of the good things and the bad things that happened this year. I'm hoping that I'll find ways to increase the number of good things and figure out how to avoid those bad ones. Sometimes that works but most of life is unrehearsed and unwritten. People are ad lib-ing all around us, all of the time. We don't have a script. If I had lines, I'd probably forget them anyway. When you have kids, it's even harder. They are always coming up with stuff that I haven't thought of and wasn't prepared for. Yesterday, I was having a conversation with Grace about how you should "enjoy what you have rather than fret about what you don't have." I told her, "Some people waste their lives fretting and grieving the things they don't have. It's really sad to watch someone who has so much, not appreciate and recognize what they have." She was grieving over a toy that she didn't have and someone had given her a doll that was very similar. It had the wrong outfit or crown or shoes or something. I know that kids do this ( and I'm sure that I did when I was little) -- not focusing on the good ( someone went out of their way to give you a gift) but rather only seeing what was missing or what they didn't give you. It seemed so trivial at the time but there is a powerful message in that logic. It is easy to grieve what we don't have but it is much healthier to appreciate what we do have: each other, our children, our friends and families.
Dan's father passed away many years ago and I know for sure he thinks of him every day. Over a year has passed since our dossier was received in China and Lily still seems so far away. Dan and I both think of this situation every day too. It would be easy to grieve what we don't have. We could wallow in self pity all day long but what do you gain from that? How much of our lives and our children's lives or our friend's lives would we miss? Families grow out of love...or at least that's the plan. There is no limit to love: add more people to the circle and love just expands. A life with love is a celebrated life.
Our hope for you in the New Year is to live, love and appreciate everything and everyone you have. May you have a blessed New Year! :)
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Monday, December 24, 2007
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Friday, December 21, 2007
Me and my little sister, we are very close in age. I was 2.5 and she was 1 here.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Possibly my very favorite ornament is this Santa on a rocket. This is a very typical 1960's era Christmas ornament, and I remember it on my family's tree for many years (my sister has one too), until my Mom gave it to me. I'd be very upset if he got broken.
Monday, December 17, 2007
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Friday, December 14, 2007
Gracie with the gingerbread house she made in school yesterday. Of course most of it has been eaten by now!
Thursday, December 13, 2007
|You Should Have a Blue Christmas Tree|
For you, the holidays represent a time of calm, understanding, and peace.
You avoid family fights, and you don't get too stressed out - even when things are crazy!
You like to make Christmas about making everyone's life a little bit better.
You don't get caught up in greed or commercialism. You're too sincere for that.
Your blue tree would look great with: Lots of silver tinsel
You should spend Christmas Eve watching: It's a Wonderful Life
What you should bake for Santa: Chocolate chip cookies
Monday, December 10, 2007
Both sides of our family have long and deep ties to Chicago. My Great-Great Grandfather, George B. Swift was in fact the mayor of Chicago around the late 1800's. Dan's earliest memories of Marshall Field's (now Macy's but always Marshall Field's to us), were the windows at Christmas and buying his 1st cub scout uniform there. When Nick was young we would go ice skating across the street on State Street at the outdoor rink. It is no longer there--things do change. We decided to re-live some old traditions and start some new ones. We spent a couple of nights at the Palmer House which is a gorgeous 135 yr. old hotel downtown (now owned by Hilton). The ceiling of the lobby is covered with original Italian murals. No acts perform in the Empire Room anymore but the walls are filled with pictures of the "greats" who performed there 30-60 years ago. Sinatra, Burns, Youngman, Lewis, etc. all greeted us. Walk out the front door and you'll see the old Carson Pirie Scott Building (currently under renovation). Look to the right and you'll see the historic elevated train ( the "El" to the locals). We went to the Museum of Science and Industry to see the Christmas trees from around the world. The exhibit has been there every Christmas season since WWII. Grace loved the interactive exhibits. Dan and I have been going to that museum since we were little kids. My Great Grandparents used to live on Hyde Park, just a block away. Chicago has great shopping--one of the many things we miss about the area. No trip to Chicago would be complete (at least at Christmas time) without a trip to Marshall Field's and a look at the story in the window displays. This year it was "The Nutcracker." It was adorable as always. We didn't stand in line for an hour to eat in the Walnut Room under the Great Tree, we have done that before many times, another Chicago tradition that goes back over 100 yrs. and several generations in our families. Lake Shore Drive, the Field Museum, North Michigan Avenue, the theaters, the restaurants...no matter where we travel or live, this place always feels like home.
Sunday, December 9, 2007
Thursday, December 6, 2007
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Monday, December 3, 2007
Sunday, December 2, 2007
As long as I can remember my family has always had the tradition of a having a live tree for Christmas. And not a tree bought from a lot somewhere, I was brought up with the experience of getting in the car (in those days a station wagon), and going with my 3 siblings and parents out to some remote tree farm in the cold and snow to find just the "right one." As an adult I've lived in North Carolina, Ohio, California, Illinois and now Wisconsin, and it's something I've so loved about getting ready for Christmas ~ getting that tree. Yesterday we took Grace out to a tree farm about 15 minutes east of where we live. The day we picked to do this happened to be the day of the first big snow of the season. Grace's favorite part of the tree farm is seeing 2 reindeer that live there and are cared for quite well. We brought some apples for them to eat. Grace told me their names are "Donder and Blitzen." Don't know where she got that from, but it is very sweet. So that's what we call them. Hope you all have Christmas traditions that you continue each year. :)
Friday, November 30, 2007
Thursday, November 29, 2007
~ I hate my hair. I've had this haircut for about year or so and I'm getting a little tired of it. I don't like the thought of growing it out, so it'll probably stay the same for now. I like change...haircut wise.
~ Nick is having a great semester at Wisconsin academically. He loves his classes and is making good grades. That of course makes me happy too. :)
~ We have a 7 month old kitty named Jack who is a wild man. Every morning when I come downstairs he has knocked 4-6 ornaments off the Christmas tree and they are scattered across the room. He loves to play with the tree. One year when Nick was young, a cat we had climbed up to the top of the Christmas tree and it fell on the floor. That was a huge mess.
~ Grace takes gymnastics and swimming. Last evening we were driving home at 4:30pm from swimming, and it was already dark outside. We were driving up the road through an area of open farmland with a few houses in the distance. Grace tells me from the backseat, "Look Mom, I see Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer out there in the sky pulling Santa and his sleigh! Do you think he's coming to our house right now?" I said, "Grace, Santa won't be here for a few weeks, maybe he's practicing for Christmas." That seemed okay with her. :)
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Labels: China adoption
Sunday, November 25, 2007
We go a little crazy here at Christmas...it's our favorite time of the year. Crazy by we have 2 trees because we have a LOT of ornaments. A long time ago Dan and I decided to collect glass ornaments, so after 18 years of marriage we have quite a few of them. Then we have the family ornaments. You know the handmade ones that your children make for you each year, so we have another tree for those that we go and cut down in December and put up in the family room. I think that ornaments kind of tell the history of your family and every year when I open up the boxes of them, I can remember a little bit about each one. Many of them remind me of people and times in our lives that have come and gone. 2 years ago when Gracie was 3 she and I put up and decorated the glass ornament tree or as Gracie says, "it's the fancy tree Mom." And that it is. So she and I have a tradition every year of decorating this tree ourselves and spending some fun time together talking about the ornaments and what Christmas really is. :)
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Monday, November 19, 2007
Sunday, November 18, 2007
~every sunrise and sunset
~every hug and kiss
~ the gift of our children
~our parents who love and guide us
~our family and friends who have become our family
~that we have a home to live in and food on the table
~the many opportunities that we have been given--education, travel and to choose where we live and work
~the opportunity to give back to others
~the difficult experiences we have gone through because they have made us stronger and more empathetic people
~that we have been led to adoption again
~that we live in a country where we have the freedom to vote for who we want to, have as many children as we like, and to worship freely
~and every single day we thank God for more blessings than we can count :)
Friday, November 16, 2007
I'm one of those people that takes photos all the time. If you come over to my house you will see I have photos everywhere, photos of family, friends and even my friend's children too. I take pictures almost everyday. I took these of Miss Grace a couple of years ago, she had received a play vacuum cleaner for her birthday from my sister. Grace loved the vacuum (in fact she plays with it even at age 5) and went all over the house "vacuuming." And she still likes to clean and help me around the house. She is a great little helper. :)