Sunday, January 1, 2012

Closing up 2011

It is wintertime, but Wisconsin is not that cold. We can play outside almost any day, and it's only snowed three times. I'm loving it! One of the only cold nights was the night of the Firemen's Parade. Eric blasted the heater in the van, but Jacob, Zachary, and I braved the night wind: 

The boys and I have spent other days hiking,
 exploring new places (including a cool vine that the kids could swing from),
and ultra-hiking (we got exploring this day and ended up going on a 2-hour excursion)!

This is our tenth Christmas as a family, and the first time that I haven't send Christmas cards. :( It was just too much this year. We did go caroling, though, much to the delight of our neighbors.
 The boys had fun, too!

One perfect Christmas celebration was attending "The Gift of the Magi," put on by a theatre group in Spring Green. A friend called me and asked me to come, but I knew that Eric wouldn't go for it--he needs to study at night (at least three hours every night). So I was stunned when he texted me and said that he wanted me to go. When he arrived home just minutes before I was to go, I thanked him for his kindness in letting me go do something so wonderful. "'re not taking the kids?" he said. that time my friend was on her way to pick me up and so I just went. "Put them down at seven!" I called out to Eric. It was the first time that I've been on a girls' night since Eric started his residency two and a half years ago! 

Eric and I also had a few chances to perform together this month. This photo is from Eric's work Christmas party--I was playing the piano off to the side while he and another resident jammed on the saxophone and ukelele! That was a fun night. We were so worried about our babysitter at home that we weren't paying attention and ran out of gas on the way home--nerdy! Of course we ended up getting there later for the babysitter!

Here is a tender picture. This is at the graveside service for the mother of one of Jacob's friends. Can you see the doves? They released four doves after the service. The mother died of cancer, leaving a second-grader and a kindergartener. Jacob has been in class with the little girl for the past two years. After the funeral he said, "I went there wondering if she [the mother] was a good person or a bad person. Afterwards, I knew that she was certainly a good person." I agreed.

Of course Christmas with the boys was magical. Eric bought nearly every gift this year (even his own!). For the first time ever, I didn't make any homemade gifts. Everyone survived.
I have to brag about my little sister, though, who did make some very thoughtful homemade packages for the boys. One favorite: felt superhero capes and supplies to decorate them. How cute is that?

And that's not all! She also made me this mother's necklace--isn't that amazing? I didn't know that she knew anything about jewelry-making. Sweet Sandra, you inspire me.

For the week following Christmas, we went a few places--ice skating, the library, shopping. But what the kids have really wanted to be doing is playing, playing, playing, all day long! 
Anything can be a sword--yardsticks, spatulas, spoons--but now Adam has his own sword-looking sword!
This is the boys' daytime "sleepover" in the dining room. 
And we'll close with a shot of Michael and his favorite gift, a play shaving kit. He's used it every day since Christmas!

What a joyous time! We're looking forward to all that 2012 holds.

People are kind

Today I went to the church to practice the organ, but the key wasn't in the bench where it belongs. After scouring the chapel and calling half a dozen people about it, I came home discouraged. Much to my embarrassment, I found the organ key--on my key hook at home! I sheepishly called the music chairperson, who had been calling around for the past two hours, and told her that I had found it. "Well, it happens," she said cheerily. What a great response. It's just the sort of kindness that has been blessing our family over the past year, and especially in the last month.  

When we learned that Max would need to begin CIC (clean intermittent catheterization), we stayed home from our activities for a few days and focused on getting the new routine down. I never imagined that the learning curve would be so steep! My nurse practitioner friend drove over to my house (with her three kids in tow) and helped me place the catheter on the first day. The first time took me several tries over a period of about 15 minutes. When I finally got it, I cried. Then she cried. "Day one," she said. 

She continued to help me over the first couple weeks, meeting me after we got our kids from preschool or coming to my home. Another friend helped me on the days that our sons do "project days" together. My dear neighbor came over once, too. Some times it would take an hour from start to finish, if I drove to someone's home for help or if I just couldn't get it. After each catheterization was done, I would start dreading the next time, only a few hours away. One friend sensed how the catheter was taking over my life and made me dinner one night--it was much appreciated! The learning curve has plateaued now, thank goodness. And after reviewing the first sheet of urine volumes, the urology team agreed that we would only have to catheterize Max three times a day instead of four--happy news! 
     As I'm writing this, I feel physically and emotionally lighter. I feel uplifted by friends who have carried me through this month. I'm grateful for prayer and for God's watchful care.

Enjoy a little clip of Max and start to see why everyone loves him:
He's just a little slice of heaven.