Christmas Joy and The Inventor Of Loves

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The following post was written by my good friend Annie Grevers. Annie and I swam together in college but swimming was just many of the things that bonded us as friends. We soon found out that our love for San Antonio, the Spurs, Jane Austen and Anthropologie were really the foundations of our friendship. I was so excited when she agreed to do a guest post here at BM. Annie blogs over at anniecdote! Stop by her little corner of the internet to read more of her stuff!

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Chandlers take Christmas seriously. I grew up thinking it was normal for the entire family to rush to the garage to witness the descent of Christmas decor from the attic. We have a home video of my dad and brother handing boxes down the ladder. The camera pans around the garage to children growing giddier as they sense the Christmas bomb ticking, about to explode all over our house. The credit must go to my parents, who added substance to the Christmas bomb over the years. They knew how to inject enthusiasm into every part of Christmas and quickly cement each chapter of the process into our book of Christmas traditions.

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Father and Mother Christmas

Here’s the shortlist of our family Christmas traditions:

~Watch every version of A Christmas Carol. The 1938 Reginald Owen version, the 1951 Alistair Sim copy, 1970’s musical with Albert Finney, 1983 Mickey’s Christmas, and our favorite- the 1984 adaptation starring George C. Scott (to be watched on Christmas Eve).

~Indulge in each aluminum tin filled with Christmas calories (Little Debbie trees, Mom’s magic cookie bars, Mom’s fudge, the inevitable gift of variations of caramel corn, Costco’s holiday cookie assortment (Kirkland, where would we be without you?), and decorated gingerbread cookies.

~A ginger bread house was masterfully constructed by Mom. We four kids spent an afternoon decorating it and had an odd gingerbread house demolition party on New Year’s Day. Really, we just competed to see who could grab the biggest chunks of the candied house. I did not care that the m&m sidewalk and gum drop bushes had been sitting out for almost two months. As a kid, sugar was sugar. Little Annie stole pieced of exterior decor throughout the Christmas season. Forever a sneaky, sugar burglar.

~Decorate every nook and cranny of the house. The Dickens Village is a mini-town of porcelain plugin houses my mom started collecting long ago. Each year or two a new house would be added to the village. It was a real honor to get to set up the fake snow blanket and situate the Dickens Village, porcelain Scrooge and all. Illuminating the village for the first time was as ceremonial as Chevy Chase’s grandiose Christmas light reveal.

~The Glory of Christmas. A 3LP box set my folks happened upon in the 70s, not knowing it would become the soundtrack to every Chandler Christmas. If you have a phonograph, this is a necessary addition to your record collection.
Dad’s Famous Chili and tamales on Christmas Eve (if this was messed with, Santa probably would not come). Tamales from south San Antonio are hard to beat.

~It’s A Wonderful Life on the 23rd of December, at the peak of Christmas anticipation. I fall deeper in love with Jimmy Stewart/George Bailey every time I watch it. If you’ve never seen it, your heart will grow five sizes watching this flick. It’s that good.

~The Snowman. The beautifully-sketched, animated tale of a Snowman coming to life and befriending his creator. It’s silent, but the music somehow communicates all you need to know.

~Santa never disappointed. He displayed our gifts in the living room, with a masterfully block-lettered name tag and glitter surrounding all of the goods he laid out in Martha Stewart fashion.

I am sure I did not cover all of our traditions, but that there is enough to expose the absurd breadth of our Christmas observances. It does crack me up to watch Chevy Chase in Christmas Vacation, because some of his mannerisms remind me of my dad (please don’t take offense, pops). Not Chevy’s air-headed side, but his crazed faces and zeal for certain parts of the holiday.

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See?

Joy. It’s found all over the country during the Christmas season, and those of us who know it hate to think of anyone without it during the holidays. One of my oldest, yet most vivid memories is of being a part of the Elf Louise project in San Antonio. Elf Louise collects toys and assigns volunteer Santas to deliver presents to needy families in San Antonio. My dad dressed up as Santa and we were his elves. I remember being bummed that they were out of elf costumes for us to wear. Delivering gifts to kids who only received one present, without the sparkle layout on a plush couch, affected me. My brother continued the tradition and donned the Santa suit when he was fresh out of college. A photo was taken of him giving a gift to a little girl and her face is filled to the brim with delight, completely surprised with joy.

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I never needed a bounty of gifts. I grew accustomed to it, but so many people grow accustomed to nothing. I grew up hearing Jesus was the perfect gift, but I do not know that I ever stomached that simple, profound lesson in my youth. Santa showing up at that little girl’s house with a present is a fluffy, bearded metaphor for God showing up in our lives. We may have been used to life without Him and understood others had faith in their lives, but we got along fine without it. And that was fine. Then he hands us the gift of his son. He says, “Here. He’s yours. For you to enjoy. You can shelf him. Or welcome him with overwhelming joy. He loves you so much. He will die for you. Even if you put him on the shelf. He’ll love you from the shelf, until you’re ready to receive his enduring love.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:37-39

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I’m not sure what the mood was like in that stable 2,000 years ago. I’d guess there was a pulsating joy in the air. We could argue all of the Christmas traditions I rattled off were distractions from celebrating the birth of Christ, but I’d say Jesus would have a great time at his birthday party. Love, Himself, is personified in each and everyone’s Christmas season. C.S. Lewis powerfully describes God’s love in his book, The Four Loves:

“God, who needs nothing, loves into existence wholly superfluous creatures in order that He may love and perfect them. He creates the universe, already foreseeing – or should we say “seeing”? there are no tenses in God – the buzzing cloud of flies about the cross, the flayed back pressed against the uneven stake, the nails driven through the mesial nerves, the repeated incipient suffocation as the body droops, the repeated torture of back and arms as it is time after time, for breath’s sake, hitched up. If I may dare the biological image, God is a “host” who deliberately creates His own parasites; causes us to be that we may exploit and “take advantage of” Him. Herein is love. This is the diagram of Love Himself, the inventor of all loves.”

The inventor of all loves. So when you feel your heart growing while watching It’s A Wonderful Life or you look around at the miraculous gathering of loved ones, know that He invented what you’re feeling and is the epicenter of the merriment. You cannot get away from Love if you try, Ebenezer! Merry Christmas to all!

Weekend Notes

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Well it was quite a weekend to say the least.

Last week at my 38 week appointment my doctor and I decided to go for an elective induction that coming Friday when I would be 39 weeks. So I spent all of last week doing final preparations. We were so excited to meet out little girl. The plan was set and we were ready!

I was scheduled to be at the hospital at 7:30 a.m. Then at 5:20 a.m. (10 minutes before my alarm was supposed to go off) I got a call from the charge nurse at L&D telling me that my induction was getting pushed back due to how busy they were. I was told to stay ready and that they would call me when there was an opening. So we waited and waited and walked and walked.

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To make a long and very repetitive story short, the induction ended up getting canceled. We were so disappointed! All week we were expecting to meet her and then…God had other plans. I’ve been rescheduled for this coming Friday but we’ll see if she waits that long.

Most of Friday I was a useless blob of hormones. Delivering a baby is hard and having a good mental game is HUGE.  After the induction was canceled, my mental game was shattered. So I spent friday evening doing a lot of recovering, praying, thinking and trying to put my mental game back together. I went for a little drive and then stopped at the mall to do some more walking and added a few (probably unnecessary items) to my hospital bag.

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I made a conscious effort to do more snuggling, reading, and playing with Peter and James that night. And I tried to focus on living in the moment and enjoying the little things like the glow of our tree.

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But Saturday I woke up cranky and impatient. I found myself thinking about how I was supposed to be at the hospital with my baby girl in my arms. Thankfully I have a wonderful husband who knew I needed some distraction. So we loaded the boys into the car and went to the mall to get some more walking in. It was a PERFECT rainy day and it fit my little emo self-pity party pretty well.

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I have the selfie to prove it too ^^^. The walking was good and I could slowly feel myself coming out of the fog. Sunday I woke up feeling better.  I was still disappointed in Friday’s events but it was quickly being pushed out of my thoughts. We went to church, had lunch with my grandparents and then came home and simply relaxed.

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Now we return to waiting. Which, when all is said and done is really fine by me. It is advent after all! We await the birth of our Lord and Savior and we wait for a little Starbuck baby too. I felt very close to Mary and Joseph last Friday… We kind of had our own little “no room at the inn” experience and it certainly made us stop and reflect on the many gifts and blessings we have in our lives.

So today I went in for my 39 week appointment and everything looked great. Now we just wait for God to call her out!I’ve updated my labor pump-up mix, started a fresh to-do list, and I’m ready to go.

Can’t wait to meet you Baby Aria! You are already SO LOVED!

~BM

Moms Helping Moms

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Motherhood is hard. There is no getting around that. Unfortunately we (as mothers) often get caught up in the comparison game and just focus on the differences in our parenting. You know what I’m talking about, labor/delivery, vaccines, diapers/cloth diapers, attached parenting, crying it out, co-sleeping/crib etc. The list goes on and on. At the end of the day, each mom is just trying to do her very best and that’s why we need to to step up and be there for each other!

One of the most important times to be there for a fellow mommy is after she has a baby. It might be setting up a meal train, coming by to help around the house, babysitting her other kids for a little, giving a gift card for food or simply just reaching out and asking what she needs. About a year ago I posted about the tradition my friend Kate and I started called the Lemon Bag. I’d love to be able to give all my mommy friends a Lemon Bag but unfortunately that’s a little difficult. So in my effort to be more supportive, I sent my friend Elizabeth a little care package in the mail. She had a baby a few weeks ago and I wanted to let her know that I was think about her and sending some prayers her way.

So along with a card, I sent over some necessities like chapstick and lotion. I also included a little notepad to help her keep her thoughts straight. Because after you have a baby your brain is mush and I found that writing things down can help. Finally, I included a gourmet lollipop as a little treat.

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What are some things that you do for a new mommy? And if you’re a mommy what are some things you appreciate after having a baby? Leave a comment and let me know! I’d love to hear from you!

Baby Watch 2014

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As my father in-law said it yesterday… “We are at the 20 yard line.” Baby watch 2014 has begun! This week I’m working on the last few things on my list. Finishing cookies, wrapping presents, and locating all the Christmas decor for this weekend. However, yesterday for a few hours I was coming to terms with the fact that I probably wasn’t going to get any of that done!

Let me explain… I had a doctors appointment yesterday and everything looked good. I picked up the boys from my Mom’s house and then we headed home. The boys fell asleep and I successfully transferred them to their beds (then I did air punches and karate kicks to celebrate). As they slept I started cleaning up around the house and reviewing in my mind everything I had to do. Then I started to feel strange. Something was just off. After a series of events, I was soon alternating between calling my mom, the triage nurse, and Andrew to try and figure out what the heck was going on and if this was “it”. You would THINK after irish twins I’d have a better idea of what was going on. Nope.

After lots of conversation and the order from my doctor, Andrew and I headed over to labor and delivery. After several hours in triage it was concluded that I was not having a baby. Part of me was a little disappointed and the other part was super relieved. I am in no rush to have her out! Am I super uncomfortable and ready to be not pregnant? Oh for sure. But honestly she can cook as long as she needs to. Plus, I still have things to do! While I was in triage all I could think about was the mountain of laundry that I had left at the house. How could I possibly bring a baby home to dirty laundry?!? <<<I realize that is a ridiculous statement but it’s honestly all I could think about.

Andrew and I got home around 11:00 (after stopping for In and Out burgers of course). The rest of the night went by all too quickly and when Andrew and I woke up, the stress and emotions from yesterday left us exhausted.  However, we were both filled with a sense of relief. We still have a little more time before baby Aria makes an appearance and we are totally fine with that. I feel a little silly that I went in and nothing happened but my mom reminded me that it is ALWAYS best to go in when you feel that something might be “off”. Thankfully it wasn’t anything at all and I can just keep being my uber pregnant self for a little while longer.

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But when it’s all said and done, I think it’s fair to say that baby watch 2014 has officially begun!

May the odds be ever in your favor.

Wait. What?

I need a nap.