taking stock | december’s end

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|making| plans and resolutions.
|cooking| is not as much fun when it isn’t for a big holiday meal.
|drinking| tulsi tea + fresh coconut water + kombucha.
|reading| recipes and dr. weil publications and work marketing pieces. hoping to carve out more time before bed for the written word and ink on pages.
|wanting| to spend months in the english countryside.
|looking| at my computer screen as i wrap up assignments and projects.
|playing| xylophone with miss elinor.
|wasting| mango. i do my best to properly remove the good stuff from that pesky core but i can’t help but feel like there is more i could do, less i could waste. those little buggers sure are tasty but they are a nuisance.
|sewing| i can’t even talk about it. too many ideas and not enough action.
|wishing| upon a star. i hear that it makes no difference who you are…
|enjoying| our family dinner. real conversations as a family. with elinor chiming in and everything. oh, these moments will get even sweeter {and noisier} with time.
|waiting| for my man to come home.
|liking| all the lists and resolutions and sparkly things and bubbles that this day brings.
|wondering| what this new season has in store…personal and professional and schedules and weekends and home and away and friends and family and faith.
|loving| the full 25 minutes of uninterrupted flirting and playing and snuggles with my little girl.  even if it was just because of those pesky teefers.
|hoping| that i can make the days count. that i can write meaningful passages on each blank page that i am given.  that the book of 2014 is a riveting tale and exquisite.
|marveling| at the way that elinor arranges her tiny blocks. AND tells each one a story or two as she moves them from box to floor to table to floor and back into the box again.
|needing| new sheets. fresh and crisp for the New Year.
|smelling| my tata harper resurfacing mask. rose and white willow and beets and aloe vera and witch hazel.
|wearing| my new furry slippers.
|following| my gut. and my daytimer.
|noticing| that i need to get my knives sharpened.
|knowing| that i am loved.
|thinking| about so many things. too many things. plans and hopes and dreams and fears. all the things. as one does. my brain is pretty much a sea of swirly twirly gumdrops. ooohh…gumdrops.
|feeling| hopeful.
|bookmarking| real simple. hoping to recall and implement their tips and tricks and inspiration.
|opening| my new nail polish from my hubby. time to paint my toesies.
|giggling| all the live-long day. that little girl of ours is funny. like, for real funny. she cracks jokes and laughs at her own wit. kills me.

past post here.  and feel free to join in and take stock.

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a dose of cheer

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there is something so blah about this chunk of time on the calendar.  all the advent anticipation is over.  it is a whole 363 days until Christmas.  the lingering happy and rest of Boxing Day has dwindled and the New Year isn’t quite upon us.  i am left feeling that blah.  the glinting tree makes me a smidge sad.  so pretty and bright, can’t it stay up forever?  i am sorry, tree.  and yet, i know that in a week, i will be ready for a fresh start.  feeling like clearing out the clutter of life and keeping things sleek and simple.  and so, the winds will change and my heart will float on to the next season.  but right now, i am in no-man’s-land.  that weird little spot between the joy of Christmas and the noise and excitement of a New Year.  right now, i want Christmas back.  right now, i am not ready for glitter hats and noise makers and the ball dropping.  i have yet to turn that page and allow the impending newness of january to begin seeping in.  my heart is still clinging to december.  but, as i told ben last night, i know that in a day or so, i will begin to make that natural shift.  i will being to talk about NYE celebration.  i will begin to make lists.  resolutions.  plans.  and soon, i will be reveling in a New Year.  i will be eating football-y food and cheering on my Baylor Bears.  i will be talking about 2014.  i will plant my feet in a New Year.  i will stare out across the days ahead.  i will fill in the pages of a fresh calendar.  i will be giddy with possibility and optimistic with hope.  it will be well with my soul.  i will look back fondly on 2013, thanking God for His bounty.  and i will be delighting in the refreshing breeze of a new season.  i know this to be true.  these feelings come every year.  i always love the feeling of the first day of january.  but for now, i am staying close to home.  i am soaking it in.  i am smelling the smells of the season.  i am squinting and staring at the tree.  i am opening my eyes wide in wonder as i watch elinor enjoying the generosity of others and discussions of our natal Savior and jolly St. Nick.  i am keeping the records spinning.  i am eating all the cookies.  i am keeping the gifts stacked up and nearby, visual reminders of a great day and such tremendous moments with dear ones.  i am cuddling up.  i am holding those remaining “red cups” extra close and taking smaller sips of Christmas blend.  and even though my being doesn’t quite know what to do during this brief chunk of time, i am choosing to freeze the moment.  as bittersweet as time may be, His mercies are new each morning.  He is faithful.  there is an appointed time for everything.  and so, during this time.  i will take stock.  i will be more mindful and careful of the manner in which i resolve the year.  i will prayerfully make plans.  i will move deliberately into 2014.  come winds of change, sweep delicately yet meaningfully into my heart.  brush away the stale and pale with your refreshing breeze.  leave your crisp air of newness.  prepare the place for new seeds and growth, that my life may be beautifully fertile and bountiful in the coming season.

* these pics were taken five days before Christmas.  further proof that time marches on.  you better snatch moments from the rude grasp of time and hold them close while you can.  reminders of precious and fleeting minutes and seconds.  don’t blink.

a very yippie Christmas

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for those of you who are visual learners, here is a snap to show you what my gift theme for Christmas was all about. my theme was “yippie”.  say whaaaat?  go here for what on earth that is all about.

soooo themes.  here’s the deal.  my family doesn’t do gift giving all willy-nilly.  no, sir.  this is a full-blown elfingpalooza.  each year, right around the end of october, my family schedules planning sessions for each person where we select a secret theme. from there, we choose a budget and pool our money, and then we all go on shopping
excursions to purchase gifts to fit our chosen themes. once the gifts are purchased, we plan “elf evenings” and all gather to watch Christmas movies, sip festive drinks, and wrap gifts {this year, the wrappee took elinor on a walk while the rest of the wrappers did their thing. holiday pass-the-baby}.  each person has their very own wrapping paper courtesy of crate & barrel so we can identify each person’s packages under the tree.  plus, it looks super chic.  almost a decorative statement.  and then, the gifts are tucked away until the big day.

on Christmas morning, we take turns opening our gifts and trying to guess our theme.  some are more obvious than others.  and it is always a hoot to watch as each person tries to piece it all together.  my mom is especially enjoyable.  this year, our themes were as follows:

dad | chill

mom | the bag lady

my sister | happy go lucky

my bro-in-law | urban cowboy

my hubby | hipster

me | yippee

you can imagine the gifts.  as an example, my mom received everything in bags: garment bag + makeup bag + goodie bag + tea bag, etc.  and i, i received a mix of all things hippie and yuppie.  perfect.  is my family great, or what?

have yourself a merry little Christmas

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oh, Christmas.  love, love, love.  and there was nothing “little” about this day.  this year seemed extra magical.  the day was full and festive.  hubby and i woke up extra early and opened presents, just the two of us.  some calm before the holly-jolly blizzard.  aaaaand…major points for my man!  he cut out individual pages of Dickens’ Christmas Carol and fashioned them into wrapping paper for my gifts, complete with old fashioned wool ribbon.  i was pretty blown away by the creativity and care.  what a guy.

after we were all cleaned up and ready for the day {and after miss elinor had stored up plenty of sleep for a long day of celebrating ahead} we woke our little peanut and let her open gifts.  we kept things simple since we knew that there would be lots of stimulation and gifting in store… she sweetly opened her gifts from us: something to wear, something to read, something you want, and something you need.  she took her time with each one and added in her gleeful “whoooooaaaa!” sounds.  delightful.

and then, it was off to the whitehouse home.  we gathered for stockings and gifts…and so much yummy food.  the best brunch. and between gifts and bites, i only managed to snap one decent pic.  #rachelfail but, i might be able to snag a few from he family…

in the afternoon, we made our way over to the ridley home.  and although the weather outside was a frightful 74 degrees, we were greeted by a snowball attack from my parents.  complete with festive pjs.

we read our annual letter from santa.  what a guy.  opened our stuffed stockings.  and settled in for some serious present opening.  after we had our fill, we took a break to enjoy ben’s legendary lasagna.  so good, i didn’t even get a picture.  and then, a few more presents and some dessert before calling it a night.

whew.  what a day!  i am still reeling from the joy and generosity and overall amazingness of our family.  God is good.  and we are so grateful for His gifts to us.  and now, i am off to eat a few more cookies…

life and death

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.  I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

John 10:10

Christmas always makes me think about my own mortality.  life.  death.  maybe it is the sobering reminder that baby Jesus was born to die.  maybe it is because of the anniversary of family members’ deaths.  maybe it is the broken relationships i see all around.  because of friends we are praying for as they walk through the valley of the shadow of death and begin chemo just weeks before Christmas.

the beauty and bounty of the season always seems in stark contast with the frailty of this life.

this season is such a vivacious season.  lights and sounds and smells.  it all seems bigger and brighter.  songs of hope.  tears of joy.  hugs and laughter.  homecomings.  feasts.  and these beautiful visions and moments point us toward eternity.

this season is also often marked by loss or sadness.  loneliness.  and what is that for except to act as reminders that this world has nothing for us.  the thief comes to steal and kill and destroy.  ultimately, it is empty.  it is shadows.  it will pass away.  this stirs in us a deep longing for something true.  something richer.  our hearts long for home.  the warmth that we will feel at the feet of our Savior.  the joy as we join with the saints in worship.  the fulfillment as we feast at the King’s table and drink from the fountains of forever.

advent season makes us ache for the ultimate advent of our Lord and Savior.  Christ came that we might have life and have it abundantly.  may all the sweetness and every loss make our hearts pine for home.  may we feel deeply.  may we comprehend anew.  may the moments be richer.  may we enjoy the delights of this life as reminders of the utter delight of Heaven.  it is nigh.