Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Pizza Day

I surprised Keith with a card this morning that read something like " Do you remember when we were kids and how excited we were when we found out it was Pizza Day in the cafeteria and how that was the best day of all school lunch days? With you every day is Pizza Day..."


But it's true. Because I am human and an idiot most of the time, I have often taken this wonderful creature that I am married to for granted. He is not perfect but he's pretty darn close. He cooks better than me, he does just as much as I do around here and he works hard for our family. He is funny and silly and serious and smart and dedicated and forgets to send birthday cards and leaves his shoes lying around. He is reserved and quiet and playful and loud. He is an honest and caring father and he puts up with me.

That last characteristic is not to be overlooked or taken lightly, folks. He puts up with me and that's no easy task I tell ya. I am forgetful and lazy and I procrastinate like nobody's business. I am goofy and talk too much and never meet a stranger...often forcing him to test his patience in any social setting. I am moody and emotional and stubborn as all get out. Living with the Katie is no cakewalk, I assure you.

Yet he does it willingly. Sometimes he even acts like he enjoys it.

In a couple weeks we will be celebrating fifteen years of him being tied down with a nutcase...I mean, we will be celebrating our beautiful marriage. And to do so, we will be renewing our vows to each other in a simple ceremony with family here at our home.

Sounds like he's going to sign up for a few more years of living in an insane asylum. Guess perpetual Pizza Day is worth a little crazy every now and then, huh?

Friday, December 25, 2009

Cellophane Christmas

I'm about to let you see right through me.

I'm struggling a bit this Christmas. Before I go further, please let me clarify that I know and embrace the reason for the season...and am blessed way beyond measure. But, as I sit here at almost one o'clock in the morning listening to the howling wind whipping through the trees out back, I can't help but feel a bit melancholy.

For starters, I've missed my Mom a lot more than usual this year. Maybe that has something to do with this feeling. I have tried in numerous ways to channel her and see Christmas through the eyes of the child Katie. I bought the can of "Deluxe Hard Candy" that she had around at Christmastime and I downloaded the entire Beach Boys Christmas album and blared it while I cooked today. She had a way of making this holiday special and I fear I have not done that for my children. I didn't have an orange to put in the toe of the boys' stockings and there's no ceramic Santa or brass angel candle thingy that I put out year after year like Mom did....will I ever be able to make lasting memories for them like she did for me?

Then there's the whole Santa thing with Daniel. Uggg. I feel tears well up in my eyes as I think about him going to sleep for the first time not dreaming of Santa's sleigh making it's way to our house sometime during the night. For the first time since we've been parents, there is no plate of cookies with a note for Santa on the counter. (ok, full fledged tears streaming now...) Daniel knows the truth now and Jacob--at a cranky age 2 when we put him to bed after dinner--is too young to understand the whole cookie/Santa tradition. Could I have somehow kept Daniel believing for another year or two by weaving tales of magic and mystery or did I do the right thing following my instincts and sharing the truth upon his demand and questioning? I'm not sure...but I do know it feels a little strange having one old enough to not believe and one too young to know the difference.

There is one thing I know for sure, though. My family is together. And we are safe and healthy and blessed far beyond what we deserve. There may not be cookies and a note for Santa waiting in the morning...but by dawn's early light there will be two pajama-clad boys clammering to open presents regardless of how they got under the tree.

As parents, we sometimes struggle wondering if we are doing the very best job we can. I am sure my Mom dealt with these same feelings from time to time. And as I sit here in the wee hours of a stormy Christmas morning, I can't help but feel her here with me telling me to take it one day at a time and to cherish every moment I have with my kids.

I think I'll take her advice. Merry Christmas everyone.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Note to Self: Carry Kleenex at All Times

I hadn't expected to cry at church this morning.

Actually, I was looking forward to an uplifting service about the Christmas story and the wise men and the manger and the star of Bethlehem. You know, all very familiar and Christmas-week-worthy topics to preach on. Our service today was quite unusual. And, as effective as it was at teaching me about fear and our need for God's protection, it was something simple that happened as I walked into church that had such a huge impact on me.

As Keith and the boys and I made our way along the winding sidewalk to the entrance to the children's section, a family of 6 walked in just before us. A Mom and Dad with 3 children most likely biological and 3 of varying ages that looked to be of Ethiopian heritage. The oldest, a tall lanky teenager, carried a tattered Bible in his left hand as he reached to open the door for us with his right. His smile would light up a room and he was definitely not short on manners. He interacted with his younger siblings--both by blood and adoption--with the familiar banter of any typical American family.

It warmed my heart.

And then, when we began to sing a familiar Christmas carol during the service, I thought about our close friends and their quest to bring home two children from Ethiopia. The acoustic strains of Silent Night playing softly in the background allowed my thoughts to drift off to a foreign country where a girl named Mary--age 9-- and a boy nicknamed Mel--age 6--are going about their daily routine...most likely unaware of how their lives will change in a matter of months. For across an ocean awaits a home filled with warmth and love, parents whose hearts are open wide with anticipation and a little brother who, at 17 months is barely speaking, utters their names with a grin and a giggle.

Suddenly and quite unexpectedly, I was overcome with emotion. Tears streamed down my cheeks as I imagined Mary and Mel along with David, Amy and Isaac, sitting in a similar church service next Christmas...a family of five born of prayer, persistence and more than a healthy dose of divine intervention. Christmas being such a time of family and fellowship, I couldn't help but compare it to my own adoption journey and the pain I felt the Christmas before we brought Daniel home. We had his picture on our refrigerator just like David and Amy have their's posted. And in those quiet times...those Silent Nights...when all seems at peace, I imagine the Watsons yearn to share the magic of this holiday with their soon-to-be children on the other side of the globe.

And before you know it, they will.

Because pretty soon, there will be a family of five with a range of beautiful skin colors walking together into church like they had never been apart and two more orphans will experience the warmth and acceptance that only a family can offer. It may be a long time before my friends have a true "silent night" with a house full of children...but those nights will certainly be a little sweeter and, more importantly, filled with an overflowing abundance of love.

Merry Christmas Mary and Mel. We can't wait to meet you.