Five Golden Rings

This is the sixth Christmas since John and I joined hands that my increasing belly means more than too many munched cookies. That first Advent, with a modest, inaugural baby belly, I was so utterly caught up in the newness of living with my Heart, teaching high school for the first time, and with the inconceivable fact of life growing inside me that I didn't ponder Mary much, if at all.

For every large-bellied Advent since, though, when my thoughts invariably turn toward the coming Messiah, I feel the smallest kinship with His mother and wonder. What were the curlings of her heart as she touched her rounded belly? When she felt the first impossible fluttering of the King's feet? I find it astonishing-- every time-- that God chose me to carry another little soul within; how much more so did she find it that she carried the very Creator of all souls!

Could there be a more confounding road to redemption? The Lord of all worlds entered this earth by birth through a human woman, and He wrapped Himself not in external glory and power but in the paper fragility of human skin. Skin to be bruised, beaten, and broken. A mystery ineffable.

I'm sitting here in a cold house listening to the harsh wind whistle and shriek around every eave and edge. The world outside is cold and bleak, and the wind hurls the snow past the window in a perfect and unbroken horizontal line, but the coming promise of spring lends even this beauty.
Without the Promise, hope fails.

So it is with the Christ.

Mary knew the words of the prophet Isaiah, and perhaps after Christ's death, she saw her Son in them:

Surely he has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was on him; and with his stripes we are healed.

Face to glorious face, she heard the mighty Gabriel proclaim that her heart would also be pierced. From the very beginning, her life as mother carried such weight, with joy and sorrow mingling. This is why, during a season of anticipation and true joy, I can't help but remember His death, as well. Life is shot through with death from the second it begins; light with dark; joy with grief. At the same moment that God accepted the cradle, He also accepted the Cross.

Despair is shot through with Hope.

As we continue (in this house, at least!) to celebrate the twelve days of Christmas and to exult in the birth of a newborn Baby, this is indeed cause for joy. May it be so not just for twelve days of the month but for twelve months of this year and in each and every one to come!

Only 20 Pounds More to Go!

Errr...I mean 16 weeks...

All of my bones have disappeared-- cheekbones, collarbones, hipbones, shinbones, anybones, and everybones. My chin has melted back into my neck, all sharp edges are perfectly round and plump, and I'm well on my way to another successful 45-or-50-pound-weight-gain-for-a-seven-pound-baby. It happens every single time. (Through no small effort, I've already reached the 30-pound mark.)

I think I still have a bit of elbow bone left, though, which I suppose means I haven't been working hard enough. Don't worry, I'll get on it. Candy bowl! C'mon! Get over here! You didn't expect me to actually stand up and walk over to it, did you...?

For those belly-lovers among you, here I am at almost twenty-four weeks. I suppose I should set up an appointment sometime, huh?

Also, I realize the shirt is rumpled. Just be glad I changed out of my wool sweaters and bathrobe for the picture. No, I am not joking about the sweaters OR the bathrobe. It's haute couture on the hill, and I shamelessly wear them nearly every day. In fact, when Susie asked me why I was dressed in "going out clothes" and I told her I was going to take a picture of my belly, she thought it was the funniest thing ever.

(Also again, I realize that due to the dreary lack of daylight, the picture is grainy. Sorry. I knew that if I didn't take a picture when the spirit moved me, I would never take one.)

(Also, lastly, I picked the picture in which I look least round, barring the impressive belly. Great angle! Jut that chin!)


The fourth Sunday of Advent, we lit all the candles save one.

A baby who always tries to make the room dark before she should.

She's persistent but not often successful.

The joy of having one's children read scripture during family worship.

And more.

The Little Bits


We continue to decorate a Jesse tree throughout Advent until Christmas Eve, at which point we transform the tree into a gaudy expression of loveliness.

When the Big Night arrives, the girls always want to wear lights, and they get one calm turn each before total decorating chaos ensues.

Luci wasn't very impressed with the tradition.

Pip was Pip.

Millie thought she was royalty.

Royalty with a ragamuffin child...

Nixie was a pixie.

And the Bird?

She wanted to share the spotlight.

Nice hair, dolly!

Don't be fooled by how peaceful these two pictures look

The reason why there aren't any more is because the living room was CRAZY until the very last bulb in the box was slapped on the tree.

Phew. Until next year...

Small Gifts

More to come later.

Truffles of many flavors.

Jars of homemade sugar scrub.

And many containers of vanilla extract, ready to use next June. (Oops. I should have made it this past summer).

Can you tell Someone bought vanilla beans in bulk?


Making one of our favorite cookies ever. Cherry-filled.

And mint-filled.

Making messes.

Making sugar cookies.

Making mischief.

Making moustaches.

Making men.


The Table of Sugar Consumption.

Top o' the mornin'.

The gingerbread girls.

Thankfully, Millie didn't notice that her counterpart was a little worse for the wear.

I made up for it by (accidentally) tempering the chocolate perfectly this year before pouring it into the molds. So glossy! So smooth and shiny!

Don't think I'm a bad mother. I'm just sentimental, and since Christmas morning was the only day of the year that I was able to eat sugar cereal as a child, I've continued the tradition with my own. Yeah! SUGAR CEREAL! It may not seem like much to you, but my girls think it's the best.

Plus, we drank eggnog.
Sugar, ho! (Ho, ho, ho.)