Wednesday, January 13, 2016


We told her that you can't touch baby's head, only baby's feet.  That's what makes this picture even more hilarious:)
And suddenly, there was LIGHT!
I gave my sister this Thoreau onesie when she was pregnant with her first. 

I started writing this post on New Year's Eve, but am just now getting around to finishing it.  Under two weeks to write a post.  A new record:)

I'm sitting here in the comfy armchair at my brother's house next to their beautifully lit tree, complete with hand drawn gingerbread ornaments on brown paper with green jewels for their noses, listening to Everly's cousins playing upstairs.  I can hear the plodding of little feet on the floorboards above  and then a loud thump followed by a piercing cry.  As my sister rushes upstairs, I hold my breath until I hear her console one of the kids and know everything is ok.

With all the noise, I use my free hand to put "earmuffs" over Everly's exposed ear.  She has recently become more aware of her surroundings and is easily distracted while eating. She also demands that I do nothing except stare at her while nursing.  I can't complain, though.  It's our special time, and I take a deep breath before each nursing session, willing her to focus on the task at hand and not get lured away just yet by the amazing world around her.

I can hear my mom and brother having a side conversation as he prepares to head outside to work on his light display. Over the years, he's become the epitome of Clark Griswold.  Lights set to a radio station, life sized Santa dancing in the yard, and a snow machine he made himself.  All to enhance our holiday spirit.  Which it does.  He tirelessly works each holiday season to make it the most memorable event for the kids.  And the adults have the side benefit of enjoying the magic of it all, too.

A mere hour before all this, we were throwing a surprise retirement party for my dad.  Having only started planning it the night before, I think it turned out pretty good.  Before, he had access to a HUGE printer and would make us the coolest posters for our birthdays with our faces on them.  No family gathering was complete without one of these posters.  I found a way to inexpensively print something similar for him from FedEx.  It wasn't in color and didn't have all the fancy detail his did, but it was a nice sentiment.  The poster was surrounded by drawings all the grandkids made for him.  Hiding behind the chairs, they jumped out and yelled "happy retirement" when he walked in.  40+ years at the same company is almost unheard of now.  I think it speaks to our changing society and how loyalty is not being honored the same way it was in the past.  It's sad, but it's what makes his experience that much more admirable.  Growing up, I remember my dad having to leave on work trips.  He'd travel to these faraway places that he had to show me on a globe.  My little mind didn't really think about where he was going.  I just waited eagerly for him to return.  And he never came home empty handed.  There were puzzles from Japan, a box of polished rocks from I don't know where, and then the crown jewels, VHS tapes of my favorite movies.  I still remember begging for Jurassic Park while he was gone and being overjoyed when he came home at the end of the week with a copy for me.  After all these years, though, I finally realize that the real gift was him working so hard in order to provide a happy life for us.  I hope we were able to show him, even if just a smidgen, how much we truly appreciated all the long hours he put in at the office while still managing to make it to cheer us on at every basketball/tennis/baseball/volleyball game.

Everly is snoozing on my shoulder now.  Passed out in a milk coma.  I carry her into the kitchen to get some water.  I can see my brother and nephew in the backyard throwing things into the fire pit in anticipation of the next activity--making a huge fire.  My mom informs me that after the retirement party, light display countdown, and fire watching, we just have to do the parade, open a few other gifts, and then can do the adult gift card exchange.  I start chuckling.  Why don't we tack on a ping pong tournament and pie eating contest to round out the night?  

The fire billows up in the next second and we all ooh and ahh. And as quickly as the fire reached towards the sky, the kids equip themselves with toy instruments. They line up, and we play our parts as either parade follower or picture taker.  As they sing "We Wish You A Merry Christmas" at the top of their lungs, I am amazed at how such a simple "parade" can bring us all so much joy.  I imagine Everly traipsing around after them next year and can't fathom her toddling around.

I know why my brother works so hard to create this magical world for the kids.  They're growing up right before our eyes and soon they won't be impressed by my brother dressing up as Olaf or want to parade around the house just because.  It's like he's filling their little heads with dances of sugar plum fairies and lights as far as the eye can see so that these feelings of wonderment stay in their hearts forever.

And I know all his hard work won't be in vain, because these moments have already left a permanent impression on my heart.


  1. "But it's so much more fun to touch the baby's head!" :P Kudos for planning the surprise party in just one night, that's pretty impressive, so is 40+ years. You're right that people don't tend to stay in the same place so much anymore--I think part of it is globalization, crossing country boarders and even moving from one side of the country to the other for a change seems fairly common. My Dad put in 17 years at his company before my family moved overseas, and now it's been over 12 years with the second job. Angel, on the other hand, has had 3 different jobs since our marriage since we've lived in 3 countries. I hope he stays at this job for a good long time, though--we want to if we can!

  2. 40+ years at a job is impressive and you're right unheard of these days. I hope your dad has a happy retirement after his many years of hard work. He deserves it. Reading your post made me smile as you seem to have such sweet traditions, you also described everything so well I could picture it in my mind, it also made me miss my family. I have nieces that are also growing up so fast and I miss so much living so far away. I fear I may regret it in the future. I'm glad you had a lovely holiday. Have a wonderful day Kari.:)


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