Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Christmas THIS year. Ice turned to warmth.

We started our holidays on an unexpected note.

An ice storm.  The weight of the ice on branches combined with the high winds led to many many power outages across our area.

This all happened early Sunday morning, so we sought solace at our church. We remembered that when an ice storm had hit our area in North Carolina, church was opened for all without power. We hoped this would be the case here, as well.  We hoped, at the very least, for a few hour of warmth before we had to go back to a cold home. We hoped a few hours was all it would take to restore power. I worried for trach babies across the area and babies dependent on oxygen. I would have never thought of that before JAM. A quick text to a friend whose baby still was on O2 confirmed that they still had power. Good. Better us than them!

I not-so-secretly delighted that we could FINALLY go to church as a FAMILY. For the first time since October, both of us parents could attend, and Jonathan could come with us. After all, while it wasn't safe for him to come to church normally (thank you RSV), surely it was safer for him to come with us to church than to stay in a cold home.

We got to church early to set up some breakfast goodies for the college students. The church was locked. Moments later an elder drove in and informed us that church was canceled.

By that time, and thanks to the 4G on my smart phone, I had put out a cry for help and a home had opened for us. This home was more or less empty. (The girls discovered guinea pigs in a cage in one of the bedrooms. At first they thought they were rabbits.) Dear friends had just recently left for some time away with family. The two boys who normally inhabit the house are just the right age such that our girls thought the toys and books left behind were just about perfect for a day or two of playing. 

We thought it would just be a few hours.

It was two days.

I feared for the lego creation in the basement. It was clear that Oldest Boy had worked for HOURS to make a perfect recreation of some spaceship.

Mimi, being only five, didn't really get that this was a thing.

Previous experience taught us that Mimi (and Ella) had no issues at this friend's house with
a. drawing on the carpet
b. drawing on the walls
c. destroying toys

And that's when the boys WERE around watching them.

We enjoyed day one. I read books while snuggled under one of my friend's favorite blankets. Steve read books in the other room, Jonathan at his feet shuffling toys back and forth on the short, previously-drawn-upon carpet (ahem, Mimi as a toddler). Mimi and Ella played with either their own toys or the boy's toys. There was a fair bit of running from my room to Steve's room and back again.

Day two was not disastrous. Youngest Boy is only a bit older than Ella and has great taste in books. Ella didn't bother getting out of bed for hours.

J and I DID get up as he had his weekly occupational therapy appointment that morning. I used this as an excuse to grab a coffee at the kiosk in the medical building. With THIS I was ready to tackle the day.

Then Steve and I got preemptive. We packed up the kids. We went in to an empty college campus, and we let Ella and Mimi get very creative on the white boards of a business department classroom. The nice thing about these particular classrooms is that they had white boards on three sides. The girls made a marvelous mural.

This marked the last day of the year that the campus would be opened. We grabbed some food on campus for lunch, and hoped that by the time our meal was over that power would be restored.

It wasn't.

So while Steve punched away at a syllabus for next year, I started looking for resorts near by. Three more days was the estimate. Three more days before power would be fully restored to the area. Oldest Boy's lego creation would NOT last that long in the restless hands of Mimi.

We found a resort. It was an hour away, high priced but with sleigh rides and a water park, and open for the holidays. We could do this. Downsize to a small one room cabin, and we've got a deal. There was even enough beds for my sister who was scheduled to drive in the next day. I could stay in the cabin with J. The kids could go swimming with Steve and Sarah and then have the joy of seeing their hair into icicles on the way home.

But I'd have to pack. A lot. And what of the presents? I'd have to go back into a cold house where I was only half-way through doing a load of important laundry. I needed it before the day was out or I'd have to start hand-washing clothes.

I sighed, told Steve I was ready to hit "send" on the order for the cabin an hour away, but I thought MAYBE  maybe I should check the house first.

I did.

The lights were on. I could see that from the driveway. A beacon of hope. Christmas was back on.

I didn't even bother to go in. I'd wait for the furnace to warm the place up a bit more. 

As I drove back to campus, the world changed a bit. The ice covered trees suddenly looked beautiful. Perfect for a Christmas day. By the time we got home, my outlook on everything had changed. I loved my family, I loved my house, I loved the winter wonderland that peered in on us from outside the window. Even the sun had come out.

The next few days were perfect. Family, presents, songs, health, and good food were all enjoyed from our comfortable home, no longer taken for granted.

Jonathan sported the size 9 month fuzzy jammies his grandmother had gotten him, and the reindeer hat and socks I'd bought. I'd wanted to get him cute Christmas stockings, and my choice was easy. He's still in size 2 shoes, and the only sock-hat combination that didn't say "Baby's First Christmas" was the reindeer variety.

Merry Second Christmas, Jonathan! We love your curiosity and your smile. We love that you love hanging out with us.

For me?!

Adults just don't get computers like kids do these days.

How could I have NOT noticed this last year?!

Without my glasses everything looks fuzzy and bright!

Christmas Jammies

My aunt came to visit. She's one of my favorite people.
She fist-bumped me when I was only a NICU baby.
She bought me my first graduation gown.
She sounds like mom and is really nice.

Learning to squint for photos, just like dad.

Sometimes the gifts we get look scary at first. Like ice storms that take out power or a baby who comes too soon.

But when the your feet land firmly on the ground again and you get a chance to look around, sometimes - just sometimes - what once started out cold and unexpected has turned warm, leading us to appreciate life and all we have all the more.

We have been given so much. Merry Christmas, friends!

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