Monday, December 31, 2012

Closing out the Year.

I can hardly believe that the year is at an end.  Time just seems to fly by these days!

I am writing this post from the mountains just outside of Vernon, BC.  Courtesy of my uber-generous parents, all fifteen of my extended family members are staying in a big house on Silver Star Mountain: my parents; siblings/spouse; my niece and nephews; and of course the five of us.  We arrived the day after Christmas and are heading home shortly.

About an hour ago, I drove about three minutes down the mountain to the little ski village and dropped off Matthew, Seth, and Lizzie for their fourth morning of downhill skiing lessons.  To say that the kids are enjoying their lessons would be a gross understatement!  Even Lizzie, who I never think has the greatest stamina, has been taking the 2.5 hour lessons in stride and is loving them.  A highlight for me was watching her in her class yesterday - the kids in her class were lined up at the top of a little bunny hill and the instructors were taking them down one at a time, teaching them to slide down the hill with their skiis in a pizza shape to slow them down.  The instructor asked Lizzie if she was ready to go and Lizzie said "Yes! But I want to do it by. my. self."  The instructor laughed and said ok, and Lizzie promptly pushed herself off and zipped down the little hill - she even steered herself towards the little 'magic carpet' thingee that slid her back up the hill.  She was amazing!

And yesterday, after only two mornings on the bunny hills, the boys' instructors loaded them onto a chair lift and took them up a mountain for their first real down-a-mountain experience...and apparently they were awesome up there.  In the afternoons, Geoff has been taking the boys skiing again and he says that it's amazing how quickly they are progressing.  It's a bit of a dream come true for Geoff to see his kids taking such a shine to downhill's one of the things he always pictured himself doing with kids and to see that materializing with not one, not two, but all three of his kids is a pretty great thing.

I'm distinctly not a skiier...haven't been since my one terrible experience of it many years ago when a friend took me up a mountain on a chair lift and then abandoned me at the top of it.  I eventually made it down the run and even went up several additional times but I was fairly traumatized by that expeirence of being left up there with not one hot clue about how to get back down.  I do not recommend that manner of learning to downhill ski.  Anyway...shudder....

So I'm not a skiier.  But I have had time to relax this week, and to visit with whichever family members are around, and this has been good beause I've been a little under the weather and more than a little tired by the last few months of schooling and the lead-up to Christmas.

Speaking of was great.  The lead-up to it, with prep for Christmas Day and our trip, was harried, but it was great nonetheless.  It's also pretty amazing to see how different a place the kids are in this year in comparison to last year.  All three seem to be in a much better place.  Last year, I found it challenging to explain to our two new English speakers what Christmas was all about; both the faith-based and the tradition-based aspects of it.  How do you explain to a child who has only rudimentary language skills that we're celebrating Jesus as the son of God being born in a manger?  How do you explain why we are bringing a tree into our house and putting lights and little balls on it?  It was a lot to take in and they had only a hazy idea about Christmas a year ago.

But fast forward a year, in which they have experienced other celebration events (Valentine's Day, Easter, lots of birthdays, etc etc) and during which their language and understanding has improved so much - well, it's a different picture altogether.  They loved, loved, loved Christmas this year!!  They loved dressing up for Christmas Eve service; they loved all of the crafts and baking in the days before; they loved the gifts they received (I shouldn't have worried so much about their gifts - Lizzie gave me a huge bear hug and "thank you" screech just for putting strawberry-scented chapstick in her stocking!!); they loved the scavenger hunt I'd prepared for them on the evening of Christmas Eve which led them to their new pajamas...they loved it all, and Geoff and I loved watching them.  It's been one of my favourite Christamses ever and it's going to be hard adjusting to our normal life again.

I hope you enjoyed a terrific Christmas season as well, though I am conscious this year, like every year, that Christmas is not a joyful time of year for many.  I know several families who are struggling with the absence of much-longed-for children and, having been there myself for many years, I get that this time of year can be very difficult for parents waiting and waiting for the children who will create or complete their families.  I feel guilty this year about my own joyful season, even while understanding that my joy this year is perhaps compounded by the accumulation of previous years' sorrows.

Whatever your circumstances, my friends, I wish you blessings upon the upcoming new year...I look forward to sharing it with you!!


  1. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
    It sounds like you are having a wonderful holiday. I can so relate to the "second Christmas" experience. Although both of my children have come to me throuh domestic adoption and therefore language has not been a major issue, Cody seemed to know very little about Christmas. His first with me was like he was experiencing it all for the very first time. The second year, it was like he could truly enjoy the holiday to its fullest, including what we are really celebrating. This year, Cody's third with me, it has been such a joy for me to watch and listen to him explain all about Christmas to 2.5 year old Alexander who joined our family in August. His understanding has come so far and he feels comfort in what he knows. And this year, just as I did Cody's first Christmas, I cried tears of complete joy at our Christmas Eve service.
    I'm so glad you're enjoying yourself. And I have to ask, what did you give Seth???

  2. Hey Ellen, and thanks so much for the comment. I'm so happy that you were able to experience Christmas this year with BOTH of your boys!! I'm betting that Alexander's 2nd Christmas NEXT year will be even MORE amazing!!

    Re: Seth's gift, yes, I should mention that. His main gift ended up being a camera...which he has virtually not put down since he opened it. We're doing to have to get him some rechargeable batteries this the first three days after Christmas he went through FOUR sets of batteries!! He carries it around his neck throughout the day, it sits beside his bed at night, he takes about a thousand pictures a day (I'm not exaggerating by much either). We set ground rules early on (no pictures in a bathroom, no pictures of people not fully clothed, no pictures if the person says 'no,' etc etc). So far it's proving to be a great choice. Thanks for asking.

    OK, gotta run.. Blessings, Ellen.