Two years ago the Lord began to stir our hearts about bringing the kids home for school. He planted that seed and it has rested quietly, waiting for the right season to grow into an everyday part of our lives. We have had questions and doubts and fears. We feel inadequate. We will be misunderstood. It has taken some time for us to see how it can be done right and well. We don't regret the years that the kids have spent going to school away from home, in fact we treasure the lessons learned and the memories made. All of that is foundational up to this point. Before now, school at home was an idea.. even an ideal, now it is a desire and a vision. We are stepping out into the unknown but we have faith that He will lead us each step of the way in wisdom and grace. He always has and always will.
So, how did the kids react?
Ben, "That means I can hug my teacher anytime I want to."
AbbySue, "Can I stay up later to read now and go to school in my pj's?"
Zibby, "Yay!"....just because everyone else was saying "Yay!"
Smiles. Chinette, mis-matched placemats, and missing forks...this is how it looks when you host a holiday meal the week you move into your new home. AbbySue & Zibby were more than excited to open this gift (Fairy Village) from Grampa & Nana...(mommy loves to play with it too.) Signs of life in the mudroom. Christmas service at Mission Mill. Our Big Tree & Ben just before going way out on a limb...literally. Three chilly Kookies after hunting for our Christmas tree with flashlights and a farm dog named Sadie.
I have to remember...
Zibby in her red pea coat and sparkly shoes ready to see The Nutcracker with family friends,
Three little Kookies on Christmas Eve gobbling up Nana's Hungarian Paprikash and nodding off at midnight mass,
A virtual home tour guided by Aaron for Lorn, Dory, Audrey, & Barrett via skype,
A car full of smiles and carols on our way to see the lights at the PIR (portland international raceway),
A new nickname for Ben....(Buckie!...thanks to Eddie-Wynn),
A new pet for AbbySue our future Vet. (Winter~the hamster),
and fresh eggs from two very friendly chickens known as Star & Penny.
You know that part in Peanuts when Charlie Brown throws his hands up in the air and shouts..."Can't anyone tell me what Christmas is all about!?" and Linus answers by reciting Luke chapter 2..."and this shall be a sign unto you, you will find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn."
This has been an exhausting week. We moved in last Monday...hunted for a Christmas tree with flashlights just a few days before Christmas, unpacked, decorated, painted, cooked, and hosted Christmas dinner. So, imagine with me the joy that filled my soul when I came across this cuddled up in our tree....
"And that's what Christmas really means Charlie Brown."
Always Joyful AbbySue Always Dancing Zibby Always Thinking Benjamin
We are coming to the end of our month long stay-cation at Papa & Grandma's house. It has been a joyful end to an almost two year long journey of faith for our family. There have been a number of highs and lows along the way. Memories we've made are stored away and preserved like a jar of Mamo's strawberry jam....waiting to be opened and savored in time.
Literally up the hill, Home awaits. The Old House sits quiet. Those empty rooms will burst with life in just days. We will fill it to the rim with the sounds and songs and words and tears and all the love of Us.
The first of many celebrations will be Christmas.
This is a new chapter in our lives. And one we have been working towards for almost 13 years.
We are beginning to feel the closest to "settled" that we have ever felt on this side of heaven.
The gift of "Almost Home" is just around the corner.
One thing that Aaron and I often missed in Massachusetts was Sally Hermans food. I mean, we missed her and Dan and their beautiful farm and precious family even more, but, Sally is one of those food artisans that puts her soul into everything she makes. She's kind of like the Martha Stewart of the hippie world...even that is an understatement. Because more importantly, Sally serves her guest with warmth and humility. She and Dan work as a team, a well oiled machine, planting, tending, growing, & harvesting beautiful food. That's the only way I can put it...the food they grow and cook into art for your mouth is beautiful. So, when we were invited to the Third Annual Christmas Date Night (we missed last year of course), we jumped at the chance to go. Walking into Dan & Sally's was like another homecoming for us. Old friends smiling, candles flickering, the wood stove humming away, and the tables set with Ma Sally's best of the best. I keep seeing Dan walking around to each of us with a ceramic pitcher full of ice water, always ready to fill our cups. Well, mine was overflowing. These kind of nights astonish me with grace.
It's truly ever-green, because the real ones make Gramma sneeze all December. We had real trees growing up, but now she and Papa enjoy the ease of pre-lit traditions. It didn't matter to the kids at all...they loved digging through the ornaments and finding my old handmade treasures. We also came across Gramma's "Ugly Christmas Sweater Vest", that I decided to cozy up in for the rest of the evening. When Ben & Zibby saw me covered in all those happy sledding penguins, they said, "Oh, mommy, you look so nice!" But AbbySue thought, "Kinda 80's don't you think mom?" Zibby also made wooden bead neck-a-lessess for both Gramma and I...we felt so lovely.
I finally found a wonderful link to a simple family advent. Lighting our candles on Sunday evening has become a treasured tradition. Even this year, it's especially chaotic, but the candles are faithfully lit with joy.
A northwestern fog settles over the rolling hills of December Country. Rows of Noble Fir salute to surrender. The calloused hands of a Christmas tree farmer wrangle and bail the holiday harvest. The rumble of mud covered diesel trucks wind down the mountain roads into Silverton and brim with evergreen cheer. Our Ropers may not often truck through snow, but here in December Country is where Christmas grows.
So we went over to the Old House a few days ago (Zibby & Ben were already in their pj's). It was the first time that the kids had been inside. The house is (almost) empty. Dust bunnies have taken over the place, well, in fact they may be more like dust lions at this point. Aaron and I didn't remember it being covered in so much wallpaper. Imagine with me...it's 1992, Mary Engelbreit ruled the decorating world. Everyone and their mother loved cows, geese, chickens, hearts, and that ever so lovely hue of Perfectly Peach. In the kitchen we have our very own pizza booth, complete with more wallpaper covered in the names of Grandma's favorite flowers...zinnia, pansy,...Aaron just looks at it and says, "Painful." The stairs leading up to the Anne Frank Attic (what the kids call it) have been lovingly stenciled with trailing ivy vines. The whole of it is like stepping back into the past century of decorating trends. Now, not all of it is bad. In fact, the bones of it are beautiful. Truth be told, we have a lot of work ahead of us. Aaron tackled it head on this week. He let the kids pick out their own bedroom colors and set to work on it. Ben picked out an awesome green called, Dinosaur. Zibby did not surprise us by picking out a pink known as, Rose Hips. And AbbySue, our bohemian girl, settled on a turquoise called, Flying Kite. It's funny to me, the kids really don't notice the dirt or the bad decorating. They just see one endless indoor game of hide-n-seek. The haven't found the Wardrobe yet...but it would surprise me if this place doesn't have a secret door that opens to some unknown world.
It's not easy living in transition at Christmastime. All of our ornaments and decorations are being stored in San Francisco until we can move into The Old House. I miss going through the boxes and remembering. Because that's what we love the most isn't it? Hanging all of those memories on a tree covered in starry lights. But, we have made the most of it here at Papa & Gramma's house. We made sure to pack up all of our stockings, advent candles, and favorite Christmas storybooks before the move. We walked down to the Silverton Tree Lighting,and sipped hot cocoa with old friends. We have enjoyed helping Gramma deck the halls. This is a different kind of Christmas, but the more I think on it, the more it reminds me of the First Christmas. Talk about transition! Traveling by way of donkey to an overcrowded town, nine months plus pregnant. Then, the stress of finding that every hotel is booked. Not to mention the anxiety of being offered a barn to give birth in? That first Christmas was anything but perfectly decorated...then again wasn't it? Isn't Jesus the only perfect thing about Christmas? Somehow my lack of Christmas boxes has helped me to see Him clearer this season. And I will remember that He was the greatest gift that hung on a tree.