Greetings and Happy New Year to all!
This year, I read a book about unplugging the Christmas machine. It inspired me to scale down and slow down. We did a bit less and I think we enjoyed things a bit more. We celebrated Advent with a wreath and candles this year, as well as the traditional Advent calendars. Sam went on a binge one night about mid-December (unsupervised) and ate all his remaining advent calendar chocolates. Alle took the opposite approach and saved them up for days. Two different approaches to life.
We celebrated the halfway point of the school year with a little "Awards Dinner" for the kids. Alle got prizes for honesty and truth telling, becoming a super reader, and overcoming stage fright (joined her class in the school Christmas program this year). Sam earned his seatbelt award (he buckles and unbuckles independently), as well as awards for awesome dancing and unbridled enthusiasm for life.
Other holiday stuff- we tried baking new cookies - Dutch spice cookies (speculaasjes or windmill cookies) and my new favorite, Nigerian sesame seed cookies. We made a lemon raspberry birthday cake for Jesus too.
We had a wonderful Christmas - in fact, we had two. We opened gifts at home and then flew to Little Rock to spend a week with Bryan's side of the family. It was wonderful to reconnect with them and they were very gracious hosts, especially when our plane was delayed and we ended up staying 3 days longer than planned. We sure soaked up the sunshine and warm weather. I enjoyed bird (and squirrel) watching, especially the cardinals, downy woodpeckers and others we don't see in Utah. I even saw my first great blue heron while running on a wooded trail by a stream near the house. I love Utah, but I have to admit I could handle Arkansas winters!
I've been listening to a series of essays called "This I Believe" on NPR - the idea is to summarize your core beliefs in a few hundred words. The series includes a number of essays by famous Americans from the 1950s, when the concept was first introduced and the essays read on the radio. (Examples: Helen Keller, Eleanor Roosevelt, Jackie Robinson, etc.) There are also essays written by ordinary people in the present day.
I have yet to write my essay, but here are a few things I believe in:
Last but not least, I believe in reading good books. My pick of the month is called Sabbath by Wayne Muller. This is one of those treasures you have to read slowly and savor. There's a lot of wisdom behind the concept of a set-apart time for rest. May you all experience the joy of finding the right rhythm between work and rest in 2012.