Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Goodness of Others

This Christmas is different than any before.

Barry is a union carpenter. That means he gets paid the same union wage and benefits regardless of the construction company for which he works. He refers to some of his coworkers as "company guys" because they are able to stay employed with one company through the good and bad. Others switch between companies because they lose their jobs at the completion of a project and move along to where ever work is available. Try as he might, Barry has not really become a "company guy." As a result, when the work at his job site slows down and the company's new projects have not yet begun, Barry gets laid off.

This year Barry was laid off on November 7th.

Three days later our bishop approached Barry to inform us that an anonymous group wanted to adopt our family for Christmas. The bishop needed to know if we would accept their generosity.

I don't know how or why, but a local medical group reached out to our bishop to ask if anyone in our congregation could use help this holiday. Bishop prayerfully considered and felt strongly that he should submit our family's name. The group's spokesman also carefully pondered and agreed that we were to be the recipients of their generous goodness. All of this happened before Barry was laid off.

At first, we didn't want to accept. How could we, when we know so many families who are more in need than ours?!? We're certainly not rich, but we get by well enough. We have food and money in reserve because we know that these lulls between jobs happen unexpectedly. However, the bishop felt that this was all inspired by the Lord, so we trusted him and agreed.

The first gift showed up several weeks ago. I asked for a holiday door mat and it was given to me. I love it.

The remaining gifts were delivered by our bishop on December 21st. He brought three large boxes full of presents. Barry and I were overwhelmed. On December 23rd the bishop called to say that one more box of gifts had arrived, so he brought that over as well. Barry and I were overwhelmed some more.

Tonight, Christmas Eve, I sorted through all of the gifts and placed them beneath our Christmas tree. I started crying. I can tell that everything I wrote on our little wish list was given to us, and then some. The kids don't need all of this! They would have been happy with a few presents, but they will be excited to see so many! Knowing that people went above and beyond for my family, (Who they don't even know!) touches my heart very deeply. It's a good thing I have lots of tissues.

We could have had a fine Christmas on our own, but it would have involved fewer gifts and more stress. I would have worried about money and our savings account the whole time.  Barry was out of work for over a month and the job he has now may last only a week. I'm glad I didn't spend the past month biting at my fingernails and cursing the holidays.

Christmas is about Christ and about the gift of the Atonement that he gave to all mankind. Christmas is a time to give and love freely, as Christ did through his life. Christmas is a time to celebrate our blessings in this life and our blessings to come in the next. I love Christmas and I love that my precious family has been so richly blessed this year by others who embrace the true meaning of Christmas.

Thank you, Bishop, for listening to the Spirit and for encouraging us to accept this kindness. And thank you, Santa's anonymous helpers, for giving so generously to my little family and for blessing me with the knowledge that My Heavenly Father knows our needs and loves us. 

Merry Christmas, Everyone!!!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

I Love My Wood Burning Stove

I feel like every blog post I write could be titled, "How Is It (insert month here) Already?!?!?" Seriously. Where is the time going? How is 2013 nearly over?
Jump! Jump! (Thanksgiving)
The fact remains that it is now December. It is cold this week. I am very grateful for the memory foam topper that I bought for our bed several months ago. It makes my ridiculous Sleep Number Bed (DON'T buy one of those!) so much more comfortable and cozy on cold nights. I also love our wood burning stove and Barry's uncanny ability to acquire free fire wood. *When I first moved from Ohio to California I thought I was so much tougher than California kids because I wore shorts every day for a year. Clearly, I have acclimated.*

In his great-great grandpa's chair.
Liam is 16 months old. He is getting so big. He has amazing conversations with me and I can almost understand what he is saying. I can't wait until he switches over to English. He has several words that he uses consistently, and he definitely gets his point across with Baby Babble, hand gestures, and crying, but I'm still really looking forward to actual talking! In the past month, Sir Liam has gained his first molar tooth and is working on his second. He continues to eat like a Hobbit and therefore seems to weigh a ton. He has started climbing onto furniture. He's too short to climb onto the couch on his own, so he frequently dumps the contents of a toy box all over the floor, carries the empty container to the couch, and uses it as his personal step stool. Sometimes I find him standing on top of the cats' scratching post at the foot of Emma's bed. It's a good thing he's so cute, because he's going to give me a lot of gray hairs.
Liam & his great-uncle in matching outfits!
Emma is stoked for Christmas time. She helped me set up the tree and other decorations the Saturday after Thanksgiving. She is quite bummed that I am not going to actually decorate the tree this year. (I don't feel like decorating only the top half, and I don't want to keep an eye on Liam and my ornaments every second of the day.) Her evil arthritis is still quiet, and her weekly shots of Enbrel are going amazingly well. Emma is great with other kids and loves making friends. It's so cute to see her holding hands and attempting to guide her younger friends around. Check out my friend's blog to see some photographic proof of this cuteness at the zoo. I love that Em has the sass to tell the rambunctious boys in nursery "No!" when they misbehave. Bossy girl, just like her mama.

Barry & I are crazy as usual. He was laid off about a month ago, which is not unusual between construction jobs, but still annoying. The good news is he has been very busy working for friends (and strangers that he meets in hardware stores - I'm not joking.) who have fix-it projects at their houses. I'm doing well, just busy chasing kids around, going to Zumba twice a week, working once or twice a week, and running my household like a well-oiled machine. We're rechecking my blood work at the end of the month and I'm interested to see if my thyroid function has dropped further because I have really been lacking energy lately. I'm currently on a low dose of levothyroxine (replacing my thyroid hormone) but I don't think it's doing much. Oh well. Everyone has their challenges in life.

Happy Almost Christmas everyone! I hope you enjoy this fabulous time of year. I'm looking forward to some trips around town to look at lights, our annual visit to Deacon Dave's, and an evening enjoying the lights and music at the Oakland Temple!