Mark’s dad and step-mom gifted us with a week at a lakeside condo in East Texas with an indoor waterpark.  Winter coats? Check. Warm clothing and PJs? Check. Christmas presents? Check. Swimsuits, goggles, and purple lips? You better believe it. It was freezing and entirely worth it. Mostly, the adults rotated swimming duty and the monitoring for signs of hypothermia, while the kids exhausted themselves with water buckets, spray hoses, wave pools, water slides, and a lazy river. And thanks to Kristen & Tim, I have some pics to show!

That’s right folks: I’m back. I can hardly believe SIX MONTHS have past since I’ve last posted. Older, wiser parents regularly state, “it all goes by so fast.” I nod at them out of habit, as my Charlie Brown-like huddle of children (complete with Blythe’s blankie dragging on the floor behind her) run by me squealing, laughing, fighting, needing — I turn and think, really? But now I know. As I look at the masthead with its new spring blooms, since fully flourished and now withering under the unbearable Texas heat, I know: Life really is a vapor. But I’ve still found myself paralyzed by where to begin, sauntering by the computer every now and again, staring, only to walk away again — too much to say, too little time.  But this morning, as the kids and I were reading about ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics (far less complex than it sounds) and learning about the painstaking process of carving out stone for the sake of written word or record, we discussed some of the reasons we each value writing, and I thought, “Write! These days are worth remembering!” I don’t suppose I’ll ever forget having to wash 8 loads of laundry in a day or the inevitability of lost shoes the minute you need to walk out the door — 20 minutes later than intended — but our little family has experienced too many important things in the last six months that, sadly, will soon be lost to the oblivion referred to as Past. I feel compelled to write, to remember. I also shamefully plummeted my camera from the kitchen counter to its death on the floor this summer, and since I have a very basic cell phone sans camera — one friend recently exclaimed, “oh! that phone is real? I thought it was a toy.” I have no backup. Prepare yourself for diminishing photos for a while. Sad, I know.

Here’s a post I wrote our first warmish day at the end of February (and for some reason, never posted). It’s funny to see the kids’ pale Winter skin, now covered with Summer.

Mark and I almost moved to Scotland several years ago. We visited Glasgow in 2002 sometime in the middle of March, immediately greeted with heavy-laden clouds, cold rain, and lush, gorgeous countryside. The sun came out the next day. And the next day. And the next — an anomaly by Scottish standards. As Mark and I walked the cobblestone streets dressed in our winter gear (as it was still in the 40s) relishing the antiquity and beauty of this city, we noticed several people around us embracing the sun in tank tops, skirts, or shorts. What?! These brave souls scoffed at the cold winter air, inviting spring regardless of the temperature.

Our winter this year has felt similar:  dreary, wet, cold. So last month, when the sun revealed itself for the first time in several weeks (it’s an anomaly by Texas standards to go that long without the sun), I watched as my kids stripped off their clothes, put on their bathing suits, filled up the mud pit that they created in the backyard, and scoffed at Winter as they danced like children of the sun. Welcome, Spring.

This same week, three sweet girls from Uganda (traveling with the Mwangaza children’s choir) came to stay with us. For several days we played, ate, sang, and danced with them, learning about their life in Africa and witnessing the bravery of these young girls, who left their families for a year to travel and testify to Jesus through song and dance. In spite of Olive’s first ear infection and Burke’s funny, but awkward, argument with us that we had mistaken and they (the girls) were in fact boys (due to their haircuts), we loved sharing our lives temporarily with Deborah, Rebekah, and Lanette. Due to the frantic nature of their stay and our life, I only have a couple of pictures.

We don’t get much snow here in central Texas; endless, hot summer days infested by mosquitos seem to be more our thing. So when giant, icy cotton balls fall from the sky, here, it is magical. That day was today. Our very own snowy day. And just like Peter (from the book), the kids crunched away, looking for footprints (or “animal tracks”), knocking at snow with sticks, and even having their own snowball fight. Even little Olive banged her chubby little hands on the door to get outside. The kids only lasted about an hour before their non-waterproofed winter-wear wore off, and they were forced to retreat inside with frozen toes and fingers. Still, they loved it.

 

 

christmas pleasantchristmas crazy

Christmas quotes:

“This is SO amazing!” -Liam

“This is totally awesome!” -Burke

“Happy Christmas-House!” -Blythe

I really love the Christmas season: pageants and ballets, music and lights, Christmas trees, hot chocolate (or peppermint mocha’s), white elephants, parties, friends and family, and of course for the Douglass family, a little thing called Christmas break (we have earned it this year!). So, I’m sure that I’ll have a bunch of pics to share over the next weeks, hence the reason this is part one.

The boys and I built a gingerbread house the other night. It was delicious — equal parts creating and eating. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of the actual event due to the mass amounts of powdered sugar and icing on myself and the boys. But, below is a picture I took as I caught Burke sneaking candies off of our humble gingerbread home. 

caughtcaught red-handed

This is also the first year that we took the kids to see Santa. Up until now, it just seemed like an exhausting feat for something they probably wouldn’t  remember. So, Mark and I decided to take them to a park here in town that has the lights, hayrides, Santa, shows, treats and drinks…for free. We bundled up (because it was near freezing) and waited outside in the line to see Santa. While we were in line, there was this deceptively big puddle near us (half on concrete, half in the grass). Liam walked toward it and without hesitation tried to jump over it. “Tried” being the key word — he missed and slipped onto his back intothe puddle. Everyone around us: “ooohh….” Liam was obviously embarrassed and starts crying. Mark took him inside to get hot chocolate and when he returned, he still chose to wait in the line to see Santa (now with wet pants and pj pants underneath). What a trooper.

 Santa’s mug shot  

 liam and burke with santa