For Unto Us…

…a Child has been born. I’m way late on the whole pre-Christmas reflection and even late on Christmas itself. It’s partly being crazy busy and part just wanting to spend my down time doing things that require no brain power. Like playing Plants vs. Zombies.

First off, my baby girl is now a teenager. And no matter how often I say it, I still refuse to accept it. What’s that old adage? “If you ignore something long enough, it’ll go away” – right?? Her birthday was Christmas Eve and she turned 13. Just….wow. I still remember when she was born – how we did our church’s Christmas program over the weekend and everyone thought I’d go into labor right there in the middle of the song. Instead, I was induced 2 days later and went into labor while we listened to my little brother’s Madrigal group sing on WGN radio late at night. It was pretty beautiful. Though not as beautiful as when I finally got my epidural and had a bit of sleep for the first time in 18 hours.

We have a tradition here for Maggie’s birthday. We celebrate in the morning. We get her cake – usually chocolate with chocolate frosting – and we have cake for breakfast. Then she gets her present. This year, she got an aquarium. I got her one that was a little more than she was expecting. I think she just wanted a 10 gallon or so, but I got a lovely 29 gallon kit that’s gorgeous. And I totally surprised her, I think. I got it set up except for the water in my room the night before and hid it under the ridiculous mess we had in there. Then, while she was downstairs getting ready for cake breakfast, I moved it into her room. Then after cake we went up and saw it and she was quite surprised. We finished setting it up and I showed her how to fill it. Got it all running and then took her to see a movie.

Ain’t it purty? I MISSED having fish, y’all. Today we went and she picked out 3 fish to start it out. A baby angelfish, a catfish and a dalmation molly. She’s SOOOO happy. I also got her some live plants, a bubbler decoration. I think she’s really liking it.

Speaking of pets, Steven’s big present this year was to become the proud owner of Tiki, the African spurred tortoise. We were introduced to Tiki when she became the class pet of Maggie’s class. I thought she was adorable (so tiny!!) and, eventually, the mom /PE teacher who brought her asked if I wanted to buy her. Then my cousin, Katie, offered her custom-made vivarium to me that she didn’t need anymore after she got rid of her bearded dragon. The thing is HUGE and it’s so perfect for Tiki. Steven was super surprised. Here’s the vivarium!!

Here’s Tiki:

Isn’t she cute?? Right now she’s smaller than the palm of my hand, but she will eventually grown HUGE. Here’s a great comparison photo. Right now, Tiki’s about the size of the one held on top. She will eventually grow to the larger size. Don’t know what we’ll do with her at that point – we may have to give her a room of her own.

Christmas Eve we went over to my parents to celebrate with my siblings, parents & niece. My brother, Andrew, was in from San Francisco and it was so good to see him. He turned 30 this year (which, yes, freaking me out) and his big news was that he and his business partner, Ben, sold their business,, to Twitter!! Well, actually, Twitter bought their talent (Andrew, Ben and their employees), so they’ll be employees of Twitter for at least the next year. It’s totally amazing for them. Apparently, both Twitter & Facebook were interested, but Twitter had the better offer. The only downside for Andrew is that he won’t be able to go back to L.A. as soon as he wanted to resume his acting career. Their deal requires them to stay and work for at least a year, so he has to postpone the acting yet again.It’s worth it, though, I think. It’s just so hard for him because he has such a divergent personality. Both his creative and his technical sides are so strong, it’s really hard for him to not exercise both of them.

My older brother, his wife and daughter were there as well. I don’t get to see them very much, so it was nice to spend some time with them. What’s especially cool for me is that Tony thinks that Henry is amazing and powerful. I love that my brother thinks my Henry is beyond special. Henry finally got his hands on a book and snuggled up with Aunt Tammi. It was a new book that Maggie got about Disney princess art and as he flipped through, she would say the princess names and he’d repeat them. It was precious. Here’s William sneaking up on Uncle Tony followed by Henry & Aunt Tammi going through the book.

The highlight of Christmas for me had to be sharing the gift I’d made for my aunts, cousins & siblings. Unfortunately, I didn’t get it to the printer in time for them to finish it & ship it back before Christmas. Instead, I printed the pages out and brought them to my parents’ so everyone could see it. I was so pleased to see that this idea I had meant so much to everyone. I’ll try to share a slideshow of it here.

All in all, it was a great Christmas. I found myself getting kind of pissy and having that feeling of disappointment you sometimes get at Christmas, y’know? It wasn’t until later on Christmas Day that I adjusted my attitude and remembered what the whole thing is about after all. I spent some time thanking God for giving us Christmas to begin with. I’ve got a fantastic family, children I’m proud of, more blessings than I deserve. Sure, there’s no such thing as perfect, but I’m so blessed and thankful.

Finally, I wanted to share my favorite picture (so far) I took this weekend. I haven’t looked at all of them yet, but I love this one so much. Maggie worked to make money to buy presents for everyone. For me, she bought a building for my Christmas village. I love it – I love that she thought of it, that she worked to earn it and that she chose something so amazing. I took a picture of it to share here and it turned out more amazing than I planned. I love the feeling of cozy, small-town Christmas it evokes.