Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!


This was an exciting year in the Call household. Brady began his first year of school as he entered Kindergarten at Glen Cove Elementary. He was so excited to go and make new friends and ride the bus! There were a few tears from Mom and Dad, but Brady just ran away to catch that bus just as happy as he could be! Also this fall, Maryn started her first year of preschool at Community School where Mom and Dad were once again concerned about her shyness and fear of strangers. But she proved our fears unfounded as she seemed to fit right in there. Her favorite things are talking to her teacher, Katlyn, playing with her friends Ethan & Jupiter, swinging herself on the swings, and helping her classmates open their lunch containers. (Her teacher says the other kids create a line in front of Maryn every day, waiting for her to open their food so they can eat).  She has surprised us with her independence and outgoing nature at school.


When the counseling company John had worked at for over 3 years closed suddenly, he was quickly hired on part time with Youth Advocate Programs, where he continued to counsel and work with families. But his primary job now is running his eBay business where he specializes in selling rare U.S. coins! (Yes, he’s in nerd heaven.)

Jenny also changed jobs this year when she resigned from HopeTree Family Services (after 8 years) and began as Interim Chaplain at Hollins University! Now, instead of working with pre-teens and high school students, she works with college students in a similar capacity. Needless to say, she is finding the change to be a breath of fresh air, and she has captured a renewed spirit.


After many years of waiting, our family decided it was time to take a substantial vacation together; one that we knew the kids would certainly never forget. We took a Disney Cruise to the Bahamas, and it was AMAZING! Maryn really came out of her shell, talking excitedly to our waiters and all the staff, and bouncing around with a big grin on her face the entire time. Brady loved it all too; especially eating gourmet mac n’ cheese for every meal. While it was fun to watch the kids bursting with such excitement, John and Jenny also got a much needed break, thanks to the Kids Club who provided constant entertainment of the kids.  It was an amazing vacation and one we hope to do again in a couple of years.

Our family wishes you a Merry Christmas and
many blessings in the New Year!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Chri$tmas is coming

I've been reflecting a lot on the Christmas season.  Not all of my new friends are Christian, and I've been sensitive already about thinking that this season is just for those of us who worship Christ.  The holy-days are sacred to us in many ways...a time of rest, a time to focus on peace, a time for family.  Our worship will take different forms, and that is a gift.  I want to be more intentional in the forms that my worship takes.  Am I worshipping the culture's ideal of consumerism?  Am I turning Jesus' birthday into an event that alienates others?  There have been many articles posted lately that I have agreed with:

But with two young kids at home, one of which took a preschool field trip to visit Santa Claus, I have a lot to struggle with.  I understand the need to limit my own consumerism, the benefits of buying locally, and the necessity of buying well made imaginative toys instead of cheap (and often toxic) foreign made plastic (crap). 

This was the result this year:

It's an EPIC FAIL to my standards, yet my kids will be delighted.  I rationalize that it is not all from us; we have a $100 spending limit for both kids total, which is one gift for each, and some books and stocking stuffers.  The rest is from the grandparents, who ask us to purchase on their behalf.   This year, I was "too busy" to think, and it was much easier to shop.  The kids will get their wish, and we can rest easy.  I have to say that it was a joy seeing Brady unwrap his first gift at a family event this weekend and jump up and down, shouting, "Yes!  This is just what I wanted!!"  On the other hand, my proudest moments this season were when Brady asked, "If it's Jesus' birthday, why do we get presents?" and his joy and excitement of wrapping up his new gift he received at church to give to his daddy.  They have been enjoying our new Jesse tree and devotional tradition and have been playing "Baby Jesus", both acting out the story in real life and with our nativity set.  We chose not to visit Santa today (especially after Brady saw him at school on Friday and told him that he wanted a basketball, of all to us) and instead spent a quiet family day at home.  We will spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day celebrating at church services.

And yet, I feel I have a long way to go.  I've grown weary of strangers (and family members) asking the kids if they've been good and wondering what Santa will bring them.  Although I also use Santa as a tool, and we threaten to call him daily unless behavior improves.  I'm frustrated by commercials geared to my young ones...and the ones that I buy into as well (how much joy would an iPad 2 bring me?)  As a friend commented on Facebook, I too, struggle with the competing desires to live a simple, but meaningful life, yet also wanting all the fancy goods that are advertised.

It's not easy, but worthwhile ideals never are.  I want my kids to be excited about the REAL Christmas story...which means I must be, too.  I want to be prepared for Christmas, which is more about the state of my heart than the state of presents under the tree.  I want to focus on giving, so I need to be better of giving of myself, my resources, my time...and to not do it grudgingly.  My goal for next year is to focus on the gift of giving to others with the kids by having them shop for those in need (other than our usual shoebox gifts) and to buy presents for each other (because I know that they truly enjoy this when we give them the opportunity).  I want to be a better example for my children, so I must start now.  Advent is a time of waiting, of expecting, of light coming from darkness.  What a wonderful gift, one that I can receive and learn to give.

Be still...

There is quiet.  No laughter in the office, and no students coming through the door.  The sun is setting and all is still.  This is a rarity on a bustling college campus.  It it the beginning of Christmas break.  The pace around here has gone from 70mph to 25.  I have a hard time figuring out how I should spend my newly found "free" time, a gift I've been praying for over the past 3 months.  I have a stack of books I've been waiting to read, and a January class that I desperately need to put the finishing touches on.  There are holiday preparations and craft projects to finish.  But for now, I relish the quiet, the calm.

These past few months have been a whirlwind; exhilarating, connecting, creative, busy, and affirming.  They have also been exhausting and draining, but not in the ways that in my former position led to burnout.  I feel settled here, at home, and actually eagerly anticipate the challenges the next semester will bring.  But for now, I rest.  "Be still, and know I am God".  I hear the voice, and I submit.

Friday, December 16, 2011


I've enjoyed Pinterest for some time as a nice diversion (i.e. time waster).  For years, I've collected files and magazine cutouts of craft projects I'd like to do "when I have time" , and I thought Pinterest would be a way to inspire creativity without so much clutter.  I've surprised myself, however, by completing some projects and wanted to share them in the hopes of motivating me to continue.

Easter egg cake pops for my daughter's 3rd birthday party (to go along with our Easter egg hunt).

Mini cupcake cake bites for a friend's baby shower.

A tree of Thanksgiving (which morphed into a Jesse tree for Christmas).

Origami cranes and stars.

painted and decoupaged ornaments

decoupaged candleholders

my Christmas gifts: dry erase tile coasters