My sweet Hummus Girl had her preschool Christmas program a few nights ago. Standard fare, but it was a joy to watch her earnest little face and hear the songs she's been practicing for weeks now in her clear, lovely, perfectly-in-tune voice. The girls next to her were a bit distracted throughout--I could see one mom in the audience glaring--so I was proud of HG's ability to focus. We are so thankful that she adores preschool and her teacher. It was just the solution we needed to bring some relief as we adjusted to a new family member.
Shu continues to make progress in the area of communication, a breakthrough we are praising God for. He was evaluated by a speech therapist last week, and I assume he will begin receiving speech therapy after the new year. He now signs "more" and "all done" in the appropriate contexts, and today let me teach him "open." It took six months to get him to sign "more"...we strongly suspect refusal rather than inability...and we wonder now if the floodgates of language will begin to open. He can point to his nose and mouth when asked, and seems to understand the majority of what we say. Now that he can ask for more, he does so all day long, even after he's just eaten. I want to make sure I reward his efforts while not letting him stuff himself. It's been tricky to navigate the food anxieties, but we see them gradually subsiding, and Shu's new openness to communication will help tremendously. We look forward to decreased frustration, his and ours, and increased enjoyment of our relationship!
Princess Firecracker is getting sweeter, cuddlier, and more verbal--hilariously so--by the day, though her nickname is still plenty apt. Last night she tripped, fell onto the edge of her toddler bed, and split open her eyebrow. Her older brother has cut open his forehead twice, so we are somewhat unfazed at this point. I have to say, I think she cried less than he did. She's a tough one. We decided it didn't require a trip to urgent care.
The Absent Minded Professor continues to thrive as a home schooler, despite the pervading chaos in our house. He turned seven two months ago, and is handily doing 5th grade math with all the requisite complaints and groans. It's just like when I taught high school math, except without the paycheck. And now I can threaten him with no computer time. Works like a charm. He's a great big brother, and I really enjoy spending my days with him.
Doctor Husband continues to be loving, funny, supportive, and my best friend. He got a bit of a promotion this year at work, and published his first article, as "lead author," in a nursing research journal. If you work in academia, a publication record can be key for continued success. So I'm very proud of his hard work.
Here's our attempt at a Christmas photo of the kids, requested by my mom. Shu protested vehemently, to put it mildly, so you can just imagine his cute, smiling Chinese face to the left. Perhaps we'll try once more in the coming days.
And that kind of sums it up, doesn't it? Trying for picture perfect often ends in disappointment. We're learning to manage our expectations in this season and to focus in on the true essentials. I can't say we've been extra-ordinarily-spiritual this Christmas. We get six days behind on our nativity calendar before we remember to catch up. Scripture reading or family sing-alongs are often fraught with interruptions. Shu cannot make it through a church service, nor is he ready to attend the nursery. That said, our kids know exactly what Christmas is about, know that our first instinct upon losing the brackets for the bathroom mirror or coming down with a sore throat is to talk to God about it, and know that nothing in this life matters more than loving Jesus, worshiping Jesus, knowing Jesus. At Christmas, and every other day. So we're not doing crafts this year, not baking beautiful sprinkle-topped cookies, not hiding elves, not even filling shoeboxes for kids in need...not leaving the house much, really...'cause the truth is many of our days just feel like survival. But we are building. We are creating. We are teaching. We are giving. We are showing our children how to love, even when it's hard work, and we are living our ordinary, imperfect, desperateforJesusandneedhismercyeverysinglesecond lives in front of them. Every day. We can always bring out the glitter and sprinkles next year.
It will be a lovely holiday. I'm excited for my family to see what I picked out for them. Happy for Shu to experience his first Christmas, even though he won't understand. (Why is there a tree in our house, mama? and why is it so dang cold?) Looking forward to extra time with my husband and his family. And above all, thankful that God came near in such a humbling, unexpected way. I leave you with a literal translation (from the French) of one of my favorite carols, O Holy Night. I rather prefer these words:
- Midnight, Christians, it is the solemn hour,
- When God-man descended to us
- To erase the stain of original sin
- And to end the wrath of His Father.
- The entire world thrills with hope
- On this night that gives it a Savior.
- People kneel down, wait for your deliverance.
- Christmas, Christmas, here is the Redeemer,
- Christmas, Christmas, here is the Redeemer!
- The Redeemer has overcome every obstacle:
- The Earth is free, and Heaven is open.
- He sees a brother where there was only a slave,
- Love unites those that iron had chained.
- Who will tell Him of our gratitude,
- For all of us He is born, He suffers and dies.
- People stand up! Sing of your deliverance,
- Christmas, Christmas, sing of the Redeemer,
- Christmas, Christmas, sing of the Redeemer!