Saturday, December 29, 2007

The in-laws have left the building

I love my in-laws. And I'm being serious, not sarcastic. But I also love when they go home! And they left just an hour or so ago after a six day visit. Which felt like a day and a half too long.

Grandpa's constant criticizing teasing of the kids about what foods they don't like to eat.

Grandma's allergic reactions to our dog.

Grandpa's outbursts every time someone in another car did any little thing the he perceived as poor driving.

Grandma's many criticisms questions about our house. (Did you know it would be this color when you painted? Do you really like this carpet? Did you think about putting the couch against that wall?)

They can be fun to be around. We put together puzzles. We played Scattergories and Spinners. We went out to dinner and a movie. But for some reason, everyone seemed to be struggling to be on their best behavior this year.

And now they are on their way home. We have our house back. And almost immediately, all five of us went to different rooms for some peace and tranquility. We've had enough "together" time...and now we just need some quiet time.

So if you call today, we might not answer the phone. We'll be enjoying the quiet.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

That was then...this is now

It is 48 hours since we opened our gifts on Christmas morning. And I'm very aware of how different my Christmas has become.

A few years back, much of Christmas day and the days following would have been filled with assembling toys, helping kids figure out how to use toys, putting stickers and decals on toys, and playing with the kids and their toys.

Now, 48 hours since they opened their gifts, and the only times I've seen the kids have been at meals.

Son20, gleeful over two new games for his Xbox, has barely left his room. I'm sure there is some carpel tunnel stuff going on with that game controller. He has his headphone on, talking with other players around the globe, and barely aware of anything else. Oh sure, he has invited both siblings in to watch and to play. And he even told us how awesome the games were. But other than that, he hasn't been visible.

Son17 got a portable DVD player and some DVD's to watch. Other than checking with us about how to recharge the battery, we haven't talked with him much. For a while he sat in the same room with his headphones on and giggled at The Simpson's Christmas...but eventually we sent him to a different room so we could talk over the laughter.

And a new iPod. She has shown up for meals...with her ear buds firmly in place. Other than that, it is as if she were abducted by aliens.

And don't get me wrong...our kids got other things. Books, clothes, etc. Things they had requested. But the electronic gadgetry was shining so brightly that those other items got lost in the glow.

Do I miss spending time putting together things? Playing with things? Swearing at the things that don't go together easily? Sure. I miss those days. But it sure feels more relaxing this way. And it even means I get to pay attention to my gifts! That never happened when the kids were young!

Friday, December 21, 2007

A greeting of the season

A Blessed Yule and Happy Solstice to all!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

A blanket of serenity

We had our first big snow on Thursday. The forecast said 3-6 inches. We got 13.5. It was beautiful and yet, since I had to get home from work in it, travel back to the airport to get my wife, and then get home safely late that night, it was not a snow that I could enjoy. It just added to the stress of the day.

But last night and today we've had a few more inches of snow and sleet. Church was canceled. My family is all safe at home. And we are able to just sit inside near the fire and enjoy a very relaxing day. The first such day in two weeks.

I was outside early this morning with the dog. A mix of snow and sleet was falling. And it was so peaceful. The world was quiet and a blanket of pristine snow covered everything. I enjoy the beauty. I enjoy the quiet. I enjoy having my family safe at home.

If you have snow or ice today, I hope you can enjoy it!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Deeply felt gratitude

I've gotten so many wonderful comments and e-mails in response to my last posting. I am so thankful for all the kind words of support. My wife finally made it home last night...our little family is all together again...and in spite of sadness that will be with us for a long time, we are looking forward to a nice, quiet holiday season together.

I'll be visiting you very soon...cause I've missed you!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A sad and unplanned absence

Generally I try to write some entertaining stories about my life. Not that my life is always entertaining, but who wants to read about the boring parts!

This particular entry is not fun.

Some of you have written and asked where I've been. I've been taking a break from the blog and from many aspects of my life the last 10 days or so...and not for a good reason. My 16-year-old niece died ten days ago. She was the youngest child of my wife's only sister.

She was injured in a sledding accident. She was transported by lifestar to a trauma center where all efforts were made to help her. But she never regained consciousness. And she passed away in the early hours of Sunday, December 2.

There is nothing that can prepare us for losing a young person in such a sudden and tragic way. I've gone through feelings of profound sadness, shock, anger, and total exhaustion - mentally, physically, and emotionally.

My sister-in-law lives just outside Salt Lake City. So we gathered our kids and flew there to be with them. We were there for the formal events surrounding her death - the viewing and the funeral. Our two sons and I were asked to be pall bearers. It was a very sad task, but also a real honor to help lay her to rest. It seems just doing something was helpful to us.

And that was true for the extra days we were there. The time to just be with extended family was nurturing. But there was always that sense of just wanting to do something...wanting to find some way to be helpful. Cooking. Shopping. Anything that could be done just to keep our hands and minds a bit distracted helped us through the days and nights.

My wife is still in Salt Lake with her sister so that she can help as they begin to sort through my niece's things.

I'm back at work. The kids are back at school. And we are slowly returning to the normal aspects of our lives. And there is much comfort in just fitting in to those things again. And that includes writing in my corner. I'm glad to be back.

For my niece's family, the road back to "normal" will be very long and difficult. My love and prayers go out to them.

Kristy was a wonderful young woman. We loved her very much. And she will be missed.