Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Decade's Musings

Ten years ago today I became a married woman. At the tender age of 18, when most of my peers were just finishing high school and beginning college, I took that watershed step across the threshold of childhood into full-fledged adulthood. After a whirlwind romance, which compressed dating, engagement, and wedding into a breathless 6 months, Trey and I pledged ourselves to one another in the sight of God and our dearest family and friends December 30, 1999. While the rest of the world anticipated Y2K (remember that?), this love-struck couple threw caution to the wind and flew to Hawaii on New Year's Eve for their honeymoon.

As I look back now on where the years have taken us so far, I am amazed at how full and yet how unexpected my life with Trey has been. I smile a little when I think of our wedding vows -- the traditional ones -- for better or worse, richer or poorer, sickness or health. That balmy December day in an entirely different century, two fairly naive lovebirds swore their undying allegiance and devotion to one another with little idea of what the realities of marriage actually would hold. Some wise old married couple must have written those vows, for the years have, indeed, been full of a little of it all. We've experienced loss, disappointment, and failure alongside achievement, acknowledgement, and success. We've watched grandparents, who stood by us on that blessed wedding day, pass from this life into the next. We've suffered the loss of jobs, unborn babies, and the natural drifting of friendships. At the same time we've expanded our family circle with new offspring, siblings-in-law, nieces and nephews. We've had several homes, adopted a country, earned three degrees between the two of us, and met kindred spirits who are now some of our closest friends. Our figures are undoubtedly a little softer. One of us is a wee bit grayer. Hopefully, we are both a trifle wiser. Life, this side of glory, is full of this dialectic. The good with the bad. The ugly with the beautiful. Loss with gain. Tears with laughter. I wonder today where we will be in another decade's time. Who will be with us? What will we be doing?

I sit amazed at the figurative miles traversed thus far in our marriage with overwhelming gratitude that my journey has not been endeavored alone. By my side is my most trusted advisor, closest confidant, and dearest friend.

As we live in transition, all our wedding photos are packed away in storage. I haven't seen them in over three years. The one above, which I've scanned for the blog, is a lone vestige of a pre-digital era. We happened upon it unexpectedly in some of my sister's things a few months back. It was taken on a disposable camera from one of the reception tables, and although not the greatest quality, it is a cheerful reminder of what a joyful occasion our wedding was. Someday, when we are completely unpacked, I will scan in the professional ones and share them with you. In case you were wondering, this is right before we cut the cake, which for the record, we did not feed to each other cake. If you know me well, you know how much I dislike that peculiar tradition.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry and Bright

Merry Christmas from our family to yours.

PS It was a white Christmas, my first ever.













Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Tree Shopping

This is admittedly after the fact, but so things have been lately on the blog. I'm clinging to the old adage "better late than never," rediscovered wisdom for a full-time working mom. We've had our tree up for about 10 days now, and so it seemed appropriate to share the pictures.

This is the Christmas tree farm we went to last year. Unlike last year, however, we left without a tree. They wanted $43 for a 5-6 foot tree, a price tag I just couldn't bring myself to pay when I knew of another place nearby -- less picturesque, but I'm not paying for atmosphere -- selling full-sized trees for $25. In the end we paid a cool $18, which makes me like the tree even more.

Of course, the main reason for trying out this particular tree farm again, was all its trains, from the wooden play one out front to the incredible model one set up inside, which we were told last year takes nearly 3 weeks to assemble.

Our little 5 footer on top of our car.

In front of the finished product. A table top tree was advisable this year given Evie's current milestones and her propensity to eat all things inedible.

And this is what life is like as the youngest of three with two older brothers.

She is already one tough cookie.

Don't be concerned. She loves this. And so do they.

Iphone

My first ever post on my iPhone. Technology is amazing. Now if I could only work this touch screen as well as I can work a keyboard.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

The Littlest Snowman

Meet the littlest snowman. Not made little for lack of available white stuff. Perhaps more so for the size of the admiring audience.

Trey sent me these pictures at work, and they totally brightened my day.

I was particularly impressed with his resourceful use of the available, indigenous materials -- twigs for eyes, nose, mouth, and arms -- and sincerely amused by his use of snow for the hat.




Yes, Davis's hat is a tad too big, and this scene has become all too familiar since the snow arrived.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Let It Snow

And snow it did. Starting Saturday morning around 2am and not finishing until about 8am this morning, we received nearly 2 feet. It is a magical winter wonderland outside. In fact, we've gotten so much snow that the boys have had a hard time even playing in it because it comes up so high on their bodies. Enjoy a taste of our pre-Christmas holiday cheer from whatever balmy -- or at least balmier -- clime you find yourself in.





It is very difficult to capture falling snow on an ordinary camera. This photo should, therefore, give you an idea of just how intense the snow came down -- at one point 3" per hour.

And the beautiful sunshine the next morning.







video

Friday, December 18, 2009

Gaudeamus

video

For those of you who don't remember, this is the song that the Aberdeen graduands process in to. It is a medieval student song from Germany that is sung at every Aberdeen ceremonial. Trey has clearly completely ruined our children. They will never be normal. But I'd be lying if I said I wasn't thoroughly impressed and just a tad proud. Top that, American Idol!

The Latin is:
Gaudeamus igitur
Juvenes dum sumus.
Gaudeamus igitur
Juvenes dum sumus.
Post jucundam juventutem
Post molestam senectutem
Nos habebit humus —
Nos habebit humus.

And the English translation is:
Let us rejoice therefore
While we are young.
After a pleasant youth
After a troubling old age
The earth will have us.

Ever the uplifting jingle.

Raking

Thought I should post this before we, and the 50 million other people in the northeast, get slammed by our first winter storm. Is it a white Christmas if the snow on the ground is leftover from a previous storm? It may have to in my book. Still holding out hope for my first official white Christmas.

The boys had a blast helping Papa rake leaves this autumn. Well, saying they "helped" may be stretching it a tad. They did mostly what kids do in the leaves -- play.

There is nothing better than a leaf fight.

Only downside...when the leaves get in your mouth. Yuck.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Flying Solo


As I type this blog I am 41,000 feet in the air. Bless the person who invented in-flight WiFi. This is my very first flight sans children since I've been...well...sans children, and that would be nearly 5 years. I had a business trip to Atlanta, a quick one-day turnaround. I had to wake at a most ungodly hour (4am) for a flight that was far too early (6:07am). But that aside, it's been a productive and satisfying day, and I even learned a few random things along the way.

For example:

- A billboard for Accenture featuring a certain disgraced golfer peering into a stream, loudly proclaiming "It's What You Do Next That Counts" is funny...and sad at the same time. If that's not irony, I don't know what is. Incidentally, Accenture has dropped said golfer, but vestiges of his former glory still linger in odd places, like along the train platfrom in the Atlanta Airport.

- It is, indeed, easier to fly solo, but it is far, far lonelier.

Every small child or baby I saw along my journey elicited a smile. I miss my kids and can't wait to see them tonight.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Merry Christmas 2009

Christmas 2009

Dear Family and Friends,

I can hardly believe it is time to write our annual Christmas letter again. In fact, for the past few days I have struggled with whether to forgo it this year mired in the busy pace of our new circumstances. But, as Trey reminded me, I would regret it eventually. Just like the blog, reading back through previous years' tales inspires great joy and nostalgia. This year, in keeping with the tremendous changes that met our family, I'm changing up the letter too and will take you through the seasons to get a flavor of what happened in our year.

Immediately following Christmas last year, we took a lovely trip down to Atlanta to visit Trey's family. Always a favorite, seeing the cousins play together now that they're a little older gives us all such pleasure. With Trey's teaching in Dallas behind him, he was able to dive back into his thesis and make the final push for submission. Meanwhile we celebrated Addison's 4th and Davis's 2nd birthdays (within 6 days of each other) and prepared for the expected arrival of #3.

March 9, Genevie decided to make her appearance a gracious 1 week early. She was born at 11:42 am following 4 1/2 hours of easy and relatively pain-free labor. Don't let her petite size fool you (she came out nearly a full 2 lbs. smaller than Addison). This little half-pint packs a punch. She relishes a lusty yell, recently discovering the power of her own vocal cords and has reached the usual baby milestones at breakneck speed -- rolling, sitting, clapping, waving, crawling, standing unassisted, speaking her first words well ahead of schedule. I'm still betting that she walks by New Year's. Her sunny, cheerful disposition wins her friends everywhere she goes, and we have been asked on more than one occasion, "Does she ever cry?" Lest you think we inherited an angel rather than a real child, getting her to sleep through the night has been a trifle elusive. But since about mid-October we've made some headway, and most nights she makes it through. I seem to forget that whenever a new baby enters the family I look back and wonder how we managed without. Our little Evie is such a priceless treasure that I can scarcely remember a time before she had so captivated our hearts. Praise God for His gracious goodness in entrusting her to us.

Spring brought the opportunity for Trey to guest lecture at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, filling in for a colleague and fellow Aberdeen alum. We also enjoyed an eagerly anticipated visit from Nina (Trey's mom), our renewed annual Memorial Day DC trip, and my brother's marriage to Joanna Marsch. The boys were both ring bearers in it and, despite the odds, walked down the aisle, clothed and in their right minds. It was one of the most beautiful ceremonies I've ever attended, and we were delighted to expand the circle to include a new sister-in-law and auntie to the mix.

Summer was a challenging time for our family. I began freelancing for a start-up, but the work proved unstable and ultimately ended abruptly around Labor Day. In addition, unforeseen administrative delays in Trey's thesis review precluded the July graduation we had expected. Then due to illness, we had to cancel a long-awaited trip to San Francisco, but, as is always the case with our loving God, at our lowest point, He was still carrying us. The season ended with Trey's trip back to Aberdeen for his viva, which, by God's grace, he sustained and a jaunt back to Atlanta for some family time.

Autumn brought the promise of better things. After only a month of job searching, I found a wonderful position in center city Philadelphia with another start-up and was hired as their Director of Marketing. It has certainly been a transition for our whole family. Trey has now assumed the role of primary caregiver to the three wee ones while he continues to job search and shop his manuscript for publication. What I have unexpectedly discovered after only two short months with DDC is that I love being back at work, using my gifts and training in new ways. At the end of November Trey and I took the eagerly anticipated journey we've been waiting three years to take. We spent five days back in Aberdeen to celebrate graduation. I can hardly describe the honor it was to witness this monumental event in our lives. As you know, our time in Aberdeen changed us profoundly. We were stretched by the lifestyle sacrifices it takes to live overseas, but our lives were deeply enriched by the sweet fellowship with friends and the lasting memories of lifetime experiences we had there. Then to have the chance to go back for a final farewell and the ceremonial acknowledgement of Trey's enormous commitment, drive, and accomplishment in finishing his PhD -- well, it was a sublime moment. I have never been prouder, and it was the most fitting way I can imagine to conclude the first decade of our life together.

Before I close, I must mention the boys. In the words of Forrest Gump, Addison and Davis are a bit like "peas and carrots." They look different. They taste different. But, boy, they go perfectly together. They are the best of friends (and the worst of enemies at times). They play all day long together and fall asleep side-by-side in their bottom bunk bed at night. In fact, the only time they're ever separated is during Sunday School, and believe me, they often protest that. Davis is amazing. He counts and knows his ABCs. He uses complex sentence with subordinating clauses, and cracks us up by saying things like, "I...Don't...Know!!!" when confronted for doing something questionable. He can scale almost anything, including his top bunk without the aid of a ladder and the built-in bookshelves in his bedroom. He's always been a bookworm, usually absorbed in a corner reading by himself, but these days he loves to curl up next to Mommy or Daddy with what he calls "a whole stack o' books" and will sit mesmerized through volume after volume. Addison has gotten so tall and has lost every vestige of toddlerdom. He is a full-fledged boy finally mastering some of the more challenging skills (for him) like doing the buttons on his shirt and brushing his own teeth. He is very protective of his baby sister and loves to help out around the house with setting the table or emptying the dishwasher. Even more importantly, however, his spiritual formation has really blossomed. His heart is tender towards the things of God, and he expresses faith in Jesus Christ, which every God-fearing parent longs for. His memory for Bible stories and verses thrills us, and just today he informed me that "God doesn't want us to be ungrateful. He wants us to be grateful." Amen!

And from the lips of this little one, let me say that after a year like this, a year which in many ways has felt like five for all the changes and transitions and challenges, I am grateful that our God has walked with us every step of the way. The reality is we all face uncertainty in our future. For you it may be your health or your finances or your relationships. But God, in His loving kindness, sent His son to take away our doubt and uncertainty. We are not called to know the future -- only to rest in His sovereign love. Lord Jesus, give us that child-like faith that only sees your strong hand holding us today.

Wishing you love and good cheer this holiday season.

Becky (for all the Holloways)