Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Gift of the Magi


I can't believe I don't have this story written anywhere because I feel like I have told it thousands of times.  
But last night as I was retelling it for the umpteenth time to my oldest son, I realized it needed to be written.  
Because it is my favorite. 
It's a little like "The Gift of the Magi." 
Well not really, but kinda because it is about a couple's first Christmas, who are desperately in love, a budget of $120.00, and searching for the perfect gift.

The year was 1990 and we were poor college students. But true to Tom's nature he loved all things fashion and he had his eye on a pair of Cole Haan leather loafers.
He wanted them so bad....so the budget of $120.00 was decided.  No coincidence that this is the exact amount of the coveted loafers.
Now this should of been a no brainer because my love had not kept his wish a secret.
All I needed was to walk into Nordstrom and get the shoes.  I have a tendency to make all things complicated...always.
So I was no different as a 21 year old newlywed.

I wanted the perfect gift.
Were shoes the perfect gift I wondered?
Wouldn't it be better to have a sentimental gift?
A gift we would treasure forever and even start a tradition? 

So my search began and after searching high and low and hours of deliberation, I ended up with
the perfect gift.

A Santa Steinbach Nutcracker.

Of course that was it.
We would collect them and every year we would give each other one and we would have them all together and we would look at them and they would represent all our Christmas's together and how long we had been in love and we would smile and stare at them and hold hands...this was definitely the perfect gift.

No doubt...
and a hard earned $120.00 later, all I had to do was wait until I saw my love's face on Christmas morning when he opened up this amazing gift.
He would be soooo happy and it would be because of me and our amazing nutcracker.

Christmas morning finally arrived.
Tom was giddy realizing there was a neatly wrapped box under the tree, which happened to be the exact dimensions of a shoe box. 

With our two presents under the tree, Christmas was in full swing. Tom unwrapped the long awaited present and stared at his gift.  Written all over his face as plain as if he was speaking, were the words,
"What is this thing in my shoe box?"
When he gingerly took it out, I have never seen such disappointment on someone's face.  He was a five year old boy all over again and it was the worst Christmas ever.
I was horrified.
I tried to tell him how great it was and how we were going to collect them and how it would show all of our love in one present but he just confusedly asked, 

"Did you spend all of the money on this? This nutcracker was $120.00?" 
I had to answer yes and my heart broke. 
It was the worst present ever in the history of presents.

Fast forward 24 Christmas's later it was the perfect gift. 
And no we didn't collect them because one  bad gift was plenty and plus  it also took the Santa nutcracker several years to become sentimental.
But that nutcracker represents Christmas to us. 
It absolutely represents our love and yes when we see it on the mantle it still makes us smile. 
We tell that story over and over about our first Christmas and we laugh hard about Toms utter disappointment. 

And in the end 

It will always be my favorite story about my favorite person and the perfect gift....


Some shots around the house for Christmas 2014
















Thursday, December 11, 2014

Pure Joy


joy
noun
  1. 1.
    a feeling of great pleasure and happiness.
    "tears of joy"
    synonyms:delight, great pleasure, joyfulness, jubilationtriumphexultation,rejoicinghappiness,gladness,glee,exhilaration,  exuberance,elation, euphoria, bliss, ecstasy, rapture

    I have found that in life few things meet or exceed expectations.  
    When I was younger I found myself getting disappointed if things were not as I imagined them to be in my mind.
    Maybe it was my kiddos birthdays, Christmas or really any holiday, or something like baking a silly batch of cookies with my daughter.  I just naturally get soooo excited about things that I would imagine and dream about them and how they would go down. On more than several occasions I would find myself discouraged when the occasion suddenly was tampered with kids fighting or some other kink that was just something other than the perfection I had built up in my brain. 

    There are big advantages to getting older and they are certainly not the wrinkles that are appearing on my face. 
    It is the truths we learn along the way. 

    There are very few perfect moments if your definition is truly based on perfection.  

    You just enjoy the "now" for the truth and beauty that it is...fighting kids and all.  If you wait for the perfect birthdays or the perfect Christmas or perfect anything you will be sorely disappointed in the amazing life laid out before you.
    My dad has said on several occasions look at your life like a play on stage.  It helps to illuminate how you think  moments should be.
    Of course I still have to remind myself of this because all of us struggle with the expectations that we put on ourselves and our lives....but it is soooo much easier and I find I hardly have any expectations and whatever goes down goes down and in that imperfect moment...  it is indeed perfection.

Wow I really didn't mean to get quite so deep but I had to explain how far I have come on my expectations and how far back I slid on this occasion... I really went there.  
I imagined my reunion with my son (who I have not seen is 2 freaking years) hundreds and hundreds of times in my mind.  I knew I was building it up too much but I couldn't talk myself off of the cliff.

I pictured the airport with my family. 
I pictured seeing him for the first time. 
I pictured our first hug.
I pictured the rest of my kids faces as they saw their big brother for the first time.  
I pictured driving home from the airport as a whole family again.
I could hear our conversations.
I really went there...

And this reunion not only met my expectations... it exceeded them by a million times.

It. Was. Pure. Joy
Pure joy I tell you!!!!!

I have never felt like this in my entire life except for when my babies were born but even that was different. For you see when my babies were born, and I held them in my arms for the first time, and sobbed as I cradled their perfect little bodies, they didn't do anything except come to me.  Now please don't misinterpret that because that is in of itself is the biggest miracles I will ever having the pleasure of being apart of. But what I mean is my babies are perfect.  They didn't do anything to become perfect they just are.  No choices have been made to become perfect.

So this is where the difference is and why this entire situation can only be described as pure joy.
Nicholas went away for two years to teach people in Guatemala about Christ because he believed in something so much bigger than himself. So much bigger than all of us.  A love so strong for his savior that he wanted everyone in the world to know what he does.  I remember when I was bawling driving him to the MTC, he held my hand and said, "Just remember mom that the people in Guatemala need me more than you do."  
He radiated love, kindness and honestly he was choosing this giant step in becoming the kind of man he wanted to become.

So when I left for the airport 6 hours before his plane landed and I waited to catch a glimpse of him... I couldn't wait to meet him again and get to know this man child of mine.  To have the tables turned on mother/son and actually learn from him. 
I honestly thought I would die from anxiety and anticipation.

And when it all came to pass and I held him in my arms and my kids hugged him it was the most perfect kind of moment.  A moment where my 21 year old son had come back to me as one of the most amazing human beings I have ever had the pleasure to meet.
Those hugs and words exchanged I will treasure until my last breath.

My Nicholas came back.
My family was whole again...
Pure Joy




















Monday, October 27, 2014

I Chose Wisely...



Me and my little sister loved Harrison Ford and I mean L.O.V.E and marry him and be happy forever kind of love.
My love started in Star Wars but it went to full conniption teen crazy love with Raiders of the Lost Ark.  
I was 12 years old when in 1981 the film came out.  

OK I think mostly I loved him but it was the two of us together, on our couch in the basement, wrapped in a blanket, that we watched Raiders of the Lost Ark. And by our calculations it was around 100+ times. 
We had every single line memorized...every.single.one. 

100 could  be a low estimate but you see it was in the days when we thought we were so cool because we didn't have to wait for it to come on t.v.  It was about 1984 and my hip family owned the coveted VHS video player.
We were so in the future with that thing. Our machine was almost as big as some t.v.'s. It had those big huge primary colored buttons that were big enough that if you were almost blind you could see them.  Why do they make them so much more complicated now? I think they digressed because they were seriously on to something with that  simple VHS video first addition.  
Crap I always end up on some tangent that has nothing to do with the story at hand.
So back to the almost story which really isn't the real story either...ugh I just need to focus really hard.  It's hard always but especially right now because remember my boy gets back on Thursday and he has been gone for 2 years!!!


So any who we would go back and forth between "Raiders" and "The Man From Snowy River" depending on what mood we were in.  We loved Jim and Jessica. Australian accents and horsies too in "Snowy."
But nothing quite compared to my Indian Jones. 
I mean seriously...that hat.

We never watched the the sequels to Raiders as much as the original and that was probably because we just didn't own them. But this whole entire story is actually about the third "Raiders of the Lost Arc and the Last Crusade."
K remember when they are in that cave looking for the holy grail and the knight has the bad man choose between the hundreds and hundreds of cups?
He either chooses the holy grail and receives ever lasting life or any of the other cups and dies instantly.
He chooses the really fancy schmancy gold one and well, he dies.
The knight then looks at his bones and says, 
"You chose poorly."
Then Indy looks at the hundreds of cups and picks some unassuming crappy little goblet thing and the knight says.
"You chose wisely."

This is now the really real story.
I think about that all the time.
I met my Tom at 18.
Married him at 21.
That was 24 years ago October 19th.
What did I know about anything that has to do with anything at such a young age?
I was making the biggest decision of my life and I was not even a legal adult.

In short...

I just plain and simply chose wisely.

At the time I was madly in love and I knew I was marrying my best friend.
24 years later I am more madly in love and he is still my best friend.

Are there secrets to a happy marriage?
Probably.
I don't know have a clue what the secrets are though.
I just know that Tom treats me like gold and he acts and does something every day to make my dreams come true.
He makes me feel treasured, protected and loved and so I try really hard to make his dreams come true.
We don't agree on everything.
We have hard moments.

But at the end of the day... today is all we have.
Tomorrow is big, fat unknown.  
So even though I chose wisely all those years ago... I am still making choices every day and I am still choosing Tom and I always will.
After all he is so much better than Indiana Jones...even without that hat.



“The best time to love with your whole heart is always now, in this moment, because no breath beyond the current is promised.”-Fawn Weaver

We celebrated on a huge stunning beach on the Point Reyes seashore.
We hiked 1 1/2 in with our little blanket and picnic basket and I seriously thought that maybe we were on the Sahara desert.  
There was seriously that much sand and the beach was soooo big.
We were the only ones on it because you have to hike to get in.
So worth it.
It was the perfect weather and honestly it was a perfect day



We stopped in Point Reyes Station for our cheese supplies at 
"Cowgirl Creamery" and our artisan bread from "Brick Maiden" plus a few supplies from home.





I take a picture of this church every.single.time. I love it.  In my next life maybe I will get married in it. :)


We didn't know what to do for dinner so we talked about all of our possibilities because when you live in the bay area it is so endless it ridiculous.  But Tom said it best when he said, "how can we not celebrate and eat dinner in our favorite city in the world."
Yep that is all it took and we drove to San Francisco and ate at our favorite pizza place in all the land.
Ordered the Atomica and Heirloom tomato with bacon on half because not everyone eats meat. ;) and it was soooo good that it was ridiculous!






I would follow my man anywhere.
Here's to another infinity years.

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