Saturday, December 15, 2007

Catching up with everyday living...

The Antiphons of Advent
December 17-24

..and everyday living is rolling
along as normal, in the midst of it all!

At last I am here again, catching up on life in the east, prompted by a young friend (Emily W) to get a move on and get up to date here. smile

It is fun to highlight special events and activities, but for most folks like me, every day life is my “real life”, one occurring each and every single day (wink), sometimes resulting in the mundane things which grab our attentions, and other times we are roaring through those 24 hours like a wild-eyed blur. My life is never dull. There are times I pray for some "dull", believe me, at the very least, less stressful for sure! It would sure be a novelty in my life, but clearly this is not happening here. This week has been somewhat of a wild-eyed week, actually for a bit longer than a week, mostly wild-eyed too from a series of sleep deprived evenings.

When I was young, a few friends and I would splurge upon occasion, when paying a visit to the local general store just over a block away from our homes. We would indulge in “Double Bubble” penny candy gum, those little pink rectangles encapsulated in their signature double bubble wax paper wrap. Inside before we would slip the gum into our mouths, or even sometimes seconds after popping it in and chewing it into bubble blowing shapes, we would spend a moment reflecting on the silly cartoon featured in our wrapping. As time rolled on, we three would collect those comics and get a chuckle of them over and over again. (Did you know they are now collector items?) Funny how we grow older and the flashbacks hit us, like the "Double Bubble" cartoon I remember from my childhood where the young boy throws his clock out the window and his mother asks why he did it. His answer was simple. He said he wanted to see how time flies….and wow, does it ever. During this time of year when our young hearts were dreaming and waiting so very patiently for Christmas to come, we would complain about how slow time went by. My mother assured me days moved quicker as we grew, so she suggested we enjoy our young years now. I too used to say similar things to our older children when I realized in my later years. She was right, and man (!) does time ever fly!

Two weeks ago our son traveled to a hockey tournament, and brought something home, a bug of some sort which has left its mark on three of the children. It began with a sudden fever spiking, lasting less than 24 hours, sore eyes accompanying it. Two days later, a sore throat developed and a croupy cough in the throat, but nothing in sight of a cold lingering in the chest per se. It seemed this bug was stop and go with interspersed activity, and all the while there were times in between where those afflicted felt just fine, that is until something else crept up once more a day or two later.

What a jolt and a wake up call, because someone living in my home has a suppressed immune system; so a croupy cold could become a serious medical alert issue over time if not squashed and nipped in the bud early.

We have become adept in keeping colds and flus at bay for many years with only a few rare visits to a doctor, and I am so thankful our children have been so healthy. It's certainly achievable to keep the health of our families in focus, though with attention to even the greatest detail, even the best intentions could become unraveled by someone else's careless, or ignorant actions, those of offering their illnesses to infect our home or surroundings because they aren't thinking of the big picture for us when doing so. How can one control others who aren't on the same thinking page? Impossible!

Indeed, our family members are all aware of the possible impending dangers of allowing friends and family to visit who are either unwell or carrying the beginnings of something over the threshold of our front doorway. We are also careful when attending activities where there are folks we discover are unwell in our midst. We've learned to dart about, either canceling a visit, not attending a function or even going so far as changing church pews at church if someone slips in around us, coughing heartily in the direction of our air space. It's not a fun thing to do, sometimes it's downright embarrassing to have to do it, but we must be vigilant to protect the family.

Many of our close friends and family are aware of our medical alert preferences, and they are so gracious with warnings when necessary. I so appreciate them for this simple and thoughtful gesture of giving us a heads-up to their illnesses in advance so we can avoid contact during those times. However when it becomes internal, I invested in masks when sick loved ones must walk around the home in common areas, to prevent the spread of a cold of flu in progress. Sure, it's unpleasant to be so vigilant, but a sound course of action with back-up plans when necessary has become second nature to all of us now.

Even while feeling unwell, two of the children found imaginary things to make their mask wearing times enjoyable, thinking of Zorro, the Lone Ranger, a Ninja fighter, or some other such masked person. Nevertheless, these are NOT fun times here when someone is ill….not at all. Confined to their bedrooms for much of the daytime when at their worst, it was such a relief when all is well again. The antiseptic hand cleaners are placed within their reach, liquids are plentiful, lozenges, and other such helps are happily consumed. Windows and doorways (yes, even in subzero temperatures) are flung open when sickies exit their bedrooms and overhead fans are begin whirring round at their fastest speeds to rid the rooms of stale air behind the closed doors. I've been known to run around washing down door knobs, hand rails, bathrooms, anything infected which could pass along some unpleasant results.

If someone were to ask the children, they would certainly declare their lucky stars dipped from orbit this week with all the frozen yogurt treats, slushies, and popsicles they were given for the sore throats, when nothing else felt any good or seemed to assist them with their discomfort. Maybe you noticed the photo of the crafty children showing one wearing shorts, cooling from a fever that day and feeling so much better. I am happy to report the discomfort is behind us and all is well here now, thank heaven!

With all that said, here's what's been happening over the past few weeks;

  • The Christmas decorations bins were hoisted up the stairs, organized, and displayed in their places last weekend, and everything looks so very festive and lovely.

  • We’ve enjoyed nightly gatherings around the fireplace, many candles in the room all aglow surrounding us.

  • Glancing out of the large picture windows, the white lights are wrapped around the back deck and are lit as well as the lights around the trees near the front porch. How we’ve relaxed in the dimly lit rooms with the candles lulling us into a peaceful tranquility, everyone gathering (who was well) to review our days together before heading for bed. We have all been turning in earlier than usual; especially myself after spending the better part of a week rising every few hours to assure all was well with the children, the fevers, the sore throats and mother’s worry calmed in the process. Once a mother, always a mother they say. Isn’t that the truth!

  • Our son’s newspaper route has been consuming six daily sessions each week, and when he wasn’t well, there were substitutes and assistants here at a moment’s notice to take over, and a parent driving them around to complete the task in due time. It’s not the delivery taking all the time; it is also the rolling and bagging of each newspaper, and the additional flyers to deliver this time of year. With the additional snow and ice, and the winds whipping their subzero breezes about, driving is worth it so the children aren’t in the elements too long. Our son is really enjoying the extra pocket money, let alone the generous tips many of the homeowners are taping to their mailboxes for him.

  • Most of the activities have come to a close; Our Monday morning learning sessions were over last month, horse lessons have ceased for this month, and gymnastics came to a close this week. What a fun event, once each week for two children to tumble and rumble their energies away. This session offered badges and a report card, new friends and exercise galore. It is so important for children to acquire regular exercise regimes, keeping their lungs and heart working at optimal healthy zone levels, and with winter upon us, we strive to ensure they are all getting enough of it. It may sound as though we run all over the place, but I assure you all the activities have been very carefully selected, to ensure all are easily attended, within our general locale, and with winter in mind, on main roadways.

  • Our mother’s helper working her Saturday shifts has time off after today until the New Year. Hockey continues this week for our older son; the homeschool hockey has a break for three weeks after last Friday’s session. I must mention here how wonderful this sport has been for the three children, all thoroughly enjoying their time on the ice, learning the skills and drills in a family friendly environment with volunteer dads taking the lead. It is also a time for our youngest daughter to play with her friend who watches like she prefers to do, and mom gets to remain at home for some mommy time while dad takes over the driving to and from this event. A little friendly competition has been enjoyed by all and more is to come, when the groups will face off with a few Christian schools and other homeschooling groups on the ice.

  • Piano lessons will cease for a time after this week’s lesson, the piano recital behind all four of the children as it occurred this past Monday, luckily when all were feeling okay. It's not only I who is vigilant when illness outbreaks occur around us, our piano teacher's husband is a leukemia survivor, so she too must not have children in her home who are unwell. We work together on this important thought.

  • The mandatory volunteer time for selling live Christmas trees on behalf of a major fundraiser for the Scouting group is now complete, another successful event and timing happening before the snowfall, but this time Dad was able to accompany his son for this task.

  • The horses next door are out in their pastures and as the temperatures plummet below zero, red and blue blankets cover their dirty winter coats. They love getting outside still and it's great to note them in the fields yet this season.

  • Floppy our youngest daughter’s bunny has potty trained himself so well, he now gets to visit her bedroom upon occasion, and explore her surroundings. Since she has hardwood floors, this is a fun little event when it happens.

This past weekend, poor Floppy found out what it was like to be plopped down on the bed, seemingly like a rag doll and dressed up in dolly clothes! Yes, our “boy” bunny wore many dresses, nightgowns and other miscellaneous, become acquainted with other stuffed animals residing in the bedroom, and was scared to death he might have hair things placed upon his head next. Surely the giggles erupting from the closed door warmed my heart as our daughter enjoyed Floppy’s time indoors immensely. Afterall, she had the camera and took a few choice photos of her beloved pet roaming the depths of her bedroom.

  • My hubby was back into his habit from before our move here, that of gathering the older two for a round of card playing, “Hearts” to be precise. These three love to play and play together, munching on goodies (carrots, grapes, and M&Ms tonight). When the telephone rang, our daughter took the call, listening and playing the game at the same time. Talk about multitasking!

  • For those reading this blog, the countdown to Christmas is still on, the paper chains are becoming smaller each day as one more is ripped off. I am sure you are preparing your hearts and homes for faith, family, and friends. I spent two solid days organizing and wrapping gifts to mail west to our children and grandchildren alone! This was a major task, one happily behind me now, but we are thrilled they decided to make the effort to gather in our absence, another celebration just like the Thanksgiving dinner our newlyweds pulled off with everyone present. It is at times such as these we hope we have passed on the true meaning of family, the forever blood running through, the continual building of bridges and keeping in contact with one another. Surely new baby Jacinta has everyone’s excitement buzzing, such a magnet for all. I am in the process of preparing to fly out to meet her in the New Year myself, and I can hardly wait!

  • Jacinta’s older siblings love being near her too. Shortly before she was born, her sister Rose quietly began creeping across her bedroom floor each night, joining her older sleeping sister in her bed for the night. Sisters (and brothers) inevitably bond together in good times and in sad times, a relationship well worth the hard work involved.
Our Grand-daughters - aren't these sweet!

  • We took time today to bunker down the hatches for tonight's snow storm warning working its way up from Texas. We're supposed to acquire up to 30 cm. of snow, with icy rain and strong wind warnings attached. Bring on the snow as the light and fluffy flakes were falling upon us this afternoon quite nicely, but we are bracing for a real blast of the stuff tonight. (Still, I want to say; Bring it on!...heehee)
In closing, as the title suggests, the Advent Antiphons will begin tomorrow night, December 17; and continue through December 24th. They are such a centerpiece of the Advent liturgy that they were made into one of the most famous songs of Advent: Veni, Veni Emmanuel.

As is typical of Christian liturgy, "The antiphons are, in fact, a collage of Old Testament types of Christ. Their predominant theme is messianic, stressing the hope of the Savior's coming. Jesus is invoked by various titles, mainly taken from the prophet Isaiah. The sequence progresses historically, from the beginning, before creation, to the very gates of Bethlehem." But also, they are simply lovely; and worth contemplating as the Christmas rush swirls us into a tizzy of the ridiculous. A beginning point to re-focus the celebrations of the season, and the ending of the calendar year. You can find out more about this a special ornament of the pre-Christmas liturgy, filled with the Spirit of the Word of God by clicking both HERE, and HERE.

“ I will place the key of the House of David upon his shoulder”

– Isaiah 22:22