Looks can Be Deceiving

Okay, where in the world am I?  In Denver, Colorado it is supposed to snow- now.  Our average first snowfall is October 14.  This year we have had pretty much zip.  Nada.  Nothin’.  I was a little sorrowful about our not-so-white Christmas, especially since my Georgia folks were enjoying some white, but the weather does have its advantages.  In the beautiful and balmy days after Christmas we did a little local exploring.  Our time in Colorado has included adventures all around Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park and up to the Continental Divide, as well as parts of Boulder, Garden of the Gods, Lake Dillon and Vail, but we discovered a total treasure almost in our backyard.   That’s one thing I love most about living here – the amazing beauty around every corner.  I believe that is true of all God’s creation, but in Colorado it is just big stuff.  About 20 minutes west from our front door,  after passing through the slightly sketchy little town of Eldorado Springs (those are the best words, just a run-down former resort town with lots of people who frown at you when you speed by at 10mph), we took a hike through Eldorado Canyon.  It is amazing.  We got a kick out of looking at our pictures from that day, though, because there is total lack of depth and height perception.  Even when you are there in person, the effect is very similar.    The key is to know that there is a giant canyon between the hill we are hiking on and the rocks that are our backdrop.  Here’s my little picture study, pretty cool stuff.

Just a big rock, try to find the teeny tiny blue spot in the middle

 

Blue Spot is Bigger!

 

Blue Spot is a Man!

Here are some more photos, using Richard and Caroline for perspective:

Try to Find the Blue Spot Just above Richard's head to the right...

Blue Spot is A little Clearer

Blue Spot is Still a Man!

Of course, no picture study of mine is complete without the little Tuckers…

 

I know how easy it would be to wax philosophical on the whole looks can be deceiving thing with the little blue speck that is a man (camera zoom is so cool, isn’t it!) and the mountain face that could pass for a big rock in some photos, the canyon that divides us…all of these things can be good to ponder.  I just likened it to how faith works –  at some point you cannot “think” your way into understanding.  You trust and believe, and see past the canyon a little at a time.

Advertisements

If Only in Our Hearts

This Christmas was a first for our little family.  It was our first Christmas without any extended family sharing the big day with us in our home or without us travelling to share it with others.  I did shed a couple tears, I must confess…we all got dressed up and had dinner together, and it was so strange to have empty seats and just the five of us around the table.  Of course, where there is a void God will often fill it in humbling ways that you don’t expect, and the week before Christmas presented many opportunities to help others going through difficult times or loss.  Witnessing the families who lost husbands and fathers in the weeks leading up to Christmas this year or those who are worrying over newborns in intensive care gives good perspective on how full our table really is.

A few especially bright moments for us were:

Christmas Eve, I called my sister in Atlanta, and we happened to catch them at the moment that Papa was sitting down to read The Night Before Christmas to all of my nieces and nephews, so courtesy of the Speaker Phone, all of the cousins got to hear the story together:

Following Along while Papa reads via Speaker Phone

 

Christmas Dinner, ahhh, the joys of tripods and camera timers…We opened crackers and all were game for crown-wearing except William, our lone hold-out.  He was a total Party Popper Pooper (alright, couldn’t help myself)  We did the goofy shot because, well, we are those people…

William was also a hold-out for the goofy shot, guess the little dude has too much dignity…I’m not worried, he’ll learn!

Merry Christmas, Marfy Style

Our batteries were low at last week’s Children’s Choir concert, so we were not able to record the kindergarten choir singing this sweet song that just captures Christmas for me, and has since been stuck in my head.  I have asked Martha Claire to sing it for me every morning this week, so I decided to capture her rendition for posterity, and also for your Christmas delight.  I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas day celebrating with family.  I will miss getting to hug my own peeps back home in the southland and on the west coast, but I am so thankful for the gifts God has given us, and the little ones we get to share all of this magic with.  Love to you all!

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I just love my children, and at no time of year do I bestow too many kisses and hugs as I do in the wonderful month of December.  Be warned, the beginning of this post is a bit on the braggy side, I can’t help but share how cute the kiddos have been these past few weeks.  Even now, I am procrastinating cleaning for Nana, Grundaddy and Uncle Patrick, who will arrive this afternoon from Tennessee for a weekend visit.  (So sorry if there’s dust on the blinds in your room…the blog is calling!)  In the meantime, we’ve been doing a little bit of this:

Denver Zoo Nights of Lights

Little Tuckers at Zoo Lights Denver

 

I have to say the lights were the biggest hit for William.  We had to chase him from animal to animal as he exclaimed at each one.  Very memorable.

We’ve also been doing a little of this:

Annual Gingerbread Decorating and Munching, 2010

And, finally, we had our church Children’s Choir Christmas Performance last night.  Martha Claire was an angel in the nativity,

Cutest little pageant ever!

And sweet Caroline had her first solo to proclaim the good news!

Tonight we have ballet observation for Martha Claire and Caroline’s school choir concert in the middle of running to the airport and finishing the shopping, as well as one class party today and another tomorrow, and to top off my total insanity, I am seriously considering throwing a neighborhood party on Christmas Eve Eve.  Yep, that’s only a week away.  I know that it is busy for everyone at this time of year, and most who read this can relate to the non-stop holiday maneuvering.  In the middle of the hustle and bustle, Richard and I sat down and I asked him if we had lost our focus on the meaning of this precious season.  Have I mentioned my husband is wise, like borderline Yoda?  Well, the mighty Tucker oracle had much great wisdom for me.  He spoke of the other day when Martha Claire told him that Jesus is the true meaning of Christmas, but also the best gift for everyday because He lives in our hearts.  The great oracle went on to explain that our children’s faith will not be built upon what we do in these 4 weeks before the Christmas celebration.  We build our faith and our children’s faith on what we do all twelve months of the year.  And, hopefully, that results in sparkle and shine in these days as we think of God, who became a man, born in a lowly stable, to earthly parents, with the intention of giving that perfect life for our sakes.  Because He loved us.  Because He loves all of us.  What a wonderful time of year.

Always Beware of the Silence

At Christmas time we fill every bowl or decoration with Hershey’s kisses.  The kids know that as long as they ask, they are welcome to munch on the occasional kiss.  It’s the only time of year we really go crazy on chocolate, and they have always been so good about it that I just don’t think twice about setting them out (well, there was one year we found Caroline surrounded by a pile of silver wrappers, but it WAS Christmas morning).   Apparently William is yet to grasp the “ask before” concept, though, because this is what I found after a few quiet minutes this morning.  As any parents of toddlers know, silence is a very bad omen indeed.  Needless to say, we headed out and spent an hour running this off at the playground today before naptime.

Bowl-o-Wrappers, not a bit of chocolate left

"Hey, mommy." "Hey, Will, uhh, you got a little something right there..."

In retrospect, I should have been better prepared.  Last year he tried to take the head off of our gingerbread man soap.  Allow me to present Exhibit A.  No, the gingerbread man does not have a big mouth, that is the mark left by William’s teeth last year.

Exhibit A - Incriminating Bite Marks

In defense of the little man, it is some yummy lookin’ soap.

Christmas Decorating, Tucker Style

I was having a conversation with a friend the other day about “Christmas Decorating Style.”  Yes, there is such a thing.  Are you more country, contemporary, traditional, or whimsical?  All red, all gold, all green…there are magazine articles, HGTV shows and Martha Stewart specials to aid you in your yuletide style endeavors.  While we were talking I looked around at my partially decorated house,  still many boxes left to go, and decided my holiday decorating is definitely traditional.  Except where I have put in a lot of whimsy, which really is my preference.  Except where my children have made me things or I inherited something that was definitely country and I am very sentimentally attached.  Except my tree, which is the crown of the Christmas-time fashion, and it is just a lot of, well, everything.

It is a tradition in our family to decorate the tree all together.  We divide the ornaments into two groups.  The first group is the favorites, and everyone has their own personal ornaments they like to hang each year, and then there’s the stack of just hang ’em where you can find a branch.  Or, if you’re 2 year old William, hang them all on the same branch.

This year, when all the ornaments were on the tree, Richard and I walked around talking about each one.  He made a comment about how many ornaments one could accrue over a dozen Christmases.  I remember the first Christmas that we were married I had to run out to K-Mart and buy a $5 box of 50 wooden ornaments to take up space in our tree.  Several of them were missing arms or heads, probably left behind in the cheap ornament factory.  These days if we find a missing arm, we know it is because Caroline knocked that mouse off the tree 4 times last year, Marfy was dancing with that ballerina ornament and flung it in the middle of her twirl, or William was flying the airplane instead of hanging it (said airplane has still not made its way to the tree).  Those original space-filling ornaments have now been replaced by 12 years of memories – family, children, travel, crafts created by tiny hands, and good old-fashioned rivalry.  The rivalry would be college:  each year my sister and her husband give us a University of Georgia ornament and we return the favor with a Georgia Tech token for their tree.  Needless to say, the BACK of our tree is covered with red and black and bulldogs. 

I am thankful to have several ornaments from my childhood.  I have one ornament that I got to choose from my Mimi’s tree when I was a teenager (and going through a rather gaudy phase, I must say, by the choice of the shiny pink and gold ball, but hey, it WAS 1988).  Many ornaments that remind me of my mother’s tree when I was growing up, and was always the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.  Richard’s grandmother has given him a wooden ornament with his name and the year on it almost every Christmas of his life, and has carried this on to our children as well.  We have ornaments from the births of all of our children.  Ornaments with pictures in them.  A beautiful pair of lovebirds my mother gave us for our first Christmas as husband and wife.  Soccer balls, ballet slippers, skiing penguins.  All the loves our children have gone through the last few years that we have found to represent in ornaments.  Santa in the sand at St. Simon’s Island in Georgia, a moose skiing in Breckenridge, a teacup from Amelia Island, Florida, and the courthouse in Richard’s Tennessee hometown.  Our tree is overflowing with memories of celebrations and family.  At this often hectic time of year, I know that I need to remember how blessed we are.  I know that Christmastime can be overwhelming, and that in itself is a blessing.  Most of all, I just want to thank God for these precious gifts that are represented on our tree, not under it.  For me, that is some seriously fabulous Christmas style.

The Nutcracker is Missing Something

When I was growing up my younger sister and beloved friend, Elizabeth, was a prima ballerina.  At least, in my eyes.  Each year her ballet company put on a performance of the Nutcracker.  I grew up with Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece as an integral part of our Christmas repertoire.  After I was married, a dear friend and I used to go together to the Middle Georgia performance.  Years later, after we both had daughters, we took our little girls with us on the annual pilgrimage to the land of the Sugar Plum Fairy.  Here in Colorado I carry on the tradition, and we have discovered the Boulder Ballet who performs the Nutcracker complete with professional jugglers, flying Drosselmeyers, and most importantly, a full live symphony.  It is an awesome experience, and I really treasure sharing it with my girls.  Not that boys don’t like the ballet, just,  you know, it’s a girl thang…

This past weekend the girls and I had our annual date with Clara.  The house went dark, the orchestra was kicking – at the end of the party scene the Nutcracker came on stage, and Martha Claire said, in her not-so-inside voice, “Does he have anything on???”  I reminded her that the male dancers wore tights (which apparently she did not remember from previous experience, she must have blocked it out).   The rest of the performance was uneventful except for the occasional sigh of disgust coming from her seat.

On the way home, we were each sharing our favorite part of this year’s Nutcracker.  Mine was a toss up between the Snow scene and the Russian jugglers – I know they’re not dancers, but they really were amazing.  Caroline also loved the jugglers, and Drosselmeyer’s magic (he did a lot with invisible wires and flew off the stage in the last scene, what’s not to love?).  Martha Claire’s contribution to the conversation was, “It was really great, except I wish he had had some pants on.”  The Nutcracker, that is.  I think I’ll have to edit my favorite parts to also include Martha Claire’s lack of acceptance of men in tights.

In conclusion, I want to thank my mom, who was willing to support her daughter’s ballet ambition and included all of us in the process which resulted in me having a tireless love for the annual holiday performance.  Thank you to my sister, Elizabeth, I remember you as a gingersnap or angel (okay, maybe I don’t remember it all), a party child, the Chinese, the Mirlitons, and so many more, and no matter who is performing when we see it now, they are all held to the standard you have set in my mind.  Thank you to my sister, Augusta, who was also a gingersnap one year, and the cutest one ever.  Thank you to my sweet friend, Amy, who helped bridge this tradition into my adulthood, as well as your daughters.  Most of all, thank you to my co-travellers on the voyage now, my darling girls, who have turned a ballet production into something much bigger in my heart.  With ladies like these,  who needs pants, anyway?

Ready for the Show!