1. First and foremost, please offer a prayer for Jen, the host of Quick Takes, who is seven months pregnant and experiencing serious health issues. As I've encountered this or that problem during the week, I've tried to lift up a prayer for healing, grace, and peace to come her way.
2. In the realm of much less serious prayers answered, I have to report that our fifteen hour drive home from Michigan was closer to fourteen and a half hours. If you don't think that's significant, you haven't driven cross country with a van load of kids. More remarkable than the time was the fact that everyone got along nearly the entire time. The roads were bone dry. Except for an exceptionally bad cup of coffee at Burger King, I'd call the trip an amazing success.
2. That mostly makes up for the trip there.
If you're going to pray for this:
Look out because you might end up with this:
And maybe it's been twenty-five years or so since you've had the thrill of trying to keep a van in the two small ruts in the right hand lane of a congested interstate all while enormous salt trucks come barreling past you and raging winds threaten to send your vehicle careening out of control. No exaggeration -- we're talking white out.
Sometimes it's glaringly obvious why God called me South.
3. One of the items that kept us sane: Etch-a-sketch. If you have a road trip with littles on the horizon, I can't say enough for this classic toy -- no mess, no batteries, no noise, just hours of silent entertainment.
4. Although tough to drive in, the snow was so much fun to play in. We walked out of Christmas Eve Mass into a winter wonderland. Joy to the world, indeed! We popped into a grocery store for a gallon of milk, and Dave, unable to contain himself, started pulling donuts in the parking lot. (To the uninitiated: This involves making quick, sharp turns on an icy surface so that the car spins 'round and 'round.) Let me tell you, my kids just love to meet Dave's alter-ego.
Anyways, skiing, sledding, snowmobiling -- we did it all, and it was so very much fun.
5. Top Christmas gifts of 2012: Ainsley (via Grandma and my friend Amy) now has a Madeline and a Raggedy Ann. Too sweet for words. John's favorite gift? A Spiderman T-shirt. He's still a cheap date. Kolbe loved his Tardis notebook. Also a cheap date. As for Tim, well, Santa smiled on my oldest this year. He is now the owner of his very own laptop. I hope we don't live to regret this, but with the amount of homework the boy does, we needed a second computer.
I received exercise clothes for Christmas. The tags are still one them, but there's always next week, isn't there?
6. I don't exaggerate when I say that Christmas would not have happened if not for the speedy, reliable services of our friends at Amazon. You can't beat Amazon, that is, until you have to return something. I have three somethings to return, so I clicked on their website to locate a helpful 1-800 number in hopes of finding a guy named Joe in Bhopal, India, who could tell me how to fit these three little items into a box and get them back to Amazon.
Apparently it can't be done.
After a l-o-n-g conversation with a guy named Joe in Bhopal, India, I finally said, "Uncle!" and gave up on the outlandish idea that these three small items could be shipped back in one box.
One order = one box. Thus saith a very worried Joe in Bhopal. Try shipping them back in one box and poor Joe, from the sound of it, would have ended with an ulcer and probably irritable bowel syndrome to boot. I ended up just plain irritable and thinking about a comment someone once wrote about returns to L.L. Bean: You could show up in Freeport, Maine, in a canoe on fire, and they'd issue a store credit no sweat.
Amazon is not L.L. Bean, but it is both speedy and reliable. Come Monday, I will pack my three small items in three separate boxes, ship them back, and hope that Joe in Bhopal can once again sleep at night.
7. In addition to Jen, please pray for another friend, one near and dear. The holidays are jammed packed with joy, but for those who suffer from depression, this season can be hard indeed. Grace, grace, grace.