Christmas Moose here, wishing you all a lovely Christmas season, and ready to fill you in on the last year in my Happy Little Home.
First things first. For the first time in many years, the family got me out of my box ON-TIME. We had a wonderful day listening to Christmas music, eating leftover Thanksgiving food, and picking out a Christmas tree to deck our living room. For some reason, the family didn’t think to bring me along to pick out a tree. I’m not sure why as my moose-background qualifies me to be an excellent tree-picker-outer. Ah well. The family came home with Lydia’s top pick for a tree, and though they had a little trouble getting it up straight, it sure makes for a lovely view from the fireplace mantel. There seems to have been an extra amount of dancing this year, Christmas music filling our halls, and, now that the Little Ones have figured out how to turn on the Christmas lights, they are on all-day, everyday. Not that I mind. Now, I know you’re all happy to hear all about me, but I must move on.
Starting with the youngest…Elijah John is now one year old. He’s an adorable Little Calf and he is strong. He muscles his way around the living room, sneaks around the tree, and gets right over to the lights faster than you can say, “Antlers”. He’s pulling up now, babbling, giving hi-fives, and can handle being wrestled by his older sisters. He likes to put things into his mouth, but hasn’t choked on any pine needles yet. Oh! And he can climb! He started climbing the stairs this month, adding to Justine’s list of regular prayer requests for his safety. He’s cute and sweet and, though it’s a bit early to tell, I think he’s going to be one smart little kiddo.
Paul (two-years-old) is his own moose…I mean, man. He struts around like he owns the place and isn’t afraid to be different. While the girls follow in each other’s footsteps, Paul doesn’t mind marching to the beat of his own drum, asking for a different treat than everyone else, or walking around barefoot regardless of the weather. He always has a favorite toy he obsesses over for a few days: a wooden puppy, cloth book, toy car, football, or even a kitchen item (metal tongs, recently). He’ll carry the item around all day, sleep with it, bring it to the dinner table, and on any outings. He’s learning to talk more and more, and, now that Dad sits by him at dinner, he’s learning to stay in his chair without crying, even when he doesn’t like the food. He still loves his mommy and anyone who’s around much will see Paul sitting in Justine’s lap, sucking his fingers and holding his own or her hair for comfort.
Abigail (four-years-old) is the sweetheart of the family. She loves to be snuggled, gets sleepy more often, and likes to make people happy. She will share with her siblings and gets so happy when she gets to skip nap time to play with Lydia. When they play, Abby is the princess/bride/ballerina and Lydia is the one helping her get ready and presenting her to the family. Abby smiles shyly and lets Lydia be the spokesperson, but she loves to dress up. Abby is learning her letters this year and is working on memorizing her third Bible verse. Abby is slower to learn new things than Lydia, but when she learns them, she quickly becomes more independent. She has been known to clean the whole living room so she could have room to play, or find a blanket and snuggle up in the glider for hours when she isn’t feeling well. Abby is often humming and singing, especially the two Bible verses she already knows and affectionately calls, “my verse”. She has a fiery temper which she is slowly learning to control, but she also has a fiery love for life and fun and her smiles are always making everyone around her so happy. She is also the little fish in the family and loves all things water. Do not expect Abby to walk near a puddle without marching right over and stomping in it at least once.
Lydia turned six this year and started first grade. She learns incredibly quickly, which is good, as the school day is often interrupted by diaper changes and nap times. She is learning to pay attention to God’s voice and obey. Lydia’s appetite for playing (especially with her Daddy) is insatiable. She loves being read to and doing fun activities. Lydia is always asking, “Can today be a fun day?”. Some days the family goes out (without me) and visits a museum or walks downtown somewhere, eats out, and calls it a fun day, though I can’t imagine any family truly having that good of a time without their Christmas Moose. Lydia thinks every day should be a fun day. Every meal should be special. And there should always be dessert. After Elijah started trying to choke on everything, her school prizes were removed from the house (choke-ables, the family calls them) and she is now rewarded by earning enough “points” for her work to watch an episode of Mister Rogers with her siblings. I can’t say I mind. The kiddos gather together and Elijah crawls laps around them while they all sit mesmerized for half an hour listening to the show, then they spend the next week acting it out over and over again. It’s pretty cute. Lydia never outgrew the “why-stage” and can ask a million questions without taking a breath. She is strong-willed and independent, but still loves to feel close to her parents and even her siblings, and can’t stand going to bed without being on good terms with everyone (and saying goodnight and giving hugs and kisses all around…twice).
The year has been full of ups and downs for Justine. January started off with a newborn. February found the family falling into a nice groove, but then March turned everything upside down. It was a rough end-of-winter with not enough sunshine, sleep, or health in the home. Springtime brought sunshine and led off an epic summer full of happy family memories. Fall was a process of getting back into routines and fighting for more sleep. Why these babies don’t sleep is a mystery to me. Moose calves just don’t have that problem, I guess. Justine has been embracing simplicity this year, and especially this winter, reevaluating her to-do list and canceling item and item that aren’t actually necessary. She’s setting aside computer or phone time to engage the kiddos and tackle the few items she has left to-do this year. I must say, it’s a heart-warming sight to see her sitting in her favorite chair each morning with the Christmas lights on and a mug of hot tea or coffee. Her Bible is kept on my mantle lately (where the Little People can’t hurt it) and each day after reading, her thoughts, burdens, to-dos, and worries are laid out before the Lord then left for Him take care of. The highlights of her year (beside becoming a tri-athlete) have been prioritizing her family and letting a lot of other things go, growing in closeness and unity with Dan, and seeing God work in the hearts of her children in some big and little ways.
This fall Dan celebrated his first anniversary working on the autonomous car for GM. After months of the family praying that he wouldn’t have to drive so far to work, with no obvious answer in sight, his boss suddenly gave him an immense increase in freedom to work closer to home in addition to one day at home each week. Unlike any moose dads I’ve known, Dan is an incredibly involved father. He tucks the kids in each night, chats with them about their day, answers their questions and prays for them. He leads family Bible-time each night, reading the Bible and asking or answering related questions. He asks the kids about their days, takes them outside to sled and build snowmen, and stays up-to-date on what their learning in school. He has been realizing more and more how important it is to invest in the family and let other things go, especially as he observes and hears from older dads in his office who haven’t done so and regret it now. Dan plans the best fun days, treats his children with love and attention, and showers Justine with love in all five languages.
It’s been a delightful season in this warm home, and along with the Taylor family, I wish you a beautiful Christmas celebration in the coming days and the happiest of New Years.
Mister C. Moose