Thursday, January 17, 2013

Christmas Leftovers

 The worst of our Christmas leftovers involved more flu.  Or maybe it was all the same thing and was just a monster virus.  Doesn't really matter, because it knocked us flat regardless.  The stomach flu swept through a couple days before we had out of town family come stay with us.  They drove 8 hours or so to hang out, play games, and get infected.  Then they left early.  Can't blame them one bit.
The day after we weren't able to keep any food down, we scrambled to disinfect our whole house with the vain hope that they wouldn't get infected.  *Sigh*  Right, did you count how many children are in that photo?  Too many to not share germs.

Which was really too bad.  These cousins haven't seen each other for a very long time.  And while they did manage to have fun, the visit wasn't quite the rousing success we were hoping for.  Or maybe it was just me.  I had some serious stress coming at me from multiple sides.  I felt entirely overwhelmed by my sick family and my illness and my new calling as the Young Women's President at church.  (Yep, you read that right.  More on that later.)  I sort of felt like I was ten steps behind the entire weekend trying to play hostess and gear up for meetings and lessons and leading.

Once I finally finished typing up a few thoughts for my first lesson, the social hour was over.  Another time, the kids wanted to go outside and play in the snow.  By the time I got my youngest two dressed for the cold, and talked R through her meltdown about snow boots, everybody else was coming in.  By the time I finished up various house duties and took care of the needs of the little ones, the game I was going to join in was over.  By the time I realized I hadn't taken a single photo, they had caught the stomach flu and decided to head home a day early.  I was able to remedy that last one, at least, before they drove away.

I felt bad for not being a very fun hostess and was faced with loads more laundry and disinfecting so that my newly sick girls could return to their own beds.  Because, by then, the second round of the flu had taken us down.  Fever, aches, chills, congestion, sinus pressure, sore throat, sore eyes (oh, man did my eyes ache!), terrible headaches--you know, regular flu stuff.  Except worse.  All I wanted to do was curl up under my covers.  But with 5 kiddos to take care of, a long-commuting husband, and some heavy duty church responsibilities, that was not in the realm of possibility.  So, I sucked it up and soldiered on, half expecting my head to explode at any moment.

The only good thing about times like this is the hope and deep sense of appreciation for healthier days.  It was such a relief when I could finally breathe again, I wanted to cry for joy.  But I couldn't cry because that would ruin all the clear breathing.  And I was soooo grateful when R & B finally felt better.  Caring for clingy, whiny, feverish, malcontents is no picnic.

But we survived, and even managed to make some great memories in between all the not-so-great stuff.  Our kids got to play with their cousins, some of whom they had never met.  We went to a great church Christmas dinner where they had an adorable photo op set up.
(And then J got angry about something or other and started falling apart so we had to leave before the program even started.)  But we'll try to forget that part and just enjoy the photo.
 We tried to take some nice family Christmas photos.  (Can you tell who was grumpy enough that we decided to call it quits?)
 We handed out marshmallows and put away the tripod.  It worked for one shot.
 And then Mr. Grumpy was back.
 I think it must be hard to be J.

 Luckily for me, there was a day before Christmas and before all the crazy viruses descended that I got my camera out.  I figured since I had gone through the trouble of making some Christmas pillow cases, I might as well have a little fun with them as photo props.
I'm so glad my girls have sisters.  I always wished I had at least one.  This picture just makes my heart happy, knowing that they all have three sisters.
Ok, so most of the photos were fun.  But, naturally, there was a little bickering thrown in.
But then we were back to having fun.
I sure love these kids.  Even through the flu and the vomit and the bickering and the stress.  They drive me crazy and give me purpose.  They demand that I be better than I am, that I learn to be more.  We don't always have a picture perfect Christmas.  Behind every beautiful photo are twenty frustrating moments.  Sometimes more.  A lot more.  But, amidst all the hard stuff, I choose to focus on the joy.  And I will try my darndest to continue choosing it every day.  

Besides, our heater broke down.  Looks like we might need a whole new system.  Even though our homeowners insurance is trying their hardest to deny everything.  So, I'm going to need these kids to cuddle with so we can stay warm.  We're not in California anymore.

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