Thursday, December 30, 2010

Cancun Jungle Adventure

While we were in Mexico, E's brother was able to set us up on a jungle adventure trip with some clients of his. We zip-lined, rappelled and snorkeled our way through a gorgeously warm summer day, stepping out of all kinds of comfort zones. I for one was about as hesitant as my four-year old when it came to hurtling myself off a tall tower, held up only by a few metal wires, although I'd like to think I cried just a bit less than he did. (He did actually end up enjoying all of the adventures he had, btw; see photo at the end of post for proof.) And I am thrilled that I overcame my fears as well; It was such a fun day.

(Also, I am aware that the jungle isn't actually anywhere near Cancun, but I have no idea where it was, except a couple of hours from the hotel, so please forgive my ignorant labeling.)

(First eight photos courtesy of Hidden World's photographer)
S rappelling into a cave:

Inside the cave (It was so stunning - I am in awe of what nature creates...I wish I had snorkeling photos!):

On the jungle zip line: 

 L rappelling:
 The cave zip line (Note the look of apprehension - that water was approaching mighty fast!):
 Wet suit family photo - the one you always wanted to see....Or not. (The only sad part about this day was that E's father couldn't join us as he came down with a miserable virus that morning.):

Even the buggy ride through the jungle was an adventure in itself. I believe we were all airborne at one point or another on that ride:
Shockingly, both Baby S and her cousin fell asleep during the buggy ride back. They may have been exhausted by a day spent in the sun. Or I may have to revise my absolute-quiet-during-nap-times-strategy.  
Proof that L survived the day with his good mood intact - we didn't traumatize him with too many crazy activities:

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Home Again

We came back from Mexico late last night and have been busy unpacking suitcases and wrapping Christmas presents, and dealing with our stowaway strep infection that L brought home. Details of our trip will follow. In the meantime, here is a preview:

The ocean was truly that blue. The weather was warm. And my husband is actually that hot. Good thing he at least came home with me, since the weather and ocean couldn't...

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Ghost of Christmas Past

I love December. I love the lights, the hymns and songs, the anticipation of Christmas, the stashes of presents in closets and on shelves. I love the focus on Christ and his birth so long ago, how He came to Earth to experience life as we do to help us. I love the baking and preparing for Christmas, strangers wishing you happy holidays, cutting down and decorating the Christmas tree. I love to see the joy in my children's eyes when they see the tree, and the joy I feel when I see them and the tree. This time of year makes me feel happy all the way through my bones.
Yet, there is no other time of year that makes me as nauseatingly homesick as Christmas, either. That's right. At the age of - ahem - 33, I still get homesick for my parents' house.

The first time I spent Christmas away from home was when I worked as a missionary for my church. I had been away from home for ten months by then and while I missed my family some, I wasn't really homesick. I loved what I was doing, I was busy and happy. I was doing great all through December. Right up to the afternoon of Christmas Eve when I was doing dishes in our little kitchen in the apartment I lived in with three other missionaries. It suddenly hit me that approximately 6000 miles away, my family was sitting down at the Christmas dinner table without me. I sobbed into the dishwater for a while and then I tried to shake it off, trying to convince myself that I was having a splendid adventure and experiencing an American Christmas for what might be the only time in my life. (!) I actually did pretty well until we went to this sweet family's house for Christmas Eve Dinner and they had a buffet style meal with crackers and other snacks. It was not what I expected and certainly not what I was used to for Christmas Eve and the absence of my family and our traditions made my heart ache.

In the years since, I have spent only a couple of Christmases with my parents and sister and it is still the time of year that makes me miss them the most. Of course, I have had wonderful holidays with my husband, my children and the people we love here in the US and I adore the traditions we are creating in our little family. Like I said, I love December and I certainly don't spend all my time sobbing into the dishwater. I do think back fondly to the Christmases of my childhood; remembering the smell of goose roasting in the oven, the sweet flavor of rødkål, the smell of pine, our Christmas tree all lit up by beautiful lights and decked out in ornaments as old as I. I remember the tree with beautifully wrapped presents underneath and the excitement of seeing them.
I make my kids dress up, because that's what we did for Christmas Eve and it made it even more special. We open a few presents on Christmas Eve as well as a nod to how it's supposed to be done. Ahem, I mean, done in Denmark... Just like when I was a child, Santa may ring the doorbell as he drops by, and there will be no cheese-and-crackers Christmas Dinners. And hopefully, some day, my kids will think back with only happy memories of their Christmases as well.

Thus, with a nod to the ghost of Christmas past - thank you mom and dad for making Christmas my favorite time of year. Thank you for traditions, for everything you sacrificed so that Lou and I could be spoiled and happy.
And mostly, so very much, thank you for the love you always poured out on us in abundance.

Glædelig Jul!