It’s over!

Christmas can be kind of crazy for us… with both our families nearby, all my grandparents alive and food to bring to everything, not to mention the fact that all our gifts were homemade… Let’s just say that at the end of the SIX celebrations we tend to lay in the middle of the floor and not pick up the phone for a day. This year has been a lot of running around, but it hasn’t felt as crazy to me as it has in the past. I never would’ve guessed considering this was the first year with the baby. Maybe I just don’t feel overwhelmed like I used to. I’m sad to say that I forgot to take pictures of my crafting this year- although I don’t know how I forgot because I was pretty pleased with everything this year. I’ll take some pictures soon, when I see people- specifically of the quilt that I made for my sister, because that was a long time coming.
Baby was a hit. Yesterday at one of the extended Yoder celebrations, we walked in and I was stopped not 10 feet from the door by all the women cooing over Vera. She just clung to me and looked around at everyone with those huge eyes while they all said "Hiiiii!" in squealy voices. It was funny. Jeff commented to some of the men that he was surprised I got that far. I was just sure to say reassuring things to her in a confident voice. I can’t imagine what that kind of thing must be like for a little baby. She was such a champ, too. She let lots of people hold her, she only had to touch-base with me from time to time. My sweet girl. She got some fun stuff, too. I didn’t even think about getting her presents, she’s more interested in eating the wrapping, but it was fun to see her discover some of the cute wooden puzzles and fit the oversized coins into her new piggy bank.
All the while I couldn’t help but imagine what we’ll end up doing with our kids for the holidays. I hope that we come up with a tradition that I feel comfortable with on a moral level, but also one that fills my kids heads with magic and beauty and fun. I hope I can find a way to highlight the joy of generosity in the gift-giving, to show them how precious family is, etc. I hope to also teach them the importance of recognizing the ways in which it’s all gone wrong and greedy and wasteful, and redirect them to loving the earth and the season and fellowship in the place of all that they’ll be missing. We’ll have fun, I’m sure.

Vera has been a busy little lady lately. She’s signing "milk" more consistently, and occasionally signs "more" although not always in a context that I can understand. It’s cute though, to see those fat little fingers trying to communicate. I love it all. She thinks it’s hilarious to put her toys in my mouth. I just do a little growl and grab them with my teeth and she’ll just giggle and giggle. She just started to dance, which is nothing short of awesome. She shakes her head "no" but tends to think it’s a big game and does it with a huge smile on her face, which just makes us laugh and smile and encourages her to think it’s all funny. Then she’ll start clapping and it’s just all too cute…

The house has been a major source of excitement lately. We are really just kind of blessed about it all. We got locked into a 30 year fixed rate of 4.375%, which apparently is just insanely low. We also got a $5,000 grant towards our closing costs, and we’re only left with about $2,300 out of pocket at the end of it all, which we have in savings no problem. With the other guy we were working with it was looking like 6k when all was said and done. I dunno, as time goes by just more and more opens up for us. All that, in addition to the fact that this great house is only 70k- I just see us really being in a good spot. We are going to actually save money doing this. Amazing.

We were hanging out with my dad’s side of the family on Christmas evening. Jeff was chatting with my uncle, and he was asking about what Jeff was planning on doing now that he graduated and all. Jeff told him about how maybe he’ll do something with his degree, maybe not, but that our general plan was to be as close to broke as possible while maintaining our happiness. I had never heard it put this way, I just thought of it as living as close to "off the grid" as possible, but I thought about it and it really does come down to money. So I started thinking about it the way that Jeff was.
In this world, money means comfort, status, success… but it seems to me that the more immeshed in the system you are, the more troubles you have, and the more you contribute to immoral and unsustainable practices. I’m a pacifist, but that doesn’t stop my tax dollars from going to war and violence. To some degree we are all helpless to it. In talking about it, though, it got us wondering just how helpless we really are. How free can we become? Growing our own food is definitely top on this list. We need money for food and that keeps us working for it. The more food we grow, the less money we need. Step number one. Buying this house, as strange as it seems, is a step in that direction for us. Hopefully we’ll pay it off fast and we’ll be only paying property taxes on it. Ok, food- check. Shelter- check. Now we can start thinking about trading for other things. I can volunteer at the food co-op and save 15% on food there. More money saved. Anyway. Goal- to be as close to broke as possible… Viva la Revolution!

Here are some pictures from the past week with family.

This is the branding iron I got for Jeff- I love it. It came just in time to be branded into the beautiful kitchenette that Jeff made for little Tuula this year. Man, I can’t believe I forgot to take pictures of this stuff! He loves it and I’m sure it’s gonna get lots of use.

The kids (Jeff’s nieces and nephews) all sitting in front of their presents. I love how Vera is just plopped in the middle sort of clueless. Sweet baby. Next year it will be so much more exciting.

My grandparents, especially on my paternal side, are just growing old and weak. Even though it can be crazy, I’m grateful that I have this time with them. Jeff was thoughtful and wanted to get a picture of Vera and I with my grandma. I really love it, but when we showed my grandma she said she looked like an old hag. Psh. I think she looks nothing of the sort. She looks beautiful to me. I really hope I’m not self-deprecating when I grow older. Or ever again, actually. I used to complain about the way I looked in high school, and really I had absolutely nothing to complain about, looking back. I’m just going to always operate under the assumption that I’m wrong about that stuff. When I’m 90 years old the last thing I’ll be worried about are… well, a lot of things.

We went to meet with our loan person- thinking it’d be an hour or two- and we ended up staying for over FIVE hours. Well worth it, but we spent some of the time fiddling around with the camera.

And for good measure:


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