25 Days of Christmas Classics

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I posted last week on Instagram my pile of Christmas books that are all wrapped up for the countdown to Christmas.  I have been collecting these books over the course of years.  I intend to further change this list.  You will find an abundance of Jan Brett books.  That is because 1) I love Jan Brett and 2) I got a great deal on a lot of used Jan Brett books a couple of years back, and so they filled up my spaces to 25 books quickest.  However, I don’t like how heavy on Jan Brett books this list is, so I have a wish list that I’m replacing a few of them as I can afford it.  I try to do at least 1 or 2 books from my wish list in nice hardback each year.  Some books were from garage sales, or just given to me.  Since some of these books are handpicked, and some are thrown in, I’m adding a rating system so you know how much we love this book, and maybe a clue as to how long it will be in our Christmas rotation.  (4-5 stars will most certainly be staying!)

They are in no particular order.  We always pick them randomly.  Affiliate links given.

1. Merry Christmas Curious George!  by H.A. Rey

This is Ingrid’s all time favorite book.  She’s a George groupie.  I made the mistake of leaving this book in our normal book library through the year because she loves it so much, but now it is despised by all the other kids.  However, George is always classic.  I’m not a big fan of “commercial” books, but since George books came before the movie/show, I still consider him great.  (I know I’m a snob.  I’m so sorry.)  It’s not the deepest Christmas book out there, but for the little ones, this is good.  Most especially if your kids love characters and you are trying to transition to great literature, this is a decent bridge.  4 out of 5 stars.

2. How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss

Does this one need explanation?  This is also a favorite for the little ones, but also for the big ones.  It’s big in imagination, great message, with great illustrations, and it’s Seuss, so the writing is lyrical and hysterical. 5 out of 5 stars.

3. Christmas Day in the Morning by Pearl S. Buck

On a completely different tone, this is a book about a boy growing up on a dairy farm.  As Christmas creeps up, and his sisters and mother start making gifts, he tries to figure out what he can afford to give his dad.  He decides that he will wake up 2 hours early (3am instead of 5am) to milk the cows so that his dad can be present while his kids open up their presents Christmas morning…something his dad has never been able to do because of the cows.  In the end, this books is a tear jerker, and it is one that effected my son David deeply.  It brings to light the idea that service is a gift that touches people in unexpected and intimate ways. 5 out of 5 stars.

4. Why Christmas Trees Aren’t Perfect by Richard Schneider

This story takes place in the woods where all the trees work their hardest to be picked by the queen to be the official Christmas tree in the castle.  They try their best to be rigid and grow straight without distractions.  One little tree, though, can’t help but lower his branches to shelter a rabbit from wolves, to curl around a little bird caught in a blizzard, and so on.  He ends up being crooked, but in the end, this is his beauty.  4 out of 5 stars.

5. The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski

When a woodcarver who is bitter after losing his family gets a job to replace a carved nativity for a single mother and her little boy, the most unexpected thing happens.  The mother brings the little boy over to watch the carving each day, and the little boy drives the woodcarver crazy.  He describes how the old set had a sheep that had a certain expression, or Mary’s shawl looked very different, and all the ways the woodcarver is doing it wrong.  As the man hears the little boy describe each piece as he works on it, he considers the message of the nativity all over again, and it changes him forever.  Beautiful illustrations too.  5 out of 5 stars.

6. The Nutcracker by Susan Jeffers

I picked up a hardback version at a garage sale, and can’t find a link to it, but the link above would be the version if I were to buy it new.  The classic ballet is timeless, and part of our culture.  It’s great to listen to Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece along with it.  3 out of 5 stars (because my version, not the one linked, is painfully long for the kids).

7. Home for Christmas by Jan Brett

8. The Twelve Days of Christmas by Jan Brett

9. The Mitten by Jan Brett

10. The Wild Christmas Reindeer by Jan Brett

11.  The Trouble with Trolls by Jan Brett

12. Annie and the Wild Animals by Jan Brett

I’ll just do 1 Jan Brett review.  There is nothing spiritual in her books around the Christmas story, but it is very Scandinavian in it’s illustrations, and the common theme of trolls which is steeped in Norwegian culture and fairy tales.  They are just plain fun, but I have too many in collection to be as diversified as I’d love to be.  The Twelve Days of Christmas (5 stars) is staying for sure, and perhaps Home for Christmas as well, though that’s tied with The Wild Christmas Reindeer.

13. The Christmas Wish by Lori Evert

I found this one in a Nordic Needlepoint store, and if you love things along the arctic circle, you will love this book.  It’s real life photography with magical elements added throughout to make this into such a realistic, possible fairy tale.  5 out of 5 stars.

14. The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

I remember reading this book as a kid long before the movie.  The gorgeous illustrations in this book inspired the movie, and I remember being worried that the movie wouldn’t be able to capture the beauty of it.  (I do approve of the movie, as they did a fantastic job on it, but the book will always, always have my heart.) 5 out of 5 stars

15. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

This is an abridged version to fit into a picture book.  The illustrations with this is gorgeous, and the editing really does a nice job of maintaining the language of Dickens without simplifying it too much.  I don’t mind reading my kids language above them.  In fact, I prefer it. 5 out of 5 stars

16. The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry

A story about a poor couple, very much in love.  You will either love this book or hate it.  But it’s a classic.  Spoiler: The husband wants to badly to get his wife a beautiful Christmas gift, and knowing she’s had her eyes on some beautiful combs for her hair, he sells his prized pocket watch to give them to her.  The wife, knowing his prized possession of a pocket watch, gets him a chain for it so he can wear it properly, and sells her hair to pay for it.  This story is masterfully told, and talks about love and sacrifice.  4 out of 5 stars.

17. The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado

This is a great little nativity story, and I wish my kids liked it a bit more.  It goes a bit slow for them, but if we play it up with some sheep-like craft or activity, it holds.  I love it for myself.  I love the illustrations and the message.  But my kids think it’s slow.  I’m hoping this year that will change.  Because of their input, I’ll give it 3.5 out of 5 stars.

18. The Tale of Three Trees by Angela Hunt

This book hits the ball out of the park.  I’ll just tell you right off it’s 5 out of 5 stars.  It’s the story of 3 trees, who have a dream of what they want to be.  God takes their dream, and they go through a period of humbling and misunderstanding, until at last the most beautiful possible version of their dream comes true.  This story connects the manger to the cross, and what the Jesus was born on this earth for in the first place.  So, so well done.

19. Song of the Stars: A Christmas Story by Sally Lloyd-Jones

I immediately bought this book because let’s face it: it’s by Sally Lloyd-Jones, the author of the Jesus Storybook Bible which is my all time favorite Children’s “Bible.”  (I have issues calling bible stories “Bible” as that shouldn’t be for paraphrases, or adding liberties, but for actually translated from original language- Scripture.  It’s a semantic issue I have.  But I love how this at least says it’s a “Storybook Bible.”)

Her other books make me cry ugly tears as God’s grace is revealed in the most beautiful depth, and the book is for children!  I’d read her storybook Bible as a devotional even without kids!  So this Song of the Stars is her story of how all creation joined in the singing with the heavens on the night that Jesus was born.  It is also stunning, breathtaking, and helps you imagine what was going on in heaven and in all creation as they watched God’s story unfold. 5 out of 5 stars.

20. Ollie’s Ski Trip by Elsa Belskow

Elsa Belskow is one of my favorite illustrators, ever since one of Knut’s aunts gave us Pelle’s New Suit when Silje was born, which is one of my all time favorite children books now.  Her books are lovely.  I got this book because we are a big ski family, and you can’t go wrong with Elsa Belskow.  The book is a bit long for my kids, and I wish it was big with large illustrations like our other books by her, instead of small with many pages, as it’s tricky to read to our family with bunches of kids.  So we have our logistical issues with this book, but I still think it’s beautiful.  3 out of 5 stars.  If I had 1 kid with a longer attention span, I’d give it a much higher rating.

21. Winter’s Gift by Jane Donovan

This is a beautifully illustrated book, also about Christmas on the farm, and talks about love and the bond between a man and his horse.  Ultimately it’s about sacrifice and love.  Lovely, lovely book.  4 out of 5 stars.

22. Snipp, Snapp and Snurr and the Reindeer by Maj Lindman

This is a cut, funny little book in the Scandinavian series on Snipp, Snapp, and Snurr.  It’s a whimsical, lighthearted story full of fun.  4 out of 5 stars (because I have a major soft spot for Scandinavian picture books, if you couldn’t tell.)

23. The Christmas Message by Claire Miller

This is a very traditional, basic nativity story that can be found in your church library.  There’s nothing wrong with having a basic story, but if we are going basic, I’d rather just read it from Luke 2.  But the kids love it, and we got it free.  3 out of 5 stars.

24. Race of the Birkebeiners by Lise Lunge-Larsen

If you have followed this blog for awhile, you know that my husband skis the huge 55k cross country ski race every year in Wisconsin.  It’s called The Birkie.  It’s an enormous race, with thousands of participants from all over the world.  One year when we were there, the author of this book was signing copies, and we got one for the kids.  The Birkie race is based off of the story of how The Birkebeiners in Norway saved crown Prince Haakon from being kidnapped.  With birchbark on their legs as armor, these guys strapped Prince Haakon on their backs, and skied him 55k to safety.  The Birkebeiner race in Norway every year is waaaaaaay bigger, in the tens of thousands (on Knut’s bucket list) and they require their skiers to carry 8 lbs on their back to represent Prince Haakon, so it’s a bit tougher.  So it’s not a Christmas story, but a story that is deep in our family’s winter culture.  So 4 out of 5 stars.  (Though, I’d like to move this book to our regular library and move in a more Christmas-y book in the future.)

25. Good King Wenceslas by John Neale

This is another gorgeous book, detailed illustrations, about the story behind the Christmas carol.  Why was Good King Wenceslas good?  You’ll have to read to find out.  Very, very well done.  5 out of 5 stars.

As you can tell, there are some books I’d like to swap in for some “lesser” books in years to come.  I would love a great version of the little drummer boy, and a historically based St. Nicholas tale.  Also, The Little Match girl is on my wish list.


I would love to state quickly (haha) too, our family’s view on Santa stuff, as that seems to be a big debate in Christian circles.  Our kids have stockings, and we fill them, and they open them Christmas morning, and we read Santa books, but from the beginning, our kids have known that Santa is based off the historical person of St. Nicholas, who had a habit of helping the poor, and you see all the “legends” of Santa, which points back to his passion to help the poor and needy in Jesus’ name.  So these Santa books are fun, and not evil.  They just are a retelling of the same principle.  But these stories don’t hold a candle to the nativity.  I will say, I would love more books about Jesus in my collection, as Advent is a really important season to me on the church calendar.  As I’m trying to steer my collection more in that direction, I want to also live in the freedom that I don’t have to be legalistic about it.

I would rather have some quality literature in my collection on Santa than very poorly done books on Jesus.  I can’t stand poorly done books on Jesus.  It feels sacrilegious.  It makes me cringe.  And there’s lots of them.  In my heart, I feel like if I speak the truth to my children about God, and show them beauty and art (both the serious side and the whimsical side) regardless of the subject matter of that art, (as long as that art is good and lovely) they will get a better picture of God, His goodness, and His majesty that way.  Even if it’s fiction.  I firmly believe that good fiction honors God.  Non-fiction tells us what we see, and fiction tells us what we can’t see.  When we think that we understand all of God and all of His ways, and He can fit into our tiny little brains, we are in trouble.  “With God all things is possible” is a hard concept to grasp when you have only read non-fiction.

God does not fit into our thoughts, we must get lost in His.  And they are more vast and wise than we can imagine.  Therefore…stretching our imagination is good.  It’s a faith muscle.  It helps us imagine what could be, and some would argue, help us stretch our faith. C.S. Lewis and Tolkein lived by these principles.  Fiction is incredibly important.

And that’s a small tangent from someone who got a literature major at a Christian college.

We do separate Advent readings.  I would love more Advent books.  Some of my favorites are:

Unwrapping the Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp, and I really like her adult version of her Advent devotionals even better, but they cannot be used for kids.  I’ve tried.  Her kids book has great illustrations, and she has some great Advent activities to do in the kids’ book, and those are very good.  As Advent books go, this is on the top.  As far as adult devotionals go, this Advent one by Bonhoeffer is on my wish list.  Next year, maybe.  I’ll go through Ann’s book again this year.

Bartholomew’s Passage by Arnold Ytreeide is an Advent reading that the older kids and I will read after the little ones have gone to bed.  It will be our big-kids read aloud for this month.  I have heard by several parents that it is exceptionally good, but surprisingly suspenseful.  It’s too suspenseful for little kids, so I have been cautioned by more than one parent to gauge your kids’ maturity before reading it aloud.  I don’t know.  We’ll see.  We were given it many years ago, and are finally going through it this year.

What are some of your favorite all-time Christmas books?


Good Afternoon


Good afternoon, dear friends!  The other day when I woke up in this silent part of the early morning, I looked out my window and couldn’t see anything besides this amazing, intricate pattern of frost etched on the whole window.  I sat up and just stared at it.  Just like sunsets, frost patterns on my window take my breath away.  I can’t draw very well.  I don’t even doodle on the side of pages very well, but while I was sleeping, this frost made one of the most detailed designs as the cold air and moisture came together.  Nature is a wonder, isn’t it?

We are starting to get used to Knut being home more.  I think we are finally over the harvest re-entry hump.  The house hasn’t recovered from harvest yet, though.  My oven door handle is still a coat hanger, and Knut has replaced several lightbulbs, and while he was working on getting the trim put back on the front door that needed to be reframed, somehow one of the glass panes in our beloved fireplace got a crack.  We heat that thing like crazy in the winter, but with a crack in it, Knut and I both hesitate on really pushing the fire to be too hot, and so we’ve kept a fire going most days just for a bit of heat.  But it’s not enough so we turned on our propane heater that’s usually there just for backup/vacations to prevent pipe freezing.  Propane heat is not the same.  It’s not the same at all.  So that glass is pretty up there on the fix-it list too.

The number of things that need to be fixed seem to be more this year than usual.  Our van tires are in desperate need of replacing too, especially with icy winter upon us, that has to take high priority.  If it were just one thing, we’d be set.  It feels like it’s 20 things right now.

And yet, this old, falling apart farmhouse is still my favorite place to be these days.  It’s just home.  I can’t believe Advent starts next Sunday.  I see the days so full on my calendar during the peaceful time of Advent, and I wonder how I will quiet the rush and “prepare him room.”  I don’t know yet.

My mother-in-law has been offering to take Silje to orchestra most days when she has to go, and that has been a huge load off of my hurried schedule.  Silje has gotten a lot of extra time with her grandma this way, and I think that’s so neat too.  Knut’s mother’s mother is at a nursing home in town, and she will often go and look in on her, and has been able to work that around Silje’s orchestra schedule so I’m not running into town multiple times a day anymore.

Elias turned 7, and Solveig got sick.  So we ate his cake as a family and gave him the presents from us, but his “big” party with extended family was postponed.  That was followed by David and Elias being sick.  Silje thought she was going to throw up all one day, but ended up not.  She looked pretty awful and laid down the whole day, though.  Now we are left with just a nasty sounding cough echoing through the rooms.  For a germ running through our house, this one was pretty tame, and went through quick.

We made up Elias’ extended family birthday party last minute yesterday with a cake from the freezer and an impromptu gathering after church.  I guess I was just waiting to see who was going to get sick next and didn’t want to jinx it.

I’ve been fighting with my old friend, “depression” many mornings.  It must not be as bad as other times, it’s actually very different because school has been going on like clockwork, and we are getting so much done.  I don’t feel like doing anything, and yet I’m doing it, and I don’t know how that is happening.  But for the grace of God, I think.  I heard Sarah Mae refer to that as “functional depression” and that’s a great term for it.

I think I know why the depression is here this time.  It’s been a few days of feeling better, and I didn’t do anything different.  I’ve been working so hard on writing this Bible study, and I’ve made such progress, and I’m just getting filled up and overflowing from all I’m learning.

But then in the morning…

before I even get out of bed, I wake up, hear my kids whining downstairs with Knut at the breakfast table, and I start to hear the lies.  I start to think, “What am I doing thinking I can write a Bible study?  I am the most unqualified person ever.  Is what I wrote last night even make sense?  I’m a terrible mother.  Listen to my kids down there.  I haven’t taught them anything.  Today is going to be awful.  I can’t do it today.  I can’t teach today.  I can’t mother today.  I can’t write today.  And cooking? I don’t even know what anyone is eating today.  That’s going to be awful.  I’m so sick of food.  I’m a terrible cook.  I am so bad at this…all of this.  I suck at all of this.  I want to stay in bed.  I have nothing to teach, nothing to say, nothing of significance.  I’m a fraud.  If people knew how truly awful I was at everything…”

The internal tangent usually ends in tears, and I know they are lies.  Sometimes I know.  I end up fighting back, sometimes holding my knees to my chest as I lay there and start singing to myself the old Sunday School song I learned many years ago,

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus
There’s just something about that name
Master, Savior, Jesus
Like the fragrance after the rain

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus
There’s just something about that name
Master, Savior, Jesus
Like the fragrance after the rain

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus
Let all heaven and earth proclaim

Kings and kingdoms will all pass away
But there’s just something about that name

It calms me down.  I fight off the lies with it, as weird as that sounds.  I grew up hearing that Jesus’ name had spiritual power, and it’s so true.  It’s never once failed me.

 These days are filled with school, running around, training and discipling these kids, chatting with my friends, cooking so much food.  So much food.  I’m not in this survival mode, I’ve switched to this thriving mode, and yet it is so hard.  I feel like I don’t deserve to be in this thriving mode.  I have not “arrived” at anything.  But I am getting so much more done and have figured so much more out, and my pain, my kids, we’re all at a different place then just a couple of years ago.  I don’t think Satan likes this travel-mode switch to thriving, and mornings are hard.  I literally fight my way out of bed and often take me an hour or more to do so.
I should write about this thriving mode, and what I mean specifically by that.  I’ll write that down.  Sometimes thriving isn’t the lack of hard things, it’s the awareness of the battle.  It’s the excitement of the promise.
But in the mean time, I wanted to catch up with my friends here on the blog.  I’d love to hear from as many of you in the comments below on how you’ve been doing these past few weeks.  There are so many questions I’d ask you if you were sitting next to me here in my living room.  For those of you who are international, what do you do in the Fall, if not Thanksgiving?  Does autumn have a theme of gratitude to it anyway, as that often accompanies harvest season?  How are your kids (if you have them)?  Are you working on making some gifts for Christmas?  How are do you fight discouragement, and what keeps you going each day?  What are you reading?  What are you most excited about (or dreading) in the Christmas season nearly upon us?
I love blogging, and feel so blessed to have met as many of you as I have, and I’m always so astonished how many people read the thoughts I type out here.  But sometimes blogging is a lonely way to have a friendship, as so many thoughts go out, and so few come back in return.  I’d love to read how you are doing too.

Yarn Along



My knitting project is a pretty scarf for myself this winter.  I have the most horrible time finding a winter coat.  I’ve learned long ago that people in the Frozen Tundra collect coats.  When I first moved here, I bought a really nice coat, but they just had a size medium.  I’m an XS, so it looks pretty huge on me.  It has served me very well, though, when I am largely pregnant or if I want to baby wear under the coat.

A few years ago, I was hoping to get something that actually fit.  I found a really cute coat, that wasn’t as heavy as I wanted, but it was surprisingly cheap.  That coat is falling apart in multiple places now.  I purchased a heavy wool coat from Land’s End this year, and special ordered it in XS, petite.  It’s still a bit big, but not crazy big.  More like I can wear my biggest sweater underneath and still be comfortable.  Since I’m headed towards a winter way below zero, I’m going to consider that a perk.

I’m also in a big stash busting mode.  I’m trying hard not to purchase any more yarn until the stash is tamed.  I made the Berit Hat, which I still need to photograph.  There’s still a bit of embroidery left to do on that one.  I am using all the rest of my pretty off white stash of Quince chickadee to make this Elena Cowl.  My older kids have taken over so many of my old scarves and hats that I’m determined to make some that I won’t share right now.  Silje is taking so many of my clothes and jackets now that we really just need a bit more.

For reading, I’m thoroughly enjoying Anything by Jennie Allen.  I’ve never read anything by her before, but I know she’s involved in some big things.  I got this book as a part of an online book club I joined.  The first 400 people to sign up for the book club got the book free.  I was one of the first 400, so that was pretty cool.

It feels weird reading this book because so much of what I am reading is so similar to what I’m currently writing in my journal and blog post ideas.  At first I was like, “Is she inside my head?”  Then I realized again that God is doing something big, and he’s pretty consistent.  Sometimes the Holy Spirit tells a people something, and we all nod in agreement and say: yes, this is good.

So far I’m loving this book.  I love how she talks about her desperate need for God, and how sometimes we are so sick of needing God.  We want to just once pick our own selves up.  Her prayer is one I’ve been struggling with for awhile.  Do we really trust God with our lives?  Are we willing to lay it all down for whatever his plan might be?  There’s some great, good thoughts in here.

Taming Mama Bear


Being a mama bear just comes with being a mom.  I cannot begin to imagine how to describe the fear a mother lives with every day. There’s the big fears like cliffs, long hard stairways, choking, drowning, electrocution, and busy streets.  Then there’s the smaller concerns like being around a sick person, eating dirt, and daddies that throw too high.  Most of a child’s first years we are protecting them.  Baby gates, mesh crib bumpers, electrical socket covers.

I’m in new territory.

I’m going to be honest.  I do not have the fondest memories of middle school.  Actually, they are pretty awful.  Those were unforgiving years.  I had friends at church, but I went to a different school than all of them.  I did have one friend at school who would chat with me at the bus stop, but I didn’t have any classes with her.  We did sit together at lunch sometimes too.  We actually had very little in common, but she was nice and there’s something about just having someone to sit with so you weren’t alone.  I think she needed me as much as I needed her for that.  I’m still friends with her, in fact.  (The beauty of Facebook.)  There was one other close friend, and we had a ton in common, and were like sisters there for awhile.  Then her parents got divorced and I never saw her again.  That was the heartbreak there.

You would think that I could protect my daughter from the “mean girls” as she is homeschooled.  Well, that wasn’t my intention.  I just kinda hoped it was a bonus.

But, no.  It turns out “mean girls” are everywhere.  Probably because sin is everywhere.  It’s in school, churches, and activities.  My daughter has encountered a relationship where her charm and wit aren’t enough.  She can’t win over this friendship and she’s tried everything.  One of her friends manipulates her she doesn’t know why.

We’ve been talking a lot.  All the moms who have been through this age say just keep them talking.  It’s hard, because I love silence.  But the more I follow this advice, the more I see the wisdom in it.  Talk even when you don’t feel like talking.  Talk when you are tired.  Talk when they are open.  Let them talk it out, and make the time.

I know almost all my daughter’s friends.  She makes them so fast it’s hard to keep up.  When I hear of someone being mean to her, or rude to her, or pit other friends against her in the games girls play, I’m so tempted to let my “mother bear” loose.  I actually have thought about it.  I’ve prayed about it.  I’ve fantasized about it.

Some other advice that I got from another mother from a couple of years ago, though, has been stuck in my head.  In their house, they welcomed failures because each one was an opportunity to teach their child something that they wouldn’t learn otherwise.  While it’s not exactly a failure we’re working with, it’s a situation that has been handed to me on a silver platter.

1. I’ve realized that this is when I can teach my daughter to pray for those who hurt her, and then pray with her.

2. I’ve realized that this is when I can teach my daughter about healthy boundaries in relationships.

3. I’ve realized that my daughter needs these lessons on how to deal with difficult people with grace, who are likely dealing with situations of their own that are beyond our reach to fix.

I called up my own mom the other day, and told her how I’ve decided not to get involved in the dialogue between girls, but to hold my daughter’s hand through it.  I’ve decided not to protect her from it.  I’ve decided to stand by her side as she endures it, and not be her shield.

I honestly think being her shield would feel better than what I’m feeling now.

My mom, I think, hurt just hearing about it, because she knows all too well the hurt of watching your child hurt, and the realization you reach when your child reaches a certain age when you are certain that you can’t protect them from everything, and you have to start using wisdom when to protect them, and when to stand alongside them, holding their hand.  Which stance to take various from situation and situation, which makes it so hard.

I think my mom hurt more for me than for my daughter. (Though I’m sure she felt that too.)  I’m her child, and she saw me hurting, so she hurt alongside me.  She’s still my mom and she still feels it deeply, though thousands of miles apart.  I’m just watching my daughter go through middle school friendships.  I cannot imagine watching her go through motherhood.

I’m grateful, though, that my mom is still holding my hand as I face things.  She still picks up the phone at her work just to make sure I know her door is always open when it comes to me.  I’m in my thirties.  She doesn’t tell me what to do anymore, but she’s still holding my hand as I endure it.

This repositioning, this moving away from guarding my daughter to being her right hand counsel…it’s foreign.  I’m surprised how much it feels like friendship.  Our relationship is changing.  Not overnight, and not like a light switch.  It’s more like a sunrise, when the light starts to change color.

I’ve always had this idea of what parenting preteens and teens would look like.  Change is scary, both for parents and children.  I’m probably more uncertain as a mother now than I was when my daughter was a newborn. I’ve just been leaning on these moms who are looking back and advising me on things like, “Just keep the conversation open,” and “use this as an opportunity to make her stronger and full of wisdom.”  I’ve been scared.

But now I’m starting to see the light slowly changing color.  These twinkly stars of a little girl that I adore are fading, and I get so scared, but then I realize it’s not that the stars are going away, it’s that the entire sky is starting to change.  I get to witness that, as painful as it is some days.  I wish that I could remove all the painful parts of life and leave only the good.  But that’s not up to me.

There were times I was just so tired from the events of the day that I just didn’t want to talk, but made myself.  Now I’m listening more and more.  The other night, I was so tired, and I said I wanted to be alone (like usual).  The little girls were in bed, and the 3 school aged kids were just doing quiet reading/playing by the fireplace as they get to stay up later.  They know that this hour between 8-9 is a household quiet hour.  I just need it.

I got to my quiet space, and I thought of her reading one of my favorite all time books in the other room, and I realized I just wanted to talk to her some more.  I actually got up and went over to hang out with her some more.  (I’m such an introvert and this quiet time in the evening is my oxygen so it’s just not like me.)

I just didn’t feel done.

We talked about the book she was reading, and I asked her what she thought about certain parts.  She loves literature at least as much as me, and it was fun to have a literary discussion just for fun with my little scholar.  It was so beautiful.  The more she talks with me, and asks for my advice, and shares her dreams, and brings forth her ideas, the more I’m just awestruck by the beauty of it all.  Finally she said, “Well Mom, I guess I better go to bed.”

I just…

I’m still just emotional over it.

Parenting a middle schooler certainly has its ups and downs.  But the ups are just so much greater than I could have imagined.  My goodness, this sunrise just takes my breath away.