‘Twas the Week After Christmas…

and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, except the rug-rats!

I love this week after Christmas – all the hustle and bustle comes to halt, and we finally get a chance to SLOW down and enjoy the “peace of Christmas” – a chance to focus on family, set aside work responsibilities, play with new toys and old friends before the kids go back to school, enjoy the Christmas decorations after getting home from all your travels for just a few more days! (For the Manders family, our “week” was just a couple of days at home between trips, and now D is back at work, but the kids and I are still enjoying a few more SLOW days.) BUT, I am realizing how different this week “off” feels from how it used to feel “B.C.”, before children. As a parent, you can never ignore ALL your responsibilities – the children have to be fed an occasional veggie (something other than goldfish and Christmas cookies).  And it is rare that you get to TOTALLY relax – the minute you sit down with a cup of coffee and a book, you hear a whack and a scream from the other room. “B.C.” there was that year Dustin and I went skiing in Colorado with friends (before they had kids, too) – hitting the slopes during the day and the hot tub, wine, and card games at night. Back at home in the peaceful “B.C.” apartment there was time to read the latest O Magazine, finish a scrapbook (Lowry), paint the kitchen, make home-made chicken stock (Dustin), time to go to brunch, and watch the entire fabulous West Wing series from the new box set. “B.C.” There was time for sex before and/or after brunch, in the kitchen (not really, but maybe the living room) or during (well, after) West Wing. (We were not actually sex-crazed,  but “B.C.” there was always the possibility of sex that just doesn’t exist with little roomies – you know what I mean.) And remember those college breaks? There was nothing to do but get together with friends, sleep in, go to movies… Oh, funny how the nostalgic mind plays tricks on you… I now recall that I did work long hard shifts (most overnight) at The Container Store for several winter breaks in college to earn extra money, but between them, I could do whatever I wanted to do! Now, it’s almost all about the kids! (Am I sounding a little selfish in my reminiscing?) I know, I knowNEWS-FLASH, Lowry! You are a MOMMY, and have been for over 4 years now. But it seems to me that I never truly appreciated all those big and little “B.C.” freedoms until it was too late! Not until the little dictators had come in and taken over my home and my life with all their demands! (Take note brother Jake and SIL Sarah, expecting dear little dictator #1 in June.) And here’s what I’m supposed to say, now…”Of course, I wouldn’t trade the joys of parenthood for all the afternoon sex and West Wing episodes in the world!” And it’s true.

Here are a few of my latest JOYS!

  • Hearing the kids spontaniously singing LOTS of Christmas songs together, including this very enthusiastic version of  “Joy to the World”. We were lighting the joy candle on the Advent wreath, and I had just explained that joy was when you you are so happy that it spreads to others – hopefully you’ll catch a bit by watching this:  \”Joy to the World\” duet video


  •  Watching MJ do his own interpretive dancing to The Nutcracker Ballet on PBS. (Great way to totally wear him out!) Sadly, I didn’t get video of that, but I did get it of MJ dancing along to cousin Jonathan’s musical performance in New Braunfels. The kids set up chairs in the playroom (a former gym with great mirror walls) for the concert, but after the grown-ups left the room, MJ enjoyed using each chair for a different dance move!Chair Dancing video Now that is pure, unbridled joy! When is the last time you let it loose like that? (New Year’s resolution: dance more!)


  • Watching MJ and Ellie as joyful kings in the children’s pageant on Christmas Eve. They chose the role together, helped each other with the crowns, walked up onto the chancel holding hands, and sang with full hearts and voices to “We Three Kings”! They went home discussing what they will be next year. (MJ wants to be a shepherd and wants Ellie to be his sheep, but surely he knows by now that her personality is more like a bull!)

    2 Wise people

    2 wise people at the manger


  • Hearing E singing along with all the aunts, uncles, and cousins as we caroled at Heimat (a family tradition).Ellie singing \”Gloria\” Unlike her rendition of “Joy to the World”, here she is showing her good vocal technique which makes music teacher/ choral director Mommy proud!


  • Another JOY on our trip to New Braunfels was a family dip in the hot tub, and playing hide and seek among the old oak trees at Heimat (our German family “Home Place”), the same trees where my mom and I played when we were each growing up.

wearing Spanish moss at Heimat

  • MJ was also pure JOY when Daddy did a simple science experiment with him from the new science kit that Santa brought him. “Dancing Bubbles” it was called  – mixing baking soda and citric acid (you can squeeze an orange slice) with a bit of water to watch the chemical reaction. It takes so little to make him happy when it’s something he’s interested in. (Another New Year’s Resolution: make time to do the things they love with them, especially these simple things!)

Simple science = pure JOY

  • A couple of joys on our road trip home from New Braunfels – Ellie waited until after Daddy got her out of the car to throw up twice in our driveway, MJ quietly watched the Planet Earth DVD, and there was no traffic by the outlet malls! But the best part was our funny Christmas poem. Dustin and the kids helped me compose a Christmas “mad lib” of sorts based on the familiar Christmas poem, and we’ll add on next year. I asked them to brainstorm words for household objects, kitchen appliances, favorite TV characters, body parts, directional prepositions (that one was lost on the kids), etc. and what we ended up with gave us all a good laugh….

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a kitty cat.

The dinosaur pictures were hung by the chimney with care in hopes that Olivia soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds while visions of sugarplums danced in their shoulders.

And Ma in her kerchief and I in my cap had just settled our hands for a long winter’s nap.

When out in Chicago there arose such a clatter, I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the panini press I flew like a flash, tore open the shutters, and threw up the spoon.

The moon on the breast of the new-falled snow gave a luster of mid-day to objects above.

When what to my wondering spleen should appear, but a miniature sleigh and 8 tiny dogs.

With a little old driver so lively and quick, I knew in a moment it must be Mr. Rogers!

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came, and he whistled and ran and called them by name:

‘Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now, Prancer and Vixen! 

On, Comet! On, Cupid! On, Donder and Abraham Lincoln!

To the top of the porch to the top of the table! Now dash away, dash away, dash away all!”

Hope you and your family have shared some JOY-filled moments this week after Christmas! As always, I’d love to hear about them through your comments.




  1. Tamara says:

    ooh – I totally want to do that Christmas madlib next year

    • I know! My idea was to do this activity at our Family Christmas Eve Brunch, but we didn’t get around to it. So, I’ll remind all you blog-followers about it in time for Christmas parties and activities next year!

  2. Meredith says:

    As always Lowry, you made me smile, laugh and reminisce right along with you on the B.C. times! Thanks for the walk down memory lane…..now off to go make some veggies! =)

  3. Melanie says:

    When what to my wondering SPLEEN should appear? Hahahaha! Dustin has marked them! I love this game, and I love the videos, too.