A belated but very merry Christmas to all! We had (and are continuing to have) a very crazy and singular experience of the Christmas season, and it's not only the heat that is throwing me for a loop. As briefly as possible, our Christmas....
The day before Christmas Eve, both Bernadette and Little Buddy crashed. Bernadette woke up at 5 am on December 23rd with burning skin, a racing heart, loud shallow breathing, and what Kiwis call a "grizzly" disposition. At 8 am we were able to take her to a doctor, but she was so angry that he simply gave her some medicine and asked us to bring her back in an hour so that he could examine her when calm. We returned as directed, but at no point did this poor doctor get to examine a calm child. He diagnosed her with an infection of some sort, requesting that we return in 24 hours (unless she had an amazing recovery overnight, which seemed quite doubtful to all present). He also had the nurse affix a little plastic bag to her bottom to catch her urine for analysis. Unfortunately, we very promptly forgot all about the bag and sat her in the high chair an hour later and were stunned and horrified to watch FLOODS of liquid come cascading over the seat of the high chair onto the dining room carpet. The teensiest bit of urine that we were able to salvage from the bag never made it to doctor's office because by then we had also realized that the hard drive on our computer had crashed. Our brand new Mac. The one with all of our youth talks and schedules and ministry materials. And all the photos from our entire marriage and child raising years, very few of which are backed up. The computer that is alone our connection to the outside world - providing all access to email, Skype, blog (Kelly) and Steelers' scores (Richard). The computer upon which rested all our families' hopes for sharing - via video chat - some part of Christmas with our daughters. Richard raced to the Apple repair store only to be told that they were on holiday until Jan 5. They took a cursory peek at our hard drive, pronounced it "crashed", and warned that there was no promise that they would be able to salvage anything off of it.
Christmas Eve witnessed the barely hoped for "amazing recovery"of little Bernadette. She woke up cool, smiling, playful and healthy. We all enjoyed a beautiful Christmas Eve (as long as no one counts the "discussion" Richard and I had at the dinner table about whether or not the best time to try to reinstall an infant carseat is 5 minutes after your wife has put Christmas Eve dinner on the table). Happily, we were able to sort out ultimately that the aforementioned time is decidedly not a good time for car seat adjustments of any sort and everyone returned to the appropriate festive holiday spirit. We went on to have a lovely evening of laying out presents and praying before the parish Creche. Richard was able to bike down to the beach and watch the sunset while I wrote out his card and cards for the girls. I'd love to post the stunning photos he took of the Christmas Eve sunset and the Christmas morning sunrise, but I'm on a borrowed computer at the moment and can't get any photos off our camera.
There is so much to say about Christmas day itself, but I think the most succinct summary will do nicely. The day began before dawn (as do Christmases in most homes with small children) with delight, joy and wonder....but, 4 chocolate novelties, 7 hours of nonstop excitement (in the summer heat), and 15 Gielens later, I found myself covered in vomit and holding a shaking, sobbing, incoherent Maria who barely even seemed aware that she had just thrown up all over Mama no less than five times. As always is the case when Maria is sick all over me, I marveled at a love that would actually feel honored about being vomited on. I don't mind at all that she has never thrown up anywhere else besides on me - I truly prefer that she chooses me over a heartless and germy toilet bowl. That must be true love. Or true insanity. One of those two. But then my second thought was the awful realization that we were at Fr Michael Gielen's family's home and I am just finishing my 6th month of pregnancy and there are probably no spare maternity clothes laying around anywhere. Normally, being covered in vomit is a very VERY temporary arrangement, but I feared that I might be stuck in this awful state for the long haul. So I was extremely thankful for the Christmas graces of a fresh t-shirt and pair of shorts. We whisked Maria home, put her straight to bed and have had no upheavals of any sort since.
Since then we have been flitting about New Zealand, trying to make the most of the next month of downtime. We went to our first Kiwi wedding and reception, held at our first Kiwi Cathedral, followed by our first visit to a Kiwi Zoo. All this took place in Cambridge and Hamilton (our first foray to the "other side" of the north island). We have a beachfront camping trip planned in the Coromandel (all the way at the top of the north island) and are also hoping to go way down to the bottom of the north island to see Wellington and Masterton. Our home will be a construction site as of tomorrow - the office is being expanded into the hallway outside our living room, which provides an added incentive to get out of town for a few days!
We wish everyone a holy and grace-filled 2011! We'll post again when Little Buddy is returned (hopefully with all our photos and documents intact). If anyone knows of a patron saint of computers, now is the time for his or her intercession!