Thursday, December 23, 2010

Days 15-23: Catching Up

Oh, we've been busy! But I haven't even taken the camera out of it's bag, to be honest. I may have to add a photo or two to this post later. When I find where I stashed my camera with all the holiday tidying going on around here...

On the 15th, Sarah and I kicked off the holiday season by going to see Christmas On the Air at a tiny local theatre. Then I worked late into the night on stuff for the next day's bake sale.

On the 16th, we had our busiest day of the school year. It is always exhausting, but also rewarding. In the morning, parents and kids packed 125 bags for less fortunate people in the school neighbourhood, filled with practical items and homemade shortbread. The kids make each one a card and we parents love to read what they've written each year as we are getting everything organized. In the afternoon, I helped to organize the Bake Sale set-up, then home for an hour before I was back to help run the Bake Sale. Whew! The school has the annual sale along with it's Christmas Sing-Along. There are many musicians at the school so they make up a makeshift band and play along while the kids and their families belt out holiday tunes. I must admit, I was glad to be in the quiet cafeteria, cleaning up after the Bake Sale! It is so hot in that crowded gym!

On the 17th, we were all extremely glad to say good-bye to school for the holidays. Two weeks of sleeping in and wearing pjs as long as we want! We drove around looking at Christmas lights and walked a few blocks of Trinity Street. We still need to return and do the whole things when we are dressed warmer.

On the 18th, Jay and I went to the annual holiday potluck at David and Susan's, sans children. Lots of yummy food and hilarious conversation, which seemed to hover around the topic of vasectomies an awful lot!

On the 19th, we had an annual gathering of friends at K and A's house, complete with kids. Alot of homemade Irish Cream was consumed, and big excitement was in the air with Chris and Diana so close to their due date with their first babe.

On the 20th, my sister came over with Maya and Brynn and we did something in the kitchen. I don't think I can call it baking. Colleen was making up rap songs about Christmas fudge, which nearly had me peeing my pants. Oh, remember the fudge fiasco of last year? It was repeated. Yes, we managed to completely screw up the fudge again this year. I think I have to wait a while before attempting it again. If at all. But our Grandma is gone, and we feel like it still needs to be made, so tackle it we will! I did have success the second time last year...

On the 21st, we celebrated the Winter Solstice with friends. Sarah and Vicki and their families came over for a lovely, relaxing evening. The food was easy (meat and vegan shepherd's pies, mac and cheese, red lentil soup and a yummy salad) and we had a lot of conversation, despite 9 kids running all around us! I'm thinking potluck casserole-type dishes is the the way to entertain withour stress. Hopefully I will remember this at other times of the year! (and next Christmas...)

On the 22nd, it was PopPop's birthday, so we gathered with friends and family for our annual celebration. Usually we host it here, but this year we went to my in-laws. I must say it was a lot more relaxing for us this way, even though we like to do it! Jay and I came home last night feeling ill, we were sooooo FULL! After the kids went to bed, we slumped onto the couch and couldn't move for the next hour or two. Well, except for my hands, which were working the knitting needles. I only have one gift left, which will easily be finished today. I purposely cut down the amount of knit gifts this year, and then took my time with them. I knew I could have sat for two days earlier in the month and knocked them all off, but then I know I would have found a new list of stuff to knit with the time left, so I spread it out and kept it stress-free. I hope I also remember this next year. See the point of blogging? To remind yourself of what you discovered the year before so you don't repeat mistakes!

Today I plan to hit the Drive with Jay to complete our Christmas shopping and gather the remaining food items needed for the Big Day of eating! I've got local, pastured turkey (20 lbs) and ham (10 lbs) plus an enormous bag of Brussel's sprouts, so I'm good to go! I'd better start making my list!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Days 9-14 - Time Flies

Oh, blogging is just not as much fun without some accompanying photos. Alas, the weather in Vancouver is so, well, grey, right now that all my pictures turn out dark. It just doesn't inspire blog posts, truthfully. However, I really enjoyed looking back on last year's holiday posts, if only for ideas this year, and I'd like to look back on this time next year (hopefully to see how frazzled and busy I was and chuckle because Christmas 2011 is soooo relaxing) so continue I must, even with dark photos.
So, what have we been up to this week?
First, the tree was bought and decorated. It is smaller than our usual tree, and fit into the living room easily. Not good. Christmas trees must come with furniture rearranging. Luckily I married someone who agrees (if only because he wants to sweep up dust bunnies) so after pretty much all of our furniture was moved, we are quite pleased. I love the light a tree gives off. I always mourn the loss of it when it is gone.
Only about 1/3 of my decorations fit...I got to pick my favourites so I love it all the more!

A few new birdies were added to my tree this year (this one was gifted to me last year from Sarah)
Remember this one? Love it!

Isla and I have started baking...

I told her I wanted to take a picture of her in Faire's apron and she held this pose while I found the camera, adjusted, took multiple fact, she wants to do this pose in all photos right now! Hilarious!

She helped with a bit of adding and mixing, but really, she just wants to lick the spoons...
Jay moved the TV down into the living room for the next couple of weeks. It seemed a shame to go up the the TV/Playroom to watch a Christmas movie when the tree and the fireplace are down here. It's quite blissful, although we don't have cable and I've already had my fill of CBC Holiday specials...

And, of course, I've been knitting. So has Faire, actually. She plans to knit gifts for everyone. The fact that Christmas is 11 days away does not faze her. I could probably learn something from that. But, most of my knitting is done. I'm feeling quite Zen about it now, which means I am growing as a person, or I am heavily under the influence of homemade Irish Cream liqueur. I have a sneaking suspicion thatI've forgotten something that I'm supposed to be knitting and that's why I'm so calm...

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Sugar Overload: Days 7 & 8 of Advent

On the 7th Day of Advent, my Mama gave to me...
Hot Cocoa in the Bathtub!
Wow, young kids are easy to impress. I remember this being a highlight last year. Once again, I got top Mama points. Even Faire, who'd rather shower these days than soak in a tub, was excited. I didn't take any photos, because, well, most of them seem to old to have bathtub photos on the internet, you know?
Today they got to eat their Gingerbread House. Finally, the whining has stopped. I can't remember the last time the house was so quiet as when they were tearing that house apart. No bickering, no way, wouldn't want to draw attention to themselves because then Mama might change her mind about the whole thing!
They didn't think the house tasted very good (not surprising to me) so they just ate the candy. Sigh...
Tomorrow we are getting our tree! Can't wait!
Now I'm off to knit, which is what I've been doing pretty much every spare moment. Hats, and wrist warmers, and cowls, oh my. I'm trying to be Zen about the whole thing, but it's hard to admit I might not actually be able to pull it all off and have any semblance of a relaxing holiday. I'm slowly coming to terms with it...I've got other things up my sleeve if the knitting doesn't work out!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Where Does the Time Go? Days 3-6 of Advent

Wow, time is flying!

It has been a busy, busy weekend. Not a lot of Holiday Activity. I hosted a baby shower for my sister and Brynn on Sunday, and we raced to redo our bathroom and fuss around with other parts of the house in time for 20 women to arrive for brunch.

On Friday, the kids got to decorate a gingerbread house with a kit they received from a woman who works with J. The best part?? We sent them over to my Mom's to do it! Woohoo! I will have to remember that next year, although she swears she's running away next time I "suggest"it! Now we have to listen to daily whining about when they get to eat the darn guess is soon, so I can stop listening to it!

On Saturday, we did a whole lot of this:

My poor sister is having a rough go with feeding little Brynn. I told her to come over and lie down on my couch for the day. We got the house ready for her baby shower while holding Brynn, and helping Colleen through some rough patches. She had lunch and dinner with us, and left in a much better emotional and physical place. I hope for her sake that her body heals soon, and that they settle into the lovely rhythm of breastfeeding that I enjoyed. I certainly know it is not easy for many women, but it breaks my heart to see my sister suffering.

On Sunday, after the baby shower, the kids decorated their little tree in the playroom.
After dinner, we needed fresh air and exercise so we headed out for a neighbourhood walk to search for holiday lights. They are few and far between in this neck of the woods, so it was a good walk. Isla just loves the lights. Her excitement is so fun to witness right now.

Today after school, we pulled out the Christmas colouring/doodle books and had family colouring time. It's been many years since I sat with a cool picture and coloured pencils. Fun!

I bought this "intricate ornaments" colouring book last year and it's really nice! Cool patterns, and enjoyable for Mamas and Dads too!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

It Begins Again: Days 1&2 of Advent

Why yes, that is a disco ball hanging from my chandelier! Doesn't everyone have one?

Ah, lovely December, how is it you've come again so soon?

Something about having children in the school system makes the months fly by; does anyone else notice this?

So I am once again challenging myself to an Advent full of the joyful activities, traditions, and creativity I embrace during the holiday season. I tried going without the chocolate advent calendars this year, but alas, Shea was trying ever so hard to tell me it was a really bad idea without hurting my feelings. So off to Whole Foods and a small fortune later, there are 3 Fair-Trade Chocolate Advent Calendars in our kitchen. Isla is starting to understand the overload of highlights this month is about to bring. It will be fun to see her get excited about it all, but the letdown of January will be brutal, I'm sure...

Anyway, what's up in the Holiday House? Well, on the first of December we had pumpkin waffles for dinner, complete with whipped cream. Shea announced that we should celebrate the first day of each month with waffles for dinner. He loves the changing of the month! Not a bad idea, really...

Today, my heart was bursting with joy as I sat my kids in front of YouTube to watch "The Leprechaun's Christmas Gold"! I've been waiting for this to be released on a DVD for years, but the good ol' internet saves the day! Pease, someone tell me they know what show I am talking about here!! Classic Rankin/Bass holiday show, with stop-motion puppets?? Frankly, it is one of those things that you probably need to have serious nostalgia about to appreciate. But let me tell you, I have a big-time nostalgic heart. In fact, I think I'll go watch it again, perhaps with a rum and eggnog.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

She Is Born

My sister had a baby on Thursday morning. It was an awesome birth at home, surrounded by friends and family, and the most treasured midwives. Faire was so excited to go, and she was so amazing - right in where all the action was, ignoring the extremely-frequent cursing coming from Colleen, and just enjoying the whole process. At one quiet moment, she said to the midwife and I, "This is going to change my life". Umm, yes, we all melted. The midwives had her help to weigh baby, and also gave her a full "tour" of the placenta, telling her it was training because they think she'll be a midwife when she grows up.
Oh, I can dream, can't I?
Anyway, a baby!
Brynn Elizabeth, welcome to our chaotic family! You will be treasured and loved! And I will knit you more 70s-style ski touques with pompoms to join the one Uncle Jay wore in 1974! Believe me, Auntie Bonnie can do better than acrylic, my little sweetie!
(photo above of Brynn with her big sister Maya)

Thursday, October 7, 2010