Sunday, December 26, 2010

MC 2 u


That’s my trying-too-hard-to-be-cool Christmas greeting. I didn’t get around to sending Christmas cards this year, so this is it. There are several people that live far away whom I keep in touch with only at Christmas, but this year the only card I sent was to my sister’s German exchange student from last year. Unfortunately, I only mailed it on Thursday so even that was rather pointless. But I do sincerely wish everyone a very merry Christmas and a spectacular Boxing Day.



We’ve had a fun couple of days over here. On Christmas Eve morning, I took the kids to Birds Hill for a sleigh ride. It was perfect sleigh ride weather and a good time was had by all. We spent the afternoon cleaning the house, which is a crucial part of Christmas Eve. The house MUST be clean in order to properly celebrate Christmas; otherwise I am testy and distracted. After an early sushi dinner, we went to the candlelight service. It was lovely as always, but not entirely serene: Neve enjoyed placing her chattering Zhu Zhu pet on the balcony railing; it was a Christmas miracle that it never fell on the people below, and not one five-minute period went by without Spencer asking the time.

But it was all worth it just to drag out the anticipation of opening gifts. The kids each open one gift from us on Christmas Eve and then Santa fills the stockings for them to open on Christmas morning. I made a determined effort to downscale the kids’ gifts this year, partly because we are going to Florida this spring, partly because we don’t need more stuff in this house, and partly because we bought a Wii as a family gift. Spencer was thrilled with his Lego, but the girls weren’t exactly jumping up and down about their gifts. Fortunately the Wii was as big a hit as I thought it would be for the older two, but Neve somehow got lost in the shuffle. Her face did not light up when she opened her $12 Polly Pocket set (“She doesn’t know the value of gifts – she’ll be happy with anything,” I mistakenly thought.) She did end up having fun with it, and when I put her to bed, she was filled with anticipation for Christmas morning. While helping Santa with the stockings later that night, I had a sinking feeling when I saw her meagre gifts: two books, a lacing craft, socks, underwear, bandaids, candy, and a small My Little Pony set. It seems I did a stellar job of resisting the temptation to over-buy. Seriously, it was one orange away from a Little House on the Prairie Christmas stocking. If there had been a store open – any store – I would have been there in a flash.


Chloe's face is not lighting up either. Christmas 2008 has proven to be a tough act to follow. But what 12-year-old girls doesn't want a chandelier?! In my defense, she's been begging for a room makeover; I thought this was a step in the right direction.


Sure enough, Christmas morning was disappointing for her. She didn’t complain at all and she had a smile on her face, but it never reached her eyes. Dale and I felt like throwing up. We tried to cheer each other up by saying things like, “She’ll learn Christmas isn’t about the presents” and “Look how much she loves that lacing craft that I bought on sale for $2.79.” But then the knife in our hearts twisted 180 degrees… suddenly I noticed her sitting at the table, playing with her new socks. She had one on her hand like a puppet, and it was talking and biting the other socks. I don’t know if that was resourceful and creative of her, or pitifully sad. So in theory, keeping it small and simple is awesome, but it reality it sucks. You can comment and tell me how splendid it is that she's being creative with sock-play rather than some mind-numbing, mass-produced toy, but it won't make me feel any better.


There’s a happy ending though. We celebrated Christmas with Dale’s family today and she got two gifts there, both of which are much better than anything we got her. She played very happily with them all day, and when we got home, she played with her new Polly Pockets. So maybe we made the right decision, but even so, next year I am buying her something beyond her wildest dreams.

I’ve gone on way longer than I intended to; I’ll just say it’s been a wonderful Christmas so far. We’re all having lots of fun with the Wii (except Neve). Dale gave me Dance Dance Revolution, so I have been spending every spare minute trying to transform myself into a white Mennonite with rhythm. Well, I’m already a white Mennonite; it’s the rhythm that is elusive. We had a great day with Dale’s family today, especially since his sister and her family are here this year, and tomorrow we’ll be with my family.

Enjoy the holidays; here’s hoping your joys are many and your disappointments are few!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

My past two days in minute detail

As most of you know, yesterday was the date of my birth. I had a very nice day. I had to go into work for a meeting first thing in the morning, but that was okay because even the traffic was on my side. I got to work in record time and even got free parking because the meter was broken.

Afterward, I went to Darla's for a delicious lunch and then home. I read the new book Dale got me as one of my birthday presents (Mennonite in a Little Black Dress) and had a little nap before picking the kids up from school. The kids were in a happy, cooperative mood because it was their last day of school. My neighbour Karen and her kids came over and we hung out until it was time to go for dinner. Dale and I and the kids went to The Line Up in the Exchange District - it's just a casual, counter-service little place, but kid-friendly and something different. Then we went to the drive-through lights show, and then home for a movie and birthday pie. My sister and her girls came too and we all watched Home Alone. It was the first time Spencer had ever seen it, and to say he enjoyed it would be a gross understatement. Oh! And guess what I got in the mail?! A $50 gift card from the radio station contest! On my birthday! I wish I would have specified which gift card I wanted, because I got a dud. I don't mean to sound ungrateful so I won't mention the company name. I'll just say I really don't need a remote-controlled helicopter. Dale is happy though.

I am officially off work until January 4th. This morning I went to Superstore, which made me wish I was dead. Once I got home and got the groceries unpacked, my love of life returned. Then Teresa and her kids came over with a delicious lunch and a very delicious birthday cake. Later I went to Polo Park to punish myself (not sure for what) but instead I rewarded myself by buying some boots I'd been searching for for months. I had some money earmarked for boots, and with tax the total came to exactly that amount. Of course, they were the only pair of boots in the whole mall that were not on sale, but I'm so pleased with them I don't even care.

Tonight we went out for Thai with Mike & Darla. This is an annual thing, except this year the restaurant was a thousand times better than last year; you gotta love traditions that only get better.

I didn't specify any particular moment of peace, but I'd say napping two days in a row is pretty peaceful. Hanging out with a few different friends/family these past couple of days has been awesome too - it's one of the best things about the season (second only to napping!).

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Done

As promised, here is Ted E. Bear. He had prime seating. All the kids were dressed up as toys, in case that isn't clear.
Here's Spencer assuming everyone's taking a picture of him.
I bought my last Christmas gift today - that's my feeling of peace for today. It feels good to be done. I have also wrapped every gift except one, for which I first need to find a box. I'm scared I won't have enough purple wrapping paper for that last gift. I'm a little obsessive about that. I prefer to wrap all my gifts in the same paper; if that's not possible, at least coordinating paper. There were a few glitches this year, the main one being that Neve has been gathering miscellaneous objects around the house to put into gift bags for Bella. I try to hide them behind the tree. There is a "wrapping centre" at her school, so she brings home empty boxes and toilet paper rolls wrapped in busy red Santa paper and proudly puts them under the tree. It pains me. But I suck it up. I am also not delighted with the way Dale wraps things. He doesn't make the edges very neat, and he uses up way more of my precious coordinated wrapping paper than he needs to. I am a very efficient wrapper, which I learned from my very efficient mother.
Okay, Christmas, we're ready for you. I'm not sure if I'm entirely prepared for two weeks of school vacation though. Neve has major post-sickness attitude going on. She is clingy, fussy and ornery. I don't like to involve Santa unncessarily, but tonight I resorted to, "I sure hope Santa isn't watching. I'd be sad for you if he filled Chloe and Spencer's stockings, but not yours." She just smirked and said, "Santa always brings presents except if you're in jail." I don't know where that came from, but I don't like it. I'd take her to see Mall Santa so he could set her straight, but I heard the wait was crazy. Spending three hours in a mall with a cranky kid is not a contender for the daily peaceful moment.
PS: Happy birthday, Darla!

Monday, December 20, 2010

I've fallen (behind) and I can't get up. Oh wait, I'm up. I'm trying to think back to some nice moments over the weekend, but can't pinpoint specific ones.

Neve was sporting a low-grade fever until Sunday after her nap. I suspect almost anything could be cured with a three-and-a-half hour nap. She was totally fine this morning when I sent her to school, but unfortunately the school called as I was on my way out with friends. She really wasn't that sick, so I took her to Starbucks with me. She was pretty pleased to sip hot chocolate and hang out with us. At one point, she whispered to me, "Now I know your secret about what you do when I'm in school!" I'll have to make things more unpleasant next time. Anyway, she just needed a BM and then she was fine.

My work party was on Saturday night, and after that Chloe and I went to a party in the neighbourhood. On Sunday was Spencer's Christmas program at church; he had a minor part in this one as Ted E. Bear. My sister made him an awesome costume which I will try to post a picture of tomorrow. That was concert number four out of four; I've got to say it's a relief to move on.

As for my peaceful feeling today, Dale's sister and her family just got in from Florida, so we went to see them at Dale's mom's tonight. Most of Dale's family was over there, and it was starting to feel like Christmas. The kids are always so excited to see each other; they don't come every Christmas, so it's pretty special.

Friday, December 17, 2010

The day I didn't leave the house (hardly)

Today turned out differently than I imagined, but probably for the better. Neve woke up with fever, so we spent the whole day at home together. Instead of running around doing errands this morning, we cuddled in bed and watched TV. Then Neve drew dreidels while I wrapped presents. The theme at school this week is Hannukah; the first thing Neve said when I told her she'd have to stay home from school today was, "But we made latkes yesterday and are having them for snack today!" (The teacher is going to save her one for Monday.)

Neve napped in the afternoon, while I watched Glee and wrapped gifts. The best line was, "For Christmas, the only thing I asked my parents for was to stop requesting to be my friend on Facebook." Actually there were quite a few good lines, but that's the only one I remember on the spot.

I left the house only to zip to Canadian Tire for a few minutes after dinner. It was a rare treat to have an entire day at home with very low expectations. It would have been nice if I'd at least gotten the bathrooms cleaned, but that's what tomorrow is for. Neve is still sick, so it will probably be another quiet day.

Chloe and Spencer both ended their school week on a high note. Chloe was part of a talent show/competition-type thing at school and her group won. I don't really know what it was all about, but she was quite excited. Spencer was still flying pretty high from the performance yesterday, and then an envelope from HOT 103 (radio station) arrived for him in the mail today. They have a "card for a card"contest going on where you can send them a Christmas card, and if they read it on the air, they'll send you a gift card. Spencer and I each sent a card and I guess his must have been read on the air, because he got a $50 Best Buy gift card. I was happy for him on the outside, but on the inside I was wondering why they hadn't picked my card because I went all out with a photo of Bananagram tiles arranged in a crossword, spelling out MERRY CHRISTMAS HOT 103. That wasn't as easy as it sounds because there are no number tiles so I had to play around in Photoshop. The whole thing took way longer than it should have, and Spencer made his card on a scrap piece of paper in two minutes. I don't remember what he wrote, but I know he put "PS: I'd like a Best Buy gift card please" at the bottom. Maybe he'll buy me something.

I have a high feeling of my own...Dale & I booked our flights to Florida today. We're not going for a while yet, but it's nice to have our plans solidified.

As for my peaceful feeling, it was definitely snuggling on the couch with Neve after her nap, reading lots of Christmas books. I didn't feel anxious or rushed or guilty that I wasn't cleaning - it was just, you know, peaceful.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Two evenings of fun


Tonight was Spencer's school Christmas concert - BEST CONCERT EVER! Sorry, didn't mean to shout, but my pride is bursting forth. My kids aren't particularly athletic, musical, or brilliant, so today was finally our moment. Spencer had a major speaking role in the play, and he did great. He played a city kid who was complaining about being stuck in the country for Christmas - this was not a stretch for him. Yay, Casting Director. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends came to watch him; it was definitely one of the highlights of his school years. So, yeah, I might be mistaking pride for Christmas peace, but be that as it may.

Last night, I went out for a fabulous dinner with friends. It was for a good friend's 40th birthday, and her sister treated four of us to dinner at her private club. It was so elegant and decadent. There were no prices listed in the menu; that's different than the Boston Pizza-type restaurants I'm used to (that wasn't the only difference). It was such a great night - there was plenty of amazing food, wine, great conversation and lots of laughter.

How do you like all that positiveness? I couldn't think of anything bad to say. Well, I probably could, but I won't. I'll try harder tomorrow. Actually I have high hopes for tomorrow too. I have no obligations whatsover; maybe a little shopping, a little cleaning, and lots of wrapping.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Pics


I found my camera in Neve's room. I was about to start unjustly accusing Bella of misplacing it; she was here when I last had it. I love having a scapegoat that can't defend herself.

Before I post this picture, let me just say that in spite of my seeing-impaired eye for design, I knew right away that this wasn't going to work. I'm planning to exchange the purple circle pillow for a plain purple one, but since I really like it, I was also considering changing all the regular patterned pillows to plain black ones (I haven't consulted Shannon yet - she is probably cringing at me trying to make design decisions. Don't worry - there WILL be consultation).



As for my Christmas peace moment, I promise I will stop talking about my advent candle soon, but we've been making an effort to all sit down and eat dinner together. We light the advent candle and let it burn down to the next number. Eating by candlelight every night makes for a peaceful atmosphere, even if the rest of the house is chaotic.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Off to a bad start

Things aren't looking too promising for my daily "Peace" piece; I skipped the second day already. I should know better than to make promises I probably won't keep, but if all the stars align, I will post again tonight.

My Christmas moment came yesterday when Neve gave me a cute little candy cane she drew. She even cut it out - all choppy, but she's definitely got some fine motor skills developing. If I could just find my camera, I'd take a picture of it.

I was trying to create another Christmas moment, this time with inspiration from Shannon. I bought a purple pillow for the couch, to add a little special-ness for Christmas. I don't think well while shopping, so it didn't register that a patterned pillow would look odd together with my existing busy-patterned cushions. I love the idea though, and now I want to get all new cushions so that they'll go with the purple one. Help, Siobhan! Save me from buying unnecessary things!! (or is it necessary, Shannon?!). Again, if I could just find my camera, I'd post a pic and let you be the judge.

I'll tell you already, finding my camera would definitely be my Christmas feeling of peace for the day. Hopefully I just saved myself a blog post.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Peace

Inspired by Siobhan's blog, peace and contentment are my goals this month. I am trying to unclutter my mind and my calendar and free myself from unnecessary or unfulfilling duties (this post is brought to you by the prefix "un"). I feel pretty relaxed; most of my shopping is done, there's some baking in the freezer, and the decorations are up. Now I'm trying to intentionally focus on things that make me feel peaceful and content. I'm going to try and post one thing a day that makes me feel Christmasy and happy.

Today's moment is from last night (which would technically make it yesterday's moment, but I'm using it for today). I spent a large part of the day cleaning the basement thoroughly, getting rid of lots of old toys and garbage, vacuuming, dusting and even putting up some Christmas decorations. It now looks much less dungeon-like and with only the Christmas lights on, even looked ... I can't believe I'm using this word to describe my basement ... cozy! Friends came over for a movie night; we had lots of junk food and chocolate and the kids had a pile of blankets and pillows and we all watched Elf together. It was a very fun night.



Bella was over too, so the kids all had a great time. She's hilarious ... this morning she wanted Neve to play with some mini-princess figurines with her, but Neve wasn't cooperating. Finally Bella said, "This is ridiculous!" and hurled mini-Belle across the room.

Neve’s Christmas concert on Thursday was so cute. It was the most genuine, fun, relaxed kids concert I’ve been to in a long time. The concerts at the other kids’ school are always very…well, lots of words come to mind, but I’ll use the word professional. They are always lovely, but to an underachiever like myself, I sometimes feel like the pressure to perform perfectly is unnecessarily high. Spencer’s concert is this week; he has a speaking part and I only hope he rises to the level that is expected of him. Well, actually I just hope he does his best and has fun doing it.

Going back to last week, Neve lost her second tooth on Friday, about 30 seconds after this photo was taken. Some helpful child told her that if you write the tooth fairy a note, she will leave both the tooth and money, so that’s what she did. Yesterday she decided she could part with her tooth after all, and decided to scam the tooth fairy by putting it under her pillow again. The tooth fairy didn’t fall for it, but Neve’s trying again tonight. I think the tooth fairy is too smart to set precedents she will later regret, even if she is somewhat tempted.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

How I love that brown truck parked in front of my house

(Thanks, Darla for the lovely candle - you're awesome!)

I am missing one of my kids’ school concerts tonight for the first time ever. I figured after 8 years of dedicated service, I could use a break. Neve didn’t nap today and she was having a meltdown at 5:00 already, so things weren’t looking positive for the evening. Sadly it’s Chloe’s concert that I’m missing, which is the one that’s the most enjoyable and relaxing. But I’ve got to say I’m pretty relaxed sitting in bed with my laptop and watching Charlie Brown Christmas with Spencer.

Tomorrow is Neve’s concert; she has three separate performances due to the very limited capacity of the gym at her school. It’s a complicated affair, but she is beside herself with excitement. Her class is singing Jingle Bells and it’s going to be awesome.

Next week we’ve got a few more Christmas events, but I feel like things are under control. I don't feel stressed or crazy. That could change at any hormonal second, but the whole family is enjoying it while they can. It helps that the Fed Ex guy keeps bringing me packages I’ve ordered online. I’m so addicted to online shopping. Aimless mall wandering has been kept to a minimum and because of that, I feel like I have the Christmas spirit this year. So thank you Amazon and Chapters for showing me the true meaning of Christmas.

Last year I really didn’t have that Christmas feeling; besides the more convenient shopping, I’m not really sure why it’s different this year. I think it helped that the snow came earlier, and also that we are giving the kids a Christmas gift I know they’ll love. I hate to think that the Christmas feeling is really affected by shallow things like that, but somehow my goodwill towards men (and women) is at an all-time high.

Spencer was pretty happy today too. He got chosen to go up on stage during chapel at school to do a rap. He was glowing all evening. He said, “I’m the most famous kid in Early Years.” (their school is broken down into early, middle, and senior years). He seems convinced his fame will last all week and is going to make the most of it.

I’ve mentioned this Haiti blog before; here’s their version of a modern-day Christmas. I thought it was pretty clever.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

24 more days


I forgot to make a new blog template - I've switched to a basic template in the meantime (didn't notice the fall leaves til now - too tired to change it); I found the other one was very hard on the eyes.

The Christmas season officially began at our house today. The Playmobil advent calendar is in business. I made up my own this year from a Playmobil nativity scene I bought at the end of last season. It worked out pretty well and I feel so resourceful. Spencer also made up an advent calendar for his sisters. Each day, there is a box containing Lego pieces out of which they are supposed to build a specific thing. There are no instructions, so I’m curious to see how that will turn out. The kids each have chocolate calendars too, bringing the total number of advent calendars in the household to five. The excitement is high. I was really hoping a certain someone would give me an advent candle again this year (the kind you burn a little each day), but I guess I’ll have to get out a plain taper and a Sharpie. I should do a bunch and sell them on Etsy.

Speaking of Etsy, I’ve been doing a lot of shopping online lately. I actually didn’t order anything from Etsy; most of it was from Chapters. If you’re on my Christmas list, the odds are high that you’ll be getting a book, movie, or CD. Receiving the packages in my mailbox is like a gift for me, so I’m pretty happy with the whole situation. When I do go into a store, I always buy things that weren’t on my list – just unnecessary add-ons to existing presents. I was hoping to be done my Christmas shopping by December 1st. That goal is far from being met, but I’ve got most of the hard-to-buy-for people done, so I feel okay. I think a lot of people had December 1st as their shopping deadline (or maybe start date?) because the stores were crazy this week. I don’t think they were as bad in the evenings, but judging by the daytime crowds, no one in this city has a job. I wonder where they’re getting their money to shop.

The kids were so rangy today (what do you know? I didn’t think spell check would approve of “rangy”). They were loud and silly and fighting. We went sledding tonight with my sister and niece, and even that didn’t wear them out like I thought it would. In fact, the frigid air perked them up nicely.

That’s my two cents for today. Now for the best part of my day…Modern Family on the new TV.