Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Eve

It's Christmas Eve and apparently I have nothing more pressing to do than post a quick blog update. It's a sweet life.

The last gift has been wrapped, a scented candle is burning and Christmas carols are playing on the speaker. The house is tidy-ish and we're about to start making dinner. After our meal of fettuccini with scallops, we'll head to the candlelight service and then come home and open a few gifts. I love Christmas Eve. The kids are happy and excited, even the older ones (ie. Dale).

It was a fun, busy week. Chloe had her IB grad on Tuesday night. You may remember her real grad in June; this one was very short and informal in comparison (thankfully).  Since the IB marks aren't tabulated until July, the school puts on a little ceremony for the students in December when most of the kids who've gone away to university are home for Christmas.

Afterward, Chloe went out with her friends and Dale and I went to the Palm Lounge at the Fort Garry Hotel. That's been my dream for years and we finally made it happen. It did not disappoint. It was warm and cozy and we sipped our martinis while the piano man sang. It felt like we were in New York City or something. Well, that may be a slight exaggeration but it was pretty fun.

Thursday was my birthday. I went to the Tallest Poppy for brunch with Shannon and Darla, then Kristin popped by for a bit, and then my mom and sister and sister-in-law and I went shopping on Academy, finishing off with treats from Jenna Rae. Later Dale and I and the kids went to Pizzeria Gusto for dinner and then to Winter Wonderland (the drive-through lights at the Ex grounds). Oh and we also stopped at the mall to pick up some shoes I ordered, but I realized I had forgotten my purse at the restaurant. So we had to go back to the restaurant and back to the mall. Everyone was delighted about that.

The best thing about my birthday is that I'm able to manipulate my children into doing things they don't want to do. Spencer strongly dislikes being on pictures. He'll thank me one day. Maybe. Probably not. But look how happy he looks!

The icing on the cake - a picture with Santa.

The kids gave me really nice presents - earrings, a necklace, Body Shop stuff, and a top - and Dale gave me a Kitchen Aid and a gift card to a store I like. We don't usually go all-out for birthday gifts, but he justified it by saying we needed the Kitchen Aid anyway, which is true. I've already made cookies and banana bread with it and it's awesome!


And he made me lemon pie, my favourite. I've got a pretty sweet family. Especially on my birthday.

Dale is starting dinner and I can feel that he's getting irritated that I'm not helping, so I better go before the magic of Christmas Eve turns to stress and resentment.

Hope you all have a wonderful Christmas - love you all!

Monday, December 19, 2016


Hello strangers - it’s been a while. There's been a lull in the blog world but I will power through and try to return to more consistent posting.
So, December. Less than a week until Christmas and I’m feeling pretty good. I tried something new this year (for those of you who see me in person, you are most certainly tired of hearing me talk about this. Feel free to skip this section).
Usually I start Christmas shopping in mid-October with the goal of being finished by December 1st so I can sit and relax and sip hot apple cider while I gaze at my glowing Christmas tree. Sounds good and all, but even when I have succeeded in finished my shopping on the early side, that scenario has rarely happened. The last couple of years, I have started to dread Christmas, all because of the shopping.
That seems wrong. Besides the obvious message of baby Jesus coming to spread light and love and peace to the world, there is much to love about Christmas but I was struggling to get past the shopping part. I tried to downsize my list, but it’s hard to just cut people off and despite my whining, I really do enjoy giving gifts.
So I did some rare soul-searching and pondering. I realized I spent way more time thinking about gifts than actually buying them. Perusing flyers, browsing online, driving around to stores, comparing, clicking, getting ideas. Even when I’d find something good, I’d think, “I won’t buy it yet. I’ll keep looking and maybe I’ll find something better.” It was unproductive and stressful and exhausting.
All these things I stored up in my heart and decided this: no shopping until December. No looking at flyers, no malls, no aimless online browsing.
It’s been revolutionary. I enjoyed November to the fullest. Besides planning Dale’s birthday celebrations, I had time to do a 1000-piece puzzle, I saw friends, did some projects, and purged the house. I steered clear of almost all shopping until December (I did order a couple of things online that I wanted to make sure arrived in time, and I picked up a couple of things when I was out for other reasons). I felt no Christmas-related stress and no pressure.
When December 1st arrived, I still wasn’t ready to think about shopping. But then one day in the second week of December, Dale and I went shopping one evening and got a good start. I picked up the odd thing here and there after that, but did all the rest of my shopping this past Friday. I baked on Saturday, wrapped on Sunday, and I’m almost good to go. I have one simple gift left to buy and am still waiting for a couple of things I ordered. My shopping was much more streamlined and I probably spent less than usual. Less shopping trips = less impulse buying. There’s a slight possibility that my gifts are kind of sloppy and not as well-thought-out as I'd like, but I’m okay with that. The kids may not be, but a less-stressed mother should be enough of a gift for them.
Besides my shopping success, it’s been a good December. The weekend evenings have been pleasantly busy with holiday parties, etc., but we haven’t been too busy during the week. Chloe is finished both school and work until after Christmas and Spencer recently wrapped up his driving-instruction hours, so we’ve had a few rare evenings where all five of us have been home.
I don't mean for this post to sound braggy like I just figured out the world's problems or anything. I’m just very relieved that I was able to alleviate some of the stress of Christmas that was bringing me down. It has come at some cost: I nixed the annual neighbourhood Christmas party this year, I haven’t written out one Christmas card, and we didn’t even make our annual pilgrimage to see Santa. That saddens me more than I’m letting on, but apparently I promised the children last year would be the last time. I don’t recall that, but I do know it took a lot of convincing so I may have said things I regret.
I haven't taken many pictures lately, but here is a small sample of other things we've been up to:
The kids decorated cookies with Grandma.

My ice candle-making station - it was hard times until my sister told me how to do it a super-easy way. Now that the milder temperatures are here, production is slowing down drastically.
Neve's piano recital

Had a great time at the JP Hoe Hoe Hoe Christmas concert.

Our seats were pretty much as high as you can get at the Burton Cummings Theatre. And that's high. But still awesome.
In other, non-perfect news, Dale lightly grazed a hard-packed snow bank on a frigid day and cracked the bumper of his car. Other vehicle frustrations include our van tire always losing air and the sliding doors being frozen shut (my fault for having it washed on a bitterly cold day).  
Also, after months of frustration with the screen of our iMac randomly going black, we were told it needs a new LCD panel costing over $750, which we’re not prepared to invest into a four-year-old refurbished computer. The computer itself still works fine, so I’m going to try to rig up an old monitor and see if that works. I’m probably the only person in the world who will go be happy to go back to a PC after a Mac. There are some things I love about the Mac, but I’m just too used to a PC. I’ve reached the age where I don’t care about being cool.
Anyway, enough about me. Let's talk about you for a while. Is everyone feeling Christmasy? (Today's light snow and mild temperatures should help.) Shopping done? Kids excited? Any good new Christmas movies or activities you've enjoyed? Don't leave me hanging!