Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Another year has gone by!!!

I'll be back with my Yearly Reviews notes when I get caught up!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A family visit

We made the drive to see Sean and his family for the day. We had a really good visit - easy going and the kids had a blast getting to hang out with their cousins. Man it was cold though! I had hoped to send them outside to play but no go. We headed back home around 4:30 making us realize how we really should do this more often. Usually it seems that they come our way but we should be making the effort to get down there!

Monday, December 28, 2009


Oh yes, there are a few indulgences that I partake in over the holiday season. Should I make a list? In reality not that many come to mind. Certainly cookies or squares or baking is top of the list. I rarely make cookies any other time of the year but when I do? Not too many make it out the door. I also love the music. I mean technically we could listen to Christmas music all year round couldn’t we? Yet I don’t. So I really try to get my fill during December. There is also sleeping in, real apple cider, visiting with friends. All of these things we could really do any time but just seem to focus on at Christmas. Oh and of course picking up a few extra trinkets for myself along the way (not that I don’t do that normally either!) so are these really indulgences? I guess when you really think about it just the baking will suffice.

Sunday, December 27, 2009


One thing I love about the holidays is the opportunity to sleep in. Most days it is up early with the kids to get them off to school. Christmas break this year only gave us a few days before the “big day” and we had daycare kids coming in each of those days. Christmas Eve was a bit later then I had anticipated and of course there was no sleeping in then. But ahhhh Boxing Day. We stayed in bed until 10:50! Such an awesome feeling. I love that the kids are old enough to take care of themselves for the most part and allow us to do that. It’s not going to be much longer that we can do that! Today we had church so we were up around 9 am but oh am I looking forward to tomorrow…

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Boxing Day

Another fulfilling day. Matthew actually slept in until 7:30 and then was directed downstairs on his own. Marlee rose around 8:30 and was directed to do the same. We finally staggered out of bed at 10:45 realizing we were supposed to head to mom and dad’s for 11:30. So the bite to eat, showers and dressing all madly took place, only for us to get to their place for 11:45ish and no cousins in sight. Oh well. We enjoyed visiting, they came around 1:30 and more visiting ensued. We finally got eating around 3:30 (yes the kids were FAMISHED), and gluttony and more visiting prevailed. We finally left after more food and talk around 9:30 pm and let the kids crawl into bed. Literally. The place is a complete mess but the couch calls. All can wait for tomorrow. It was a good day.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

It’s 12:10 and I should be heading off to bed. We just wound down by watching a (pretty bad) movie and are ready to move on. All in all a very good day. Family, festivities, fun, food. What more could we ask for. The kids seemed to appreciate all of their gifts and I think I did a better job with Drew this year. He outdid himself and got me a new digital SLR camera. I should have known – he seemed to have been hinting at it for the last week or so. Now I just need to learn it. The gifts we gave seem to have been appreciated as well. We had a late night last night and the kids were up at 6 – then sent back to bed. After a few more interruptions we got out of bed at 7:20. Stockings and then right on to gifts. So much for waiting. We had a bite to eat (amidst dozing) off and on until Cierra came home around 1 pm. She opened her gifts (with the usual display of gratitude - I do love that about her!!!) and then Drew's family came shortly after. We opened gifts with them and eventually headed over to my family around 4:30. Gifts and then dinner and a little relaxation. That and a sore back – all brought about the cluttered house which was left untouched and a restful movie. Perhaps we should have seen It’s a Wonderful Life but who knew. Now it is off to bed. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Our stockings are hung by the chimney with care;
the presents are ready – we hope they are fair.
The fillings from Santa, some practical, some fun.
Start off the day right, one by one.

Our goal is to give three gifts to each of the kids for Christmas (like the gifts from the wise men). They come from us, not from Santa. Santa gives some things in their stockings and also before Christmas, but aren't actually labelled "from Santa". If we go over our gift quota, the stockings usually get whatever else we wanted to buy or saw at the last minute. Not truly keeping to our 3 gift rule but it does make it fun none-the-less. I don’t think there will be much room for candies and fruit this year…

We also give family gifts when they apply and this helps eliminate the "That's mine" problem. It's not that we don't believe in Santa, we just don't stress Santa. Christmas is about receiving the ultimate gift from Jesus and trying to live out the spirit of giving as He demonstrates and as Saint Nicholas also tried to promote. We hope they get the message.

On a side note - it's funny about the stockings. That is the one thing that Cierra has been preoccupied with this month. We don't usually put them up until a week before Christmas but she has been asking about them regularly. To her that must mean Christmas.

7 years old!

Our little boy is 7!

He wanted a few simple decorations at home (door streamers and balloons in his room) and lucky charms for breakfast. He got a few simple gifts (gasp - a gift he hadn't opened from last year!) and then had a free day until his party.

We held a birthday party at the church which turned out to be a real blast. We set up the blow-up slide in the fellowship hall along with food tables and then mini-stick hockey on the other side. Because of the low cost he was able to invite 17 friends although a few were unable to make it. It was 2 hours long which was perfect. Not many wanted pizza but did enjoy the legos off the cake. They also liked the cheezies and licorice set up at the side.

We decided to go a different route for gifts this year. Last year we did the book exchange which was okay although I think Matt felt a little jipped. We, and other family members still gave him gifts but he didn't really see it as getting anything from his friends. This year we went with another friends idea and had a toonie party. Each friend was to bring 2 toonies - one for Matt and one for a charity of his choice (He chose World Vision). We would then match the contributions and take him to get a toy of his choice (we knew it would be Indiana Jones Lego).

Either way, it worked out well. A few friends donated more but the amount was quite nice. Nothing too overloading - especially around Christmas. We just really don't need more toys in the house and are trying to promote the idea that celebrations are for family and friends and togetherness. It isn't all about the "things". We'll see how it goes over. And yes, we will be doing the same for Marlee in August too. We haven't had a traditional friend party for Cierra so it wouldn't be the same for her.

I sometimes struggle with this idea. Both kids go to LOTS of birthday parties over the year and they naturally bring gifts for each of the children. Sometimes it doesn't seem fair that you spend the money and then don't get the "return" when your own kids have a party. After contemplation though, having that many new gifts at one time is simply overwhelming for us. It is just too much. And as I mentioned, when we keep the cost down , we can have more friends. I don't know how long we can keep this up but I hope that the next few years will really help with this mindset. The people we have talked to have liked the idea. Whether they do it themselves will remain to be seen. For us, it helps focus on a few true wants and not a lot of extra things we don't need. At least I hope it does!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Still to Do...

I don't think my list is tooo long but there are definitly a few things left to do:
turkey stew;
cards/ letter;
year end album gifts;
menu contributions and shop;
3 gifts for you know who;

I still have a few days right?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Right here, right now...

Our first day of holidays inevitably has brought about ANOTHER Pajama day. I spent a lot of the morning on the couch just snoozing and reading a book. Don’t get me wrong – there are still things on my to do list but I definitely didn’t feel like doing them today. Maybe this evening. The kids have had a full day of electronics and are about to head outside for a much-needed breath of fresh air. I think the evening holds a movie night. Way to get into the holidays! I do need to do some planning for Matt’s birthday party tomorrow though…

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Tales of the Unexpected

Things have been going along pretty tickety boo this year. I’m feeling rather in control despite the fact that I still have not looked at the “holiday planning” sites. The one bit of unexpected news is the family separation – silly in many ways and yet there in the back ground. I’m glad we are still getting together even though it won't be all of us. Otherwise no surprises, no unexpected news, nothing out of the ordinary, at least yet!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Dear Santa

If I could ask Santa for something this year it would have to be a renewing of the holiday spirit for all we encounter. That I would have a better understanding and appreciation for our fmaily members and that they would see the value in compromise and togetherness.

Of course I always have an ongoing wish list for "things" but really - these would be better to receive.

Friday, December 18, 2009

What's for dinner?

What's on the menu for this year? Actaully we haven't talked about it at all except for the fact taht we are having it at mom's house. I know it will all come together. Here are some holiday questions to get me thinking about it though.

-who does the shopping - both Drew adn I depending on how organized we are or who is already out and about
-what's on the shopping list - the turkey comes from an organic farm family contact; veggies, bread, desserts - the usual
-who does the cooking - whoever is hosting does the turkey and the potatoes; everyone else contributes the "accessories"
-how long it takes - depending on the size of the turkey of course - usually it is big because we all like leftovers! dinner is usually mid to late afternoon (depending on who is hosting)
-what recipes are used - I'll have to ask about this one - I don't think we have any family recipes handed down; every year the veggies are different. We do always have pumpkin pie adn applie crisp. My sister has requested plum pudding and hard sauce as well as mince meat pies. I think they may be a fmaily recipe.
-where those recipes came from
-who comes to Christmas dinner - the usual brood - both sides of the family, any relations who can make it - the more the merrier!
-where you eat (whose house? What room? What table?!) This varies from year to year between the 3 houses; always the dining room at the dining table with an additional fold out table to allow room for all of us.
-how long it takes you to eat dinner - reading of scripture, crackers, eating, break and then back for dessert - it probably takes us a good few hours! What a great time!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

I saw this and thought of you...

I did see this really cool shirt that I thought Drew might ‘actually’ like at the One of A Kind Show. It was a polo style shirt, simple grayish colour, with a silk screen design in the top left chest. The bottom left side says "we rented a tv series and watched 14 hours in a row”. We’ve done that – with 24, Alias, Prison Break… so it just seems like him. I hope he likes it ‘cause there’s no way to take it back.
I don't often like to "Take a leap" and buy things that can't be returned - I guuess I just like to be safe. Sometimes boring, but safe.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Busy but Bountiful

I had such an awesome day today! I got so much done. I (ah hem) did drive the kids to school and then raced to do a LOT of shopping before my 12:15 Doctor's appointment (for which he was on time I might add). What all did I do?

- Swiss Chalet for gift cards (not open yet)

- Tim Horton's for gift cards and coffee

- Sweet Oven for gift certificate

- Staples for stocking stuffers for Matt and myself

- Chapters for gift for dad

- back to Swiss Chalet (they were open)

- Canadian Tire for gift for Drew, Sarah and kids

- Michael's for teacher gift card

- Walmart for a few things
- Zehrs for groceries and stamps

- Gas

I ran out of time for Costco but all in all it was great!

And so that leads to my grateful list. I am so thankful for the following:

- That I got so much of my shopping done

- That I made plans to meet up with Sean and family
- that I am feeling the baby fluttering tonnes!
- I have great families to work with
- for the Jesse tree interest by kids
- for the Advent focus on family activities
- that we got snow!
- for the smells of candles and baking

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Who's coming to visit?

It looks like we'll have the usual visitors this year except that Sarah and John are coming YEY! Oh and we get to see Joel and Matthew too – whom we haven’t seen in a few years so that will be really nice. We’re working on going to visit Sean and Samantha too since they won’t be coming up here. So I guess when you think about it not so usual - lots of visiting!

Monday, December 14, 2009

And this gift goes to...

I got the hint that we might be mean parents for letting the kids only do the stockings once they wake up and then making them wait until after breakfast for the rest of the presents. We may have to rethink this one. I like to sit back and watch everyone open their gifts and have everyone take a turn. That starts to happen, then CHAOS takes over, then we reign them in…for a bit… then CHAOS… then all too quickly it is over.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Fa la la la la la la la la la

Amy Grant’s A Christmas album and Sunshine and Snowflakes are still my ultimate favourites and I alternate between them and the general mix of holiday tunes on my ipod. The kids are both into the play soundtracks that Matt did this year and last. Marlee listens to either one of them every night. I’d like to listen to some more traditional carols so that they become more familiar…that is if they'd let me have control of the ipod...
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Inspiration from here

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Tales of Christmas Past

One of the main changes for us this year is the fact that we might not see Sean and his family – at least not with all of us together this Christams season. We are discussing going down to visit them on our own but who knows how our schedule is going to work out. On the flip side, Sarah and John will be up to visit – the first Christmas in about 5 years! So yes - changes. Different from the past but who knows what the future holds.

Friday, December 11, 2009

O Christmas Tree

This year we have gone into unknown territory and are using a fake tree. Why – especially from one who has been so dead-set against a fake tee? Short answer is really that we inherited it from my grandparents and since Drew has wanted one for a while now we thought we should give it a try. It does look nice but I miss the experience of getting a real one and the smell once it is here. Oh and the kids have already voiced that they want a real one.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

It's all wrapped up - well not really.

Brown paper packages tied up with string… there is a lot of paper involved with my favourite things! Since I already journalled last year about my "wrapping style" I thought I'd reflect on the paper invovled with Christmas. This holiday (along with most everything these days) sure involves a lot of paper. I hope to do a collage with samples of just a bit of the Christmas-y things that come through our doors…

wrapping paper, advent calendars and decorations, lists, shopping bags, receipts, ads, cards, artwork, play bulletin, scrapbooking, muffin liners, tissue paper - I'm sure that's not all!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Traditions - on with the old and add a bit new...

This year we are starting a new tradition with the Jesse tree. So far the kids are really loving it – and are actually reminding me that it is time to read and light the candles. I love that they are so involved. What I also love is that all of the work has already been done for me! I just have to cut it out and prepare it!

I'm sure there are going to be some that we will have to forego for this year due to time constraints. At this point I"m not sure if we'll do the books and pj's on Christmas Eve again - although both Cierra and Matt could use new ones. I'll have to think about that one.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

It IS beginning to look a lot like Christmas but I'll have to show you tomorrow...

I kind of missed the boat with the prompt for today as I didn’t look at it until 9:30 pm. Hard to take lots of photos to show the "looks of Christmas" around the house and town when the day is pretty much done. So it will be post phoned until tomorrow.

So far still not much snow; everyday baking; hopefully some baking for the play; decorations pretty much done; beginning to get cards; made our family photo card; need to write letter and look at numbers; lots of crafts by kids; read a Christmas book; candles; advent;

I did put up our little “Paula tree” which holds all of the ornaments we have received from Paula and now Charlotte through the church at the Christmas Eve service. This has become a particularly favourite holiday decor item for me. Each ornament was made with such love and care to share the gospel of Christ with those at Christmas. So much thought was put into each one. Now that Paula has passed on, they mean all that much more. I felt they were deserving of their own special tree and I love to see them all there together.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Am I checking my lists? No but I'm contemplating holiday food...

I haven’t really gotten very far in the Christmas list check off point yet – I haven’t opened my Christmas Control Journal on a regular basis; looked at the flylady site or even looked at . I’m not sure what is up with that. I feel confident with gifts for the kids and the other “wish lists” are starting to come in. Dinner isn’t at our house this year so I’m not in charge of the turkey (I don’t think)! I’m actually not feeling pressured but I think I better get going over my lists or it’s going to hit me – really soon!

Some things to do – figure out how to print my card(s); turkey; gifts for family

My favourite holiday food would have to be pumpkin pie. I know it is available all throughout the year but my mom doesn’t make it except at Thanksgiving and Christmas. It is the best. It has to be served cold and preferably with whipped cream. I also enjoy all of the cookie recipes that come out at this time of year – the shortbread, the walnut crescents, the chocolate haystacks and toffee bars. We certainly enjoy the whole turkey and trimmings meal and are blessed to have it a few times a year. We try to get a turkey big enough that there will be leftovers. I love leftovers. Especially cold pumpkin pie. Yum-yum!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Memories of Christmas' past...and holiday symbols

One of my fondest memories of Christmas past is ringing the bell at church – I wonder if they still do that? Other scattered memories include the shag carpet, Christmas trees from the top of the hill; Sean waking us up early; receiving my Raggedy Ann comforter (Which I still have and STILL LOVE). More recent memories? Reflecting on last year and trying to do better for Drew. To really show him that I do care and can actually put some thought into a gift for him (Well how much thought is following a list but I guess not leaving it to the day or two before would help). Anyway, that is a memory and a goal…

The true symbol of the holidays for me would have to be crèche. Or in certain cases of the nativity scene – just baby Jesus as He is often in Mary’s arms. I particularly like this version as it was [another] gift from my sister. It is fairly simple in nature and was brought back by a friend of hers from Guatemala. Simple. Meaningful.

C is for carols and countdowns

For as long as I can remember, one of my favourite holiday songs has been Amy Grant’s song Oh Little Town of Bethlehem. It is a great little melody and pulls in the song Emmanuel as well. I love those songs that incorporate a few all in one and this one does a great job of putting me in the Christmas spirit. It is one of the first Christmas albums I ever owned ( I still have the original cassette tape), and Amy Grant was one of the first Christian artists that I started to listen to. Her Christmas albums continue to be amongst my favourites.

and countdowns...
I was introduced to the idea of the Jesse Tree through a blog (Simple Mom) that I frequently read. The whole concept is to “think of a Jesse Tree as a sort of advent calendar, except that in addition to a countdown to Christmas, you go through a family devotion in the Bible, starting with creation and ending with Jesus’ birthday. It’s geared towards the kids, so the devotional times are short, easy, and visual.” ( Soooo, this year we are going ultra simple – the kids get a paper ornament which they can colour if they want to, as well as the suggestion of a family activity to do together. Some days I may throw in an extra candy or something – or make them search for the activity but that depends on the time available each night. They each have their own chocolate countdown calendar that they may have in the morning before school (yikes – chocolate before school I know- I know). We are only day 8 but the kids are eager to read what comes next and to light the candle each evening. So far it’s been a great way to get away from the candy focus. We may plan on getting real ornaments some year but to be honest – right now I am happy with this arrangement!

Friday, December 4, 2009

A perfect Christmas...and holiday decor.

As the day wound down I found Drew resting on the couch in the darkened living room with the fire on, the Christmas lights on the mantel and the soft glow and smell of candles from the kitchen. I thought of the things that I had yet to do (journal today for instance) and put them aside thinking this is what it is all about. We talked for a good hour about stuff – dinner, church etc. This is what I want Christmas to be about. Being together, cozy, peaceful. It’s not all about the stuff and the to do list. Life will go on whether it gets done or not. But this here, is what is important. Thanks for the reminder.

I don't know that i have a particular piece of holiday decor that I am really sentimental about. I think that I have several that I would be extremely upset if something happened to them. This would include our advent calendar. My mom made it a few years back for us to use with the kids - and they are really beginning to enjoy it. I also have the Willow Tree nativity scene that my sister has purchased for us. I love the simplicity of it and the way they all look together. I have a number of items from the craft program at the association that I have collected over the years which to me are cute and "just part of Christmas". I'm also enjoying the various things we can do with all of the Christmas balls - the glass jars, hangnign in the archways, hanging on the trees. It's been fun to discover new ways to use them!

If I was to reflect on my childhood there are definitely a few pieces that I would love to inherit. My aunt made a really cool nativity scene out of bean bag type people. I love the way they look - and they are durable enough to handle. I haven't even seen it for a few years as mom and dad have been away and haven't set everything up, but I do remember it clearly from our childhood. I also love the homemade tree ornaments my parents have on their tree that we made as kids - with pictures of all of us in our early elementary age. Again, I haven't seen them for a few years but those are what I would call sentimental. I think that as our kids get older and begin to recognize certain items returning year after year I will get more sentimental about them. For now, it is really the meaning behind the few items we do use.

I need to get some photos of those ornaments!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

From Cards to Joy...

We haven't received any Christmas cards yet and ours certainly aren't ready to be given out. I haven't actually decided what we're doing for ours yet. I had to cancel our photo shoot at Zehrs for tomorrow because Matt has his final dress rehearsal for his play. I wasn't able to reschedule until Dec 29! This doesn't actually mean much in our world - for many years our cards get sent out after Christmas in order to coordinate getting Matt's birthday photos at the same time. Then I gave that up in return for getting the cards out on time. This year I am dappling with the idea of making my own digital card with current photos of each of us being"us". We'll see. I'm still on that [steep] PSE learning curve.

Basic stats about cards?

I forgot to buy stamps today - I think they are about 52 cents now. It's been along time since I've actually mailed a letter!Last year we sent out 60? cards - I plan on about the same this year. We usually receive a tonne from people at church and around 20 or so mail ins.

We usually sign and give a quick hello along with a typed letter explaining all that has gone on in the year. I figure i love to receive them so I hope they do too!

I do keep a list of who we receive from and who we give to. We generally don't give to everyone at church - there are just too many!

Joy is my middle name so it is a special word. The dictionary definition says this:

The passion or emotion excited by the acquisition or expectation of good; pleasurable feelings or emotions caused by success, good fortune, and the like, or by a rational prospect of possessing what we love or desire; gladness; exhilaration of spirits; delight.
That which causes joy or happiness.
The sign or exhibition of joy; gayety; mirth; merriment; festivity.
To rejoice; to be glad; to delight; to exult.
To give joy to; to congratulate.
To gladden; to make joyful; to exhilarate.
To enjoy.

For me it essentially means things that make us happy, things that help us be content I guess. What brings me Joy? Today both younger kids spontaneously showed their love. Matt has been doing this a lot lately! Marlee is so huggy right now too. Cierra - she even asked for a hug! Drew brings me joy - he bought me flowers out of the blue today! I got lots of things crossed off my to do list and the kids to do list (like their icky cupcakes - but it made them happy!) - that brings me joy; It brings me great joy that the kids are excited about and ask for the advent story and lighting of the candle; The smell of the new Creme brule candles today brought me joy as well s the smell of freshly baked muffins. Getting out for dinner with just Drew brought me joy. Heading off to bed a wee bit early now is going to bring me joy - very soon! Feeling this life inside me brings me joy! Isn't joy awesome???

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

December Second

What is with the weather? We are just starting December and still no snow. Yesterday's mini dusting is a distant memory and then today was up to 9 degrees! Beautiful but strange. I did take the opportunity to get a few more things up outside but regarding Christmas prep that was it. A very lazy day.

Remember... I remember making (or rather eating) all of the special cookies my mom made at Christmas time. Shortbread, walnut crescents, chocolate haystacks, toffee bars. We would help with the cookie cutting part but I don't really recall the making of the dough together although we probably did. We've been dividing up the cookie making the last few years and sharing the results - actually cutting down on the amount even. Those are still the favourites though.

A toasty fire, my slippers and comfy pyjamas. All cozy and warm. Ahhhh.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A finished layout

A combination of Holidays in Hand prompts and Journal Your Christmas when combined with the journalling below.

Welcome to December and early memories

Welcome to December!
Matt had a great time "prepping" us all for some photos to usher in the month. Definitely some of our prouder moments!

My earliest holiday memory would have to be having my brother come into our room (I shared with my sister growing up), and waking us telling us that Santa had come. He was so excited and it seemed like such an early hour. I know there were years when my parents told us it was too early and we had to go back to bed.

I'll also never forget when both Sean and I got our Raggedy Ann and Andy comforters. I still have mine and LOVE it. It goes on car trips with me and is always the best blanket for movie time. So much so that I now have to fight the kids for it because they love it too. I can picture the scene that morning - yellow shag carpet, piano in the corner with the tree beside. Warm, snuggly blanket to follow. Awesome.

December 1st!

Let the adventure begin!

We started the day with our first official snow fall. The kids were so excited! I did drive them to school as we were going out immediately afterwards to the playgroup. The snow was gone by lunch time unfortunately as it got up to about 7 degrees. It seemed fitting though that we FINALLY got some snow and not just a thick frost on the ground. So unlike this time of year here. It was really cute though - C asked if we could play at the playground after school so we could play in the snow. I had to explain that the snow was all gone - just like it was in our backyard. "But it was just here!" He was quite sad.

Today is the beginning of a big adventure. I can already feel the stress in some ways so my vow this year is to let go and just do what I can. What am I referring to? Oh, only advent, JYC, Holidays in Hand and Daily December. I want to do so much but I know I can really ONLY do so much. I mean get real. I already missed the first 2 days of advent because I couldn't find our calendar. For someone who claims to be organized - get real. But we did find it last night and I had the kids decorations in it ready for this morning. I think I mentioned in a previous post (if not I'll return with the details), but I am going with the Jesse Tree theme for advent this year. So the kids got a decoration in the pocket to colour (note to self - print on cardstock next year!), and this morning got a clue to find the chocolate daily countdown calendar. We read the scripture and discussion this evening at dinner time as well as lighting the candle. They were quite receptive. As much as part of me would like to to have additional treats each day, I think I will really keep it simple and just do the decoration and then they can have their chocolate. We are also aiming to do a family activity each day. It's not like they need any more candy in their lives.

It's just amazing to me how long everything seems to take these days. Drew is always on me about my sense of time (or lack thereof) and I am beginning to see what he means. The kids want to do so much each day but it just doesn't work. and things you think will only take a few minutes stretch into 15 or 20. Like our Welcome to December photo for today. Matt wanted to take the photos so that added time in itself. They were fun but then he wanted to play a game and he still had to have a shower. In comes mean-y mom. Needing to enjoy what we have already done and not make it more stressful by adding in more activity. It is so easy to fall back into wanting more but this HAS to be it.

I have to remember that our family values around the holidays really center around the true meaning of the season and being together as as family. It isn't about how much we can do and get done. It isn't about how many presents to get each other. It is to remember the most amazing gift I have received ever. The gift of confidence of knowing I am never alone. The assurance of being able to get through anything life throws us. The promise of a life everlasting - of knowing our kids will always be with us as they share our faith. The awareness of being able to share my innermost thoughts and not be judged - although I will be forgiven. The acceptance of not being able to do the right things on my own strength. The joy of being unconditionally loved by my creator. These gifts are what life is all about - and it is all brought closer to mind at Christmas.

So how does this all fit into the natural busy-ness of the season? My goals shall remain:

I PROMISE to take a few minutes each day and BLOG about our holiday together. I HOPE that we can do something festive each day together - even if it is just reading our advent story. I PROMISE to continue taking a photo or more each day. I will strive to CREATE something meaningful to me for the holiday season, daily if possible. I will continue to REFLECT on holidays of the past, ENJOY the holidays of the present and DREAM of holidays of the future. I will CHERISH the time and traditions that are being spent with our family by taking back Christmas and making the most of what we do, finding a balance between the reason of the season and the daily busy-ness of life. I will also SHARE what makes this holiday special with those I interact with around the holidays

How will I do this?
It REALLY helps to have the laptop upstairs - so much easier to grab a minute here and there.
I have made half of my pages already for an album.
As mentioned, I will decrease my expectations for advent giving.
I will not stress if I don't do 25+ pages.
I will keep notepaper handy to jot down ideas.
I will do digital when time necessitates.
I will let go of my perfectionism to have it "just so" and try to ENJOY the process!

Onward and upward adventure!

November 2009 Recap

Wow - November came and went quickly!

Exercise – again, not worth mentioning other then the fact that Rina is keeping me in shape with our weekly 52 card pick up

Books Read – n/a

Movies Seen
Nicholas’ Gift;
Children From Heaven;
Freedom Writers;
Family Stone

Special Events
–Safe Church Training (2nd)
Gratrix’s here for dinner (6th)
Matt to Gavin’s 7th birthday (7th) – movie Astro Boy
Leader’s retreat (19th-21st)
Drew’s work Christmas party (28th)
One of A Kind Craft Show with Kristy (29th)

Travel – n/a

Significant Purchases/ changes
basement stair railing up;
new washing machine;
paid off mortgage portion of LOC (Gr & Gr);
2nd garden bed installed (awaiting dirt before winter)

Health notes
Matt - tooth number 10 & 11 came out
Drew - several moles removed