Kitschy Christmas! (It’s baaaack!)

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Welcome back, a year later, to my Christmas craft gift. (Warming SPOILER ALERT!)

This year we focused again on ornaments.  And ornaments, and more ornaments.  Started right after Halloween because once we return to our family’s home for Christmas it won’t be about our gifts for others, it will all be about baking and decorating and Christmas music. (Who am I kidding I’m listening to it right now.  After making up a whole yoga class playlist of carols.  Sorry if you’re reading this and in my yoga class.  I did warn you with the spoiler alert!) And hey, don’t judge I am fully aware it’s a bit early.  Then again, we’re at the 6 week countdown…

I am so excited for Christmas.  This year both kids will “get” it: the presents, Santa, the anticipation.  And still believe in the magic.  Not sure how much longer the magic will last.  But we’ll hang onto it for as long as we can.  And have lots of memory-filled ornaments to hang on our tree, and Grandma’s tree and Oma’s tree, and the neighbour’s tree…you get the picture.

So bring in the cinnamon ornaments!  They are made of mostly cinnamon (insert shocked look here).

IMG_4789The recipe is one cup cinnamon, 1/4 cup applesauce (and mix…although nothing ever looks mixed properly in this recipe) Then slowly add 1/2 cup white craft glue.  Mix again.  And some more.  And nothing’s sticking together so you (or in this case, me) roll your sleeves up and get in there with your hands trying to mush that spice into the glue and applesauce.  Stick together darn it! And all of a sudden, just at the point you are about to throw it all away, it comes together.

IMG_4791Wait one hour, then roll out to 1/4″ thick and cut with cookie cutters (remember to use a straw to cut out the ribbon hole!).

IMG_4792Bake at 200F for one hour turning them halfway through. (I lined my baking sheet with parchment, because glue, ewww).  Oh and if your husband happens to be in the kitchen “helping” – Conveniently arriving to turn them over, remind him they are not cookies, they are ornaments.  They are NOT cookies. Seriously.  Our kitchen conversation went something like this:

“Stop! O-R-N-A-M-E-N-T-S! Not edible!  Seriously don’t put it in your mouth, there’s glue in there!! I’m not joking you can’t eat these ones!” (He always sneaks Christmas baking, or any baking prior to them being ready, or out for guests.) Sigh.  I bet this doesn’t happen in Martha Stewart’s kitchen.  She’s the one who invented these bad boys.  See her recipe site here. The pictures are way better.  And not nearly as realistic as the ones in my kitchen, with a 4 and a 2 year old.  And a hungry, cookie eating husband.  I didn’t take a picture of him.  Was waiting for the “sick” shot.  It never came.  Go figure, the one time he listens…

Then let them cool, and paint them.  And hang them on your tree!

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Happy Birthday.

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The day I was born.  TODAY!! Can you feel my excitement?

Although it feels like I should be celebrating my Mom and Dad instead, since you know, THEY did all the work 🙂

What a Happy Birthday so far!  Can’t wait for all the rest that comes.

IMG_4397Started out by walking around Greenlake, because the day was beautiful and gorgeous and sunshine-y and warm.  And the kids were perfect.  Even when the little guy was crying because he just didn’t know whether he wanted a snack in the stroller or to continue scooting…perfect because he was acting exactly like a 2 year old should.  And it was wonderful.

Saw 4 Herons.  Four!!!  And one was saluting the sun.  Taking in life.

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BIG smile on my face.

Got to celebrate with a fancy date night with my love (see the picture – I even got a cupcake, in a cupcake shop!! My favourite kinda fancy.)  With my favourite still-makes-me-smile date.

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IMG_4386And then in the morning before he left for a week on business, he and the kids got up and decorated (AND let me sleep in.)

BAM: Birthday Table!

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This has been a tradition since I was a little girl.  One that I have carried with me my entire life.  My grandmother started it, followed by my mom and now I do it for my kids (and they do it for me…with a little help)  The idea is you wake up to a table: of all your cards and presents and a few of your favourite treats to start the day right.

Even though it wasn’t exactly on my birthday (it all went down yesterday) The balloons and streamers were still up this morning when the kids woke me up.  And I got snuggles in bed.  And it was perfect.  (Is there any other way to have a birthday?  Or any day?)  Even got a candle in my oatmeal.  Yes, my husband rocks (he had to leave to catch a plane an hour later).

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So I’m signing off now.  The kids are playing nicely and I think I’ll join them.  I believe a cake has just been pulled out of their oven for me.  With pink icing even (I am told.)

Perfect.

Love.

Happy happy happy.

I love birthdays.

Run Like A Mother.

So the trip away was amazing!  And mother’s day was even better than anticipated.

First things first…

IMG_7116I ran like a mother!  (No really, that was the name of the race.)  And boy did I ever!  Beat my personal best (well, the times I remember to track myself…often with running stroller in tow).  Not a ton of great pics…but here is one to prove that I medalled!  (Truth: everyone who ran the race medalled, does that make them any less special? Not to me!! Yeh!)

And then the update:

The trip away was unbelievable.  I believe my (at times) cynical husband actually said the words best family vacation ever!  And then gave me a big squeeze and thanked me for the organizational end of things (Truth: he ate good food and didn’t go hungry)

So what to improve on for next year?

The homemade instant oatmeal I made flopped.  Just wasn’t as good as I had hoped.  The dehydrated apples didn’t live up to expectations.  And my daughter wasn’t keen on added raisins to make it better (because the raisins made this oatmeal amazing!) So we paid for one breakfast outside our room ($50 yikes!)  Also, not enough booze.  We did end up getting a west facing patio to our room, so the HOT afternoon sun and kids nap times would have been better with beer.  IMG_2454And the mini fridge wasn’t so mini!  I could’ve had room for the homemade soup after all (and the beer!)  And I remembered wine glasses!  See the pre-poured goodness on the counter?  We got all fancy!

We took a bunch, some, hardly any photos.  So sad.  Even though I rarely post people photos here.  And then it got me to thinking…the only photos we do have are mostly of:

a) blurred children

b) children making faces

c) dad and the kids

d) one candid, nice, kid shot

What about me?  This whole time taking pics, organizing food, swimming with kids in the waves, running up stairs to waterslides (Truth: okay since my kids weren’t actually tall enough for the water slides these involved mostly the 4 steps to the toddler slides) And I think we got in one family photo at the very end.  When I asked some random guy to get our pic (insert husband eye-roll).

I read an article a while back that really made me think that I wanted to BE in these pictures more.  Be present so when my kids look back at family albums I will be a part of their life (in photos anyway.)  I thought this was really important to me.  And then this family vacation happened.  And I realized that instead I want to be IN their lives, not in the photos forcing sometimes faked smiles.  The best photos are the ones I see when I close my eyes.  And the memories come alive.  And I want to be in the memory of my kids.  So when I ask “What was your favourite part of the trip?  They can scan through all the memories of our entire family and remember.

So all in all, Best Mother’s Day Ever!  With many, many more to come!

 

 

The Future

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I’ve been looking at wills lately.  Creating a will and last testament.  Not that I don’t already have one (do you?)

Living in yet another country it would make things easier to have a will done here than try to have our old will go through probate and be subject to different laws.  Wills are a funny thing.  They bring up so much emotion, and thoughts.  The very act of calling it a will seems odd to me.  I can’t will anything if I am dead.  Can I really even will something if I am alive?

Think about that for a second.  I WILL you to think about it!  Did it work?  Likely not.  Similarly to me willing to win the lotto, or that my child won’t have a tantrum.  So what’s left?

For me the fear.  Just talking about a will brings up all sorts of emotion:

What will happen if my husband dies?  What will I do?

My husband dies.  The house goes into probate.  Extended family lays claim to it (or neighbours…) long court battle.  Fighting ensues.  We are isolated from both family and the neighbours.  Being non-residents we are subject to huge taxes.  I am forced to sell the house.  Oh, and the car (it’s likely not in my name either.) I have no where to live.  I am destitute.  Poor.  Alone.  Except for the kids.  Now I am homeless with kids.  Maybe I’m the one with the cardboard sign at the stoplight throwing myself a pity party hoping for change.  And then the alcohol, because of course I can’t cope.  And the drugs. (Would there be drugs?? I’m not sure…makes for a better story though.) Then foster care for the destitute children. And abuse.  And then my untimely death in an alley somewhere.

hmmmmm.

Big story.  Highly unlikely.  Mostly fear based.  Okay all fear based.  And totally ridiculous.

So I’ll focus on the fact that in the unlikely event of his death (or both our deaths) a will may make things easier on the people left behind tying up our affairs in order.  Just another piece of paper.  And allow the story in my head to disappear in the same time it took to appear.

After watching my grandfather die, and all the intricacies of the estate being dissolved I can see why having a to-do list via a lawyer (aka a will) is a really good thing.  And on the advice of my lawyer we even added a clause for kids when we did our will.  We laughed at it at the time…but now that they exist it was a good thing.  Part of keeping our family safe and healthy.

I’d will you to go out and get one too.  To make your life easier.  But now I realise I can’t.  So I won’t. Or will I? (C’mon laugh with me…)  And seriously, think about the will thing.