Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year - 2007

Happy New Year!

From our family to yours...

May the imminent new year ahead fill you with every good thing from above, and blessings galore, as you reflect back on the year of 2006.

Why not fill your evening tonight, by recalling all the warm memories, both good and bad, the myriad of learning curves presented your way, and experiences which were responsible for new growth in character and your very personhood during this past year.

There seems to be no shortage of finding things to be thankful for, at least that's how we are feeling ourselves tonight.

Onward ho! Away we go!

Deo Gratias!
(Thanks be to God!)

Hopeless Diehards!

It stuck!

Even when the season isn't on fire for that team....

They are hopelessly devoted to the
Vancouver Canucks, even living in the east!

All in the family!

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

It came upon a midnight clear, certainly for our family as we ushered in the feast of Christmas day, in the late dead of night. Our trek found us traveling to church in anticipation of attending Midnight Mass.

The Christmas lights were spectacular around town, the traffic minimal, the roads darker than dark with farmland stretching forever into the landscapes and no sight of lighting for miles at a time. Surely this was a special time as the midnight hour was drawing near.

Awake now & ready for church!

Arriving at the church, beauty was everywhere with the church decorated with ornate and exquisite wonder. Thousands of mini white lights were twinkling, candles were glowing in every window, and greenery was in the décor with more lighting woven throughout its boughs, three Christmas trees were on the altar with a very large crèche in the front of it. The lighting remained off for the duration of the early morning and baby Jesus was placed into the manger as a chorus of angels sang out “O Holy Night”…with the glow of the twinkling lights acting as the stars of the night.

How beautiful!

How wonderful!

How holy was the night!

Arriving home promptly a few minutes before 3:00 Am., everyone hugged a Merry Christmas to one another, placed baby Jesus in all the crèches welcoming his arrival we had been preparing for, and then all collapsed into bed, hearts still glowing from the most incredible entrance to this feast day.

Christmas morning came soon enough, children all bouncing around eagerly awaiting mom and dad’s attention. The excitement of the day was at hand, the coffee was brewing, and the cheese platter was being prepared for all to assemble in the living room. Usually we sing with hearty voices, but this morning, somehow, we just enjoyed being together in during our quiet early morning hours, missing the rest of the gang not able to be near us this year for Christmas.

Breakfast was prepared in advance, proven to be an immense time saver. The breakfast casserole was in the oven baking, and sending it’s aroma throughout the home, the smell of sausage and cheese wafted about. The fruit salad was in the fridge, and the croissants were to be prepared. I still laugh at the scene before me finding one daughter unsure of the method of banging open a can of Pillsbury dough croissants (something we never usually buy), just pulling all the dough from the center of the crack when popped open. She never knew each little croissant was prepared with perforations to separate each and simply fold up, so she made due with the faux pas and created a unique batch of croissants I’ll never forget. Some were huge reminiscent of large lamb chops, others tiny like mini croissants. They were sure good though, all were consumed by the end of the meal!

First though, we would nibble on cheese and crackers, sip our hot cuppa, and just be content for the moment opening a few gifts. The children were thrilled with the thoughtfulness of other siblings and grandparents from the west with the gifts sent our way, then mom and dad presented them with their one gift, only their stockings filled with little things. That was it this year, leaner than normal because of a pending family trip that was also a gift to all.

Making memories.

In my last post, I wrote about cooking up our Christmas dinner ahead of time on Christmas Eve, which we did. It was waiting in the fridge in case it was needed for travel to my husband’s office. However the day seemed to turn around for us, hope still filling the air with hubby traveling to work for his conference calls, then that was it. When he telephoned home to say his mission was complete, so rather than pack up and head to his office with dinner in tow, in the oven it went right here at home instead.

The cranberry candles were lit, the music turned on, the lights on outdoors, the table set, the items unpacked originally intended for the office evening, and everyone commenced some well deserved relaxation.

Another year older,
another year wiser (I hope)

Thank you so much to everyone who called us this day, and all those who sent precious thoughts our way to make us feel more homey in the east. Truly, on occasions such as these ones, our family and friends are treasured.

Merry Christmas to all!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

It's official!

They're Engaged!

Our daughter Ashley was incredibly shocked when Mike went to give her a Christmas Eve. gift and thought she'd peak, so he wisely decided ahead while she sat on the edge of the couch, so excited to have her gift, he would place a blanket over her head to ensure the surprise was indeed kept intact.

Of course, Mike knew she “would” peak if given the chance before all was in place, so he was being in tune with her curiosities. When the time seemed perfect, Mike pulled the blanket in one swift tug, and down it fell to the ground. As Ashley opened her eyes to see what lay before her, there was Mike, down on one knee, teary eyed from the emotion of the moment, and he requested her hand in marriage, also displaying a lovely custom made engagement ring before her eyes. (The snowboard she thought she was getting from him, was just not to be. *laugh*)

The ring.

Before she knew what had transpired, Ashley reacted suddenly,and began to have a burst of heat flash, cheeks flushed and warm with the ensuing buckets of tears dropping down in a rainstorm fashion onto her lap. Trembling as she attempted to gain control of herself, the shock of the moment hit and reality came into play as she gave a resounding “yes” to Mike’s proposal.

Alas, another grown adult child is engaged, and about to enter into the serious engagement period to discern her future with Mike in the matrimonial sacrament, with promises for a lifetime of togetherness. Plans for an August, 2007 wedding are currently in progress.

Congratulations you two!

Love you lots!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Winter, Anticipation, Preparations, Greetings and GREAT JOY!


We wish you and your family a “Bonne Hiver”!

The season of winter became official last Thursday evening at approximately 7:22pm.

WINTER is a favorite season for many, the season for those picturesque, chilly and cold looking snowy landscapes, great myriads of showy calendar pages when flipping over the next few months.

WINTER is a time of digging into the hat and glove baskets again, keeping one of each nearby at all times.

WINTER is a time for....

- Snow tires and antifreeze

- Seeing our breath in the cold outdoor air

- Feeling the mushy ground under foot

- Warming up the vehicle before attempting to get out and about

- Being thankful for the feature of seat warmers in the new van!

- Making snowmen and throwing snowballs.

- Icicles hanging from the rooftops

- Scrapping ice from windows and warming up key locks.

- Hot chocolate to warm up any body.

- Hockey games and the hope of backyard ice skating arenas

- Being aware of icy or slippery steps

- Skeletal trees with the moon shining through their limbs

- Incredible clear starry nights

- Warmer coats

- Warmer feet both in and out of the home.

- Throwing on a small blanket when reading on the couch.

- A toasty warm fire in the fireplace.

- A whiff of warm apple cider or cranberry candles filling the air with their aroma.

- A hot cup of coffee, spicy gingerbread tea or a cold cup of creamy, thick eggnog

- Peppermint ice cream (my hubby’s favorite all time crème de glace.

- Chap Stick and extra moisture lotion all over.

- Japanese and Mandarin oranges.

- Static electricity in the hair, or shaking hands and shocking someone in the process.

- The dreaded static from nylons making your attire cling sorely to the shape of your legs and butt.

- Winter sports are in full bloom. Bring out the snow pants!

- Slowing down a bit from the hectic pace of life

- Hoping to be snowed in to have the "calm" from the hectic pace of life!

WINTER is a great opportunity to follow these wise words;

"There is nothing like staying home for real comfort."

~ Jane Austen

WINTER is also a season where the natural church year begins fresh and anew, firstly with Advent nearing its end offering us new beginnings and anticipation, followed by Christmastide, a new calendar year the first day of January becoming official, while Epiphany awaits the Three Wise Men making their way to the Christ child that day, and soon, very soon, Valentine cards will become the craft of the day made for February’s earmarked date to remember loved ones.

All in a winter’s season….a season of winter, anticipation, preparations, greetings and GREAT JOY!

There are just so many blessings upon us during this time of year, one all folks struggle with however, especially in the face of the ever growing world’s materialism, secularism, and those accepted ideals continually invading the holiness of this day before us - Christmas day.

I personally find that there is so much to pray for at this time of year!

I personally love the goodness mankind exudes and offers perfect strangers overall, this time of year. Let's do it year round!

I personally find there is so much to hope for, though I know too, not all people are joyful at this very same time each year. Circumstances beyond their control have given them incredible hardships, loss of loved ones, and often crosses too tough to bare during this season.

These past few days, the green Grinch himself has attempted to continually invade our home, blasting and misting an invisible shield into the air with his negative poison as we run like silly people, swiftly blowing it all outdoors, so it doesn’t literally grab hold of us by the throat and make us gag.

Each year, families we’re familiar with, keep their eyes and hearts focused with a plan, and an ideal dream of a Christmas time together, firstly to celebrate the reason for the season, keeping the day holy and secondly, to spend quality time bonding with precious family. This year we knew we’d have our family separated for this upcoming special day, and certainly no other special friends are at hand to share it with, but we were prepared with a plan.

We resolved early on, being quiet at Christmas is a good thing and there’s nothing wrong with having this day unfold this way. Today however, when the Grinch appeared again, attempting to send us into a deep dark despairing plunge into self pity, with a confirmation via email that hubby was to work this Christmas day, along with other management and their employees, it was merely to appease the clientele for ensuring there would be no “drop in profits” from looming unattended deadlines.


I must confess that I rose this morning, literally on the wrong side of the bed! I knew in the back my mind this may happen before today, and also began to conjure up ways we could still make a memory this year on this holy day, maintaining some form of togetherness. Somehow though, when I placed my feet on the cool wooden floor beneath my bed early this morning, the reality of the circumstance hit me like a ton of bricks! Although appearing brave earlier this week, I was so hoping for another kind of celebration.

I gathered my wits about myself, hours later, firmly resolving to keep a positive nature, and rid myself of all my angry and bitterly disappointed attitudes. This was not something I could be proud of, oh no, rather this was not something that should precursor such preparation in my heart to meet the wee babe in the manger. With attitude (eventually) turned around, I decided to focus on the “what,” instead of the “why” (why, why, why!!!). I made a mental check list, ticking it twice (hee hee), and came up with a great motivating plan of action, and listed all the possibilities for what the order of the day could entail to benefit everyone here.

I corralled the children and had a family meeting while hubby was away at work today, as work has been intense all week long taking him from the home creating extremely long days filled with mental and emotionally draining checklists for deadline completion. As each item became complete and the light at the end of the tunnel seen, yet another email would arrive with yet another report would be requested - due that very day…all five days preceding today’s.

Yes, oh yes, it is great to brainstorm within this family, and as a result of our meeting today, tomorrow holds much promise! After morning mass tomorrow, we will tend to as many items in advance as possible with regards to meal planning, so we can transport our Christmas meals, both traditional brunch, and turkey dinner, to my hubby’s office!

You heard me right folks!

Christmas day will begin with morning Mass, out the door early. When arriving home later, we will usher in the holiness of the day by placing our baby Jesus (all five of them!) into their crèches and thanking God for yet, another chance to wish the wee babe, a Happy Birthday. Our daily meal fare will be packed with all our other necessary items, picnic style!

Like the babe in the manger, we will not be in the comfort of our own home, with the warmth of the fireplace this year, oh no. We will be in a cold, often sterile board room, gracing the huge table with a tablecloth or two, candles in the center on a small mirror to bring the light and glow of those candles into the room to create some ambiance.

Our favorite nativity scene will also be packed up and traveling with us, placed near the candles, reminding of the reason for the season of course.

As well, a birthday cake will be coming along, complete with candles for all of us to sing Happy Birthday to Jesus, a family tradition. But I will personally feel ever humbled to sing and blow out the candles on the cake, as both HE and I share this special occasion together.

Christmas music will fill the air when we plug in the small boom box we’ll tote along and the variety of lovely music cd's to place inside for the duration of the afternoon. Our song sheets will also be in the packing, should we decide on our traditional and spontaneous family sing-along.

Not one of the children felt anxious at all when I mentioned that the gift opening would wait until later in the day, though they would be packed and coming with us. While eating our scrumptious and nutritious blessing of food, we’ll open them later in the day, when their daddy has completed his mandatory afternoon conference calls.

Truly, a corporate workplace can offer a heartless decision for those it depends on to keep it's coffers loaded, specially at times such as these this time of year. A split decision can ruin a special and holy day for a corporate family as a whole, but this year, we refuse to allow the decision to break our family apart, no, they will not rob us of our special day - oh no!

We’ll wish others who may have to work later in the day a Merry Christmas too, bringing along our treats offering them good cheer as they begin their shifts and our best wishes for the difficult day they too must be encountering. We told the children there would be others there too later in the day, who were also being separated from their loved ones and the reason for the day, just like us, though their families would be at home alone without them. They are actually looking forward to the possibilities this day will offer our family now. We are smiling tonight as this idea has progressed this day. The turkey is unthawing, the other meal items at hand, and ready for action tomorrow.

And, at the very end of our upcoming Christmas day, hubby and I will offer our thanks for the odd sort of memory we’ll create as a family together in his office building.

O come Divine Messiah!

O come, Divine Messiah,
The world in silence waits the day
When hope shall sing its triumph,
And sadness flee away.

Dear Savior haste!
Come, come to earth.
Dispel the night and show Thy face,
And bid us hail the dawn of grace.
O come, Divine Messiah,
The world in silence waits the day
When hope shall sing its triumph,
And sadness flee away.

O Thou whom nations sighed for,
Whom priest, and prophet long foretold,
Wilt break the captive fetters,
Redeem the long lost fold.

Dear Savior haste!
Come, come to earth.

Dispel the night and show Thy face,
And bid us hail the dawn of grace.
O come, Divine Messiah,
The world in silence waits the day
When hope shall sing its triumph,
And sadness flee away.

Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Have a blessed and holy day filled with peace, love and joy!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Our big date!

Our big date!

This time each year, we recieve invitations to business functions warranting the necessity of bolstering our professional image, dressing up in our fineries, getting my girly look happening with curl and fuss, all for the sole purpose of simply to attend an annual dinner party, or a function from another company within the same professional field.

Here hubby and I were all dolled up and ready to head out for a big date for just such an occasion.

Sweet decorating.

Gingerbread house traditions.

Year after year, I always tell the children no more, but here we are today with yet another gingerbread house, completely decorated with assorted candy and all held together with white icing.

Holding the roof on until the icing hardens.
Begining to decorate the front.

Someone always licks their fingers at the wrong time offending others with their "germs", steals a few bonbons to everyone's chagrin and no one seems to fully agree on just how the final decor should be. But eventually the project complete, all stand back to admire it.

However, year after year they remember this family project, with their slight changes over the years from graham crackers to this purchased kit, much easier to build and keep standing.

The project complete, someone has wrapped it up in plastic saran in the hope it will remain decorated until after Christmas as is our tradition. I wonder how long the goodies of the decor will last?

The Art Show

When I posted this has been a busy week for wrapping up activities, I wasn't kidding!

This past weekend, the long awaited grand finale "Art Lessons Show" was a proud feature for all the young artists who have been working hard these past eight weeks, all taking part in an art school class. Alas, though items remaining for the well deserved art display were many, and most interesting, some of the initial items were brought home as they were difficult to store in their "portfolios" awaiting this final day, therefore not seen here.

All those super techniques the children had mentioned week after week when ending their lessons, those they spoke of fondly after each class, were there for all to see, on display, with parents roaming around the tables, welcomed for the last half an hour at the end of the last session.

His display was spread across two chairs, this was one.

Using a various assortment of art mediums such as pen and ink, charcoal, pastels, acrylic, watercolor, clay for making pottery, paper mache, and other sordid sketching shade technique examples, our two younger children learned much, loved their time each week creating masterpieces, and have already expressed interest in partaking in the upcoming spring session.

What fun!

She loved this class, as artsy hands make her happy.

I loved viewing all the exhibits and watching the satisfied faces of the children offering their expertise to the parents with explanations of mediums used and techniques learned.

Great job you two!

Music; A gift for the soul.

Music; A gift for the soul!

Music cleanses the understanding; inspires it, and
lifts it into a realm which it would not reach if it
were left to itself.

~Henry Ward Beecher

All of our children have been registered and assigned music lessons during their schooling. Personally, as I was the lucky recipient of a large oak upright “Willis” piano delivery one year from my parents, the same one I learned to play on as a tot, as did my siblings, all of our children have benefited from owning it. More importantly, the whole family has benefited from hearing the soul filled music directly from children's fingers dancing up and down the keyboard, offering musical tunes to ever permeate through the air of our home and lift our spirits up, sometimes encountering and enjoying impromptu sing alongs.

“I have my own particular sorrows, loves, delights; and you have yours. But sorrow, gladness, yearning, hope, love, belong to all of us, in all times and in all places. Music is the only means whereby we feel these emotions in their universality.”

~ H. A. Overstreet

Ready for her turn, she is thrilled to have a spectator.

For several years just our oldest daughter played, taking lessons from a woman a few blocks away. Then, lucky me, I was able to find a woman who traveled to our home to instruct all four of the older children, each and every Monday morning, for a two hour duration.

Playing a duet together for Christmas.

When this teacher moved away, we found substitutes for the older ones, but when we discovered “Orff” music and theory for the much younger two children, we took a side route for five years to offer this type of unique teaching, and then moved naturally into piano solely as their next music style. As those two children moved easily into piano with their previous music teachings, the two other younger children were taught their music with a parent participation method down the road with a neighbor called “Music for Young children”, another incredible resource that sincerely benefited mother here very much!

Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.
~Berthold Auerbach

With our move to the east side of the country, the former owners directed me to a local piano teacher, only a bike ride away. Last May, after our arrival here, we met with her right away, then the older two began taking lessons from her through to the end of July. By September, we were unable to find local teachers to our other preferred music types with the younger two, so the thought occurred to send them straight into piano lessons with their older siblings.

Over the last three months, all four younger children still residing at home and living here in the east with us, are registered students with this new piano teacher. Week after week, we have been observing the love of music our little ones are expressing and very much enjoying the use of the piano, like the big kids.

They practise their lessons well accompanied at times with a music cd to pretend a whole orchestra is behind them. They work in their theory books, play their scales over and over again, and eagerly learn new tunes each week to build up their music repetoire. Currently there is an abundance of Christmas music being played for the family.

There's always someone hopping on the piano bench to warm up the piano keys and play a tune (or five) for us.

This week I sat in with their lessons, all four back to back for a total of a two hour time slot and thoroughly enjoyed both their playing sessions and the teacher, a friend now to me. We are very pleased with the music included in our parenting philosophy of education, and so very happy to have found a terrific piano teacher locally so quickly.

"It’s such an extraordinary thing, music. It is how we speak to God finally – or how we don’t. Even if we’re ignoring God. It’s the language of the spirit. If you believe that we contain within our skin and bones a spirit that might last longer than your time breathing in and out – if there is a spirit, music is the thing that wakes it up. And it certainly woke up mine. And it seems to be how we communicate on another level."

~ Bono

Festive celebrations.

December Parent participation time!

Our last week's week in review featured two special parent participation activities with the ending of local activities the children have been partaking in. Obviously they will commence again in the New Year ahead, though this week, I was lucky to actually attend and observe both of them.

Our local Cub Scout group was the scene early in the week for the member's family invited along to watch two little plays all the boys had been creating, and were to perform that evening towards their “Tawny” badge for creativity.

The parents brought in treats for a fun and festive snack time after all the boys had a great time performing for us. They certainly won't be contenders for Academy Awards, but they pulled it off and enjoyed themselves in the process.

This group hasn't too many members so it's been a very quaint setting for our son to join in the fun, working in earnest for multiple badges I've had to sew on his sash. He has earned seven badges so far with several bookmarks in the Cub handbook for more as his goal to obtain as well.

The Brownie girls, not to be outdone, hosted an evening for mothers and their daughters to participate in a “craft extravaganza”, where each girl (a huge group to be sure) was able to decorate real boughs made into a wreath for a doorway at home.

Also, one of the noted “Martha Stewart” Brownie leaders, thought of a neat craft for the girls to make using a baby food jar, painted white inside, and decorated to make a fun snowman.

Glue guns were being hoarded, not enough to go around, but eventually the evening progressed and each gal had completed both crafty projects. The entire evening was filled with Christmas singing, jolly and good for everyone to enjoy together.

How festive it was! The evening ended with the enjoyment of hot cocoa and snacks, heartily devoured by all.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Decked out some more...

Decked out some more....

Someone adopted this neighborhood tree with love!

Here are more examples of some of the older homes all decked out in festive décor within our general locale. Though these are not decorated as simple or humbly as the pictures presented in my previous post, these still offer simplicity with that “wow” effect for all to admire.

Candy cane stripes, sleigh on front porch,
wreaths in every window.

Being too that they are located on a busier roadway with fairly heavy traffic, you can bet the owners have many admirers slowing down to take a good look, kind of like us today as we drove by with camera in hand to catch them for the blog. *smile*

I mentioned the popularity of red bows as well in the last writing, and here today you can see for yourself that I wasn't kidding! Red and green are the favorite festive colors all around for sure.

Red bows everywhere one looks!

Both of the homes above have green wreaths located on the outside of every window, with a simple red bow to finish them off. But, the heritage home owners above went all out.....with the red bows! One on the flag pole, the mailbox, bare trees, around the garland swag on the decks, and even with trees burlapped for the winter, they too have red bows on top.

Elderly neighbors down the road were in the "red" too.