Friday, December 31, 2010


I haven't had a white Christmas for nine years and still counting.  I *thought* I'd finally get it this year when the weather forecast predicted SNOW on Christmas day, but it came a day late.  I was rather glad in the end, because it was quite a storm and a lot of people would have had to cancel their Christmas plans.  Oh, and when I say "quite a storm" it was just an average day in Ontario...but here, it's a big deal.  And I say that without mockery, because snow in a city that rarely gets it, really is a different ordeal than Canada, where it's expected, dealt with, and life goes on.

Last year we got several feet of snow in just a short time, and even this Canadian girl was impressed (though I was unimpressed that even several days later when the roads were 100% clear, schools were still canceled and stores were closed...but that's a whole other story).  We were definitely unprepared for that storm.  The highways were a mess and John ended up spending two nights in the city because he couldn't get home.  When he did get back, shoveling himself in was quite a chore.  Shoveling himself out the following day, after yet another big dumping was an even bigger chore.  It took several hours.  The snow was heavy, and the plows went by (we park on the street, usually) and packed the snow in even harder around the car.  I insisted that most of the problem was a lousy shovel.  Seriously- it was lousy.

So this year, when my mom asked what John could use for his birthday in June, I said a snow shovel!!  Dad bought one that he really likes from the lumber yard he works for, and they bought a small red shovel for Joshua to help.  This, of course, thrilled Joshua to bits and pieces.

John's new shovel DID make a difference this year.  He likes it.  He also likes having Joshua by his side.  And by the way, his poor bare hands aren't really poor bare hands.  It was 55F that day and the snow was already melting when I took this picture.  

He hates his mittens; then again, I made a bad choice in style.  They have the fingerless gloves under the mitten-ed flip-top and they're a pain to get on.  The whole ordeal leaves Joshua quite frustrated.  I'm going to have to find another pair.  His current ones will be better next year.  

I'm loving the snow- it's so much prettier outside when a blanket of white snow covers an otherwise bleak and wintery world.  And maybe next year we will have a white Christmas!  Or perhaps we'll just have to go north to find it.  (I doubt it though- I'm not that desperate)

Happy Birthday Jesus

About three week before Christmas, we started telling Joshua that Christmas was coming and telling him what it was about.  When we explained that Christmas was the day we celebrate Jesus' birthday, Joshua wanted to make a cake.  I already have a gazillion things on my list of things to do in the kitchen, and the only way I could have a fresh cake ready on Christmas day was to premix the dry ingredients or go boxed.  I'm glad I chose boxed, because I really did end up running short on time.

While we were grocery shopping, to told Joshua to pick out one of the cakes from the Betty Crocker shelf.  Of course, he had to pick pink.  Nothing against pink- but EVERYTHING against a fake strawberry-flavored box cake.  But this was Joshua's project, so the pink cake went in the cart, followed by pink icing and a small jar of sprinkles.

On Christmas night, John took Joshua upstairs for a bath and bed, and I remembered the cake.  So he came back down in his pajamas and helped me cut and serve the cake before bedtime.  Instead of singing happy birthday, we prayed and thanked God for the precious gift He gave us 2000 years ago when He came in the form up a baby, wrapped in swaddling cloths.  

What a gift that was.

Christmas Holidays Part Two

The holidays are over.  My family returned to Canada.  John's work schedule is back to normal. The tree will be coming down as soon as I get out to buy a plastic storage bin for all the ornaments.  All that remains of my Christmas cooking is a bit of turkey in the freezer.  Even the broth from the turkey carcass is gone; I made potato & cabbage soup for lunch on the last day of my family's visit.  All that's left is that little bit of turkey, a tree that needs to come down....and a bunch of memories.  They're good memories, though, and it was a fun Christmas.

My parents, and my brother Derek arrived on Christmas Eve, just in time for dinner.  I had cranberry meatballs in the crock pot, and a variety of finger foods already made in the fridge.  There were fiesta pinwheels, hummus and mini pitas, artichoke & spinach dip with pita chips, antipasto pasta salad, veggies & dip, and I sliced up the leftover summer sausage that didn't make it to the antipasto salad.  Finger foods are so fun, and I would have enjoyed doubling my list for the pure enjoyment of making them, but there were only five adults to eat the spread.

After our meal, we took a drive for Joshua to see the Christmas lights.  Derek was sick, so he stayed behind. We stuck to a nearby neighborhood so we could get Joshua to bed at an early hour.  He doesn't sleep when he knows Grandma and Papa Jim are around, and he's pretty exhausted by the end of a visit, so we try and counteract the early mornings with reasonably early bedtimes.  I wish I could say it was successful.

When we got back to the house (Derek was still alive, for those who might be wondering ;-)), John put Joshua to bed and I whipped up a buffalo chicken dip- a recipe I've been wanting to try for over a year- and then we watched a Christmas movie.  

Here's the tree before we went to bed.  I guess nobody felt like wrapping this year!  We did wrap a few things for Joshua because I thought it would be more fun for him to rip open the wrapping paper, but you can't see them in this picture.

Joshua had gone to bed very excited about Christmas, but the gifts were secondary to having his grandparents around, so there was time to brew a pot of coffee and set out the coffee cake, fruit and cheese for breakfast.  We didn't eat right away, but I wanted to have it ready so I didn't have to miss out on the fun of watching Joshua with his new toys because I was in the kitchen making breakfast!

Most of the gifts were for Joshua, John got a new shirt and tools from Derek, and a coffee press from my parents.  Derek gave me this nifty loose-leaf tea pot that actually strains the tea out through the bottom of the pot when it's set on top of a cup.  It's hard to describe, but is cool enough that it might earn its very own blog post one day. ;-)  My parents gave me a calendar, after seeing me go a whole year without getting around to buying one for 2010, and a joint gift to John and I: an ICE CREAM MAKER!!  I have been eying up ice cream makers for several months now, because I found some recipes for coconut milk ice cream sweetened with agave nectar: guilt-free ice cream.  

Anyway, moving on.  John and I went Christmas shopping for Joshua the week before Christmas, and it was hard to resist pulling everything off the shelves.  There were so many fun things that I knew he would enjoy.  But I never want to over-do Christmas where the emphasis is on the gifts; and I don't want to raise expectations that we can't meet from one year to the next; and Joshua is so young, he could be easily overwhelmed with too many things.  So we basically put a bunch of stuff in the cart, and when we were done shopping, we went through everything we had grabbed and re-evaluated.  We eliminated nearly everything (which was the plan), and ended up giving Joshua a red bean bag chair, one new train, and a kit to make his own tool box, since he's always running for his 'hammer' and 'screwdriver' when John's doing work around the house.  We knew there would be enough toys from the rest of the family.

                                                      We did stockings, too- they are so fun.  

My parents gave Joshua a hot wheel track and it *almost* rivals the train table.  Not quite, though. :-)

Flint (my parent's dog) liked to lie on top of the hot wheels track, and Joshua, whether he was playing with track or not, got quite upset about it.

Yes, Joshua spent the day in his shirt and underwear.  In case you were wondering.  We are in the throes of potty-training.  Doesn't make the prettiest pictures, but life must go on, be it Christmas or not.

A new floor puzzle from Nanny and Bunky: (Joshua's great-grandparents)

The turkey didn't have to go into the oven until 1:30pm and the day ended up being very low-key and relaxing, as did the rest of the week.

On Monday, we were supposed to take Joshua to Disney on Ice: Toy Story 3.  John got free tickets at work for us and Raina and Andrew.  For the week prior to Christmas, Joshua had been complaining of a sore throat and we were giving him regular doses of a homeopathic cold remedy from CVS.  I've used it before, during his colds, and it seemed ineffective.  I kind of expected it to be, because it was homeopathic and I have no faith in homeopathy, but since other medicines are not an option, I figured it didn't hurt.  There's no way of knowing if he got any relief from it.

Well, it would seem that catching the cold early made the medicine much more effective.  Joshua's cold never broke out this time.  Then on Monday, when we'd gone the whole previous day without giving him the cold stuff, he woke up sneezing non-stop and with a runny nose.  Miserable on top of that.  We canceled our tickets and started the homeopathy again. the afternoon his cold was seemingly gone.  Not a sniffle in sight.  

A week has passed since then, and we are still hearing complaints of a sore throat and Joshua coughs about three times a day- just a little throat clearing, really.  This cold is very anxious to stick around.  It seems the homeopathy is keeping it dormant, but I need something to kick it down.  We're going to buy unpasteurized honey today, and see if a few teaspoons of that will help; and some spirulina mixed with apple sauce for lots of extra vitamins.  

Anyway, I'm impressed that we've held a cold at bay for two weeks now, especially when Uncle Derek brought his own dose of germs.  I'm sure it won't always be possible to avoid a cold, but it's nice that Joshua was healthy for Christmas.

How was YOUR Christmas?  :-) 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Holidays Part One

I've started several blog posts in the last couple of days, and quite obviously, never get as far as finishing them to the point of posting.  John should be walking through the door any minute now, which means that this one may not get posted either, but I'll try.

John's Christmas holidays started on Saturday when we slept in.  Even Joshua.  As soon as we were showered and ready to face the world, we went to a Christmas event hosted at our community firehouse.  It was announced the previous evening by a long line of fire trucks and police cars, who came slowly down the streets of our town, blasting their sirens and thrilling Joshua to no end with their big display of flashing lights and noise.  We stood outside, in the cold, watching as the trucks drove slowly out of sight.

At the firehouse on Saturday, there was a Santa and Mrs. Clause.  I guess we should have realized that's what it would be, but we were halfway through the lineup by the time we did.  We aren't doing the whole Santa thing with Joshua- but we aren't opposed to letting him sit in Santa's lap, full knowing that it's make-believe and that he won't be squeezing his way down our chimney any time soon.  So, he did.  And he was pretty scared of the jolly old fellow.  Facing his fears paid of in the end, though, when he received a Handy Manny car to assemble and play with, and a hot dog and soft pretzel for lunch.

Some people were sitting around eating their food, and we could have mingled, too, but we had still more to do that day and quickly made our way back to the van.  We made a quick stop at the grocery store so I could make a Greek salad to take with us to John's parents that night.

Nancy (John's step-mom) was hosting a birthday party for three family members: John's sister, Jen, his nephew Logan, and his Dad.  She ordered a bunch of Armenian food, cooked a turkey breast and a few other things that all quickly disappeared.  It kind of turned into a combined birthday/Christmas thing, where everyone exchanged gifts.

I tried to take pictures, but only got one that's remotely worth keeping.  The living room is small, and with fourteen people crammed into it, there wasn't much space for taking any.  I snapped this one while the birthday cake was being cut.  It doesn't even have everybody in it.

We stayed later than we expected to- which means we had a good time.  When we got Joshua to bed, he
was more than ready for it, which meant lots of crying and tears before getting him to sleep.  Funny how the more tired he is, the harder it is to get him to sleep.  I'm just waiting for the day when it clicks: Sleep Is Good!

On Sunday, we dropped Joshua off at his cousin's house and did some Christmas shopping.  Can't sneak things into the cart unnoticed anymore!  I'm kind of glad of it though- I love that it gave a reason (not that one always needs a reason) to spend time with his family, and he had such a good time!  They're so good with him.

John and I finished all of our shopping, except for my dad, who we took care of the following day.  When we got home, we decided to keep Joshua awake, as it was too late for his nap.  This one, seemingly innocent decision cost us any relaxation we may have desire for the rest of the evening.  My calm, happy child turned into an overtired little monster who I managed to calm only by constant cuddling in my big over-sized recliner.  Not a bad thing in the end- I love cuddle time. :-)

Monday went by so fast- I can barely remember what we did.  We found my dad's Christmas present at JC Penney's.  Picked up a few groceries.  Organized the bedrooms upstairs for when my family comes on Christmas Eve.  Today was much of the same.  John and Joshua did our big grocery shopping which will last us for two weeks, right through my family's visit, and I stayed home to finish the cleaning and do some cooking for our itty bitty freezer.  I feel the next couple of days closing in on me as Christmas comes closer.  I have to take so many breaks.  It's frustrating.  But I THINK I've learned from years past, and started early enough this year that I will be ready in time, and the week should go off without a glitch.  Ha.

Joshua started sleeping in his big boy bed again.  Actually, it's a different bed.  Rather than put him in a whole new twin sized bed like last time, when he refused to sleep in it....we just took the rail off his crib and turned it into a daybed.  Same bed, different idea.  He loves it and was so excited when we told him what we were doing.  He helped John turn the screwdriver.  And then he slept in it ALL night, which shocked me, as lately he's been waking up around two every morning wanting to cuddle with me...which he's allowed to do because he's still pretty young and personally, I'm not up to the whole get-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night thing to get him back in bed and wait out his screaming and crying when he's lonely.  And even if I was, I can't because my joints make me feel ninety years old when I get up in the night.  I've got myself covered. :-P

When Joshua finally did wake up, it was eight-thirty in the morning, and he came into our room with his pillow and blankie and just wanted to cuddle.  So we put him between us and we all feel asleep for another hour.  I think he's finally catching up on the lack of sleep from our vacation in Canada.

That just about puts me up to date.  John is watching the last few minutes of the Amazing Race and I'm just relishing this quiet evening with the twinkling lights on the tree, my vanilla scent candle burning on the end table and smelling oh-so-good, a hot cup of peppermint tea...a great end to a busy day.

Oh, I nearly forgot.  One of the things I've always wanted to do is learn to make six-pointed snowflakes.  So this Christmas, I did.  I was pretty happy about that.  Made a whole bunch of them and hung them from the kitchen ceiling.

Some of them are nicer than others.  After the first half dozen, I started to get the hang of it- where to cut and where to fold, etc.  Our home is so Christmas-y this year.  I love it.  We even hung lights outside the house.  This is the first time I've had lights hanging around the roof, of all the places I've lived, even if it's just a tiny part of the porch and not the whole house.  I'm okay with that.  They're pretty.

I may be back before Christmas, but in case I'm not:


Monday, December 13, 2010

Tree Time!

Last year, our Christmas tree was a bitty little table-top thing.  I had my heart set on a real one for this year.  There's nothing better than the fresh scent of pine, the vibrant green needles and thick, full branches of a real, live Christmas tree. 

On the long ten-hour ride back from Canada on Saturday night, we decided to stop for a tree before going home.  I didn't want to wait another day!  It helped break up the monotony of the ride for Joshua, giving him something to look forward to, when he finally lost his sanity during the final two-hours of our trip.  

Growing up, we always drove way out to the country and cut our own tree.  The whole experience was fun: searching through rows of trees for the best one; Dad cutting it down with his old wood-handled saw; piling on the horse-drawn sleigh to take it back to the car; drinking hot chocolate at the tree-store; petting the animals on the farm; the long drive home.  It was perfect.  In the earlier years, we always went with friends, which added to the excitement.

I've always wanted my child/ren to experience the same thing, and with several tree farms in the area, it will be possible in the future...but this year, we settled for good ole' Home Depot.  We found a tall, narrow fir about six feet high, though we first had to tear the living room apart, moving things around and putting some furniture downstairs in order to make it fit.

Once we got it home, John set it up right away so the branches would fall for the following evening.  

I let Joshua put one ornament on the tree, since he didn't quite understand why he had to wait.  I gave him my new Tim Horton ornament and he said he wanted to put it "up there."  John lifted him so he could point to the exact spot he wanted and....well, it was the very top of the tree.  So Tim Hortons it was.

Joshua loves to help his Daddy do work around the house with his toy tools, and he was there, faithful as always, to make sure John got the nails in okay around the door frame. ;-)

Before we did any tree decorating, we drove to Starbucks for drinks.  We got a child-sized, child-temperature hot chocolate for Joshua.  We didn't tell him what it was before he took his first sip, but he looked up and asked, "Is there chocolate in it?"  He drank most of it, so I assume it was good. =)

Finally time to decorate!!

The finished results:

I still used our table-top tree from last year, too, and just added a few small gold ball ornaments.  If I find some cheap cream colored ribbon, I'll add that, too:

Yes, there are three different colored strands of lights.  Green, red, and green-and-red.  I don't remember having such...variety...on our Christmas tree two years ago, but since we had 'em, I used 'em.

I'm so excited about Christmas this year; it's the first one where Joshua actually understands what's going on, and though it's not technically his first Christmas, it pretty much is.  It's going to be fun!  =)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

When I should have been cleaning the house, Joshua's friend came over to play.  And when I should have been packing my suitcase, Joshua and I baked cookies.  Chocolate chip cookies with red and green M&Ms.  After I put him to bed (one-and-a-half-hours late), I spent the next 45 minutes looking for his water bottle (all his sippy cups broke within two days...guess they were getting old and brittle).  Joshua spent that 45 minutes wide awake, waiting for the water bottle.  I finally found it inside one of his toy cars.

Now, when I should be frantically running around the house, trying to get everything together before we leave in the morning, I am blogging.  With my feet up.  Because they are so swollen I can't stand on them.  And because my back is on fire (figuratively speaking).  This paragraph has nothing to do with anything, except to explain why I am talking about a lack of time, when I am obviously *wasting* some of it by writing on my blog.  In case you were wondering.

I'm okay with all of this.  Joshua is only a child once, and I only have him with me for a 'few' short years.  He's been waiting for his friend to come over for days....and I promised him we'd bake cookies for his great-grandparents and grandparents....and, well, one must drink water.  ^-^  I had to make a choice between investing my time and energy into a clean house and a neatly packed suitcase....or a person.  My son.  And now, here I am, with a happy son and unexpected time to write and, oh... I guess I could complain about UPS.

I ordered a pair of dress boots to 'winterize' my summer dress and make it do-able for my friend's wedding this weekend.  They were expected to arrive Monday, Tuesday or today.  They didn't.  I actually ordered them much earlier, but when they came, they were too small.  Good thing we're taking my grandparents shopping on Friday.  I guess I'll be doing some shopping, too.

I'm SO excited to be going up to Canada.  The timing of this trip is perfect- I've managed to cram a lot of stuff into our travel plans.  It's going to be splendid.  

I'll be back in a few weeks. =)  I guess that's all I have to say.

Good night.