31 December 2008

[talk: OH Boy ... Here We Go ...]

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Well - sort of.

These are the last two days of the Christmas season for us ... and we end it with a bang. My hubby's bday is tonight - and our little 4-couple fondue has turned into a 19adult 7children event.

Why am I wasting time writing this, instead of doing all that I should be? Well, I'm waiting for my hubby to come home with all the ingredients to finish everything up. Like all functions, it's the last hour prior to that becomes a nail-biting frenzy. And I'm a tad nervous that there won't be enough of everything ... I mean, how do you plan for 19 people with dipping sauces?? I have no clue - but I'm willing to give it a try *grin*.

The numbers grew due to people not having a place to go for New Years. So we invited another couple. Then another. Then we found out so-and-so didn't have a place to go, and neither did so-and-so.- We have an "open door" policy but when we were told that another so-and-so would like to come to, with so-and-so, we had to decline. Honestly, it was such a hard thing to do - but as my poor hubby said, "Sweetie at some point you just have to say "no". There simply isn't enough room." Ick. It just made my stomach turn into knots. But they were gracious and hopefully they understood our predicament.

On another note, last night we were at B&A's engagement party and I learned of some of my "blog stalkers" (they should come up with a better term - that just sounds creepy instead of what it really is - super sweet). Listening to people be touched by what I write was really quite surreal. One person talked with me about how my story of Shalom really touched her, and another talked about my recipes ... and it was really lovely to hear.

See, I just write, and throw it out there - not sure who will be catching it. So, as this is the final blog of 2008, let me thank YOU for taking the time to care about the little snippets that I write. I wish you all a wonderful new year, and all the best for 2009.

I'll be sure to post pics of our New Years Party ... but for now, here are a few pics of the snow caves my hubby built with Mattias and his neighbour friend. The snow's still here, but definitely melting ... we'll see what happens during January!

Be blessed!

29 December 2008

[talk: Silence.]

Shhh ... can you hear it?

It's the sound of the clock ticking in the dining area ... and the purring of my laptop. Oh how SWEET the sound. The sound of silence.

I love people. I love being with people, talking with people, laughing with people. But I love silence too. It clears my head. And there is a lot going on in my head today. Thoughts of possible dreams coming true, thoughts of *ugh* dreams possibly not coming true. Thoughts of hard paths different friends are walking. Paths of financial stress, marital grief, physical illness.

And it seems, in these quiet moments, that all the loudness of laughter and noise just ripples away. What is left is the truth ... that life is full of blissful ups and devastating downs. We can't hide it with wide grins and empty banter. We're not meant to have it all together all the time.

We all know that it's the hardtimes that make the good times even sweeter. And as I enjoy the quietness of my evening, I know that right now is a good time. I will savour it, because who knows what tomorrow will hold for any of us.

How sweet to know that even when all is silent, that He is there.

27 December 2008

[talk: Tuesday - "Nanny & Baba's Christmas Morning"]

Christmas morning at Nanny & Baba's always starts off with the BIGGEST breakfast. And with a little boy asking if it's time to open presents yet. Who are we kidding. There are a few BIG boys asking the same thing ...

No one makes a breakfast like my mom. German pancakes, Land of Nod Cinnamon buns, bacon & sausage, eggs, fruit salad ... need I say more??

Then, after breakfast, it was time to open the presents with the Christmas music in the background and cups of coffee in hand.

My niece read the REAL Christmas story from the book of Luke.

Mattias got a fishtank from Nanny & Baba ... he was CRAZY excited and didn't know what to do with himself.

It was a great, great time. And I can't believe it's over until next year!! But our Christmas was JUST beginning ...

[talk: Monday - "Nanny & Baba's Christmas Eve" ]

Monday night was our annual "Nanny & Baba's Christmas Eve" with my family. We have a fondue, play games and sleep over so that the next morning is "Nanny & Baba's Christmas Morning." This is a great way to take the pressure off of December 24th and 25th of us all being together - which is so complicated with all the different families and in-laws.

Our fondue has become a tradition, with battered mushrooms & cheese, steak, chicken and a host of other foods. It's a great thing to do, as it slows down your night and lets you have good conversation while you're cooking your food.

Josiah knows EXACTLY where the candies are hidden.

We even opened the kids stockings - although my husband was pushing for the adults to open at least one gift. But we all waiting for the next morning.

Baba and the boys put out chocolate milk and cookies for Frosty the Snowman - who conveniently lives in their backyard *smile*.

[talk: Ho Ho Ho *yawn*]

Ok. I'm spent ... but I've survived the first week of Christmas holidays. Birthdays, family functions, dinner with friends ... there's been something on every day, every night. And I have the photos to prove it. So many, in fact, that I'm a little dizzy just sorting through them all.

I don't know if any of you are the "photographer" of the family - but I am definitely that in both of ours. I'm not even sure if anyone else brings a camera - except for maybe my teenage nieces. So, I click away and then I put the pressure on myself to get them ready (edit) and send them out to all the family. I've totally created this habit on my own, and now our families are used to it ... so then comes the, "So, do you have our pictures yet?" *smile* But I deserve it ... I love taking them - but in such a busy week, getting them out is just another thing to do.

What I'd REALLY like to concentrate on, is finishing our Cruise scrapbooking. I've done 18 pages so far - and am on day 3 of 7. But now that I've gotten going on it, it shouldn't take long to finish it.

Here's a recap of our week ...

22 December 2008

[talk: Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow ...]

I'm not sure where you're from, but from where I'm from the last few days have been a bit of a surprise. Sure, I'm Canadian, but we don't get the snow like people think ... except for the last few days.

And they say it's still coming ... and even better, coming at night. So for the day, we have GLORIOUS sunshine and nothing, absolutely nothing, looks more fantastic than a fresh dump of the white stuff with the sun bouncing light off it.
But my poor hubby has shoveled the driveway 4 times in the last 24 hours *grin*. Awww, it's good for him *wink*.

Life doesn't stop around here because of the snow ... nope, we keep on keepin' on. Yesterday Mattias sang with his Sunday School class in church. Then we went out for lunch, and had some of our Corsican friends over for dinner *grin*. Well - they LIVE in Corsica ... for now, anyway.

Tonight we're off to my folk's place for our "pretend" Christmas Eve. We started this tradition a few years ago - with our lives getting so complicated with spouses and their families as well. So - we always have Christmas a little early with my parents. We have a fondue on "Christmas Eve", sleep over, have a BIG "Christmas" breakfast, open our stockings and then our presents.

Then our little family goes home to unpack our loot *grin* ... the boys have some quiet time and then we're off to my in-laws for my father-in-law's bday. Then it's Christmas Eve on the 24th at my house, Christmas Day at my sis-in-law & bro-in-laws ... then skating on the 26th. We have parties lined up on the 30th, my hubby's bday party at our house on the 31st (and a New Years party - who are we kidding ...) ... THEN it's Josiah and my mom-in-law's bday on January 1st ... so all the family, on both sides, come to our house.

I'm exhausted just thinking about it *grin*. BUT it's what happens every year ... 7 birthdays in 3 weeks in our family, plus Christmas celebrations. It is what it is - and we really do love it.

And then we're off to the slopes for a few days of RnR ... with Tias having his first set of skiing lessons. Can't WAIT for that ...

I've taken HUNDREDS of photos over the last couple of weeks ... with a few hundred more coming up, I'm sure. *SIGH*. SO much scrapbooking to do ... maybe while we're RnRing ...

If I don't get back here in the next day or so, I hope you and your family have the most GLORIOUS Christmas.

19 December 2008

[photos: Preschool Christmas Concert & Snow on Christmas Equals FREE Stuff]

Is there ANYTHING sweeter than a Preschool Christmas Concert? I don't think so - as every parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle and friend just beamed at today's concert.

It was well planned, with a lot of singing and sign language done by the children. There were poems and questions answered by eager little ones. "Mattias, who do you buy for at Christmas time?", to which he politely answered - "Daddy."

Which is funny, not because he didn't mention my title, but because he calls my hubby "Papa". My hubby and I looked at each other and shrugged.

And today was GLORIOUS with clear skies and crisp, white snow. They say this may be the first Christmas since 1971, where the entire country will have a WHITE Christmas. For you locals, pay attention: Mad Dog Sport & Ski has insurance on this because their slogan states that if there is 6inches of snow on Christmas day, EVERYTHING is free. Start lining up early, I say. And that's worth missing Christmas morning, don't you think?? We'd love to get the boys some free ski equipment :-) ...

Hmmm ... they'll have to have SOME sort of regulations on that ... or someone will just walk in and take everything ... and sell it on ebay *grin*.

Have a good one!

18 December 2008

[photos: Seeing the Lights]

Well ... we saw them *smile*. Despite the whipping wind and the snow, we bundled up and went to a nearby neighbourhood to see the Christmas lights. The boys were so flippin' cute in their coats, snowpants and boots. I tried to take as many pics as I could in the 20 minutes we were outside *grin*. You know me ... it's all about the documenting.

I was a little disappointed in the lights, though. The group of families who usually have their street alive with lights, well, their houses were bare. So - the ones we saw were just average ... a few moving-deers here and a few flashing lights there.

We were in a bit of a rush too - and the snowfall wasn't helping. We were on our way to my brother's house for my mom's birthday dinner. Otherwise, we would've kept looking for bigger and better lights to look at ... but the boys really don't know any different. And it was great to be with the family for the cozy night.

The whole evening was nice. And I said to my hubby, walking in the snow, "It's so strange to think that 3 years ago we went out looking at the lights, barely able to stand because of the grief. And today, we're laughing and throwing snow. And Josiah's here. Time really is a good thing."

And it is ... so, I ask you, are you using your time the way you really desire? Are you letting it heal wounds? Or fester bitterness? One thing I've learned over the last few years, is that bitterness only hurts you - and it's up to you to decide to make lemonade with the lemons you're given.

That doesn't mean that bad times don't require tears and screaming. Oh, they do. But at this time of year, it's a great point to begin again. To try again. To fall again, maybe - but to live this life that has been given to you. It truly IS a gift, and so much of it is a choice. SO much.

So - here are some pics of last night ... enjoy.

17 December 2008

[talk: Shalom's Day]

Has another year gone by? Another year full of wonderful blessings and accomplishments?

Yes - I s'pose it has.

But on this day, I stop. For today marks the anniversary of our loss. It was 3 years ago today where we had to say goodbye to Shalom Hope, and I find myself feeling like it was a lifetime ago.

I woke up this morning, nervous as to how I would feel. But I opened my eyes, looked around the room, and thought, "Hmmm. I think I'm ok. I think I feel just fine." Which is a strange, almost guilty way to feel. Because just a few days ago I couldn't even think of her without have a wet face. But today - well - the ache is just a dull one.

I continue to try and find balance with this whole thing. I had a friend this week feel that she needed to apologise for a comment regarding children (*smile* when she needn't) - not wanting me to think that she didn't validate the whole Shalom experience.

I told her that it happens to me on a weekly basis. Someone says, "Oh - you have just the two boys?". Um. No? Yes? Do I want to get into it with a stranger? If I say, "No, we lost our daughter 3 years ago," it just makes the person feel horrible. And if I say, "Yes, we have just the two," I feel this pang of remorse for not taking the opportunity to talk about her.

"Two boys, huh? So are you going to try for a girl?" Um. No? Yes? Am I supposed to say, "We already have a girl." Or do I say, "Fingers crossed ..." with some Cheshire grin??

"Oh, I so understand, I miscarried at 6 weeks." And this one is the hardest. Because I, too, have
miscarried and it is just as heartbreaking of a loss - of course. But the path of Shalom was such a lonely one - to have to choose. I still don't know of anyone with as unique as our own circumstances.

Last night, Lu and I talked for just a moment about it being December 17th. And he said, "Josiah is just the light of my life. I would walk it all again to have him here. It's all good." He's right. I would too. Not that I would want to lay Shalom's life down for Josiah ... but it is what it is and as I watch him run around the house, chasing cars and hearing the pitter-patter of his chubby feet ... it makes me smile.

December 17th is just another day.

But we will go see the Christmas lights (if this snow lets up a bit *grin*) and it is my most favourite thing to do. To be a family, all bundled up, drinking hot cocoa ... and it doesn't seem like a gloomy thing to do - like going to Shalom's grave. We haven't gone there in a while.

The lights are so cheery, and the boys will just love it. It seems like a healthy thing to do ... but I sometimes wonder if people think we're a bit wacko for doing it in memory of her.

So - that's where I'm at today ... feeling good, feeling strange, livin' life.

16 December 2008

[photos: Wedding Photographer? Me? REALLY??]

WELL - I'm a tad excited about the fact that a relative has asked if I would be the "official" photographer for her wedding in March. Now - I'm not a professional by ANY stretch - nor do I claim I will ever be. But I love it - really really love it. And I've taken pics at 3 weddings over the last year - just as a little gift on behalf of my family. I was SO encouraged when 2 of the brides only used MY photos, rather than the ones they had PAID for.

But that was without the pressure of doing everything. This will be a totally different experience. SO much to think about - but I think I can do it. And I think I can do a good job. The thing is, is that I don't have a lot of equipment. I'm a "one girl show" *grin*. So I'm asking for a couple of goodies for Christmas, including a tripod and such ... And the money my cousin is paying me will go towards a new lens that I've had my eye on. It's an 18-200 which means that I wouldn't have to change lenses in the middle of the shoot, which is what I've had to do in the past - and that means I won't panic about missing the "moment".
I've also learned that, obviously, you have to have an interesting photo - but the editing is really where the photo comes alive. I use Lightroom and find that it really is a fantastic program for enhancing photos. I also have Photoshop Elements - which isn't the most intricate editing program - but between the two, the photos come out really nice.

Here are some of my favourite wedding pics I've taken over the last couple of years. Some were taken with my old camera, some with my new Nikon D60, some were edited before I had Lightroom, some with Lightroom - but you get the idea.
Who knows? Maybe, this might be something I will get into one day. We'll see *smile*.