17 December 2015

[ The God of Grey // Shalom Hope. ]

I can feel it coming.  

It's a strange thing.  Somehow I must subconsciously know it's coming - or else i wouldn't feel as I do.  And when I feel it -- it's a totally sinking, dropping, nervous, anxious feeling.  Then, I look at the calendar and say ... 

"Oh right.  December 17th is almost here."

Loss has a way a rearing it's ugly head, even when you're not thinking a thing about it ... 

Every year I write about the passing of our daughter, Shalom Hope  ... in fact for this year? This would be the third draft.  It just never feels right.  The first draft I wrote was focussed on how unfair I still feel it is - having to undergo a pregnancy termination for a 21-week-gestation-baby who was desperately wanted.  Anencephaly ... there are no words in the english language to describe such a diagnosis ...  ( be warned // if you click that link, disturbing images may be seen ).   (Or -- if you don't know our story you can read that here ... )  But as I wrote my words down today, I felt the anger and frustration all coming back - and honestly - I really don't like that feeling that way all.  So I deleted it.

The second draft ... was kinda what my life's theme has been, as of late.    If you know me, I talk a lot about the God of Grey.  Perhaps this is my own way of dealing with some of my own life's circumstance.  Or maybe it's how I deal with a cruel world with my far-too-sensitive-heart.  Maybe my theologically is messed-up on that.  But I was taught that the roots of my Faith are black and white ... right or wrong.  No in-betweens.  Yet in my life, I have experienced that my God, my Father,  is a God of grey ... the things that maybe we don't know exactly what the right thing actually is.  For me, He is Just.  He is love.  He is compassion and broken hearted for how we fail to include Him.  He is grace and mercy and kindness.  After Shalom, I have found myself tending to go with extending my own grace to others, because I'm more inclined to believe now that, perhaps, His grace fills in that gap of the unknown.  Life experiences do that to you.

I know.

That gets me into heaps of trouble just by saying that.  But - don't be fooled.  I am a black and white kinda girl.  There are things that I know to be right, and things I know to be wrong.  But this life is full of things that may not be so simple.  I won't even list all the things that come to mind - there's no need to debate it *smile*.  Because at the end of it all, I am thankful for a God who is love and who loves me.

Who loves you.

It's strange.  When I sit and type about Shalom ... it's like ... it's like it's all happening all over again.  Without the overwhelming panic, of course.  Time has dulled that  ... and you know what's so strange?  Is that I remember, honestly, trying to figure out how I would survive the next five minutes of my life - the grief was so drowning ... and now?  I can actually smile when I say her name.  Sometimes I cry, but mostly - I don't.  I survived - and more than just survived - I learned and I am so grateful, now that I look back.

Does that seem strange?  That I'm grateful?

Well.  I am.

Without Shalom's story, my life would be nothing like it is now.  Without Shalom, I would never have the empathy for others that I have now.  The compassion for the broken, the marginalized.  Because of my own loss, I have found my way to being a fixture at Recovery Church.  It's a HUGE part of who I am ... not only because I see myself in every one of the faces in the crowd, but because of the solid friendships that have come from being a part of RC.  Yes, I see myself in every man + woman who comes to RC because the only difference between me and them, is that they chose substances to bandage their pain.  And tho I contemplated those very thoughts, I was saved by having a relationship with the Lord and by my village of family and friends around me.

I don't see people who use substances as poor-choice-makers, as low-lifes.  I see them with lives so broken, that using was their best given option.  I am thankful for those kind of eyes to see them with ... I think that's a gift worth being thankful for.

So yeah -- another year gone, but I will be totally honest.  I'm looking forward to Dec18 ... so these seemingly-never-ending-butterflies and restless nights will be gone.  I'm pretty sure I don't dwell on it ... but it's still unintentionally there, and time has a way of making the loss less ugly each year.  Isn't that an amazing thing?  I mean - when we go through something horrible, if we can hang on --- eventually it dulls.  Maybe not entirely, but time does have healing properties to it.  I'm grateful for that.

I guess where this is all leading to - is to remind us all that when we think the pain of life is literally going to shatter you ... it actually won't.  Not if we reach out.  Not if we accept help.  Not if we push aside our pride and be vulnerable with those we love.

I'm still smiling, after thinking that I would never smile again.  I literally believed that.  And thinking I would never be able to do anything again - without reliving our story in every painful detail.  That is so far from the truth.  You live, you learn - you grow.


I realize that this is a bit all-over-the-place.

Probably because that's how I'm feeling.  

01 October 2015

[talk: I've Got Something To Say.]

It's been a while since I've blogged ... most times, it's about a recent event or pics of something important to our little family.  But today - I'm going to be vulnerable and talk, er - write, about something that I'm currently going through.

To catch up you to speed - if you don't know me all that well - here's a crash coarse on who Tawn is:

1.  I began music lessons at the age of 3 on the violin.
2.  My first solo at church was at the age of 3.
3.  I began piano lessons at the age of 4.
4.  I quit violin after finishing my grade 8, to concentrate on piano.
5.  I began worship leading at my church's youth group at age 14.
6.  I began teaching piano at age 14.
6.  I began leading worship in the main service at age 17.
7.  I finished my ARCT in piano performance at age 17 before finishing high school.
8.  I completed my ARCT Teachers and AVCM Teachers and ran a music studio for a decade.
9.  I am currently responsible for the worship at Recovery Church, and am active in all parts of worship at CLA church (retreats, main service(s), events ...)
10.  I have been offered Music Pastor positions at various churches, but have always felt called to my home church - as a volunteer.  I have never been on staff.

So.  There you have it.   My musical identity in a nutshell.  

My identity.

Then, about three years ago, I got a bout of laryngitis during our Christmas Production.  I lost my voice completely and still attempted to sing a solo.  It was so frustrating.  Since then, my voice is the first thing to be attacked when I get sick.  Generally, I have a pretty strong alto-voice, but it vanishes into choppy, non-reliable notes when this happens.  

Fast forward to four weeks ago, when I felt it coming on again.  I got the sniffles, and felt my throat tightening up.  I was leading on the Sunday morning for both services, and knew that I was going to be pushing it.  It felt hot, it felt tight - but I gave it my all  - like it was the last time ever.  Which in hindsight, is possible.

These past four weeks,  I've been protecting my voice.  Not talking as much, not raising my voice and absolutely no singing.  I finally got in to see my doctor this past Monday and he immediately put me on "vocal rest" until I get in to see the ENT (ears/nose/throat) Specialist.

When will I get in to see the ENT?  I have no clue but until then, it's silence for me.  That's frustrating because my voice may be totally fine;  these last 4 weeks may have rested it enough.  But maybe not.  It's better to be safe than sorry. 

I am capable of talking - I've just been instructed to not to.  Singing?  I don't know if I can.  I haven't tried.  It's completely off the table for now.

It does FEEL a lot better, for sure - whatever that means.

In this season, life is tricker.  Parenting is more work -- trying to get a child's attention over the volume, without a voice?  Hard.   I do a lot of whistling LOL and I have a cool app on my phone that gets their attention.

It's lonely.  The phone rings - I can't answer it.  I can't meet people for coffee, I can't read bedtime stories, I can't have a conversation at the dinner table, I can't sing at the piano (although I've been playing a lot more).  Drive thrus are a no-go for after school snacks on the way to piano lessons.  Things you don't even think about, feel a lot different.  I noticed that people tend to get frustrated when they can't hear me as I mouth words - or - they try and make light of it.  I will try and mouth words, and they tease me.  It's totally all done in fun - but I sometimes just want to cry out of my own frustration.   I'm ok with this journey,  but I don't really  find it super "funny" *wink*, you know?

If you tried to not talk for an entire day -- you'd realize that it's not easy.  And you'd probably just give up.  But I have the doctor's words in my mind - where he said, "if there is something wrong - you MUST let it heal or you may never sing again."


But in the silence, there have been SUCH bright moments too.  It's amazing how much you observe when you're listening or watching others talk.  Most times, people aren't actually listening to each other - they're thinking about how THEY want to reply.  For me - not having the ability to answer has reminded me to really listen.  And more importantly, I now realize how I HAVEN'T been listening for so long as I watch others do the same.

My house is much quieter.  No yelling up and down the stairs ... and I move my butt if I need to communicate with someone instead or shrieking it across the room.  The kids are catching on too -- the volume has gone down a lot.  That's a good thing LOL.

God's timing is always perfect.  Now - I don't know if this was His plan to start with, or if I just simply overused my voice - yadayadayada.  Although I'm a very spiritual person, I tend to not "over spiritualize" things.  BUT.  I do know that the timing of this is very ... interesting.

At the end of the month, I am heading overseas with a team from our Recovery Church.  I can't talk, I can't sing.  I will have to be creative ... and find my purpose somewhere else.  That kinda excites me and terrifies me all at the same time.

In addition to that,  I am an active participant of our Worship Dept Core Team, and am super excited about changes there.   We've been meeting these past couple of months, with so much thought and prayer going into new vision.  SO exciting.  Tonight we are having our first Creative Night and I have never felt more valuable and more of a team player as I do right now - even without a voice.   My "person" in valued, not my ability.  If I never sing again ... I can train.  I can raise-up.  I can support.  I can teach.  I can encourage.  I can listen.  I can love.  I am valuable without being on stage.

Duh  :).  

I already knew that.  

See we all know that our identity cannot be in WHAT we do, because we realize that those things can be changed in a moment.  But having an opportunity to be reminded that my value is in WHO I am, and even more importantly - who I am because of what Christ did for me -  has been timely.

Those words make us sound smart and humble when we say them - but it's much harder to live them.  Trust me.  Having refreshers on these life-lessons, is so important.

In the first couple of weeks - I shed a lot of tears.  I panicked about being "pink slipped" from the team, about being replaced, about not being valuable.  I required affirmation - encouragement.  Now -  I am living my value, I am listening more, I am holding on to the silence more.  I am confident in this journey.  

I don't know what the future holds for me,  but I can honestly say that I'm not worried.  I will keep praying and believing for complete healing and will keep asking for increased opportunities.  But I know my role, I know where God has called me to be -- and I will wait patiently as best as I can.

Besides,  I'm actually getting used to being quiet ... 

Ask my brother.  That - in itself - is a miracle.

Have a great one! xx

19 August 2015

[talk: Tias' Baptism.]

I haven't blogged in a long time ... honestly - summer has been SO much more full than I had expected + blogging just hasn't been a priority.  I blog to let my out-of-town family know what's going on in our little lives ... but - you're reading this - so it connects me with YOU too!

This, I definitely wanted to blog:  Mattias' Baptism.

This evening exceeded all and every expectation I had.  When our friends Jason + Kevin,  who happen to pastor our Recovery Church, asked my hubby and I about Tias' baptism -- we kinda looked at them with blank faces.  Tias is a "young" eleven (just turned last week) - and the girls his age had already been looking into getting baptized ... while he hadn't even spoken of it with us.  

Many of our close friends have a child the same age as Mattias, and they will all be attending our pre-teen church camp (Rev Camp) together in a few weeks.  It's a known thing that many campers choose to get baptized there - which is so great.  But we, as parents, decided that we wanted this to be a "family" thing - something we didn't want to miss.

That sparked a lot of conversation in our home - and over the next month or so we talked to Mattias about the purpose behind choosing to be baptized.  That ultimately, it was publicly stating his intentions to follow Christ.  Baptism is a symbol - not salvation.  He wouldn't be proclaiming that he would be perfect, that he'd never fail, never doubt.  It wasn't some unobtainable goal or oath ... it was simply the recognizing of God the Father, Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit and his desire to follow his faith.

He was totally in.

So - we began to plan ... 

Both Jason and Kevin have homes on the lake, which is where they thought would be the perfect location.  They invited a number of families of children the same age - some who couldn't make it, unfortunately - but four families could.  We came for a BBQ potluck dinner before hand and were encouraged to invite the grandparents for 7pm -- dessert and baptisms.

After dinner, Kevin and Jason took the four kids to do a "class" --- to explain more about the decision they were making, making sure this was their choice --- and let them know what questions they would be asked, in front of their families.

That's when my parents arrived.  Now - I took a LOT of photos; photos of all the families.  But I'm going to just share Mattias' story - not all of the other kid's - here.  Their stories are their own, told by their families ... 

This is my friend Charlene ... we've been dear friends since I was 14 and she was 12 ... a lot of history, a lot of laughs, a lot of tears.  How amazing that our kids were getting baptized together ... 

Everyone gathered on the deck - and it began.

Both Kevin and Jason shared.  Both come from a life of addiction - both have completely restored lives with solid marriages and families.  When they speak of the grace and love of the Lord, they KNOW what they're talking about.

And Mattias was chosen to go first ... 

They asked him about his love for God, his belief in His son, Jesus - the Saviour of our sins.  And if it was his desire to serve Him all the days of his life ... 

The grandparents were beaming ... I was so grateful they could all be there -- it was incredibly special.

So upon his declaration of faith - he was baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  

And we all cheered!!

The three other children followed suit ... and were baptized as well.

Then, they all stood together while the grandparents prayed out loud for them from where they sat.

And Jason and Kevin had arranged to have certificates printed out for each child ... wow.  So thoughtful!

It sits in Mattias' room, as I type this ... 

After that, it was pretty much over -- the grandparents all left, and we were all just on a bit of a buzz from the whole thing.  It had been so exciting, so incredibly special ... 

So - yeah.  I mean - I'm hoping that Josiah and Katia will have the same opportunity to have an evening set aside for such a momentous  occasion ... 

Good thing Jason has a son and daughter the same age as them *wink* ... 

 Have a great one!

** If you happened to notice my RHP watermarks on the the images - you can head to my RedHanded Photography site HERE for further information on pricing and packaging xx ** 

04 May 2015

[ talk: My Experience with Whole30 ]

I once read, "a year from now, you'll wish you had started today."


Well.  Today marks a milestone for me - Day30 of the Whole30 Challenge.  Is it a diet?  No.  Is it hard?  Sometimes.  Has it changed me?  Most definitely.

Will I be changed forever and never fail with poor food choices again?


Thirty days ago, I was defeated.  A day of good intentions, seemed more often-than-not to be finished with a bag of Halloween candy and a litre of ice cream.  And what I realized, was that it was always a progression - and my mood ultimately decided what I would put into my body.   My mood was deciphered by the weather, my stress level, my struggle between the balance of being on my own and loneliness, and my cycle.

Sorry.  Had to put that last one in - because it is SO true.

If you know me, you know that the success and defeat with what I put into my body has been an ongoing one - and one that I will probably go to my grave with.  I'm not delusional and think that after these 30days, the relationship my body has with food is going to be all rainbows and unicorns.  

BUT.  This feels different.

Thirty days ago, I saw myself in a photo from our Easter service and thought - "Tawn.  You need a reboot.  You are out of control.  Again."   I wanted to be able to run well (I love to run), I wanted great skin, I wanted to sleep soundly, I wanted to look at my wardrobe and say, "I'll wear that today," and actually fit into it.

What to do?  Where to start?  Well - fortunately for me, a friend of mine had just completed a Whole30 and raved about it.  So, I began to check it out.

What IS Whole30?  Well - simply speaking - it's sticking to a plan of no grains (or legumes/beans), no sugar and no dairy.  So - it's basically Paleo, except no honey or maple syrup ... or goat cheese.  And no peanut butter either, I should add.  I miss some of those things and am pretty sure I'll be adding them to my diet shortly.  Paleo eating seems to be a good fit for me after this ... 

What Whole30 isn't?  Whole30 is NOT a diet.  You are not supposed to weigh yourself during the 30 days (I totally did.  Sue me).  It's not supposed to be about weight loss, but rather about rebooting your body and giving it a break from the absolute crud we put inside of it.  

Is is hard?  I love what the site says, and THIS paragraph is actually what smacked me into starting Whole30 right away:  "It is not hard. Don’t you dare tell us this is hard. Beating cancer is hard. Birthing a baby is hard. Losing a parent is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard. You’ve done harder things than this, and you have no excuse not to complete the program as written. It’s only thirty days, and it’s for the most important health cause on earth – the only physical body you will ever have in this lifetime." 

So - I started thirty days ago and what are my thoughts today?

1.  My Body Size:  I'm not a "big" girl.  I'm 5"1, but I'm pretty strong and definitely not little-boned.    I weigh a lot more than people think I do.  That's ok.  But in the 30days, I lost 3¼ inches around my waist;  1inch around my arms; 1inch around my thighs.  That's HUGE for me.  Huge, huge, huge  --- motivation like none-other.  As for weight, I'm down just shy of 6pounds, and more importantly almost 5% body fat.

2.  What did I eat?: At first, I ate like a toddler LOL.  A plate with chopped fruits and veggies, like what a three-year-old would eat.  It took a few conversations with my good friend who had just completed Whole30, to start using recipes that helped me out.

3.  What recipes were your faves?: Here's my Pinterest Board that I daily checked Whole30 recipes from ( HERE ).  I also have a couple other boards you may be interested in ... one is called "smart sweets" and is clean eating/paleo ( HERE ).  The other I called "wheat-free and worth it" -- it has yummy treats that are wheat-free ( HERE ).  My friend has a lot of boards called "Clean Eats" and she has them in categories based on food type ( HERE ).  Now those boards aren't necessarily Whole30 - but they have a lot of great info on them!  Pinterest was SO helpful -- so many blogs and helpful hints out there when you search Whole 30.  There's a muffin recipe with eggs, almond butter and bananas.   I have no clue how that turns into "bread", but it was a gift for me on day 15.  I needed something that felt starchy ... and this totally cut it for me.  There are a lot of things with coconut milk, yams, avocado, eggs and almond butter -- as well as all veggies + fruit and meat you can eat (check your packaging for hidden sugars and preservatives.  Or better yet, don't buy anything with a shelf life).  I've learned a lot about marrying flavours from herbs and spices - cilantro, dill, tarragon, red currie paste.   Whole30 does NOT mean bland.  

I also got creative and made the BEST darn soup I think I've ever eaten.  No lie.  I put the recipe up on my "Make: by Homemakingirl" ( HERE ) if you're interested.  I've frozen a batch, and having some for lunch today *drool*.  

4.  What was the hardest thing about Whole30?:  Learning to order at a restaurant.  But I'm pretty good at it now ... simply put - no butter, no sauces.  I would ask for "no dairy or gluten please" and that always upped the waitress' attention.  But you would be surprised at how much junk is in our food ... until you ask for it to be simplified.  Also - it was tricky when invited to other people's places.  It doesn't feel right, making other people feel uncomfortable with your new eating habits.  For some reason, if I passed on something, I sometimes felt that others thought I was judging them for partaking.  That just isn't the case - although I am definitely more aware of how bad some of our choices are.  Sometimes I would get teased -- but all in all, most people have simply been interested in the "why" of my choices.  

The other thing that I found hard - was the no honey or maple syrup thing.  They are considered "clean" - so I was used to having them in my diet.  And I have a sweet tooth.  That is not gone ... just as someone with a liking to salt, isn't going to stop liking salt after 30 days.  I am SO looking forward to adding honey to my diet this week ... yum!!

Time can be tricky.  You MUST take time to "prepare" your meals -- you have to think in advance.  That may mean dedicating an afternoon to preparing snacks so that when you're actually hungry, you won't take the easy route with processed foods (which are NOT allowed).  I bake yams 4 at a time, have one - and store the rest in the fridge.  I always have a rotisserie chicken on hand.  I buy produce (apples, berries, cucumbers, peppers, bananas ...) twice a week - they're the best choice for snacks for me.  I hard-boil egges, a few at a time ... some simple planning goes a long way.  And don't tell me, "I can't do that."  You can.  

5.  Is Whole30 basically Clean Eating?:  Yes.  And no.  It's a more amped up version of Clean Eating.  There are a lot more restrictions.  For example, in Clean Eating, you can have grains --- like oats, quinoa, brown rice ... you can have beans, natural peanut butter, whole milk, greek yogurt, butter ... get the drift?  In my opinion, the easiest is Clean Eating, then Paleo, then Whole30.  Just my opinion.

6.  Now what?  Are you done?:  I'm a bit OCD with things like this.  When I finally get control, I'm actually really nervous to let the reins loose - even just a little bit.  I have considered doing another Whole30, but my intentions would be for weight loss ... and they really drill it into you that body numbers should NOT be a motivation with this way of eating.  So - we'll see. 

In conclusion ... what have I noticed after being on Whole30?

1.  my skin:  I literally got a half dozen compliments on my skin last week at church.  That was a foreign thing for me!  And sure - maybe only a half dozen ... but it means that it was different.  I've personally noticed a BIG difference in my skin ... apparently it has to do with omitting dairy.

2.  my sleep:   I sleep like a rock.  For 8 hrs.  Straight.  And I wake up --- awake LOL.  That was huge for me.

3.  my endurance:  I ran 11km last week ... longest distance in a good 8 months.  And I felt like I could've ran forever ... again, another obvious change in my body.

4.  my body size:  Look - it's far from perfect.  I'm not 20.  I'm not tall.  I'm no model.  BUT.  I am starting to fit the clothes that I want ... I feel leaner - and the truth is, how you FEEL has a huge affect on how you present yourself.  I would say that I've been enjoying dressing up and presenting myself to the outside world a little more ... all because of Whole30.



Did that help?  Are you interested?  Have you done one before?  Would love to hear your experiences!

Have a great one!

20 April 2015

[talk : My Take on Proverbs 31.]


It's been a while ... I know.  Trust me.  The ache I've had to put thoughts into written words has been strong.  But the need to complete some other projects on my "to do" list has been stronger.  Namely, my 2014 DigiScrap album.  

And I finished it, uploaded it, and ordered it - YAY!  

I'll post those pages on another day ...

Like most times when I come to sit and type here, there are many things on my mind.  Trying to pick which topic to stretch myself on is always a luck-of-the-draw.  But after having 20+ people in our home last night for the Canucks Playoff ( #canucksalltheway ) -- it sparked some fantastic conversation about hosting.

And the topic of hosting always leads me back to Proverbs 31.  You know - the passage in the Bible that basically outlines Wonderwoman, the woman every teenage boy can't wait to marry ... so she'll do everything for him?  Yeah, that one.

She used to intimate me.  She often motivates me.  And sometimes I just want to punch her lights out.  But in my studies of her, and listening to teaching on this passage - the thing that I would want every woman to know about the Prov31 women is ....


She didn't do it alone.


No - it's true.  She didn't buy a field on her own, stay up all night creating clothes of scarlet on her own ... the Bible says her husband was respected at the city gates, and that would lead scholars to believe that he was noble ... and wealthy.  

She had help.  Servants.  People she delegated to.  People who HELPED her.

This isn't going to be a very long post - but I just felt like I wanted to say, to all of you women drowning in the ideal of what you are supposed to accomplish every day ... breath in and out.  Don't be afraid to get your children to DO something - to help out.  If you're in a situation where your time is non-existent and you have someone come in and help clean your home - it's ok.  If you have your kids in daycare, or nannied, or staying at their grandparents throughout the week because of work and financial obligations ... relax.  If you did the laundry and spent time with your kids at the park and ordered in for dinner?  You're problem solving - and prioritizing to what you feel is best for your family.

You're delegating.  You're doing your best.  

As you let your mind wrap around that - I should add that what I am MOST impacted by the Prov31 woman is this :: she does not waste time.  To me, that doesn't mean that she didn't rest, that she didn't take time for herself.  No.  In fact, she was probably very good about that - because she would've been rendered useless if she hadn't.  

But she used her time wisely, more than anything.

So today, my challenge to myself is to not feel the need to do everything on my own, to delegate appropriately, and to show something for my day.  Today?  It was vacuum the house, vacuum the kitchen drawers, wipe down the kitchen cabinets, clean the oven (who are we kidding, I pushed a button), do my hubby's + my laundry, and hem the kitchen + living room curtains.

It's 10:45am and I'm already almost done the list -- except for the curtains.

Which ... I should probably delegate someone to do.

I suck at sewing.

Have a great one!! xx

** special thanks to K+L for the stunning flowers ... 

22 January 2015

[mealplan : Lunchbox Ideas.]

It's halfway through the year ... and even with a break during Christmas, it doesn't take long to feel like I'm completely trapped with lunch-creativity LOL.

My children have no wheat, gluten or dairy sensitivities.  

Here are a few ideas that I do for lunches:

Pizza Pinwheels
Chocolate Zucchini Mini Muffins
Ham+cheese buns
Honey/Jam Rolls (tortillas spread with honey or jam, rolled and cut in two)
Macaroni+cheese (thermos)
Soft Tacos (thermos for meat), small containers for tomatoes, cheese and avocado
Eggdrop soup
Leftovers from dinner *grin*

Cubed kiwi fruit
Apple slices
Cubed cantaloupe
Fruit snacks
Rice Krispie squares
Cucumber slices
Mini carrots
Dill pickles
Mandarin (cutie) oranges
Sticks and Stones (mini marshmallows + pretzel sticks)
Berries (in season)
Popcorn twists

Ok ... that's all.

Got any ideas?  Would love to hear them!

Have a great one ...

02 January 2015

[ talk: NYE 2015 ]

If you're a FB friend, I have posted a couple of albums of our Christmas celebrations there.  The holidays are FULL of family time -- with so many birthdays mixed in with the regular Christmas traditions our family shares.  So no blogposts on them ... 

But the other holiday tradition we have in our home, is hosting a NYE Party.  We have done it for about a decade now ... with a group a close friends, a pot-luck fondue meal and a whole lot of laughing.  This year was a little different, in that it was also my hubby's 40th bday.

Yes, his bday is on NYE - another big reason we celebrate.  But our NYE gathering is never really a 'bday party' -- although this year, I did manage to sneak in a couple of bday-ish things.  

Once the kids were fed and safely playing, the gang of 20 adults took a seat.  And as usual, KW started off our dinner by belting out "Happy birthday" ... every.  year.

A lot of our "usual" group of NYE-ers were away or had other plans.  This meant we invited a lot of newbies this year and it worked out just perfectly.  There were even people who had never even FONDUED before ... that's super fun to watch - people have a blast trying something that you already love to do.

The meal started with the always-necessary "hands-raised-prayer" ... gah.  Why my B+W pics upload onto blogger in sepia tone, I'll never know.  Not a fan of sepia ... but I sure love this pic LOL.

Kudos to my hubby for creating a seasonal addition onto our home deck ... a tent - equipped with heaters, Christmas lights and a borrowed-sound-system.  It's the ONLY way we could ever seat this many people ... 

One of the things that Lu had done at the party he had for me this year (Part One HERE ; Part Two HERE), was ask three friends to say a few nice words.  For me, it was the highlight of the night, for sure.  Having people you love say nice things?  Who wouldn't want that?

So I did the same ... and the guys spoke such love and truth over Lu.

Then, some bday cake.  I made Lu's favourite Coconut Cake with Coconut Cream-Cheese Frosting.  My love language ... baking.  HA!

Then, inside to clean up. 

Then ... at around 11pm some guests needed to leave and get their kids in bed, while the rest of us headed inside and began the "Name Game".  Special thanks to Ian + Danielle for heading that up ...  

With just a few minutes to spare before the countdown, the kids came upstairs and joined us all in ringing in 2015.

And then?  Some stayed, some called it a night ... 

It was a great way to bring in the New Year - and I hope that whatever you did, whomever you were with, it brought you a whole lotta joy and smiles!!  And here's to a 2015 worth remembering *grin*!

Have a great one! xx