Thursday, December 27, 2012

Post Christmas Celebration!

Our little family Christmas 2012
There are times in my life when I wonder , "What on earth am I doing? Why am I doing it?" Yes, I have had that thought many times in the past 30 years or so... However, when you get it right, you just relax and think, "Wow, it was all worth it!" If I hadn't been through my experiences or made the mistakes I had made, there is no way I could reap the rewards now. On that note, how was your Christmas?

My last blog was December first when we set up the Christmas tree. The kids were ready for the season, me, not so much, but I went along with it. We have fun food, music playing and decorate the tree. Sometimes Len comes in for it, sometimes he avoids it. The hope is always for fun, love and laughter and after a few battles, frustrating moments and complete anxiety ridden anger and annoyance, it all comes together. Thus, we set the tone for Christmas this year in our home.

The love of my life
Amidst a very active time when there was lots to do, I was incapacitated at times. As you may recall, from my Halloween blog, I fell and hurt myself out  in front of the house and until November did not realize how much damage I had done. It seems I must have torn either muscle or tendons in my back under my right shoulder blade when I fell. For the most part it was ok, a dull, aching pain most of the time. On baking days or busy town days though, the pain twisted into an excruciating twisted knot of hot burning muscle and there was no relief for me. This was exacerbated by hours of standing on my feet baking, making jellies and general household duties. I finally broke down about two weeks before Christmas and bought myself a pair of orthopaedic runners with extra inserts to support my flat feet, fallen arches and torn back. Yes, it helped. No, the problem is still there, but now I can cope much better and sometimes after a long day of baking, I can still sleep! Of course this made shopping/food/etc tough since we usually go to town once a week and after the two hour drive, night with almost no sleep, day of baking before market and sitting at the market from 9 am to 1pm, I was in so much pain and exhausted, I could barely stop to buy feed for the animals and food for the family. Made for some awkward cooking moments at home, time for much innovation and glad for my supplies on hand!

My baby and her best friend
getting ready for her first formal dance.
Yes she is in the dress we made.
Jess is on the left
In addition to my busy summer, company, active fall, preparing for Christmas, I also have ageing parents who have undergone a major life change. They moved from BC to Alberta in the matter of a few weeks. You can imagine the stress this put on them after almost 45 years in the same town and I assume you can estimate the amount of worry and emotion this put on my two brothers and I. It is very difficult and sad to watch your parents age, but also to watch as they begin to lose their health and not be able to help. I will be forever grateful to both my brothers, one in the old province, one in the new as I sat back and anxiously awaited updates and tried to at least help emotionally via the phone and computer. It did make for a troubled worrisome autumn.

Sweet baby, her last year
with her mom. Miss her
already. (Sometimes!)
As Christmas draws near there is always the worry that I won't be ready; I won't have enough: food, money, gifts, work, etc. This year was different. For some reason, the Christmas of 2012 took on a world of it's own. I didn't have the stress I did for the first two years here; I had less baking orders but felt more calm and peaceful about it; I believed that I was going to be able to make everyone's day happy and wonderful without breaking the bank, anxiety about the lack of family and worry about, well, just about anything. This year was going to be what I allowed it to be. 

I began to set the tone with the kids, they know that I will not be going into debt or buying things just for the sake of having stuff under the tree. They knew that my thought process and beliefs have changed about what is important. Yes, some people believe that anything is excess, however, I think that this is a time that we can come together, be grateful for what we have, where we live and enjoy our little family, all on our own. As well, my kids don't get much any more during the year, at least by Canadian society standards, so besides a few new things at the beginning of school, Christmas is when they get more new socks, underwear, mittens, toques and jeans/etc. So I do stay somewhat practical.

Assembly line baking!
Just a few of the items ordered.
The month prior was filled with work, stress - not over Christmas just busyness, school dances (Jess' first formal and the dress we made for her), Rachel looking for work, Len sick, really, knocked out for several days and it has taken him about two weeks to get his strength back, winter storms and power outages (27 hours = 2 days of baking when I had Christmas baking orders due) and me working to get 'er done! Of course the power outage was Dec 20+21st and I must say I was not the LEAST bit concerned about the end of the world on Dec 22. I figured, oh well, if it ends I don't have to bake!

We will get the Hobart
fixed but this little baby
AWESOME gift! This will
help tons with smaller
baking orders! LOVE!
I advertised baking for 3 months before Christmas and during the last week the orders came in. Less people but more product so I was a very busy little baker! Unfortunately my big restaurant sized ancient floor model Hobart mixer decided to go on vacation and quit working the week before Christmas, this definitely affected my production and assembly line baking!

In the end things came together, orders were a day late, but done. Kids finished school and even got a few snow days. Power came back on and it was nice to be forced to relax for a couple of days - Yahtzee by candlelight anyone? The animals just went to bed earlier, dark by 5pm and no late night lights for them. We went to bed by 9pm which made us realize why people used to go to bed early/up early... sunlight! Me? Well, I am good, my mental health seems better and I had a very enjoyable holiday with my family.

Christmas 2012, this is my oldest daughter's last year at home "technically living with us". Her plan is to move to Vancouver next October and go to school for a year. She will not be able to afford to fly back all the way across Canada for Christmas and she will be shared amongst family and friends in BC. We chose to have a small dinner, just the four of us and took time to sit and talk about our hopes, dreams, loves, losses and life's experiences. 

Christmas dinner,
Christmas crackers
Christmas LOVE
I know Christmas and other holidays are probably hard on my husband since none of his family is with us, I have at least my two girls. His father died on Christmas and that is always at the back of his mind. My girls lost their father 8 years ago, just before Christmas, so they can relate a little to what he feels. We pondered at the fact that so many losses are near holidays, birthdays or celebrations and for that reason we tend to focus, at least for a moment, on the loss whilst enjoying the present. We were very lucky to speak at length to almost everyone via phone or Skype on Christmas too. I think it must have been really lonely for the pioneers, never seeing or hearing from family again...

As I said at the beginning, I wonder sometimes, am I doing this right? Am I living my life right? Raising my children right? Being a wife and person right? I think, right now, that I am. Yes, I can improve, be healthier, be more self sufficient, but I am so different than who I was and I like me. I like who I have become. It's kind of nice at 46 and a half, to be able to say that.

I guess Kung Fu Panda said it best "Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift and that's why we call it the present." From my family to yours, have a wonderful holiday season, take time to appreciate the simple things, let the drama go and move forward into this new year with peace, love, happiness and hope for our future. 


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Deck the halls with boughs of holly! Well fir, ok?

Len just relaxing at the market
Today is December 1st and in celebration of the reason for the season our little family will start the month with our annual tradition of decorating, eating, drinking, laughing, singing and following it all with a Christmas movie. Yes this will get us into the spirit! The kids have been begging me for the past week to decorate and put up the tree but I refused before December 1st. We just have too many other events in November and I just need one month at a time per event or celebration.

Birthdays DONE Christmas COMING. The best part of decorating for Christmas is the big clean before you set up and the big clean after. I refuse to decorate the interior of the house without scrubbing it up first and if the little lovely's want to decorate they also get to scour it up! Seems like a win/win situation to me! That means that in a half hour the TV is off, vacuum out, dust bunnies inhaled, laundry switched, toilet scrubbed, spiders vamoosed, dishes washed AND put away - voila! Time to decorate!

Almond Bark
Loads of almonds
white or milk chocolate
Snowman Soup
Any woman or child gets that this
is hot chocolate, men, not so much!
We like to do it up and have fun, so we prep appies and get the eggnog out for the kids, pour a drink for Len and a glass of wine for mom. I always know it is time because we have stocked the liquor cabinet, no we don't drink a lot but we do like to have a little supply on hand for guests and variety in our life. This week we stocked up on meats, cheeses, crackers, fun supper food and lots of delights that will surely make us wish we hadn't eaten so much by the end of the night.
Reindeer Poop
(Not real!)
Chocolatey Raspberry lumps
Snowman Poop
Need I say, Not REAL?
Mini marshmallows
Now that the house is cleaned it's time to sort through decorations, see what survived since last year, what the mice got into and recall memories as they flash through our minds - when we got that bulb, who made that item, where we were that year, etc... Jess and I like to sing along to the tunes except that I like the classics or the '80's songs and she tends to lean to Justin Bieber and One Direction's Christmas versions, oh well, music is music, right?

Some rustic decor
6 hours of drying
the house smelled GREAT!
This past week I created items for the farm market - decorations to sell but with my usual "wise" thoughts, I only create items that I will enjoy if/when they don't sell. I had lots of fun making cinnamon applesauce gingerbread men, dried apples and oranges and stringing them together into wreaths, candle holders, garland and tree decorations. They are pretty, smell great and are rustic and earthy. They look pretty at my market table and will possibly look REALLY pretty on my tree! AND if the "poop" doesn't sell then the kids get stocking stuffers! 

3 fruit cakes, 11 cups fruit/raisins
1.5 cups almonds
1 cup Captain Morgan Rum
 I also realize this is the last year that we will all be together. Next year Rachel will be living in Vancouver and won't be able to come home for Christmas. It will just be Len, Jess and I and as much as that girl can make us crazy or wind us up, we will miss her desperately! I hope I don't cry all day on Christmas 2013! Poor Jess, being the youngest, she gets to look forward to the next 7 years with just her old parents... maybe Rachel will make it home the following year. I do know that my family and friends will take care of her and include her next year ....
She's moving out!
My lovely 11 year old

From our family to yours, have a MERRY CHRISTMAS! Enjoy the season, spend time not just money and cherish each moment... even when you feel nuts!

Me and my girls on Jess' birthday
8 years since our last photo shoot
minimal photo shop