Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I got around buying Christmas Cards..tee hee...

Just had to share this picture of the fog on the weekend. If you look closely you can see Bella and my Joe. It was so creepy walking in the woods with pea soup fog. The kids and I LOVED it! LOL!

Have been busy preparing for Christmas. The house is decorated in and out. I must have 12 arrangements about the house and the tree and the mantle and the outside lights. I wonder when I did it all? It's such a whirlwind really. This week is at the school for the Christmas store. Parents donate gently used items and the kids get to pick a present for Mom and Dad and get it "professionally" wrapped by one of us Moms...lol...The kids love it! I enjoy it too. When that little boy finds the perfect dusty candle for Mom....it brings tears to your eyes..literally..lol...But seriously...it really is fun and most of the stuff is pretty good.

Instead of giving out cards this year I did up a Christmas letter that I had to print out in black and white...including photos...as office supplies were an exception given my job. I had a pack of cards from last year I found but will save those for quick hellos. I shared a bit of what I learned this year but will elaborate further in a later post as I have learned A LOT this past year and if requires more than a quick reference.

Here is the letter:
It's been a busy year for all of us with many changes. We started the year on a quest to avoid buying retail until 2012. There have been a few exceptions to the rule but for the most part we have stuck to it. Of course Ron blew it the first day when on January 1st he decided he needed sweat pants and went to Urban Planet. UGHGH! LOL! There have been a few more bumps in the road...and a few complaints from the kids that they did not give out goodie bags at their Birthdays...But along the way we have learned of some really great second hand clothing shops. Found second hand furniture as well. Have embraced online swap and sell sites and the kids were on board for the most part. It's made us all really think about our impact as consumers and to get back to basics.

We went to Qualicum Beach for Spring Break with my brother and his family. A wonderful time exploring and relaxing. The sea lions at Fanny Bay were a hoot! Englishman Falls were a natural wonder and the Horn Lake caves a challenge to explore with our helmet lights and all the rocks.  Bella came home smelling like dead crabs and matted everywhere! Oh what a ride home..GAG! The challenges of the cocker spaniel..lol..

We spent the start of the summer exploring Alberta and BC....no Bella this time. Visited our family on the colonies and loved every minute of it. The kids were in the cow barns at every stop and learned more and more about farming. Ron and I enjoyed the company of family and of course the delicious FOOD! Yum! I got to fulfill a lifelong dream to visit the Columbia Ice Fields...it was amazing! In Jasper we saw many bears and enjoyed the scenery....but the next morning we all woke up and just wanted to get HOME! We drove the 10 hours home that day....to a very happy Bella and a very put out cat. Krypto forgave us the next day so all was good.

We got home in time to say our final goodbye's to my dear Grandma Poi Poi at the age of 92. A very tough time as it had not been a year since we lost Mom...but we pulled together as a family, put one foot in front of the other...and continue on.

The boys and I went to Galliano Island for a week with my sister and her girls. It was BLISS! So relaxing. The kids explored the beaches and I read many novels in the sun. Our backs hurt from lounging so much...LOL!

Ron came home at the end of summer for the funeral and we left for Kelowna the next day for 5 days on the beach. Rented a boat and explored the lake. What a beautiful part of the world. We will return one day. We did learn that the north side of the lake requires going up and down a cliff.....good thing we hike! I bet we did the stairs 12 times a day...lol...but the water was warm and the dock ripe for jumping off!

School started and it's been a world wind of activity. Busy with the PAC at school. Ben started high school and loves it. He was ready for the independence. He continues to be the kind, hard working young man we expect. He has his friends over for sleepovers and I affectionately call them "The Stomachs in the Basement." The only time I see them is when they come up for food and drink...lol...Joe is in Grade 5 and doing very well. He is making new friends and learning how to use an I pad to help him in school. He is growing up so fast and asking the hard questions..gulp...but thanks to Ben I'm prepared..lol..Sam is in Grade 3 and really improving his reading this year. He is still all boy...lol...but charming as can be. He is making new friends this year too. The kind that get him playing outside a lot. Yippy! Ty is in Grade 1 and is a complete funny little man and very smart. His drawings are quite good but he loves to tell knock knock jokes more..lol..They all love their teachers...phew! And they all seem to be happy. Our after school time is spent with friends, hiking, making muffins, drawing or just snuggling watching a movie. Took some time off of sports to regroup this year. It's been really nice not to have that crazy schedule. Baseball starts in the Spring and we will be there 4 days a week so I'm grateful for this time.

I got to go to Mexico with my best friend for a week in November...no kids...no husbands. Ron did great looking after the boys. I don't think any of them missed me....so will do that again...LOL!

Ron and I will celebrate 14 years married this year on Dec. 20th. He will be flying home on the day. Hope we can sneak a night out together...which is usually dinner at the pub and playing Keno....lame I know but it's a night without kids and sometimes we win enough to cover the babysitting and dinner cost..lol...People always ask us what our secret is. I mean...let's face it...We are POLAR opposites philosophically. He thinks Stephen Harper is brilliant and I'd like to run him over with a truck(kidding)....but you get the point. I guess we just have the same core principle of kindness and I have SUPER human patience...lol...He also puts up with my "bleeding heart"...which has not changed since we met ..one of those things that you loved about a person when you met but after time really annoys you...lol...I put up with his inability to clean up after making a sandwich and his loose budgeting skills. :)

We have learned a lot this year. Well, I have learned a lot this year...Ron and the boys just go along with me. It helps to be the only female in the house. They can all argue their side and I get the final say...lol....though I let Ron think he does sometimes...lol....SHHHH! By not buying retail we have managed to squeeze in two extra mini vacations...so worth it! We are also saving for our dream vacation to Europe. The whole family for a month. Will take a few years but we will get there.

That pretty much sums up our year.  We feel so grateful to have such wonderful, loving, kind people in our lives.

Hoping 2012 proves to be full of Joy and Love for everyone.

Ron, Susan, Ben, Joe, Sam, Ty and Bella
(In keeping with the no retail quest please accept this letter in lieu of an Xmas card. It's in black and white as I am allowed office supplies as an exception and my printer is not coloured. Revenue Canada prefers this....Red and green are too much colour for the government I guess. .lol...and if you didn't get an envelope we are saving our pennies for Germany. With the four cowboys in tow Ron and I will need Steins as opposed to pints...lol.. )
I know...tongue in cheek kind of stuff but it was fun to reminisce.

I do have to declare another 2 days of retail. I found Sam the helicopter he has wanted for 2 years on sale half price. Needles to say the Playbook is coming to ME! LOL! I bought some tupperware at HUGE discounts (Got my aunt's name from the hat and she had to have the salad spinner and got the beach toys for my cousin who is 18 months) I also ran out of flowers for the arrangements so went into the loonie store to pick up a few pieces. Here is my latest creation for the administrator at our school (a ROCK for all us parents)

(the base is wrapped in newspaper so it doesn't fall over but the vase was beautiful..donated by my Dad)

So we are at 37 days of retail in almost 12 whole months! What a year! Will be adding two more days to that I'm sure as I have a few more gifts to buy for family members.

Happy, crazy Big Momma love to you all! XO

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Have been in Thrift Store Paradise!

I like to make fresh arrangements at Christmas. I walk the woods and pick up the stuff the wind blew over or take a few specimens off the tree...carefully and I never take too much. Then I put the greenery in a vase and put in fake flowers, birds, holly etc to finish it off. I went to MCC in Abbotsford and Mission and found LOADS of the fake stuff in bags for $1. Some of the things I won't use but I'll just re-donate it back! It's GREAT! They also had board games still in plastic for $1. Stocking stuffers and books for 50 cents. I walked out just today with two huge boxes of stuff for $42. Woohoo!

This is one arrangement I made for Ty's teacher.

This is one I made for my mantle.

Recycled vases, recycled materials and fresh greenery. No retail! But there is some....gulp.....I found these gorgeous butterflies at a loony store. Butterflies represent growth and change to me....they are a symbol of my Joe and how he went from being cocooned to being the bright, funny, smart boy he is today. I HAD to get them...and put them in the arrangements for his teacher and dear Mrs. Workman. Taking the hit! It's a personal touch that Mrs. W will completely understand. I did hers in blues and silver too. Her favourites. The pics did not turn out though.:(

I also needed a new coffee table and an end table and took a trip to the MCC furniture store...scored two solid oak tables for $50. The coffee table needs a new coat of varnish but that's not hard to do. I'm not one for matchy furniture anyways. Here's a pic of my groovy bookshelf made for my Mom's mom by her much younger boyfriend(18 years younger ;)) in 1968.

I couldn't buy that in any store and it means the world to me that my Aunt let me have it. A piece of family history. And is it not super groovy? LOL!

I do have to say...Xmas is a crazy busy time for us ladies. For the most part we do everything. One Mom said to me.."Stop doing it! I bet he pitches in next year!" LOL! Ummmm....hard to pitch in when you are 3,000 miles away. But I get her point. It's really ME pressuring ME. I just want this time of year to be wonderful and magical for my kids. Not the toys per say...the decorations, the goodies, the music, the time making things together, the walks in the woods.  For those overseas, Christmas in Canada is a wonderful time of year. There is a feeling of giving more so than any other time. It's happy, fun, busy, colourful, musical...the kids believe in Santa...and despite the threat of no presents with bad behavior...are off the wall with excitement! LOL! It's family time! Friend time! It's that time of year when you re-evaluate your priorities (well for some) and really think what is important to you and what you will do in the next year to make the changes you seek. Or maybe you are just happy with the way things are. Good for you!

I'm truly happy with my life for the most part. At a time in my life that I know WHO I am and act accordingly. Truly love my family and true friends. BUT....I feel the winds of change and a big move coming up this next year. Will fill you all in when I know more. It's time for the kids to know their Hutterite family better and for my husband to be home more. :)

So my last score was 33 days of retail...it's now 35. I shopped at a loony store and got a few things at Fields yesterday..Ty fell in LOVE with a blanket...what can I say? He's just too dam cute some times. :)

Big Momma love to you all...and may the force be with you the next few weeks as you prepare for the BIG day. XO