Sooo…I turned 40…awhile ago…

Disclaimer~~~ I’m late in posting this. My birthday was February 14th. That’s right, February. I’m not posting now because I have a problem with turning 40 ~ but rather because today I finished writing my thank you cards. Yes, it’s taken me that long. I’m a terrible person. But I read somewhere that you have up to 3 months and I’m holding to that as truth. They go in the mail on Monday. So finally, I can share how I was celebrated, with you.

First things first,

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do to celebrate turning 40. After a turbulent bunch of years in my early to mid 30’s (there were even a few years I didn’t celebrate my birthday…because I just didn’t want to), however, I felt like I turned a corner in my late 30’s in many areas of my life so I’ve come to feel like life is good, it’s beautiful, right now…and therefore 40 is beautiful and good too. Totally worth celebrating. Still, I didn’t know what I wanted. Small and intimate or a big rip roaring party? The problem small and intimate was, where do I cut off the guest list? Impossible… The idea was, since my hubby turns 40 this year too, we talked about celebrating both of our birthdays in the summer… Jodi, decided however that a girls night was in order. I still feel like I want that big party, so maybe we’ll still make it happen…at least for him maybe?

Anyways, back to my party. So Jodi told me she wanted to host a soiree, and asked for me for names, and I was thinking small. I knew I was going out for sushi with my mom and sisters in the beginning of the month, so I thought I’d keep it to non-family and keep it small since I wasn’t hosting, I didn’t want o presume to invite a truckload of people. Jodi then took my list and added to it herself, family and etc… I also knew that I had no need to worry about the details. This lady has a gift for details, and shines in it. She recruited Laura, who knows how to throw a party, and how to really bless someone best, and…

The result was a beautiful night with a lovely group of ladies that really just touched my heart. There were friends I’d made in the last couple years, and also friends who’ve been around for more than 20. How richly blessed I am.

How stylish and beautiful the decor. The Audrey Hepburn-esque, black, white and pink details….delicious food, a signature cocktail, the perfect gift, great memories, being able to tell each friends in person how much they mean to me…yep. A Perfect Night.

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Even the vase was detailed…the signature drink Laura made up. Yum.

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Thank you Jodi, and Laura and all the rest of the ladies for celebrating this  milestone with me. I am truly blessed. Relationships are so vitally important to me and I will always have this night as a lovely memory, reminding me that I am blessed, so very very blessed.

Divine Kisses

When I want to show my affection to my children the most natural impulse is for me to kiss them. It is a simple gesture, yet it implies much more.

Lucas kissIt implies that they are beautiful to me, that they are accepted. It denotes that I would withhold nothing from them, and I wouldn’t. I am filled with joy when I see how one of my kisses immediately brings a smile to their faces, they walk more confidently and laugh more fully. One of my kisses would magically “heal” a boo boo. When they were little, they were requested more than food or entertainment of any kind. My response to this… more kisses. Doesn’t our heavenly Father demonstrate His love to us with no less passion?

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. Ephesians 1:3

Because we have been given everything we could ever need, because we have been given Christ himself and He is all in all. More so, He loves us. He demonstrates his affection for us, constantly. It’s like He is blowing us kisses from heaven, perpetually. As His grace is extended to us every moment, we become more aware of His favour on us. When we have those moments of “seeing” his hand at work, we are being kissed. In her book- The Best Yes, Lysa Terkeurst defines those who fear God (follow after, honour and worship, be in awe of) as those who “see the hand of God in everything”. I love that. Sometimes we have to choose to see it, but it is always there.

We are “highly favoured”, but in addition to that, we have been made the “children” of God. We have been born into His family so that we could have fellowship with Him, eternally. Now, His influence on our hearts enables us to walk in the awareness of His strength, His wisdom, His vitality, His peace and His provision, in every area.

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And God [is] able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all [things], may abound to every good work: 2 Cor 9:8

I believe that the more we recognize these “kisses” from heaven, the more we will respond to His affection. We will radiate His love. We will smile and laugh in the abundance of joy that salvation brings.We will walk in the light, as He is in the light. In essence, our worship is really like blowing kisses back to Him. In turn, He continues to shower us with His love! Is this not one way His glory will cover the earth?

Celebrating Easter – Christos Anesti!

As promised, here’s the follow up to yesterday’s post. This is how we finished out the Holy Week on Resurrection Sunday!

Christos Anesti! Χριστός ἀνέστη! – “Christ is Risen!”

Alithos Anesti!   Ἀληθῶς ἀνέστη! – “Truly He is Risen!” or “He Has Risen Indeed!”

Early Sunday morning we woke up to a nice spread of easy foods to eat on the go, we knew it would need to be a fast morning because we had to leave for the church service by 9 am. Elaina followed the bunny footprints from her room to her basket in the kitchen. The boys had a hunt complete with clues that led them all over the house. You can see it here. The baskets were 75 percent non-candy items like pencils, small toys, etc. and then a few treats including a small chocolate bunny. Isabelle’s basket had some teenager friendly treats too. Seeing it was her first North American Easter Celebration, we didn’t want her to miss out on the fun.

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Breakfast table…pretty tablecloth, white plates and tea set, our coloured eggs and a bunny, muffins and hot cross buns under the dome and a fresh fruit tray. The tulips were borrowed from the dinner table.

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The church was packed, the choir was huge, the songs were spectacular and filled my heart with joy. The message gave me much to meditate on and on our way out the door…. SNOW?! What! At least it was pretty and didn’t last.

After church we hurried home to finish setting the table before the rest of the family joined us for a Roast Ham Lunch. It was potluck style. Here’s what I did with the table…keeping it pretty simple, not spending any money except on the tulips.

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I laid an old egg wreath on the table and set in a candle holder to set the pitcher of tulips on. I bought the tulips closed the day before and kept them wrapped so they wouldn’t open or flop over too soon.

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Instead of favours or place cards, we kept it simple with grownups on the corners, I glued a simple paper flower onto the napkins.  Yes we used plastic plates and cutlery. Next year, I will not cheap out on the cutlery, they kept breaking, which was funny, but not to be repeated. I put chocolates in these cute metal baskets on each corner instead of favours at each place.

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COUSINS!

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My family makes everything fun. My sisters (as long as they have music) are clowns in the kitchen – and they get the dishes done!

Egg Hunt!

After dinner, after all the visiting and just when the kids are the most ansty, we head outside for the annual egg hunt. This year some of the eggs had chocolates, and some had money.

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Each kid had their own colour of egg to keep it simple.

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It was so much fun watching the 2 year olds get the idea of collecting eggs. These 2 had it made, no particular colour, so the big kids had to move fast!

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It was difficult getting Isabelle to put the baby down long enough to collect eggs. Since she’d never done this before, I made sure she had some eggs too.

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Happy Easter Everyone!!!

Lead me to the Cross… how we observed Lent and Holy Week

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Easter has become a truly heart favourite holiday of mine. It’s one of the last happy memories I have of my dad before he passed away. My heart remembers him putting on goofy bunny ears and doing the egg hunt with Lucas and Max when they were toddlers and Carter was just a baby.

Dad loved holidays, and he loved the family all getting together. For meals, but even just for drinks on a Sunday afternoon…”family should always get together on holidays” was his mantra, and the older I get and the faster time seems to go by, the more I agree with him.

Growing up, my family did not practise Lent. Even though my dad was raised Orthodox, he did not impose it’s practises on us, and didn’t follow them himself. Mom, according to dad, was a devout “Evangelical” – not in the way the Western Hemisphere knows it, but in the way the Eastern world does – essentially, in Greece, an “evangelikal” is someone to whom the religious experience was real and had become a way of life, not just a culture. It’s what guided their decisions and interactions with the world around them. I’d say he called it right about mom. In my dad’s eyes, I think, and hope he’d think the same of me.

As an adult and particularly as a mom, the season of Lent leading up to Easter, has become as meaningful to me as Advent which leads up to Christmas. It really is helpful in turning our busy and distracted minds and hearts to the season at hand. In a sense, it infuses new meaning to the celebration and remembrances. I chose to use these weeks as a time to add to my personal study and reading time, reflections on Lent and studying the Liturgical year. Kind of a full circle moment after spending full two years studying the validity of the organic church and almost becoming ‘anti-institutional Church”. As a family, we had a candle we kept on the table in a bowl with sand. We lit it each day reminding ourselves of the path Jesus walked to the cross, through the sandy “holy land”. We had a seperate bowl of small rocks that we would add from time to time as we each remembered some personal shortfall or sin that we were thankful that Christ on the cross had taken care of. It was neat to see the boys really understand this aspect of our faith. We were reminded how the cross brokers harmony between man and God, man and man, and man and himself.

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Through my studies of the early church, the significance of Holy Week and all the events it held, has taken on new meaning. It’s been a powerful experience to take time alone and with the family to reflect on Christs journey to the cross, the significance of the events of that week to his disciples then and now, and to let the gratitude overwhelm us and remain with us.

This year, we spent the days of Holy Week having Family Worship each day, usually after dinner. We read scripture, talked about it, sang songs and had some shared activities relating to the day of the week. We filled in a Holy Week Calendar (thank you Pinterest), which was great for the smaller kids, but the visual cues were great for the rest of us too.

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Some of the most meaningful moments of the week for me, were sharing in the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday together after dinner, and talking about the Old and New Covenant that Jesus was ushering in that night…and then talking about the night in the Garden and how the disciples would have felt, why prayer is important to God’s eternal purpose and Christs willingness to suffer for us. On Good Friday, my mom and sisters and nephews were visiting so we did our activity with all the children which included reading about the crucifixion and pounding nails into a piece of wood followed by saying “thank you Jesus for Dying for me”, I tell you it was powerful… though scary holding the nails while handing the hammer to a toddler…

My personal favourite day was Holy Saturday – the quiet day, when the Christ has been put in the grave, the disciples are scattered and confused and in grief… not knowing what we know was to come. Knowing we will never have to experience what they did, that bewildering sense of loss and despair. Remembering we are not alone, even in the darkest of days…

Chris’ mom joined us for a delicious Lamb Dinner…

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Followed by making Resurrection Rolls with crescent rolls and marshmallows. (again thank you Pinterest)…

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While waiting for them to bake in the “tomb” (oven) we read an Easter Story…

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The kids thought it was a pretty powerful picture of putting Jesus into the tomb, and then when the tomb was empty, the linen clothes were empty too (the pastry) – pretty cool object lesson.

Of course it all culminated in a beautiful celebration on Easter Sunday…. but that’s for the next post.

Mama T

Hi there! Thanks for stopping by, some things have changed, primarily my blog host. I had been running into some technical hitches that actually hindered me from blogging, so it was time to move. Since it’s a new year, I figured, it was as good a time as any.

I’ve moved all my posts from the Whisper of Grace page, but as you can see, I’ve changed the name. I have a couple other blogs linked with this one. Whisper of Grace will still have more reflective content. The Heaslip Homestead Academy, our homeschooling journey and Life with Mama T – everything else in my life. I’ve got another one related to this in the draft stages, I’ll let you in on it as soon as I can.

Anyways, why the name change? Well, I needed something to do with Life – since it’s all the life stuff – and this works. Also, I think I’m finally coming to terms with my “search for significance” and that’s what the rest of this post is about…

5f3ab3b212b26f487f54786efb2806f7When I think about it, I’ve always been a mom…

long before I gave birth.

The oldest of 5 girls in a Greek-Canadian home of mixed faith and culture,

I don’t remember life without being responsible for someone else…

“mothering” my younger sisters even when it perhaps wasn’t appreciated

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In my teens I “mothered” as a camp counsellor for several happy, glorious summers.

For most of my 20’s and some of my 30’s I worked in a ministry with many young adults who were away from home for the first time, often needing lot’s of  love and nurture.

This is when I earned the nickname “Mama T” ironically, while struggling with unexplained infertility.

A sometimes smartass young guitar player from Prince Edward Island, saw the “mother” in me, long before I did.

You see, he gave me the nickname, not realizing, that my husband and I had been trying for years to get pregnant, and then, had a couple miscarriages… Mama T?!

Would I ever be a mama? Really?

But the nickname stuck…

For awhile, it silently hurt me to hear it…

But over time it built faith.

And then JOY!

Finally, after years of waiting and disappointments,

Our children began arriving in quick order…

3 boys in 4 years!

Then I became a children’s pastor for a bit.

Mama T, Mama T! It was such a sweet wonderful season…

We were done, or we thought so anyways.

Life outside our family had gotten HARD.

Compounded losses…and the ensuing chaos,

Almost tore us apart.

Then the storms ended, and the waters receded,

Unlikely direction came that turned our hearts home…

And while our lives were being rebuilt…

Our lovely baby girl came in, as if on angels wings…

A breath of grace from heaven…

And still, there were more “kids” who needed “mothering”…

We began hosting international students for various lengths of time

Chinese, Korean, Colombian, Danish…

My heart, and home

Are open and willing to pour out love…

I guess, I’ve just realized my “calling”, if I ever needed to have a name for it…

xoxo – Tammara

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I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s post and I look forward to any comments or questions and will see you here again very soon….T

Oh, ya! please follow me here, I couldn’t switch some PTP, function-blah blah blah – so if you want emails, etc… I think you need to follow me on this site now, since I’ll no longer be posting on Blogger. Have a great night!

Holiday Happenings 2014

First of all, go and get a coffee and maybe one of those cookies you’ve been avoiding – you will need it to get through this post – it’s very long…to make up for  month or two of living it and not blogging or posting to Facebook… we have enjoyed this month long celebration to the fullest, hopefully you’ll enjoy reliving it a bit with me. Good luck!

Advent
Back in early December, we began our Advent celebrations. I love advent and taking the time to quietly reflect on the reason Christ came, and the reason we do all the work to prepare for the celebrations, it makes the work part of the celebration, for me anyways.
This year I refurbished our Advent Tree with new envelopes. I really liked the look of this,  Each envelope contained small activities to do together like caroling, calling a relative, writing a poem, etc. A fun way to do some “learning” stuff, since we finished school around the 12th. I am ready to get back at it, but not for the arguing that accompanies it.

Our advent activities basket, Miscellaneous games,
colouring books and such that I’ve collected through the years.
Each Sunday in advent we share a time around the advent wreath singing songs,
reading scriptures and talking about God’s Story. 

Tree Lighting with Caroling
Having a high schooler in the house brings us many new opportunities to get out and enjoy the community. Isabelle is a busy girl involved in many groups, but my favourite is her school choir. It’s very active and great fun to listen to. They had a tree lighting ceremony outside her school complete with hot chocolate and candle light. Loved it.

Elaina screamed out “IGABELLE!” which made Isabelle laugh
in the middle of a song, such great memories.

Stir Up Sunday – Plum Pudding
I tried my hand at making homemade plum pudding since it was $10 for a tiny one in the store. It does not cost close to that much to make, and was tasty. But next year I’ll make it MUCH smaller. My mom helped me by making the run sauce, and I have lot’s left over. I think maybe I’ll have a get-together for my Plum pudding loving friends.

Cookie Baking/ Decorating
In years past we’ve participated in baking exchanges, but this year, I decided to just have a baking day and make just our favs including sugar cookies to decorate. This worked perfectly as they all get eaten as they are favourites. We should be out of cookies by Jan 1st 🙂

Isabelle hard at “work”

The Boy’s Christmas Concert
The boys are in a choir this year, so their concert and potluck dinner was a must. It was enjoyable to see them participating in this this year.

Homeschool Christmas Party
Our local group of HS families had a Christmas party complete with games, craft, caroling, skits and of course cookies and hot chocolate~!

Decorate a mom for Christmas!

Relay races.

Isabelle’s Roadshow
Isabelle’s choir performed as part of the entire Music department – ensembles, rock band, jazz band, vocal groups, drum line, etc. A great festive (and loud) night!

Santa Claus Parade
We go to the Niagara on the Lake Santa Parade each year, Partly because it’s smaller, it’s a quaint little town, we go early enough to tail gate and partly because it’s one of the last ones in the region, so it’s in December and not November, smack in the middle of the holiday season.

2 year olds do not like being told they can’t run into traffic.

Our cozy set up! Next year we need another family to join us, it’s a fun activity to share with others.

Our hot chocolate and snack center.

My personal favourites are the marching bands.

It’s such a relief to know we can get ready to leave when we see Santa’s sleigh.
It’s fun, but after a few hours outside, it’s COLD.

  

Living Nativity
Each year I try to find some kind of activity to enjoy together. This year, the church around the corner hosted a living nativity/ visit Bethlehem event with live animals and activities, drama, etc. It was a well done event and a lot of fun.

We met up with some homeschooling friends who had the same idea as us to attend that day.
Here we are all squished into the hay ride.
Elaina loved the animals!

Getting water from a well.

Isabelle really enjoyed all the Christmas experiences.

Olive Oil Press. Smelly!

Christmas in the Village with Melissa Shriner
One of my personal highlights each year is Melissa’s concert. It never disappoints and always gets me ready for Christmas week. She sings a combo of jazz, classical and opera and more. I love hearing my friend sing and love seeing her succeed. This year was a sold out show jam packed with guests and holiday specials!

The church was all decked out this year and my friend Andrew Braun did the sound and lights.
His work really made her shine. Great job Andrew. 

Melissa and her sister Vanessa (who hosted the reception – cupcake goddess of Vanessa’s Cupcakery and Confections)
It always makes me happy to see friends who’ve known me since I was barely an adult 🙂

Annual Family Christmas Eve Day – Ice Skating
For the past I don’t know how many years, my sister and brother in law have rented an arena and hosted a family skate. It’s lot’s of fun to get out and enjoy some activity and fun before the week of feasting causes us to lie on the couch for endless hours and watch the kids play Just Dance…at least someone ends up burning those calories.

I have the cutest bunch of nephews around!

See what I mean.

Her early Christmas gift was a pair of skates.

I love seeing the aunts and uncles and cousins all having fun together!

Every Canadian boy probably has one of these photos, even if he doesn’t play hockey!

Mom stays in the picture.

Sisters! Elaina had fun sliding around, being carried around and snagging the rice crispy treats.

Christmas Eve Service
Our church had a lovely concert that we did manage to stay in throughout, despite having a wriggly 2 year old in our midst. The best part of the night – singing Silent Night of course.

The platform was just so lovely and cozy but elegant.

Christmas Eve Dinner
The first of the guests to arrive joined us for our traditional dinner of homemade soups, fresh bread and cheese.

In our dresses for church.

The menu…French Onion Soup & Seafood Chowder with fresh crusty bread,
various cheeses and veggies.

The kids did a gift exchange for the annual opening of one gift on Christmas Eve.

I did up a Christmas Eve box for everyone. It had our movie (A Christmas Carol); Slippers for all,
PJ’s, Popcorn, Candy, and a new bedtime book for Elaina.  

Before the movie, we completed our Advent Wreath lighting the Christ Candle and singing together.

Christmas socks.
  

After the movie, the kidlets went to bed, the socks got stuffed and we created the scavenger hunt for the boys’ gift.

Christmas Morning
It goes like this, we tell the boys they cannot leave their bed til 7:00 – since their stockings are on their bed, this usually isn’t a problem and we listen to their exclamations of joy from our bed. Then they all come in and open them all again, showing us what they got. Then we get the girls, and repeat it. The we go upstairs, get coffee (I throw in the baked french toast) and the put Christmas Pumpkin, Cranberry and carrot bread out, and repeat the socks with the grown ups who slept at the house. After that, more grandparents arrive in the midst of the chaos and we continue opening gifts and break out the Christmas Mimosas – yum! Then after all the gifts are opened, their was one last little unlabeled gift, which led the boys on hunt through the house for clues which led them to their gift (a laptop computer = wanted and needed). Then we have brunch, the baked french toast and overnight crock pot casserole…. then the various people retire to get dressed, play with gifts, play cards, ensure plenty of snacks and sweets are available throughout the house, prep for the dinner later, etc, etc…. and I basically don’t sit again until dinner.

 

Christmas Dinner
It sounds like a lot of work, but to me it’s really not. At the end of the day, I’m tired, but not exhausted. These kinds of things energize me. I’ve also got a pretty awesome family full of people who dig in and help each other so we all have fun. I start weeks before with planning what will be best for every guest – food wise, activity wise, etc… and then start pulling together all the details. Thankfully I can set the table days in advance and I cook as much food as I can ahead too, I also assign the side dishes and desserts to my guests who are able to bring something. 

Our place settings (it’s only practical to use plastic when 25 are sitting down to dinner)

Our “itinerary” I find when I write it down, it happens.
When I don’t, it doesn’t. So I do, write it down for everyone to see that is.
That way, it’s not just sitting down to eat, but we get to enjoy being together
 and having meaningful and fun elements too. 

The kids table.

Our giganticus table!

Naughty and Nice punch – was a hit. Thank you pinterest!

Group shot, next year, we’ll avoid the tacky chandelier.
Side note, Lucas , my 10 year old found me those red chairs on the side of the road. Score!

Cheers!

The toddler corner!

Jokes and poems and prayers…
It makes my heart happy to see people enjoying my hard work.
The newest nephew in good hands.

HOLIDAY FAMILY FEUD!

Yaya Rudolph!

Final answer ladies?

Survey says…

Take your places!

Three strikes for the steal…

The best Christmas gift…JUST DANCE!

After the games, we have dessert and more cards, visiting, gift opening, etc. until the wee hours, when we gratefully collapse to begin again in the morning. I actually have one personal tradition of sitting by myself by the light of the tree with a mug of cider and reflect on the day with gratitude. A perfect ending to a perfect day.

Boxing Day
Every year I tell myself to pack the bags for boxing day in advance, and every year I forget, so we wake up in a stupor and then the flurry of packing and chaos to get out the door to drive to my hubby’s hometown for his step dad’s family Christmases. I actually love this day, because I have very little work to do – we always stop for coffee, we always bring a book or two, we always chit chat while the kids read or watch a video… I love the drive and I love the visiting, and the awesome food at the open house first, then more food and cards at the family dinner later. 

 
The boys love the cousin time. 7 boys under 10 = CAHRAZY!
This year, they actually got to play cards too. My babies are growing up!

The dinner is hosted by an aunt and uncle who live in this jaw dropping century home. I love her decorating style, and every year walk around snapping pics for inspiration for the next year.

Is this fairy door not the sweetest thing? Elaina kept knocking on it saying “hello?”
 

Love the details, mini white vintage tree…holiday tea set? LOVE!

Love this kitchen!

Formal sitting room, flocked tree (to die for)  the winding staircase (gasp, lovely!) and every year it’s a different decor…just like me – we are kindred decorators – I swear.

Afterward, we return to Grandpa and Nana’s house which is so cosy, the kids go to bed and we reflect on the days over a glass of wine. Then I read a book until late listening to their grandfather clock pass the time.

Max’s Birthday
The next day is middle boys bday, so we always go out to lunch and celebrate him. After the drive home, we try to muddle through the mess of the house in prep for the “leftover dinner” with friends the next day, we also have been known to ignore the mess and go to the movies (the final Hobbit movie is awesome by the way)

 


Best Christmas Present Ever…

Annual “leftover dinner”
Our good friends join us to demolish what’s left from Christmas and have a relaxing visit. This year, was a Just Dance marathon between the girls and boys!


The end is not here, not even close. After the left over dinner, the Christmas decor comes down. It takes two days… interrupted by an annual get together with my sisters and mom for our Old and New Night – reflecting on the past year and the one to come – over greek donuts, port and coffee. One of my favourite traditions in the days leading up to the final hurrah! Now off to put away the rest of  Christmas and prep the house for New Years, apparently we have company coming!

Thanks for taking the time to visit my blog, have a Happy New Year!~
xoxo
Tammara

Harvest Round Up

Always a lover of Autumn, we celebrated the season in very natural stages, and we are well into our holiday preparations, so I thought I’d include this post on a tiny bit of our Harvest Home Decor, and finish up with our Thanksgiving Table for the sake of the record. I’m in an inward thinking season right now, so blogging hasn’t been high on my radar as I know I’m needing to work through my thoughts and life, eventually they’ll make it onto print somewhere, somehow…
In September, after the summer clean up and getting our home school and student rooms ready, then getting the schedule happening, and finally the baby girls party finished (with post), in Canada, we were READY to embrace all things fall. I’ve been embracing my functional country chalet home, and letting the decor and seasonal decor reflect that, it’s working for me.

 This was my portable table centerpiece. Very eclectic but festive and cheap as I used all things I already had.

Again, re-locating older items, I created this “mantel” with items from around the house.

 putting out “harvesty” plates and bowls on the open shelves made for some “functional decor”.

 A thrift store basket filled with canning rings.

The vignette at the top of the stairs to the family room…

A cosy space to enjoy the final weeks of warmth and sunshine outdoors.

 Front entrance…

Formal Livingroom. There were other touches of fall throughout the house, these were my favs this year.
Thanksgiving 2014
In honour of the American Thanksgiving yesterday, here are the pics from our Canadian thanksgiving almost 6 weeks ago – lol!

 Table set for 12.

 Centerpiece from my flowerbeds this year.

Each place setting had a reading to share at the dinner.

Thrifty Turkey always finds a place on the table 🙂

 Conversation Starters from pinterest worked really well.

 When you’re feeding 20, there is no shame in plastics – loved my place cards though.

 I love guests who bring good wine 🙂

 The kids table…

My kinda sad attempt at a garland.

 Goodie Bags.

 Bountiful Dinner…

 My attempt at decorating the hideous light fixture.

 

 Setting up the tripod for the group pic.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Tea for "Two"

After 10 years of Lego and Superhero birthday parties (all in the winter, mind you), yes I am so excited to host little girlie birthday parties in the fall (the most wonderful time of the year!) This year for E’s birthday we had a little tea party for her little friends, their moms and few big sisters, her brothers and aunties…

We put on our party dress…
 We decided to host the party in the back yard. The weather held and the sunroom and yard was still presentable enough to be enjoyed before the great fall clean up begins next week.
It was a perfect day, not too hot, not too cold…and some flowers were still in bloom.

The little girls’ table

We pulled out the heirloom teacups – this one was Great Aunt Fern’s – we found out we were expecting Elaina shortly after she passed away, but they shared the same birthday month.
The big girls table.

We mixed a bunch of heirloom stuff with paper plates, etc for ease of setting up, cleaning up and also to not get stressed over possible breakage outside.

I converted our old TV cabinet to a “dress up” center for the girlies. It added to over all pretty decor.

Red velvet with Cream cheese icing.

Our menu was simple, crab salad on croissants and vegetable cream cheese roll ups. We had veggies, fruit and cheese trays and of course coffee and tea. For dessert we had a variety of mini cakes and cookies, candies of course chocolates.

The “take home treats” were personalized dress up fairy outfits.

Bling for the littles… I figured this was nicer than sending them home with more candy. There were enough sweets to enjoy at the party, I hoped the moms appreciated not having more candy later at home.
 


The girlies! So so cute!

After lunch, the littles decorated tea party hats from the dollar store with silk flowers.

Yaya helping the birthday girl decorate her hat. 


One of the big sisters helping with hat decoration.

 Then we released them into the dress up cupboard.

DRESS UP TIME!!!


After much play time, we gathered for the present opening and cake.

Opening Presents…so thankful!

After all the birthday celebrating, she finally got the hang of “blowing out the candles”
Our cheeky two year old!

I hope you enjoyed this post, we certainly enjoyed our day, and love every day with our little princess.


The Beginning of the Gathering Together…

For man, autumn is a time of harvest and gathering together. Edwin Way Teale 

The end of our summer was marred by the loss of a beautiful soul, Robin Williams, this post is not about him – but I do think he was brilliant gift to humanity and I am thankful for the laughs and thoughtful art he left behind. This poem has stuck with me from the very first time I watched Dead Poet’s Society. Robin is quoting Virgil I think… To this day it’s one of my favourite films… and this little bit, one of my favourite parts of the film. While I was pulling together this blogpost, it kept floating thru my mind again…
Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today
Tomorrow will be dying.
The glorious lamp of heaven the sun,
The higher he’s a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
And nearer he’s to setting.
That age is best which is the first,
When youth and blood are warmer;
But being spent, the worse, and worst
Times still succeed the former.
Then be not coy, but use your time,
And, while ye may, go marry;
For, having lost but once your prime,
You may forever tarry.
I don’t know if it was way back then that the idea of “Making the Most of Time” began to take root in my soul, but I know that for most of my life I have endeavoured to do just that. Savour it, gather together my heart, my people, my thoughts and memories, and express love and gratitude in the moment. I don’t always succeed, but when I do, I find I have few regrets from that period of time. Sometimes it’s expressed in the events I plan, sometimes in decorating the house, often in my food, sometimes in intentionally giving a gift or direct communication… it manifests in many ways… and I’m always trying to listen to my heart and to the Spirit for direction for the present…

Since yesterday was technically the beginning of Autumn, this post is a “gathering” in of sorts for me… before sharing with you how we’re celebrating fall here, I need to share how we said goodbye to what honestly was an almost perfect summer. 

Farewell Thee Summer

The second half of our summer went out in a flurry of fun, work and memory making  for us… 

  
 

 

Our Chinese “daughter” Isabelle is with us for high school

They were days full of baseball tournaments, summer dresses, frozen treats, beach days, BBQ’s, canning, clearing the garden, drying herbs, prepping the school room, hosting guests from Korea, welcoming a daughter from China, bike rides, pool parties, campfires… late nights, sunny humid days… we relished every moment of our summer and then rode the gentle wave that changed the season and the rhythm of our days… but first, we had to say a proper goodbye…with a party of course!

The Heaslip Family Farewell Thee Summer Potluck and Campfire…

  

 My first attempt at a DIY  Banner

 Entertainment was simply the company of good friends – new and old, the trees, the play yard and the trampoline…and of course the fire.

 Lot’s of yummy food! Love potlucks!

 The decor was multi-coloured lights borrowed from the Christmas bin and flowers cut and gathered from the property in mason jars…

 
The Smores Station was a big hit!
 

 The “optimists board” – both summer and autumn had alot of great qualities… 

 We finished the night with a summer sparkler send off…baby girl loved it!


Back to School
We’re officially a family with kids in traditional school, and kids in school at home, so we celebrated the “first day” with relish.


Check out our special Ceremony here.

First Day Photos – The kids in traditional school

 

Grade 9

  

Grade 6 & 7

First Day Photos – The Home Schoolers




  

First Day Treat Bags


 


The Greek Festival

For me, the real sign that summer is over is the Niagara Greek Festival. In one way or another my sisters and I all end up there and share memories of our dad with amazing food, music and dancing. It reminds me of the times I travelled to Greece with him and the village always had some festival or another, the smells the sounds the laughter and the heady end of summer  heat and nostalgia really help me get centered on what really truly matters as we head into the busy and beautiful season of fall. 

mmm… Greek Donuts (loukoumades)…a treat we only indulge in twice a year, at the festival and on Christmas Eve.

Elaina and Yaya enjoying the traditional Greek Dancers

 Another farewell…We bid our Korean boys (Alex and Mark) a sad farewell just after the begnning of the school year. Our family loved every minute with these two – the 5 weeks flew by and were filled with many great laughs and precious memories.

All the best Alex and Mark! We’ll never forget you.

Transitioning to Fall…

In our home, the transition includes a deep cleaning of the house, clearing out the garden, canning the last of the tomatoes, putting away the summer decor. One day in the week after Labour Day I pull out my autumn books of poetry, cookbooks and magazines to get inspired (or I surf around Pinterest for a while) – while drinking spiced coffee or cider of course. Then the bins of decor come out (just like Christmas but smaller) and I slowly look for where I want to add the flavour in.

I walk around the yard and neighbourhood collecting hydrangea blooms, branches, pinecones and other interesting bits of nature to pull into the house and front step. I usually buy at least one mum (and there’s a super cheap place that sells amazing mums by hubby’s work for next to nothing – score!) and well, then we’re ready for a fall house tour. But that for later this week. So come on back for that and the rest of my gathered thoughts as I’ve fully embraced the fall… in both my heart and home.

XOXO 
Tammara

To All Little Sisters…

Little Sister

I know life seems dark and overwhelming right now. It seems lonely and like you’re trying so hard with so little results. It’s not fun, I get it. Hang in there.
 
You are in a season. Seasons last only so long and before you know it, the next one is upon you.
 
It’s ok. Take a deep breath.
 
When we fight against the seasons, we will never find a true rhythm and rest in life. That joy and peace that is present in the wrinkles of the wise who have lived through many seasons and embrace them in their fullness.
 
Seasons are not just in the passing of months and days on the calendar. They are in seasons of life. You will have seasons in relationships, in spiritual growth, in your career, in a greater calling, in parenting and in personal growth and maturity. Sometimes, when you are in one season in one part of life, you are also in a different season in another area, sometimes they converge… the point is to embrace them. To  live through each taking the good and the uncomfortable of each, knowing they produce one thing. A Life. YOUR LIFE.
 
So, look around you. What season are you in? Is it dry, is it barren and maybe even cold? Does everything and everyone seem to be buried? Out of reach?
 
 
Welcome to WINTER.
 
What a beautiful season!
 
It’s a much needed one. It is a season of rest, of SLOW, of quiet and separation and preparation. It is a season of peace and calm.
 
Winter is the season for reflection and introspection. It is one where on the outside, not much growth is visible, but underneath the surface, the roots are going deeper and getting stronger.
 
In winter, you can hear better. There is not as much fighting for your attention.
 
In winter, the skies are clearer and the air crisper. Unless there is a storm. There will be storms.
 
The snows and winds, the winter storms come to cover the earth. To blanket her, and provide a means for cleansing in the spring thaw. In winter, the fat is burned. The excess gets used up, or frozen and discarded. This is good. In winter, things die off. These things need to die, to make room for the new growth to come.
 
There is such beauty in the winter season of life. Sometimes it seems like relationships are hard, maybe it’s time to back off and rest for a bit. Everything is harder to do in winter. That’s why animals hibernate or migrate. We could learn from them if we watch them. Sometimes we hit those dry patches, we feel like we’re not learning anything, nothing seems to “catch us”…that’s ok. The ground is hard, impenetrable. The creator is at work in the ground of our hearts. In winter, we reflect back on what we’ve learned in the past “year”, and we plan…knowing the energy and excitement of a new season will come, it always comes. The warmth of the sun will touch our skin again. But then winter will be over.
 
Or perhaps you are in a SPRING.
 
Spring usually comes slowly. If we have truly embraced winter, and loved it. We will see the signs of spring and not grow impatient. They will encourage us. In spring, the thaw comes as slowly the position of the sun changes and the warmth and light extend into longer and longer stretches. The ground opens up. The waters wash away the debris. There is work to be done. Time for reflection and planning has passed. Hopefully, you used your winter well. It’s time to plant, to raise up seedlings, to turn the soil, to open the windows and sweep away the dust.
 
In spring, everyone seems to begin to tentatively venture outdoors again. They open up their lives and hearts again. Spring is dirty. It is wet. Sometimes it is uncertain. We aren’t sure if we need a jacket or a tshirt. So we wear both. We hear lovely birdsongs again. We see green sprouting and flowers bursting through the dirt and patches of snow. Spring is full of new life, rebirth. Ideas abound, hope is high. Love is easy, new life is celebrated and welcomed with great joy. Summer is on its way.
 
SUMMER
 
Oh the days of summer. Summer arrives in glory! The joy of days of fullness. Some harvesting, some playing, long days. Fruitful days. Food is abundant. Summer is noisy, full of song, laughter, shouting and greetings. Getting together with others is easy. Connecting with ideas and being productive is second nature. Celebration is common. Even work is fun.
 
As summer passes, the calendar fills up. The days become so full, they pass quickly, and thus summer seems to be short. It’s no shorter, just busier. Not as busy as fall mind you, but a different kind of busy. Everything is growing, until it isn’t. Then it gets hot. And DRY. Uncomfortably so. Enough to make us look forward to the cool winds of autumn. But not yet. Despite the heat and dryness, there is much work to be done, and the last of the summer fun to be had.
 
AUTUMN
In the midst of the busyness (and often the longing for more summer) people don’t even notice the early changeover of fall. Often, because of regrets in not living well in the preceding seasons…
 
But autumn is MAGNIFICENT! Many times, people lose the full benefits of the fall. It becomes rushed and harried…they lose their joy.  But regardless, it comes and speeds by with the harvesting and the people, everywhere people. Too many to be able to really take care of, but many hands make light work.
 
Thanksgiving. The reasons for a heart full of gratitude and praise are everywhere. There is beauty and abundance everywhere. While harvesting, the preserving and the setting aside the seed for the next spring. 
 
The cleanup, so much clean up. There is anticipation of a joyous celebration at the end of the autumn in the holidays. 
 
The autumn has shorter days though, and the weather and circumstances are always uncertain. It is windy, and the beauty can be blown away quickly. The Harvest rains come, to prepare the earth for the rest of Winter…but by then we are usually already inside, preparing for the celebrations that ease us from one season into another and mark the passing of the circle of time bound in a growing year.
 
Little sister… look up. Behold the season. Behold the passing of time. The ONE who has quietly observed the passing of the times and seasons through the ages, HE is with you. HE holds your days. Your moments in the sun and moments covered in the snow. Your moments caught in the storms. He is HERE. HE is HERE. In your heartbeat, In the breath of heaven that created us, that we use to walk on the earth.  In the still small voice. In the rising and setting of the sun. Calm your heart, still your mind. REST.

 

 
He is HERE. HE IS HERE.