A Father’s Hands…

Today was a day that reminded me of a  really bad day I blogged about a few years back.  I’m not sure if it’s the full moon, or what, but I needed a reminder that I’ve had worse days and just like then, today was “handled” – once I handed it over. Today it took a trip to the dog park, but it really did turn around too. I hope you enjoy today’s post from back in 2013…
Yesterday was one of those days.
It started out ok…
Then quickly spiraled down and out of control.
The oldest boy had ATTITUDE.
The middle boy was EMOTIONAL with ATTITUDE.
The youngest boy was WHINY.
They were all fighting, running in the house, making wrong choices.
The baby was cranky…teething? diaper rash? fussy?
All of the above.
Even the dog was annoying.
That morning I’d been reminded of a few personal setbacks…
Waves of  worry, fear, doubting self, doubting God…
Feeling like the little we had, would never be enough to meet the need.
Feeling unsettled, words in my mind wearing away at the Peace
That usually keeps me calm in the midst of these storms.
Feeling pretty ugly inside and out.
So I kept losing my cool…
yelling…
threatening…
lashing out…
probably worse,
I’ve blocked it from my memory.
We were all ready for a change of pace, a change of scenery.
I remember driving to the organic farm to pick up the veggies
On the verge of tears.
At the farm, the dear farmer sensed my duress.
She made me laugh.
A moment outside of the moment.
She encouraged me like only a mama of mamas can.
We drove home in almost silence. A hymn was playing on the radio.
The quiet was needed…appreciated.
The baby had fallen asleep.
The boys were not fighting, not even talking.
I pulled into the drive.
Thinking about what to make for dinner.
Giving instructions for unloading the veggies…
The middle boy was not in the van…
 Momentary panic.
Call the farmer.
He’s there. Relief.
Drive 25 mins back there to get him.
Beat myself up most of the way.
After all…how could I not notice he wasn’t in the van?!
Sigh…
I really felt like crying on the way home again.
Decided, that the day was basically lost now
A lost day…
When I should have loved my kids better…
When I should have been gentle, and kind.
 And now it was half hour to bedtime…
No time to make dinner…
MacDonald’s it is.
At least the boys were thrilled.
I beat myself up for not providing a healthier dinner.
In the drive-thru…I had to dig into the recesses of my wallet to pay.
Tucked inside a pocket, was shoved one of these.
I haven’t seen one in years.
(for my American friends – we have dollar coins here)
For some reason, it reminded me of my dad.
How his hands hardened by work, would always offer to give me money.
When I was around 9 and first allowed to ride my bike to the corner store.
When I was 16 and driving the car and needed gas.
When I was visiting home from college and always in need of a little extra cash.
How on a day like this, he would have put his arms around me…
And the world would have felt better again.
Sometimes we’d just sit in the garden, quiet.
I thought about how much I miss those hands,
How that final goodbye felt a few short years ago…
How much I wanted my daddy at that moment.
Mercy, the tears would not stop…
I almost had to pull over the van.
Then the kindest whisper…
A reminder really.
That there was another set of hands…
Readily available…
Hands that were not only work hardened…
But pierced.
For me.
Hands, eagerly waiting for me to surrender the day
Ready to provide,
Ready to take fish and bread, and meet those needs and more.
Restoring peace, reminding me of Eternity
and how my earthly daddy lives there now, with Him.
Redeeming the day, in a moment.
Making the world feel better again.
Oh how wonderful to to fall into my Heavenly Father’s Hands
To be enveloped in His grace and mercy.
Psalm 31:14
But as for me, I trust You, oh Lord,
I say,”You are my God”
My Times are in your hand…
 
And as the day came to a close,
Kissing soft cheeks, whispering thanks
whispering “I love yous”
Watching the steady rise and fall of little bodies at rest.
Peace…I am still.
Knowing the day is saved, and a new one is at hand.
A new one, that is in His hand,
As I am.
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Eastertide 2016

The last year or so I’ve been reading a lot on the Liturgical or Sacred Church Year. I am by no means leaning into becoming Catholic or Orthodox, but I have found that incorporating some of the rich aspects of traditional worship into my own observances has been so so beneficial.

An Enriched Lent

We began Lent on Ash Wednesday when I began this study on the the Prodigal Son, with Edie Wadsworth, from lifeingraceblog.com. She’s a Lutheran, and I’ve loved so much of her writing which reflects her deep faith and the highlights the Lutheran leanings toward the need for grace in our daily lives.

CandleI read somewhere about having 6 candles and lighting them all on Ash Wednesday, on each Sunday prior to Easter, eliminate one candle. Then on Good Friday extinguish them all. It’s like the reverse of Advent, to remind us of Christ conquering the darkness in the Resurrection. I don’t force anyone in the family to participate in this, I just take a moment to center my heart and mind on the season, and honestly, the entire process was just so powerful this year. By resurrection Sunday, I was full of this anticipation to celebrate!

A Beautiful Holy Week

Last year, we did a daily study of walking through the last days of Jesus’ life on earth leading up to the cross…and on Holy Saturday we made Resurrection Rolls.

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This year we changed it up according to our schedule. Each night of Holy Week we had our Family Time either after dinner or during Homeschool…

We did our main readings from this book by Vic KParker…It was very thorough (good for younger and older kids) and divided the week up perfectly…love the illustrations too.

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and added Easter Hymns to our binder we use for Morning Time/ Symposium most days…

Symposium Binder easter hymns

On Monday we read about Jesus clearing the Temple, on Tuesday we read about the Last Supper and had a “footwashing” of our own (we washed each others hands) and had communion.

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On Wednesday we read about Jesus’ praying in the the Garden and his betrayal. On Thursday we read about his false trials and the beatings he took for us. On Friday, the crucifixion. Saturday was a day of silent reflection.

And Sunday….we celebrated.

We joined with other saints at a service…which was beautiful. Full of dance, visual art, music, congregational singing and the gospel message…best of all, the expectation reflected on the faces of fellow believers.

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The kids got their baskets AFTER church (there was no way they were eating candy before church!)

groupThen the extended family came over for dinner. We all love to see the grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins – but according to my dad…holidays were a must for the family to get together.

Dinner was complete with our singing, conversations, jokes and of course delicious food.

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I try to make our celebrations a bit more meaningful by taking an hour to plan a little “outline” that includes poetry, or scripture reading, some songs/ hymns, games, etc. This is what this year’s looked like…we had a “progressive reading” of the Resurrection Story as napkin rings. I found them here.

 

 I try to set the table the night before. This year I was on a tight budget, so created a centerpiece with silk flowers from storage, my sister ended up giving me some fresh flowers that day, So I incorporated them happily.The rest were decor I already had from years past. Loved stuffing old plastic eggs with the conversation starters, they were like Easter “fortune cookies”.

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DSC_0370 The kids table had an Easter I-SPY Game I found here…

After dinner we headed outdoors for the Egg Hunt…

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DSC_0424And back indoors for dessert!

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Happy Easter – Christos Annestis!!

PS – I was super happy with my easter decor this year. I spent a whopping $3!

Decorating for Spring and Easter

Here’s a peek of how we changed things up around the house to welcome spring. Come on in~!
February and March 2015 210This is a DIY pussy willow wreath that cost me about $5 to make. It’s a great transition piece between February (post Valentines) to when I add a floral wreath. I could have put one up for easter, but really just loved the simplicity of this one. Instead the Easter wreathes stayed indoors this year. I will be on the lookout for a more “flowery” front door hanging this month though, now that things are definitely greening up.

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In our front foyer I kept it kind of neutral. The burlap bunny garland stayed up from mid march through Easter.. Basically after Easter I remove the bunnies from most decor and add in the other more subtle spring pieces I have. The bird cage, nest and birds came back this year, with the stacking suitcases and I added more pussy willows here to give continuity from the front door. The glass apothecary dishes have white lights in them and are great to light up the evenings in our entry.

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It’s simple, but pretty…and I hope warm and welcoming.

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Moving upstairs, the kitchen had touches through Easter. I used both silk and real lilies in the kitchen and family rooms. The mantel arrangement changed a few times to accommodate various table settings. Now that Easter is passed us – most of the “easter” books have been put away with all but the green moss bunny on the shelf. The Lent Candle stayed out and was used most days, what a great exercise we’ll be sure to repeat. It was also pretty.

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I loved having this crown and purple scarf out, to keep the focus on the king, more than the commercial aspect.

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Touches of colour and expecially green, really helped bring some beauty indoors.

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In the basement, which is where we hosted a few functions, primarily our large celebration dinner, we decorated the fireplace and the table. The mantel, silk flowers, a couple mirrors and old vases. The only new piece was the burlap bunny garland which was a dollar.

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From our Easter breakfast table.

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And from Easter dinner, in case you didn’t see last weeks posts.I’m not sure if I will get around to posting any other changes since winter. I did change out my curtains from red to a transparent turquoise colour in the kitchen, and a couple wall hangings have changed to lighten things up a bit…no pics, but as I’ve posted about before, I believe that when we make small adjustments in our homes, it helps us transition the seasons in our hearts as well… which helps with the harmony of the home.

What changes have you make around your home to welcome the new season?

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.

Celebrating Everyday Life – The first Quarter

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In our house we try to make a big deal out of the little things, the moments that fill in the calendar, the things that make up a life together. I figured I could take quarterly snapshots to show you the “in between” times, since I usually document the standard holidays and seasons. Here’s my record of the first “Quarter” of 2015.

January – WINTER is in full swing. Yes, I put out the post Christmas “winter decor” to enjoy this month. The Hot Chocolate station is in full swing and the white stuff is enjoyed to the “Max”. 
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Yes – this is INSIDE my kitchen.

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This was our first official SNOW DAY. Pancake breakfast, lot’s of playing outside and inside and movies…the best part NO SCHOOL, for the home school and our student boarders (From Korea – short term and China – long term)

Many people ask us what we do for “church” – that subject probably requires a series of posts, but I’ll address it briefly here. We enjoy services at a local congregation in Niagara – but consider “real” church or Ecclesia to be what happens from home to home in the community of faith we find ourselves in. This is both intentional and casual. So far it’s working for us… here’s a post of one of our intentional lunches which we host once a month (at least), and then visit other homes at other times.

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Happy Birthday Igabelle!

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She requested breakfast for dinner.

We got to learn more about Korea when our students had a special cultural day and lunch for us. The food as always, was delish.

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February – WINTER is still in full swing, but we have many birthdays and many other reasons to celebrate! First, I change out some of the winter decor and add some red and pink for the month of LOVE. Yes we do celebrate Groundhog Day – it was fun explaining this to the students. Then the first birthday is my sisters, she had a huge and fun girls night in – our friend Julia did the food and I may or may not have eaten 5 mini creme brulees.

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Then we celebrated Valentines Day with Chocolate Fondue for the Kids… we also had a special meal together by candlelight, shared Valentines – the kids participated in a homeschool Valentines Party, then mom and dad had date night.

It was also my birthday – a big one, but I have blog post coming up all about that in a few days. Here’s a sneak peak at the party my girlfriends threw for me. Our motto – any reason for a party is a good one!
40th Party

Then it was time to begin Lent – with Pancake Tuesday and Ash Wednesday. More on Lent later. Here’s part of what we’ve done this year for Lent.February and March 2015 182

This year, the Chinese New Year was the day after Ash Wednesday – whew. I got some help from Isabelle’s mom in Hong Kong and we celebrated with style this year thanks to our Asian friends living with us.

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I found out that Red and Gold are the traditional colours to decorate with (more use for some Christmas/Valentines decor – yay!). Mondi & Frankie sent us some “Red Pockets” to share with the kids.

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Some traditional and “new” aka – making due when we couldn’t find specific ingredients- foods were on the menu. Poon Choi (the big bowl) and dumplings, etc. I was quite proud of myself.

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Some imported treats and some new fruits to try like Asian Pears, Dragon fruit and Star Fruit.

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One of my favs, was this Coconut New Years ‘cake’ I found on Pinterest. Isabelle said it was her favourite too.

The next week we said farewell to our Korean boys, and then it was this boys birthday – here we are on a date. He chose to go for a special lunch with dad and then went to spend a long weekend with his grandparents where he was spoiled.

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Yaya (my mom) treated the boys and I to dinner at Memphis for birthday celebrations – Yahummmm!

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This year the month ended for me with the big birthday party and a sleepover with the same two girl friends who slept over on my 20th birthday during our college years. Pretty cool…except that sleeping on the floor is much different now than it was back then!

March! The signs of Spring are everywhere. I gradually remove all signs of winter “inside” the house, and start adding in the “green”.

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I did up a new wreath to carry me over from February (a Valentine Door Wreath) to Easter (egg wreath) – I love this pussy willow wreath. I got the idea from this blog. So easy, so cute!

March for us as homeschoolers is a month of “Spring Breaks”.

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Dad and the younger two boys spent a weekend in South Carolina visiting some of our best friends, who are also homeschoolers.

While they were away, the rest of us celebrated my nephew’s birthday with the whole family bowling. It was Elaina and Isabelle’s first time – such fun!

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The next weekend the two younger sisters treated the February Bday Sisters to a Spa Day – so spoiled!

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My youngest sister is a RMT – massage therapist and she has magic hands… (notice the baby snoozing on the bed in the back ground? He was so good, so his mama got nice and relaxed)

Then it was the school Spring Break, so we took advantage of some fun activities – Tag Day Camp for the elder boy and VBS for the younger two. The girls and I enjoyed coffee dates and shopping most mornings. St. Patricks Day was at the beginning of Spring Break, so we celebrated with style, complete with Irish Toasting with Green Ginger “Beer”, Irish Reels and of course, cuisine – Corned Beef and Cabbage, rye toast and Shamrock Shakes.

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At the end of Spring Break, the boys were in the performances of the drama school they joined this year. It was such a good show and the teachers and kids worked so hard to make it a success.

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We finished up the month with getting ready for Holy Week, which for us begins tomorrow with Palm Sunday. I’ll close this post with a peak – but since I consider Easter to be a major Holiday – it will get it’s own post shortly. I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing how we celebrate life – it’s been a great year so far!

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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

Holiday Home Tour 2014

Well, it’s better late than never to post about our holiday home, especially since it starts to come down tomorrow… loved celebrating the Lord’s birth this year, loved all the special moments and loved being in my home, and enjoying the coziness and togetherness. My style is definitely my own, part woodsy cabin, part country, part eclectic/classical. It’s not perfect and certainly can look cluttered, but it’s very much LIVED in and LOVED. Hope you enjoy a tour of our holiday home and tomorrow I’ll post about all the Holiday happenings that took place. Happy Holidays everyone.
Outside
I added real greenery to faux garlands, and it looked great! Plus later some red mesh ribbon. I was happy with the outside decor. Will post pics of finished product if I remember to take some.

Same with the wreath and  a giant red matching bow.
Main Floor Entrance
Right by the front door is this little display and underneath is a basket full of slippers for guests.

Entry way

Entryway with view of living room – flash

Close up, no flash

Past the tree is my angel collection on the sideboard.

I eventually removed the lower feathers, Here’s a closeup.

View from hallway.

In this pic you can really see the dried hydrangeas I painted gold.
Hallway to bedrooms. I forgot to take pics of the kids rooms
 – they each have mini trees we use as night lights through the holidays.

 Master Bedroom

I carried the feather theme through this room I apologize for the messy bed.

 Bathroom

This thrift store find is a great lamp to use through Jan.6th.
Another view of the tree.

Another thrift store find (mother and child)

Poinsettia’s really add some drama.

Grouping of cone trees in window.

A little DIY sign.

Loved this countdown snowman.
The Basement – AKA Party Room
Nativity set on stairway shelf.

At the bottom of the stairs.
Another thrift store find. It tells the Christmas story with songs.
View of sitting area.

The 6 foot tree sat on a dining room table with the village underneath.
I loved the look of the hydrangeas painted red on this tree.

Full room view

Before adding lights.
I actually really enjoyed the multi-coloured lights.
Stuffy tree

Revamped chandelier.

Friends on top of the fridge

From pinterest.

The Loft – Main Living Area
Hangs in the hall going upstairs.
Loved the look of my pinecone garland.
Did not love the look of this wall hanging over the stairs.
Will try again next year.

I didn’t mind these mini versions,…
But preferred them without the greenery.
Vignette at top of stairs. The blue sign got plopped there, and then never moved. Woops

Another DIY candle arrangement.
My Nativity Set.

Top of Woodland Tree.

`
My nutcracker collection moved a few times, til it found a home in the curio cabinet.

Family Room

 

Loved the querky look of the antler on the wall.

Kitchen

Kitchy Christmas Photos…

One of our first nativity sets.

Mantel…
Christmas cards on the message board.
Mistletoe over the table.
Wine cart.

Hot Chocolate Bar

Kitchen Window

Guest Room
Tin garland.

So cute, the boys kept asking if they could sleep in here.

Bathroom

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!!!