Tuesday, December 21, 2010

December 10th, 2010

This year, I have felt particularly cut off from the kids school.  With me going back to work, I have felt very isolated and, among other issues, have felt as though the fantastic connection that I had with the school last year, has been lost.  I have been feeling very frustrated and I miss being involved in the classroom a lot.  But, even though I haven't been in the classroom yet, not even once, I was able to make (with the kids help) some handmade teachers and students gifts for Khai and Declan's teachers and classmates.

First step, clean off your table.  Today, I had a little helper.  I use the word helper very loosely, because I had to wash the whole thing all over again once he was done, but, at least he had fun!  (I love that he has a helpful spirit.  It always makes my heart swell when the kids are helpful.  Like, one day, I came out to the van and Brett had cleaned the whole thing off for me.  *sigh*  So sweet.)

Then, get some cinnamon.  LOTS of cinnamon.  Like, I bought 2 huge things from Superstore and I have only a tiny bit left.  Dump some into a large bowl.  Add applesauce until it makes a dough type consistency.  I realize ratios here would be nice, but it really depends on the applesauce and how moist it is.  I used 2 different kinds of applesauce and it took different amounts of cinnamon to make it the right consistency. 

Once you are done mixing, dust your workspace (and your rolling pin) generously with more cinnamon.  Roll out your "dough" to desired thickness (I found that I liked the thicker ones much much better, but they take considerably longer to bake) and cut out with your favourite cookie cutters. 

Use a straw or something else that is similarly sized (and clean) to make holes so that you can hang them later. 

Place on foil, wax paper or parchment paper on cookie sheets.

Bake at 250 degrees F for an hour.  I actually did mine for a bit longer, because they were still quite damp when I took them out after an hour.  I also waited until they were quite cool until I removed them from the foil.

String a ribbon through the hole and tie a pretty tag to it! I am also including a note that says that it isn't a cookie as I'm giving them to both 2-5 year olds and 6-7 year olds. 

Each kid in Khai and Declan's classes are getting one ornament, and the teachers will each get a set of 4.  A super fun activity to do with the kids, plus, it's easy on your budget!

December 9th, 2010

image found here.

This year, I was hired by a friend to cater his company Christmas party.  There has been a ton of planning (and too many lists, according to my husband)  and I anticipate many late nights cooking and baking as much as can be made in advance.  Tonight was meatball night.  So, while Helmut took Khai to piano, and then Brett to hockey, I stayed at home, making batch after batch of meatballs. Sadly, I was too tired at the end of it to remember to take any pictures of my own.   But, after making as many meatballs as I have tonight (200+), I know that this will be something I make in large batches and freeze for our family as well!

Note to self : freeze on cookie sheet and THEN put into ziploc bags.  Otherwise it will take too long to separate them when you take them out of the freezer.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

December 8th, 2010

Every year.  Every single year, our gingerbread house decorating goes awry.  Here's last year's decorating day. And this year, was, well, almost as interesting (and almost as much fun!)

Next year, I'm doing this!  It's a fantastic idea, if only I'd seen it before this year's disaster.

We started out again, with an E-Z build box kit.  I don't know why I don't ever remember that these kits really don't work.

It looks good, right?  Sadly.  It didn't stay that way!

Still looks okay...just wait though...

I believe this was Declan's addition to the house.  So cute!

Eating the candy was Khai's favourite thing to do!

Justin took a break from studying to help us accomplish this...masterpiece!

A typical "Brett" face!

He clung quite tightly to those candies!

I always feel the need to do a group shot!

I'm sorry to say, it was my idea to put a Tech Deck (with the wheel part taken off) on the roof and have a little guy snowboarding down it.  It was originally supposed to be a Lego guy, but Khai couldn't find his ONE lego guy, so we used a gingerbread man instead.  It was inspired by Khai's "Hopes and Dreams" assignment at school.  He said this year he wanted to snowboard off of our roof!

Justin helping to re-adhere the roof.  It didn't work.

Declan holding up the "little guy". 

Still holding.

Brett trying to cement him into place with icing. 

It didn't work.

And, because they ate the rest of the candy, we could only decorate one half of the roof.  Yeah.  Next year, I'm doing this.

Monday, December 13, 2010

December 7th, 2010

Tonight, was all about this guy!  He needed a chauffeur to take him to a few places, and I was heading out to take Khai to Boy's Club anyway so he tagged along.  I really enjoy watching other people spend money...hee hee...so it was no problem for me! We went shopping for part of Magda's Christmas present.  Justin spent $600. (HA! JUST JOKING!!! That's just what he told Magda to throw her off the scent!)

It was great to spend some time together, just the two of us.  He is such fun and pleasant person to be around and I really enjoyed it.

Thanks J-shoe, for the memories!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

20 Questions

I needed a break from my December Daily posts.  It takes me a lot of time (probably too much time) to write each entry, and my brain (and my heart) needs a break! So, I stole this from Lens and Pens (thank you!) and decided to do it myself!

1) Wrapping paper or gift bags?

Wrapping paper.  I think there is something special about actually unwrapping a gift. 

2) Real tree or artificial?

Real trees.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Plural.  See here and here.  Helmut doesn't know what he started!

3) When do you put up the tree?

As close to December 1st as possible.  Usually the first Friday after the 1st.

4) When do you take the tree down?

After New Year's.  Sometimes it's on New Year's Day, and other times it's the following weekend.  I like to have my Valentine's Day decor ready to go shortly after I take down all the Christmas stuff.

5) Favourite gift received as a child?

Interesting.  I don't actually remember any of my Christmas gifts as a child.  I can remember some of my birthday presents, but no Christmas ones.  I remember family.  I remember spending time together.  I remember love. 

6) Hardest person to buy for?

My parents and Helmut's parents.  They buy whatever they want/need for themselves, so come Christmas (or birthdays for that matter) there is nothing left for us to get them!

7) Easiest person to buy for?

The kids.  They always know what they want, and they aren't old enough to spend their money by themselves yet. 

8) Mail or email Christmas cards?

If I send them at all, they get mailed or hand delivered.  I really want to do that this year, but still haven't decided which photo to send out!

9) Favourite Christmas movie?

Well, we actually have a list! The Muppet Christmas Carol, How the Grinch Stole Christmas (the original), Lanny and Wayne in Disney's Prep and Landing, The Most Wonderful Time of the Year (made for TV movie), The Christmas Blessing (sequel to The Christmas Shoes...which Helmut loves!) and White Christmas (or Holiday Inn, depending on your copy! Did you know they only changed the name to White Christmas after the song became popular?) I'm sure there are others, but that's all I can think of at the moment!

10) When do you start Christmas shopping?

This varies from year to year.  This year I started doing bits and pieces online in November.

11) Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?


12) Favourite thing to eat at Christmas?

Ham on Christmas morning, and pretty much anything my Mum makes.

13) Lights on the tree (clear or coloured)?

I want to have warm white (clear) lights on the tree next year, this year, we have pure white, and they are so harsh, they almost look blue. 

14) Favourite Christmas Song?

I really really love Enya's "And Winter Came" album.  But my all time favourite is Mary's Boy Child.  My dad said he liked it when I was a kid, and it's been my favourite ever since.

15) Travel at Christmas or stay home?

I love being at home. 

16) Angel, star or ribbon on top of the tree?

Nothing.  We don't have a topper for our tree yet.  I'd love to have one, but we haven't found anything we love yet.

17) Open the presents Christmas Eve or Christmas morning?

We usually open with the kids on Boxing Day (the day after Christmas for my non-Canadian friends), but this year, we get them Christmas morning! YAY! Helmut and I might exchange our gifts on Christmas Eve...maybe.  We haven't decided yet.

18) Most annoying thing about this time of year?


19) What do you want for Christmas this year?

I will do a wish list post next week sometime!

20) Traditional colours or other colours?

Mostly traditional.  Red and white and wood in the bedroom; red, green, gold, brown and wood in the living room, dining room and kitchen; and blue, silver and wood in the basement.

Let me know if you decide to do it too! I'd love to read it! And thanks again Lens and Pens for the idea and the questions!

December 6th, 2010

've had a few conversations with some good friends lately about gift giving and receiving and how it affects our kids.  We expect our children to be grateful for each gift, but instead of letting them play with and enjoy and appreciate the gifts they open, we are quickly shoving another gift into their hands for them to unwrap.  It can be overwhelming. 

I was thinking about this yesterday as Declan unwrapped his gifts.  I could tell that he was done opening part way through (he was still being very well behaved and thankful, but he was just done), but everyone was there to give him their gifts and they wanted to see him open them (which I totally understand).  When it came to the last gift (which was from us) we told him he could be done, and we saved it for him to open today. 

So, when he got home from daycare today, we opened his last present.  He was just as excited, if not more so, than he was yesterday, and it was great, because he got to play with it right after he said thank you and gave us hugs!

I don't have a solution for this gift dilemma, though I'd like to find one by Christmas.  I don't want to feed this idea that more is better.  I want my kids to be just as thankful if they receive one gift, as opposed to 5 or 6.  How do you do gift giving in your family? Do you take the time to cherish each gift as they are opened, or is special importance placed on them later?

December 5th, 2010

Sometimes I forget that "real life" continues on, even during the preparations leading up to Christmas.  Yesterday and today, Khai was participating in a hockey tournament in St. Andrews.  I forgot my camera, so I don't actually have any photo evidence of this, but trust me: it happened!
Exhaustion happened too.  These regular, every day things seem to take so much more energy when we are in the midst of December stuff. 

I sometimes worry that with Declan's birthday falling on December 6th, that he will  not want to do anything Christmas-y until his birthday is over with.  I hope he will always know that his birthday is a BIG deal to all of us.  This year, he told me that the Christmas tree was "mine tree.  for my birfday."  I almost want to decorate it as a birthday tree until his birthday and then redecorate it for Christmas after that next year.  Helmut will love that idea.

Today was Declan's family party.  That's 21 people in our home for dinner.  Declan doesn't like a lot of people around at the same time. (I sometimes wonder if he would do better in a home daycare with less people.) But other than hiding out in his room for a bit, he did remarkably well.

I want to remember that when I told you who a gift was from, you tried to give it back to them. 


I want to remember that you were very thankful and gave everyone big hugs when I told you who your gifts were from.

I want to remember that you found the Thomas that came with your cake and carried it around all afternoon.

I want to remember that you were so excited to get pop (wrapped Justin style) and that you had to put all of the quarters in your pocket. 

I want to remember and enjoy every moment of you being three.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

December 4th, 2010

One of the reasons I would like to decorate areas of the house before December 1st, is because I would like the time to go through the Christmas bins and decide what we will and won't use this year.  I like to make sure we have enough ornaments, and that I want to use the ornaments we do have.  I like to feel prepared on the morning we decorate the tree. 

I did none of those things this year.

The morning started wonderfully, as we gave each of the kids a Christmas decoration as their advent gift.  A couple years ago, the kids started decorating a mini tree of their own to have in their rooms, and we did that again this year.  It's always really fun watching the kids choose their ornaments and watching how they decorate.  Khai and Declan usually just do what Brett does (this year he put a blinking Rudolph nose around his tree) and it was mostly the same this year.  Although, Declan was quite particular about which ornaments he would and would not allow on his tree (this was evidenced by the tossing certain ornaments across the table and saying, "no like that one"). 

This is Declan's tree.

This is Declan showing me the "race car one". So cute.

I love the image of hands this year.  I can't get over this picture of his little hand showing me the ornament.  It's so precious.

After Declan had decorated this tree, he went back to the dining room, where the rest of the kids were decorating theirs, and he saw Brett's with the blinking nose on it.  He decided his tree needed an addition.

Can you see the nose?

Khai, likewise, wanted his tree to look like Brett's.  He also wanted to look like Justin Beiber when I took his picture.  Apparently, that means doing the peace sign.  I told him no.  He snuck it in there anyway.

He was quite proud of his tree, and if you look carefully, there's a nose on it as well.

He wanted the hockey pucks that we had given Brett earlier that morning.  But, obviously, those were Brett's for his own tree!

You'll notice the big red nose. On the tree that is.

love love love this picture.  So cute.

Magda and Brett actually played a fishing game on iTouch's once they were done their mini-trees.  But she worked hard on her tree and it looks super cute.

Justin decided his tree was lonely and needed it's mummy tree.  Yeah.  This is what passes for wit at our house! (Sadly, I am amused by this and laughed quite hard the first time I spotted it).  

Kelsey wouldn't let me take a picture of her with her tree.  Something about her non-make-up'd face or some other such nonsense.  Instead, I took this one.  She doesn't look bad at all to me! 

As for the actual decorating of the tree.  Well.  Suffice it to say, I was frustrated from the get-go. I did NOT like the assortment of Christmas decorations we had this year.  I wanted  to have it look both traditional and homemade.  Homemade in the sense that there were handmade ornaments by the kids (and my Grandma) on it.  I guess it takes awhile to amass those sorts of ornaments.  We don't actually have any that the kids have made, and only a couple from my Grandma. 

But, we made do with what we had and it got decorated.

This is how Declan contributed.  His favourite part! And no one else was allowed to help him! Only Justin!

Did I mention Brett liked playing fishing?

I wish this photo wasn't blurry!

The completed tree.

December 3rd, 2010

Picking a tree is always one of my most favourite things to do.  This year was no exception.  We got our living room tree from The Home Depot, because that is where Helmut got my tree for me.  They are beautiful and reasonably priced. 

It's wonderful to hear bits of what the kids remember about previous years.  This year, Khai remembered playing hide and seek in the trees.  At the place we usually go, they have trees set up outside with a fire in a garbage barrel, and there are lots of hiding places. (They are nowhere near the fire, just for the record.)  They also play tag in amongst the trees. 

Khai was very upset, initially, when no one would play tag with him.  I was about to offer to play tag with him, but Brett saved the day just in time.  (Thanks Brett!) Which worked out well, because Helmut and I needed to actually pick out the tree!

Have I mentioned that my husband is the best husband in the world? No? Allow me to mention it then.  My husband is the best husband in the world.  He moved like 8 trees, just to get to our perfect tree.  Which, by the way, looks amazing in our home.

This year was even more special, because we got to help Kelsey pick out her first tree for her an Kyle's new home!

It is lovely, and I was excited to be able to help!  I remember the first "on my own" apartment I had.  It was great to be able to make it into a home. 

I love this picture.  Can you tell that Helmut really wanted to get out of there?  Or that Declan hadn't let Kelsey put him down for most of the evening?

The kids had each been given a little advent box earlier in the day.  Inside was $3.00 in change, which is enough for a hot chocolate and a donut at Tim Horton's.  After we'd dropped off, and helped Kelsey set up her tree in the stand, we headed over to Tim Horton's to get a treat!

A great end to a great evening!