Thursday, December 29, 2011

The New Year Ahead of Us

November I participated in NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) where the goal was to write everyday. It was a great experience and I feel that I got quite a lot out of it. I gave me an opportunity to practice my writing and challenge myself to think outside what was immediately going on in my life. It's very easy to get caught up in the tiny details of everyday and forget to put it all in perspective. Having something outside of the hectic day to day of living was a welcome retreat. It also allowed me to connect with other writers on an almost daily basis which was fantastic experience in and of it's self. Though perhaps I missed a few posts, I feel I did pretty well for a newbie and look forward to starting again in January.

You may have noticed at this point I haven't said bloggers but writers. I sincerely believe that blogging is a legitimate form of writing. Maybe not as recognized as it should be by the mainstream, but that is quickly changing. In a world where newspapers and book stores are closing up shop, it seems the printed page is no longer the sole domain of the written word. As much as I love to see writing expand into other media, I am saddened to think of a world where the sound of flipping pages are silenced. I love to see a pile of books in the corner and the smell of musty old libraries. I'm a romantic for that kind of thing I guess. I know there will always remain a place in my life for old books and newspaper clippings.

NaBloPoMo January 2012

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Holy Cookies Batman!

This is the first year I attempted to do some real Christmas baking. Usually I intend to do a little something, but I get busy and lazy and it never happens. However, two years ago I decided to bake cookies for all my neighbours. I had five tins of chocolate dipped shortbread cookies that never left our house. In fact, by the end of the week I had devoured them all. FIVE TINS! There was so much butter in those cookies they should have come with a health warning. In the end I did those poor people a favor by taking that bullet. Sure, I gained six pounds and it probably took a couple of years off my life, but it's Christmas! It's no time to be selfish.

This year I baked like I was making up for lost time. In five days I made egg-nog cookies, sugar cinnamon cookies, chocolate dipped shortbread (ah, we meet again...), rice crispy squares in festive shapes, and brownies so chocolaty that they're obscene. I still have a couple of more things to make. Rum balls, because what is Christmas if you're not at least attempting to get blitzed on rum balls? Lastly, what has sadly become a favorite tradition at my house, Christmas Pooh. I feel this needs an explanation. When I first made these they were called Snowy Chocolate Crescents. When I shaped mine they didn't exactly look crescent shaped. They had a distinctly un-crescent shape look about them. Well, if you can't beat them join them, right? I gave in and just coiled them up! Yum! I've actually brought them to people's homes! They look mortified and confused when I hand them the box. Don't drink and bake people! It's a dangerous combination.

As of yet, I haven't eaten everything. I gave a good amount of it away. The rest I've stored in cookies tins. These tins are sitting amongst a sea of empty cookie tins. I guess it's kind of like Schroeder's Cookies. I don't know which tins have cookies in them and which don't without opening the tins. So they simultaneously are all full and empty of cookies; as long as I don't look anyways. Hmmm....I wonder if I do eat them if I am and am not six pounds heavier as long as I don't look at the scale. That sounds like pretty sound logic to me. Gosh, am I the first person to realize this?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Deep Breath. Start Again

Today's start was such a tease. Miss. A woke at seven, and Baby K slept in until eight. Woot! I was allowed that most coveted of experiences the morning shower! Not having to wait until naptime or night is a rare but welcome treat. Before eight in the morning I was showered, dressed, looking and feeling human again. Today was going well! It was going to be awesome! Somewhere the universe was quietly laughing at me. It rapidly went down hill from there. I won't bore you with the details. It would take too long and eventually you would lose focus and start thinking about other things. Let's just say it ended at the park with two little girls competing to see who could throw the biggest tantrum.

Amongst the sand, tears and runny noses I started to feel a little sorry for myself. Some days seem to go so well and others are so hard. That's probably when I take to the internets in search of sympathy and solidarity. Otherwise I would probably stand in the middle of the living room and shout "YOU'RE ALL DRIVING ME CRAZY!!" Which I think we can all agree is not the most mature and motherly thing to do. Honest, yes. Probably the most honest, but not the best. Quite often the internets don't disappoint. Often a few people have been in the same boat and post words of encouragement. Sometimes, when maybe I've been complaining a tad too much, they thankfully post nothing at all. Any responses would have to be along the lines of "suck it up princess". Which, ultimately you have to do. Stay calm and carry on.

Though, in those stressful moments (days, weeks...), I feel somewhat overwhelmed, later I calm and put it all in perspective. I have a good family and support system. My kids, though trying like any others, are good kids. I might be having a bad day, but there are others out there facing hardships every day. Many are not as fortunate as me. I don't have to worry about food, doing it on my own, health problems, and so many other things that seem to define the lives of other people. It isn't always easy, but nothing worth doing is. I wish I would remember that and have it at the front of my consciousness always. If I did, maybe the "hard" days wouldn't really seem that hard and I could just enjoy what I have every moment. Tomorrow is another day.

Deep Breath. Start Again.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Gingerbread Houses and New Traditions

One of the nicest things about any holiday are the traditions that accompany them. When I was young we had a few Christmas must-dos, some of which were silly, but we looked forward to them all the same. One was watching Christmas Vacation with Chevy Chase. Sure, It's a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Carol are more traditional, but does anyone get chased by a squirrel? Does Scrooge get tied up with a bow by Bob Crotchet's crazy brother-in-law? No, I thought not. Now that I've left the nest, so to speak, I continue to watch that movie every Christmas Eve. Did you know that the boy who plays Rusty now plays Leonard on Big Bang Theory? It's true. I'm not sure what the squirrel's up to nowadays.

Before my husband and I had any children we started a tradition of our own. We like to get a big fancy hot chocolate and tour all the brightly lit homes. We now have a good camera, so hopefully we'll get some really nice photos out of it this year. Now that we have kids, we've been anxious to start some new traditions with them as well. Last year I think we found a keeper: Gingerbread Houses!

My parents have a wonderful old log house in the country. A picture perfect setting for Christmas activities together. We bought two gingerbread houses and a TONNE of candy to decorate them with. At the time Miss. A was only two and a half, so I wasn't sure if she would sit still long enough to actually decorate anything. I was so wrong! She was very intent on her task and worked hard with her Grandma and Great-Grandma to create the perfect house.

This year we tried it again and had a great time. My mom even made one of the houses from scratch and a number of gingerbread men to decorate as well. One of the great things is how many different generations of family were involved. Aunts, Daughters, Mothers, Grandmothers, Great Grandmothers, and I'm sure the circle will increase as our family does. Next year Alice will be an expert and teach her little sister the tricks of the trade. I love old traditions and stories, but creating new ones with family is an extra special treat.