December 31, 2013
I feel so lucky on a daily basis to work for the charitable organization I'm part of. We are a tight group, celebrating not just our highs at the centre and observing those tough times together, but also supporting each other through our every day challenges: raising kids, managing personal finances and sharing our relationship complexities at times. We don't have benefits but are paid well and we tend to stay on for a bit longer than the norm. But the one perk we get each year is a holiday break at Christmas. This year, we closed on the 24th and we aren't open again until January 6th, 2014. I had a couple of days saved from extra hours in December, so I don't go back until the 8th. This holiday is bliss and we all are so appreciative of the opportunity to rest, relax and rejuvenate our souls.
I was shocked this year to observe on a number of occasions many community members expressing disbelief and displeasure that certain establishments would not be open over the holidays. I had a friend vent that Costco would be closed on Christmas Day. She was truly angry and was going to call the head office to complain. Whoah! Other people were upset that the library was closed yet the movie theatre was open. What? Blew me away. I wish everyone could have a nice break at Christmas. Don't we all deserve this time to spend with family and friends?
My brand new winter tires were put on my car on November 30th, 2013. Best Birthday gift ever and I'm loving winter driving now. Wish we had done this years ago but our frugal budget was always a consideration. After saving all year and comparison shopping, we chose the best set from Costco. Cheaper than other retailers but not on sale. We kept waiting for a sale and watched the website of the tire manufacturer as well. But no sale, so finally, we caved and bought them at the full price, reassuring ourselves that they were still $300 to $450 less than anywhere else.
On December 9th, 2013, I received an email from Costco.ca informing me that the very same tires I purchased and had installed were now on sale until January 5th, 2014, at a savings of $110. Although my tires were already installed and I had purchased them prior to the sale, I thought I'd ask if I could have the savings applied to my account, as a loyal and dedicated Costco shopper. I'm sure anywhere else would say "sorry, too bad, so sad" but not Costco. Rebate applied to our account, no questions asked, no hesitation. After all the headaches we encountered buying the tires, the company has redeemed themselves. I love Costco!! I love my tires!!
I've never really made a formal list of New Year's Resolutions. I remember as a very small child watching the adults make lists, only to be a week or two into the New Year and declaring that they had "failed". For me, the New Year is about creating plans that have real possibilities, not just wishes and letting the year unfold, flowing gently.
I like to make a list of "Hopes" instead. Here's what I have so far for 2014:
* I hope we get a chance
to meet new people this year.
*I hope we continue to enjoy good health this year.
* I hope we are able to travel with family
to create new memories this year.
* I hope my centre is able to continue to help
families grow strong and healthy this year.
What are your hopes for 2014?
Starting to make plans for 2014 and one thing I may do is return to my studies. I graduated from Ryerson University in 2010 and thought I'd take just a year off before doing more but my job exploded and I haven't had a chance yet to get back. Now that things are more settled and life is moving along, I'm starting to look at taking some classes again. I don't need to as I'm at the top of my profession at this point, but I love learning and want to keep going, even in small ways. Right now, I'm looking at Art Therapy or Stillbirth Doula classes for 2014. My employer provides some funding each year for us to continue in our chosen path and we're allowed to carry these dollars over for a second year. I didn't use any in 2013, so I have a nice chunk sitting there for 2014. Right now, half of my Art Therapy program would be paid. Or the full ride for the Stillbirth Doula Course, with money left over. Lots to decide!
Have you returned to school over the years?
What did you take and did you enjoy the process?
After cleaning the house today in preparation for New Year's Eve and creating a little corner in my art studio to sort through our tax documents to be entered into the computer, I decided to try and call CRA aka Canada Revenue Agency. The computer crash has been a worry and I'm not sleeping well, upset that I'm getting behind. I was going to tackle all of this next week but because it's creating tension in my life, decided to at least try to call and see if I could settle myself down.
Imagine my great surprise to hear a very friendly voice at the other end on the afternoon of New Year's Eve. I thought perhaps they would be closed a bit early but my call was answered by Nick and he was wonderful. I explained my dilemma, telling him I'm worried and not sleeping well and he reassured me that there is no time limit on what I am trying to do, to set it aside until we have our system back up and running, and best of all, to sleep well tonight knowing I have nothing to worry about!
What a great relief! I still have some work ahead of me and will create my own deadlines but the absolute relief in knowing that there is no time limit and I have not breached any regulations is so freeing.
Can't wait to sleep well tonight! Thank you Nick!!
Both my husband and I grew up watching The Walton's. Although we come from intact families, I only had one brother and he had no siblings. Our respective extended families are huge, no shortage of grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. We chose to have our own large family and have often referenced the show and how the characters would deal with daily life. Their home, comfortable and simple, never seemed to be a source of stress. Relationships vs. things meant so much more than, a movement I believe is becoming more chic again.
In the fall, we obtained the entire DVD collection of The Walton's for free! We had a rebate cheque from Costco and the DVD's just happened to be on sale for the same amount. No second thoughts there. Even though we could watch the show twice a day on 2 different channels, we are not always home or feel like watching tv at those times. The DVD's are great for now but we're really looking forward to going through the entire series once we're out in the country. Great Sunday afternoon viewing on a cold, winter's day.
The DVD collection came with extra DVD's from after the series was completed. Shows about weddings and reunions. But the only thing that I was disappointed with is it didn't come with the original movie that started the whole series. The Homecoming has been my favorite movie since I was 10 years old.
And guess what was under the tree on Christmas morning? Can't wait to watch it this week!!
December 30, 2013
Our desktop computer crashed last month. Not a big deal, as we barely use it, except that our taxes are on there. Taxes for past years and stuff we need for this year's upcoming filing. A friend of ours came over one night and retrieved everything off that he could get for now. He found most of our documents and pictures but wasn't sure if he got it all. Put it on one of our external hard drives so we could start going through it all to see what survived. We may still need to take it in for a complete clean where the hard drive will be opened up. Til then, we're trying to piece together the tax info we need.
Tonight we decided it was time to see where we're at for retrieval of the files. I was so excited to see all our video files and pictures are there! Documents that are important to us are there too but not sure if we found them all. The tax stuff was hard to find but then we found a file he had put everything in to. Some we can see and some are still not open for us as the disks for each tax year from the program we use have been upgraded, so I need to call the software company to see what to do. I may have to go back to our paperwork to gather all the documents that were used to create each file and start over. Or take it all to an accountant! Ugh, I hate stuff like when we're so very careful with our funds. But in the end, I just need it all fixed so I can stop worrying about it and being so tense! After all this is done, a holiday may be in order to unwind from the stress!! Even just a little weekend away to celebrate the end of it all once we have it all sorted!
How do you handle stress like this?
Any tips you can share?
December 29, 2013
For years, I've had a story in my head that started as an idea and has grown into what has become a movie in my brain. Driving me crazy at times as it swirls about, gaining new characters, scenery changing much like ours does in real life. I find myself sometimes sitting at a red light, wondering if my main character would sit her car the way I do, with my left hand steering, my right hand on the stick shift, music on, sunglasses on top of my head. Does she make lists as she drives, sing along to the music, or marvel at the beautiful countryside? I think of her often and finally decided last year to put this story to paper. That's my first chapter up in the picture. First chapter of a real book.
Yes, a book!
I'm midway through now and although I don't write daily, I am loving the process. I have no idea if what I'm writing is intriguing enough for anyone to want to read it, but I truly need to get it out of my head and the only way to do that was to write it out. My dh, the film maker, read the first chapter and immediately declared it needs to be a movie! Lovely man, my guy. I told him that it feels like a movie in my head and as soon as I said it, felt silly but he got very animated and started talking about how we could shoot it and where.
We'll see. For now, it's a way to keep my creative brain functional beyond my work. For now, I have a title, a plot laid out, characters defined and plug away as the story unfolds. What I don't have is a concrete ending. The primary reason for that is because the big factor with this story is the ethical and moral dilemma that faces all the characters. And in the end, it truthfully comes down to a "what would you do" scenario. That is where I'm stuck. I'm sure there is more than one possible solution but for myself, it is clear there is the right ending and the wrong. I can't decide which one to choose. So for now, the ending sits.
Maybe I won't know which one I'll choose until I get to that chapter.
Once it's all said and down, or in this case written, then I'll have to decide what to do. See if a publishing house will consider it. Or self-publish. Or tuck it away in my archives, never to be read by anyone. Or do as my husband suggests and forget finish writing it the traditional way and write a screenplay instead.
Can't wait to see what I end up doing in the end!! Today was a perfect writing day, with the snow falling from the blustery sky, my dh at a hockey game with his bestie, my younger dd upstairs cleaning her room and taking a nap, and my other dd out of town for the weekend with our grandson. Chili simmered in the crockpot, a mug of gingerbread white hot chocolate soothed my throat, our pup nestled his body up beside mine and snored the afternoon away, while my fingers clicked and clacked across the keyboard. I changed a character's name, added some details to one paragraph and created new content. Not a quick process but one that unfolds as it needs to, when I feel like adding to it and so far, I'm happy with my work.
Do you have a book in your head?
Or better yet, a movie?
December 28, 2013
We were both so sick for most of November. Laying in bed, staring at the ceiling, was not helpful as we fretted about getting better quickly so we could enjoy the fun of the season. Slowly, very slowly, we improved. And then we got a bit panicky! Thankfully, online shopping, a first for us at Christmas, saved us! We found almost everything on our lists and at very reduced prices. Delivered to our front door, it was an amazing way to get it all done. Definitely going that route again. Thankful we ordered in November and our parcels were all delivered by the 1st week in December. No panic, cost savings and the best use of our recovery time. We had bought our wrapping paper and tape last year when it was discounted so low after Christmas, so we were well prepared for taking care of the gifts as they came in. Easy peasy this year for sure!
Groceries were easy as we picked a day and time that we hoped the line ups would be minimal. We were surprised at how quiet it was. The next day, all our friends and many family members were complaining on Facebook about not being able to find a parking spot and standing in line for an hour, so we definitely picked the best time to go out for fresh food. No line ups, no jostling for a parking spot, no bad tempers, no worry, no stress. Pure bliss!
Christmas itself was relaxed and cozy. I spent the day before cleaning and organizing, purging and donating. I love to have a home that is altogether for the celebration. It took a little longer but we got it all done! My mom arrived late in the afternoon on Christmas eve and we made homemade pizzas for dinner. Then it was pyjama time, games, coolers and ales, chocolates, cookies, good cheer and laughter! We stayed up late, slept the morning away and stayed in our jammies for the rest of the day. Christmas gift opening started around 1 p.m. and lasted for quite a while as we ate brunch in between opening a gift or two, marveled at our stockings and shared memories. Dinner was cornish game hens, bacon wrapped asparagus, corn, fresh biscuits, salad and gravy. Delicious! Easy to make and fun to eat.
We drove my mom home later that night and then went for a drive to see Christmas lights. Found a few great areas that we will have to take our grandson too once he is home from his little trip away.
Overall, this was perhaps the most relaxed Christmas we have ever had. No big deadlines, no fussing about a big dinner for the entire family, no getting all dressed up and no meeting the needs of others. For once, it was just us and as much as we love all our family, we really needed to do Christmas this way for this year. We are having another celebration on New Years with our grandson and the great grandparents. Looking forward to seeing our extended family that day.
Today, we basked in the continued glow of family and relaxation time together. Soon, the busyness of life will catch up with us again, but for now, there is no time to watch, no stress to manage, no deadlines to reach and no one to answer to but us.
Love and peace to all during this
time of reflection and renewal!
December 27, 2013
We've had great weather for the last 1.5 weeks, with temperatures above 0 Celcius and melting, diminishing the big snow banks. Warm and wonderful for our break from work. But today, the sun didn't shine, the wind picked up and our temps went from +4 to -12 in a few short hours.
The view outside our front door as the storm started.
Snow falling in the back yard.
Tree branch blew down onto the
Warm and cozy inside with a view to the garden.
Christmas lights to keep our family room bright.
For dinner, home made chicken soup
with warm, soft biscuits.
I made a double batch so we have lots for the
weekend. If we get snowed in, we're ready!!
Did your weather change drastically today?
How do you stay warm inside?
December 26, 2013
Our dear friend T came for Boxing Day dinner
this afternoon. He is such a great guy!
Thoughtful and caring.
His gift to us today was this beautifully crafted
picture for our new house. Quilted and tea
stained, the quote is perfect for our family.
A precious gift we will cherish always!
Did you receive a special gift this Christmas?
December 25, 2013
December 24, 2013
When our kids were small, we bought this little tree for them to decorate, which was decorated and un~decorated, then decorated again each day. Kept them busy and it meant our big tree in the living room was intact and coordinated! It has now become B's tree and he loves to make it special each year.
Deep concentration to get it just right!
Every tree should have an empty gift bag!
Every boy should have his Super Dog assistant!
And every tree should sport a package of
gramma's tea light candles on it's branches!