Saturday, December 26, 2009

::Christmas Morning Mugs::

e draw names every year and fill up the stocking of the person we've chosen. But I still like to give each family member some little thing that will delight them. This year I discovered a way to easily paint a design on finished ceramics. I scooped up a bunch of mugs and indulged in the art of sketching tiny details. My inspiration was Montreal. Each adult got a big mug, and each kids got a tiny espresso cup.

Christmas morning everyone unwrapped a mug to put their coffee and cider in, and were served a warm cinnamon mug with cream cheese icing. It was such a hit that it will be instituted as a new Christmas tradition.

::Christmas Eve Games::

eople arrived at 6:30 on Christmas evening. The mulled cider was warm and waiting. The house was ready to accommodate an extra seven people. Snacks littered the kitchen. Time to crack out the games. Every year I put together a package for the kids to open Christmas Eve that contains a new game, movie and book. This year's game was Twister. Within fifteen minutes, the kids were all twisted up in a ball on the polka dot mat. Sadly, Gabriel got a few moves in before he began to cry. There is fine line between fun and confused distress with 3 year-olds. Daniel replaced Gabriel and held his own, giving us more than a glimpse of his snowman boxers. There were no takers among us older, more brittle, folk.

Once the kids were no longer able to hide their exhaustion, we tucked them into bed and gave Quelf a try. If you have not played this game, and you don't mind kicking all your self-dignity under the rug, please try it. It is so absurdly ridiculous you can't help but laugh from the first play card. The game had my little brother singing a song in a foreign language while dancing with his hands stuck to his knees and his tongue stuck to his lip. My mom had to prattle on about the plight of the timber wolves in Czechoslovakia. My dad had to sing a love song with his knees squeezed together while pretending he had no lips and was coated in maple syrup and feathers. Daniel had to keep the entire game box stuffed up his shirt. Kate had to stuff an ice cube down her pants until she rolled a '6'. Aidan had to yodel until he rolled three 2's. I had to wink and stick my thumb on my forehead every time I wanted to ask a question, and we ALL had to shout "Boo Ya!" every time we rolled the dice. This is simply to name a few. Like I said, you must truly be a good sport to even attempt to play.

While mildly brain-dead, we managed to play a game of Quiddler before calling it a night. Our games cupboard is getting full. That's a good thing.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

::New perspective::

o any of you ever get that drowning sensation? The one that is usually brought on by being fixated on lists and particulars. I must admit, I can allow myself to "drown" on a weekly basis. I keep a mental tally of all the things that I feel need to be done, like laundry and food prep and clean-up, and all of the things I want to be done, like trim and flooring and painting. And I begin to strategize on how to possibly accomplish even a few of the things on my list and inevitably realize I will fail.

Zoom out.

See the dust bunnies and rough-edged drywall shrink and disappear as I adjust my lens to encompass the bigger picture. This life is flying past. I have five small children who are growing at a pace that makes me panic. The days are short and if I keep my eyes on the lists and my mind on the particulars and spend all my time trying to tread water, I won't really live. I won't stroke soft curly heads and catch the funny exchanges that take place between siblings. I won't bask in the essence of motherhood that holds special weight when children are still young. I won't lay my head on my husbands shoulder and listen to his heartbeat and be grateful he is here beside me as my strongest defender on this earth.

This season is, ironically, the drowning season. More time is spent running around in a frenzy that soaking up the warmth of family and friends. This, I have come to know. So, my preparation began a few months ago at a slow easy pace. I have no more long lists to struggle through. I am zoomed out and focused on the vast network of loving people and abundant resources God has seen fit to surround me with. And I intend to honour that.

Have a wonderful holiday.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

::What Christmas tastes like::

A few WEET recipes from this year's list:

Cinnamon Swirl Cookies
Layered Mocha Cheesecake
Homemade Caramels
Scottish Shortbread

Friday, December 18, 2009

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

::The biggest bestest birthday candle ever::

ids parties are always hard work. How to balance the food, the fun, the kids. . . This past Saturday, Caelah's party began with a bang, ended with a bang, and was stuffed with loads of good stuff in between. Mom and I were puzzled over how to co-ordinate 10-12 appetizers in the oven, and in the frenzy of getting things ready, a cold glass dish was placed on a hot stove-top burner and BANG! It shattered across the kitchen. Tiny shards were strewn through the first set of meatballs. Garbage. So sad. We didn't want to lacerate any throats.

Dad spend a good 15-20 minutes, vacuuming. Then I pulled down a serving platter and the tiny glass bowl that was nestled inside it shattered to floor. More vacuuming. Rather than start to cry we all started giggling. It's the better way. . . An hour later, the house was packed, and the food was out. Glass explosions all but forgotten. The kids provided some good anecdotes for the retelling. Elyssa began to address our dog Cooper as "Pooper." Funny. And Matty thumped Summer over the head with a Bible at one point, eliciting a; "that boy is trying to convert those dogs!," from my clever sister. And then there was the cake. Oh, wow. I have to say, it was the best cheesecake I may have ever tastes. Mocha goodness.

But the cherry on top was when the olympic flame came jogging by my parents house. Well, the end of their street, anyways. We had made tentative plans to take the kids down to the hill for 7:00, but really didn't feel like fighting the crowds. So Aidan suggested, in an offhand kind of way, that we run down the road and see if the flame was coming by. One of us took it seriously and stepped outside only to see police lights flashing, That caused a flurry of activity as we all threw our coats on and ran down the street. And within 5 minutes, there came the parade. The guy with the flame had a jogging entourage who gave us all high fives and handed out flags. And the flame was so close we could have touched it. And it happened right outside our door. Bonus.
I told the kids; "You guys remember this, ok? You may not understand yet how cool this is, but someday you will."Then we headed back to cozy up with a mug of cider and more cake. That's the way to end a party.


Monday, December 07, 2009

::Snapshot Sundays::

"What if you were to enter into my home at the one moment in months that my older children began to bicker and my babies cried? Would you conclude my life is utter chaos at all times? Of course we can judge each other by freeze frames, and we can conclude and spread all sorts of speculation to others, but we are just outsiders. There is only so much damage we can inflict from our limited vantage point."

~Large family Mothering~

or those of us who attend a mid-sized church every Sunday, ask yourself if you have a growing portfolio of snapshot-judgments cluttering your head? Don't you? I do. Once a week we all come together under one banner. At our very best, we arrive with hearts ready to learn and to grow-- hands ready to serve. We are focused, as we ought to be, on Jesus. But there are bad days. Days when we have left the house in a mental mess, and bring that baggage into the building. We can't manage to focus on the sermon so we look around instead. We appraise the people we worship with. What we see is only eyes-deep: how they look, what they wear, how they walk and talk, what roles they play. And we come to a myriad of conclusions.

A couple. Two feet between them. Backs stiff. Marriage trouble? CLICK.

Late. Shuffles through the doors. Finds a seat at the back. Keeping eyes low. Guilty? CLICK.

Hallway talker. Smiles that never reach the eyes. Many words, but little revealed. Hiding? CLICK.

Four squirmy kids in a row. Two on the floor, squabbling over crayola colours. One sprawled across a lap. Another anchored to the bench by firm arms. Hushed admonishments. Wild hair and inside-out dress shirts. Unruly? Undisciplined? CLICK.

We need to find new context for the people we have freeze-framed on these snapshot-Sundays. Dig deeper. The oddities and idiosyncrasies of people are fascinating, and worthy of exploration. There are so many stories that can't be unlocked by staring at a photo. We can mull it over in our minds but it will only ever have a two dimensional quality to it. Nor can we 'unlock' a person between service and Sunday school. More often, stories are revealed over a hot lunch in the warmth of a home.

I challenge you to work your way through your church directory. There will be names you want to avoid. Don't skip over them, but extend an invitation. Aidan and I have been blessed again and again by the depth of each individual, and the capacity we all have to love our way past the preconceptions. It is a worthy labour-- this home-opening endeavour. Not always easy--but worthy. It is one avenue this family is taking; away from insular-living and towards true community, as we strive to see each and every person clearly--beyond the freeze-frames in our mind.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

::Big Tree::

ig tree was chopped down on Saturday. It was love at first sight. Truly the most perfectly shaped tree we have ever taken an ax to. Josh and Karin chose the slightly smaller tree beside ours. We were the first 'chop' of the season at Cedarhill Berry farm. A few families arrived as we were heading home with our tree. We got the best one, sorry! At home, a big pancake brunch followed, with bacon and rasberry compote. The only thing that was missed was a lovely snowfall.

Friday, November 27, 2009

::Little Tree::

A little tree for little people.

Monday, November 23, 2009

::Green Whirlwind::

hange of plans. As always. . . I posted HERE that the basement would be white and orange, but kept coming back to my curiosity about black walls. I couldn't help but wonder what that would look like. I figured it would make things more cozy down there, and be far less likely to need scrubbing. So, we made a complete switch to black. The ceiling is black, with plans for black and silver tin panels to cover the plumbing pipes. The floor is black--painted right onto the concrete. The walls are black for the first four feet, and will be given a wainscoting shortly. Lots of dark paint. That being said, I accented with a lemongrass green that breaks up the black and makes for an amazing contrast.

Before taking the plunge, I played with my photo program to come with the most sloppy attempt at a black and green "pub" look:

For more inspiration:

Then we went for it:

More of a lemongrass colour, than green. We are happy with it. I will post more pictures as the room progresses. What excites me most is that the TV, and all the toys, are now off the main floor. That means there is now a room available upstairs for all of my craft supplies. . . but that is a project for another day.