Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Welcome 2014!

There's nothing I love more than an a new calendar... the non-digital kind. Tearing off the plastic used to wrap it in production, I eagerly open the first page. The aroma of fresh ink and new paper swirl around me; the clean, untarnished pages stare back at me, beckoning me to fill them with appointments, birthdays, tasks and celebrations. It's the start of a new year; a clean slate. The past is behind us, and looming before us are 365 days yet to be written. Anything is possible in those days, and that thought, is both terrifying and exhilarating. 

For my family, 2014 is full of endless possibilities, dreams, and celebrations. Having faced the end of 2012, and most of 2013 in a period of trial and transition, we look forward to what we hope will be a year of normalcy, with little change, a lot of intentional dreaming, rebuilding, and... purposeful celebration. 

There's that word again... celebration. 

A few years back I took on the challenge to acknowledge the random holidays - both known and "little known" in the calendar year. The challenge came at a time when, ironically, we we were struggling to find a reason to celebrate anything. But the intentional focus on the random holidays proved to be just what we needed to get us through what was, at least for the first 9 months, a difficult year. 

This year I felt a longing to take up that challenge again. Not because we are struggling to find reason to celebrate life this year, but more because of the celebrating we've already been doing through the holidays (by far our best Christmas in several years), and the hope, joy and enthusiasm we're feeling for life as 2014 begins. I love being intentional about acknowledging the random holidays, because it provides a great outlet for my creativity. But more so because of how it inspires my family to fully engage in life, find fun and meaning in little things, and make every day special. It's a great learning tool for our every-growing monkey, an inspired way to turn a blah-Tuesday into a party, and a wonderful way to bring our family together and truly celebrate life. 

So if you're looking for a creative way to bring your family together in 2014, won't you join us in our "Celebrate Life Challenge"? Join with us in intentionally celebrating the random holidays this year!

Want a great tool to help you learn more about the random holidays? Visit PunchBowl's website for their daily "reasons to celebrate." I've put a widget for it on my blog (note the side bar to the left). They also have a Facebook page!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Day 1 -- One Sleep Left and So Much To Do!

It's hard to believe that when we started this countdown we had 24 sleeps to go... and now here we are at one. On this Christmas eve, with the big day looming before us, I am grateful...

... grateful to finally be done with our little elf for another year. LOL. Don't get me wrong, I've thoroughly enjoyed the process; the way it gets us all in the spirit. It's a wonderful tool to help usher in Christmas, teach our daughter of the true meaning of the holiday, have some fun and build memories as a family. And this year, much more so than last year, she was fully engaged. She soaked it all in, was animated about each adventure, and full of joy at the fun in giving back, spending time together, and being silly. So yes, I'm grateful to be done, but I'm also grateful to have been on the journey. And grateful to you all who have joined us.

This morning, in our final hunt for the impish elf, we found Elfia back where she started. With a video in hand, an annual tradition we started on her first Christmas thank to my brother and his family, we focused this morning on the manger... where it all began. Santa reminded us to take time to remember, and be in awe at the gift, but to also enjoy more memory making fun. So there were cookies to be made first, and some packing to help Elfia with. And then, before bed, we nestled in to watch "The Very First Noel." 

And that's it. Another Christmas with Elfia the Elf done. We celebrate tomorrow with good friends, the generosity of family and friends, scrumptious food, and more memory-making fun. 

May the gift of God's son, born for you on this night, fill your heart and home as you unite together in His grace. Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Day 2 - A Birthday (no, not THAT one)

Christmas ushers in two birthday parties in our house, and we are very intentional about both of them. There's the obvious one, the whole "reason for the season" in the birth of Christ, and then there's the one for my husband... the poor guy who has to share his big day with the biggest holiday of the year. Poor guy. 

Today was his birthday, and Santa wanted to ensure that we didn't forget to celebrate DADDY in the midst of all the celebration for Christmas. So, while we did find Elfia hanging out with some of the other Christmas decorations... 

... that's about all the "Christmas" stuff we did today. Today... was for Daddy. Happy birthday my sweet husband. We love you!

Father's Day - June 2013

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Day 3 -- Snowmen Games and Colouring...

Elfia was hard to find this morning. She blended in so well with her surroundings that it took my kiddo quite a while to find her... can you spot her?

Find her she did, nestled in the wreath above the fireplace.

Santa's letter today came it he form of a huge princess colouring sheet. A nod to the need for our family to slow down, and spend some quality time together simply colouring, giggling and staying far, far away from the madness and stress going on outside. 

After colouring, we played a fun game I'd found on Pinterest. "Roll a Snowman" has been declared a "fun" game, and officially added to our list of things to do each holiday. With the aid of some dice, we rolled/raced our way to create a full snowman, the idea being of course that the first to finish wins! (You can read more about it on the blog the pin was linked to.) Turns out, Daddy is pretty good at this game. We played several times and he won most of them! 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Breakfast, Target and Afternoon Naps -- Day 4

Four more sleeps! 

We woke to find Elfia playing a game of "Barrel of Monkeys" by the light of the Christmas tree, and a letter from Santa reminding us that today was our day to do a little shopping... across the border. With a package to pick up in the U.S., we got up early, and hit the road in time to cross the border as it opened. After a hearty breakfast at Old Country Buffet, we dove into some shopping at Target before it got CRAZY, picked up our package, and got home just as the rest of the world was getting out to do last minute Christmas shopping. The rest of our afternoon was spent napping, playing with our neglected puppy and being grateful NOT to be out among the insane and aggressive Christmas shoppers! 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Day 5 and a Ticket to Ride...

We woke to snow this morning, which made celebrating Day 5 a lot more fun! Only FIVE days left to Christmas and the snow made it feel more festive. After a search for Elfia, finding her hanging from the stocking that hangs on our daughter's bedroom door, we bundled up the kiddo for her last day of school!

As St. Nick's letter reminded us, today's "last day" was also Pajama Day! Pajamas on, stuffy packed in her back and a big grin as daddy bundled her up in her snow suit, our little Miss headed out for a fun day of snow man building, movies and Christmas party fun. On her mind, however, was the promise of a special surprise tonight... and a worried mommy and daddy that the hoped-for surprise man not pan out thanks to the snow!

But by dinner it had warmed up, making the roads much more driveable, and so the surprise came while we were having dinner when the doorbell rang. Daddy came back from answering it to announce that an elf had stopped by to give Abbie a note. He handed it to her (the look on her face just priceless in suspense). The note, another from Santa, included a ticket for a ride on the "Christmas Express." With the promise of some yummy goodies that awaited in the car, we bundled the pajama clad princess in her favourite blanket, tucked her in the car, adorned ourselves with glow ticket bracelets and necklaces and set out to "ooooo" and "awwww" at the Christmas lights in the surrounding neighbourhoods. 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

It's Beginning to FEEL a lot like Christmas... Day 6

Thanks to the snow on the way, today certainly did FEEL a lot like Christmas as we walked around "Heritage Christmas" at Burnaby's Heritage Village tonight. Tonight's adventure was Santa's suggestion, and it came on a dry but cold day as the lower mainland prepares for a dump of snow (or so they say). We enjoyed the lights of the village, a carousel ride and a bit of something yummy in the old-fashioned restaurant. 

Elfia spent the night resting at home. She managed to get herself stuck in a big "Santa bowl" this morning... and it took some work to find her! ;-) I wonder where she'll be tomorrow?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Hide and Seek Elf, Happy Cashiers, and Power Outages -- Day 7

So finding Elfia was a bit more of a challenge today than usual. In fact, she was impossible to find -- that is until I asked my daughter to bring me a spoon. ;-)

Today's letter from Santa came with four gift cards to Tim Horton's. At first my kiddo was a little confused as to why Santa would give her coffee (you gotta love the fact that at two years of age this "made in Canada kid" already knew what a "double double" was!), but then we read the letter and it all made sense. Today's RACK was to find four people to bless with gift certificates. And, while the afternoon power outage did mess up my plans for part of that give away, we were able to get to one store we frequent to bless the cashier there. This lady knows us well, and always gives Abbie candy when we go through the check out. This time, however, it was our turn to bless her. The smile on her face made it totally worth it.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Ginger-persons - Day 8

It's Day 8, as in 8 days till Christmas, and this morning we were excited to see that Elfia had brought us something special. Combined with Santa's letter today, we learned it was gingerbread people day!

Each year we usually make gingerbread men, having fun not only rolling out the dough and cutting them out with our fun cookie-cutters, but also in decorating them as a family. This year however, Santa had mercy on mommy, who has been pretty busy of late, and sent a ginger-bread family kit with Elfia. It was a fun change (although personally I think we'll go back to making our own), and together with our little French friend, Alex, we spent time after dinner decorating our little ginger-persons.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Swinging into 9 More Sleeps...

Day 9 in our countdown to Christmas and this morning we found Elfia swinging from the kitchen door! This little elf sure gets around. She looked like she was having so much fun, that we left her there all day. I hope she's not too tired for her flight back to the North Pole tonight!

The letter she brought from Santa today was another RACK assignment -- this time a letter of thanks to someone who doesn't often get a "thank you" -- the mail man person. We'll tape it to the mailbox in the morning along with a $5 card to Timmy Ho Ho's and hope that it brightens their day.