countdown to christmas

I blogged for The Chronicle Herald on Wednesday about wanting to start a Christmas countdown tradition in our home. The idea that I liked best, of out all of the great ones I found on Pinterest, was a holiday activity for each day of December.

Here’s what we’re planning:
December 1: Sing Christmas songs.
December 2: Send letter to Santa here.
December 3: Bake Christmas cookies.
December 4: Watch Elf on CBC.
December 5: Colour Christmas pictures.
December 6: Make paper ornaments.
December 7: Take festive family photos.
December 8: Shop for stocking stuffers.
December 9: Send Christmas cards officially from our new address.
December 10: Deck the halls in our new home!
December 11: Watch Home Alone on CBC.
December 12: Make DIY Christmas gifts for friends.
December 13: Read Christmas stories.
December 14: Take an evening drive to look at Christmas lights.
December 15: Make paper snowflakes.
December 16: Go on a winter walk.
December 17: Do a good deed.
December 18: Build a snowman (weather permitting) or make an indoor version.
December 19: Make snow angels, inside or out.
December 20: Play outside.
December 21: Sip hot chocolate with candy cane stir sticks.
December 22: Read Christmas more stories.
December 23: Drive home for the holidays! Listen to lots of Christmas music along the way!
December 24-29: Celebrate Christmas with family.
December 30: Make a list of family plans and resolutions for 2012.
December 31: Stay up late, enjoy treats, and ring in the new year as a family.

five things

Five things.
List five things we don’t know about you.
1) I can’t iron. I hate to iron. I don’t do it. Ever.
2) I can’t watch violent movies.
3) I talk in my sleep. Often in full sentences.
4) I gave birth to Jacob naturally, without an epidural.
5) I’ve been pulled over twice for speeding. Received zero tickets.
Five things you’re knowledgeable about.
1) Cooking and baking. I am, by no means, an expert, but I love to try new things, so I’m always learning more.
2) Crafting and DIYing. I consider myself pretty creative and will try and project that comes my way.
3) The written word. I am an editor, after all. And yes, I know, the grammar on this blog isn’t always to the letter of the English law, but this is my outlet. I’m allowed a few liberties.
4) Swimming, synchronized and otherwise.
5) Motherhood. I’m not going to pretend that I’m not learning as I go, but parenting takes up a surprising amount of brain real estate as of late.
Five things you know nothing about.
1) Football. I’ve been taught before, but I can’t seem to retain all the rules.
2) Math beyond add, subtract and multiply. Don’t ask me how to do long division.
3) Harry Potter, Star Wars or Lord of the Rings.
4) Current music, besides what’s repeated over and over on my morning commute.
5) Gardening. I’m an absolute brown thumb. Don’t tell the homeowner police, but I am likely going to destroy my yard.
And five things you believe.
1) I truly believe everything happens for a reason.
2) I believe in my instincts.
3) I believe in the good in people.
4) I believe in love. It is the glue of the strongest bonds in my life.
5) I believe in karma and the Golden Rule.
Thanks, as always, to Mama Kat for the writer’s prompt.

house & home

As I leaked in my 30 by 30 post – we are now home owners! As of our December 9 closing, at least. 10 sleeps, if you’re counting. I already shared a bit of the story here.

We started the search a few months ago, initially browsing MLS and ViewPoint, and then we contacted our Realtor. Our intention was to start looking to get a sense of what we liked, and then but the plan into motion after the holidays. 18 boring houses later, and we unexpectedly found ourselves standing in the living room of the house that just felt like home. The layout is exactly what we wanted, spacious and open. Three bedrooms for our little family with the potential to add a fourth in the already-finished basement. It has curb appeal and a big yard, with lots of room to play and entertain. And it’s not perfect either. There’s some wallpaper to strip, and floors to swap and little updates here and there, but those things might be what we’re most excited for– to make our little home our own.
With moving day less than two weeks away, we’ve already packed a significant amount of our current home into boxes and bins. I spend all of my free time pinning, searching and jotting notes in a lengthy Google Doc, keeping track of our to-dos and must-buys.
On the list of priorities after Dec. 10:
  • Install new (just purchased!) dining room chandelier and fire place sconces.
  • Strip wallpaper downstairs. Repaint.
  • Work on updates to J’s big boy room.
  • Put a happy wreath on our new front door.
Looking forward to giving you the full tour once we’re in and settled!

black friday link love

Good morning!

Happy belated turkey day to all of my lovely American family and friends. I must admit, I’m jealous, because I know some fabulous cooks south of the border who, I’m sure, put on some pretty drool-worthy meals yesterday.
If you’re marking Black Friday today, good luck to you. Just thinking about the whole thing makes me a bit overwhelmed. As you know, I’m a fan of a deal, but whoa. Stay out of the Walmart electronics departments if you know what’s good for you.
And now, I’m 27. Thank you so much to the friends and family who showered me with love yesterday, especially lovely friend A xo.
Still working on the Litwits book, and am certain I will be finished in time for Sunday’s meeting. Even if it means staying up past my bedtime. Are you reading anything good lately? The next book on our list is Sarah’s Key.
What are you up to this weekend?
I absolutely love this quilt pattern.
What a great idea to commemorate any big gathering.
I love this idea — marking the days of December with Christmas stories.
A project I’m considering for our humble abode.

30 by 30

Today, I turn 27. I don’t dwell on age or the number. My year as a 26-year-old was pretty wonderful, and I’m looking forward to what life as a 27-year-old has to offer. In three years, I’m not going to have an ohmygodi’m30 freakout. It is what it is. Like a fine wine … and all that.

I think we all have things in our minds that we intend to do in our 20s though. Some of my goals are time consuming, some are lofty. If I start now, I have a full 1,095 days to complete them. Doable.
30 by 30:
1) Eliminate half of my student loan debt. I have a chunk of student loan debt that needs to be paid.
2) Go down south for a week. This is something Husband and I have never done, and we’d love to do something like this together. Maybe for a 30th birthday celebration?
3) Volunteer for something that makes a difference. I’m not sure what this is going to be yet, but I’d like to use some of my spare time to contribute to something bigger than myself.
4) Grow my little family. I’m not going to comment on when this will happen or how many more children we would like to have, lets just say we’re hoping/planning to give J at least one sibling.
5) Invest more. We have some of these adult things set up already, but I’d like to increase our contributions to better plan for our future.
6) Join a book club. I know this is kind of cheating because I did this already, but it really was one of my goals. I love our little club!
7) Try a new activity. Last year, I went to zumba for the first time and it was a lot of fun. I’ve always been curious about pilates. I will enrol in a new activity.
8) Take a cooking class. I love to cook and bake, but I’ve never had any professional lessons. I’d love to take a class to learn some new tips and tricks.
9) Buy a house. SURPRISE! This one is already finished, too! More on that soon!
10) Write more. Obviously I write plenty, between my weekly column gig, this ol’ blog and various smaller projects like J’s baby journal (which I don’t update nearly as much as I’d like). I want to write more ideas down as they come to me, and in whatever form they take. I want to write more snail mail to friends and family to brighten their days. I want to be more creative/inspired/funny/interested.
11) Learn to use my SLR camera. It’s a shame that I haven’t cracked the manual on the camera we’ve owned for more than three years. I will make the most of that. Soon.
12) Buy adult furniture. Our couch and love seat are the kind you buy when you’re just starting out. They served their purpose. Now it’s time for an upgrade.
13) Read all of my hard-cover classics. I own 14 of them and have only read a few so far.
14) See more of the world. Visit one new province and one new state. It’s all about keeping the goals realistic.
15) Take a course that will make me better at my job. I could refresh and learn more about Photoshop, or try some new software like InDesign or Illustrator.
16) Take a road trip with girlfriends. Shopping, anyone? Boston? Montreal?
17) Make yoga part of my regular routine. I love yoga, but often don’t make enough time to practice. By 30, I’d love to be attending regular weekly classes.
18) Build something. With wood and nails and everything.
19) Donate blood. I’ve tried to do this years ago, but as a new vegetarian my iron was too low and I was denied the opportunity. I have a much better handle on my diet as an adult and I’m sure I would be eligible now.
20) Edit our wedding videos. These are now on three un-edited discs. I want to combine them and add some subtitles so we have a lasting time capsule of that wonderful day.
21) Dye my hair. I’ve done this many times in the past, but haven’t done it for years. Then, just yesterday, a co-worker pointed out, “hey, you really do have grey hair!” … yeah. So by 30, I fully expect to be a hair dye regular.
22) Attend my 10-year high school reunion. Next year. Where does the time go?
23) Do a 10k run. I’ve run a 5k since running the half marathon in 2010, so I don’t see why I couldn’t practice a bit more and run double.
24) Plant flowers and landscape my yard with success. I didn’t say I could do it without help.
25) Dust off my trumpet. I remember the basics, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to sound good.
26) Try surfing. I’m sure I’ll be as uncoordinated at surfing as I am at dancing, but it’s worth a try.
27) Institute an actual moisturizing routine. Just because I don’t mind ageing doesn’t mean I’m just going to let myself go. This also includes never forgetting sunscreen again.
28) Sew more. Maybe even try some patterns. (Sorry, HH!)
29) Get CPR and first aid certification. Good skills for anyone, especially a mama.
30) Be thankful for my family and friends every day.

life as i know it

This post by Melissa at Dear Baby made me think about the old days. The time of my life when I only had to worry about myself, when I didn’t have a family to care for, a child who is my life’s greatest responsibility. Made me wonder if I made the most of that time. Did I go out often? Spend time with friends? Travel? Act spontaneously? Craft, cook, creative write? Did I do lots of things for me when my time was all my own? I’m not sure. It’s hard to look back, from the perspective I now have, and decide. What I do know for certain is that my life, as it is now, is beyond fulfilling.

Racing home from work to soak up every minute of awake time my boy has left before bath time, bottle and bed. Spending the time after that cleaning up splatters of supper off the floor from below his high chair and picking up toys and books scattered across the living room floor. Working on freelance to make a little extra for our family, and planning, scheduling, organizing so everything runs smoothly of all three of us. And it’s hard work. A careful balancing act.
That doesn’t count the things I try to do regularly for me — like writing on this ol’ blog, reading book club books, cooking and baking, and crafting. This weekend, I enjoyed lots of me time — got a good start on the latest Litwits book, went out on a festive date to the parade of lights with a couple great gals, and spent some time crafting with a few other lovely friends. Weekends like this put life into real perspective — I’ve got it good.
Some days it’s tough. Sometimes it brings out my less-than appealing side when stress and fatigue take over. But I do try my best to keep it all in check, letting the little things roll off and meeting the big things head on.
As noted in Melissa’s post, we are doing important work — raising kids, nurturing relationships, keeping life going well from day to day. It’s not always easy or glamourous or fun. But it’s important. And always worth it.

mid-week link love

My saved links are overflowing with goodies that I’ve been wanting to share. I know I’ve been slacking lately, due to other blogging commitments, but I will be back soon, in full force. Promise!

How brilliant is this?!
And how cute are these?!
Can I just say that I aspire to have a house that is this beautiful.
I appreciate this sweet sentiment.
When we buy a house, I plan to give this project a try.

my batman

Dear Jacob,
It’s really hard to believe that you have been entertaining us long enough now that we are marking your second experience with holidays, like Halloween. You were a great Batman, even though you refused to wear the special mask I made for you.

I love giving you treats and you devoured the mini areo bar I gave you to try. You ran up to the door every time the bell rang, greeting our trick or treaters with “hi, hi, hi” and lots of waves. It’s so fun to see you interact with other kids.

I’m glad you had such a fun time at Miss Allie’s house, too, with all of your friends.
I’ll put each of these moments in my memory bank and keep them always.

link love

I’m heading out of town this weekend for shopping with some of my lady relatives, and my list is longgg. I’m imagining that I could potentially complete my Christmas shopping this weekend. In October. Whoa. That would be impressive, no? I’ll let you know how it goes.
I’m not actually taking the dude shopping with me,
and just thought it was too over the top not to share.
Thennn, on my way home, I’m stopping to visit HH and her lovely family in their dream house, and I can barely wait!
And then, I suppose, I should work on some blogs … both here and there. As per usual, I’m sure the weekend is going to fly by. Do you have any fun plans?
This organization is inspiring. Based on how much J loves his Lego Duplo, I’ll need this solution for myself one day soon.
You know I heart coupons. Read all about it here.
Pinterest Challenge time! Will you participate?
Installing zippers never seemed so easy.
What a great gift idea … must try!
Thinking this would be a fun alternative for the Litwits. Read any great articles lately?