Monday, November 29, 2010

Traditions

***Thanks so much to all who have donated to my Secret Santa Project! I'm so grateful for your generosity - every little bit helps! I'm keeping it up for another week-ish, so please feel free to help out in any way you can. When lots of people give even a few dollars, it adds up!***


My husband's family has a wonderful Christmas tradition that his dad brought over from Germany, and we love doing it with our kids. The four Sundays before Christmas we celebrate advent where we get together with friends, light a candle on the advent wreath, sing songs and have a bunch of treats. Yesterday was first advent so we set up our tree and decorated our home. I love how festive it is in here! There's nothing better than cold winter nights lit up by the Christmas tree.

We didn't have anyone over because we're a bit sickly in our house, but we still had lots of fun singing songs, banging on bowls (for Little Drummer Boy, of course!), and jingling some bell ornaments. It's something our entire family looks forward to. Let's face it, I've got 2 teenagers already, with 3 more coming in the next few years, so anything that can get the family together - happily - is something that should be encouraged, right? ;o)

How about you - got any holiday traditions that you love?

Besos!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Secret Santa

Twelve years ago, at the start of December, we were poor students with a one and two year old, and a third baby on the way. It had already been a rough year, what with the loss of our stillborn son, and we were doing our best to make it through; all the while looking forward to the Christmas season and ringing in a new year with hopes of a better twelve months to come.

We went away for 4 days to attend my brother-in-law's wedding, and came back to find our back door kicked in. Our house had been ransacked and burglarized. We didn't have a lot, but they took what little we had of value. It was a sickening feeling, to have our modest home violated like that. I cried when the police told us that often it's much worse because the thieves will vandalize as well (think knives tearing apart furniture, excrement on the walls kind of thing...). They warned us to expect it to happen again in a few months (when things had been replaced through insurance).

For the longest time afterward my heart was in my throat every time we pulled up to our house after an outing. Every conversation before getting out of the car was the identical. Were those new footprints in the snow? Does the back gate look like it's been opened? Can you go first in case someone is in the house? Not a good time, let me tell you.

Our home was no longer a safe place, and to top it off, the insurance adjuster treated me like a criminal when I was trying to get them to fix our door and settle our claim. It took me losing it on the phone with him one day (and a threat to speak with his supervisor) to get him to treat me with a little compassion. I shouldn't have had to remind him that I was the victim in this whole thing, but I was extremely grateful he did a complete 180 after our little chat.

A little worse for wear, we tried our best to get ready for Christmas, but we just couldn't shake that defeated feeling. Then about a week before Christmas, we got an anonymous phone call late at night telling us to look in our mailbox. We did, and found an envelope with money in it. I don't even remember how much it was (somewhere around $100), but it was enough to make us cry and did a lot to help restore our beat-up faith in human kindness.

Money doesn't bring happiness in and of itself, but let's face it, its absence can make life extremely difficult. Knowing that somebody was thinking about us - that we were worth someone's time, energy and hard-earned money - made us more mindful of others who might be suffering. As a result, every year that we've been in a position to do so (so basically, the eight years we haven't been in school), we've tried to ease someone else's burden at Christmas time.

This year there is a family who is facing a rather hefty medical bill due to bureaucratic issues beyond their control. It's obviously far more than we can afford to take care of for them, but we are stretching ourselves a little this year to give as much as we possibly can. I'm not trying to brag or anything, but only mentioning this because I have ulterior motives. In order to do as much as I can for this family, I'm putting up a Donate button for the next couple of weeks. I know that many people play Secret Santa over the holidays, so if you feel moved to give even $5 toward this family, that would be wonderful. (A lot of you don't know me from Eve, but I'm hoping that my good karma from donating to other bloggers' causes will come around!)

I want to "make the drop" by mid-December, and will keep you posted on the status of donations. I'm aiming to raise $500 (on top of what my family is contributing), but obviously the the more I can get for them, the better off they'll be. If you feel like spreading the word, please do so!

Besos

Monday, November 15, 2010

Revelation and randomness

Don't worry, it's not the biblical kind of revelation. Or maybe you were looking for an amazing doctrinal revelation and you found my blog post instead. Sorry about that. (So as not to disappoint, I will say that I believe in personal revelation. I know God is real (no matter what you call him) and I've had answers to many prayers. Not just the ethereal-maybe-my-stomach-growled-and-that-means-something life-changing sort of thing, but concrete I-know-the-answer-to-something-I-didn't-know-before kind of thing. But I digress...)

I was just excited to realize that I've found my groove as a once a week blogger! I know what you're thinking...I'm so ambitious to blog a whole once a week. ;-) What can I say? I do what I can, hehe. Actually, I just have so much going on, and if I spend too much time on here I tend to lose hours at a time. The downside of the weekly blogging is that I miss out on a lot of what's going on with my bloggy friends because I'm not checking my google reader very often. I sure try to get around to everybody, but I will admit that I find it difficult. Many times, I'll give a quick read without commenting (which I hate to do, because I know how fun it is to get comments).

How do you other bloggers find the balance? Any suggestions?

On a completely unrelated note...it was my birthday last week, and I got a Kindle!!!! It was an awesome birthday surprise from my hubby and my folks (well, my mom likely told dad about it...). I cried when I got it, because I was overtired I'm a sucky-boo and that's how I roll.

In other news, I read my first (paid-for) book on my Kindle last night, and I was disappointed with the book but grateful I only spent $2.50 to download it (ebooks on sale RULE!). I had considered ordering the actual book because the cover is gorgeous (anyone else a sucker for a pretty cover?) and the story had an interesting premise, but it was really slow to start and it ended up being only meh.

Also, did you know that I can get the complete works of William Shakespeare for less than three bucks?? My husband asked why I would want it, but I love some of his plays and sonnets. And hello. Three. Dollars. Need I say more? I'm a sucker for a good deal.

Of course, there are a ton of out of copyright books that you can download for free as well. Which I've done. Hurray for free Jane Austen! I also got this cool book of Scottish Proverbs. You never know when that might come in handy. Like when I'm writing a novel with Scottish stuff in it. Which I will. One of these days. But not until I'm well-established so I can write off a trip to Scotland as research. *gleefully rubs hands together* My plan is all coming together, thanks to the Kindle...

Besos!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Cryin'

Do you ever get teary-eyed for no real reason? Well, for a reason, but sort of out of the blue? I have a few things that trigger the tear ducts, and in honour of Remembrance Day (or Veteran's Day in the U.S.) I thought I'd share one of them with you. I promise that it'll make more sense if you keep reading.

As a young'un, I was in love with The Diary of Anne Frank. Actually, I've been pretty much obsessed with the World Wars and the Holocost for as far back as I can remember. The biggest thing for me as a child (and really, even now), was that I could never understand the level of inhumanity and unfairness that went on, and I just couldn't wrap my head around why people committed the atrociously evil things that they did. In an attempt to understand, I've watched more documentaries than I can shake a stick at, and you can bet that if there's one on, I'll be plugged into the T.V. until it's done.

Obviously, war is a terrible thing, and watching and reading about it can make a person emotional. However, more often than not, my tears come at bizarre times. I'm not an overly emotional person, but it's generally when I'm thinking about the circumstances later on that the floods begin. I'm a reasonably mature woman, but the injustice makes my heart sick and I just can't keep my eyes dry!

In relation to that, I also get the same way when I think about the people who serve in the Armed Forces who truly believe in the cause of freedom, and desire to make the world a better place. I'm not going near the politics that are involved - I don't necessarily agree with certain decisions that are made in that regard - but what it comes down to, is that there are men and women who put their lives in danger for others, at tremendous personal sacrifice. Not to mention the physical and emotional sacrifices their families make as well.

I am so thankful to live in a land of freedom and prosperity (Canada), but I know that it was bought and paid for by people who weren't looking to be heroes. I love having this time of year to reflect upon their sacrifice and to mourn the loss of the many people who haven't been able to enjoy the same measure of peace that I've been afforded - and I salute the men and women who continue to put their lives on the line. Thank you.

Besos.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Fall is here!

Summer decided to take a vacation this year, and almost convinced autumn to go with it. Fortunately, it made a special appearance and gave us some fair weather before the winter deluge hits. I have to admit...I kind of like the schizophrenic weather.

Okay, so maybe I'm just saying that because today it's working in my favour and having this beautiful weather makes me feel like we're getting away with something sneaky. Mind you, last week I was whining about the three foot high snow drift that accumulated in our driveway. We barely got any snow, but we live on the edge of town, and the wind blows just right...into our driveway.

Another reason to be happy, is that we're getting our huge picture and basement windows replaced today and tomorrow. I was loathing the fact that they were two months (!!!) later than they had said they would be, but since the weather has cooperated, I am quite pleased because on top of there being no snow or frigid temperatures, there are no bugs to deal with! Hurray!!!

So for today's Marvellous Monday, I celebrate Getting Away With It.

What have to had the good fortune of getting away with lately?

Besos!