The Night Before The Night Before The Night Before Christmas Nachos (Or How New Traditions Begin)

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Enthusiasm. Don’t you just love it?

One of the best things about being an enthusiastic person is that when you have offspring they often take on this trait.

I know because I have two kids and even though, individually, they’re as unique as little snowflakes, they share my* enthusiasm.

It’s a lot more fun to be enthusiastic when you have other enthusiastic people around you. Wouldn’t you agree?

 

I was in a mall today.

I don’t generally go to malls, ever, actually, but Thing 2 made a special request to go to the mall to buy Christmas gifts for her family, this morning, and well, when a little enthusiastic elf asks for help in elf matters, you just smile and say, “Sure!”, with enthusiasm**.

So, after the grown-ups were caffeinated, we headed out to our local mall to help the Things do a bit of shopping. We went for the divide and conquer approach, whereby the parents each take a Thing and help him or her to find what he or she needs and then meet up to trade Things and do it all over again. It works well for us. It was fun. The mall wasn’t very crowded and the kids were in great I-don’t-care-what-we-do-we’re-not-in-school moods.

We took our time and helped each Thing find the gifts that fit the bill. This was easy for one and difficult for the other. Thing 2 is decisive and goal oriented and was seriously like an elf on a very enthusiastic mission. Thing 1 had a hard time, but mostly because he really wanted to get something special and he wanted to stick to his reasonable budget.

Even though there were no fewer than three fancy schmancy easy-just-buy-whatever-sparkly-diamond-places, he just wouldn’t stray from his logical path. Go figure! Personalities come out in the most interesting ways, sometimes, don’t they?

Anyway, eventually, everyone got what they needed and I was even able to do a bit of secret elfing with Thing 2 and her enthusiasm in tow.

We ended our mall adventure with a teensy stop into the Apple Store (to ogle things we would not buy) and Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory (just to inhale). We enjoyed the seasonal red shirts the staff were wearing at the Apple Store – though the expendable joke was not lost on us.

Then we all hopped back into the car, which was parked in the same spot*** we always seem to get at this mall, and took ourselves out to a late lunch. We had worked up quite an appetite walking in circles and trying to dodge each other in the mall. It’s a great place to play super-spy, by the way, in case any of you were wondering.

Lunch was delicious. Burgers and fries and root beer****. Hot and fresh and yum! A real treat!

We arrived home just in time for the carb coma to hit, so the kiddos went to their separate corners and Daddy-O and I crashed into a delightful nap. I am a terrible napper, generally speaking, but with fighting the plague and all the running around, I guess I was due for a good one. Oh so dreamy! I guess Daddy-O is the Ross to my Joey, because I seriously can’t ever nap. Thing 2 can even recount stories of my escaping naps when she was teeny. I’m just no good at napping.

I awoke refreshed and with a newfound mission in mind. I simply had to get something into the mail and nothing was going to stop me.

(You should know I have a stockpile of very thoughtful gifts sitting neatly on a chair in my bedroom. I buy these things with every intention to get them sent out to their intended recipients asap, but alas, life happens and there they sit. Am I the only one? Tell me I am not the only one!)

So, I snipped school photos of the Things, wrote out a speedy holiday greeting, located the item and channelled my inner Grammy***** and packaged that baby into a teeny size that really should have been impossible to fit into a standard 8×10 Canada Post parcel envelope, but lo and behold it fit! (Dude at the post office was impressed. I know he was. He just expresses himself differently than I do.) Into the mail it went and we will have a new tradition to add to our already diverse Hanukkah, Solstice, Christmas, ChrismukkahLa Befana, 12th Night mix because when that parcel arrives it will be a kind of miracle. Plus I know the recipient will laugh and be happy and that’s all that matters really.

When I arrived home, my Things had the TV paused for me (there was a brand new Austin & Ally episode) and were waiting (and waiting and waiting) while I was out making miracles happen and grabbing a few ingredients at the grocery store (Chipits were on sale. W00t!). The plan was to make a simple snacky supper, since we had had a late lunch.

We decided on nachos, but not just any old nachos would do. No sir-ee!

We had to have nachos worthy of a new tradition.

I give you, “The Night Before The Night Before The Night Before Christmas Nachos”.

They were delicious and I can guarantee my little enthusiastic, creature of habit, elf-y, Things will be reminding me next December 22 that we have to make them again.

We are only two sleeps away from Christmas and we still have plenty to do, but you know what? We are all being very chill about the whole thing. There really is no need to panic.

What traditions have emerged in your family over the years that seem so logical, but may be completely unique to you?

What’s your go-to dinner when the hour is getting late?

How are your Holidays going?

 

 

 

 

 

*Daddy-O is enthusiastic too, but he can claim them on his own blog!

**See how well that works out?

***Of course when you go the mall only a handful of times all year, selective recall is strong.

****Guess where we had lunch!

*****Grammy is my Mummy. She could pack an elephant in a matchbox and ship it to Istanbul and it would never escape because the sheer amount of tape used would stand up to anything the world might throw at it.

Source: http://ca.eonline.com/news/605724/weird-holiday-traditions-you-thought-were-normal-but-prove-your-family-is-totally-nuts

Mele Kalikimaka!

Tropical Tree

Today might be a three post kind of day because I have so many drafts, that I am starting to get anxious about it.

Anxiety at Christmas? You don’t say!

Hah!

Who doesn’t have a little extra anxiety during the holidays? I don’t think I know a single person, actually.

However, I have vowed to not be that stressed out Mummy. No way. It’s no fun to be told Christmas is nothing but stress. Or worse, to think it. Especially when you have little eyes and ears watching and listening to everything you do and say. It’s simply not true, anyway.

Christmas is a wonderful season of perpetual hope, and if there is one thing I have learned in my years on this planet* it’s that hope floats. It’s always there and you have to hone your hope holding skills throughout your life, because it’s short. Really, really short. Even when it seems long.

Christmas is what you make it. You can make it all about stuff and spending and stress. Sure! Go right ahead. Seriously, fill your boots, but don’t blame your getting caught up in the commercialism on Christmas. Nope. Christmas didn’t make you do that. Santa didn’t point to the most expensive, elaborate, electronics and say, “By the powers of Comet’s Candy Cane, I command you to buy that!”. Not a chance.

Christmas is simple.

Humans make it complicated.

You have to be human, but you don’t have to be pressured into a holiday that stresses you out.

Cool your jets.

Take a breath.

Remember the wonder.

Breathe in the aromas.

Think back to a time when you believed in the magic.

Embrace the simplicity of an old fashioned Christmas, whatever that means to you.

Know that you are not alone.

Everyone is stressin’ a bit.

No one has *everything* done.

Martha Stewart has a team!

We just have each other.

Smile and know that even when people around you seem to have everything under control, there’s always an element of mystery in how the heck things get done.

For instance, we here at Chez Peady have been having the soggiest December I can ever recall and we have also been fighting a wicked cold, so we are very admittedly behind our typical December schedule. All the things that have not yet been done, were put on the back burner while the things that had to be done got done. School concerts, finding the lost trumpet, trumpet practice, finding the right shoes, making sure everyone was where they needed to be on time, getting a bit of shopping done, making sure I talked to my mother as often as possible, getting to a few charity eventseven one in my Jammies – these all took precedent over making sure the ornaments were in the perfect place.

It’s life and it’s messy.

Look!

Christmas Mess

 

Am I freaking out? Nope. Why should I? Why should I waste a single drop of my precious energy freaking out when it will get done, with or without a grown-up tinsel tantrum?

It always has. I have yet to miss a Christmas. *wink*

So, my best advice to you, as Christmas is festively, twinkling up on us, is to take a deep breath and embrace the merriment.

 

Don’t forget to take care of your own needs, too. You matter! We need you to be at your best**, of course.

This morning I went to Zumba – just so you know I really am practicing what I preach – and I almost jumped for joy when I heard this pop up in the middle of class.

Yes, we did a Hula this morning to Mele Kalikimaka***. It was so fun! Could my Zumba instructor be any cooler?

 

So, tell me, what stage of preparedness are you in for the upcoming Holidays?

Are you about ready to be Dasher and flee the scene?

Are you happily a Prancer ready to take on the task and dance your way through your cookie exchange?

Are you feeling Grinch-like and wondering what the heck is the big deal anyway?

Has your inner Ebenezer reared his Scrooge-y grumpiness?

What is your best advice for having a yule that’s cool?

Leave a comment and share your best tips for avoiding tinsel tantrums.

 

 

*No, I have never lived on another planet. Though there was that time last winter when it felt like we lived on Hoth.

**But we even like you when you are at your worst.

***Mele Kalikimaka**** has been a month-long mind-worm. Go ahead and ask my chicas! Ukuleles at Christmastime? Oh YES!

****Then there’s this, which I saw on Saturday, but wasn’t blogged out until today, hence the edit! COME ON!! This is hulu-arious! (Day #8) Zucchini is the sweetest doggie!

It’s The Very Best Time Of The Year

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I told a friend this morning that I needed to get my “Jingle Bell Juice” flowing.

We have been fighting a wicked awful cold here at Chez Peady and 3/4 of us were affected. (1/4 of us has super immunity and I await the NASA scientists every cold & flu season, because this kid never gets sick! Seriously! How does he do it?!)

Anyway, not the best time of the year to catch a bug, is it?

I mean, we all have a lot going on and we all want to feel cheerful and energetic. It’s the time for dashing through the snow and sleigh bells, not trudging through the tissues or popping plugged up ears.

We are on the mend now and energy is slowly returning which is great because there is still so much to do. I feel like I am a bit behind on the Elf-ing schedule, but I really do try to adhere to Dr. Seuss’ Grinch’s timeless realization from “The Grinch who Stole Christmas”.

The school concerts are this week and that always makes me feel like Christmastime is here. Thing 2 is very excited this year because she (a tall kiddo) gets to stand in the front during her class’ performance. She was so excited when she learned this a few weeks ago she wrote this* as soon as she got home from school.

 

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Isn’t that sweet? How much** do I love the little white board in our office?

Thing 1 is pretty tense about his concert. It isn’t helping that his trumpet is MIA for the night. It was left on the bus. Yup. Not even kidding.

I am just going to have faith and believe that everything will work out. What else can I do, really?

It’s the season of perpetual hope, right?

 

Speaking of hope, my Things are really hoping for a white Christmas. We have no snow – at all – in Bedford. We have had lots of rain this month and we have yet another, rain-filled, nor’easter headed our way. It’s difficult to get all “Ho ho ho!” and “Deck the Halls!” when there is no sign of snow.

Unless of course you have a dear friend who sends a childhood memory out into the Twitterverse for you.

Do you remember this gem?

Thanks, Kyooty! That made my day.

 

So, what are you finding challenging this month? Are you all set for the holidays?

Is it easy breezy decorate all the trees-y or are you untangling tense tinsel at every tick of the clock?

 

*Have we talked about how every family should have a white board or chalk board accessible to everyone for writing special news, notes, or asking questions? No? There’s a forthcoming blog. Promise!

**SO MUCH!

Do You Have Change For 365?

Never mistake motion for action.

I have a secret.

It’s a really good one.

I have been keeping it since the beginning of October and at first I really didn’t believe that the thing I am about to share could even be real, so there was a lot of “Seriously?! Are you sure? Really?!” going on in my mind.

You see, I am a bit of an activist. Nothing too radical, but it’s true, I am.

It’s small actions that lead me because I believe small acts of kindness or small acts of charity or small acts of love can really add up over time and change people’s lives for the better.

This is a philosophy I have imparted on my children (Daddy-O, too!) and when I see the reflections of my philosophies in Thing 1 and Thing 2 I just want to burst with pride. It’s an amazing feeling when you see your child make connections that show they really get what you have been modelling (read: preaching!). I am sure you know what I mean.

Well, since Thing 1 is in Junior High, I have been extolling the virtues of Free The Children, Me to We and the We Act charities and we talk a lot about the Kielburgers and the extremely amazing things they have accomplished in their very young lives. Amazing people!

I have been encouraging him to join his school’s We Act Committee since last year because what better way is there to put theory into practice than, well, by putting theory into practice?

Have you ever seen the work that goes into organizing a bunch of teenagers to do anything? It’s not easy, is it?

Well, the amazing thing about the kids that choose to take part in the We Act Committees in their schools is that they are the ones organizing everything. They are self motivating. They know they are doing good things.

They know they can be the change they want to see in the world and furthermore they are being that change.

Isn’t that amazing?

So, I am very proud to say that Thing 1 *is* a part of We Act – and he’s very proud to say it, too. (That’s one win for the Mom, in case you are keeping track!) Yay!

Of course, there are those who might think these kids are working only for We Day and all the amazing celebrities they might get to see, should they get to go (there are no guarantees!), but the work the kids do is happening all year long. That’s right. 365 days of the year, teens in Canada (USA & UK, too!) are taking action to make this world a better, safer, more educated place.

Pretty cool, right?

365 days. That seems rather ambitious, doesn’t it? I mean, you can imagine how difficult such an undertaking might be. It could be overwhelming to try and keep track of a year’s worth of actions.

It could be, but it isn’t. Why isn’t it? Well … because … there’s an app for that! (Yeah! I said it!)

TELUS (a proud sponsor of We Day) created We365, a free mobile app that enables youth to use their phones for good and propel social change through the power of technology, every day of the year. I downloaded the app when it was first released and played around with it. I may not be the target market, but I know a good app when I use it.
The new and improved We365 app will help youth do even more to help their communities. Using the app, tweens (like Thing 1 and Thing 2) and teens can rally friends around causes they support, share their accomplishments, and earn badges and points. Parents of students who must complete “mandatory” volunteer hours (Ontario students, for example) will also be happy to hear that the app tracks volunteer hours, which can be shared electronically and remove the need to keep track of all that oh-so-easy-to-lose-track-of paperwork.
Isn’t that wonderful?
Here’s a glimpse of a challenge you might see when you use the We365 app.
World Kindness Day
World Kindness Day? Oh, you get me We365 app. You really get me.
Or how about this?
Remembrance Day
Wait. You mean Craig Kielburger himself uses this app? Yes. Yes he does. Come on! That’s cool.
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How about some badges to reward you for completing challenges? Fun, right?
It can be very motivating to get this simple feedback and motivated people do wonderful things!
Obviously, I am a fan of this app. Can you tell?
I love the idea of tweens and teens cutting their social media teeth, if you will, in such a positive environment. I am encouraging Thing 1 to use the We365 app as a way of introducing him to the brighter side of social media. He is well aware of my perspective on using one’s powers for good. He knows how much of my time is spent online using social media. He knows that for the most part I really do practice what I preach. See the good, be the good!
We often hear about creating a positive electronic footprint. What a great place to start!
Now, about my little** secret. I am going to tell you, but you have to promise not to tell Thing 1, because he hasn’t a clue.
I have been invited, by TELUS, to attend We Day Atlantic, on November 28 at Scotiabank Centre (along with a few of my blogosphere peers) to take in all the awesomeness.
I am so grateful.
I believe so much in this initiative and kind of activism.
Oh, and I’m still kind of freaking out.

 

*That Ernest Hemingway quote is one of my all time favourites. This is kismet! So excited! Like, *happy jumpy claps* excited!

**It’s HYOOGE right?!? So happy!!

And In The Morning, We Will Remember Them.

for everything there is a season

 

Today, November 11th, is Remembrance Day in Canada.

In Nova Scotia it was a day off from school, for all children, and work, for many adults, so they could reflect on the many sacrifices that have been made by soldiers of the Canadian Military so that we can enjoy our many freedoms.

It was the first thing on my mind when I woke up this morning.

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One of the ways we chose to reflect, pay our respects, and express our thanks, was to attend a Remembrance Day Ceremony at our local cenotaph.

So that is exactly what we did.

 

It was a gorgeous Autumn morning, so we decided to park a fair distance away and walk along the Bedford Highway and Shore Drive to the cenotaph in Fish Hatchery Park. We were not alone. Many people chose to walk and it was so moving to enter the park from Shore Drive and see a sea of people already there. People were even lining Sunnyside Bridge above the park. It really made me feel so proud.

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The ceremony was beautiful and I shed many tears thinking of all the Daddies and Mummies who were lost and the ones who are still offering up their lives to go on dangerous Military missions. Then I thought of all the little children who were without those Mummies and Daddies. It was too much. When “The Last Post” was played I could no longer hold back tears. It’s just such a sad and meaningful piece of music.

I very conscientiously did not touch my iThing for the entire ceremony out of respect for those we were honouring. I chose to remember the ceremony for myself. There were many families present and the children were so respectful and extremely well behaved. It was another proud moment.

After the Act of Remembrance was complete and the many wreaths were placed at the base of the cenotaph and the ceremony was complete we removed our poppies and, along with many of the other attendants, added them to the wreaths.

I felt this was an acceptable time to take a photo (once all the people had gone). I just wanted to capture how lovely the cenotaph looked with all the bright poppies in front of it.

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Thing 2 can point out where her poppy is in this photo. It was important to her to choose the right spot. It was sweet to watch the Things taking all of this in this morning. It’s important for children to learn their history and why we do the things we do when it comes to historical events. I am glad our kids are curious and interested. It makes talking about tough topics a lot easier for the parents.

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Thing 1 and Thing 2 after removing their poppies and placing them at the cenotaph. They insisted on dressing up this morning. Thing 1 wore dress clothes and, to me, Thing 2 was like a poppy personified.

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It was a wonderful morning. We walked back to our car and I noticed these huge poppies on the Mosque on the Bedford Highway and had to take a picture. Isn’t that nice?

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We were trying to think of something nice we could do with the remainder of Remembrance Day and we decided to visit Video Difference to see if there was something we could watch as a family. How nice is this “Feature” section for Remembrance Day?

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We had a hard time finding something. I mean, let’s face it, war isn’t exactly a topic we want our children exposed to in movies, so it makes sense there are not a lot of selections, but then I spotted “From Up On Poppy Hill”. We have enjoyed many of the Miyazaki films, so we thought we’d judge a book by it’s cover – just this once – and give it a go.

We are just about to watch it, actually.

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I’ll let you know how it goes.

 

It has been a nice day, all-in-all.

Even though it is sad to think about war (and all that goes with it), it is very important to stop and remember all of the people who sacrificed so much, so that we could have the freedom to enjoy a sunny day in November with our families and communities sharing expressions of those very freedoms.

So, how did you spend today? Did you visit a local cenotaph? Did you attend a Remembrance Day ceremony?

Was this Remembrance Day different than last year?

 

 

 

 

The Act of Remembrance is generally performed by a solo reading of the poem extract, with a response by all assembled. The exact wording of the Act of Remembrance is:

They shall grow not old,
as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them,
nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun
and in the morning
We will remember them.

 

Source: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-kcmjRlmg-BE/UJi-5g4KxPI/AAAAAAAACrM/7eygWHEQsIc/s1600/for+everything+there+is+a+season.jpg

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Act_of_Remembrance

S.U.N.D.A.Y. (Sunny Understanding. Not Denying Autumn. You? )

Today is the first day of Autumn. Or is it?

I feel like my whole life has been a lie!!

Science. It never ceases to astound.

 

So, if you want to be a super smartypants when people tell you today is the first day of Fall, you can educate them on all the fun facts you just learned. (You do click my fun links, don’t you? I mean, I wouldn’t just put something lame there.) (That’s a lie. I could possibly put something lame there, but this time I didn’t. Promise!)

I’m not saying this will get you invitations to the most happening upcoming events and parties or anything, but it might win you some respect in science-y circles. But I digress …

 

I wanted to take a minute to thank all the nice people who have encouraged me this week. Even though so many of you are far away from me, I really feel like you are here cheering me on. Whether it’s struggling with blogger’s block, dealing with Sunday stresses, trying to keep the Things on track, figuring out what’s for dinner, or making it through a Hot Yoga or Zumba class. I feel you. I know you are “Rah rah rah” ing from wherever you are and I am eternally grateful for you and your support!

I have the kindest readers. That’s a fact.

Thank you.

 

Today was Word on the Street day in Canada and there were events from coast to – well almost – coast. (I hope some year it will be right across the country.)

Here is a little bit of how it looked from the East *coughs* best *coughs* Coast!

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Look at this amazing lineup of authors! Isn’t that impressive? There were readings throughout the day along the Halifax Waterfront. If you are a word nerd at all, this is the day for you!

I* even got to hear a reading from “Listen to the Squawking Chicken” by Elaine Lui of “The Social” (@LaineyGossip in the Twitterverse, FYI). Afterwards, I had a book signed. Ms, Lui (Lainey!!!) was extremely gracious and even posed for photos with those of us who asked.

Lainey and Peady being social ;-)

I asked!

 

Isn’t that kind? I think so. In fact, I love that!

 

So, that’s it. I posted something every day for seven days and do you know what? I think my plan worked. I feel better about my little corner of the blogosphere and the fact that it is okay for me to leave things here.

I think I’ll keep it up.

I do have a lot to say.

Yes, some of it is utter silliness. I am fully aware of that fact and perfectly okay with it, too.

 

I hope you’ll stick around. I have a feeling this is going to be quite a Fall!

 

 

 

*Not just me, it was a packed house … er… tent … and lots of people enjoyed the reading and the Q & A that followed. I always had suspicions about poor Joaquin Phoenix. He was Leaf. Then he wasn’t. So many questions!