Saturday, December 31, 2011

For a New Year

I love the idea of a fresh start.  Every September, as I begin a new year back at work, every birthday when I reach a new milestone and every December 31st, I get that wonderful "new notebook" feeling.  When I was younger and didn't have so much stuff, one of my favourite things to do was to rearrange a room, just to feel everything from a new perspective.   While I can't do quite that large a shift, I am, yet again, hoping to see life from a different angle.

During the last few years, I haven't found that making resolutions has been all that effective.  On the other hand, a number of my favourite bloggers have shared a word for each year - something upon which they want to focus, a way to set a tone or upon which to realign life.  Last year, my word was "peace", and while I can't say that I was always successful, I did manage to find a bit more.

This year, there is a word that has really leapt to my mind and once I began to think about it, I found it captured exactly where I want to be going this year.  That word is "today".  Initially, that might seem a bit strange.  Let me explain.

It began with reading this passage again.

22 Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life[b]? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
   27 “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! 29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.
   32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.

 Luke 12:22 - 32

As you know, I struggle with worry and often, about things about which I have no control.  Then, the 2-and-a-half year old daughter of a family at my school was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor.  One day, the family was bumping along with life as normal and then, all of a sudden, their world was turned upside down and they realised that they might not even have their daughter a year from now.  I have had times in the last few years, when life has been fine and then, one day, something goes seriously wrong that I wasn't expecting and I realize that whatever is overwhelming me now wasn't even on the radar before and yet I had no idea how lucky I was when things were fine.  Earlier this year, someone I was at school with died of cancer.  She had discovered a breast lump when she was 8 months pregnant and by the time her son was 4, she was gone.  I worry about not being here for my children and yet I don't always take advantage of the day I was given.  While I am not advocating living with reckless abandon, I want today to be my focus this year.

Today... I will take time to connect with each member of my family.

Today... I will find a few moments of quiet to journal, to read or knit or just to pray.

Today... I will take the time to contact someone who is on my mind instead of putting it off until tomorrow.

Today... I will say thank you.

Today... I will make healthy choices instead of putting them off for tomorrow.

Today... I will strive to impact someone's life in a positive way and to reach out.

Today... I will live the way that I want to live and that matches what matters to me.

In less than an hour, today will be a new year.  I wish you a year of wonderful todays and I look forward to hearing from all of you!  Blessings for 2012!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Friday, December 23rd

Yesterday was our last day of work.  I can't tell you how much I am savouring the idea of two whole weeks with my family and not having to get everyone out quickly in the morning.  What a treat!

To begin the holiday, we decided to take the kids to the Nativity Pageant put on by a nearby town and the LDS church.  I have to admit, I feel a bit funny about the LDS part but a nativity play is a nativity play.  It was cold as anything but the kids enjoyed it.

Afterwards, we decided to go out for hot chocolate.  LB had never actually been in a doughnut shop before near the counter and when he saw the big case of timbits, he got very, very excited.  He emphatically pointed to what he wanted and had fun stuffing his face.

Oddly enough, after our treat, we went to do groceries.  We didn't know how LB would hold up but we didn't want to have to spend time in a grocery store on Christmas Eve.  The store was deserted and LB was great.  We were all exhausted when we got home but boy, was it nice to go to bed knowing that we were done all the big jobs.

Thursday, December 22nd

Thursday was "mommy night" - daddy was out doing his school concert.  I had the bright idea of taking the kids to buy something for Dh and Pk was really into that idea.  It took a bit of convincing to get her past the idea that Daddy urgently wanted a "Rudolph book" (where do these ideas come from - she also insisted that I wanted Star Wars???)  but then, she was right into it.  We went to the England store and bought Dh a Chelsea mug and flag from the kids and I got some stocking stuffers.  Sadly, I had the bright idea of bringing the dogs in the car to give them an outing and while we were in another store, they had quite a feast on a few snackies (thankfully, I hadn't bought any chocolate).  Oh, well - that's life with Brittanys.  The photo is Pk wrapping her gift for her daddy.  She was so proud!

Wednesday, December 21st

It may not look like much for Wednesday evening was a wonderful time for me.  We "mommies" got together for a cookie exchange and tea evening at my friend J's.  We get together as families all the time and love being together but we don't often get to actually spend any grown-up time together.  It was so much fun!  I need that kind of decompression every so often.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tuesday, December 20th - Happy Hanukkah!

While we are not Jewish, Hanukkah has become important to me.  As I have done a lot of teaching in areas with anywhere between a few Jewish students and predominantly Jewish populations and as "Traditions and Celebrations" is one of the units in the Grade 2 Social Studies curriculum, it's become a traditional part of my Advent.  There's so much crossover between Judaism and Christianity, as well, it just seems like a natural overlap.

I had a lovely Jewish mother come into my classroom today and bring a menorah, dreidles for the entire class, chocolate gelt and a wonderful story.  She presented to the class and made the celebration meaningful for them.  I was beaming from ear to ear - I LOVE to see my students getting to have person experiences and form personal connections with the celebrations of their friends.  I also love to see the pride they feel in who they are.  I may not share their beliefs but I would fight tooth and nail to ensure their right to be recognized and valued.  I bring religion into the classroom and I don't apologize for it.  I also find it amazing how few parents have ever had anything to say about it.

At home tonight, Pk and I lit our menorah.  I considered putting it in the window but, as our tree is right by the window, I thought that lighting it there might give us more light than we wanted.  Pk was thrilled to be able to light a candle.

 We took photos so that she could take them into her class tomorrow.  I must drive her teacher crazy.  I believe that the principal there isn't exactly the most open guy and I expect that I push the limits - when we work on Pk's alphabet book, for C, there was church and cross, G was for God and J was for Jesus...  I will fight for the right of the Muslim and Jewish kids to have their faiths allowed and valued in the classroom but I will also fight for my child's Christianity to be allowed, too.

I'll get off my soapbox now, LOL.  I'm just trying to decide whether I can skip making latkes this year, since we are having family for Boxing Day and the oil smell tends to linger... it does feel like something is missing, though.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Monday, December 19

Today was a busy, tiring day for all of us.  I had the "Traditions and Celebrations Luncheon" in my class which was fun but chaotic, Pk was at school, Dh was getting ready for his concerts and LB was busy running around at daycare.  
These photos represent how we were all feeling at the end of the day.

Sunday, December 18th

Poor Dh, he has this habit of getting a winter cold that turns into a cough that lasts and lasts and lasts.  It's loud enough that it keeps us all up and most especially him.  He feels fine otherwise and I don't think he is contageous but he is exhausted from the lack of sleep.  Usually, he's up by 8 but he just kept sleeping and after the week of concerts and illness and his parents' visiting, I decided to let him sleep.  Since he didn't get up until almost 10, that ruled out church.  I think we've been really pushing everyone around here so a day at home won't kill any of us.

LB was the first up (surprise, surprise) so he and I started getting ready to decorate the tree and then Pk got up so we did the lights and the red wooden beads that I just adore.  I love red on a tree and I don't like much glitter so they totally capture the simple look I want.  As you can see, LB liked them, too!
We tried to get some great lights shots but between the cheap camera and the poor photographer, we didn't have much success.  We did have fun, though!

When Daddy finally got up, we had breakfast together.  Pk has this current habit (that will probably disappear as quickly as it came) of squeezing her clementines into the peel to drink and I wanted to capture it as a memory of this Christmas.
We had to go out and get some groceries and then, after nap, we decorated the tree.  Pk was determined that she needed to put our star up top.  Dh got it as a teacher gift quite a few years ago now and while it's very simple, I think it's just about perfect.  I love it!

LB did something that totally melted his Grandpa's heart.  Dh's family are long-time Salvation Army members with an active involvement in the band.  Dh and I met at university for music and brass is in the family blood.  LB went and pulled our tuba and trombone ornaments off the tree and began to walk around trying to play them.  This went on all evening and then he took them to bed.  Grandpa has high hopes that he will follow in the family tradition.  Based on today, I think he might be right!

As always, a "quiet" family day also involved work.  Pk and I wrote up all her gift cards for her friends from daycare and we bagged the treats.  We also got the alfalfa ready for the class guinea pig and packaged up the pencils for her class.

Wednesday evening is our cookie exchange with our dinner moms so Pk and I also baked our cookies to contribute.  I did my usual chocolate crinkle cookies but substituted mint extract for the vanilla.  Yum!

I'm going to have to work hard at getting photos this week.  It's going to be so busy and we are so tired!  I can't wait for some rest at Christmas time.