Dec 24, 2013

Last Minute Christmas Fun

Merry Christmas eve morning everyone!  The joyous day is almost upon us! 
I arose early this morning, the sky yet dark and decided to start the coffee.  With hubby off for a half day of work and the kids, well other then the boy, still in bed -  I had a few moments, while he chased the cat around, to sit and share some of  last minute activities we enjoyed!


In this part of the globe we just had a mini ice storm - it wasn't terrible for us here - we didn't even loose power but the roads were bad enough that they cancelled church!  So my hubby - wise, thoughtful man that he is, had on the Friday, brought home one of those preassembled gingerbread houses for us to decorate.


So as the ice rained down outside, we were snug and warm in our home.  The wood furnace burning heartily, Christmas carols doling out from the stereo and us enjoying this simple family time!


Earlier in the week, we had been delighted and entertained by our daughter's school Christmas concert!  It was adorable!!  Classic kids concert and I loved every minute of it!


Even Joe enjoyed watching his sisters...when we could get him to sit still long enough!


And yes, I even enjoyed and was the proud momma of my youngest girl, who decided it would be a good idea to remove her socks and pick out the lint between her toes as she was waiting to deliver her lines.


And with all the fun and commotion the socks were abandoned, left on the stage as the show continued!  It was great - Dave and I laughed so hard - it would be our Catherine to steal the show like that!


She wore tights to the evening performance!



And so, well...the kiddos are up and clambering around me wanting food -so I will wrap this up.  Just as pretty and carefully as all the parcels I have wrapped this last couple of days...or maybe it's just as hastily, because I had left that job so late this year!

Family will be here tonight and then again on Boxing day.  We have no where to go and no one coming tomorrow and I'm very excited about that!  We will lounge all day in new Christmas eve pajamas, eating our homegrown bacon for breakfast and having much loved finger food for supper!


And so I pray that you are all richly blessed as you celebrate the greatest gift ever given!  May peace, love and joy be abundant to you and yours!



Dec 22, 2013

DIY Christmas Stockings - Baby Clothing

I mentioned in my last post that I had thrown into my holiday mix of busyness a little project.  It's an idea I've had for sometime now but I finally put it into action.


For the last six years I have held on to almost every scrap of kids clothing - crazy eh!!?!  I know!  I have given some away and sold off some as well but for the most part - I have all the clothes that my kids have worn.  You see, I had big plans to make my kiddos quilts out of their baby clothes. 

Buuut....after mulling that idea over for a few years and coming to the realization that quilts are big projects, that also require much math and or measuring....I knew the reality of the situation.  I would not be making quilts...because seriously, one would be bad enough....but now I'm looking at the idea of making four...and let's just be real, okay!?

So one fine day, the idea struck me - STOCKINGS!!!  Simple, easy to make, I can keep for years and they would force me to pick out only the essential pieces and let go of the rest of the clothes.  So I began the odious task of sorting through the bins of clothes - now I did have two girls within two years, so for them there was only two big Rubbermaid bins to sift through - not that bad...I must have gave away more then I realized....?!?

After I settled on five piece each - I was also graced with the notion of just buying cheap department store stocking to use as the base/liner.  Save me time and measuring!! (getting the notion of just how much I dislike measuring out things yet? *wink*) 

I cut the top off and set it aside for re-attachment later.  I then found, these cheap stockings, very easy to take apart at the seems.  So with little effort I had the stocking dissected.


And then I began the somewhat heart breaking task of cutting up the clothing.  I had chosen key pieces from the first year of their lives.  An outfit worn home from the hospital, a favourite gifted one, first Christmas sleeper, etc.  I set to work on making stockings for just the girls this year.  Next year I'll make Joe's and the year after I'll make one for the new baby. 

These were surprisingly easy to make!!

So I cut out shapes....and no, of course, I didn't measure anything - I just cut out parts from each piece that I liked and laid them out on the stocking bases.  After I had an arrangement I liked, I pinned them into place and trimmed up the edges.


I decided to sew them with this neat stitch that my machine has, and if I was any kind of sewer/seamstress I would know what it was called...but I'm not!   It's kinda fancy/quilty like - so that, along with baby pink thread was what I decided to use to have the whole piece come together.  And if you are wondering why I left the top bit uncovered, it is because that area will be covered by the 'cuff' of the stocking.

As for sewing...well I just sewed it up however I liked....specific eh....well, I just sewed any visible edges with that funky stitch and left the outer edges unsewn, to be sewn up when I stitched both sides of the stocking together.

So once the front of the stockings were 'quilted' I pinned them together, good side in, and using the same funky stitch - for added strength - I sewed them together.  After turning them right side out, I sewed the cuff back on - and voila!



Aren't they darling??? Well I think so! I'm just so excited that they turned out, even better then I hoped they would!!  I wasn't overly careful in executing these and it was actually pretty fun and they didn't take that long to make at all - I did it, off and on, over a few days...but I'd say it would only take a couple of hours tops to do one!

Close up -Olivia's stocking - with pictures featuring some of her chosen pieces

Close up -Catherine's stocking - with pictures featuring some of her chosen pieces

And so, my little ladies will have their new stockings filled with all kinds of goodies this Christmas morning.  My little man - he can wait until next year!!  And since they were so easy to make (if only I had started earlier! :P ) then I know I can get his done, even with a new baby in the house!
I can't believe how fast the time has flown and that those pictures of my gals are from four and six years ago and that in a few short months there will be another little in our home!  It's crazy!!  And as the final three sleeps before Christmas lay before me and my list of things to do is winding down, I hope to stop and savoury all the time I can!
Because before I know it, these little of mine will be big, grown and with families of their own.  And each year I'll be pinning for days of gingerbread houses, snow fun, zipping up jackets, toys strewed about and the singing of "Jingle Bells" for all the world to hear!  I will pull out these stockings each year and be reminded of these precious days but also I will then bask in the beautiful people they have become.

Enjoy the season and relish in the moments you have.  Each are precious and each hold the potential for wonderful memories - big or little! 
Blessings to you all this Christmas!!

Dec 18, 2013

Christmas Is Coming

And fast!!!

So between car fiascos and what have yous - we have been celebrating the season - though I feel so behind this year....maybe it's the theme as we get older and the kids get bigger?

Either way, we have been enjoying this season, with it's business, family, pretty lights, friends, cat attacking the tree, snow, grass, snow again, yummy food and all other lovelies that come this time of year!


The house is decked out....actually it has been since before, many of you reading this, even celebrated Thanksgiving! ;)  Our giant tree is up and with a sweet but busy toddler in the might notice the lack of ornaments on the bottom two feet or so of our tree!

I'm waay behind on my baking but have pretty much all of the shopping done....and with all that the car has put us through....well lets just say, we finished up the shopping a little sooner then anticipated! *sigh* Well, I was wanting to do less this year!
Earlier in November the kiddos spent the afternoon with their Granny for their traditional, setting up of her Christmas village.

Joe went along but was not 'able' to participate but he was certainly content with Granny's large assortment of toys and watching squirrels out the patio doors!

On a side note...did you know that squirrels seem to be a city critter?  At least for us!  Since moving here I have only seen ONE squirrel! Seriously!! I don't seem him...or her...?!! a lot but every so often I catch a glimpse of this one black squirrel - unlike all the ones I constantly used to see in town.....anyways....back to my Christmas prep ramblings...


So things are coming along - like I said, I'm behind but catching up and have even throwing in a few last minute projects.  Because, you know - there wasn't enough to do already!
And I think to sum it all up - because, well I'm in the middle of making my homemade bits and bites, sewing, baking and now the baby is awake again - I'm going to repost my Facebook status from today.  It really, just simply, sums up this fast flying month for me!!
What a month! Waaay behind in shopping, baking and card sending! Then the broken car issue, that cost more then double the expected price!! Then hubby now having to work Christmas eve day - the first in our 9 years of marriage! Then almost running out of wood and thus a very cold house!! To last night when Dave and the gals ended up in the ditch on their way home from work and school. To ending the evening with a small chimney fire! It's been crazy and at moments disheartening!

BUT in it all we have received amazing, God given blessings!!

From neighbours who lent us their van, drove our kids to school, towed our car, chopped our wood and are just ever dear friends!! To a financial gift from an anonymous giver. To sweet friends who go out of their way to help and encourage! To two strangers who stopped to house my hubby and girls in vehicles, when they had other places to be, and for calling the tow truck. To the man who opened his home to them and offered drink and warmth as they waited for the tow truck.

It's easy to get bogged down in life, to let things overwhelm and blur your sight on what truly matters. If I focus on all that has happened this past month I could really be downhearted but when I stop and consider all the blessings that have been there - it's incredibly uplifting! Small simple things can often be taken for granted and I am thankful, as challenging as it may be at times, for these...mishaps - for they cause me to really see Him at work and to appreciate what really matters in life!

Praise the Lord, all nations!
Extol him, all peoples!
For great is his steadfast love toward us,
and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.
Praise the Lord!
Psalm 117:1-2


Praying for all as the final week of the Christmas season is before us -
praying for much joy, peace and love!


Dec 11, 2013

Our Car and His Care

So....I was thinking, weather or not to post this little...story....but then I thought....well often...(if not always?!) I tend to only mention the good things that happen and not elaborate on the...not so good. 

And I think this is - because I do try to see the good in each situation - which is funny, because I'm not an optimist!  I tend to call myself a realist, with pessimist tendencies.  Hahaha!


But God is good and I know that - so when things arise - after my initial meltdowns, woe is me's and tears - I will look to Him and thus ultimately to the good in what lays before us.

So when our car died a few weeks ago...I was needless to say, none to pleased!  Thankfully it died on the front lawn, after hubby returned home from work one Friday night - so we had a whole weekend (three days, in our house) to figure out the problem. (trying to see the good already! *wink*)  It wasn't so much, dead, I guess, as that it wouldn't start.  The ignition and steering wheel were both locked and would not budge.

Some Googling time later and a call to my hubby's mechanic uncle - we had diagnosed that the cylinders in the ignition were shot.  Our car is thirteen years old - so not a surprising part to break down.  We had worked out that it would run us around $300-$500 - not great....Christmas was around the corner and well....we didn't really have that money on hand. 

We had been trying hard the last couple of months to really focus on our budget.  We had been having weekly budget 'dates' to review our finances and to keep us on track.  We knew it was going to take sometime to get things straightened out but that if we were faithful, He would be faithful.  We had vowed to NOT go into debt for this Christmas - a bad habit from years past - and one we planned to change this year.

So this bill for the car was....realistically, going to have to go on credit, but only until the new year - so that we could make it through the holidays and keep on track.  (Yes, I realize that this doesn't make the best financial sense but we're learning here people - baby steps, baby steps! lol!!)

We told Dave's uncle to look into finding the part needed and then we waited.  Two weeks passed and our car continued to sit as a lovely, expensive lawn ornament.  As we put up the Christmas lights, I had half a notion to deck out the car with a strand because it looked like it was going nowhere anytime soon.


Tired of waiting on the uncle - we gave him a call, to discover that he had been so busy that he hadn't even looked for the part yet.  We were a little more then annoyed as we had been juggling getting hubby to work and the girls to school without our second vehicle.

But our amazing neighbours had been our heroes - and had lent us their van so that I could drive the gals to school and Dave could take our van to work.  But it was now nearing the last few days of November and they had plans to not renew the plates or licence on their van come the end of the month.

So we took matters into our own hands.  Hubby called around and in about 20 minutes we had the part ordered and it would be in the next day.  A few calls later and we had an appointment for the following week at the local garage.  Things were looking up.  And again, our loving neighbours offered to help us transport the car to the garage to save us money on the tow.

And I had meant to take pictures of them loading up the car on that flat bed, using a tractor! It was great - not the easiest job, because remember, the steering wheel was locked - but they got it done and in short time too!

So here is where I'm going to speed up the story a bit - because honestly, that's what it felt like living through it.  From the point our car got to the garage and to the time we picked it up - it felt like a snow ball, rolling down a steep hill, gaining in both speed and size!

. see....when we bought our car, five years ago, it was not because it was pretty, or had a nice stereo or even because it had amazing heated leather seats - no, we bought it for two reasons.  One; we could afford it.  Two, it was small enough to fit on our front lawn.  That's all we had for parking at the time, in our last house, and that car fit the bill for size.

What we didn't know, when we bought our car, was the name - Infinity - apparently isn't just the type of car but the price tag that goes along with fixing it!  For the past few years, we had been able to fix up any problems with standard parts...but this it turns out....can't just be 'standard'.

So the rest of the story played out like this; car part was installed on Thursday - the garage called hubby at work.  The part is in, but there's a code that comes up.  We need it moved to a Nissan dealer to reprogram the keys.  Nissan dealer is 30 minutes away.  Pay for tow.  Friday, Nissan calls; we can't program these keys - we need to order a chip key from an Infinity dealer.  Infinity dealer is an hour away.  Key won't be in until Monday - key cost $177 - JUST.FOR.ONE.STINKING.KEY!  Hubby calls part place from where we ordered the part, "You didn't order the right part!  I had said it was a chip key, now they tell us they have to order a chip key for this part"
Guy on phone: "Well, yes, I know - we can't order the chip keys with the replacement parts."  Hubby: "Okay, but why didn't you tell me up front?"
Guy on phone: "Whether I told you or not, you still had to spend the extra money!"

Helpful right?!?!  Anyways - Nissan ordered the key and we finally went Monday to pick up our little car.  Oh and not before they told us that the battery was dead so they had to replace it.  And so the final bill people on our $300-$500 job??



We, were....a shock!

We didn't have the initial money to pay for this fix and now, well, we really didn't have the money for this fix.  Exasperated, we took out all that was left on our line of credit.  That's it folks, maxed out! 

And so.....where's the 'good' side of this you ask?

Well, here is what we've come to.  We were trying to be faithful with our money, trying to be honouring to God and get on track and with this blow - we really felt abandoned.   But after a few days and some sleep, things cleared a little.  What we have concluded is, now we have no choice but to trust Him. 

We can't say, "Hey, we'll try, but if we don't do a good job we'll just borrow!" Nope.  Not now -there's nothing to borrow!  So, it's scary - because we've always had that back up, that 'if something happens' or 'if we just don't want to wait' access to credit.  But now....nothing.

So it's for real people.  We have to officially live within our means and that's scary.....and liberating....and extremely humbling!

So we will manage through the Holiday season and have, HAVE to stick to what money we have.  Hubby will work Christmas eve - even though he doesn't have to go in - because we also learned, for the first time in four years, they are not paying him for the week of plant shut down.  It's going to be a challenge but God is good and He will lead us through whatever that may look like.


And even when I sat in the darker days of, woe is me, tears and meltdowns, God was there.  No it didn't help when someone recommended I turn to scripture and I happen upon Amos and Jeremiah - neither of which was too encouraging.  But what did help was really looking for God, in amongst all of this.

Looking to see Him in the provision of amazing neighbours/friends, who towed our car, lent us their van, drove our kiddos to school and even bought a new snowsuit for our little boy!  My BFF who drove out to pick me up for my midwife appointment, watched my boy for me while I was at said appointment and even came to the hospital when they had to do an unplanned ultrasound to find the heart beat, (all is well, thanks be to God!).  Seeing God's care in the mystery giver who placed an envelope containing $50 in our church mail box and in having much love and support around us.

All in all - it is only money after all and most of what we are 'suffering' through, as I have taken to putting many things lately - are just first world problems! 

God is bigger then money, bigger then debt and bigger that the box I often place Him in.  We look with anticipation, unknowing and the occasional bout of doubt at the season before us and the new year that is fast approaching and look to our Lord for guidance, wisdom and strength.


For this season, is truly about Him, is it not?  And I keep saying I need to focus on that, to really see the Christ in Christmas!  There is so much good, even in the 'bad' around us, if we look, focus and praise Him in it all!

So I'm praying for us and for each of you that as this Christmas season is underway, that our focus is on all the blessings that God gives each day.  That we focus on Him, praise Him and truly worship Him - no matter what may come our way. 

Blessings and much joy to each of you as you prepare for and celebrate this glorious season!




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