Friday, December 30, 2011

[heart] Christmas

I love Christmas, I really do... but at the same time, when it's done - I am *so* over it. I don't think I can do a play-by-play at this point. I am going to maybe do one big collective post that covers the last week... when I can get the thoughts in order! For now though, I am heading to bed early. I was out last night and it will be a big night tomorrow night. Two nights out in one week! - what am I, 16 again? :)

Friday, December 23, 2011

Resolving early

This was me a couple of days ago, and I'm hoping that by the time this post posts, it's nothing but a distant memory. I woke up feeling fine last Friday, then had a somewhat achy back by the end of the day, which got worse on Saturday and by Sunday I could hardly walk. A trip to the chiropractor on Monday resulted in the diagnosis of one of the crookedest spines he had seen in some time. I am literally standing as straight as I can in this picture, but a massive lower-back muscle spasm had me teetering dangerously over to the right.

His diagnosis included the hypothesis that it was probably stress-related, and at first I protested that I didn't think that could be it, but then I thought about it some more. We did have to convene the Emergency Operating Centre at work on Friday for an unforseen incident. Mallory did spend the night vomiting. We did have family obligations the next day which followed on the obligations we had the weekend before that and the weekend before that and... The constant to-do lists and running around that happen at this time of year. And as usual, I am sure I had probably not been getting enough sleep, eating well enough, exercising as much as I should, and I know my pool time (the one thing that always makes my back feel good) has been dwindling as of late.

And then I thought about how this has probably been the poorest-ever year for me from a health perspective, what with the injuries I had over the summer (also back related; not really surprising, hmmm?) that made my race season 1 for 3, the pneumonia I had in September, and the never-ending sickness that pervaded our household through much of October and November. Clearly, something is not working.

So this is my vow - to make 2012 the Year Of Health. To sleep more, eat better, move as much as I can, and let as much stress as possible roll off my back. To commit to doing less, but rather than seeing it as wasted opportunity, I'm going to make it as purposeful as possible. The past six months have been tough ones and I'd rather not repeat them.

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. This is me officially unplugging for a bit, for the sake of my body + soul.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

And then it was his turn

'Tis the season for school concerts. Wednesday was Liam's. He did not sing much during the group number, but he did recite a poem along with three or four other kids, and nailed his own personal lines. We followed the show up with some craft time back in his classroom.We also encountered Mallory's class travelling the halls. They had a pajama day to celebrate the end of their Polar Express unit, and it was pretty cute to see them all lined up in their jammies. (Mallory is making the 'quiet' sign that her teacher often does - the kids were getting a bit rowdy in the hall and the teacher had just shushed them. She takes that quiet sign pretty seriously!!)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

As promised

I've spliced together roughly 90 seconds of footage... when you are filming between the heads of 4 rows of parents in front of you, you don't get a clean edit. That's OK though... condensed cuteness is fine by me.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The kindergarten Christmas concert - round #3

Be still, my heart. It's one of my favourite days of the year. I will have to find some time to upload a video clip because that Mallory, she carried her little trio right through Twelve Days of Christmas, and it was a hoot.(Last week I let her wear that shirt to school one day, and she managed to dump a bottle of grape juice down the front of it. Clearly the kids-clothes-selector is not the same as the kids-lunch-packer in this house. Her teacher called me, slightly frantic and quite apologetic although it had nothing to do with her, to say that she'd tried washing it out in the sink in the classroom to no avail. I thought that shirt was ruined and that we'd have to find something else for the concert, but let me tell you once again - white vinegar works MAGIC.)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Taking a risk

Mallory is mostly absent from these pictures taken Saturday, but look closely. There's a sliver of her face on the left of the middle one. Despite having been up puking several times the night before, she came skipping into our room bright and early the next morning, requesting a glass of juice and her breakfast. She seemed to be fully restored. We waffled for a while; to go or not to go? In the end we decided to go, all of us.Halfway to Brights Grove we heard it from the back seat: "My tummy hurts!" I spent the next half hour regretting the decision. We walked through Aunt Brenda and Uncle Bob's door and she wanted to sit and cuddle on my lap on the first armchair she saw. But once she warmed up to the crowd and the idea of a Christmas party, it was game on. I think her tummy hurting only meant that she was hungry. She ate strawberries and waffles for brunch and nibbled from the buffet later in the day. During the board game round-robin she remained undefeated at Pictureka. All in all, a very good day.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Beware of referencing the past, lest ye summon it.

(Picture taken during happier times. Last weekend, to be precise.)

This is what I'm referring to. Yep - it's happened again - Mallory has come down with a nasty stomach virus with a week to go until Christmas. We have not been able to keep up with the laundry tonight (three pairs of pajamas/three sets of bedsheets, and it's not even midnight!)

This time, though, we are early knowers. We have a family Christmas party tomorrow but I'm pretty sure we infected that side of the family when we went through this back in 2007, so this year Mallory and I will stay home and Liam and Chad will head out without us. I couldn't bear for Liam not to go - he is never happier than when grazing at a buffet table or playing with Fluffster, The Cat Who Dresses Up Like Santa.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The thing about the Elf on the Shelf

Reddy (named by Mallory) The Elf has lived with us for fifteen days now, and during that time we have had our share of ups and downs. First, a bit of backstory. The idea of Elf on the Shelf is that the elf comes to us directly from the North Pole. He observes the kids' behaviour by day and flies back to the North Pole nightly in order to report back to Santa on what he has seen and heard. The next morning, the kids wake up to find him in a new location, proof that he took that magical overnight trip.

The only rule of Elf on the Shelf is that you are not allowed to touch him, or else his magic might disappear.

With that in mind... I laughed out loud when I read this post today, because I could totally relate. The same thing happened to us.Well, our kids didn't have such a complete meltdown, but an unsuspecting grandmother did touch the elf (in plain sight of the kids) before we could warn her about the rules of Elf on the Shelf. There was an immediate, horrified gasp from Liam and Mallory, who worried that the elf's magic would thusly be ruined. I gave them a quick reassurance that it would not matter, but still they got out of bed extra-early the following morning to race back to that same spot and make sure he wasn't stuck there, magic drained like an old Energizer battery.

True, Reddy has taken a lot of work on our behalf. There was one morning when I was very, very lucky to remember that he was in the same spot he'd occupied the day before, and I held the kids off of going downstairs with some lame excuse, then rushed around to find him a new spot moments before they came in. Another Elf on the Shelf low moment came when Liam saw the tag on him (I had rested him on a plant, and by the end of the day, the branch he was on had flopped over, exposing his backside.) "Why is there a tag on Reddy?" he wondered aloud. I quickly changed the subject and that night after Liam was in bed, I chopped the offending tag off. No need for Liam, who can read an amazingly wide assortment of literature these days, to see "MADE IN CHINA".

But there have been benefits, too. It is not uncommon to wander into whatever room Reddy happens to be hanging out in and find Liam staring at him intently. I can see what is running through his mind. He is willing Reddy to blink. I remember that feeling of willing an inanimate object to come to life very well. (Heck, I still feel that way whenever I pass a religious statue - I always make eye contact because you never know, I might see a sign.) When I was a kid we had a Snap, Crackle or Pop figurine (who knows which one) that came out of a Rice Krispies box, and sometimes for fun my mom would play a game where we would put him on top of the fridge and leave the kitchen. Upon returning, he would be gone, hidden somewhere around the house. And I totally bought into it that he was some magical little thing that could hide entirely on his own.

Before we got the Elf on the Shelf, I read all kinds of stories of people who caught their elves doing naughty things, like having marshmallow fights with their Barbie dolls or decorating the house with candy canes. I always sort of thought our elf would do those things too, but he doesn't. He mostly just moves from kitchen to living room to bathroom and back again. I came across this post and nodded along in agreement with almost every word. Maybe Reddy will step it up as Christmas approaches, though to be honest, I am working until December 23rd this year and I don't foresee a whole lot of extra magic until I'm done... but he goes home to the North Pole for good on the 24th, so at that point, why bother?

Oh well... there's always next year.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

All they want for Christmas

The annual making-of-the-Christmas-lists tradition has come and gone in our house, and it played out this year similarly to how it has played out in the past. Mallory cut everything pink and girlie out of the Sears Christmas Wish Book and said she wanted it all. Her original list was multiple pages long before she whittled it down to a manageable size. Liam, on the other hand, really didn't know what he wanted even with the Wish Book in front of him, and it took some suggestions from Mom and Dad for him to be able to compose any list at all.

Liam's big wish this year is for a Lego pirate ship. I had it on pretty good authority that Santa had requested this item from Sears back in the middle of November, only to get an email a few days ago telling him that the order had been cancelled. This upset Santa quite a bit and he fired off a nasty email to Sears saying he found it unacceptable that his order would have been deemed to be fulfilled only to be cancelled three weeks later, and what if he can't find the item elsewhere and has nothing under the tree for Liam on Christmas morning? Sears replied with an unapologetic mass email,which means that Santa will be taking his business back to the elves next year. Meanwhile, Santa sourced the Lego set elsewhere and though it hasn't arrived yet, he has a tracking number that at least indicates it's on its way (and residing in Mississauga, last he checked.)

Mallory's big wish this year is for all things Barbie. Actually, she has deemed that she wants the purple barbie and the Ken doll pictured here (actually, their names are Delaney and Nicholas - I think she will be pleased by that!) and this ridiculous thing called the Puppy Water Park, which is a swimming pool you can fill with water and a couple of plastic dogs that swim in it. No idea how much use she will get out of it but she very much wants it. And let's face it, Barbie wishes are easy wishes to fulfill - they are cheap and they are available everywhere. Santa is going to throw in an extra playhouse type thing that will hopefully give her more mileage with the dolls than the water park will. And, she is getting the Barbie Princess Charm School movie, starring Delaney and Nicholas, which I think she will be thrilled about.

Mom and Dad's gift to the kids is a Leappad for each of them, and thank goodness we had the foresight to order these in October because we paid $85 each for them and they are now going for upwards of $250 on eBay - they seem to be sold out everywhere. This year's version of the 1983 Cabbage Patch doll shortage.

Liam is still very much into Beyblades and will get a BeyLocker... some hockey books... Mallory has some more Squinkies and a Rapunzel t-shirt coming her way... and several more fun little things that will make for a happy Christmas morning.

If only Chad were so easy to buy for!!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

First we'll make snow angels for two hours, then we'll go ice skating, then we'll eat a whole roll of Tollhouse cookie dough as fast as we can...

...and then we'll snuggle.

I simply adore Christmas movies. They're even better now that the kids like watching them, too. We finish up homework and race to get into pajamas so that we can watch some of our favourite holiday specials before bed.

(Name that movie? Here are some additional hints:
I love smiling. Smiling's my favourite.
You're not Santa. You smell like meat and cheese!
Son of a nutcracker!)

Monday, December 12, 2011

The first rule of December Daily is there are no rules

I have been (mostly) keeping up with my December Daily... on my own terms. (Meaning, I caught up over the weekend. I can do the easy days midweek, but anything that requires decision making typically gets deferred to the weekend!)

Yesterday was our first family Christmas get-together. I am particularly enamoured of this picture of Mallory in the midst of a game of Duck Duck Goose. Can't believe she is actually mostly in focus:The day prior was a very big day for Liam. He, Chad, and both of his grandpas went to the Red Wings game in Detroit - his first NHL game. I have gone back and forth over it, considered adding a page of extra photos, but in the end I'm going to stick just with what's here and will recrop this one horizontal and maybe add some text to finish the day off:And you knew this would probably show up as my entry for December 9:

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The newest member of the family

Lillian Jane MacKenzie, born to John and Katrina yesterday morning and clocking in at 9 pounds even! Mallory is beyond thrilled to have a girl cousin. She is tomboyish enough right now to hold her own with the posse of boys, but I'm glad that she will have Lilly to grow up with.

Friday, December 9, 2011

I keep going back to this link

It's the '45 Most Powerful Photos of 2011'. They all take my breath away, and make me want to pick up my camera and shoot something.

45 Most Powerful Photos of 2011

Monday, December 5, 2011

December Daily: Day 4

The middle picture quite possibly being the best Santa photo in Cook family history.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Hello, December.

This is the fifth year running that I've tackled a December Daily project. I'll be honest... I follow the project guidelines very, very loosely. Sometimes I do a week's worth of pages in one day and then ignore it for the rest of the week. Sometimes I use pictures from November and call them December. Sometimes I number the days and sometimes I just document the month without worrying about lining it up with the calendar. My motto is basically to do what it takes to get it done. The first rule of December Daily is that there are no rules in December Daily.

This year I bought a 6x8.5" Christmas recipe binder (from a scrapbook store during their Christmas in July sale and got it for $6!) It has 6x8.5" page protectors and 2-up photo pages. So the guesswork was taken out of the equation for me (gotta love simplifying). Each layout is one 6x8.5" page plus two 4x6" photos printed and inserted in the sleeves. If something super fantastic happens one day I might throw in an extra photo sleeve.

Some of the pages will have some stuff added to them once printed... some of them are complete as they are. I'm random like that.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Worth watching

To think that it started when he was the age Liam is now... really drives it home.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

About face

This is what Mallory made at school on Wednesday.

You were all here to witness this, right??