December Mixed Nuts


It’s been one nutty month! January is coming and we will be making some important changes to our family routine to make it more manageable. Or, more accurately, to make it more manageable by happy, competent parents. Right now we are grouchy, unhealthy, harried and exhausted parents.

(1) One thing we are doing well by necessity is Advent. No, we haven’t figured out the Jesse Tree or even the Advent calendar. We don’t even have an Advent wreath this year! The twins are 15 months and I am more tired and overwhelmed on a year of sleep deprivation than I was after 3 months (fancy that!). What we have achieved through being too busy to worry is a very simple lead-up to Christmas. “What?” you ask, “Why a simple lead-up to Christmas?” Well, because we are Catholics and this is how it was meant to be. Here is a catchy little video that explains what Advent is about. My favorite part? “If you are sick of Christmas by December 25th, you didn’t do Advent correctly!” We must have done something right then!

(2) Two Christmas dance open house(s)…. My oldest daughter started teaching Irish dancing this year and I wasn’t able to attend her first open house as a teacher but I did attend her dance class. I don’t have digital pictures of her first Christmas open house, 10 years ago or I would post a “This was then, this is now” I am so, so proud of my children. No words can describe this feeling. Here’s a little reel for the season (or a hornpipe? I feel like I should know…)

http://youtu.be/5SHE7JfcapU

(3) Three … O Christmas Tree. My son told me this joke and because I’m a French speaker, it took me a while to “get” it: Why couldn’t the French man count to 10?” – “Because there’s a ‘tree’ in the way”… Ok, ok. We took an afternoon to go to our country acreage and chop down a piece of evergreen. The tree is too floppy to carry light garlands but it is unique. It’s ours.

First snowfall. Time to get a tree!
First snowfall. Time to get a tree!
On our way to find a tree
On our way to find a tree
This is part of the bluff where our house will be built.
This is part of the bluff where our house will be built.
Success!!
Success!!
Having fun in the sleigh
Having fun in the sleigh
Coming home!
Coming home
Eve is helping
Eve is helping

(4) Four days of intense batch cooking. I subscribed to Once a Month Mom, a meal planning tool that takes the thinking out of batch/freezer cooking. The “Once a Month” is for a “normal” family of four. For a family of 10, it’s an exhausting 4 day kitchen marathon. It would have been worth it except that our oven is broken and our landlord unresponsive. My freezers are full, FULL, and I’m still making supper from scratch almost every day. But the recipes from the Whole Food menu are delicious. I plan to write a full review post soon. In the mean time, here are my two middle daughters making tortillas from scratch. Adjusted for a family of 10, it starts with “Pour 27 cups of flour into a large bowl.”

Making tortilla from scratch with a big bowl!
Making tortilla from scratch with a big bowl!

(5) Five older children got a special treat this season. The Parliamentary Dining Room is a fine restaurant located on the 6th floor of the Centre Block of Parliament. It is accessible to Members of Parliament, Senators, and selected members of the Parliamentary Press Gallery. Once a year, it opens its doors to Parliament staff and their guests. This is the second time that my husband and I treat our older children to the Christmas buffet at the Parliamentary Dining Room. We leave the littles with my mother and we have some good civilized fun with our table-mannered children.

Some fine looking young people
Some fine looking young people
"So then I told Transport Canada 'Why don't we regulate more stringent car seat guidelines every year. It will prevent people from passing them on and recycling them' Our bottom line could use a boost... Get it? A boost!"
“So then I told Transport Canada ‘Why don’t we regulate more stringent car seat guidelines every year. It will prevent people from passing them on and recycling them’ Our bottom line could use a boost… Get it? A boost!”
Cheers!
Cheers!
Ladies
Ladies
Drama in the vintage wood-paneled elevator
Drama in the vintage wood-paneled elevator
The Rotunda in Centre Block: All decked-out!
The Rotunda in Centre Block: All decked-out!

DSC_0079

So That’s what we did this Advent season. What about you?

Beauty and the gargoyles
Beauty and the gargoyles

My husband is a rock star


Not a real rock star, of course. But he rocks more than the other husbands and that makes him a rock star. Photo credit to my two oldest (and apparently talented) children, who are not supposed to touch the D90 under pain of death. You are so busted.

12-ish years ago, we bought a canoe at Canadian Tire. We used it a couple of times to go camping. In fact, my last memory of using the canoe was at Silver Lake. I peed on a stick that morning and found out we were expecting Marie. My last memory of the canoe is therefore tinged with morning sickness. With 4 then 5 children, activities like camping took a sabbatical and the canoe sat — or rather lied — unused in three consecutive backyards. Until now.

The pond
Tall grass

When the children saw the pond behind our rental house they immediately thought of great canoeing adventures. When their dad asked where he should set-up the trampoline in the backyard, David’s answer was immediate:

On the island! This way it will be double the fun!

Trampo-freaks entertaining the neighbourhood
Trampoline Island

(it has not occurred to my little country bumpkin that the patch of grass behind our patio door is our only backyard. The pond belongs to the Crown according to the developer and the developer according to the City.)

Cloudscape
Plane

Last weekend, my husband took the children for a turn in the canoe. The pond is a rainwater catchment area landscaped to serve as a recreational path and  bird sanctuary. The children returned from their expedition with tales of seeing Aaron-the-Heron (and his partner-in-majestic-flight Erin-the-Heron) up real close and meeting a little water mammal in the cracks of the man-made retaining wall. My husband was proud to be fit enough to portage his vehicle to and from the pond. I never had any doubts.

Our teenage daughter and son ran around the pond taking pictures of the expedition laughing as they heard kids yelling from their backyards: “They have a CANOE!!” Meanwhile I could just imagine the exasperated look on their parents’ faces. “Two years doing just fine telling the kids we weren’t allowed on the pond, and they move with their 8 kids and A CANOE… There goes the neighbourhood!”

Since September we have not taken nearly enough time to pause and spend time doing something cool with the children. This little expedition around our suburban paradise reminded me just how simple building memories can be. In a large family, all too often the heroism is not in the endless march of chores but in being able to stop long enough to do something else.