Thursday, December 31, 2009

In with the New, out with the Old!

The New Year is very close to us, and so i have decided to start a new challenge. I will be attempting to go outside (purposefully*) with the kidlets every day of 2010. The main goals of this challenge are:
1) to continue the active lifestyle we already have, only with more consistency and dedication -rain or shine.
2) to teach myself and the kids about dressing for the weather, and the importance of having the appropriate gear to be comfortable.
3) to stretch myself by putting aside housework, cooking, etc to maintain a healthy outdoor lifestyle. Forcing me to restructure my time and priorities.
4) to eventually incorporate my own exercise routine with that of the kids: minimizing the time i need to take away from my family for my own personal fitness, and the money spent on separate fitness programs for all members of the family.

This challenge for the New Year of 2010 will be logged on this blog. I will try to do a weekly update of our daily activities. Since a daily update would be too demanding!

I started yesterday: we took a snowy walk through the woods for about an hour. Mercy rides in her stroller, sam and julia walked and ran and tried to slide, but the snow was not deep enough. There is a little island in the lake we walked past and Julia has always wanted to get over to it. So,we made plans to return when the cold snap had been here a little longer, and mommy would be able to trust the lake's ice. THen we will walk out to the island . Sooo excited!! :)

And TOday's adventure in the great outdoors:
we drove to Centenial park for snow sliding fun. :)

I love how TIRED everyone is after the cold fresh air!! Red cheeks. cozy cuddly times.

It is a lot of work to get everyone outside at this stage of life. Julia is self sufficient. As her teachers say, "She could run the class". But sam needs me to do everything still. I am working on him doing little parts of the process like his hat, etc. And of course, Mercy can't do a thing! But As soon as we are out of the house, it feels worth the struggle and half an hour of boots, mitts, hats, vests, jackets, snowpants, bla bla bla. :)

It's no wonder that as the warm weather comes back I feel like i've gained two hours of my day back!!! (no more hats, boots, mitts, neckwarmers, snow pants, jackets, etc etc )

* ~"Purposefully" - I want to make sure we are outside for the purpose of enjoying ourselves, nature and exercising. Walking to and from the van into the house/store/friends' home just won't cut it!! :)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Episode 4: Cheery Chilly Children

Episode 3: More Merry Making Moments

Dressing up for our annual recitation of Luke 1/2. Opa reads while we stand around in costume, sometimes repeating our parts, or just acting them out. we still have a bit of work to do on this tradition, but i love it. Julia is the casting director, she hands out the costumes and directs us to our "parts". This year, she went as far as writing up a script for Karli, who was one of the angels. :) haha.

Time to flash forward to boxing day: in the morning we got ourselves ready for the three hour drive to B-town for our annual Van Oordt visit! The bags had been packed late the previous night, floors were swept and the cat taken care of ... we were ready for a road-trip-holiday! the drive went very well. Dave and I took the time to discuss the top ten travel locations for our next __ years, as a couple and as a family. That was a fun topic!! :) we love our travels, both alone and with our kidlets, which is why i picked this topic as our "long drive conversation topic". The next step to brainstorming locations will be a date where dave and i go to the library to read about our top ten locations. We will choose the ages that our kids should be for the different trips as well. Some of the ideas were practical: the maritimes,NWT and the Yukon. Perhaps even throwing Alaska into the mix with the Northern territories. I'd want the kids to be old enough to enjoy snowshoeing, canoeing and exploring the wilderness of the north. Watching the wildlife, without the concern of "how do i escape a bear attack while holding two babies?" hahaha. JUST KIDDING. WHEW. okay, enough of that blabbering, on to the weekend with the Van Oordt Clan----

Dave is our Breakfast Man. :) He always makes us breaky, first for the seven children, and then for the adults. :) we sit in relative peace, as the children run off, full of french toast and fruit, to play.

a cute Mercy smile.

Snow!! Well, sort of. Apparently it was enough for these festive frolicking children!

Train Table: okay. seriously, i've never seen one single toy entertain children of all ages for such a LONG time!! :) Emily and I were even playing and we're "all growed up".

Episode 2: Short Stories of Seasonal Fun

Aunti Karli made some very special PJ's for the little ones. :)

Dinner as a family. thank you Mama, you spoiled us by making it all for our enjoyment!

Lazing around together as gifts are opened and played with. This year felt very simple in that regard, and I LOVED IT. we have so much to be thankful for. I for one, am so thankful for a family that agrees about present giving. I appreciate the thoughtful gifts, the special homemade things, and the fact that everyone shares our desire to keep things small and simple. :)

Above: new JOHN DEER sweatshirt!!! waaahooo!!
Below: new modeling clay!!! wahooooo!!!

So this is Christmas.

Small Excerpts from a Season of Busy-Delightful-family and friend related-activites Celebrating the birth of Christ:

We all thought is was so cute how Mercy was mesmerized by this doll from Uncle Adam. She held it, staring thoughtfully at it's little face and then sweetly declared aloud, "Baby".

Julia spends the majority of her play time in Crafting activities. So a lot of her gifts were of that theme. :)

Sam loves his trucks/trains/machines. :)

For two years now Julia has wanted her own "princess" snow slider... Now she has it! Thank you Uncle Adam! :) haha.

Mercy and Opa sticking their tongues out at each other. :)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

All in a Day's Work

Today was my Hillson-Kamps Christmas Family gathering, of the Central-Canada Variety. (that means it had very low attendance)

However, not being an accountant or mathematician, numbers do not matter much to me, each individual who was able to attend, though, meant very much!!

Here is HOlhol wearing her brand new (beautiful) sweatshirt that was gifted to her from her lovely Westernly Family. It sent ripples of awe and oooh through the crowds of festive party goers. (there were a lot today!!! busy busy in that little living room area that we all visit in!)

Being the season of merriment, I planned well in advance for today's journey and festivities. First of all, FOOD. That has always been high on the list of essentials for me growing up. (for most i suppose... but for my family in a special way) Food: It was the topic of arguments and of joy, the source of comfort and sometimes queasiness. Hot or cold, plenty or little, food has always been a central part of our Hillson-Kamps parties. My dear dear Oma always supplied plentiful trays of goodies galore. Meatball soup or ham with mustard sauce, cake, cookies, hot chocolate and plenty of, "oh go ahead, you need another bar or square or cookie!! THey are so little, take another!" :) She kept us well supplied. So in her honor (and for our enjoyment) i prepared a holiday ham, complete with mustard sauce, beans and mashed potatoes to share with my sweet cousin Holly today. We sat as a family and ate, the six of us took the "private room" (classroom) since the living room was so jampacked there were no chairs for us.

I did not get any photos of the dinner, but i suppose that is a good sign. A sign that the food was so good (OR that we were SO hungry) that we devoured it too quickly to be caught on film. :)

The GIrls from the centre made us DELICIOUS goodies for dessert. Scores and scores of them. So many, that they sent us all home with beautiful tins full of them! :)

My sweet cousin, my sweet little girl. :)

Being the out-of-doors type, (both Holly and I) we brought our crazy carpet and cruised all the local hills! Swift. But oh so tiring walking BACK up those long drawn out ontario hills. :) Maybe next year there will be a tow rope...

....And this is where she said, "I'm going to see if i can glide down on my boots"

ahha. Cowboy boots have a very pointed toe that gets caught easily.... I caught a nice "i'm flying head over heels down this hill" shot. :) hahaha. she didn't really fall though.


I love seeing Hol play with my kids. I miss all my cousins dearly, they were a huge part of my growing up years and it just doesn't feel right to not have them around. (that -of course- also goes without saying for all the other dear sweet family back home. sister and parents at the top of the list!!)

Here they are watching Holly take the preliminary run down the hill.
They all agreed, she ranked in the top five and is going to the Olympics.

What great form!

What great technique!

So cool. She is way too cool. too cool for all that ice.

The Great Wait.
when can we go down?
Hmmm on that topic: I'm always shocked and amazed (you know, during all those minutes i spend reflecting on my day... before i pass out on my pillow) at how well my kids travel, respond to change and new situations. They adapt amazingly well and i praise them for it (when i notice and remember). They are so patient with us. With me. I can't fill all their needs right when they'd like (water food bathroom mittens socks boots kisses-for-hurts help-with-arguments fixing-toys holding-hands etc) yet they wait for me. Today, complete with 7 hours of driving, one hour of shopping, four hours of visiting and half an hour of helping me clean up once we got home - and they went to bed thanking ME for bringing them to "HOlly's house". wow. where does that come from? crazy eh? God's little and big blessings just out of nowhere. THANK YOU Lord!! :)

I hope you enjoyed the "Gift Opening Series" staring HOlly. I wanted Ant and Uncle to feel like they were there with her. :) So we did some surprise faces and tugging-off-the-paper faces. She was very happy with the satsuma scented things, repeatedly saying "this is my favorite scent!". :)

And this is a look of joy on her face, what a wonderful thing to see.

I can't recreate it in the blog, but the crowd reacts so beautifully to HOlly when she is at the microphone. It is a gift. Really, I can't describe well enough the chemistry Holly has with people. She was reading the second half of the narration of the Christmas story for the kids during the "Christmas program" today, and the moment she took a stand at the mic, the crowd came alive with Laughter. Whether it is the tone of voice or the words she chooses, HOlly has a way of working the crowd.

The singing of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" with different words then we are used to... it was very well done and the girls seemed to be having a BLAST. :)

All in all it was a good day. A lot of hard work went into today, but it paid off. Some of my favorite times were: when we first walked up, Sam saw HOlly (whom he should not remember... i can't think of when they would have seen each other last....) he looked up at her with big eyes and a smile and said in one of those "you must be SANTA CLAUS" voices: "You are HOLLY. You are HOLLY!" it was so cute. :)

I also loved seeing Holly sled with my kids.

I loved the food (in good hillsonkamps tradition).

I loved bringing Christmas to HOlly.

I loved driving in the dark, watching all the lights and listening to MercyMe next to Dave.

And i love that soon i will be in bed.... ZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

the happenings of ChristmasTide.

Julia brought this craft Idea home from Awana last night, so I prepared all of the paper and Names of Jesus for this afternoon when she arrived home from school, and we made a "Names of Jesus Garland". :)

Again this year, the request to make our own ornaments came to my ears. So we did make a batch of salt dough a few weeks ago, and just today finished painting them all - pictured below!! (there were A LOT)
Some unpainted ones are pictured above hanging in my dogwood branches from out Perch Creek Habitat walk. :)

This coming Saturday is another special day for our family. IT is the visiting day for a certain delightful cousin !! The difference this time around is that, instead of me having to organize child care for a very long 12 hour day, pack the kids up, send them away, etc etc... Dave and the kids get to see HOlly this time as well!! I am stoked!!! Especially with the season that is upon us, I truly want to give Holly the loveliest Family-style Christmas possible.( With her being so so far from home and family.)
So 'Ant', if you are reading this, Here is the precious gift you sent for her, newly wrapped! :)
The ham is cooked, and tomorrow i will make Oma's famous mustard sauce.(which happens to be our family's favorite, and HOlly's too) . Then We will enjoy beans and buns and ham, followed by Almond cake and good fellowship. :) merry christmas to us! :)

Dave and I have a dear Small group of families that we study the bible together with every Tuesday evening. This past tuesday we decided to go caroling, and leave gift baskets full of fruit and goodies and flowers and fun. Here are four of the some 11 kids that we have between the four families that showed up for the task. :)