Holidays are making me flip upside down

This weekend one of our Advent activities was to put up the tree. I hate to admit it but nothing ruins my holiday spirit quite like setting up the tree with the lights – even with a pre-lit tree! One section of our tree’s lights ended up being burnt out so George had to buy a small string for me to weave around that one area, and that worked fine.




Luckily then we were able to move on to the part I truly do love which is decorating the tree. We put on some Christmas music on the television, I made myself a cup of Chai tea, and we went at the tree with every ornament, string of beads, and bit of tinsel that we have.

All done


Lit up

In the end it looked great and I was very happy to hang out by the tree for the rest of the evening. We also had a string of lights that wasn’t really going to work in the window so I wrapped it around one of our lamps instead and it makes the living room look so cheerful.

That was yesterday and then today I decided that after almost two years of practicing near-daily yoga, it was time to confront my fear of headstands, well, head-on. I blame Bex who was working on the same thing today.

It worked. I still have to get more comfortable with it and learn to get my legs up higher in a full headstand, but baby steps work for me for now. I did a headstand once (halfway like I did today) back in April of 2010 and then I suddenly became terrified and wasn’t able to bring myself to do it again. Part of my problem was I had needed to hop up and I know you aren’t supposed to hop into a headstand (or any inversion really other than maybe a handstand), and I couldn’t figure out how to just bring my legs up without it.

I’ll keep working on it but for today, well, my clap at the end of the video pretty much says it all.

How was your weekend?

Refining the plans

If you’ve been reading me for awhile you’ll know that for the past couple of years I’ve hung an advent calendar with homemade envelopes and inside each one is a slip of paper with a fun activity. It helps count down until Christmas and gives the kids something to look forward to each day.

Advent calendar

This year finds me not being home for most of their waking time during the week but I don’t want to give up the advent calendar tradition. I just need to do some refining and pick activities that work either for the mornings before we leave for school (maybe a special breakfast or some kind of holiday-themed story on the couch?) or that George can do with them in the evenings. Then we’ll save the bigger ones for weekends.

I was disappointed at first but this just means I have to get a little bit creative to keep the tradition going. We’ve included things like manicure/pedicure sessions at home, candlelit bubble baths, letters to Santa, and other such fun stuff. Any suggestions of simple and quick ideas for weekdays would be appreciated!

A day outdoors in the crazy weather


The weather was a little bi-polar up here today. This morning it was snowing and it was actually the kind of snow that I like, with the big, fat flakes that float down slowly. It was also quite warm out. We had planned our Advent activity today to be sledding but I wasn’t sure how that would work out since they were calling for at least two hours of freezing rain in the afternoon. In the end George said we should go anyway so we set it up with our friends to meet at a nearby park and after a tasty brunch (George fried up some bacon then made us egg and cheese “McMuffins”, yummy) we were suited up in our snow suits and in the van.

The kids

I’m so glad we went. When we got there it was overcast but nothing more than that and the temperatures were still holding at reasonable levels. We were there for an hour and a half and in that time we also saw some mixed precipitation (that’s a mix of snow and rain for those of you who aren’t well-versed in Canadian winters), followed by ice pellets (a little painful on the face while zipping down a hill on a saucer but bearable), then just overcast skies again. Right as we were leaving there was a light pattering of rain and then that cleared up before we even got home.

Chain gang

Despite the weird transitional weather we had so much fun. The ice pellets lasted all of 15 minutes so I’m glad we didn’t change our plans based on the forecast. This is the second time in a row that a forecast has been wildly wrong. Last week they said to expect about 5 centimeters of snow and we got over 30. This week they warned of a 25 centimeter storm, then changed to a bit of snow and the freezing rain, and we ended up with little to worry about. Silly meteorologists!


I love sledding and other than a few minutes of break time here and there I pretty much spent the whole time going up and down the hill. We were four adults and four kids, plus we spent some time swapping sleds with another dad and his two sons, so it was pretty much a blast. Definitely a great Advent idea!

Full set over here.

Catching Up

Even though I’ve only missed one day since Holidailies started I feel like I’m so far behind on keeping up to date on stuff. I don’t want to let my advent activities slip away without remembering them so I’ll just fill you in on that.

On day 7 the activity was one that sounds strange at first: Putting shoes by the door. Although we’re not German, many years ago I “met” a lot of moms on a big forum that no longer exists, and we all picked up different things from each other. A friend of mine whose family is German told us all about Saint Nicholas Day where children lay their shoes by the door and in the morning they find some small goodies in them. Now in all honesty we were late – the day is actually the 5th but we were lucky because the elves left the kids some very nice things. They woke up in the morning to find hair accessories, notebooks (a hot commodity around here!), and of course a bit of candy.


Day 8 was one of those days where I was trying very hard to embrace winter since we have a lot of it left, so I planned for our activity to be good for a little post-sledding. That was fun and went well. When we came in, the advent revealed that we would have big steaming mugs of hot chocolate with lots of marshmallows.


Day 9 kind of slipped by quickly so I made the activity a quiet one, reading some Christmas books in bed which was nice. Alas, I have no pictures since I was busy reading.

Today was day 10 and I decided it was a good time for something very straightforward and simple. On the one hand it’s Friday so we can hopefully sleep in at least a little bit tomorrow but on the other hand it’s also the end of the week and we were all tired. I ended up choosing to put on a Christmas special in the evening and we all watched it before getting the kids to bed. I tossed in one of my favorites, the Charlie Brown Christmas Special and it never loses its charm.

We should have some good advent stuff this weekend if everything goes well.


I ended up enjoying myself so much as I watched Winnie run free at the park that I did it again yesterday and today. I made sure to bring my cameras with me and I got some pictures and video. I was pretty nervous doing it all by myself but she did great. The fact that I brought cheese encouraged her to come back when I called too.

I can haz cheez now?

I'm on my way!

50/52 - Buddies

I even got video showing her mad running skillz.

Today was even better. We were alone again and running, playing, and throwing sticks when all of a sudden I saw her dog friend from the other day coming out of the woods. Winnie didn’t notice at first since I was busy holding a stick but when she turned and saw the Mastiff her body tensed up in that “oh my GOD!” kind of joyful way, then she pretty much hurled herself across the park; I’m not entirely convinced that her feet touched the ground.

Even though Ginger the Mastiff was already tired from a long walk in the woods with her owner, they both played for awhile and spent some time lazing about in the snow.

Can't catch me!


It’s been fabulous seeing how easy it is to wear her out with just a nice walk, a wild romp, a lot of snow, and a walk back home. Between that and the fact that it’s almost 11 pm and Winnie’s not a night owl, she’s passed out directly behind my chair and I think she might actually be snoring.

Which is my cue to go chill out a bit and then think about bed!

Advent Day 5 & 6, plus a great example of giving

Today is the first day of Holidailies, and that means I’ll be doing my best to post daily or almost daily from now through January 5th. A lot of people start Holidailies with an introduction for new folks dropping by. I don’t normally bother but I saw that Carrie had done an intro so here’s my brief version for anyone who hasn’t been reading here before.

I’m Sherry, I’m 36, and I live in the Great White North. Okay, it’s just Montreal, it’s not THAT high up there, but it’s been snowing all day, so it’s definitely pretty white out there. Included in this blog you will find frequent references to George (my husband), even more frequent references to Hayley and Breanna (my 8- and 5-year-olds), and a lot of random blathering in between. We recently got a Border Collie/Black Lab mix that Breanna named Winnie, I work from home as a freelance blogger (not this blog!) and content writer, I obsess somewhat over yoga, I am highly involved in Hayley’s school (I’m the secretary for the PPO, co-chair for the Governing Board, and I volunteer for a lot of the events up there), and I can’t leave home without a camera (and the few times that I do I almost always regret it).

Until Christmas comes you’ll find me updating about our family’s Advent Activity calendar. You can read more about it over here but the basic gist of it is each day we open an envelope that contains some sort of activity either just for the kids or for the whole family. If you feel like catching up, check out the Advent category.

Yesterday was our fifth day with the calendar and our activity was really just for the kids since neither George nor I joined in this time. It involved going from this:

Advent activity day 5

To this:


It was Build-Your-Own-Sundae time! I scooped out the ice cream and the kids added sliced bananas, marshmallows, broken pieces of candy cane, chocolate sauce, and of course sprinkles.



It was not surprisingly a big hit, and surprisingly the sugar rush didn’t keep them up all night.

Today was day six and I had chosen a Christmas movie (just a short one since it’s a school night) as our activity but when Breanna opened it up the kids both decided they’d like to repeat Saturday night’s family Wii challenge instead. We ended up saving the movie for the weekend instead. Alas, there was a bit of a meltdown near the end, but it’s still fun.

In other news, today was one of the best days I have ever spent up at Hayley’s school. A local restaurant (Table 51 for Montreal peeps – you should go, the food is delicious and the staff is awesome) sponsored a hot pasta lunch for all the kids at lunch time. They served pasta with tomato sauce, parmesan cheese, bread rolls, juice boxes, and even red velvet cupcakes for dessert.

More than that though, they really wanted to re-create a restaurant experience because some of the kids in our school have probably never been to a proper restaurant in their life. Since we couldn’t exactly bus them over to the restaurant because of logistical issues, they brought the restaurant to us. Several staff members – wait staff, chefs, etc. – came to the school along with all the food and it was incredible. We put tablecloths out on the tables, there were menus, and we had music playing. The kids all sat down and the staff served all the kids just like they would in a restaurant. Meanwhile, the parent volunteers just kept things moving by bringing plates up to the front table for the wait staff to grab.

The kids had a blast. Everyone was smiling and enjoying the food, and they especially loved being served. I think it made them feel really special. One anecdote had a few of us a bit teary-eyed; one of the boys who often shows up with a very sparse lunch or no lunch at all because of financial issues at home was so grateful for this experience that he sat at the table with his hand pressed together and he prayed to God, thanking Him for the delicious food and all the kind people who came in to bring it to him. It was so touching and that one moment was worth every bit of effort.

The whole thing went smoothly. I was there by 9 am, things were set up and the pre-cooked food was heated back up, and we were able to serve 350 people by the end of lunch hour. We even got to sit down to eat our own servings, clean up, and get out of there by 1:15 pm. It was a great time.


Red Velvet

By the way, that was the first time I had ever tasted a red velvet cupcake and I now understand the hype. I am completely RUINED for any other cupcake from now on.

Awesome group

Thanks Table 51, you guys were amazing!

Advent: Day 3 & 4 and a whole lot of holly jolly

December is just flying by so far, I can’t believe it’s already the 5th of the month! On day 3 of our Advent activity calendar was a candlelit bubble bath for the kids. Most of our activities are the same as last year and they thought this one was great – adding candles makes it very different from your average bath. I figured it was a good weekend (Friday) night activity since I knew they would want to stay in for awhile and this way I didn’t have to worry about rushing them to get them to bed for 8 pm.



It just goes to show that the activities don’t have to be expensive or complicated for the kids to enjoy them!

Saturday came around and our day 4 activity was a family game night using the Wii. I do like board games too and we’ll probably bring that one around on another weekend, but I love the Wii. I suggested that we’d have more fun if we got two more remotes. Last year when we did this we had to team up and share our two remotes. It was a great idea because playing four people at once is awesome.

We moved the coffee table over to one side of the living room and started with some carnival games which were good but ended up moving on quickly to the newest game that we had, Mario Party 8. THAT was fun. It’s like a board game with little mini-game challenges in between turns and it was a blast. It took about 45 minutes for us to play a ten-turn game but we had such a good time that this morning George suggested that we play again before lunch.

Take cover



Today’s day five but our activity won’t be until after supper so I’ll save that for another post. Holidailies starts tomorrow with participants posting (almost) daily from December 6th until (I believe) January 5th, so there will be no shortage of blog posts for the next month.

In other news, our Christmas decorations are all up and it looks like Christmas threw up all over our living room. I love it! Our friends gave us a spare tree that has pre-strung lights and let me tell you something, I hope to never have to string a tree with lights ever again. It was fantastic to just need to plug everything in. The best part though is that it’s so much bigger than our old tree. We’ve had a 4-foot tree for the past 12 years (I bought it when I moved in with George and found out his decorations amounted to a 12-inch tree that sits on a desk. Um, hell no.) and I’ve always wanted to have a bigger one. This new one is 6 1/2 feet high and looks amazing in front of our living room patio doors.

I put the tree up on Friday evening so that Winnie could get used to having it around in the hopes that she wouldn’t start trying to pull the decorations off later. On Saturday afternoon George was out for a few hours and since he isn’t super interested in decorating (see aforementioned 12-inch tree) I figured that was a good time for the three of us to go ahead and go nuts. I blasted Christmas music on iTunes, made myself some minty tea, and we set about dressing up our tree.


Holly jolly

I love our tree.


And apropos of, you know, nothing…

We are family


Now for supper so I can get ready for today’s activity!

Advent: Day 2, plus I poured my coffee in my camera lens!

Day two of our Advent Calendar brought about a much-loved activity. Today we were to sit down and write letters to Santa!

I know that writing to tell someone what you want as a gift is just adding to the consumerism of Christmas, but hey. It’s Santa. He has elf labour, that’s not consumerism right? Err. Anyway!

I always tell the kids they can ask Santa for ONE gift and then they also get stockings from Santa so there’s no need to go bananas and list 25 things. With a bit of harrrumphing over the reminder of this rule, the kids sat at the coffee table and got started.

Of course Breanna can’t write whole sentences yet, so she dictated her letter to me and I dutifully wrote it out, smiling to myself at times – especially when she promised to be “super-good for Christmas”. That’s mostly in the hopes of getting the gift she wants, I think.

Letters to Santa

She did sign her own letter though.

I’m very proud of Hayley’s writing; she writes stories regularly in a notebook so naturally she’s got the whole write-to-Santa thing under control. It’s a bit bittersweet though since I remember when I used to have to write her letters too. Sigh.

Letters to Santa

My favorite part of her letter was when she asked how Rudolph was and then explained she was asking because she’s learning to play “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” in her guitar lessons.

Letters to Santa

I hope Santa doesn’t wake her up on Christmas Eve to hear her play it.

They both added a drawing to their letters as well.

Pictures for Santa


Hayley and Breanna are both requesting the same gift from Santa which makes it very easy for the elves involved in packaging. They both want the Go Go My Walking Pup thing. I guess it’s because although they have a dog of their own – a real live dog! – she’s too big and strong for either of them to walk her. That’s okay. I just hope they remember not to leave their toy dogs alone with their real dog lest we end up with an unfortunate crime scene.

We’ll mail the letters tomorrow so that we can hopefully get the replies back before Christmas.


In other news, this morning I poured my coffee into my camera lens. My very expensive 24-105mm lens. Horrors!

Coffee - now with more RAAAR

Okay, so it’s not a real 24-105mm lens. Considering I priced one for fun at almost $1600. This lens mug only cost me $25 plus shipping from Photojojo. I love it! It’s very realistic and appeals to my goofy dork self.

Also, Photojojo apparently includes a random tiny dinosaur figure in all of their shipments just for fun. I can’t even explain why this makes me giddy, it just does.

Alas, that coffee was many hours ago and bed beckons.

Advent calendar day 1, plus zombies!

Last year I got a great idea from Andrea over at A Peek Inside the Fishbowl. While kids enjoy those one-chocolate-a-day Advent calendars, they aren’t exactly what memories are made of. Instead she suggested a homemade Advent calendar with fun family activities inside to help create fun memories over the holiday period. I really liked the idea because the weeks leading up to Christmas go so quickly what with the rushing around and everything else.

Tis the season

I made the envelopes up out of scrapbooking paper and other odds and ends, and I created a master list of activities. Like Andrea, I only put the activity in the night before so that I can pick the right thing at the right time. For example, one activity is to decorate the tree. I’d rather not do that on a busy week day so we’ll save that for the weekend. Another activity is to make a snowman but I’ll keep that one for a day when I know we’re supposed to get snow.

It was a hit last year so it’s up again; in fact it was the first decoration I had put up. I figured that since I’m doing Holidailies – the blogging project where you blog daily (or almost daily) throughout the holiday period, it would be fun to keep a record of our activities.

I’m still not feeling 100% (far from it) so it wasn’t the day for a brisk hike in the woods or anything strenuous. As a result the first activity from our calendar was to paint fingernails and toenails. That’s always a success with my girls (I decided not to do mine today and George refused).

I went with a pearly white on their fingernails (which I didn’t get on camera) and then I used a neon pink nail pen to draw swirls on top. For their toes I went a little wilder and put a festive green then drew a pink flower on each big toe.

Advent day one - nails!

One down, 24 fun activities to go!


Being a big fan of zombies lately, I found this site that offers ecards to send to other zombie fans. Giggling, I sent this one to George:

Since we’re both geeks we have a habit of using Skype to chat from, you know, down the hall. This was our exchange after he received the card.

[9:07:22 PM] George Carter: Thanks for the ecard it is really cute. I hope you don’t become more of a zombie than you already are.
[9:07:38 PM] Sherry Osborne: oh go fuck yourself :)
[9:07:52 PM] George Carter: see what I mean
[9:08:13 PM] Sherry Osborne: if i was a zombie i wouldn’t say that, i would just rip your throat out and eat your brains
[9:08:39 PM] George Carter: since you are not a zombie, eat my ass
[9:08:58 PM] Sherry Osborne: alrighty then.

Yes, this really IS what it’s like in our home. All the time.

But at least he sent me this one in return. I think it’s a compliment.

It IS a compliment, right? RIGHT?

Oh hell, where’s my zombie survival manual…