And the countdown starts now!

I can’t believe it’s already the last day of November. This month blasted by so quickly it’s not even funny. Somehow we’re entering the month of December and it’s going to be full and busy with all the holiday preparations and events.

I’m doing some extra hours at work over the month, plus we’ll be doing our daily advent calendar full of activities, then there’s shopping for presents, decorating the house, seeing Santa Claus, having Christmas celebrations and dinner. Sheesh. It’s a good season and all but it’s also exhausting, even just thinking about it!

I have to figure out what the kids want this year and what we want to surprise them with, plus we need to get gifts for our families back home as well (and get them sent off in time!). I also have to answer the email my sister sent about what we all want for Christmas, which is a pretty good question since I have no idea.

I do have a couple of ideas of fun things to get for the kids from us but alas, I can not mention them here in case Hayley reads this.

What are you getting for gifts this holiday season?

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!

Flip flop

The weather has been so weird lately. And really, I don’t mean to be your stereotypical Canadian who talks all about the weather, but I can’t help it, it’s just what I do. I talk to everyone about the weather – family, friends, co-workers, clients, whomever – and I love weather. I often think I missed my calling and that clearly I should have been a meteorologist.

Or a storm chaser, one or the other.

Anyway, since I am not an actual meteorologist, I just enjoy discussing it and I chronically shush the kids when the weather segment comes on the morning news. Also, one of my most-used apps on my phone is my weather app.

(Okay, that’s not true. It’s probably my camera. Or possibly the IMDB app. But you get my drift.)

The weather here has been nuts the past little while. Last week we got buried in snow and while it wasn’t obscenely cold it was damp enough that it was really cold just standing around waiting for the bus. The it warmed up enough over the weekend that most of the snow melted, much to the disappointment of the kids.

Today it was actually so warm that I left my warm winter coat and heavy Harry Potter scarf in the cupboard and brought out my lighter fall jacket with my flimsy scarf. The winter boots were left downstairs by the back door and my shoes were back on my feet instead of carried in my bag to work. We hit double digits in temperatures today.

The next few days are supposed to be filled with rain I believe.

This maritime weather is weird. I’m okay with it, but mighty weird I say!

An aching stomach, and why that’s a good thing

Usually having a sore, aching stomach is a cause for concern or at least annoyance. It might make you call in sick to work or it might make you lie down for awhile. Maybe you heat up a hot water bottle.

But other times, an aching stomach is a good thing. It’s a wonderful thing, for instance, when it hurts this much because you’ve spent hours laughing until you cry and wrap your arms around your middle, doubled over on the couch.

It’s the sign of a good Saturday when you have family over for dinner and to hang out for the evening and your eyes are streaming, your throat is sore, and your stomach is begging you to just stop laughing for five minutes.

I hope your Saturday was filled with the good kind of sore stomach too.

TGIF – time for a little relaxation, please!

Oh my goodness, it’s Friday, hooray! This week was wonderful, I had one of my best weeks at work thus far and other than the craziness of the commute during Snowpocalypse Part One, there was nothing particularly awful or annoying. That being said I have been pretty tired lately.

It’s probably because with the time that I get home I find it difficult to get to bed before midnight. Even when I’m tired I need time to unwind. I get in at 9:30, check on the kids (one of whom is always sleeping and one of whom is usually not), get changed, make their lunches, and then the next thing I know it’s already 10 pm.

Once I get into bed somewhere between midnight and 12:30, I tend to fall asleep within a few minutes – sleep is rarely a problem once my head is on the pillow – but then 7:15 comes before I know it and my alarm is ringing to tell me that I have to get the kids up shortly to get them ready for school.

It’s enough sleep that I’m not exhausted but I’m frequently vaguely tired. As a result I’m looking forward to two whole days of relaxing, or at least as much as you can get with two young kids. They didn’t go to bed until after 10 tonight, waiting up for me to get home, so they’ll sleep in a little bit at least, and even if I get up sooner than I’d like at least I can stay in my pajamas.

We have tentative plans for Saturday evening but overall it’s not supposed to be a crazily busy weekend. We may put up the tree this weekend and start decorating, and I have some Christmas crafts for the kids to do, but in general I’m planning on a whole lot of rejuvenation.

What are your weekend plans?

Transit turmoil

Good lord. What a day. I (apparently foolishly!) believed that I’d be okay for getting to work and back today because of my shift and the fact that I don’t travel during rush hour. HAHAHA. Yeah right. It didn’t look so bad when I left for work this morning when I snapped this photo.

snow

Except I then proceeded to wait for over 40 minutes for a bus that should have been there five minutes after I arrived at my bus stop. Then we had such slippery conditions that we essentially slid all the way down a steep hill (which was as terrifying as it sounds and I think it’s a strong testament to my commitment to my job that I didn’t immediately get off and take the other bus back home) and the driving was very slow from there on out. They also ended up closing streets and re-routing bus lines so that in the end what should normally be a 40-minute commute from my front door to the office ended up taking almost two hours. I was 20 minutes late but I wasn’t the only one so it was no big deal.

I was glad to be at work because we had a big company event this afternoon, however leaving work ended up being no better than trying to get there this morning. I walked with a co-worker to the bus terminal where we waited for one of our two buses and none ever came. A friendly bus driver on a different route offered his bus to the two of us and four other people waiting so that we could get out of the cold until his shift started. We all sat on the bus chatting (yes, we’re Maritimers, all sitting around talking to total strangers, perfectly comfortable!), and then in the end we decided to just take that bus to the next terminal rather than standing out in the freezing rain and cold for our usual bus choices.

Once at the terminal we stood inside a (warm, thankfully) shelter for what felt like eons, waiting for one of our buses to finally come. I’m pretty sure we saw every single bus on the Halifax side go by except one that would take us home.

Just when we were starting to give up any hope at all, a girl that we had met while sitting at the first terminal came running over, happy to see we were still there. She said she was fed up and was taking a cab home, and did we want to split the cost and go with her. It turned out she lives just up the street from me and my friend from work lives about two minutes past her so we immediately agreed, hopped in the taxi she had called, and I was home about five minutes later.

All in all, I finished work at 8:30 and got home at 10:05. Had we not taken the taxi I doubt we would have been home until at least 10:30. I have never been so happy to come home and change into flannel pajamas and a fuzzy robe.

Here’s hoping that tomorrow is a better weather and commuting day.

Time to break out the winter boots

After a fairly mild fall season our temperatures have been dropping including mornings like this one where it was only -5C* and as of tomorrow we’ll be hitting the real “winter is coming” milestone. According to the weather reports – and the weather warnings – we’re slated to get anywhere from 15 to 30 centimeters of snow across our area.

I’m not thrilled, and I’m sure that’s no surprise. Despite all my years of living in this country I still can’t seem to embrace the winter season but it’s inevitable that it will hit us at some point. At this point I’m really grateful for the fact that I work an off-shift. The morning should be okay, I don’t think it’s supposed to start snowing until the afternoon. However, having seen how everyone forgets how to drive the second a few flakes fall from the sky I know that the rush hour traffic on the way home could be a bit of a nightmare. By the time I’m on my way home it should have died down and most people will be at home and hopefully just staying there so that we can get where we’re going.

Winter boots for everyone tomorrow!

*Despite the fact that it was cold out I saw a kid run by in SHORTS. If it was someone jogging it would have been excusable but it was just a random kid. If one of my kids tried to get out of the house in shorts in this kind of weather I’d flip out and make them change!

Meditating on the bus

I think I’ve mentioned this before but because of the fun and never dull anxiety issues that I deal with regularly, I sometimes get very anxious before I have to leave for work. I don’t even really know why, nothing horrible has ever happened to me on the bus, I’m fine when I get to work, and I enjoy my job so there’s no reason to be right on the edge of having a full-blown panic attack.

Ommmmm

However, that doesn’t mean my brain doesn’t decide to throw me under the bus. You know, so to speak.

There are two things that help me. One, Rescue Remedy is my friend. It’s an all natural product that comes in drops or spray and helps to calm nerves so I take some of that before getting on the bus. It does a lot to dial it down but even more than that I think that my habit of meditating on the bus has made it so much better.

When I first started yoga I kind of shrugged over the meditation aspect. It wasn’t that I thought it couldn’t work or be beneficial, I just didn’t think I could do it. And truth be told, if I sit or lie down all by myself with my breathing I will either find myself thinking about the latest episode of The Walking Dead or I’ll fall asleep. However, if I do a guided meditation I have something to concentrate on and I do really well with it. I still sometimes doze off for a split second but overall it works for me.

Meditation isn’t necessarily something you’re supposed to do on the bus, I suppose. It’s generally suggested that you do it when you’re all alone with no distractions to get in your way. That’s all well and good but the fact of the matter is that I need it most on the bus so I do the best I can. People probably think I’m sleeping on the bus but I’m not – I’m just meditating!

If you find yourself stressed out and in need of some meditation as well, I have a few suggestions for you.

One is a guided meditation from Dashama, my very first yoga teacher who taught me so much. She does a meditation that is almost 20 minutes long and she offers it up from time to time for free with her newsletter.

Another is this fabulous anti-anxiety meditation that I found on YouTube. It’s amazing and by the time it’s over I’m usually calm and mildly limp, practically incapable of getting worked up.

I have a good one from Deepak Chopra that is sadly under five minutes but it’s really nice even if it’s short. It’s this one:

I particularly love the line “wherever you go, bring the whole Universe with you.”

Finally, and not everyone will be into this, I enjoy doing a chakra balancing meditation. I always kind of scoffed at chakras until I got Dashama’s DVD and did the chakra meditation she has on there; the way I felt afterwards, both energized and relaxed was enough to convince me. I found this good meditation on YouTube and it’s quite helpful if you’re open to that.

Of course my preferred method of meditating is yoga; I like getting lost in the movement and breathing of a nice vinyasa flow. It’s not like I can really do a good downward facing dog or crow pose on the bus though, so meditating with my iPod will have to do!

Do you meditate? What’s your favourite method?

Breanna turns six!

Today, although I tried to be in denial, Breanna went and turned six years old. When she woke up, the first thing out of her mouth after stretching and looking down at herself was, “I didn’t grow!” I guess she was expecting to actively grow in a noticeable way but I assured her that based on the things she’s been outgrowing lately she has indeed been growing!

This afternoon we had some family over to celebrate her special day with supper (spaghetti, garlic bread, and salad), cake, and good times. She was very eager to open her gifts but she managed to hold off until after we ate – but before the cake!

Gift time!

She got some very nice gifts including cards with money to buy her own presents, a cute outfit, a bathrobe, some DVDs, and a dinosaur Play-Doh kit. Hayley gave her a pink Yoshi doll which she loves, and George and I got her Just Dance 3 for the Wii; Breanna loves to dance and enjoyed the first one so she was very excited to get this version.

Birthday gift

Breanna had asked for a chocolate cake from the store so we got her one with her name on it and she was very proud to have us all sing to her and bring it lit up for her to blow the candles out.

Happy birthday!

Making a wish

Six years old

After people left I went down into the basement with the kids and the three of us played four rounds of the new Wii game and although I did win twice, Breanna kicked ass and scored more than double what I did on one of them. I’ll bet she’ll be playing it after school tomorrow.

Six years ago I went through a fast labour that was under four hours from start to finish and I always said that Breanna was just too eager to get on with life to wait any longer. That was more or less the way she treated today – too eager to have fun to bother with sitting around waiting for fun to come to her.

It was a good day. Breanna said it was the best birthday ever. That’s good enough for me.

I went downstairs