Oh, thank GOD she’s FOUR

Lillian and I have been in a war for the past year. A war of the THREES. Any parent that I’ve talked to has agreed with me on this one point: Terrible Twos don’t exist. TERROR-FILLED THREES are what you have to worry about.

The calm before the storm...don't let the sleeping fool you. Look at the FORM. She's NUTS.

The calm before the storm…don’t let the sleeping fool you. Look at the FORM. She’s NUTS.

Lillian has been three for WAY. TOO. LONG. She’s saucy. She’s opinionated. She’s obstinate. She’s stubborn. She’s given me more grey/falling out hair than anyone. And she’s CRAZY.

All cute.  And innocent(-looking). She's a sneaky, sneaky terrorist.

All cute. And innocent(-looking). She’s a sneaky, sneaky terrorist.

She’s three was my mantra for the whole year. She’s three. She’s three. Don’t kill her. She’s three. Don’t toss her into a snow bank. She’s three. Don’t throw a temper tantrum back. She’s three.

She’s three.

Determination is her middle name. But her first name??? Spider-Man. And don't you forget it.

Determination is her middle name. But her first name??? Spider-Man. And don’t you forget it.

But today? TODAY?!

Today she is FOUR. And I can tell you that I’ve been looking forward to this day like children look forward to Christmas, like Ben looks forward to the first game of the NFL season, like Isaac looks forward to breakfast – with EVERYTHING I’VE GOT.

Because three? Three almost KILLED me. (No, I’m not being melodramatic.) (Seriously.)

Surprise! She's a loon!

Surprise! She’s a loon!

Three was when we started potty training with earnest. Three is when I cried about potty training practically daily. Three was the time where if I had a million dollars, I would have HIRED someone simply to potty train Lillian. Three made me wince when the pediatrician asked me if Isaac was ready to be potty trained (I’m not even THINKING about it at this point. I need a vacation, first. And a stiff drink. Followed by hibernation. Then, and only then, will I consider potty training a BOY.). Three and poopy underwear and puddles and bringing 7 changes of clothing only to have all 7 soiled halfway through our outing brought this mama to her knees.

Who me? YES YOU.

Who me? YES YOU.

Three was when Lillian started her stand-off life view. Where she decided she wasn’t handing over any control over anything to anyone, DAMMIT. Three was the time where Lillian said, “I’m not peeing anymore!” And she didn’t. For the whole day. Three is when Lillian would refuse to eat anything that she didn’t like the look of. “I don’t like it.” And that, folks, was the end of the meal. Three was when Lillian would say, “I don’t want to.” to going to the bathroom, to picking up Sophie from school, to getting dressed in the morning (she’s now the reigning queen of pyjama days because I refused to pick this battle), to cleaning up, to sitting down to eat, to wearing underwear, to wearing a pull-up diaper, to ANYTHING at ALL at ANY moment.

"I don't like breakfast, ANYMORE."

“I don’t like breakfast, ANYMORE.”

Three was when Lillian came into her own with her vocabulary. Which simply means, it’s the time where she could clearly articulate exactly what she didn’t like about what I was doing. Or not doing.

Strong. And shy. Until she knows you. Then watch out.

Strong. And shy. Until she knows you. Then watch out.

Three was when she fell in LOVE with Scooby-Doo on Netflix and Spider-Man in daily life (“No! My name is NOT Lillian! My name is SPIDER-MAN!”).

Her super hero identity

Her super hero identity

Three is when conversations like this happened EVERY morning:

Me: What would you like for breakfast?
Lillian: —
Me: Lillian. What would you like for breakfast?
Lillian: Toast.
Me: With what on it?
Lillian: Banana and peanut butter.
Me: Perfect!
Lillian: NO! I don’t want anything on my toast. I just want peanut butter. And banana.
Me: So nothing, but peanut butter and banana?
Lillian: NO! I don’t want anything on my toast! I just want peanut butter and banana. And honey. And apricot jam.
Me: Okay.
Lillian (after receiving said toast): I don’t WANT toast. I want CHEERIOS! (Cue sobbing because I’ve ruined her life).
Me: Kill me now.

Dirty. Happy. Nutty. Buttly.

Dirty. Happy. Nutty. Buttly.

Three was a war zone of wills, a battle to the death of the most basic of things, like socks and a coat and snow pants and mittens in -30 degrees Celsius weather. It was a knife fight, where I brought a soft plastic baby spoon and Lillian brought the weapons of mass destruction that Bush dreamed up in his sleep.

This is how she watches TV. No, really.

This is how she watches TV. No, really.

It was a painful, brutal, exhausting year, because my ferocious, energetic, stunningly smart, heart-breakingly strong baby, the one who ripped IV’s out of her arm and bounced back from implant surgery, the one who went from no hearing and no words to NEVER FINDING AN END TO THE CHATTER, the one who has been dealt a tough hand and has cleaned out the pot and all of the players, found her inner THREENAGER and OWNED it, like she’s OWNED everything ever in her life. She refused to be born. She refused to be knocked down by a hearing loss. She refused to use the BLEEPING potty. She refused to give in. EVER. She refused.

Sauce-pot to the max.

Sauce-pot to the max.

And yet?

She’s still the best hugger I know. She’s still the sweetest when I’m hurt or sick. She’s still the one that covers me with her special, Lillian-only blanket when I nap in the afternoons. She’s still the kid that wants to help all the time in the kitchen. She’s still the fiercest lover, fiercest runner, fiercest fighter ever. She’s still awesome and incredible and smart and tough and strong and crazy.

Chatting the ears off Grandpa...he never has any clue what she's saying or why she's saying it and she will never let up.

Chatting the ears off Grandpa…he never has any clue what she’s saying or why she’s saying it and she will never let up.

But ONLY when it’s her idea.

And today? Today, she is FOUR.

Isaac used to hate waiting for me to get the stroller inside after the walk home from school. Every time, Lillian would lie there with him, making him giggle, making me less likely to toss her out a window.

Isaac used to hate waiting for me to get the stroller inside after the walk home from school. Every time, Lillian would lie there with him, making him giggle, making me less likely to toss her out a window.

So, my dear second baby, my dear troubled middle child, my dear girl who puts the butt in buttliness, the girl who demands to be treated with the respect that Spider-Man deserves, happy happy day. Here’s to another year, where we will go to school, and tackle the world, and win all the battles all over again.

Being herself. Her awesome crazy brilliant tough self.

Being herself. Her awesome crazy brilliant tough self.

Because heaven help your teachers and your classmates if they get in your way. And Godspeed to them. They have no idea what’s coming for them, and there is simply no way to prepare them…except to hug them and thank them for taking you off my hands.

Oh, my heart.

Oh, my heart.

I love you, Lillian. With everything and through everything. Always.

My monkey-butt

My monkey-butt

Love, Mama

~ Julia

Are we home yet? – Baltimore Trip Pt 3

We did it…. well they did it, but I like to think our specific cheering squad helped boost morale. If you could HEAR the screams from Ben, and how Toni almost lost her voice, then you would think the same too.

I don’t even know how to write this seeing as we are no longer in the play offs as the Patriots defeated us. Isn’t sports lingo great – defeated – how extravagant!

I was placed with the task of writing about our way home – but I didn’t want to.. I still don’t want to. I want to still be there, still walking around with the rest of the fans, basking in us winning, us still being in the playoffs, still seeing Ben jump down the streets with so much energy that he had to do push ups in the hotel room in order to get some energy out.

However, we came home…we drove…for forever…and ever. I almost got sick – seriously I suck at car rides. I had Gravol, fresh air and I am sure everyone was thankful for that.

There were some highlights of the way home, so maybe I should just let you know about those. Because I wouldn’t personally like to read a sad blog about coming home from a vacation where we were stuck in the car for hours on end!

In the morning, the bakery attached to our hotel had chocolate croissants that were FRESHLY made that morning. As everyone was packing up and getting ready for the day, and to sit in the car, I went to the bakery and got coffee and croissants and brought them back to our meeting point of the trip, Julia and Ben’s room. Now do I have pictures of these delicious amazing, goooooeeeyy flakey yummy pastries? No I do not – because we ate them before I could get a picture of them. They were so good – so darn good!

JUST KIDDING!!! Of course I have a picture – jeeze this isn’t amateur hour, we bought more!

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Yum-O look at those eyes!

We even bought more for the drive home, so the beautiful picture you see above is our second batch of delicious treats.

Another highlight of our whole trip was how friendly everyone was – even as Mike was setting the GPS for home, a man who noticed Mike walked up to the open window and asked if he needed help to get any where. He then proceeded to tell us the completely wrong way to get home, but that was not the point. The point was he wanted to help – he told us to go from his house, which we were no where near, to get to Canada.

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The way home was long, like I said before. But with a great seat partner, which I had, and a request to go SHOPPING – it was made more bearable!

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Seat partner extrodinaire – who even held my hair when I thought I was going to throw up!

We stopped in Pennsylvania to stretch our legs, get food and to get some shopping in. We stopped at Victoria Secret where Julia found the love of real bras again since she has stopped nursing, Toni also bought little goodies, and I bought comfy pj’s. I also had my first Macy’s experience where I found and bought a dress for my wedding shower, and Julia and Toni tried to figure out how to steal a very large mirror that was sitting in the change room.

seriously ... can't take them any where!

Seriously…can’t take them anywhere!

After we were thoroughly scolded for wanting a car break from the men who failed to book off the next day, we were scurried to Subway where the option for “double meat” was asked very cordially. I declined…and I am happy to report for all our heart and waistlines’ sake, no one got double meat.

We were then shoved back into the car and whisked back to the border. The car ride home was uneventful – we tried to get home as soon as possible for fear that the rental fairies would turn our Tahoe back into a pumpkin.

The rest of the trip was a blur of…

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And this…

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With maybe a little bit of this…

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All in all it was a great trip – and I leave with you this amazing entrance picture of the great Suggs. Seriously, how bad ass is this picture!?

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It was a great trip, an amazing trip – and by far the best present I have ever given to Cody – even though the picture evidence that I have doesn’t really show it.

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This was after we won…I swear he loves me! Just kidding, love you babe!

~ Jacqui

Have yourself a merry little Christmas and an incredible New Year

‘Tis the night before the night before the night before Christmas and all through the Sisterhood last minute gifts are being purchased and wrapped, last shifts are being worked, last plans are being confirmed, and the last dregs of the year will be enjoyed.

We’ll be taking a break from posting until the New Year. You’ll find us back Monday January 5 with tales of a trip to an NFL game in Baltimore and other exciting news about how we spent our Christmas vacation.

Until then, stay safe, stay warm, stay in the love. Merry Christmas and happy New Year!

From all of us and ours to all of you and yours! <3

From all of us and ours to all of you and yours! ❤

Love, Weather Vane Sisterhood

Top three Christmas memories…so far!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone! This will be the last of our posts to tide you all over until the new year. We will be off with our families making lots of memories, eating a ton, traveling and getting LOTS AND LOTS new blog posts to write about. So let’s make this post about Christmas past as we bring on the present(s) (ha! did you get it? Presents? Because it’s Christmas?)

There have been three that have certainly stuck out over my many trips around the sun…so let me waste no time and get started counting these Christmas/New Year’s memories down!

Holiday memory numero 3

When we were younger we used to only decorate our tree on Christmas Eve. Now that I think about it, it was probably more so my mom and dad didn’t have to deal with the messy needles for a long time; however, we would put on a Christmas movie, get into our pj’s from last year if they still fit, and sometimes even if they didn’t fit. Snuggled up on the couch, we would all get our little set of decorations that we acquired over the years. Dad would lie on the couch and wouldn’t move until all the decorations were on the tree, then he’d peel himself out of his spot in the corner of the sectional to place his Snoopy on the top of the tree right beside the angel. As our family changed over the years our tradition had to change. So now we have the annual trimming of one of our Christmas trees!

Big ol’ number 2 Christmas memory

The first time I was introduced to Cody’s family in Brampton was Christmas. We had just started dating and I was a little nervous. I mean, is everyone’s family as crazy and loud as mine? Will they like me? Looking back now I have no idea why I was so nervous. His family is so amazing and inviting, they are loving and I felt totally at home.

Every family event Auntie April gets Lindt chocolates specific for the event. Snowmen, or Santas for Christmas. Turkeys or leaves for Thanksgiving. Eggs or bunnies for Easter. Either way, after my first Brampton family event, everyone knows that they should just give me their chocolates, because one way or another I was going to end up eating them.

Family

NUMBER ONE!!!!

Was two years ago. Cody and I woke up prepared to spend the day with his mom, I was super excited this year because I was SO excited to give Cody is Excalibur cross-bow! Yup I had outdone myself that year! Early in the morning, around 6, I felt Cody get up, which isn’t unusual – I thought he would be making Christmas coffee. When he came back up and cuddled in he squeezed a little tighter. I snuggled in thinking we would just go back to sleep. Cody was restless and didn’t fall back asleep. At around 7:30 Cody started to whisper in my ear and he finally went downstairs to make coffee for us. He came back up and wanted to go down stairs to cuddle on the couch and watch some Christmas morning TV, which doesn’t exist people!!!!! We weren’t sitting on the couch long when Cody asked me to go and get him something from the fridge. I obliged! I went into the kitchen and opened the fridge, grabbed what I had come for and turned around. There was Cody on one knee and he looked so nervous! I asked him what he was doing. He was dumbfounded! How did I not see it?! He told me to go back in the fridge and look again. I opened the door and there sitting in front of a beer in the fridge on the top shelf RIGHT IN FRONT OF MY FACE was a ring! THE ring!!!!!!! He asked me if I would marry him, he told me he loved me and wanted to be with me for the rest of our lives. I was so happy, and excited and shocked that I didn’t even reply, I grabbed the ring and put it on my finger and grabbed Cody!

The Ring

Best

Christmas

ever!!!!!!!!

Those are my favorite memories. Maybe this year, one of them will be knocked into fourth place.

‘Til the New Year everyone!

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

~ Jacqui

‘Tis the Season to Indulge

It’s no secret that I love food.

All things food.

I love it so much that while cresting the hill of 25 and preparing to face the inevitable metabolic slow down that was about the rear its ugly head, I began working out religiously just so I could maintain my eating habits – for the most part. Of course I’m wiser with what types of foods I injest for my overall health’s sake, I’ve just managed to make sure when I do indulge it is at least a little less guilt free.

As all good food lover’s know, the best foods seem to be more delectable, more delicious and more sinful around the holidays – especially at Christmas time. I am pretty sure the increased enjoyment stems from being surrounded with people that you love (for the most part), the indulgent tendancies of the season of the adult juice type variety and the magic of the lights dancing off the tree.

There are even some foods that just don’t seem right to be caught enjoying at any other season or time throughout the year and some that just don’t taste the same when not reserved for the holidays. Some of my favourite foods, flavours and treats include:

1. Gingerbread: this goes for men, houses, stars, snowmen and the flavour in general – especially whilst being enjoyed in a hot beverage. Gingerbread is exclusively a Christmas taste and is not transferable to any other season or combinable with any other offers.

Source: Deviant Art

Source: Deviant Art

2. Coquilles Saint-Jacques: this is a dish that we traditionally eat during our Christmas dinner with Michael’s family and if you have not had it, I suggest you find a way to experience it soon. Michael’s mom makes the best version I’ve ever had and as with the majority of her dishes, has ruined it for me everywhere else, ensuring I only eat hers. It’s SO good. Mashed potatoes? Yum. Scallops? Yum. Lobster? Yum. Shrimp? Yum. (Sorry, JQ). It’s is literally my favourite things baked together in a decorative shell. Don’t believe me? Here’s a recipe that is closer to Pina’s then I have traditionally seen.

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3. Eggnog: Seriously, only good at Christmas. It doesn’t matter who you are, you cannot drink the stuff after December leaves us. I’m pretty sure there is a clause somewhere that changes the taste of all eggnog served outside of the last month of the year.

Yum.

Yum.

4. Chestnuts: I know, I know – a Portuguese that loves roasting chestnuts, how original. However, chestnuts, especially roasted are only enjoyable near Christmas. I am sure some crazy person once decided to roast chestnuts in July, but I’m also pretty sure the reason you’ve never heard a song about them in the summer is because they’re not nearly as enjoyable or even required at any other occasion.

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Delicious

5. Candy cane: small, medium or large, cane, stick or crumbled, traditional candy cane flavour or flavour shot of peppermint in your hot coacoa – candy canes are not a year round item. They are a short lived item on the store shelf, which is good news for people like me that get headaches when they injest too much of the candy cane’s sugar.

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Pretty

Whatever your favourite foods, tastes and treats are this Christmas, I hope you enjoy every delightful bite you may take, drink you may sip and embrace you may steal. Merry Christmas, everyone!

~Toni

Soundtrack for the season

I have a confession to make: I love Christmas music.

I have a playlist devoted entirely to Christmas music. When I was working, it was all that was in my MP3 player from November 1 until well into the New Year. I don’t wait until after November 11 to start it up, but I don’t feel disrespectful because it’s just for me, not for my store or my mall or my commercialism. It’s for my happiness. I am impatient until the local radio station flips over to being my “Home for the Holidays” and plays nonstop Christmas music. And on Boxing Day? December 26? When they abruptly, at 12 a.m., flip back over to complete non-Christmas music? I feel bereft, like someone pulled the plug on my drug and I’m left walking around in a kind of Christmas music hangover, where I know I’ve got my fill, yet, I still want more.

To help you firmly climb onto the Christmas music party bus, I’ve listed my top five songs of the season.

Nostalgia-filled – The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late)
As kids, we only had a few Christmas tapes (yes, tapes) that were played over and over and over. Boney M., New Kids On the Block (OH, YES), The California Raisins (no, seriously), and of course, Alvin and the Chipmunks. I used to know all the lyrics to Christmas Don’t Be Late, and I’m disappointed in how far I’ve fallen. I will relearn the words. I will know it by heart again. I will not let Dave down!

Whimsy pick – I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas
There’s something that I desperately wish we could have for a pet – a hippopotamus. I feel like they would overcome our allergy issue and would make a fabulous house guest. In fact, this commercial practically proves my point. Ben disagrees. But Gayla Peevey? She’s got my number. And it’s a toe-tapper as well. Win-win.

Christmas cheese – Same Old Lang Syne
There needs to be some songs that make you weep and cringe at the same time, and for me, it’s this song. I love how cheesy it is, how incredibly corny and cliched and sad and that it’s a story about a lonely Christmas Eve between two ex-lovers. It’s everything that Christmas is – beautiful, hard, achy, lovely. I unabashedly love this terrible song.

Reason for the season – I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
In a past life I sang in church choirs a minimum of two times a week. Every year, we’d of course put our heart and soul into celebrating Jesus’ birth with music. This song, by this incredible group, Casting Crowns, gives me goosebumps every time I hear it and singing it? Shivers. He is the reason and this song encapsulates the feeling that surrounds Christmas.

Holy crap pick – Little Drummer Boy
Every once in a while a group of artists surprise you, fascinate you and make you sit back in awe. Pentatonix is this group for me. This song, although not one of my Christmas favourites, was the first song I heard this group sing and I immediately had to share them, watch and rewatch them and weep in gratitude when a friend gave me a copy of their first Christmas album. They are awesome. And all of the songs on their Christmas playlist are amazing. Seriously.

I hope your Christmas is merry, bright, and filled with music that only comes around once a year.

~ Julia

WVS Gift Guide for the Mechanic/Gamer

Joe is a hard one to shop for on most occasions. He doesn’t really want anything, and we don’t usually have the funds for what he does want, so I come up with something small, and he always cherishes and loves the gifts I give him, as far as I know.

However, I have a dream list of things I could, and hopefully one day could get him – some of this isn’t too bad, and might be in the list for this year, but some of the prices *EEK!*

So without further ado, this is my gift guide for the mechanic/gamer in your life!

Games, games, games!
There are so many games that I know Joe would love! For example he would love to have:

Call of Duty (COD): Ghosts

Amazing game!

Amazing game!

COD: Advanced Warfare

New and Shiny game!

New and shiny game!

Need For Speed (NFS): Rivals

It looks AMAZING!

The one thing when you are looking for games for a significant other, is either play the games he likes with them, so you know what they like when it comes time for shopping, listen to their friends and them debate on which games look good, how high the rating on it is, and then the compare and contrast of the other previous games, or take a shot in the dark, and if all else fails they can trade them.

For instance, COD: Black Ops – Joe and I play all the time, but when he played COD: Ghosts with our friend Greg, he mentioned liking and possibly getting it one day. And, of course, Advanced Warfare is on the list because it is new and pretty, but probably out of my price range.

Extras for gaming
There are two things I would love to get Joe as well.

The first one is practical for his gaming and he has mentioned at least 20 times that he wants this – a charging dock and battery packs so we don’t have to stop a game and change the flipping batteries!

Battery Packs, No more buying batteries for the controllers! Yay!

Battery packs – no more buying batteries for the controllers! Yay!

It would also be really awesome if I could get him this next thing, which is a custom controller. He would have his own controller, and whenever we game at a friend’s house we wouldn’t have to wonder which one is ours, because oh yeah, that’s Joe’s controller!

A custom controller? Hells yes!

A custom controller? Hells yes!

Tools
Pretty, expensive, awesome, and jaw-dropping tools. Tools that his old boss told me about, or got for himself, and I saw that look on Joe’s face, of a wish in the back of his mind that one day he would get the amazing tools too.

For instance, pretty much anything from Snap-on, or Matco. This also requires some research, or some shop stalking.

Like this cordless, airless, impact gun, with bits that retails WAY TOO MUCH!

Pretty Tools, and that's all I know about them!!

Pretty tools, and that’s all I know about them!

I wish we had unlimited funds, and that this could happen, but it’s a lot out of my price range at $1,300.

In the end, I know that gifts or no gifts, just spending time together would make him extremely happy!

Cherish each other and just show some love!

~ Andreah

Third annual trimming of ye ol’ Christmas tree

On Saturday we celebrated Julia with some of her close friends. While we were sitting at the table, telling stories of the past, I observed Julia’s right ring finger. Placed there was a ring that our grandmother had passed down to her on her 30th birthday. This is a tradition she had with every grandchild – when they were born, she purchased a ring with their birthstone. It’s these traditions that make me want to make my own, our family’s own, as the years go on.

Since Cody and I have had our own house, the first weekend of December is always our time to get our tree. And for three years, my family has graciously, loudly and boisterously agreed to start a new tradition of trimming my tree, a tradition that will be continued throughout the years!

As my house started to fill with people, babies, and the delicious smell of breakfast, our chosen meal, it started to feel more and more like Christmas.

The first event of the day was the building of gingerbread houses! Two were purchased: one Frozen themed and the other just no-name. Julia and I set in for some intense construction; however,  what we found was a little disheartening.

We began to build Anna and Elsa’s castle and it was…how do I say this delicately…well, you are literally paying for ONLY the tiny cardboard cut out of the Frozen characters. Serves us right. The Our Compliments house was larger, with more candy AND the icing was superior…Julia even had to rebuild some of their Frozen castle with the Our Compliments icing to make sure that Santa’s sleigh didn’t fall apart. Seriously Disney…things have gone down hill since Walt was around!

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Sneaky mister WALKING around 🙂

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If you ask me, I think they look pretty amazing don’t you? I especially like the red snow on the rooftops, which Lillian put on herself…after getting it all over the table.  As you can see, the larger more traditional looking one is the Our Compliments, where as the two dimensional church is the Frozen one. Either way, the girls LOVED it! A success for Uncle Cody who purchased the houses!

Earlier in the day I had run some errands, as I wanted to add a little country to our tree. What better to do so than BURLAP ribbon? While I was out, I also found this great wrapping paper, so when all the presents are under the tree, our country Christmas will be complete!

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Can you see the mooses… the meeses?

After a quick walk around the pond (literally, we went for a little walk to get some of the sugar worked off that the girls snuck during our the building process), it was time to decorate the tree. Sophie was quick to gravitate to everything sparkly, whereas Lillian simply focused on creating clusters of balls on one side of the tree. Since they are still horizontally challenged, the rest of us had to fill in the top area. My tree is still a little lopsided, but that’s the fun of it!

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After all the lovely decorating, and trimming of the tree, we worked up quite an appetite, thus off to to the kitchen to make a fine feast! Julia made a delicious French toast casserole, I made home fries, Toni brought the bacon, the orange juice and the champagne, and mom brought the sausage!  YUM YUM YUM!

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The third annual trimming of the Christmas Tree was a success! Although we were missing an integral part of our  sisterhood, Andreah, due to a tire mishap the kick-off to the Christmas Season has begun!

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From our family to yours, Merry Christmas!

~ Jacqui

A retail Christmas

If any of you lovely readers have ever worked retail during the Christmas season, you know how much of a mixed blessing it is. There are moments of joy, moments of frustration, and moments of embarrassment.

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You get to see families shopping, you get to see significant others trying to find the perfect present for their person, and you get to see friends shopping together. When you have little people running around your legs, running to Mommy or Daddy, asking if this would be a good present, it is just a downright cute kind of season. You get to help those girlfriends, boyfriends, husbands, wives, partners, etc. trying find that perfect gift, the one that they saw online, and called in, because your store has it! It’s sweet that you see the love in their eyes when you hand over that thing they were looking for and you get to see how excited they are that they get to check this off their list. Friends shopping together is always fun to see – they have a different language than the rest of the world. And the jokes that fly at each other…always entertaining. Especially when you see the looks on random passersby.

The moments of frustrations are met with a flushed face and a calm stance. Trying to soothe emotions during the holidays? You might as well be trying to diffuse a bomb in Times Square. You are blamed for things that have nothing to do with you and have everything to do with ordering. You try to stay calm and find a solution, but when you have to say no?

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Might as well stand in front of the firing squad right now for all the help you are! I try and think of something that is completely away from the store I work at, and think of something nice, or what this person if going through…because if they are yelling at me, there has got to be something else wrong out in their universe. I try and mend the situations, and if I can’t help, hand it over to a higher up, which again is frustrating.

I am embarrassed at least once a day every day, but at work it is especially embarrassing. Say you almost fall off a ladder? Red face. Say you are lifting that heavy stacks of books and a toot slips out? Quickly look around, and hope like hell your coworker isn’t beside you, in the next aisle, or anywhere within earshot! What if they are? Red face. Finally get those gold embossed mugs in your manager has been trying to get in, and what happens? Drop it on another cup and cue the red face.

I think the hardest part of working in the land of retail during the holidays is that everyone is frazzled, and in the end it is your job to keep a level head and do everything you can. Is the customer always right? No, but they are right to themselves, and that is all they care about. So the job is to do your best, whatever that could be, and try not to crack or rip anything.

~ Andreah

WVS Gift Guide for the Hunter in your life

As you all know, the love of my life Cody is a outdoors-man/hunter…although, put a spider in front of him and he will prove that label wrong.  For this gift guide, I am going to let you in on a little secret…Cody tells me ALL YEAR ROUND what to buy him and all I have to do is listen in on his conversations with his hunting group, the conversations with his friends, and with his uncle Pierre – it’s his only pastime (other than me). I am not eavesdropping…Well, I am, but only to find out how I can spoil him, because that is one of my favourite pastimes!

See? favourite pastime!

First, I will address fashion. In every hunter’s wardrobe, camo is a staple: real tree camo that is! Everything and anything: t-shirts, long sleeve shirts, hoodies, under armour, socks, boots, jackets, EVERYTHING!! This year, my eyes are on reversible camos, which go from winter to fall hunting. They are essential and very practical to closet space, when you think about it. Instead of having two sets of bibs* taking up all the room in the closet that should be for everyone’s coats, there will be plenty of room with these oh-so-fancy pants!

Those hunters are fashion forward! Such thinkers!

If you are budget savvy, then this next option is not for you! Two years ago I bought Cody a new excalibur bow, with the help of our friend Jeff, because, let’s be honest, I would go for the prettiest ones, which may work like crap. Cody had been handed down a bow from his uncle, which had seen better days. He had been talking about upgrading it and adding on a new scope to help him see better, and tweaking it to get a better shot out of it. I thought with all the upgrading he would be putting into it, why not just get a new bow? I asked Jeff if he could help out with finding one on sale, that is still a great bow, which he did. I got a picture about a week later, telling me to BUY IT – so I did! If you are to take anything away from this post, it should be do research! My form of research is the many men in my life who LOVE hunting and love Cody. All of Cody’s friends who he grew up with are thankfully interested in the same hobby, so having them as my experts is where I start. Not only will they help me find what I am looking for, but they also help me with the lingo, so when it does come time for me to purchase any one of these items, I sound like I know what  I am talking about!  The look on Cody’s face when he opened this gift was PRICELESS! This year he has been dropping hints for a new gun, but I didn’t give in this year, even though this would be right up my alley for spoiling. There is always his birthday, then the wedding.

I don’t think this is the exact model, but I can’t tell the difference. That’s where you get your researchers to help!!!!

If you have not noticed a trend, everything is real tree camo. In our area, Sail, which is an outdoor store, just opened up. At this point, Cody has not made me go into the store, so I am not sure if this is going to be the greatest thing ever because I will no longer have to travel far to get his gifts, or the bane of my existence because Cody will have a better chance of getting more “just because” presents.

Hunters require tags for every season in order for the ministry to hunt legally (this excludes waterfowl, which have other ministry limits) and they can be purchased at Canadian Tire. A great gift idea would be a gift card for their tags for the season. These requirements are Ontario-based, but I am assuming that the same concept would be across Canada and the US; however, they may have other requirements. Most people may think that gift cards are impersonal, but to me giving Cody a gift card for any one of his favourite stores to get himself all set up for the season is one of the best gifts you can give a hunter. In Southern Ontario, that includes TSC, Canadian Tire, Sail, Bass Pro Shops, Cabela’s, which are all larger box stores that a gift card would be great for. Cody has some local favourite outdoor stores, little mom and pop shops that he visits frequently, but again do research so that you can give a gift and give back to your local small shops!

Enjoy the shopping season, and try to spread the holiday cheer!

~ Jacqui

*Bibs are the the pant sets of camos, which are worn over the shoulders. They pretty much look like snow pants for hunters…Okay, they are snow pants for hunters.