life

Christmas: pressures and perspective

So, I was ‘voluntold’ yesterday by my youngest that ‘we’ were providing the vegan gingerbread house kit for her and a friend for the class contest on Friday. Ummm… okay? 🀣

I love that she knows I love to bake so assumed I’d be happy to do it. Happier that it doesn’t occur to her that I’m carefully pacing myself at the moment so I can make it through the holidays without the MonSter rearing it’s ugly head too far. One of the perks of an invisible illness when it comes to your kids, at least when you can…

But it’s always smart to remind yourself, chronic illness or not, that it’s not worth pushing beyond your limits. Everyone owes it to themselves to take time for self-care, to take things off their plate when necessary and to ask for help sometimes.

The whole season should be about being cozy and spending low-key personal time with your people. Let go of the consumer, commercial side of it and focus on what matters. You can only do what you can do, and good enough is good enough. Otherwise, you…

The best thing I’ve started doing since I finally got decent running shoes is getting my butt out the door every weekday for a 20 minute walk. Sometimes it’s a few minutes more, but never too much because in the past I would get back into ballet or yoga and go too hard, setting myself back several steps. So now I’m the tortoise not the hare, and I find I look forward to my walk each day and it sets me up well for the day ahead. There are days when 20 minutes doesn’t get me too far…

But I’ve only missed one day, when the wind was too much for my sensory issues, and then the last couple of days when I needed to brave the crowds to finish the Christmas shopping. Now I will get out there every day if possible because I know it’s the single best thing I can do to make it through our busiest Christmas season ever, and enjoy it.

Finally, chronic illness or not…

Depending on how things go, I may post one more time about the vegan gingerbread house. If it’s a total fail, maybe not, so…

Wishing you all a restful, joyous holiday and a healthy, peaceful New Year.

❀️ Amanda

life

Moment of truth: Opinions?

Okay, here are two versions of our fully decorated Christmas tree, using the handmade decorations I presented in my last post. It only took six trips to the store for lights, some creative sawing and duct-taping to get the star on, and four days of decorating, undecorating then redecorating. Who says MS has screwed up my decision-making skills?! 🀣

I can’t decide whether I prefer the first, more minimal tree using just the handmade ornaments, silver wire stars and silver balls; or the second that adds a bit more sparkle and fills in the gaps. But maybe it detracts focus from the handmade – what do you think?

Exhibit A – minimalist tree

Exhibit B – more colour and sparkle

Like a true Canadian, duct tape is an integral part of our Christmas.

Next year I’ll plan things better so I can wrap the lights around the star more unobtrusively. At a certain point, you have to let things go, say good enough, and move on. That’s where I’m at.

But for next year – what do you think? A or B?

❀️ Amanda

life

Crafts and chronic illness: A Handmade Christmas

As I said in my last post, crafts keep me sane and help me feel productive in my spoonie lifestyle. So, together with my desire to rid our household of plastic as much as possible, I decided to make the decorations for our tree this year. Oh, an important detail: Our youngest requested that I decorate the living room tree myself this year. She’s all about matchy-matchy at the moment.

Usually we have the schmozzle of family heirlooms on the tree, which is wonderful, and they love to tease me about being Monica from Friends when I encourage them to space out the ornaments. The little twerps have been known to clump all the ornaments as close together as possible, just to get a reaction. Too bad for them, I bite my tongue and stealth redecorate later. 😏

This year, the family tree will be in the basement where we spend a lot of time together, and will wait until our son is home from university to decorate. Upstairs, we’ll have a live tree and I will fully embrace my inner Monica when I decorate. Some of the ideas here may flop, or or I’ll choose to go another way, but here’s what I have so far.

Finger-knit and finger-crocheted Garlands

I only started using garlands on our tree the last few years. When I decided to finger knit the garland, I looked up how much I would need for a 7 foot tree. Ready? 63-70 feet!!! πŸ€— 1-3 feet per foot of tree, so there you go.

Off I went, finger knitting and crocheting approximately 80 feet of garland. Here’s hoping it doesn’t look ridiculous, but if it does I’ll turn them into something else.

Finger knit and finger crocheted garlands

Clothes peg stars

The clothes peg stars are all over the internet and I just loved the look of them. I made five of each colour; translucent, brushed silver, and rose gold. Then I added the herpes of the craft world: glitter!

Pompoms

My youngest and I had fun making pompoms with super soft, chunky yarn and the same white fluffy yarn I used to finger crochet the thinner garlands. We started off wrapping them around our hands and that worked fine. Then I found a rectangular piece of cardboard with a hole in the middle and it was even easier, and the pompoms became slightly more uniform. Fun to use for indoor snowball fights too!

Diy pompoms

Borax Snowflakes

This is a craft/science experiment I used to do with my first graders. The correct formula is 3 tablespoons of borax per cup of hot water. I was doing these in a big bucket though, and could only do two of the twelve 6-inch silver snowflakes or three of the fifteen white 4-inch snowflakes at a time. This took some commitment as the water has to be reheated each time, and the crystals take overnight to form. You can tell I was free-handing the Borax because of the different degrees of crystallization. Measuring might be an idea.

Wire hanger Star

No wire hangers! Sorry, Mommie Dearest.

I got the inspiration for the star from here but did my own take by adding the yarn around the star macrame-like, a craft I learned from my Great Aunt Ede. Then I added cylindrical glass beads as well as regular round ones. I also kept the pompoms small, more because that’s what I had and I was determined not to spend more money.

How to attach? Not sure. I’ll have to Handy Mandy it. πŸ€“

So, my version of Santa’s workshop has kept me busy for the past few weeks. Getting crafty allows me to indulge in my Christmas obsession early, without buying into the commercialism.

We have the tree, the lights are on (that’s a whole other story), so I’m off to decorate. After a cup of tea – with a healthy shot of rum. Cheers!

❀️ Amanda

Have you gotten crafty for Christmas? Let me know in the comments. I’m always looking for new things to try!

family, life

Mom fail

I’ve literally been counting the minutes.

As much as I love the texts telling me how well things are going, and the fact that the bathroom stays MUCH cleaner, I have really, really missed my boy since I left him in Ontario for university.

So that wonderful creation called reading break has arrived, and all day I’ve been giggling and wheee-ing (not weeing!πŸ˜‰) to myself that I get to see him tonight.

His room is clean. I’ve bought his favourite groceries and left some treats on his bed. My husband and I have discussed how we’ll split the driving to pick the girls up from rehearsal at 7:30, and our son from the airport at 11:16pm. As usual, he’s going to do both because that’s the wonderful kind of guy he is.

So, all I had to do was wait in anticipation.

Around 5pm, I get all excited that he must be on the plane and on his way.

At 5:15pm, I get a text: “Where are you guys?”

😳🀯😱🀬πŸ€ͺ

Um, yeah. Nice welcome home. Poor kid had to cool his heels for 45 minutes until we got to the airport.

Note to self: Double check arrival/departure times ON THE DAY. This is not the first time something like this has happened. #brainfog

Good thing we all have a good sense of humour.

Now it’s time to enjoy having the clan back together. This is one happy Mama!!!

❀️ Amanda

family, life

Tiny House Escape: Pender Island

We planned to take our tent trailer over to Pender Island for a couple of nights, until we heard the forecast. When we saw it was supposed to pour rain the whole time, the thought of driving an hour west to pick up the trailer then an hour south to get on the ferry, made camping significantly less appealing.

So two days before our trip, I looked on AirBnB and found a tiny house available for rent. Like many people, our daughters are fascinated by the tiny house movement and the minimal lifestyle so it seemed like kismet that it was the only detached accommodation available.

And boy, did we have fun!! Hiking on the nearby trails, getting caught in a cloudburst, playing cards (Cheat – such a hilarious game), watching the random movies left in the tiny (Mermaids – Cher and Winona Ryder= bizarre movie), playing tetherball and just enjoying being together away from regular life.

The bridge between South and North Pender

This sign on Mt Norman cracked me up. I didn’t see at the time that someone had scratched out Steep Trail and wrote ‘falling zombies’. It was very steep, we didn’t get to the top because we were just scoping it out on our morning walk. Next time…

We love going to the playground at the community school to play tetherball. It’s the only ball sport I’ve ever enjoyed – probably because the ball’s attached! It brings back great childhood memories at the same time as creating hilarious new ones with our youngest; we end up laughing so hard we can hardly play.

Not so into tetherball. 😴😴😴

The most incredible thing that happened was that this Prairie-born girl finally saw whales on the ferry! Despite the ferry running late, the captain was kind enough to slow down when he saw the whale watching boats congregating.

After 30 years living here, never seeing whales on the ferry (off the ferry? πŸ€ͺ), I was skeptical and didn’t spend too long looking. For whatever reason, at the last minute I decided to stand on the edge of the truck so I could see over the edge of the ferry and – oh my! Humpback whales!

So small and insignificant in my little photos, but there is something so magical about the ocean and the creatures that inhabit it. When we are blessed enough to see them, even for a second, it’s an important reminder about the magic and beauty of this world, and our place in it.

So even though we were disappointed to not use the trailer (grateful after the cloudburst!!!), it ended up being a great trip in a completely different way.

Life is funny that way.

❀️ Amanda