Tag Archives: Christmas

Christmas Eve

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I began the morning with chicken stock and Handel’s Messiah; I love the build up to the Hallelujah chorus so much that by the time the song is mid-way through I am usually covered in goose bumps and on the verge of tears. Handel was followed by other sophisticated artists like the cast from Glee and 98 degrees. We have a good (terrible?) mix of music at our house. We listened to everything from Bing to Etta today, and I thoroughly enjoyed it all. I still haven’t listened to Carol of the Bells because I want to save something musical for tomorrow, and am as excited about it as I am about the strangely shaped gifts hanging from my ceiling.

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The twenty-third was spent in the kitchen, mostly. I cooked like a madwoman, desperate to put away as many meals for the twelve days of Christmas as possible. I took a nice break and wandered through the woods with the family to pick out our Christmas tree. It knocked a few things over on the way into the yurt, but it looked great once it was up. Thin and Charlie Brown-ish if you are used to a groomed tree, but just right for the yurt. It is nearly eleven feet tall and almost reaches into the dome. After the little one was in bed, I gathered all the goodies that were stored away for stockings and organized them into twelve little piles. I tried to plan the gifts, giving cookie cutters for the day we will be making gingerbread houses, but mostly it is just a mishmash of animal crackers and raisins for Alma, and a copious amount of chocolate for Mike.

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We baked cookies and played Scrabble today before heading to church for Nine Lessons and Carols (which was lovely). We had plans of watching It’s a Wonderful Life, but I know I would fall asleep five minutes into it, and don’t want to miss it. Mike is making maple fudge and orange roll right now, and I’m contemplating making a couple batches of cookies after I stuff the stockings… but I might just lay here and listen to the Christmas music instead.

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Tomorrow is the first day of Christmas, which means it is time to bring on the chocolate. Happy Christmas Eve 🙂

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Advent

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IMG_1153The observation of advent is a new tradition for me. Advent meant a chocolate calendar for most of my life, so it is only recent that we observe it in the more traditional way. Now, it is a time of waiting and anticipation for Christmas. We try not to listen to Christmas music or put up the tree until Christmas eve (although I always cave on the music by the 21st). We listen to beautiful music all December long, but wait for Joy to the World and the Hallelujah chorus. Each Sunday we light an advent candle, read a few things from the Bible, and sing carols around the supper table.

IMG_8645We add something decorative to the house each week. The first week we make an advent wreath and hang our calendar(a homemade string of numbers on which to count down to Christmas). Week two brings greenery into the yurt as we hang branches and cranberries. We put up white lights on week three, and on week four we bust out the stockings. We will put up our tree and string it with lights tomorrow, but will wait to decorate until Christmas eve (during which time we will be listening to Handel’s Messiah).

During the month, I try my best to make meals and pop them into the freezer so that we can pull them out during the twelve days of Christmas. I would love to not cook for twelve whole days and still have homemade food on the table at each meal. If I make a bunch of stuff tomorrow, we just might be able to make it through the holidays without washing a roasting pan. Except for the turkey pan. Which is the worst kind of pan.

IMG_8515We haven’t baked too many things yet, but are gearing up for the big cookie extravaganza. Alma likes to bake, especially if it involves cookie cutters, so it will be a family affair. Mike and I each have specific cookies that we need to eat at Christmas: he needs shortbread full of butter, and I need chocolate crinkles devoid of gluten and dairy. Guess whose cookies are better.

IMG_1091I’m also hoping to make a few treats that my sister-in-law and I can eat over the holidays. She and I both suffer from pretty intense food intolerances, so we don’t eat what everyone else eats. Thankfully, we are very similar in our food issues, so at least we each have a friend at the gluten-dairy-corn-free table. It sounds worse than it is. We both end up with a ton of special treats because our family feels bad for us and is very kind. I will post our favourite allergy-free recipes after the holidays (we need to do a lot of tasting first).

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Christmas in the Yurt (year two)

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December 20th: Our annual Christmas party was cancelled due to bad weather; we had already booked my niece to babysit so we went on a date. We drank hot drinks at a small cafe playing Christmas music and then walked around the old campus in the snow. Weather: cold and snowing

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A perfect winter’s day

December 21st: My parents arrived at the yurt after driving through freezing rain for most of the day.  Weather: lots of snow in the morning, freezing rain the rest of the day

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Decorating a Charlie Brown tree for Nanny & Papa’s hotel room

December 22nd: Church was cancelled due to the ice. Downside: my sweet nieces didn’t get to be angels in the nativity play, which was a bit disappointing for them. The upside: everyone was showered and wearing nice clothes. We spent the day in the yurt with my parents; lost power around lunchtime. We lit the oil lamps, decorated the tree, and hung Christmas gifts from the ceiling. Weather: everything covered in slippery ice, warm 

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Christmas gifts rained from the ceiling

December 23rd: Still no power. We went for a beautifully snowy walk and took pictures in front of the ice-covered trees; Mike and my Mom had a snowball duel in the field. Weather: a bit of snow, still fairly warm (-10 ish)

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It was a good day for a snowball fight

December 24th: No power for most of the day. The grandparents babysat the wee girl at the hotel (they had power) and managed to get her down for a nap (Grandparents: 1, Alma: 0) while Mike and I did some last minute Christmas and grocery shopping. We had a very fun time and were surprised by how friendly everyone was to us. We realized later that we looked like young versions of Santa and Mrs. Claus in our red coats and Santa hats.
We were preparing supper when the Christmas lights turned on and the yurt turned into a scene from a Christmas movie. Christmas lights and music have never been so welcome. The power turned off again about ten minutes later. Alas, we went to church  and had a lovely time singing carols with friends.
The Great Christmas Electricity Miracle had returned in our absence and the yurt was again a beautiful sight. We ate way too much food and had good laughs with both Nannies, Papa, and our friend Isabelle. After tucking my two favourite people into bed, I cleaned up the kitchen and got the yurt ready for Christmas morning. This is the first year I understand what Christmas is like for adults as I finally got to bed at 3:30am. Weather: cold

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Christmas Eve

 December 25th: We woke up to a smiling baby and a blue sky. Though it was cold outside, the yurt was balmy and we were cosy.

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Christmas Morning

Grandparents arrived; we opened gifts and ate copious amounts of sweet treats. “Brunch” was finally on the table at 1:30pm. We made Christmas supper at Nanny’s house because our oven was at 600 degrees (the husband wanted to keep the guests warm). We had a fun time around the fireplace with friends and family before heading home to bed. Weather: cold. 

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Christmas in the yurt

December 26th: We had a visit from our good friend, Alex, who not only helped Mike carry a couch from the barn to the yurt and cut wood, but also entertained the wee one for hours. We had lemon meringue pie for my step-Dad’s birthday and played a game of Trivial Pursuit 90’s Edition (my much sought-after Christmas gift). Weather: cold and snowy. 

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Spreading Christmas cheer

December 27th: Christmas Day II. We cooked a communal meal with my husband’s family and ended up with eighteen of us around the table. We went sliding and sat around the fireplace as we opened gifts. It was a very fun-filled day. We said sad goodbyes to my parents who were heading home and headed home ourselves. Alma was pretty sleepy on the walk home (which was only about five minutes) and fell asleep in her snowsuit as Mike was about to unzip her. We tried to watch a stand-up comedian on the computer but only last about twelve minutes before we also fell asleep. Weather: perfect winter day

 

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Kids, adults, dogs, and a baby all participated in the tobogganing

December 28th: Christmas continued with the in-laws. We had the annual Gingerbread Competition where everyone makes some form of gingerbread house (or van, castle, tree-house, tipi…). Mike ate so much pizza he could barely function. The kids built a snow couch/fort lit with tiki-torches where we enjoyed hot drinks and watched each other barrel down the icy hill on sleds. Alma and I fell asleep in the chair as Mike visited with our friend Alex. Weather: warming up

 

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What could be better entertainment than an oversized cardboard box?

December 29th: Mass exodus by the in-laws; everyone left us this morning. Nanny, Mike, Alma, and the dogs napped this afternoon while I looked through the dozens of Christmas photos we took. Mike chopped wood and filled the yurt; we put Alma to bed early, and watched an episode of How I Met Your Mother.  Weather: around zero; ice is melting off the trees

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Having a nap in her new Christmas sled

December 30th: Today will be a quiet, nap-filled day for the little one (and probably for me, as well). I will probably make soup and we will watch a Christmas movie of some sort tonight. Weather: cold and blustery 

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Reading while Mom washes dishes

December 31st: No More Beard Day! Mike is not only shaving his beard, he is also cutting off all his beautiful hair. In 2014 I will be married to someone who looks much younger than I.

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Farewell 2013 beard

The Yurt’s First Overnight Guests

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Journal from December 17th, 2012

Nate and Hannah came to visit this weekend. We pulled out lots of extra blankets and set up the futon so they could sleep in the yurt with us. Thankfully, they are both really laid back and didn’t mind the lack of running water.

Nate has been entertaining us with Christmas songs on his fiddle, and they have both been helping with food, dishes, wood, and holding Alma. One couldn’t ask for better guests.

Mike cooking; Hannah napping; Nate making music

Mike cooking; Hannah napping; Nate making music

I hope that they weren’t awoken too many times last night by Alma’s grunting and slurping. She was really hungry and kept making really loud noises.

It snowed yesterday and is still snowing now, so it is really beautiful outside. Maybe we will cut down our Christmas tree soon.

The yurt has been a really nice temperature since yesterday. I feel so much happier about life when I’m not cold.

I should probably go stoke the fire now.

Warm Bed

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Now that it is summer and the yurt is warm, I feel like I should post some journal entries from the winter. Here we go:

December 15th, 2012

We went to a rednecked themed Christmas party with Alma yesterday. She is three weeks old today and I can already tell that she likes to party.

I thought Mike was hanging out with the guys in the kitchen, so I was happily hanging out with people in the living room when someone told me that Mike was actually asleep on the couch. He was completely passed out, and so was Alma, so we went home early.

We had been gone for about six hours and incidentally in that time the temperature dropped, the fire died, and the yurt became a chilly 6 degrees celsius. I bundled Alma like crazy and nursed her until she fell asleep, blissfully unaware of how cold it was outside her cocoon.

Mike sat up by the fire, stoking it relentlessly, while Alma and I went to bed. Being endlessly thoughtful, Mike had put ceramic tiles from the stove in our bed to warm it up before we got in it. Nothing is better than getting into a warm bed in a cold room. I fed Alma under the covers when she woke up to eat throughout the night.

In the morning, the yurt was about 8 degrees so we stayed in bed longer than usual. Cat and Rob came over for breakfast, so we were distracted while the yurt finally got up to a comfortable temperature. Cat, Alma, and I snuggled in our bed under sweaters and blankets while the boys warmed their feet by the stove. I used to think that fifteen degrees was cold, however right now it feels quite nice.

The girls staying warm.

The girls, cozy and warm.

What I learned in the past 24 hours:

1) we can’t leave the yurt for more than a few hours at a time

2) life was wondrously easy when all I had to do was turn the dial on the thermostat

3) I am married to a very kind, self-sacrificing man (I knew that already, but it was reinforced)