Friday, December 31, 2010

Reminiscing . . .

Twas my nightsssss before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a  . . . . oh look a squirrel!

Ever have one of those days . . . where there seems to be more things to do than there are moments in the day?  In past years, that is what the Christmas season was like for me.  I've come to 'acknowledge' that I've had a love/hate relationship with the season.  There is nothing more valuable to me than connecting with others - and Christmas seems to be the peak time of year to do this, there are Christmas parties, gift exchanges, Secret Santa, Christmas letters, mailing packages, receiving packages, Christmas sales, Christmas baking, Christmas wrapping, Christmas travel, Christmas concerts, Christmas shopping, Christmas hours, you get my drift!  I am not a fan of 'stuff' nor what I consider the (over) commercialization of the season.  This year I approached the season with an attitude of simplicity.  Here are some highlights from my Christmas Season:

Christmas Hamper - I spent the Friday prior to Christmas volunteering for the Whitecourt Christmas Hamper.  This was my 4th year assisting with the wrapping of gifts.  I was grateful to know that many local families would indeed celebrate the Christmas season thanks to the exemplary efforts of the Whitecourt Christmas Hamper.

Coloring Contest - My 7 year old daughter entered a coloring contest at a local retailer, CDL Designs Inc.  Mikayla and I enjoyed an evening together while she prepared her artwork for the contest.  Mikayla was ever so excited to recieve a phone call that she had won and elated to claim her prize.  She received a wonderful basket full of 'girlie' goodies which was a holiday highlight for her.  We enjoyed the Polar Express movie many, many times over the holidays thanks to her winnings!

Photo Contest - The beautiful Melissa Weicker Photography hosted a contest entitled "Open Your Heart and I'll Open Mine".  The contest instructions were to nominate someone who you felt were the perfect person or family to receive a custom photo session and collection.  Well, I nominated whom I thought was the perfect family, and Melissa thought so too!  I was ever so humbled and excited to recieve a phone call Christmas eve, informing me that the family I nominated had won!!!  This experience was a gentle reminder that 'giving is recieving'!

My Nieces and Nephews - This year we celebrated Christmas with my entire family being 9 adults and 11 children.  We overtook my parents garage for an entertaining Christmas eve.  We enjoyed a non-traditional meal of Chinese takeout followed by some mighty fine entertainment provided by none other than ourselves!  We enjoyed  a Christmas carole competion which I'm damn sure my team won, a Disney version of Charades, and of course a visit from Santa.  I love Christmas through childrens eyes and the magic of their sense of wonderment and surprise.  I often wish that we could spend more time together and have truly learned to value the moments that we share.

Meier Christmas 2010 - Papa and Oma with their team of grandchildren ~ all acting a little 'silly' as you can tell!

Days Off - I've such a wonderful boss that I was able to stay at home most of the time the kids were off school.  I worked three of the 16 days off, which in itself was a real treat for me.  No major excursion for us, instead some relaxing, enjoyable time at home.  We enjoyed friends over, sleepovers, late nights, sleep ins, a few trips to the pool, tobaggan hill, scrapbooking, movies and my overall favorite . . . quality time.  I even found some time to get a few things cleaned up and organized around the house.  I'll look forward to returning to work in the New Year knowing that I've actually had somethings accomplished at home.

I truly believe we all have different reasons for celebrating at this time of year and am well aware that there is a lot of conflict due to differing values or beliefs.  This year through my simplistic approach, I stepped away from the hustle and bustle of what everyone else was doing and truly spent my moments doing what works for me!  I feel truly blessed to have enjoyed such a wonderful Christmas and look forward to 2011 with my New Year's Intention of living and breathing MORE Peace, MORE Love, and MORE Joy into each and every day.

I Believe . . . Peace on earth will come to stay, When we live Christmas every day. -Helen Steiner Rice

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas 2010 Greetings

December 19th, 2010

Dearest Family and Friends,

. . . it literally seems like yesterday we were ringing in the 2010 New Year.  Thanks to fabulous folks, the kids and I were privileged to celebrate the New Year on the coast of California.  I can’t think of anything better to start the year than a toes in the water, a$$ in the sand New Years day.  A definite reminder that life is good today . . . and everyday!

The year has been filled with many fabulous moments . . .

. . . MUSIC!  Much to my dismay Tyson and Morgan are not pursuing music lessons this fall.  They both struggled with the balance of school, friends, and activities through April, May, and June, and therefore music lessons were not continued.  I sure hope to see them pick up where they left off at a later date.  Mikayla is enrolled in her second year of piano.  She loves to play and for some reason is not a fan of theory, which anyone who has taken lessons knows, is a critical part of music growth.  She has been known to ‘misplace’ her theory book on more than one occasion!  She frequently leaves them in her book bag, and I’ve even found them ever so neatly ‘forgotten’ under the keyboard at home.  Morgan and Mikayla played at the Whitecourt Music Festival this spring, both bringing home fabulous silver certificates for their performances.  The teenagers in the house have introduced Mikayla and I to some fabulous new tunes.  I don’t understand their lack of appreciation for me grooving out with my hands in the air!  Lately, Mikayla can be heard singing “like a G6” around the house.  I’m pretty sure in their younger years, Tyson and Morgan listened to more age appropriate songs ( ie. twinkle, twinkle, little star).

. . . SCHOOL!  This school year puts the kids at three different schools.  Tyson is in grade nine at Hilltop High School, Morgan grade eight at Percy Baxter Middle School, and Mikayla grade two French immersion at St. Mary’s.  Three schools has proven to be a little hectic and occasionally enroute to school we take what I call the scenic route - the kids call it, hey mom, you forgot about me!  All three children are doing extremely well academically.  Morgan received what she calls the ‘nerd’ award for excellence in grade seven math.  Tyson works very hard at maintaining his grades and his weekly progress reports are verification of his hard word.  Mikayla continues to have her teachers wrapped around her little finger, excelling in all areas of school.  She has definitely surpassed the rest of the household with her French language and continues on her own self taught method of reading English.

. . . SPORTS!  Morgan is dancing – jazz, ballet, and lyrical this year.  She also participated in a biathlon.  She trained over the summer and completed this feat with a big smile as she bolted across the finish line in August.  Tyson and I participated in the Fallen Four fun run in June – Tyson ran five km in 26 minutes and I walked it in 53 minutes – he gave me a big ‘high 5’ as our paths crossed – him on his way home and me still plodding to the finish line.  Mikayla walked 42km for the Fallen Four Relay over the course of six weeks.  Day number two of walking, she informed me that she ‘knew’ it wasn’t going to be as much fun as she thought.  Perseverance prevailed; she finished, and has a beautiful medal as a reminder of her efforts!!  Mikayla is in the junior Figure Skating Program this fall.  She thinks we should move the table out of the dining room to allow her more practice area off the carpet.  Tyson played baseball again this spring.  We enjoyed a couple of entertaining out of town trips with a fellow team mate.  He can most often be found at the arena, hockey academy, practice, games, and reffing.  As a precautionary measure, this past week he was off the ice for four days due to some swelling in his knee – most definitely the longest 4 days of his life! 

In my own mission for improved physical fitness I landed on the IRL  - who’d a thought I’d suffer a sports injury.  I spent 4 months early this year out of commission due to a nasty leg injury (triggered by an epidural seven years ago) . . . went downhill from there.  The doc had recommended no stairs and bed rest.  If our family wished to eat, bed rest obviously wasn’t an option.  We survived the ordeal and thankfully we didn’t miss a beat!  Morgan did her fair share of cooking and believe me, tortellini is no longer our favorite meal.  Upon my return to the gym in June my leg was still giving me some grief so I took to the water for swimming lessons.  I’ve always loved the water, but preferred being on it NOT in it.  I did master 50 m of what I call beached whale hooplah!!  I still don’t like swimming but am proud of my accomplishment.  This fall, I’ve again taken some time off at the gym – no not injured, simply a case of tired, cranky, lazy butt syndrome!

. . . LIFE!  Tyson again spent time at Papa and Oma’s over the summer.  In celebration of Oma’s 65th birthday on July 2nd, he obtained his learners permit.  June and July he spent a lot of hours chauffeuring Papa around the countryside!  Tyson appears to be a very cautious and aware driver, however he doesn’t like to drive with me as in his opinion, I’m too naggy – imagine me, a naggy mom?  I tell him he’s lucky that I’ve wisdom to share with him, he just isn’t willing to accept it yet.

Morgan spends a great deal of time babysitting and can often be found with a youngster nestled upon her lap.  She seems to attract small children to her side wherever she goes.  She still loves to shop – in fact her and I spent yesterday at WEM.  Thankfully we escaped the mall unscathed by the rush of Christmas shoppers.  She continues to be the warden at home, ensuring that everyone is pulling his or her weight.  She holds us all accountable, and believe me, we’ll gladly keep our word over receiving the wrath of Morgan!

Mikayla spends countless hours playing and dreaming.  She can still transform our home in a matter of minutes, into a hotel, school, library or store – her latest venture, a hospital.  I tell you she gives a nasty needle.  I’m surprised at her interest in hospitals as she has a long history of fainting and a definite dislike for talk about ‘blood or bones’.  She as well loves to shop (may be genetics she inherited from her big sister).  She recently informed me that she’d like to travel . . . to Paris and New York . . . to SHOP!  I didn’t know seven year olds knew anything about Paris or New York, hmmm!  Overall this girl is much, much wiser than her years!

As for me, I GREATLY enjoy having moved my office out of the house – allows me to remain fully attentive both at home and at work.  I continue to focus on spending my time and energy on things that fill my life with more peace, love, and joy.  My workload had seriously slid due to the down turn in economy the last few years.  I am thankful to have several new accounting clients this fall.  This past year I was involved in a few interior decorating projects and hope to pursue more in the year to come.  I’ve been exploring distant learning options and plan to obtain some further education in the near future – Psychology is my subject of choice – watch out world! 

As you are aware, I usually have lots to say!  I find it easy to expel my thoughts, emotions, and feelings through written words.  I decided to combine these two attributes and have recently started a blog.   I invite you to check out ‘I Believe . . . ‘ at   

This is my 14th annual Christmas letter.  I must admit, I hadn’t planned on writing this year.  I had several people suggest that I not send Christmas greetings as a way to more efficiently use my time, and to cut down of my pre-Christmas jitters.  My initial decision to not write saddened me!  I absolutely love the exchange of greeting at this time of year and look forward to it on an annual basis.  I had an ‘aha’ moment when I read a note I received in the mail which explained how we all give in different ways . . . a portion of the note stated:  . . . some do it with words – and I realized, that is me!  I felt I was denying being my own self by not writing and actually succumbing to the suggestion of others – definitely not how I operate!  So this letter is last minute – mind you not different than any of the 13 previous years.  As part of my financial conservation mode (bahumbug), the kids and I did not have family pictures taken this year.   I can’t say that we don’t know a photographer as it is quite the contrary, seems we know many, many talented camera people.  In lieu of photos, we opted for a caricature version of ourselves.

I trust this note finds everyone healthy and happy, preparing your hearts and homes for this Christmas Season!  

You’re wonderful, we love you!  We’re blessed as can be.
Friends and Family are the best gifts, under the Christmas tree.

Sending you loads of love, laughter, hugs and smiles,

Laura, Tyson, Morgan, and Mikayla

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Our Plate of Cookies

We started off right with lots of ideas
Of all the gifts that everyone gives.
"Well, we'll do it too!" enthusiastically we said,
Planning cookies, cakes, and fresh warm bread.
So, we made a list of those to receive our plate of
Goodies under the tree.

There's the neighbours, home teachers, in-laws, baby tenders,
Neighbourhood children, pitch hitters, sugar lenders,
The teachers, ward members, the list never ends.
In desperation we screamed, "we have too many friends!"
How could they all be so nice to me?
Creating Christmas stress!  That just couldn't be!
Then the thought came right back, hit us right in the face.
We smiled as everything fell into place.
Too many friends?

We guess things could be worse.  If we must be plagued
I'll let this be my curse.  Some say it with sweets,
Some sing it like birds, some make it with crafts,
We'll tell it with words.
You're wonderful, we love you!  We're blessed as can be,
Family and Friends are the best gifts, under and Christmas tree.

I received this poem in the mail today from a wonderful lady, Tante Edith whom I've known since I was just a wee lil girl.  This note is truly a blessing in disguise. 

Personally, I find nothing more valuable and heart warming than spending quality time with those nearest and dearest to me.  I consider my time my most valuable resource, and graciously devote special moments every day to perform random acts of kindness and also to spend time connecting with my family, and friends, be it in person or the ever so popular world of social networking.  Based on my desire to spend quality time with people ~ for me, everyday is like Christmas. 

For those of you familiar with the 5 love languages, gifts is not on my radar.  I struggle every year with this concept of gift giving at Christmas.  Don't get me wrong, it's not that I don't like to gift - it's more that I love to give from the depths of my heart.  I prefer the element of surprising people with gifts over the expectations and commercialization of the season.  I'm not your spontaneous type of shopper . . . in fact, I rarely buy anything without some form of 'research'.  I'm a definite quality over quantity brand of shopper.  So for me, Christmas shopping is exhausting - literally eXhausting!

Since 1997 I have shared an annual Christmas letter and family portraits with family and friends.  For a few years, I added hand crafted cards and ornaments.  This year due to my financial conservation mode (bahumbug) and a need to eliminate my pre-Christmas jitters I decided that there would be NO family portraits nor Christmas letter.  I must say it saddens me! On another note, my kids were elated . . . no fussing , no sitting still, no hair do's nor wardrobe fix ups!

This poem was a definite reminder that we all show our love by giving in different ways ~ I believe it is important to understand how others give and receive love and most importantly not to deny yourself of something that is important to you.  I had best run . . . I have a Christmas letter to write.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Night Before Christmas

T'was the night before Christmas, He lived all alone,
In a one bedroom house, Made of plaster and stone.

I had come down the chimney, With presents to give,
And to see just who, In this home did live.

I looked all about, A strange sight I did see,
No tinsel, no presents, Not even a tree.

No stocking by the mantle, Just boots filled with sand,
On the wall hung pictures, Of far distant lands.

With medals and badges, Awards of all kinds,
A sober thought, Came through my mind.

For this house was different, It was dark and dreary,
I found the home of a soldier, Once I could see clearly.

The soldier lay sleeping, Silent, alone,
Curled up on the floor, In this one bedroom home.

The face was so gentle, The room in such disorder,
Not how I pictured, A Canadian soldier.

Was this the hero, Of whom I'd just read?,
Curled up on a poncho, The floor for a bed?

I realized the families, That I saw this night,
Owed their lives to these soldiers, Who were willing to fight.

Soon round the world, The children would play,
And grownups would celebrate, A bright Christmas Day.

They all enjoyed freedom, Each month of the year,
Because of the soldiers, Like the one lying here.

I couldn't help wonder, How many lay alone,
On a cold Christmas Eve, In a land far from home.

The very thought brought A tear to my eye,
I dropped to my knees, And started to cry.

The soldier awakened,  And I heard a rough voice,
'Santa, don't cry,  This life is my choice.

I fight for freedom, I don't ask for more,
My life is my God, My country, my corps.

The soldier rolled over, And drifted to sleep,
I couldn't control it, I continued to weep.

I kept watch for hours, So silent and still,
And we both shivered, From the cold night's chill.

I didn't want to leave, On that cold, dark night,
This guardian of honor, So willing to fight.

Then the soldier rolled over, With a voice, soft and pure,
Whispered, 'Carry on Santa, It's Christmas Day, all is secure.'

One look at my watch, And I knew he was right,
'Merry Christmas my friend, And to all a good night.'

This poem was written by a peace keeping soldier stationed overseas.   The following is his request, I think it is reasonable.
PLEASE. Would you do me the kind favor of sending this to as many people as you can?  Christmas will be coming soon and some credit is due to our Canadian service men and women for our being able to celebrate these festivities.  Let's try in this small way to pay a tiny bit of what we owe.   Make people stop and think of our heroes, living and dead, who sacrificed themselves for us.

This poem was forwarded to me by a dear friend, to Margaret and the men and women of service to our Country, I am eternally thankful.  Wishing you all a peaceful Christmas Season!