This time last week my family and I were on a beach vacation in the Dominican Republic. For the last few years now, my husband has wanted to spend the Christmas period in the sun at a resort. This year we decided to agree with his wish and chose to go to the hotel we had chosen to celebrate our wedding anniversary.
I loved being back at the beach. I missed the warm sand and roaring sea so much yesterday as I was walking the cold, streets of the city yesterday.
One of the things I plan to do in the New Year is to spend some time with my daughters each week preparing our bullet journals. I have tried bullet journaling for one month now and I find that I enjoy the creativity of it. The bonus, for me, is that I get to spend time with my girls. Now that they are older, we no longer work around the table in the afternoons. Doing this activity with them remedies that and I get to have a chance to chat with them on what is happening in their personal lives.
Today on the first day of 2020, we spent time setting up our journals for the month. It was a perfect way to bring in the New Year.
What did you do (or plan to do) on the first day of January?
Our son has flown into the city for a few days to work and was able to spend some time with us on Saturday. The four of us were excited to see him and could not wait to catch up. We decided to meet him for dinner and take him out to a new Chinese restaurant in our neighbourhood. We all enjoy eating Dim Sum because of the variety of choice and, of course, the chance to eat family style.
We spent the evening catching up on one another’s stories, chatting about the future, and reminiscing on the past. If we could have, we would have extended the moment but alas, we had to sleep!
What are you grateful for this week? And what has made you smile?
Last night our Christmas tree was finally put up. All the children were home: our son is visiting from Vancouver, my youngest had completed and submitted all of her assignments, and no children were out with their friends. Christmas music was playing in the background as the siblings chose their favourite decorations and adorned our small tree. I love seeing them work together on a task and hope that during their lifetimes they will have the opportunity to do so often.
Our tree is up and a few gifts have been placed under the tree. Tonight on Christmas Eve, our traditional family time will begin in earnest as we focus on ourselves and the love we feel for one another. I leave you with one of my favourite Christmas songs, Oh Holy Night:
If you celebrate Christmas, I wish you a peaceful and joyful day with your family. God bless.
Sometimes when we sit around the table at dinner time, my family and I play the ‘if’ game. (We always seem to play when it is mid-February and the temperature outside is below -20!)
The game always starts with the sentence, “What if we had never left South Africa to move to Toronto.”
We would have spent more time outside (remember this game is always played mid-winter!).
We would not have experienced living in cold, snowy climes.
We would have had to drive the children everywhere. They certainly would not have gone out with their friends as they do now.
We would have lived in the suburbs in a house with an outdoor pool.
We would have spent more time with family – siblings, cousins, grandparents.
We would have driven everywhere. Now we walk a lot: to the supermarket, to the subway station, to work.
My daughters would have gone to a private school. Instead now they attend a very good public school within walking distance of where we live.
My daughters would have had to learn Afrikaans – and they would not have learned to speak French.
We would not have used the public transport system – which in Johannesburg is very poor. Now we go everywhere using the TTC (Toronto’s public transit system). We love it! The trains and buses are frequent; and we do not have to stress when driving in a busy city.
I would have had a different work experience. In Toronto, my teaching experience is so much more than what I experienced in Johannesburg. The school board I now work for has a lot more supports in place for teachers than the school board I used to work for – and I currently work at a school that has many resources available to me.
My husband would not have had the experience of working at a large international company.
Often when we play this game, my husband and I feel nostalgic for the lifestyle we lived in South Africa. We do miss the good weather and our loved ones whom we left behind. But we remind ourselves of why we left. And, when we look at the positive experiences our children have had and their successes, we know we made the right choice.
(This post is linked to Frank’s If Challenge. You are invited to join in and write a post of your own. The post can be in any format: a poem, an artistic impression, a commentary. Once you have written your post, you can share your post on Frank’s page.
The last 2 weeks have been filled with Family Moments. We have eaten dinners and lunch together; celebrated Christmas and New Year’s Day as a family. We have watched DVDs sitting together on the sofa, and sat at the dining table to play board games. We laughed, we shared stories, and we spent plenty of time together.
Our family time was extended as we went shopping together on 26 December. It was extremely cold outside but that did not deter us from going out together and getting the few things we wanted on the Boxing Day sales. My birthday the next day was another opportunity for us to exclude others from our circle.
This week I am grateful for the time that I had over the Holiday period to spend with my family. Each year I savour these moments as we are not bothered by deadlines and working schedules.
What have you been grateful for this week? Share your comments or the link to your post below.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you to come in from out of the cold. We did have a white Christmas as my daughter wished for. But there was no packing snow – and it was too cold to go outside! Instead we stayed inside and spent wonderful family time together. The Christmas period is always a special time for me as my husband, children and I spend quality time together with no outside distractions. We are not working and have no deadlines to follow. It is a wonderful time to chill together and just be a family.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you that on Christmas Eve I made a simple supper. My family love spaghettini with a simple basic tomato sauce. It normally takes me about 30 – 45 minutes to make from scratch. After eating we moved to the sofa to commence our annual tradition. This year my daughters are old enough to watch films containing sexual and violent content. As a result, we decided to watch Game of Thrones. I had bought the seasons we were missing, and we began our watch-fest from Season 1. Rewatching the first seasons has not only allowed my daughters to watch from the beginning, but has also helped us remember the finer details of the story.
Christmas Day shone brightly – even though it was cold outside. As usual, I was the first one up. I do not mind this as I take the time to settle myself on the sofa and read a little after placing the gifts under the tree. When everyone was awake, we opened our gifts. We took our time and, even though there are only 5 of us, opening gifts took over 2 hours. We love this time together as we laugh, admire our gifts, and thank one another for the thoughtful things we have made or bought for each other.
Our gift opening is always followed by brunch then tea in front of the TV. In the late afternoon we stopped watching our show as I began cooking dinner and the family showered and dressed. My nephew always comes over for an early dinner and to spend some time with us. Dinner was what I usually make on Christmas Day – roast chicken, fried rice, and vegetables. After supper and a dessert of strawberries, whipped cream, and ice-cream, we took out Trivial Pursuit.
My eldest daughter’s Christmas wish this year was to play a board game. For the family this Christmas, I had decided to buy one of my favourite board games – Trivial Pursuit. When at university, I used to play this game often with my friends. The memories of these times were in my mind when I picked up the game while Christmas shopping. I had hoped my family would love the game as much as I did. After dinner on Christmas Day, we opened up the new game and played. And we had so much fun! We guessed, we laughed, we were stunned by answers, and we all enjoyed the game – even my husband who is not much of a board games person. I think this game will come out of the closet often.
Boxing Day, the 26th December, dawned and we stepped out to do some shopping. The wind chill was -26c and the wind burned our cheeks. We walked briskly to our destinations and noticed that there were not many people out on the street. The snow cracked beneath our feet as we walked and we kept our faces down. My husband did not get what he wanted (the badminton racket he had been eyeing was bought by someone else who got there before him!) but I found what I needed: two – not one – pairs. of winter boots. One pair is perfect for snowy and slushy days; the other is good for cold days that are snow-free. My girls found some things that they wanted as well – and we could not resist a trip to the book store. A good day shopping ended with us sitting on the sofa sipping warm drinks and watching our TV series.
The final highlight of the week was my birthday. I began the day with a visit to the hairdresser. I decided to spoil myself and colour my hair. The hairdresser suggested highlights and I went for it. My hair looks a little different now and it is something that I still need to get used to. My family loved my hair and I asked for a picture to be taken at the restaurant we went to for lunch. Eating out on my birthday is another annual family tradition – and one that I love. It does make the day special especially as we do not go out too often. After our meal, we walked about the mall for a while. We could not stroll a bit outside as we usually do because the temperatures were too low. We did not mind as we wanted to get back home, have some tea, and watch more Game of Thrones.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I have had a wonderful week. I have enjoyed the family time and the break from the responsibilities of work. Today I have started getting back into my routine with a Zumba class. Slowly over the next week, I will get back into the rest of my routine – and of course finish watching our chosen TV series for this break.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you to stay warm and enjoy any celebrations you may be planning for the New Year.
The last weekend was a long weekend for me and comprised of four days of rest. I slept late and feel less tired (as my daughters say, we should have more long weekends!).
I spent some of my time watching a series that I have grown to love: Downton Abbey. I enjoy the drama and the day to day happenings of the characters in an England that no longer exists. I delight in the intrigue, and love to hate some of the characters. I managed to finish watching all the episodes until the end of season 4 – and now wait impatiently until the next season is broadcast on Netflix. While watching Downton Abbey, I worked on the afghan that I am crocheting for my daughter. She chose the colour combination and I think she chose well.
I spent some time reading on the sofa with a cup of tea in my hand in the early morning hours while the rest of the household was still asleep. With my feet up, I entered the world of Jack Calder in The Violin Man’s Legacy by Seamus Gallacher with no interruptions. I am happy to say that I completed this novel and was able to begin another – Crash & Burn by Lisa Gardner.
Most of the weekend was spent at home. With the temperatures way below zero (at -36C), we decided to spent family time indoors. I was grateful, however, that I was able to rest completely and that I could spend long lunches and dinners eating and chatting with my family.
During the festive season, I am always grateful for the chance to spend time with my family. This year the togetherness began on Christmas Eve with dinner. The tree was up, the shopping had been completed, the menus planned, and the time had been set aside by all members of our unit.
Dinner was a leisurely affair with no gaps in the conversation. After dinner, it is our tradition to begin the series that we will watch together during this time of the year. This year, we were determined to finish watching The Legend of Korra. After clearing dinner, the five of us sat in our places on the sofa and began watching. As a family, we continued to watch the anime on Christmas Day as well as on Boxing Day.
Christmas morning was spent, en famille, around the Christmas tree. Together we opened the gifts that we had found for one another. The skies were grey but inside our living room, joy abounded. What I remember of that Christmas morning is laughter and a sense of togetherness.
The sense of togetherness continued throughout Christmas Day and into the next day. Boxing Day saw us get up early and go shopping for items on our list: laptop, microwave, printer, winter boots, winter jackets. By 10am we were home eating breakfast. After our tummies had been filled, we settled on the sofa to continue watching Korra’s story.
On 27 December, my family and I celebrated my birthday. We ate a buffet lunch at a local restaurant and enjoyed the treat of eating out together. Afterwards we walked home and felt for the first time the nip of Winter. Brrr! we did not linger outside and arranged ourselves on the sofa with a cup of tea in our hands to finish the anime series.
On 28 December, my family accompanied me to watch the latest episode in the the Star Wars saga. It is not often that we all go to the cinema together and it was fun to do. I enjoyed the movie and cannot wait for the next episode to come out!
My husband, children and I spent four complete days together: we ate at the table, we chatted, we watched a series together, we went out as a family. This week I am grateful for the opportunity to do this; and the willingness of all family members to spend their time with one another.
Last weekend Thanksgiving was ceclebrated in Canada. Even though we were not brought up celebrating this holiday, my husband and I take the opportunity to spend some time with our children. On Sunday afternoon my stepson came over and the five of us had dinner together (which is our usual Sunday ritual). The Sunday routine was extended, however, by a few hours as my daughters and I did not have to go to school the next day. After dinner we settled in to continue watching “The Legend of Korra”, an anime series that we are currently watching. The family time together on the sofa reminded us of a Christmas we had spent together watching the series that comes before this one: “Avatar: The Last Airbender”. (For my post on this gripping series, click here.)
The family time continued on Monday as we lunched together, watched more of Korra’s Story, and ate dinner as a family. It is not often that the five of us are able to spend so much time with each other. I am grateful that we had the opportunity to do so this weekend.