Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Thoughts On Heading Into A Second Lock Down

Warning: This is not a cheery, uplifting blog post. I will likely have a cheerier post later this week but right now, this is my reality. Also, I wrote this on Sunday afternoon after having a really hard couple of hours (think: crying, screaming, swearing, melting down, etc with frustration, sadness, and anger). I'm doing better now but I can't think too far ahead with the "this is our life for the next month" or I'll likely lose it again. And I wanted to document a "not so pretty piece" of real life. Thanks for listening.

In case you haven't heard, our province is now in a second lock down. "Supposedly" it's only going to last for four weeks, with elementary school kids going online for the first week only and then being able to return in person after that. However, our lock down in the spring was "only" supposed to be for three weeks and we all know how that went. Before, I get too much further in these thoughts, let me make it clear that, even though I don't like these measures, I support them. I know that this is the right thing to do. But it is not easy.

I am done.

I miss hugging my friends.

I miss going to church.

I miss traveling.

I miss "normal."

I hate that I don't know when I will next see my parents.

I hate that I don't know when I will next get to go inside the library and browse the shelves.

I hate that we have to question every decision -- Is this safe? Is that safe? Is anything safe?

I'm tired of "getting together" with friends virtually only. 

I'm tired of trying to "look on the bright side."

I'm tired of trying to find "fun things" to do at home.

It has been nine and a half months of Covid stress and realities and adjustments and I am done. I don't have the mental capacity for this anymore. But I have no choice.

And I know that I have it relatively easy. I'm not a health care professional. I am not a grocery store employee. I am not a teacher (although I do work in the school system). We are not in danger of losing our home or not having enough to eat or any of the many other things that many people are worrying about.

On Instagram I am deciding to post a picture of a small moment every day which gives me joy. I am trying to look on the bright side but it's getting really hard. So if you follow me there it might seem like life is going really well. And sometimes, for some days, it really is.

But a lot of the time this is really freakin' hard and I am just over it.

So for those of you who get to hug your friends and see your parents and go to church, please recognize that that is not the reality for many of us and we haven't gotten to do any of those things in nine (going on ten) months.

Some days I'm tempted to delete my Instagram account and not read any blogs because it is hard to see other people getting to do those things when, in our province, we haven't been allowed to do any of that since March. (We were able to socially bubble with up to ten people total for a short time in the summer but many people chose to bubble with their parents so my friends didn't get to hug each other (or be closer than six feet apart) and that bubbling was for two months only. Now we're back to "close contact with our immediate household only.")

I know that eventually (soon please) Covid will be under control or we will all be vaccinated and we will get to resume normal life again (PLEASE GOD) but until then, I will be at home, with my family, trying to find small moments of joy and gritting my teeth to get through another day.

And probably watching a Hallmark movie, drinking some cranberry tea, and eating cookies, because right now, those things give me joy.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

What's Up Wednesday: December 2020

It's What's Up Wednesday, the December 2020 version. As always, I'm linking up with Shay at Mix and Match Mama and Sheaffer at Sheaffer Told Me To to talk about what we've been up to lately, although I think the official link up might not be happening until next week...

image from here

What we're eating this week... Cheese, cheese, and more cheese. We have a cheese Advent calendar and we've been splitting each cheese between all four of us. So many of them are so good! Oh my word. YUM!!! And then we splurged on some aged Balderson cheddar and some Guinness cheddar and I am basically in cheese heaven. And of course, we bought our favourite Christmas chocolates last week so we're eating those as well.
 Dave frying latkes outside as is our tradition!

And because we are finishing up celebrating Channukah, we've been eating latkes too! So yes, basically it's all the holiday foods around here :)

What I'm reminiscing about... Celebrating Christmas last year when my parents came to visit. We had a super fun turkey dinner on Christmas Day with some of our best friends and it was just so fun! Janice brought Christmas crackers (the kind you pop) and each one had a silly hat and a whistle and the "whistle choir" was so funny!!!
What I'm loving... We put flannel sheets on our bed a few weeks ago (a month ago now?) and I LOVE crawling into bed every night with my comfort bag and the coziness of the flannel sheets. Aaaaahhhh! I am excited to spend more time sleeping over the next few weeks as the kids and I are off for Winter Break.
What we've been up to... Celebrating Chanukah. We made a plan for each of the eight nights of Chanukah and it's been fun, thus far. We've opened gifts, gone to (a very short but kind of hilarious) menorah car parade, celebrated over Zoom, eaten latkes, and of course, lit the candles every night.

What I'm dreading... Same thing as last month. "Christmas without my parents :( And the holidays in general. I'm dreading not being able to get together with anybody. Boo."
What I'm working on... Trying to come up with ways to make the Winter Break (and the holidays) fun. We have a Winter Break list of fun things to do. So much will depend on the weather -- will it be cold enough to toboggan and ice skate or will be grey, rainy, and not really "let's spend a lot of time outside" weather? I'm trying to find lots of light shows which aren't too far from us so we can check those out. We'll see how many of them we get to.

What I'm excited about... My friend Allena wrote on her blog about Cranberry Tea. I asked for the recipe because it sounded so good, and you guys, it's only been a week and a half but we're drinking it every day. It has cinnamon in it and between the tea, and the Christmas potpourri (which also has cranberries and cinnamon in it), our house has been smelling so good! And there's nothing better than having a cup (or six!) of cranberry tea in the afternoons and evenings. The whole family is loving it. So I'm excited about cranberries and cinnamon -- it must be December :)

What I'm watching/reading... I haven't been watching as many Hallmark movies lately. We've been busy with other things. However, next week, once we're on Winter Break and I'm not working, we'll be watching a whole bunch more movies. I can't wait! My big plans are to eat cookies and watch Hallmark movies and I'm pretty excited about it actually :) Add a cup of cranberry tea and a fuzzy blanket and I'm pretty much set!

In terms of reading, I've discovered a new (to me) series. It's about a pair of cupcake bakers who solve mysteries. I've read four of the books thus far and am really enjoying it. This author also has a series set in a library so I'm looking forward to reading those books too.
image from here * image from here

What I'm listening to... I've been listening to Rachel practice her song for our church's Christmas Eve prelude, I've been listening to The Pentatonix Christmas CD, and I've been listening to Straight No Chaser's The Christmas Can-Can which makes me laugh every single time. (Listen to the last one here.)
What I'm wearing... It's matching family pajamas time everyone!!! Whooo hoooo!!!

What I'm doing this weekend... Friday is the last day of school/work until after the Winter Break. We're going to do a drive through light event on Friday night and we're "hosting" our church small group Channukah party over Zoom. And yes, you read that right -- every year we host a Channukah party for our small group from church and we all love it so much we decided to do it this year even though it has to be virtual. We'll be delivering Channukah care packages to each family on Sunday afternoon and hanging out (on Zoom) on Sunday night. Hopefully, we'll also get to do some sleeping in, some game playing, and some being lazy too :)

What I'm looking forward to next month... The January tulip invasion will begin. Every year our grocery store carries inexpensive bunches of tulips and I fill our house with them in January to remind me that yes, eventually, Spring is coming.

What else is new... I'm excited because the long term contract which I had been doing for work ended a few weeks ago and it has opened up some new opportunities for me. I picked a job up off the job board (a first come, first served website) that was originally supposed to be for just two days. On the first day, it got extended for another week and, this past Monday, they asked me to come back for the first three weeks in January too. I'm a substitute secretary/librarian for our school board and I'm excited to get some long term experience in the school office. I'm getting a chance to learn all sorts of new tasks which I'm thrilled about. And I'm happy to know where I'll be working for the first three weeks after Winter Break. So that's what's new for me.

A picture from my first day of work in December 2019. If you're curious to read more about my job, you can read my original post about it here.

So that's what up with me this December. What's up with all of you?

Monday, December 14, 2020

10 On The 10th: December 2020

Welcome to 10 On The 10th for December. This was the first night of Channukah so we had a lot going on this day. I also picked up a job the night before so I spent most of the day at work. I had thought for a December "10 On The 10th" I would show you my favourite Christmas ornaments but then I realized, "We're an interfaith family - duh!" so instead I'm showing you ten pictures of some of my favourite Christmas and Channukah decorations, including ornaments

Every night during Channukah we light the candles. This year we have two menorahs. The silver, tree like one is one we got from Dave's grandparents as a wedding gift and we have used it every Channukah since 2008. The other one is one my dad made for us last year. It's the stave of an old barrel and I LOVE it.

This is the olive wood nativity set I bought for my parents when I lived in Israel-Palestine. I never actually bought one for myself and they said they would give it to me eventually. When Sam was three and Rachel was one, they sent it to us and we've used it ever since. This year, Rachel set it up and the sheep are babysitting Jesus. Hahaha!

I was inspired to make the Channukah banner through a blog link up. It's seven years old and I still really like it. If you're really interested, you can read about how I made it here.
The year I made the Channukah banner, Sam was four and wanted to make one too. So he made this one on Post-It notes and stuck it to the mirror on the closet door in our front hall. Yes, I kept it and yes, we still put it in the same spot every year. This makes Dave and I laugh so much!!! We will probably hang this "banner" forever :)

The original inspiration for my Channukah table centrepiece came from a blog friend, Shoshana. I have a blue vase in the middle which I fill with white flowers. This year they're alstroemeria. And then I take blue and white rocks and sprinkle gelt, driedels, and Channukah confetti throughout. And yes, I gather up all the confetti and reuse it every year. And don't eat the gelt because it's old!

Dave's aunt sends us Channukah decorations every single year which we love. She lives just north of New York City and finds so much great stuff. A few years ago she sent us a few of these driedels and they live on our cupboards during Channukah. I LOVE them. They're so cute!

Now for a few Christmas ornaments. My blog friend Sherry sent this to me a few years ago. It reminds me of my blog friends (even those of you who are not from the South) and I LOVE it so much!

This is a hand print reindeer Sam made in Junior Kindergarten. I think it's so cute :) I just love the handmade ornaments we have from the kids.

When I was a kid, every year, my parents gave us an ornament to mark something special from the year. This is a present my dad made the year that he learned stained glass. I couldn't decide between posting this and the stained glass wooden shoe my dad made for me the year I lived in The Netherlands. Sam calls it a mustache which makes me laugh so much!

I had to finally just pick one ornament of the many we have given the kids over the years so I chose this one from the year Sam became a big brother :) It's so much fun to think about what has been meaningful, or what has defined the kids, over the past year, and then find an ornament for them.

So there are ten pictures of my holiday decorating/celebrating as of December 10, 2020.

Friday, December 11, 2020

#AMonthOfFaves: Favourite Things

It's time for #AMonthOfFaves with Kim and Tanya at GirlXOXO. I have a soft spot in my heart for this month of prompts because, in 2018, #AMonthOfFaves is what got me back into regular blogging. This year, thanks to the pandemic, I struggled with my reading and didn't read a lot of new books. I turned to comfort reads (like Nora Roberts) or (gasp!) didn't read at all. It was very sad.

So I'm skipping most of the reading related prompts this year and joining in on the non-reading ones. And this one hit me -- much as 2020 sucked (a lot), there were some great things which happened this year. So I'm telling you about the good of 2020. "Recipes tried, happy moments, shows watched, skills learned or just 5 things you appreciated about 2020" is what the prompt said, and my response is 10 Things I'm Thankful For From 2020.

1) Health, home, family

I am so thankful for my family. I was single for a very long time (until I was 35) and I cannot imagine living alone during this time of isolation. My heart aches for my single friends as I can imagine how hard it is to be alone so much. I'm also thankful we get along, for the most part!

I'm also thankful we have a home we love with a great yard and I'm thankful for our health. None of us have underlying conditions so I'm thankful that is not something else I have to be stressed about.

2) The cruise we took in January with my parents

We booked this Disney cruise back in October of 2018. We had been looking forward to it for sixteen months. I know many people had to cancel big vacations which they had been looking forward to for a long time as well. We enjoyed our vacation to the fullest and I'm so thankful we planned it for when we did.

We had so much fun on our cruise, and when we left, Covid wasn't "a thing." When we flew back home, we were in customs and people getting off planes from China were wearing masks. I asked Dave, "What's going on in China???" How naive we all were at the end of January.

3) Our family newspaper

Inspired by a friend on Instagram, our family put out a weekly newspaper for nine weeks of quarantine. Everyone contributed something every day and I'm so thankful we have the kids' perspective on quarantine, as well as my and Dave's thoughts. Our newspaper gave us a way to "have fun" with some of the things happening in our family during that time. And yes, it still bothers me that we ended with the 9th edition as opposed to a round number like 10 :) 

4) The fact the kids have been in school all fall.


I hope I will never take for granted that our kids get to go to school in person. I think our province has done a phenomenal job with getting kids back into the schools. While there have been cases in the schools (and classes which have had to quarantine), there have been very few outbreaks in the 120 schools in our region, which I think is really impressive.

5) The fact that Sam and Rachel rarely fight


These kids had to spend more time together than they ever had to and they still aren't sick of each other. I know our weeks of family togetherness could have been filled with fighting, boredom, and tears but these two rocked being quarantined. Even after spending all day together, they still wanted sleepovers. These two have always been each other's best friends and 2020 proved that once again.

6) These Applesauce Jumble cookies

I know these cookies have only been in my life for less than a month but they are seriously one of the best recipes I've found in a long time. Make these cookies. You can find the recipe from Holly here. That's all :)

7) Blog Friends Happy Hour, and more recently, book club


Okay, as much as 2020 has sucked and we are relegated to seeing our closest, local friends through Zoom, it did give me the idea to have Zoom Happy Hour with some blog friends. After a few monthly happy hours, it turned into a book club, picking up another blog friend along the way. Before Covid it would have been monumentally awkward and weird to suggest meeting blog friends on Zoom. Covid normalized it and this has honestly been one of the best things to come out of Covid for me.

8) Our back yard

As many of you have, we spent so much time in our backyard this past summer. I'm so thankful for our trampoline, our play centre, and our table and chairs which were all handed down to us by friends. I'm thankful for having a great green space to play, read, and relax in.

9) Disney's Fairy Tale Weddings and Hallmark Movies

We are not big TV watchers but 2020 has been the year of needing sweet and predictable. Thus, Rachel and I especially, got into watching Disney's Fairy Tale Weddings and Hallmark movies. Once we're able to see our friends and resume a little more of a normal life, I think our addiction to these will end but for right now, they are both a great way to waste a little time in quarantine.


10) Unified country, more or less.

Canada is not perfect but I've been so grateful for our leaders at all levels of government -- national, provincial, and local. It feels like they are (outwardly, at least) on the same page and allowing the health professionals to provide the messaging for Canada's Covid response. I appreciate that, in general, our population is listening to the science and following recommendations. I really don't want to take this for granted.

Also, not every single Canadian is following the rules, or the science. We do have our fair share of anti-maskers and people hosting parties, despite the restrictions, but I would say we are not divided as a country in general.

And honorable mention...

11) Covid memes!!!

'Nuff said :)