Micah’s story: Birthing Micah (part 1)

11 Jan

Thank God we were well prepared for this part of the story! It’s the climax in my memory. For as much as I loved being pregnant with Micah, I REALLY LOVED giving birth to him. I know that probably seems a little crazy and that’s why I’m so excited to share my birth story- because it wasn’t scary and traumatically painful. It was hard, intense, biggest challenge of my life, but not in ANY way was it bad. Like I said, thank God.

Early signs: For most of the third trimester I was having Braxton Hicks (practice contractions that basically feel like menstrual cramps) they didn’t get me too excited because I was aware that I would probably have some and that they were a good sign that my body was almost ready to birth this baby. I also started having birthing dreams around this time.

I remember one dream where I was laboring on my hands and knees while my midwife, Val, was near by. I received my baby without anyone’s assistance and it was all very quiet and peaceful. This is far from what the actual experience was like but it was beautiful, encouraging and a sign that my mind was at ease over the prospect of having my baby.

Other things that were happening during these early days were: crazy purging of all useless items in our home, laundering and sorting everything that had been gifted from his FOUR baby showers, exercising, eating dates like crazy, getting acupuncture, drinking red raspberry leaf tea, squatting, visiting the chiropractor, getting a massage, writing up a birthing plan, reading positive birth stories like it was the only thing in the library and online (Ina May Gaskins guide to child birth and Birthing from within where my favorites), calling my mom, and finally making some freezer meals. Which brings us to the story…

Labor begins: I was bustling about our kitchen late in the evening on August 4th. I was baking lactation cookies for the 6 ladies in my life who were due with babies in the coming weeks. I was up so late because August had been hot! The only time I was going to turn on the oven was at night. Even that felt a bit of a sin in this weather. One friend had already had her baby a few days “early” so I needed to get on things before my time came. While talking on the phone with a relative (multitasking) I felt distracted and just a little “off”. When our conversation ended I felt what I assumed was another Braxton Hicks contraction. I wrote it off and continued with my baking and packaging everything up. I wanted them to be ready for a pick up the following morning for the friend who had just had her baby. I had a fridge full of food that I was supposed to drop off to her from other friends (The Good Food Group). Things just felt a little crazy and busy so getting the cookies baked and packed up was crucial to me feeling ready to have Micah.

All night I had cramps that would wake me up. They were annoying disturbances, but not all that exciting. My hubby was suffering with a stiff neck all night and couldn’t sleep. He came to discover that something was up when he woke in the middle of the night to find me in child’s pose breathing deeply.  We slept off and on the rest of the night but woke early and called my mid wife on call. She encouraged us to get some more sleep. Hubby was able to crawl back into bed for another hour tops but I wasn’t able to sleep any more. I had been forcing myself to sleep all night so now resting was the best I could do. I ran a warm bath since I’d heard that was something that labouring women do. It wasn’t as enjoyable for me as I’d heard it is for other women. I had been in child’s pose when hubby found me and I pretty much wanted to be in some variation of that position for every other contraction. Thus the tub was not my comfort of choice. Rather counter pressure was the key. Hubby would use some of the tools we learned in our prenatal class and with our Chiropractor Jodi (who will come join us later). Learning these pressure points made a HUGE difference. Though I was so focused during the contractions, any pressure I felt in my back and uterus was alleviated by the counter pressure hubby was using.

Hubby was on all morning timing contractions, giving me counter pressure and warming up my heating pad. He was off the hook around noon when my girl friends aka doulas arrived. He subjected himself to the kitchen where he made us lunch and prepared dinner to take for the party attending my birth. It felt joyful when they arrived since they just busied themselves around helping me through my contractions. Actually Jodi took hubby to the bed room and gave his neck an adjustment after taking one look at him. (yeah! thank you!)

Their experience told them I should call my midwife, this was shortly after lunch. Things were getting a little more intense but I was still managing well. Val came and checked me out. My mucous plug came out (thankfully into the toilet) around the time she arrived. I was progressing well but only at about 5 cm. She left and told me not to transition until after rush hour. 😉 My parents arrived at about 4pm. Mom and my doulas took me for a little walk down the street against my wishes. I just wanted to stay on my couch on my hands and knees doing child’s pose when a contraction would come. They felt that if I was more active that things would move along more. So I complied with much difficulty. I slipped into my running shoes and green socks and hobbled a few steps out the door stopped for a contraction. Hobbled into the fresh air, had a contraction. Got to the end of the side walk, had a contraction. Almost didn’t make it across the street, had another contraction. Walked a little further two more contractions…. I want to go back home! 🙂 They took me back in, stopping at each point for another contraction along the way. The weather was beautiful!

The contractions at this point were really intense and the pressure on my pelvis was what was making it hard to walk. I felt like I couldn’t tuck my pelvis into walk up straight. I didn’t find out for hours later but my baby was turning a lot and spending time in a posterior position. FUN!

When we got back into the apartment building someone saw the stairs that go down to the basement and suggested I try them slowly with support. I felt at that point that if I comply they will let me back into my apartment. As soon as I stepped in the apartment I had the most massive and intense contraction yet. I vocalized louder, and my mind went blank. I only remember telling my dad off for taking my picture. (I don’t kow what happened to that picture.) We called the Midwife (it was now the middle of rush hour…irony) and she agreed we should head to the Birthing center. We beat her there by at least 20 minutes though it felt like hours. We weren’t permitted into the center until she arrived so I labored on a picnic table in the yard of the center.

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When she arrived and we were permitted into the room I was ushered into the birthing tub. It was warm and nice on my back putting a towel on the floor of the massive tub helped alleviate some pain I was starting to have in my knees. Jodi and Alexis were in the tub with me most of the time doing counter pressure and offering other options for positions and reminding me to keep my breathing and vocalizing low. They were really encouraging. They also offered me drinks after every contraction.

At some point I was told to leave the tub to try going to the bathroom. I had been drinking a lot and not peed in a very long time. The only time I was scared was when I got out of the tub. I was immediately so cold that I started shaking like crazy. I could see my bloody show all over the towel I was standing on and I was in such a focused state of mind that it didn’t entirely make sense. I was quickly comforted though. Someone threw a big warm blanket around me and then my team walked me into the bathroom. Sitting on the toilet was very uncomfortable. I knew it was necessary but it was painful on my back and awkward to have people I normally drink tea with hugging me and breathing with me. The funny thing about being in that moment though, was that its something you just go with. Its real and those people still want to be my friends. Actually, we are closer then ever.

to be continued…

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Micah’s story: Pregnant with Micah

5 Jan

Being Pregnant with Micah was so much fun. I was beyond thrilled to be pregnant. I couldn’t wait at first for my baby bump to start to show, for the flutters to start inside and to tell all of our friends. When we went to the dating ultrasound at 15 weeks things got so real. We were so excited to see that little bean that was our son, developing inside me.

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It was soon after seeing the ultrasound that hubby started thinking about names. He came to me with the name Micah and we couldn’t think of a boy name we liked more.  The Hebrew meaning is ‘who is like God’, there weren’t any other names just right.

Telling “the family”
The family is a group of friends that started off as hubby and his roommates and their girl friends. Over the years the girlfriends became wives and then came baby#1. Mama#1 had bought the ultra pack of pregnancy tests only to conceive the first of the four pack. She generously gave the rest to me. I took them and stashed them until I thought I’d actually need one. Well if it wasn’t the first out of that box that I pulled out, and had the positive results!

I wrapped up the box like a Christmas gift and brought it for someone to open at our annual Family Christmas party. One of the boys, thinking it was chocolate, volunteered to open the “gift”. I’d written on the box and after a moment of inspection and uncertainty what the box even contained… mama#1 exclaimed, “Are you guys pregnant?!”  😀

Morning Sickness:
In January I developed “morning sickness” which was really anytime of the day sickness. I threw up at different times of the day and seemingly random things threw me off. I’ll never forget, the first time was at my chiropractors office. I ate a clementine in the waiting room and then ran for the washroom. I was embarrassed and worried about how my appointment would go. Thankfully my chiropractor is my good friend and the treatment didn’t cause anymore upset. Another time was at home and hubby was occupying the bathroom. I could feel my tummy turning but knew the current situation… I used the bath tub. We laugh about that one a lot. The other significant memory of all day sickness was when we were on our way home from a lovely dinner with friends. I knew I was nauseous even leaving their house so when we got in the car I knew it was a disaster waiting to happen. We got half way home (pretty good) before hubby had to pull off to the side of the road. Then he told me he needed something for the car and pulled into a parking lot (box store lot) so I left my mark at the stop sign, then again in front of the McDonald’s and finally in our parking spot in front of Canadian tire. I just curled up in a ball to wait for him to return.
Because the pregnancy sickness was so nasty I continued getting acupuncture treatment every week through my first trimester. The sickness had completely disappeared by week 24, yeah! finally!

Telling my Girlfriends
Telling a few of my girlfriends was one of the scariest things to prepare for. I wasn’t the only one who wanted a baby. For two of these friends I planned separate visits. But the results were almost exactly the same. PRAISE GOD!

Sitting on the couch, drinking tea and talking through our lives I timidly broach the subject, “I have some news, I’m pregnant.”

No joke, both friends in their respective visits literally or nearly jumped on me and laughed and before telling their families exclaimed, “Me too!”

These are some of the most joyful memories!

The next challenge I faced was recurring and quite awful migraine headaches. (That might have been the cause of the last described sickness). These headaches were so debilitating, I would just try to sleep for an entire day. Tylenol upset my stomach and there isn’t much else you can take during pregnancy over the counter. I went seeking out my medical team and all agreed that I was likely not staying hydrated enough. I was drinking a ton of water every day, but I was flushing out my electrolytes! Thankfully that was an easy enough problem to solve and sure enough, the migraines became fewer and further apart. If I did sense one coming on early enough and I got a power drink in me I was able to avoid it completely! I also took a little extra magnesium on a daily basis.

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Having my health back to normal and somewhat under control made such a difference in how I felt about the rest of the pregnancy. Plus it was about the same time my baby bump started to really show and the weather started to get lovely again. The world felt like the most amazing place to be. I would go for long inspirational walks with my other two pregnant friends and we’d talk about how we were feeling and any challenges we were facing. It was too much fun going through it all with them. Hubby and I were so dreamy in love with each other. We were always talking and dreaming about our precious child and what life would be like. I loved my body in its pregnant state better then I’d ever loved my body. I felt so beautiful and I loved feeling Micah moving around inside me.

Telling friends at church
The first friend I told at church was my friend Rachel. She did this cute little freakout with excitment. Pastor Greg was walking by and saw the interaction and jokingly asked, “Hey, are you guys pregnant or something?”

We affectionately answered, “Why yes we are!”

We told Sean and Helen after service. We shed tears and they gave us their prayers. It was a special moment we still treasure.

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Telling my Brother
I don’t know why, but I wanted to do something special to tell my brother he was going to be an uncle. I wanted telling him and his family to be a bit silly and light hearted but not over the top.
I made a certificate of promotion, from awesome brother to Uncle. I send it in a private message. He (thankfully) opened it with his smart and pretty partner standing near by. He read it and showed her and she said, “Gina’s Pregnant!”

Haha! I love how it took him off guard. I love my brother and his family and I love how they adore their nephew now.

In the third trimester I still felt pretty wonderful for the most part. Yet, comfortable sleep was difficult as I was getting so much bigger and my legs would ache and feel restless. I also found it harder to get around during the day. I was short of breath easily and my hips were wider then I ever thought possible.  Despite the discomfort, I was happy and peaceful. There were only a few weeks near the very end where emotions were running high. I felt sensitive to peoples remarks and I had some unexpected feelings of guilt related to my previous infertility.

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I loved being pregnant with Micah. I miss my beautiful pregnant body even with some of the limitations it brought. The rewards of carrying that body around are still with me happily in my memory. The blessing of carrying this child is one I could hardly feel worthy of. I can’t wait to share the rest of the story of how he came into this world.

Micah’s story: Conceiving Micah PG13

3 Sep

After two and a half years of longing to have a baby, Hubby and I found out we were expecting in December of 2014. It was the most amazing feeling when I saw the positive pregnancy test. The emotions that flooded through my body mind and soul were coming from every different direction. I’ve waited to share this story with the world because it was such a touchy subject I was afraid to say what we were doing and receive any criticism. I was too tender the deal with it anymore then I already had to. I was sharing and processing with many others who are going through similar trials. The friendships born from that pain are more then worth the time and waiting I spent. I also received tons of encouragement from my community. I can’t emphasize that enough. I’m so thankful!

What’s going on?
I have irregular periods which means irregular ovulation. That makes it pretty tricky to conceive… During those two years we spent a lot of time and money on me. I went to see a Naturalpathic Doctor. (You may have read about some of the other ailments she helped me with in earlier posts.) For the first year I focused on balancing my hormones and eating a diet that would encourage healthy fertility and health in general. I took some herbs as well and attempted to live a more stress free life.

The following spring I had seen improvements in my health and in the regularity of my cycle, but I still didn’t have any answers about why my cycle was such a mess. I talked to my family doctor and after a few tests she referred us to the fertility clinic. After feeling like a science experiment I was told I had a very common hindrance to pregnancy called Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). It was such a relief to finally have an answer but also a  whole new level of scary in regards to the future of our family building prospects.

Our specialist did encourage us that it is not  impossible to get pregnant with PCOS, just difficult. He recommended I take synthetic hormones to force my period and ovulation. I asked if there were other options for treatment and I was told that there were not. Long story short, I wasn’t convinced. I wanted to be healthy so that I could conceive naturally. Treat the cause, not the symptom. I went home and did some personal research and found many many stories of how women with PCOS dealt with their condition, and got pregnant without the use of medications. Using my Naturalpath as my “am I being safe and intelligent” accountability, I dove deeper into the world of fertility diet and wellness. I saw little hints of improvement in my health.

Hope
It was that winter that Hubby came to me and said he thought God had told him we were going to be pregnant this time next year. We tucked the thought away to wait and see. This premonition filled me with hope and determination.

One more spring passed and after much deliberation Hubby and I decided it was time for a big change. I left my job working for the church to stay home and rest. I finished my days with an awesome team at the beginning of June, I did a few crazy things in July and early August with my youth group and then I slept! For about a week I just rested and tried to come down from my crazy busy and oh so important lifestyle. 😉

Health
After hibernating for a few weeks Hubby had an idea for me. He’d been seeing a Traditional Chinese Medicine Doctor in the city for years, and he suggested I go and meet him and consider the treatment that he could offer. I went into my research mode again and with greatly renewed anticipation agreed to go and meet this doctor. When we sat down with him, he began by telling me his own story of trying to conceive with his wife for a long time. He talked about how timing has a big part to play in it. He talked about how the womb needs to be in the right condition to grow a baby. Like a field needs to be in the right condition to grow a crop, the womb needs to be warm and hydrated. He also talked to us about the spiritual component of his journey. Everything is connected. I felt deep in my heart that this was going to be different. I had my first acupuncture appointment and ordered a months worth of Chinese herbal medicine. For the next couple of months I visited this doctor for acupuncture twice a week and took my herbs twice a day. As I lay with the needles in me I would pray that this was Gods way of healing me, and I would pray for the many people I’d met who were struggling with infertility as well. My cycle which had been absent for over 100 days came around the beginning of the treatment and then again at the end of the second month of treatment. A two month cycle for me was really close together. Finally significant improvement! (And I didn’t have to take any synthetic hormones which was really important to me!)

Denial
My next cycle came 30 days after the first of my last cycle! It felt like a miracle because things were improving so much! I was so excited to see if my next cycle would come at 30 days. I continued to track my temperature and signs for ovulation and I thought I might have ovulated but my signs weren’t all quite where I thought they should be. After years of this kind of  thing it doesn’t really effect your emotions any more. I just figured that we will keep waiting and see what next month has in store. My period was late, my breasts were sore, my emotions were up and down, I was pretty sure I was getting my period about two weeks “late”. My friend was visiting over the weekend and kept pushing me to check and see. She’d noticed that I was eating a lot more then usual and was wondering what was up. Another friend who was trying to conceive at the same time was also pushing me to check. I was reluctant because when you have an irregular cycle you don’t check every time you’re “late” because late is only relevant to a “normal 28 day cycle”, which I most definitely did not have. Not to mention there is a lot of pressure when other people think you’re pregnant and you know how many negative tests you’ve seen. I was scared and sceptical.

The test
I woke up on a Sunday morning in early December about 3 weeks “late” and figured I might as well try. It would at least get my friends to stop asking. I took the test and just stared at it in disbelief. I had never seen the test look like that. My throat suddenly got really hard and my eyes filled up. I gasped a few gulps of air and let the moment sink in. It wasn’t sinking in, I set the test aside on the sink and went and sat on the edge of our bed where Hubby was still asleep. I sat staring into space waiting to understand. Hubby woke up suddenly like something loud and spontaneous had just happened but the room was quiet and still. He asked me if I was ok. I looked at him and said, “I don’t know!” My head was whirling.

I jumped up and ran to get the box and test to show him. He stared with disbelief just as I had. We talked about and googled the possibility of false positive. It was too good to be true for both of us. He then held me in our bed and we prayed asking for this to be true.

I called my family doctors office to get an appointment for the next day so that we could confirm. Church that afternoon was so difficult. We had friends come and pray for us and I felt so deceptive not saying, “I think  I really am pregnant this time!”

Finally!
We went to the doctors appointment the next day and confirmed that I really was pregnant! We booked our first ultrasound and called our parents to tell them the great news. We had finally conceived! The next weeks of keeping it a secret from friends and extended family were brutal. We only told a few of our closest friends so that if something tragic happened we wouldn’t be left to deal with it all on our own. I’ll save telling friends for the next story, Pregnant with Micah.

freezer quesadilla’s

27 Aug

So sometimes there is occasion to have your freezer stalked with delicious easy meals you can quickly heat and eat. Hubby and I came up with this easy idea together.

Freezer quesadillas are so yummy and easy to reheat. We completely made them and packaged them so that when we just need something quick to satisfy our appetite we can warm up a couple of these. We either throw a couple on a cookie sheet in the oven or warm one or two up on the stove top in a pan.

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Here’s how we made them…

Step1: assemble your favorite quesadilla ingredients. We chose mushrooms, chicken, green onion and shredded cheese is not optional. We used a simple marble cheese.

Step 2: make your quesadillas as you would if you were eating them right now. We fried up the chicken and mushrooms in a pan and chopped green onions.

Step3: in a frying pan or a sizzle pan cook the quesadillas for about 3min. on each side or until the wrap gets a little brown and the cheese is melting. Adjust the heat as needed.

Step4: let them cool! I set mine loosely piled in the fridge on a cookie sheet. Don’t package them until they are totally cooled or they will get mushy.

Step 5: package them up. We used squares of parchment paper to wrap around each delicious morsel then in groups of six we put them in zip lock freezer bags. I did a little more extensive labeling when I gave these to friends who just had a baby.

Lay them flat to freeze initially then when they are hard they can stand upright.  To reheat just place then on a cookie sheet at 350° for 5-10min. or in a frying pan in the stove top for 5min.


Très Yummy Popcicles

13 Jul

Yesterday I was melting. I sat with the fan directly on me and continued to sweat. It was then that my survival instincts kicked in and I was completely inspired to whip up a nice cold smoothie with some of this and that, from around the kitchen. When done enjoying my smoothie there was plenty still left over so I poured it into Popsicle molds and, “voila!”

It was the most delicious summer brain child I’ve ever had!

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Here is what I did:

Ingredients:
1 can of coconut milk
about 2 cups of frozen fruit I had a mango strawberry mix in my freezer
1 TBS honey

Instructions:
1. Add your frozen fruit to the blender and then add your coconut milk on top (so it doesn’t splash you)
2. Blend for a minute or so
3. add honey and more fruit if you want
4. Blend to your desired consistency
5. Using a small scoop or spoon, move the smoothie into your Popsicle mold and let it freeze overnight
6. Drink any leftovers in a pretty glass and enjoy!

Let me know if you try this recipe and how yummy you find it! I know that coconut milk is more fattening then what most people are looking for. You could substitute with Coconut- Almond milk though it might not have the creamy texture after it’s frozen. I like the coconut almond milk in smoothies though! Or just go for it with the Coconut milk, it’s good fat 😉

Love ya’s!

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Simple Christmas Part 2: Gifts

12 Dec

Gift giving is a complete joy for some people and it is a stress induced headache for others.

This is incredibly true in my immediate family. My Dad is a gifter. He loves to think about people while he’s shopping and find things that are really great. I always love the gifts my dad gives. My husband on the other hand, really has to put his mind to it to get through the gift giving holidays. What to do?

Well we humble ourselves knowing that we can’t out do dad in the gift department. He’s the boss there. It’s good that he is good at giving gifts with a cheerful heart. As long as we are thankful he asks for nothing in return.

I know this isn’t the case with every person, in every family. Which is why it is important to ask ourselves what our priorities are and what we hope to achieve over Christmas. We give, without causing ourselves or anyone else stress. Remember part 1? Be honest. Find out what that means for others in your family as well.

Here is how I try to continue with the tradition of gift giving without getting stressed from all of the chaos of stores and the cash we leave there.

keep it simple and uniform. The last few years have been a bit tight on cash, and time. So instead of gifting to every person I gifted to the couples or families. A dollar store basket some cellophane, and whatever goodies are on sale at shoppers or Walmart was well received. I also have a favorite coffee shop that I was able to buy small bags of artesian coffee for the coffee lovers basket. Each basket came to about a $15 value. That could still add up if you have a big family, but you can certainly keep your baskets small and likely do something closer to $5 per gift.

Hand made. But only if you can start in September and it’s something you truly want to do! This can cut some cost, but only if you shop smart. If hand made makes you more stressed, then don’t do it! It is truly not for everyone. Sometimes you just have to know yourself a little and roll like that. This year I have been willfully unemployed since this summer, so I have the time on my hands to do this. With one income though, it needs to be cash savvy! Michaels has coupons on their web site everyday. As I have needed more yarn, I go in with my coupons and have been able to purchase every ball for under $4. I also have attempted to keep my creations simple so that I only need a ball or less per project. I’m also keeping it uniform by basically making the same thing over and over again but in colours and styles that suite each person. (Eg. a headband for my 16 yr old cousin and a headband for my ma look a little different) One of my friends suggested writing some poetry or a song for a loved one if that’s your talent. How about some homemade art, wood work, diy creation?

second hand. This was a no no in my family, but I’m happy to hear that some of my friends do this for their kids. Vintage toys, perfectly good used clothing and books are a great option, plus it is arguably a good move for the environment and depending on where you shop your supporting a good organization. I’d be so happy receiving consignment lovelies under my tree.

set limits. Why do I so often feel like what I’m giving isn’t enough? I made a list of everything I wanted to make for my family this year and this list was so unrealistic I had to scale back significantly. Why not stick to one simple gift that was given in love and thoughtfulness? Instead of a little of this and a little of that to make the gift look full and “complete”. This one is really hard for me, but I think it’s good one for me to work on. I know many people who regift, and get rid of much of what they bring home, or it becomes clutter. Clutter steals peace in the home too. A hot way of setting limits for gifting to children is: Something they want, something they need, something to wear, something the read. Four gifts. Still a lot, but maybe more manageable. Or do the $100 challenge. That’s spend no more then $100 on all of your Christmas gifts. For Heavens sake! Don’t go into dept for Christmas!

skip the stuff. Instead focus on memory making! Go see a play or a movie together (many churches have special Christmas musicals leading up to Christmas). Plan your Christmas occasion around activities instead of the gifts. (Bust out some bored games, minute to win it, sledding, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, crafts, making the meal together) Gift coupons! I’ve seen this a lot on Pinterest lately, here is one idea you can use for your spouse to have a gift that gives all year long! Here are some more ideas for how to focus on activities instead of gifts.

One Gift. Something we like to do with our friends is “Secret Santa” or “White Elephant“. These take a little more preparation beforehand, but they make for fun memories and significantly cut the number of gifts you might have prepared for otherwise. Make sure when playing these gift swap games that everyone knows the agreed on budget per gift.

I hope that in all of this hustle and bustle to give good Christmas gifts that you are able to take a moment to appreciate the person you are gifting to and enjoy the experiences that are made during that time.

Do you have any other ideas for simplifying your Christmas gift giving traditions?

Simple Christmas Part 1: Honesty

5 Dec

Last week I posted about the growing problem of stress and frustration over the Christmas season. Today I want to pose a possible answer to the problem of Christmas burn out. I hope this leads you (and me) on a path to enjoying a more simple and stressless holiday.

So here is my sage advice. I believe a more simple Christmas begins with honesty.

I’m kind of ripping this part off of one of my favorite bloggers. Rachel at Clean. Shes brilliant and right.

If we are going to be honest it needs to begin at home.

But not just in your home. It needs to start inside. In me and in you. If we aren’t honest with ourselves about it, how are we going to make the necessary changes? It starts with me.

What do I truly love about Christmas?

What are the pressures that I feel around this season?

What expectations do I have that are causing me stress?

What disappointments do I expect over this season?

Ask yourself these hard questions, and contemplate or write down your answers. I have gone through Christmas after Christmas feeling like they just fly by. Taking a moment to reflect inward and setting some priorities straight can help to unload a great deal of stress… any time of the year…. and help you enjoy the moments as they come. (Sometimes inward reflection brings up difficult issues. Beloved reader, please seek help from a professional if this is you.)

Let go of the pressure of comparison.

Your Christmas might not be as fancy as what your neighbours are doing, but it is just fine. It is exactly YOUR expression of Christmas. That’s special!

Next, be honest with your family and friends. This can be hard. I have friends who deeply desired a more centered and simple Christmas. They shared this with their family and came to some agreed terms for Christmas, specifically around gift giving it took a few years for everyone to truly catch on, but its working, with patience. For others the issue was Christmas sleeping arrangements and others still the issue lies in the food preparation. It can take a few gatherings and some growing pains, but lovingly stating your concerns to the people you celebrate with is the first step toward a more peaceful Christmas.

Most people will be happy with this once they realize that; it’s better that they have meaningful memories

then to have a “perfect occasion” where half the people there are strung out from stress.

Set the example If you truly want to have a more simple Christmas, and you have aligned your needs and priorities, it’s time to act on it. Honesty means telling the truth, it also is a way of life. Live honestly knowing or learning that you are enough even if you don’t come with all of the ribbons, bows, cookies and condiments. Choose what you will do and do it well.

Then step back, away from guilt, pride, judgement and enjoy the season, peace and be grateful.

Would you comment and share one thing you truly love about Christmas?

 

Skip Christmas?

28 Nov

My last post was all the joy and giddy feelings about Christmas. It felt good to express and rejoice in those moments.

Over the last little while, I’ve been seeing a lot of friends on Facebook making threats to skip Christmas! I guess this threatens me since I sincerely want others to enjoy the season the way I do.

It seems like the two main reasons for wanting to skip Christmas are how much money it seems to suck, and how much stress it brings.

So what if those two factors were skipped and we could enjoy the beauty of the holiday and the good things that don’t suck the life out of us. 

You can read my last post about how much I love Christmas and see a lot of happiness and good feelings coming through. That is genuinely how I feel these days. But in seasons past I struggled with Christmas time. Life was so busy. Year after year I felt like I was missing Christmas. Advent would come and go, Christmas productions would come and go, family gatherings would even come and go, and I felt like I just really wanted to stay home in bed through it all. What changed in that time?

Simplicity.

An understanding that I am enough.

I don’t need to do it all or be it all.

I understand better what it means to stop

breath,

live.

Be present.

Over then next couple weeks I would like to  share a list of my thoughts to keep Christmas or any day a little more stress free and a little easier on your wallet as well as meaningful. Maybe you’ll even find this Christmas contemplative.

What do you find is the hardest thing to balance at Christmas time?

Tis’ the season! Top 10 reasons I love Christmas!

22 Nov

 

I LOVE Christmas! It’s my favorite holiday for so many reasons! I know it’s not even December yet, but I’ve been waiting for Christmas since September- when I started working on Christmas gifts. So please humor me while I tell you why I love Christmas so much. 😉

10. November and December can be so dreary, the sun sets so early and the fall colours have all fallen away. It can feel rather depressing. Christmas lights and decorations help brighten and liven things up a little. (A turkey and some mistletoe help to make the season bright.)

9.I love how every home does essentially the same thing (tree, garlands, lights, nativity, gifts) yet in really unique ways. It’s a great season of personal expression, right down to traditions and gift giving tendencies. I was passed down a huge box of the decorations from my families home, so Christmas in my little urban apartment isn’t looking really all that different from what it was like when I was growing up in the old country home. This year I’m trying something new- Hand made Christmas! I’ve been crocheting like a mad woman!

8. I love all of the parties! It can make the season busy for some, but for me it just adds to the excitement and experience! I love going to friends homes to taste their treats and see their Christmas tree and hear about their favorite traditions. I ask the same question about family traditions at every gathering this time of year. Sorry people, I just am really curious and genuinely interested!

20131226_1242247.Christmas movies…another shout out to my bro: all the “claymation” (Frosty, Roudolf, Santa Claus…) ELF! I love more serious films like Nativity and classics like White Christmas too. Charlie Brown! :*)

6. I like decorating my apartment! It’s like a challenge every year to find the best place for the tree, and set it up in a way that my hubby can tolerate best tee hee! Good news! He told me he would joyfully participate in decorating it with me if I wait until  December! Happy marriage= some compromise 🙂

5. Christmas Music! I love the old fashioned Christmas music and Carols and I like the new upbeat stuff. It’s all good! It inspires a nostalgic and happy feeling.

4. I love the goodies! It’s become an adventure finding goodies I can eat without issues over the past few years, but goodness there are some wonderful options out there. This is the season to learn them all! Stay tuned to hear about my trial with a Gluten Free Vegan Ginger bread house coming soon! If anyone knows a good alternative to Eggnog, you’d be my new best friend 😉

3. Family! If you follow my blog, you know how much I adore my family and extended relatives. I love how at Christmas I get to see them all a little extra. Everyone makes amazing goodies and everyone contributes to the meal. This is awesome because in the kitchen, my relatives all ROCK! We also just have lots of fun memories being together. I love waking up Christmas Morning with my mom and dad and siblings. I remember lots of times fooling with my moms youngest sister and making everyone else laugh. I remember cuddling on the couch with my grandpa, and dad trying to drag an auntie under the mistletoe. I remember reading Christmas stories and praying together.

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2. I love that with Christmas, I don’t have to try to enjoy or be excited about it. The anticipation of it simply brings me joy. I don’t care about making everything perfect and impressing others, I just enjoy the experience and take the great opportunity to share the love that’s overflowing. There is no forcing kindness this time of year, it all comes from a joyful heart.

1. The reason for the season. I’m joyful at Christmas time, not just because of the decorations and memories the food and family/ friends. There is a reason I have joy in my heart and a deep sense of anticipation. I’m waiting for something that is much bigger then myself. For that I am overflowing with gratefulness and joy.

May you experience great joy this Christmas season and all year!

moving forward, with a little help..

20 Nov

I’m feeling inspired to write about a very special person who has been in my life. She’s been walking with me through my young adult years. I’ve always felt like she’s an older version of myself. It’s because of the way she says things. So often what she understands and expresses is just what I am feeling or experiencing but don’t have the words to communicate it.

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I think that life is better with people. I know that they can often make life so much more difficult, but then I realize that people like this special friend, make life, make sense.

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Today, I am grateful for this friend.

I’m grateful for her learned wisdom,

for her her stories that offer me hope,

for being the mirror, her words are reveling to me so many things,

for understanding that pain doesn’t mean loss of joy.

For heavens sake reminding me that my journey doesn’t have to look perfect “though I walk THROUGH the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for my god is WITH me.”

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