Have you chosen your word for the year ahead yet (if you use one)?
I have. I chose "gratitude".
Alan suggested "fun", saying I needed some after this year and that Kirby will be the perfect age for me to have some, but I think "gratitude" is better.
Because I think gratitude is the key to contentment.
And if you're content, not chasing bigger and better all the time, you are more likely to live in the moment and have fun anyway.
Yes, I know that is an incredibly simplistic way of looking at life. But during all my self-work this year, I kept coming back to gratitude. No matter what came up, seeing the bigger picture and being grateful for what I have was usually the answer.
But as much as it pains me to say it, gratitude is not my default position.
I want to change that.
I want to learn to look at the world with grateful eyes.
So that's my word for the year and I'm sticking to it.
To help me along I will be keeping a daily gratitude journal. I have been busy making one over the last few weeks and will show it to you next week. I'm just waiting for some large binding rings to finish it off.
One of the cool things about picking a word for the year is how you instinctively know which word will be good for you in the coming year. My word for 2011, develop, turned out to be fantastic. Not necessarily in the way I thought when I picked it, but in so many other ways.
When I picked develop, I felt a little scattered and naively thought it would be mostly about honing in and improving some physical skills, like arts and crafts. Instead it turned into a year of heavy, murky, and totally necessary, self work. The other stuff hardly got a look in. But I'm so pleased with what happened. I couldn't have asked for a better year to deal with the heavy stuff. I have come out of it in a much better place. And it easily led me onto my word for 2012, but I'll tell you about that tomorrow.
How did you get on with your word for the year (if you had one)? Any surprises your end?
Did you have a nice Christmas/ holiday season? I hope so.
Ours was wonderful.
I went into this Christmas season feeling so incredibly grateful. Grateful to be here (it was a close call), to have this lifestyle, to have this family.
Things weren't perfect; the house wasn't as tidy as I would have liked it to be, Kirby's handmade stocking didn't get finished in time (the poor guy had an old rugby sock instead!), and I took more than a few shortcuts in the kitchen. But none of that mattered. What mattered was us being together, having time to enjoy it, and seeing the kids' excitement and wonder. It made for such a lovely, relaxing Christmas. I treasured every moment.
Alan finished work Thursday afternoon and that same evening we kicked off our celebrations in style with a lovely carol gathering at our neighbours. It really got us in the mood. Half the cul-de-sac was out and everyone was in festive spirits.
I was so happy Alan didn't have to work Christmas Eve this year. We always do a double celebration, starting with a Swedish Christmas on Christmas Eve, then an English one on Christmas Day. I cook the Swedish dinner, Al the English. It's our thing. We have done it for as long as we've been married and it just gets better every year.
Aoife helped me make ischoklad in the morning, then left me to get on with the rest of the cooking by myself. I think she had a few before she left though.
I'm not quite sure what gave her away :)
By evening, Aoife was giddy with excitement! She was practically begging us to let her go to bed at 5 pm, and didn't want to say prayers or have a story so that she'd be asleep when Santa came! So we put out a treat for him, then stuck her in a long bath to take her mind off things for a bit. Kirby, bless him, was kind of bemused by the whole thing.
After a restless night, the big day finally arrived. And I think it's safe to say we all had a blast. We opened a few pressies before Mass, but left most until after we got back. We were blown away by people's generosity. The kiddos got some lovely things. Then Alan cooked us a lovely dinner (thanks hun!) before we played the afternoon away.
Such a nice Christmas! And it's hard to believe last year that cheeky little fella still wasn't born. He is such a big part of our life now. It feels like he's always been here, eating us out of house and home, and brightening our days with his smile.
Hope you had a good weekend and that you're having a great start to the Christmas week. I'm so happy to have both kiddos home with me this week. I have promised Aoife lots of painting and baking and I'm just as excited about it as she is.
Just a quick one today.
Over the weekend it came to my attention that from March 1st, 2012, Google will retire the Google Friend Connect gadget on all non-Blogger blogs.
That means that from March 1st, 2012, GFC will no longer work on my blog.
And if you follow non-Blogger blogs through GFC, including mine, you will no longer get updates from those blogs. You will need to use an alternative service.
You can follow me in your reader of choice. Right now there's a little chiclet and link at the top of the middle column. And once I've updated my blog design, I'm hoping it will be a bit easier to spot.
Personally, I don't really use GFC anymore. These days I mostly use the Google reader in combination with the next button, but I'll miss seeing everyone's faces in my sidebar.
Have a great day.
So a couple of weeks ago I asked my more experienced friends on FB if they tip the lollipop lady/man (crossing guard) at Christmas.
They didn't really know, but a relative joked I should give the lollipop lady a card and a lollipop.
That's when I remembered this card. We don't really do Valentines, but I thought this was such a sweet idea (excuse the pun) that I stored it away for a later day. This was it.
So at the wekend, I dragged Aoife out in the cold to get a nice picture against our brick wall, then edited it and added text in Picasa.
Such a quick and easy craft, yet so fun. I like it!
Our first Christmas, in Ireland, 1991
Did you know that Alan and I did most of our early courting through letters?
Oh yes, my friends, letters. Remember those things?
We met two days before I was due to go back to Sweden after having worked in London over the summer. I was 19, naive and only just starting to enjoy the single life again after the end of my first serious relationship. Alan was 28 and most definitely enjoying the single life.
We met in a pub in central London. I had been stood up by my date and was heading home as soon as I'd finished my drink. Alan was on an impromptu night out with work mates.
He made some comment about it not being safe for a young woman like me being there on my own and said I should come stand with him and his mates. I took one look at them and burst out laughing. They were anything but clean- cut.
We sat up all night talking.
The family I lived with had a 12 am curfew. I snuck in at 6.30 in the morning, exhausted but starry-eyed. The first time in 6 weeks this good girl had broken their rules (and I got caught, darn it!).
Al took me (most of the way) home. Before parting, we exchanged addresses. And I somehow got suckered into writing the first one.
My goodness that first letter was scary. I almost didn't write it. I had all sorts of weird thoughts running through my head, and my heart was pounding so hard I thought it was going to jump right out of my body. But nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? And soon letters were flying back and forth at break-neck speed.
And then he invited me to the UK and Ireland for Christmas and New Year. And things were gooood. By April the following year I had moved over.
This December marks 20 years since I first went over to see him.
I've been in awe this whole Autumn thinking back on how we first met and got to know each other. And how far we've come since then. We've known and survived quite a few trials.
I am so grateful that we had the opportunity to get to know each other that way. Slowly, by letter. That we got to know each other's hearts and souls first, that we weren't blinded by all other stuff that goes along with dating.
Those letters did not spare us tough times, painful mistakes or hurt feelings as we learned and grew (up) together, but they did give us a solid foundation. And if you've got your feet on solid ground, you can handle most things that come your way.
Alan and I have talked a lot about Santa the last couple of years. We've been going round and round in circles trying to decide what to do about him.
We both feel Christmas is way too commercialised these days and that Santa has kind of gotten caught in the middle of it. We would prefer a more Christ-centred Christmas.
But we also both kind of like the jolly old fool. He's a bit of fun that adds to the magic of the season.
So how to play it?
Last year we started weaving a little bit of Santa magic into our celebrations by putting out a plate of goodies for Santa and his reindeer on Christmas Eve. And there was a present from Santa under the tree (this year we've decided he only gives the stocking fillers). We didn't do the whole letter to Santa thing though. Nor did Aoife go see him at the mall (mostly because I avoid the mall like the plague for most of November and all of December!).
It worked really well. Aoife knew enough about Santa from books, TV and her friends at nursery to enjoy it and have fun with it, but wasn't going all greedy crazy like some of the other kids I saw.
This year may be different, she's that little bit older now, but I'm hoping we can remain focused on the message of Christ. So far so good. She saw Santa at the school bazaar Saturday. When he asked her what she wanted for Christmas, she just asked for a picture of him!