Wednesday, 3 February 2021

More On Gratitude

More On Gratitude

    So the last time I wrote here, it was a little bit about why I make a gratitude list each day and how I make it fit my life.  I am still writing but with more intention these days.  I stepped into this new year, 2021, hesitantly.  Isn't that strange?  I hesitated but I have no control over it.  It happens no matter what we do.  Usually it's a celebratory time, right?  This year felt different to me but to move myself from those gloomy feelings, I focused once again on gratitude.  Sometimes my list is boring:  good coffee, cozy blankets, takeout dinners.  Those are certainly things I'm grateful for but I'm trying to push myself to think of more and maybe even go a bit deeper.  Winter can be tough for some people especially those of us who don't like the ice, the cold, dark evenings and driving in winter conditions.  Some people find escape during the winter to warmer locations for months or even just a week.  This respite brings them joy and something to look forward to.  This year is very different though for obvious reasons.  Our children are having hard days to.  Being a teenager during this pandemic is tough.  In this stage of life, friends and school can be the most important part and instead, they've been stuck at home with parents and siblings... the most "annoying" people in their life.  Knowing our parents (60s/70s) can't make their way to warmer locations where they feel better and can get outside safely, is hard to think about.  It's sad.  More importantly, our in-person connections aren't always possible and thinking ahead, there are still so many unknowns.  I could go on and on with negativity but you all know what I mean.  

    So how do I move out of this negative frame of mind?  My answer has been expressing gratitude and being much more intentional about it.  I'm challenging myself to think about winter in a positive way:  pretty white snow that makes our days brighter, snowstorms when we can be hunkered down at home, comfortable and content (we haven't really had any snowstorms though!), bundling up for a beautiful walk in our snowshoes (we live in a very beautiful area and trails to walk in are all around us), having children old enough so we can all take our snowmobiles out for a drive on the local trails, watching entertaining television shows, watching hockey/basketball/football on tv again, more time to be creative, less worry for driving because we don't need to go anywhere and zoom meetings/game nights.  I could go on and on, which is amazing!  

    Expressing gratitude is a powerful thing and it doesn't require much effort.  I know many of us are wishing for spring to come sooner rather than later but I am trying my very best to enjoy these moments we are in... it will change and it will get better even though we don't know when.  The unknown can keep us all up at night.  In the mean time, I'm going to keep writing (typing) in my journal each morning; I'm going to keep pushing myself to think about going beyond the usual and easy things to be grateful for.  When I think about what I'm grateful for, I am actually sharing with God.  You might even consider that the most important part of prayer... I do.  

Monday, 1 February 2021

January 2021: Covid Pandemic

 The beginning of 2021 came in bittersweetly... we had been hunkered down already since Dec. 26 due to the "stay at home" order from the Provincial government.  We had a quiet New Years Eve but we had fun!  Good food, lots of tv, wine, champagne, and games.  We all stayed awake until midnight!  

We were in a "Stay at home order", school became online learning for 3 extra weeks, and a complete lockdown was put into place for the province of Ontario.  The dates of those orders were confusing but we just went with the flow.  Everyone in our family stayed home most of the time except for Grace, who works at Rexall Pharmacy, and I work a few days per week at Mad About Patchwork filling online orders.  The kids went skating a few times at our local outdoor rinks but our hope of skiing wasn't going to happen because the ski hills were closed for the lockdown.  Also closed:  All retail stores other than those businesses that are essential (let's just say we have made a few trips to Walmart), being in school, indoor recreation (no hockey, dance is offered online, no basketball/gym).  Mask are suggested to be worn outdoors if in an area with numerous people.  We  have been told that we can only be indoors with people in our own household and only gatherings of 5 people or fewer outside.  The covid numbers are high and need to come down.  

So what have we been up to?  

We started the month playing family games but honestly, that didn't last long.  We have been watching a lot of tv... we all enjoy tv!  We have a few shows we watch as a family and a few that Ian and I watch on our own.  Netflix and Disney Plus are thoroughly enjoyed.

The kids are spending quite a bit of time in their own spaces.  I am so thankful we have a home big enough... they each set up their online school in their rooms, at their desks.  Ian and I are in the office or living room for our virtual meetings and workshops.

Most weekends we have had virtual (zoom) bingo games with family and friends.  These are so much fun and connecting this way is better than no connecting at all.  We bought a bingo game kit and Carollyn and Matt did the same.  Everyone, no matter what age, can play bingo!

We have spent quite a bit of time outside.  In early January we didn't have very much snow and overall the temperatures were mild.  Grandpa Jim took many trees down on their property so Ian spent a lot of time helping to move the logs and branches while the snow was low.  The kids helped a few times as well... it was a great way to physically distance and spent some time with Grandma and Grandpa.  

The snow eventually started accumulating and we could have some more outdoor fun and exercise.  The snowshoes came out!  Ian and I have been using ours quite a bit... he made some trails for us to easily follow.  We've had the kids come with us a few times as well.  We have so much space!!

The most fun of all are the snowmobiles!!  We have 3 machines and the kids drive them around our farm, which is awesome!  We have so much space to ride, from here to the Laventure and McLaren farms.  Alex has his snowmobile license now so we are riding the local trails as well... this is amazing!  

I've been reminiscing a lot about when the kids were younger (facebook memories pop up) but then I think about now and how we can do things like that... 3 sleds on the trails!  Every stage is so much fun!  

School started back, in class, on Monday January 25.  We are so grateful... the covid cases in Renfrew County are quite low.  The kids were nervous to go back but overall glad to be there.  This is so much better.  Online school this year turned out much more organized and enjoyable than last spring but overall it's better to be in class with friends and teachers.  I am SO GRATEFUL for how the school staff are taking such good care of our children... they are doing their best.

Then there's Lucy... living her very best life with her family around her all the time.  The kids ask for a kitten or another puppy all the time.  Ian and I are quite content with just Lucy.  

January has been a quite month.  The unknowns have been and still are in abundance.  That's tough.  Grace is really missing her friends and social time... I find this quite hard also.  I wish she could do what most 16 year olds should be doing.  She's making the best of it though and I remind her that hopefully spring time will be better.  Alex spends a lot of time playing video games with others.  I'm not sure how I feel about that.  Jean spends a lot of time in her room rearranging her furniture and watching tic toc videos.  I am sewing more than ever and I love it!  Ian is doing the usual book work, cutting wood and daily walks.  We are in the midst of business transition so that takes up a lot of thinking and talking time.  He is also catching up on rest.
Life is quiet.  I often think about how we used to spend out evenings and weekends... running the roads, watching sports, tournaments and games in other communities, socializing with parents doing the same... it almost feels foreign.  I'm not sure what the future holds but I am enjoying this downtime.  That being said, I'm hopeful hockey can resume later in February for Alex and that in the spring other sports will also resume.  This is important for our kids.
Today is a PA day and we are headed out for a ride on the snowmobiles this afternoon!

Tuesday, 12 January 2021

Family Reflections of 2020... Some Good Things

I woke up to 2021 feeling down in the dumps.  I couldn't shake it.  In any other year, I love celebrating a New Year.  I love fresh starts, turning a new page, writing my thoughts and goals and moving forward into another year with so much possibility.  2021 just feels different and not nearly as full of positive possibilities.  This is not the way I like to move forward so I began to think about how I could turn my mood around.  

The covid pandemic takes up a lot of space in our life.  Actually, almost all of it but I know there have been so many good things that this year has brought us.  I just needed to recognize the positives.  The kids have also been living in this negative space for a while and I wanted to talk to them about it.  

We sat down before supper tonight and I asked them to share some positivity of this past year.  What were some of the good things?  Here is what we talked about:

1.   We were able to go on vacation last March (even though we had to come home early).

2.  No one in our family had covid or even was very sick this year.

3.  We had a great year in our business, financially.

4.  Our living room got an overhaul including new furniture, which is on order.  (flooring, paint)

5.  We got to take care of a sweet kitten last summer.

6.  We bought a side by side in August... a dream of ours for a few years.

7.  Grace got her G1 drivers' lisence.

8.  Alex made a good income this past summer (so did the girls).

9.  Alex and Grace have ordered new phones for themselves.

10.  Jean bought a new ipad.

11.  Lucy is behaving so much better.  She's 5 1/2 years old now.

12.  We attended my cousin's wedding.

13.  We went camping in August.

14.  We have had a very relaxing Christmas holiday.  

15.  Alex has learned quite a bit about his tummy troubles and mostly feels so much better.

16.  Ian went hunting.

17.  Deb went away for a weekend in October with friends to Prince Edward County.

18.  Jean has made some new friends.

19.  Alex was able to play hockey.  It's on hold now but hopefully restarts in February.

20.  We had an "almost" normal fall.  

21.  We bought a new vacuum which works amazing.

There are so many more blessings and making a family list shifted our mindset.  I know they thought I was goofy for making us sit down and have this conversation but I think it made all of us feel better.

Saturday, 26 December 2020

Revisiting my 20 For 20 List... Covid Issues and Moving Forward

 Let's just state the obvious, 2020 DID NOT turn out as planned or actually even close to what was expected.  Honestly, each year has it's ups and downs and unexpected turns, but this one takes the cake!

What started out as a fairly normal year turned into a year like no other.

I want to preface that as I write, I am explaining my own experiences of 2020 and EVERYONE had their own experience of which mine is no better or worse.  I am sensitive to that fact.  I'm just reviewing my hopes and dreams from early last year and what (the heck) actually ended up happening!

  • I completed all of the quilts on my list!  Yay!  I finished 4 big ones, numerous small projects and have started a few new ones.  My goals are lofty for next year so stay tuned.
  • I did not walk more than usual and I did not consistently keep track of food intake... I would suggest that stress definitely got in my way, my mindset was not where it needed to be and while I give myself grace, I cannot move ahead in the same manner.  Hence, this will continue on in 2021.
  • Get my nails done more often:  Um no.  I did keep going until March and as nice as it was having pretty nails, covid closed all nail salons and it went right to the bottom of my priority list.  This fall I have tried to paint them myself and it's not really working out well.  Santa is bringing us a gel nail kit so I will continue to try to keep my hands pretty.  It just feels good.
  • Trips and mini-vacations... especially with Ian:  Not really.  We went away for the weekend in September to my cousin's wedding.  The hotel was not very nice but we had some time together, which was good.  Again, covid got in the way of taking a trip.
  • I did not walk the kids to the bus in the morning more often.  I do walk Jean sometimes but we are the bus for the other two kids.  Now that I think about it, the whole purpose of this goal was so find ways to spend more time chatting with them and driving to and from school absolutely allows for that.  I'd say it's a win... even though we look forward to the day when we do not need to drive them daily (provincial lockdown measures including online school is helping us with that for the month of January).
  • Blog/Write more often... did not happen but it's still on my list.  Honestly, I did not have the right frame of mind this year.  
  • Empty freezer of berries:  still a work in progress.  It's getting close to empty.
  • Regular golf games with my friends:  CHECK!  I remember when we got back to it in May, it was one of the first activities that felt normal again after the covid restrictions started to ease up.  We could golf!
  • Drink 100oz of water each day:  I keep trying.  Some days are successful.
  • Watch "Anne with an E" on Netflix:  I started it but did not like it.   
  • Lucy:  I wanted to improve her behaviour but she did it all on her own.  She is a wonderful 5 year old dog and we love her so much.  She has a great personality and is super smart and has become quite calm.
  • Add linen storage upstairs:  nope.  I don't even know what to do about it.
  • Kitchen table "refresh":  not yet.
  • Kitchen door replacement:  CHECK... took a while but it's now installed and we have a new step to the cookhouse also.
  • Work at MAP:  yup except for during the covid shutdown in the spring and the late spring/summer months while I worked in McGregor's Produce.
  • Take more photos:  ongoing.  Again, this fell off my radar but I need to keep at it.
I've made my list for 2021.  Some items included are:
  • Take more videos:  family, personal, business
  • Blog once a month
  • Learn to edit photos before I post
  • Revamp our office including closet storage
  • Drink 100oz of water each day
  • Walk 20 minutes per day at least
  • Numerous quilting projects including take a quilting class (online)
I've made my list in my planner and hope to revisit it at least monthly.  I like making a list and what really helps me is including fun, easy items.  Not everything needs to be a big project.  I am actually having a difficult time thinking ahead too far... moving into 2021 feels like it will be more of what we have experienced so far with some big unknowns ahead.  I want to be kind to myself, most of all.  

Sunday, 19 April 2020

My First Meadowland Quilt (Then Came June patterns)

The Meadowland quilt pattern has been extremely popular.  Last fall I started my first one using solids including kona cottons and a soft cotton/linen type fabric (I cannot remember what it's called... sorry).  The meadowland pattern looks really good in solids!  I made it as a housewarming gift which was quite late getting to the receiver but that's how it goes sometimes!

I usually quilt my own by this time I had a very talented lady do this quilt on her longarm machine.  
It turned out so well done in a swirly pattern which looked nice since the pattern is straight lines.

I've already made a long table runner using 5 meadlowland blocks and have plans for another meadowland in the near future ie. fabric is bought!

Then Came June quilt patterns
Mad About Patchwork My all-time favourite quilt fabric shop!

Monday, 13 January 2020

I Support Our Teachers

Recently there have been many reminders that our teachers are in discord with the province of Ontario and those who hold positions of power making decisions about our children's education.  Work-to-rule and strike positions are extremely tough for all involved... mostly our teachers.  Our children lose out on extra activities and experiences and sometimes loss of school days (they won't complain about that most of the time) but the teachers and school support staff have the most to lose.  I have always chosen to support those in the trenches.  We are reminded over and over again that those in higher positions tend to be removed from what really happens in a school and classroom.  Why do they get to make all the big decisions?  How can they make GOOD decisions when they haven't been there ever or in a long time?  How can they so easily pull resources away from classrooms and add more resources to the superintendents and higher levels of government?  I often wonder what are they thinking?  Whose best interest do they have in mind?

We have three children.  One is in high school and has a natural drive and determination and works hard in school.  She achieves good grades but it hasn't necessarily come naturally to her.  What she has on her side are teachers who care about her success and a desire to do well.  This will take her far.  Learning comes easily to our next child, our son.  He has a good memory, likes to learn and is naturally inquisitive.  His marks don't always reflect his ability because his effort is sometimes lacking but we know this, his teachers know this and most of the time he is still successful.  He's one of the lucky ones.  Our youngest child, our second daughter, has had to work very, very hard to learn and grasp information.  Right from the beginning, we kept a close relationship with her teachers who were all 100 PERCENT  there for her.  They kept tabs on her, understood her strengths and worked with her weaknesses to always encourage success.  EVERY SINGLE one of her teachers was a gift.  I feel she was blessed with each one of them who found ways to teach her to learn her own way, have confidence and then she would have success.  She started out struggling to learn and is now doing extremely well in grade 6.  She works hard and this is what will take her far in life.  I have no doubt each one of her teachers has had a hand in this and we will ALWAYS be grateful.

Our teachers care about their students.  They want to encourage success in whatever capacity that student needs.  They take time out of their own life (and many of the teachers in our community have full lives just like our own) to make sure each of their students' needs can be met in some way.  Our teachers don't want to take away exracurriculars.  They find enjoyment in the "extras" as well but we need to remember that these are extras.  I certainly don't want to see this go on for too long.  Our children benefit from everything the teachers do from high school sports teams,  high school choir, elementary school sport tournaments, grade 8 trip and grade 5 to 8 ski days and so much more.  These activities make school rich and wonderful.  This is what keeps those struggling kids motivated.  It gives a purpose to school life outside of classroom learning.

Despite all of that, I support our teachers.  The number of students in a classroom should not increase, no student should be forced to take an online course, numbers of support staff shouldn't decrease... the list goes on.  No more jobs should be created at the Board of Education level.  Let's try to find more meaningful ways to save money that won't hurt schools and therefore students and teachers.  We need leaders making better decisions.

Our youngest daughter just wrote her own speech.  She's very proud of it and I am proud of her.  When she was younger, I was worried about her grade 6 year.  I am not anymore and am so thankful. 

Monday, 6 January 2020

My 20 For 2020

Happy New Year... 2020 has arrived!

It's a little bit surreal to be honest.  2020 seems like such a futuristic year to be in... like it's unreachable to those of us who grew up in the last millennium but here we are!  No flying cars in sight though...
I'm in my New Years mode; fresh starts, new ideas, positive planning, changing habits and new outlooks.  I love this time of year.  Last year I created a list of 19 "items" of interest that I wanted to tackle this year.  Some were going to be big accomplishments but many were small items that I could manage.  I recently reviewed my list and, ahem, lets just say I didn't quite reach half of them BUT I also didn't revisit my list throughout the year.  I think that was part of the reason.  I don't feel all that bad about it though... my life took a slight detour from where I expected it to go and honestly it wasn't that much of an issue that I didn't conquer everything I wanted to do.  Sometimes life throws curve balls and we need to roll with it and find a new path.  I feel like I'm just starting down a new path and I like it.

I've created my new list for this year but instead of 19 I'm writing down 20!  20 for 2020!
1.  Complete my Tuplip Quilt project and hang it in the upstairs hallway.
2.  Renovate the livingroom
3.  Walk MORE (10K steps each day or more)
4.  Use weight watchers app and points system
5.  Get my nails done more often
6.  Go on a trip with Ian
7.  Walk the kids to the bus more often. 
8.  Blog more often - write more often.
9.  Finish Pivot Quilt project.
10.  Finish Meadowland quilt. 
11.  Empty freezer of berries by making jam
12.  Continue golfing regularly this summer.
13.  Consistently drink 100oz of water each day.
14.  Watch Anne with an E on Netflix
15.  Work on Lucy’s behaviour
16.  Find storage for linens upstairs.
17.  Kitchen table refresh
18.  Kitchen door replacement
19.  Work at MAP at least one day per week
20.  Take more photos

There it is... now I need a reminder to revisit my list each month!  I have a "Habit" app on my phone for reminders so I just added "revisit my 20 for 2020" every 30 days.