winter

7 Things I'm Grateful For

7 Things I'm Grateful For

Wow, so much has happened last week/will be happening this week that I'm going to be posting a couple times this week. For today, because it's Monday, because it's been a while, and because I'm much better at posting these moments on Instagram and Facebook than keeping my blog updated, here's a 7 Things summary of what's been going on.

Happy Holidays!

The kids are on school break. I'm finishing up an assignment for Move Up Magazine, then will be spending any other writing time on the home stretch of my first draft of Finding Heaven, plus a couple of newsletters I'm overdue on. I'll appear on Facebook and Instagram occasionally, but what I'm trying to say is, I'm taking a short break from blogging until the new year.

Yep, it's time to hibernate.

I hope that you have a Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year, friends! God bless us, every one. :-)

The Peace River just before freeze-up, captured on a frosty -31 C morning (December 9, 2016.)

Hibernation Time

After a huge dump of snow on the weekend, I finally feel like winter has set in here. Officially. None of this pussy-footing around with mere cold temperatures. Once there is enough snow to make me wonder if I can get out of the driveway with the van, and once the sky maintains "gray" as a normative state over even the thin pale blue that I expect to see again in January or February, that's when I hit "hibernation mode"--just let me stay home and knit and drink tea by a warm fire.

There are always obstacles to this kind of burrowing, not least of which are my commitments (which seem to be more numerous than usual this year.) Ah, well. As much as I may prefer it, God has decided that being a hermit is not in my best interests. That's for the best, probably. :-)

So, in the last week, my third child has turned 9, and got his first pair of glasses. Hard to believe this sweet boy is in his last year of single digits--he was so LITTLE not that long ago, wasn't he?

Reaction to seeing the Pokemon Card Collector's set in Jabin's birthday gifts.

We had a family birthday supper on Friday, but his party with his friends will be this upcoming weekend, so there will be more on that later.

Jabin showing off his new Angry Birds flannel robe that I made him on the weekend as a birthday present.

Jabin, you are still pretty sweet, even if you are not that little anymore. Keep growing and grinning, little man. We love you!

Jabin at a school choir performance last week. He wouldn't stop flirty with the girl beside him long enough for me to get a decent shot. ;-)



Cold and Warm and Holidayish

"-34. Feels like -38."

That's what my weather app readout has said all morning. I keep tapping the "refresh" arrows, hoping that those numbers will change, but they haven't. I'd almost think they were lying, but it has been confirmed by outside sources.

And I sit and debate whether or not it is worth bundling up a little man, warming up the van, and braving the cold to pick up milk, cream, and printer ink. I could have Jason get them on his way home from work, after all.

The sun is shining, at least--clear skies and no snow make for lifted spirits, even on the coldest days.

The weather has been a little nasty all week--first, it was snowy, blizzardy, icky, and now it is just clear and cold.

My poor rooster has already got clearly-defined gray tips on his comb and wattles where the skin is dying from frostbite. So far, we haven't lost any chickens, though. Soon, the eleven pullets that survived Thunder, our malamute, to make it to winter will join my one mature hen in laying eggs, too--Yay! One started this week, and although the eggs have been frozen, there have been two per day coming in.

Weeks like this, when I have been housebound by weather so much, send me into more introspective moments. I find myself missing my dad, and my brother, and Jason's mom, and those family that I wish with all my heart weren't so far away. The way my dad would tell a joke about a certain thing, or how I can talk with my mother-in-law about so much, or even just hanging out with my brother... this is the time of year when warmth is not inherent, it's created by the activities we do, and the people do them with. And I am missing that.

We just finished celebrating Hannukah, which was quite early this year. Since we started celebrating it a few years ago, I have struggled with figuring out what traditions we wanted to assimilate with the holiday. I knew it was a minor holiday, but it seems that some people really go overboard with it--blue and silver and white garlands and banners and glitz all over their house until it seems to be merely a misplaced Christmas celebration. That's why I was so glad to read this post by Melissa Ford yesterday. We celebrate this holiday because Jesus did, and there are layered meanings that carry deeper overtones to a Christian--it is the Festival of Dedication, remembering when the Macabees took back the defiled temple, cleaned it up and rededicated it. The Bible says that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit, so we re-dedicate ourselves at the same time. It is also sometimes called the Festival of Light, and Jesus is the Light of the world. Just like the Hannukiah sits in the window to shine light out in the darkness, Jesus is to shine out through us to show the Light of his love and the good news of his salvation to the world. It is a beautiful holiday that I am really beginning to enjoy.

But this year, it nearly caught me by surprise because it was so early. We lit our Hannukiah each night (for which we now simply use tealights in votive holders and a tall tapered candle in a brass candlestick for the shamash), and we went through the Hannukah story (our boys remembered none of it--one of these years it will stick) and the meaning for us, but we didn't have a single latke, or spin any dreidles, or eat chocolate gelt coins, let alone make Hanukkah cookies and give gifts to everyone we know--I almost forgot the small gifts that we give our boys on the last night in place of gelt! And I was feeling a little guilty about that, until I read Melissa's post.

We do NOT celebrate Christmas, the main reason being because the holiday is completely pagan in origin, and at a certain point in history it was "Christianized"--but putting chocolate icing on dog poop doesn't make the poop any more wholesome or appetizing. The Holy Spirit dealt with us on it about ten years ago, now, and we refocused our attention away from the glam of Christmas and onto the good news of Jesus' gift of salvation for us, celebrated by remembering his death and resurrection.

When we decided to stop, it was a relief--the commercialization, the political pressures of who gets a gift and who doesn't, the massive outlay of cash in this single month to buy things for people they don't even want or need... it was such a relief to leave it all behind. I miss the shiny decorations, just a little, but I have found that I can still decorate for winter without including a single Santa Ornament or sprig of mistletoe--and a sparkly snowflake or two doesn't look strange, either. (Not that I have done it yet, this year--that would mean braving the cold to go dig out the winter decorations from my Sea Can!)

So I was unsure about the extent to which I have seen some others assimilate those same Christmas "accessory" traditions into their celebrations of Hanukkah. Even plastering the Star of David all over their homes seems a little iffy to me--it also has roots in paganism and the occult. Besides that, we aren't Jews. I don't feel like we should pretend we are.

For now, I think we will continue to celebrate Hanukkah as we have been--except maybe with a latke or two thrown in next year. (Because latkes really are delicious!)

And although we are far away from many of those we love, we will hold them close in our hearts through this season of cold and darkness. We will also cherish the time we get to spend with those who are near. Except, not today--today is a day for staying home and staying warm by the fireplace.

Oo! -31, now! Maybe I'll brave the cold after all...

Stay warm, friends.

You Know It's Cold When...

…the plug of your block heater cable snaps off when you try to use it! (Yes, this happened to my poor van this morning!)

I guess we all (and by "we all," I mean everyone living north of the 49th) knew that winter couldn't be confused with spring for all of January. But the sudden transition from +1 last week to -36 this week has been a bit of a shock to more than just my and my van's systems, I'm sure.

As a result, I have been trying to stay close to home. Well, I haven't had to try that hard, actually, as my van was in the shop all weekend, and Jason took it to work today since the heater in his truck didn't seem to be working.

That's the thing about the cold weather--it points out all the issues you didn't know you had with your vehicle.

I know it looks like I haven't been doing any writing lately, but besides getting my family newsletter put together on Friday (which I am part-way through the mail-out process for), I have written four songs in the past week, and I have also been blogging over on my music website. Go check it out at www.talenawinters.com.

Noah is playing "My Favourite Things" on my Yamaha's pre-recorded demoes behind me. I'm pretty sure that there should be a line in that song about "warm, blazing woodstoves!"

DSC04088 web.jpg

It's too cold for this now! The boys were sledding on our dugout during the holidays--it was warm enough to be hatless!

Stay warm, friends!

Snow Much Fun!

After four days of warm(ish) weather last week, the snow was soft enough that the boys were able to make a snowman.

The Construction Crew

Jude was the foreman of the project, but all three boys participated, and had a total hoot doing it!

Cheetahboy building the snowman
Monkey building the snowman

When they were done, they informed me that it was supposed to look like Daddy (whom we were expecting home from a five-day business trip the next day).

"The straw is his hair, see?" Jude pointed out.

"Ah." I replied.

"Can you take a picture?" he asked.

"Of course," I replied.

Daddy Frankensnowman

This Wednesday morning, we noticed that the cats thought building a snowman was a good idea, too.

Cat and Snowman buddies

On the day of the snowman-building, it was warm enough that I had instructed the boys to leave the chicken coop door open for a few hours so the chickens could enjoy the sun. Noah got a little over-exuberant and hauled a couple birds all the way over to the house and set them in the snow. Jude promptly put them back, but not before I snapped this photo of one of them.

Like a Chicken in a Snowbank

This stunned look says, "What the heck am I doing over here?!! And now what do I do?"

Poor girl.

"Wasteland? I think you mean 'Wonderland!'"*

Well, it's here. That time of year where the most obvious thing I've got for blog-fodder (and small-talk) is how much freaking snow there is out there!

Oh, and also how freaking cold it is!

This is the second year in a row we have had to endure a minus-thirty snap in November, and I don't. like it. one. bit. It wouldn't be so bad if we didn't know that there will be another one in January. Only longer. And most likely colder.

Jason imparted the cheery news to me last night that "several experts agree that this will be our coldest winter in fifteen years. One said in recorded history." Whee.

Why do we live here again?!

For the last twenty-four hours or more, snow has been drifting down in big, rabbit-pelt-like flakes. Pretty, yes. But it doesn't exactly make you excited to get out the door in the morning. Or out of bed, for that matter. Thank goodness that our fireplace is double-sided into our bedroom! Otherwise, what with that part of the house being the coldest and draftiest (and that's really saying something in our house), our bathroom pipes would freeze every night and I'd have to get dressed under the covers. As it is, we've been keeping that fireplace stoked about twenty hours a day, and it barely maintains a room temperature in the master bedroom and family room.

We have how many more months of this?!

I took these photos for Aakanksha:

They were all taken while looking out from my front window. You see that red truck hiding behind the monstrous maple in our front yard that did not get pruned this fall? The one underneath the mountain of rabbit-pelt-snow? That is how much snow has fallen in just the last 30 hours-ish.

When I took my van into the shop this morning, the guy behind the counter was complaining that he couldn't find his truck this morning under all the snow! (Apparently, the truck is white.)

C'mon, all you ex-pat Canadians--doesn't this make you want to come home? You miss this, right?

P.S. Thank you to all of your supportive comments after my last few posts. It really makes a difference knowing that people are rooting for you. Yay! for the Internet.

*Prize to the first person who can tell me where this quote comes from!