Reverse Advent Calendar, Lesson for Children

This idea of a reverse advent calendar is wonderful and a great way to teach your children to think of the less fortunate instead of themselves. Skip the routine chocolate/candy advent calendar and try this instead.

reverse advent calendar

When my sons were young we helped deliver Christmas food baskets that their schools had filled.  I will always remember the proud moment when one of my sons (I cannot remember which one or which event) commented “I like how it makes me feel inside when I do something nice for someone else.”

Our family also used to participate in Operation Christmas Child sponsored by Samaritan’s Purse.  For this project we filled empty shoeboxes with small toys, school and art supplies or other things kids would love.  Convenient drop off locations made it very simple to donate to a great cause.  We even received pictures (after Christmas) of children around the world opening the boxes.

reverse advent calendar

Of course we should donate all year around and not just at Christmas time, but these ideas are powerful learning tools for our kids and grandkids.  Kindness and compassion for others never gets old!

 

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Christmas miracle born twenty-eight years ago today

My own personal miracle was born twenty-eight years ago today and was undeniably the best Christmas present ever.  Of course, the subsequent births of his two brothers were equally miraculous.  Many of my previous posts have described the ordeal my husband and I went through to achieve the family of three sons we have today.  You can read them here…

G9P3A3; My Book about my Miscarriages, Stillbirths and Healthy Pregnancies

 

The Straw that Broke the Camel’s Back meets G9P3A3

G9P3A3…..My Book has been Published!

My three sons are all happy, healthy adults today.  The Christmas miracle I speak of is currently expecting a miracle (baby) of his own to cherish.

 

miracle
new family addition

 

What more can a mother ask for?

What to do with your amaryllis when it stops blooming

If you have ever purchased or been given an amaryllis plant, you know how beautiful they are.  Amaryllis make spectacular houseplants, especially at Christmas time.  I like to plant several each year to give as Christmas and hostess gifts.  After they finish blooming, you can save the bulbs for a similar display next year.  Just follow the simple steps below…

Once the blooms have all faded, cut off the flower stem just above where it comes out of the bulb. You might notice that the bulb is slightly softer or smaller than when you first planted (or received) it.  That’s because it has used up a lot of the material inside the bulb to make the flowers and stems you’ve just witnessed.  To bloom again, it must begin the process of restoring that material and fattening the bulb to its former state.

To do this, you should treat your amaryllis bulb like a houseplant. If it is in a pot without drainage holes (many of my Christmas planters use inexpensive pots without drainage) transplant it to one with holes.  As it grows more leaves, water it sparingly, only when the soil looks very dry. Once a month, add fertilizer to the water to keep the supply of nutrients available.  Give it as much bright light as you can during the winter months.  In summer, take it outside, and put it in bright or filtered, but not direct sunlight.

By the end of the summer, the bulb should feel much plumper and fuller.  At the end of September let the amaryllis bulb go dormant.  Bring it inside, and stop watering it. Once the soil has dried out, the leaves will begin to die. When they have all turned yellow and then brown, the bulb is dormant. You can cut off all the leaves just above the neck and pull the whole bulb and root ball out of the pot. Shake off the soil and trim the roots back to about two inches. The bulb will look just like it was when you first got it.

Leave the bulb somewhere cool and dry until the beginning of November (if you want blooms for Christmas), when you can plant it in a pot of fresh soil and start the flowering process all over again. Plant the bulb so the top third of the bulb is exposed.  Mine take about seven weeks after they are planted to bloom.  November 6th is my plant day for a Christmas bloom time, you can adjust accordingly.  Add a stake to attach to the growing plant in your container since many of the stalks get top heavy.  If you’re careful, you can keep this flowering-and-replenishing cycle going for years. The bulb will grow larger each year and gradually start producing second and sometimes even third flower stalks.

If you try this method, please be sure to let me know how it works for you!

 

Please be sure to visit my other blogs:

Laugh out loud (LOL) with me at YOUR DAILY CHUCKLE

and

be inspired and motivated by famous words of wisdom at WoW

Give the gift of time this Christmas with GARDENS4U gift certificates

christmas gift certificate 2015-16

 

GARDENS4U is offering gift certificates again this Christmas season.  Perfect for garden lovers with limited time or physical strength, these certificates can be custom made to suit your needs and budget.

Of course, I only work in the west end of Ottawa.  If you, or someone you know, can benefit from my services, please contact me to create a gift certificate for you.

The December birthday dilemma

Many people with December birthdays hate the fact that their birthday falls in the same month as Christmas.  In fact, there are so many of you that feel this way, this picture gets posted on Facebook every year…

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I can understand how December birthdays can be annoying or frustrating for some people.  If your birthday comes just before Christmas, your birthday may get lumped in with Christmas. If the birthday falls closely after Christmas, it may get forgotten altogether.   A friend whose birthday was this week just told me that she used to get half of a gift for her birthday and the other half for Christmas.  For example, one year she received one ice skate on the 7th of December for her birthday and the matching skate on the 25th for Christmas.  Now that seems a little extreme!

I can also understand how a December birthday can create a dilemma for some families.  My dilemma was (I admit I should have gotten over it long ago) that my eldest son was born on December 12th, fairly close to Christmas.  When he was young, I would not start decorating or preparing for Christmas until the 13th when his birthday was over.  I told myself this practice was for his sake so he would not confuse his birthday with Christmas.  Since he has moved out he seems to be quite content with starting his Christmas shopping and decorating earlier than the 13th.  So, I guess that proves the dilemma is of my own creation, and could easily be fixed.

Today, December 11th, I started my Christmas shopping, but first I dropped off my son’s birthday present at his new home…

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You will notice two identical birthday presents here.  One is for my son and the other for his girlfriend whose birthday is also in December. As they will be on vacation on her actual birthday, she is getting hers early. That’s the excuse I am using, because the two gifts are a set, for both of them, and to give half the present on his birthday and half on hers two weeks later seems much too similar to the story I told above.

I haven’t mentioned yet, her birthday is after Christmas, on the 31st of December!  A New Year’s Eve baby; now that’s a whole new dilemma!

 

 

 

 

Decorating the Christmas tree always makes me nostalgic

Decorating the Christmas tree always makes me nostalgic, bringing back memories of past Christmases and the loved ones we shared them with. Especially poignant are the decorations made or cherished by loved ones that are no longer with us.

Due to my husband’s allergies, I had to settle for an artificial tree years ago when we first began celebrating Christmas together.  As a compromise, we purchased the most beautiful, real looking tree we could find.  It is a six foot, realistic looking, blue spruce version, still going strong 26 years later.

The lights have been changed/updated a few times, but the decorations we have collected over the years are irreplaceable….

handmade by the kids:

 

handmade by friends & family:

 

cherished by my parents:

(the only time you will see me advertise for the Toronto Maple Leafs is in reference to my father)

 

unbreakable, kid-proof favourites:

 

gifted from a dear friend:

the three angels (far right) came after the birth of my third son

 

light reflectors:

 

and to top off the tree, a white dove to reflect my wish for peace on earth, so significant with all the unease in the world today:

 

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Merry Christmas; wishing you all peace, health and happiness in 2016 and always!

 

Tears are not Enough and other Christmas music on Majic 100.3 FM

There is nothing like Christmas music to get you into the holiday spirit…

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While Christmas music never fails to inspire me, it also makes me realize how lucky we in Canada are to be able to celebrate the holiday season with loved ones.

Yesterday, while sitting in a dentist chair, I heard the song “Tears are not Enough” on Majic 100’s radio station.  “Tears are not Enough” is a single musical collaboration produced in Canada, in 1985, to raise money for the victims of famine in Ethiopia.  A group of Canadian talents such as singer Bryan Adams and songwriter David Foster came up with the hit under the banner Northern Lights.

The lyrics and voices of Northern Lights and Tears are not Enough were powerful back in 1985, raising more than 3 million dollars for charity.   Today the lyrics continue to be powerful and are especially appropriate and meaningful with all of the unrest in the world.  Take a moment to read the lyrics and listen to the video…

      “Tears Are Not Enough”

As every day goes by
How can we close our eyes
Until we open up our heartsWe can learn to share
And show how much we care
Right from the moment that we startSeems like overnight
We see the world in a different light
Somehow our innocence is lostHow can we look away
‘Cause every single day
We’ve got to help at any costWe can bridge the distance
Only we can make the difference
Don’t ya know that tears are not enough

If we can pull together
We could change the world forever
Heaven knows that tears are not enough

It’s up to me and you
To make the dream come true
It’s time to take our message everywhere

C’est l’amour qui nous rassemble
D’ici ?l’autre bout du monde
Let’s show them Canada still cares
You know that we’ll be there

If we should try together you and I
Maybe we could understand the reasons why
If we take a stand every woman, child and man
We can make it work for God’s sake lend a hand

 

please be sure to visit my slightly more humorous blog YOUR DAILY CHUCKLE  It is guaranteed to make you LOL.

Christmas is coming soon according to Home Depot

 

Since Thanksgiving (here in Canada) and Remembrance Day are over, the calendar says Christmas is next.  Mother Nature has not been told yet however; we continue to have unseasonably warm weather here in Eastern Ontario, and I for one am not complaining.

Home Depot is ready though with lots of Christmas specials on…

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I usually wait until the beginning of December at least to start decorating, but I know lots of you do so sooner. Enjoy!

please be sure to visit my slightly more humorous blog YOUR DAILY CHUCKLE  It is guaranteed to make you LOL.

Gardens4u has Christmas Arrangements for Sale in Kanata

Christmas arrangements by Gardens4u are now available for sale in Kanata just in time for the holidays.  Most feature an amaryllis bulb which should be in bloom for Christmas.  These arrangements make wonderful gifts or festive table centerpieces in your own home.

Prices are as indicated on each picture.  Please contact me at gardens4u@mail.com or 613-791-9955 to purchase your favorite arrangement and arrange pickup.  Delivery is $5 extra, available in Kanata only.

It’s Beginning to look alot like Christmas!

It’s beginning to look alot like Christmas in my neighbourhood of suburban Ottawa. Colorful lights adorn rooftops and trees, shoppers are rushing from store to store and we had our first big snowfall…

As Christmas rushes towards us on the calendar, be sure to slow down and take a moment or two to enjoy the season!