Sunday, December 15, 2013


My, my, how I let myself get behind on things.  I'd blame it on the season of busyness, but it seems to happen to me regardless.  I'm a "wave-blogger", that is, I blog in waves.  I need an occasional good bout of mild to moderate illness or injury.  Something enough to keep me out of work but well enough to blog.  Perhaps I shouldn't verbalize such odd desires....
Now that we are living in another foreign land (still feels a little foreign, even if it is technically "home" for me) certain holidays need to be forced.  Once such day is American Thanksgiving.  In Ecuador we had plenty of fellow American to celebrate with.  Here in Steinbach we are lacking such relationships.  There are a lot of immigrants, but not so many from the foreign soil of the United States of America.
So, I forced my family to celebrate with us.  I was quite lazy on the photo front, so you will just have to believe that they did all come and cram into our little home for the evening.  We also, in a very minor way, celebrated a bit of Hanukkah.  I often want to start celebrating more Jewish holidays (really and truly.... there is so much significance and richness in them for us as Christians) but I just never have.  Lazy.  Since my sister celebrates (there is Jewish heritage in her birth mother's side), mom suggested we incorporate it into our celebration.  Plus, how cool - and rare - that Hanukkah is about a month early and coincides with Thanksgiving!  The most simple way was making latkes.  So mom did that and I provided the apple sauce.   They didn't turn out that great, but not bad for a bunch of Mennonites.

I realized the day before that our house was pretty Christmasy and since fall decor was mostly disposed off (real gourds and things), I was greatly lacking in Thanksgivingish decorations.  A definite advantage to living in Canada - all of the Thanksgiving stuff was being cleared out for super cheap right around this second Thanksgiving.  So, while it was meager, it fit the bill (both for situation and for the pocket book!).  Lucy threw in her school pumpkin craft as well.  She adds to the decor quite often.  Apparently my works are not complete.

Not only did I force my family to come, but they also had to bring food.  I did the turkey (and two chickens since the turkey wasn't big enough), stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, hot corn (a spicy corn dish), carrot souffle (thanks Marlo!), apple sauce, pumpkin pie, gluten-free pumpkin pie, and apple pie.
The turkey and chickens were a complete gong-show.  I did the turkey at Brent and Glenda's house because we only have the one, not very good oven.  So I ran over there several times throughout the day.  Well, apparently I don't know beans about taking the temp. of a turkey (although I've done it many a time) because it said it was done but when we cut her open, she was bleeding (okay, that may be a little exaggerated).  Perhaps it was my brand-new thermometer that I bought a few days earlier and then promptly lost in the snow somewhere between their place and ours.  Perhaps it is just that I am pathetic.  Either way, the bird needed more time.
Then we move on to the chickens.  The chickens were no better.  Like most everything I have baked in that oven - the outside was very dark but they still weren't cooked on the inside.  I can't seem to get a consistent temperature in that oven and I am alway burning the outside of things while the inside is just barely getting done.  Argh!  So these birds needed more time too.
Everyone was very gracious and patient while we waited until we had some protein to eat.  Once we got going, we had a very scrumptious Thanksgiving dinner.
The apple pie was made partially with those little crab apples (see a few posts back).  Because they were so little, I didn't peel them but was kind of worried that it wouldn't be good with the peel.  Eric, being the supportive, encouraging husband he is, made sure I knew that the pie was just great even with the peel.  Yes, that is apple peel he pretended to have stuck in his teeth.  Har, har, har.  I'm laughing so hard.
Being that it was a school night, we didn't carry the festivities on too late.  Got to get sleep for school!
On the Sunday following (Dec. 1), we all headed out to chop down a Christmas tree.  Apparently they had all decided that Superstore did a fine job of providing Christmas trees and they no longer needed the annual journey to the Christmas tree farm.  So much for a good old fashioned family Christmas.  Well, we wanted to dig our tree out of the ground ourselves (a quote nod to "Christmas Vacation"), so in martyr form, the whole family (minus Chris and Jann) took one more outing to the explore the fine tradition of hunting for and chopping down a tree.
The farm had a bale "maze" (it was not so a-maze-ing.... I'm so punny....) that the kids played on for a while.  

And there were some animals to pet as well.

And lots of photo opportunities.

Riley and Lucy were practicing the fine art of photo-bombing.  They practiced it a LOT.

Those girls really really like getting their pictures taken.  Kim, by the way, took one for the team by spinning the girls around for about half an hour until she was walking like the town drunk.

Then some family shots by the nice red barn.  Kim and I thought it would be funny if we swapped one kid in each family.  They got Lucy.
Brent and Glenda got Maddy (so far we were doing well.... got rid of two kids!)
They all managed to find their way back for our family picture, though..... although Cade was forced.  No surprise there.
Then we traded Mia for Timaya.
Grandma needed a picture with all of the grandkids.  That was a bit of a chore as, of course, no one wanted to cooperate.  Alex decided to have the local kitty join the family.  They she decided to have the local kitty do a little flying for the picture.  I'm So Very bummed that I didn't have things set up right for the picture - and especially for the following picture.  They are very blurry - but priceless!

Finally it was time to hunt.  Off we went for a tree.  Before we headed out, I talked with the workers to see if they had anything other than scotch pine - as it appeared that was all there was.  They told me that there were, but they were at the end.  To me, a little bit more of a walk in the cold was worth it.  I'm not a scotch pine fan.  Me?  I'm a fur or spruce girl.  The kids, on the other had, do not believe as I do.  But really, was do they know?  That's right - pretty well nothing, in terms of Christmas trees.  After all, they've only had fake or cypress trees for the last several years.  Those are not real Christmas trees.  There was a lot of moaning and complaining as we tramped on further than anyone else.

Well, we get to the right section and oh my word!  You would have thought I had taken them to a field of bare twigs.  They were not happy.  Not happy at all.  Fine, I thought.  It is not worth making the kids unhappy because of my desires.  So after a little lecture from dad on not complaining and ruining mom's joy, we headed back to the scotches and cut down a tree.  Cade and Mia started carrying it back and we even wound up being done in time to meet up with the cousins.

Here is were things got really ugly.  And in many ways I blame myself.  Maddy and I start wondering around the pre-cut trees (ones they imported).  They had a "Charlie Brown" tree section and I fell in love.  There was a fantastic spruce with cones still attached that was a mere $14 compared with our big, very full and fluffy (I was wondering where in the world we were going to stick such a wide tree in our house) $35 tree that we cut down.  So I foolishly suggested buying the spruce instead of the scotch, save $20, save space in our house, and give "Chuck" a good home.  Bad suggestion.  
Between Cade's dagger eyes and certain family members aghast that I would cut down a tree and not pay for it (I wasn't worried -  they could sell it in a heart beat) there were not a whole lot of happy people around.  I was happy, Maddy was fine, Lucy was fine, Mia was no where in sight and Eric was mostly not happy because Cade was flipping out.  Well, by that time I was about ready to put CB back but then figured we couldn't really give Cade what he wanted when he was acting this way.  But I still felt rather horrible for making the suggestion and would have very happily got the scotch.  Now I was stuck with I tree I liked, Cade detested, and a family in discord.  I was fine with not having the perfect experience, but this was going way way south (at least it is warmer in the south.....).   Do you ever wish you had five minutes back that you could do over?  Yup.  Me too.  One minute would have been fine - just enough to not even make the suggestion.
Here is Cade, holding the scotch pine tightly (they had already named it George, by the way) not willing to let it go.  He stayed there for a very long time.
I should mention that a week earlier he had mentioned that he didn't want a real tree at all.  It was like deja vu back to Ecuador.
We ended our time on a better note, with a sleigh ride.  Some of our group were very done, so they headed home.  The rest of us enjoyed a twilight (it was around 4:45 pm….twilight around here!) ride before we headed home.

Now, two weeks later, our spruce tree sits in our living room, pine (spruce, I guess) cones and all.  Cade chose, up until two days ago, to not disgrace his Christmas ornaments by putting them on this pathetic tree.  They were sitting in front of the tree in this red and green box and white Supermaxi (grocery store chain in Ecuador) bag.  Two days ago he put a few on, but complained that there weren't enough branches to put the rest on.  So the saga continues….

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