My “Hoppy” Valentine’s Gift

….once Kevin is inspired to draw or paint something he can’t seem to stop

I love Kevin’s new challenge starting this week, Funky Frog Friday. When he knew how much I love his frogs he surprised me with my own special Valentine frog. He also surprised me with a special Valentine’s Day dinner that was delivered to the door.

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A Day of Firsts

Jan. 24, 2021 was Sevin’s first birthday

It was more than just our granddaughter’s first birthday.

First Snow

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First time with balloons and new toys and close to taking first steps.

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First time wearing her new outfit that Auntie Gaelan made her.

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First birthday cake and first Zoom birthday party for all of us.

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Happy day of firsts.

What Christmas Taught Us This Year

….Christmas was certainly different this year for most people who chose to stay safe

Some things didn’t change. We cut down a tree with the family, albeit socially distant and masked, and I decorated it. The difference this year is that I totally decorated it on my own and it was up a full two weeks before Christmas. Normally I wait until my daughter can come over and help me and it often doesn’t get done until a few days before Christmas.

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As much as we love being with family on Christmas we found new ways to celebrate the holiday. We exchanged gifts but this year the gifts were exchanged in front of the house. I still filled everyone’s stockings but this year everyone took them home. Gaelan brought special donuts from Hamilton and we exercised the dogs for a few minutes in the park down the street.

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Our son and his family live in London, England so this year we opened our gifts early. We always open presents on Christmas Eve but 3:00 in the afternoon was early even for us. When everyone got back home we had a Zoom Christmas so that everyone could watch their gifts being opened. It was a bit hectic but in the end watching Sevin celebrate her first Christmas was very special. Technology this year has kept us in touch and brought us closer to all our family members.

My husband and I decided to still make a special Christmas dinner for just the two of us. The only thing that was different is that we didn’t cook a turkey. Instead, we bought a nice big capon to roast and at the last minute I decide to make cranberry sauce. My husband is an amazing cook and I’m no novice when it comes to cooking but even after all these years of experience we can still mess up. The difference this year is that we could laugh about it. There were no guests to worry about or timelines that needed to be met. So when the capon was undercooked and we had to put it back in the oven, after slicing off the cooked parts, we just relaxed with more wine and started off with the wonderful salad that Kevin made.

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My cranberry sauce…..well lets just say that you should never walk away from a pot of boiling cranberry sauce. In the end I was able to salvage it with a little more sweetener. Kevin likes to tell people that we had twice baked capon and smoked cranberry relish.

We’ve learned that it’s the little things that bring us joy. Even though we knew we wouldn’t be together as a family for Christmas I still decorated the house. I pared back on the decorations but I’ve learned that you don’t need to put everything out. Simple things like lighting candles and playing Christmas music brought us joy and peace. In a way this Christmas prepared us for the day when we might have to spend more Christmases alone. There will come a day, perhaps, as the grandchildren get older they won’t want to come to Oma and Papa’s house on Christmas Eve or maybe some of our children will move further away. As for now, though, we hope we can have a few more Christmas Eve celebrations together as a family.

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It was certainly a less stressful Christmas this year. Hopefully 2021 will bring back some normality. We will probably all have to adjust to a new normal and hopefully 2020 taught us some valuable lessons about life and what is important. My husband and I learned that even though we love each other, more importantly, we actually like each and enjoyed our self imposed isolation in 2020.

Cheers and a happy New Year!

Carol

Drive-by Gift Exchange, Donuts and a Walk in the Park

….on Christmas Eve

We decided as a family this year to celebrate Christmas in our homes and connect via Zoom. On Christmas Eve, early in the afternoon our kids drove to our house to drop off and pick up gifts. Gaelan ordered special donuts to share with everyone. It was not a particularly nice day but our meeting took place between rain showers so we also managed to get in a walk to to the park at the bottom of our street.

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Everyone wore their masks, some more festive than others and some of us wore our special hats and antlers.

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I even got Frances to get into the festive spirit for all of 10 seconds. My husband said she’s slowing down in her old age.

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Our get together was short because we all had to get back home and do a Zoom Christmas with Brendan and his family in London, England. It was Sevin’s first Christmas and it was fun watching her open her gifts from the family.

The Week Leading Up to Christmas

the furnace broke down, two more COVID tests, my nephew’s quarantine ended, a drive by gift exchange, preparing plates of goodies for the neighbours

I was pretty much absent for the the last couple of weeks. In the week before Christmas there were a lot preparations for our non traditional Christmas celebration and during Christmas there were Zoom calls, phone calls, dinner preparations for two of us and just taking it easy.

The Friday before Christmas our furnace decided to break down and all of a sudden we had no heat on the main floor and in the basement where my nephew was staying. The repair man came that same night when we discovered our problem but it just so happened that the part that was broken was not in stock and they weren’t able to get the part until Monday. So for three days we were bundled in extra sweater and blankets. We did have one working space heater and that did help somewhat.

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A good friend of ours has not been feeling well for awhile and because she is on her own our daughter who lives close by went over a couple of times to make sure she was alright. Unfortunately, her doctor suggested that she might have COVID so our daughter went and had the test to make sure that she wasn’t infected. Thank goodness it came back negative. Then our nephew who was quarantining in our basement didn’t feel well and he went for a COVID test. Again the test came back negative and he left to visit his mother on the farm near Chatham.

On Monday the furnace was repaired and I ran around getting last minute items for stockings and the gift platters that I prepared for the neighbours. The next two days are a blur. I filled the stockings, made soup and our granddaughter made art. Even though no one was coming inside the house I spent a lot of time tidying the place up.

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When Christmas Eve finally arrived we were ready. It was the first time in my life that I wasn’t wrapping gifts right up to the last minute. It actually felt great.

….to be continued.

The Greenest Christmas Tree Hunt Ever

….with very little snow on the ground

On Thursday the family who reside in Ontario all travelled to a Spruce Meadows Christmas Trees near Hamilton. It was very mild, sunny and there was little snow left on the ground. When Kevin and I arrived in our car we were the first of the family there and in fact we were the only people there for a short while. Apparently the weekend before the place was so busy that the entire field was filled with cars.

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It didn’t take long before the rest of the family arrived, all wearing masks and ready to trek to the tree field. My daughter, Gaelan and her husband, Brendan were looking for a tall tree to fit into their Victorian style dining room while the rest of us were more content with much smaller trees.

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First Snow and Christmas Lights

….pulled out the lights and strung them on the outside tree

On the weekend we cleaned up the garden and put away the lawn furniture. We took out the snow shovel and snow blower and put the garden tools and rakes back in the garage. I also found the outdoor Christmas lights and dragged them out as well.

On Saturday our eldest daughter came over helped me put up the lights. This has to be the earliest I’ve ever put up the lights. I’m usually the one who gets to it a few days before Christmas. This year because of COVID we decided to try and make the Christmas season as cheerful as possible seeing that there will be no Santa Claus parade, shopping mostly on-line or curb side pick-up and no family gatherings.

We’re planning on a Zoom Christmas for now. In Toronto we’re in lockdown again for at least four weeks. To keep our spirits up we’re planning on decorating as normal, doing a cookie exchange and doing drop off deliveries of presents and goodies.

Our first snow was pretty slim down by the lake but other parts of Toronto and north of the city there was quite a bit of snow. Most of it has now melted but I’m sure there will be lots more to come in the next few months.

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first snow by the lake

I’m glad we got the lights up when we did. It was probably the last nice day for awhile. Now that they’re up it helps boost my mood and I’m starting to pull out more decorations.

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Another COVID Birthday Celebration

….thank goodness for the beautiful weather we’ve had in November

The last two days have been more normal in terms of November weather but prior to this we’ve had the most glorious, warm and sunny days. Our eldest daughter celebrates her birthday in November so we were thankful that we were able to get together with the family and have a small celebration on the deck in the backyard.

Blowing out the candles has also taken on a new format. I lit the candles on the cake and then we removed them one at a time and my daughter blew them out individually away from the cake. Well that was the plan but it turned out that the candles had burned down too far so she tried to put the candles out by waving her hand over them.

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That didn’t work very well so she tried to extinguish the candles by snuffing them out with popcorn. That worked somewhat but the popcorn caught fire.

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In the end no one was harmed and the cake was delicious.

A Drive By Birthday Party

….for five year old Winnie

I wanted to post this 10 days ago but with my father’s demise the day after these photos were taken I was ……well you can imagine how my blog was not my priority.

Now that things are settling down but nowhere near normal I’m trying to find joy again in the little things, like taking photographs of autumn leaves and flowers and taking walks with friends (with masks on). I’m on the phone a lot catching up with friends because COVID makes visiting in person difficult.

This year for my granddaughter’s fifth birthday we were suppose to get together for a birthday celebration in our backyard on Thanksgiving Monday but our daughter in Hamilton (Winnie’s Mom) received a COVID alert that she had been close to someone who has the virus. Out of caution they decided not to come to Toronto.

On Wednesday they decided that a drive by birthday for Winnie would be okay if we stayed apart and wore masks. Before they arrived I put out chairs on the front lawn and placed her birthday presents next to the chairs and her cake on the wall next to the driveway.

It was different. No hugs and kisses. We stayed on the porch while Winnie opened her gifts and then she dug into a piece of cake. She loved having cake at 10:00 in the morning. The whole thing took maybe 20 minutes. Then we blew her kisses through our masks and they were off to the Toronto Zoo.

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This last photo was sent to me by Winnie’s Mom. At the zoo they had these decorated hay bales and Winnie wanted to pose in front of every single one. This one was my favourite.

Spooky Doors in High Park

….thanks to Norm for hosting Thursday Doors https://miscellaneousmusingsofamiddleagedmind.wordpress.com/2020/10/22/thursday-doors-october-22-2020/

Even during COVID people are decorating their homes and doors for Hallowe’en. As numbers rise in the city of Toronto there is an ever increasing risk that Trick or Treating will be discouraged. The residents in the High Park area, however, are not discouraged and continue to dig out their ghosts, goblins and other spooky characters to celebrate October 31st.

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