Fa la la la laa, la la la laa

The kids and I arrived home from Australia just a few days before the start of December. It made it easier to leave the sunshine knowing that A. my husband was at the other end and B. that I could spent December in Christmas preparation. Last year we didn't have our house yet and were living in temporary accommodation so I missed doing some of the things I love. So prepare I did. I hit the stores and added a few things to my collection (which levi had limited to two boxes and is now three...opps). I decorated here, there and everywhere. I also baked lots this year. I did snowballs, clementine cake, chocolate covered pretzels, coconut mousse cups, gingerbread and I had a cupboard stockpiled with various christmassy treats. And we spent each weekend doing something Christmassy and Canadian. We picked our tree (a true highlight, yes we know it is HUGE), enjoyed the ward Christmas party (amazing food), had a little party with a few friends over to get into the holiday spirit, went to Sugar Moon Maple farm and enjoyed seeing the snow and eating pancakes in a log cabin, skated at Halifax's outdoor skating oval and watched the Stake outdoor live nativity pageant. It was all wonderful.

We were very happy to have Levi's sister Yolanda and her husband Luke with their two children Rooke ( 2 ) and newborn Harvey with us for 10 days over Christmas too. We talked and ate all the day long and the kids, particularly Rooke and Finley found great fun together. It was beautiful to meet our sweet nephews and for the kids to get to know their cousins. We had a great and memorable evening together waiting to have a Santa photo. Levi and Yolanda jumped in at the last moment and it made for a great picture of the Catton siblings and their children.
Gradually out little family carves out some fun traditions. One Levi and I enjoyed this year was watching the movie Love Actually and wrapping and preparing the gifts.  Levi spent the night constructing a play kitchen for the kids while I wrapped the other gifts. We try our best to not go over the top with gifts but... this year I don't think we were successful! The kitchen is an awesome addition and the kids loved it, Finley's much dreamed of and talked about Fire and Rescue Plane was delivered by Santa, and mum and dad gave him Ninja Turtle Pj's, a hatching dinosaur egg and the Peter Rabbit dvd's. Primrose got a unicorn backpack, a wand and crown and the kids gave each other some stuffy cats. They both loved it all had fun playing all the day long. 

Christmas fell on a Sunday this year and we enjoyed a beautiful sacrament meeting at church. I really like attending church on the day. The whole Christmas season I felt moved to tears every time I read, or watched or spoke of the birth of the Saviour. In all of the hustle and bustle of the season it resonated so strongly in my heart, I'm so grateful for the birth of my Saviour Jesus Christ and that we have this magical season to celebrate him. Along with laying our milk and cookies for Santa and some carrots for the reindeer on Christmas Eve, we watched the Joy to the World and read the nativity story to the kids before bed. Finley really understood Christmas this year and as much as he looked forward to presents delivered by Santa he also loved hearing the real Christmas story and talking about Jesus' birthday.

For Christmas day I cooked and cook and cooked. I did a turkey (dressed by wonderful, no job too stomach turning Blanche), a tray of stuffing, cranberry sauce (also with Blanche's help), bread rolls, sweet potato pecan bake, risoni salad, peas and corn. It was all delicious and lasted for days which made it all the more worth it. It was a lovely day spent with family, eating, sleeping, reading - perfect.

And a silly Christmas Greeting from the Cattons

Fit for the Town Square

I have always longed for, dreamed of, imagined having a huge Christmas tree. When we bought an artificial one in Australia I was adamant I have one that touched the roof. So obviously when I move to Canada, the land of Christmas trees and I have myself a landing with a cathedral ceiling I am going to make my own dreams come true, right? Yes, that is the correct answer.

As part of our December Christmas activities we headed to Lunenburg, Christmas Tree Capital of the World (literally, a sign says it) to cut down our very own tree. We had vaguely discussed what size we would get though we weren't very specific with one another. Levi had thought that I wanted it to touch the roof, I thought I had told him I wanted the star framed by the arch window....in all of the excitement of a hayride and weaving in and out of trees looking for the perfect one, I asked the workers where a 12 foot tree might be (having been previously told by a friend that was about the right size...) and they showed us a beauty. It looked pretty giant to me, the yard stick confirmed that, I wasn't totally sure but swept up in the excitement we proclaim the perfect tree found and next minutes chainsaws were going and it was all ours...

It didn't look all that giant til we actually got it in the house. Levi had to construct a pulley system to get it up the stairs and when it was up in all it's glory it was quite literally shocking... but beautifully shocking. Levi was gone most of the next week on business so I spent a lot of time with said tree. I lighted her up, decorated her from top to bottom perched on the edge of a ladder. By the time Levi got home to put the star on top, she really didn't look giant at all. Just perfect in fact.For the month she was with us, she was loved, adorned and adored. Finley cried and cried when it was time for her to go. Thank you beautiful tree! 


Home Sweet Home { Return to Oz }

My trip to Australia was a whirlwind of family and friendship, sunshine and surf, love and memories. It made me homesick for the very place that I was, grateful for my culture, my heritage,  my birthplace and thankful that it will always be home, that I can always go back and find comfort and confidence in my roots. It also made me appreciate my new home too. It's easy to think that the grass is greener at home when you have conflict with the new culture you are assimilating too. But the clarity I had was of the ways that Canada has shaped me for the better, the changes in who I am because of this new and wonderful culture and excitement for all that is to come in our time here.

I had a pretty intense schedule while I was in Australia. The thing I wanted most though was to have quality time with my family and I feel like I managed that amougst all that we did. Family dinners, where the food is good and the company even better are just a part of life and we eased back into that comfortable rhythm. Seeing my parents bond with my children, and all of the cousins together helped me remember just how strong those bonds are and that no time or distance will alter them. My home sweet home.

Off to Market we Go { Return to Oz }

What I wanted most when I returned home to Oz was time with my family. It's what I miss most about living abroad and what I pine for in the hard moments. It's likely that no amount of time would ever be enough but my heart certainly got a good dose. 
On one particularly beautiful Saturday morning Mum, Courtney and I ventured to 'The Grounds' in Alexandria (hat off to Dad who was always so willing to have the kids for me). Sydney sure does Saturday mornings well. The food was amazing, photo worthy and even tastier than it looks. This place is impressively thoughtful, with beauty to fill the senses at every turn. It's what you wish you had for a local haunt and really you could spend all day just being ... there.
A day with my Mum and Sister is a happy day. There aren't many people in the world who really truly know me and love me for it, but these two do and I couldn't wish for more than that.