Merry Christmas or happy holidays to everyone, everywhere. Facebook and other forms of social media have lots of wonderful memes, poems, pictures, and so on this time of year with advice and wishes for a happy holiday season, regardless of what, how and with whom you celebrate.
I thought I would share some that caught my eye.
I remember doing just that, was lots of fun. There were a few houses in our neighbourhood that went all out with the decorations.
I am happy to report that several of my grandkids enjoy walking around our current block admiring and inspecting the lights and festive displays. This is the display one of our neighbours spent hours setting up; the kids just adore it:
Recently I travelled to Los Cabos, Mexico for my brother’s destination wedding. What an adventure it was! A week chock full of sunshine, warm weather, parties, great food and lots of margaritas, shared with a large group of cousins.
Two generations of cousins in fact were represented. Me, two of my brothers, andtwo of our (many) first cousins with all of our partners, as well as two of my sons and four of their first cousins, and a few partners. Unfortunately, many more were not able to make the trip.
Los Cabos Geography
Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo are collectively known as Los Cabos, (or just Cabo). Although in Mexico, it is located on the southern tip of the Baja California Peninsula. Sporting dramatic views and rock formations of the Sierra de la Laguna mountain range, Cabo is surrounded by the rugged Pacific Ocean to the west and the calmer Sea of Cortez to the east.
Los Cabos is a popular resort destination for winter vacationers seeking sunshine, warm weather, beaches, and adventure.
Wedding guests stayed at the adult-only Pacifica site of the Pueblo Bonito resort. This oceanfront paradise was the venue for the wedding ceremony and other social activities. It was perfect for the older set of cousins, myself included. The younger set loved the fact that they could visit the livelier neighbouring Sunset Beach site with a short shuttle ride or cactus-lined walk. Both resorts are located within the gated hillside community of Quivira.
We did not stay in any of his rentals, as the wedding and events were at the all-inclusive Pueblo Bonito Pacifica. We did, however, get to visit one of his beautiful houses…
Living locally, this brother (AKA Senor Dave) scouted out wedding venues and organized our group excursions outside of the resort. His knowledge of the area and connections within the community were invaluable, much appreciated by the bride and groom as well as their guests.
The portion of the Pacific Ocean that Pueblo Bonito Pacifica is situated on is not swimmer friendly due to dangerous undertow, strong currents, and drop-offs. However, the sandy shores made for wonderful morning walks, whale spotting, and glorious sunset views. They also have a baby sea turtle releasing event this time of year that some of us were able to experience; look closely to see them crawling towards the ocean in the beach picture with the setting sun…
Cerritos Beach, on the other hand, 45 minutes north of Los Cabos, is a beach-lover, swimmer and surfer paradise, with nothing but pristine beach visible for miles.
Medano Beach, on the Sea of Cortez, is smaller and less pristine than Cerritos. It offers lots of hotels, restaurants, souvenir vendors, several designated swimming areas with views of visiting cruise ships.
Deep Sea Fishing
A highlight for my youngest son on this trip was a deep-sea fishing excursion at sunrise one morning. I’m sure you can guess why by looking at these pictures; that’s a 110-pound sailfish he hauled in! They released it back into the sea; a sailfish is quite a rare catch.
His brother, father, and I (and others prone to seasickness) did not participate in this adventure. That was our loss, evident in their obvious enjoyment.
Here are a few videos of their fishing adventure, including dolphins and a sea lion following/leading the boat as well as the rookie reeling in the sailfish….
As well as its beautiful beaches, Cabo is also famous for El Arco, the Sea Arch, or Lover’s Rock. This rugged, distinctive landmark sits at the tip of the peninsula where the Pacific Ocean meets the Sea of Cortez.
We experienced an up-close and personal tour of this landmark and other majestic rock formations in a spectacular 90-foot yacht. Whale watching and frolicking in the buoyant, surprisingly warm, turquoise waters of the Sea of Cortez topped off the day.
Enroute to Cerritos Beach, we stopped for lunch and shopping in the tiny, rustic town of Todos Santos. Its claim to fame for tourists? Home of both the Hotel California and Tequila Sunrise. Contrary to popular opinion and speculation, the (musical group) Eagles have never been there. In fact, a recent lawsuit challenged the use of the famous Hotel California name.
Mexican Culinary Delights
Along with every flavour of margarita imaginable, we sampled lots of delicious food too. Seafood lovers or abstainers, vegans or carnivores all had lots of choices. All-day and (apparently) all night with 24-hour room service. All-inclusive featured daily breakfast buffets, (including an over the top Sunday Brunch buffet), poolside snacks, casual and formal dining.
Not an adventurous eater, but not too picky either, I tried a few new things. You know, when in Rome (Mexico). These delectables included sushi (with more than avocado and rice in it), sashimi and ceviche. Of course, I included lots of my favourite Mexican treat, fresh guacamole. The jarred stuff is just not going to cut it now.
I sipped on my share of margaritas on this trip; tequila appears to be the alcohol of choice in Mexico. That makes perfect sense as agaves grow in wild abandon there. Tequila shots, meant to be downed quickly and not sipped, are not my style. I prefer to sip at a beverage. My eldest son suggested a low carb, liqueur-less, “skinny” Margarita with a bit of pineapple juice….delicious!
I am no stranger to tequila and the endless variety of cocktails one can create from it. In fact, I concocted my own skinny version last winter when we were just dreaming of a winter vacation.
My brother (the Mexico dwelling one) swears tequila is good for you. According to this information from The Independent he may be right:
Research has found that tequila can help lower your blood sugar. Agavins are the sugars which occur naturally in the agave plant. They are non-digestible so they act as a dietary fibre. They also support growth of healthful microbes in the mouth and intestines.
The Independent, July 24, 2018
I consumed more alcohol in a week than I normally do in two months. No hangovers slowed me down though. Skinny Margaritas may become my new drink of choice here in Canada. Move over red wine!
Covid Precautions for the Destination Wedding
The travel industry is eager to welcome travellers back at (what we hope is) the end of the pandemic. All airlines, airports, transportation services, and resorts we visited were fully Covid compliant. All staff wore masks, we did too when not eating or drinking inside restaurants and bars. Masks outside were not necessary.
Restaurant menus within the resort were accessible through apps on our phones. Much like here at home.
My immediate family members and those of the bride and groom had to obtain an expensive PCR covid test to return to Canada. That was on top of the rapid antigen test (less expensive) to fly through the USA. I was also randomly selected to submit to an additional PCR test at the Edmonton airport on our return. Thankfully that was not at my expense. All results were negative. Travellers were all double vaccinated, symptom-free, with all test results negative. For those reasons, we did not have to quarantine on our return home.
As a sign of the (pandemic) times, the bride and groom included customized face masks in gift bags…
along with a bottle of tequila of course!
Romance in the Air!
The oceanside wedding ceremony was very romantic. My niece (daughter of the groom) got engaged in Cabo as well. Her fiance definitely chose a romantic theme.
Photo Credit and Acknowledgement
I took very few of the gorgeous photos within this post. Most were taken on better cameras by more talented photographers, then shared amongst us on our wedding FB page.
In summary, the only downside to this adventure is that we had to come home to cold weather! I for one cannot wait to go back!
Much like myself, Susan quit her corporate job at the age of 52 to pursue her own dream. Creating her own jewelry, promoting other designers she admires, repairing and cleaning jewelry is much more rewarding and exciting. I am so proud of her for joining the freedom 52 club.
What Services does True Romantic Provide?
Who better to explain just what the business is all about than Susan herself:
Where is True Romantic Jewelry Spa & Boutique Located?
Although currently located in Scranton, Susan is moving her business to a bigger and better location in Pawtucket. Both locations are in Rhode Island. Of course, the spa services and cleaning/repairs while you wait are done only if you happen to physically be in that vicinity.
Online Shopping Option for Jewelry and Gifts
For those of us not located anywhere near Rhode Island, True Romantic does offer online shopping. Order unique jewelry and gift items with delivery services anywhere in the world.
I have two ancient rings that my husband purchased for me way back when. One is an opal surrounded by garnets. The other is a cluster style, diamond engagement ring. I also have a wedding band but it is not something that can be worn alone as it fits against the diamond ring. Another problem? Most of the stones are chipped or missing. I am horribly brutal on any kind of jewelry, that’s why I barely wear any these days.
This is one of Susan’s bands I am contemplating, a sterling silver, rope twist stacker:
For the fancier piece, I would love to incorporate the gold and stones that do remain on my old rings and/or birthstones of my grandchildren. I will rely on the expert as combining all of these elements might be too complicated.
Are you a True Romantic? Be sure to visit the jewelry selection on Susan’s websiteto see what catches your eye.
Thanks to Covid restrictions I had not seen my brother in over a year even though he only lives an hour or so from me. Recently he dropped by with a (belated) 60th birthday present for me that he crafted with his own hands. And tools of course. This beautiful charcuterie board is made from a slab of mesquite he picked up on a (pre-Covid) annual trek to Texas.
The charcutetie board has a lazy susan feature attached to the back so the board can be spun around to access assorted nibbles.
He also filled in crevices with sparkly, metallic paint…very artistic and creative.
Apparently, a bee landed on the charcuterie board while the shellac was drying. My soon-to-be sister-in-law convinced him to leave the bee imprint there in honour of my blog and Facebook names…Loreeebee and Loree Bee…
A larger coincidence is the fact that my brother showed up with this belated gift the same day my sons had planned a surprise belated Birthday celebration catereddinner for me.
Another coincidence? The date of the party and my brother’s visit were on the 27th anniversary of my mom’s passing.
The sudden loss of my mom just after her 65th birthday was a huge shock for me and I’ve often said I felt like an Orphanafter my father passed away not much later.
I always reminisce (more than usual) on the day she died; I know she was smiling down on me that day!
Today I celebrate my greatest achievement on Mothers Day. I’m sure it is apparent how much I adore my three sons. They are all kind, caring, and loving, not to mention handsome, intelligent, successful, and definitely more humble than their mother.
I am especially proud of the fathers my two eldest have become with the help of the wonderful mothers of their children.
Raising Boys to Men on Mothers Day and Beyond
When my boys were growing up, people always commented on how difficult it must be to raise three boys. I wondered about that comment as I never had any daughters to compare the boys to and I always thought it was an unfair exaggeration.
These days one would call the comments sexist and all kinds of other descriptive words popular in our vocabulary today.
I have to admit, I loved every minute of it. Ok, maybe not every single minute, but 99.9% of them.
Disputing the Theory
As a mother of three boys and a grandmother to three grandsons, I dispute the opinion that boys are more difficult to raise. They may be busier physically, with different interests, but not harder or more stressful.
My father, who raised three boys and three girls, always said the girls were harder. His theory was based on the fact that he worried more about the girls until they were married. Perhaps another sexist comment, but the norm and non-offensive back then.
Boys will be Boys
There is something to be said for the saying “boys will be boys.” My experience is that (most) little boys are fascinated with things like bugs, dirt and mud, cars and trucks, dinosaurs, and more. I don’t believe these interests are taught and learned, but more instinctive or innate. Encouraged (as they should be) perhaps, but not taught.
For example, my four-year-old grandson can spend hours flipping over rocks looking for bugs. His big sister and a younger female cousin, not so much. They tend to run from the bugs, as fast as they can.
And, one of the words my youngest grandson, at just one-year-old, can say is vroom, vroom. OK, that’s two words, but I’m sure you get the gist.
Tomboys Raising Boys
Perhaps I find boys easy to handle because I was a tomboygrowing up, much to the chagrin of my mother. I preferred playing hockey, football, and other sports with the boys instead of playing dolls with the girls. I don’t recall though, being particularly enamoured with bugs.
You could say I had lots of practice hanging out with the boys, that could be why I have so much patience with my grandsons’ antics and interests.
Conclusions on Mothers Day
In closing, bearing and raising happy and healthy children is something to celebrate. Mother’s Day gives us mothers a special day to do so. Even though mine are all now adults, I still consider them to be my greatest achievements in life, bar none!
Happy Mothers Day to the rest of you celebrating your own achievements!
What have I been doing during our latest lockdown? Nothing too exciting, as is the point of said lockdown. Advised to stay home and socially distance ourselves from loved ones and not so loved ones alike, there is not much else to do. Grocery shopping has become an event on my calendar. Although a warm vacation would have been great, I have found other things to keep me busy.
When all the local gardens are frozen solid and covered in snow, the part of my brain focusing on my landscaping/gardening business switches over to freelance writing. I have a few projects on the go in that department, specifically a cookbook from recipes originating from my maternal grandmother at the farmhouse I have mentioned a few times.
Social media, namely Facebook, has been a great tool to rekindle connections with my many cousins on that side of my family. I believe there are thirty something of us first cousins, and many more second and third cousins! This adventure is going to create quite the collaborative cookbook.
I volunteered to spearhead the project, appointing myself as chief collator, sorter, editor etc. Many of these recipes were handwritten (of course no one had any other method of transcription back in those days) by my Grandmother, back in the 50’s. Her short forms, terminology and unique cursive writing often have me guessing.
So, when my eldest granddaughter is busy with heronline school classes, or during any other spare time I find (who doesn’t have spare time these days??) I am typing furiously, trying to get the recipes ready for publishing.
I have chosen Lulu, a self-publishing, online platform for this recipe book where copies are only printed as they are ordered. That way I do not have to pay anything in advance, worry about deliveries or store unsold copies. When I am done, I simply send a link to my extended family members and they can order copies as they wish. All proceeds from the sale of this recipe book will be donated to the Pleasant Valley Cemetery, located just down the road from the family farmhouse, where many generations of this family are laid to rest.
I never realized before just how much of an extrovert I am. Or perhaps it’s the strict rules we have been instructed to live by that I bristle at. I never have been good at someone telling me what I can and cannot do, or when I can do them. I am getting lots done, things I have been procrastinating about forever, but not on my own terms.
I am missing the social interaction we take for granted that enriches our daily lives. Whether it’s chatting with neighbours, meeting friends for lunch or coffee, or stopping into our favourite stores. I miss the actions and all of the people that make them so special.
I miss my grandchildren so much, and their parents too of course. The sunny smiles, hugs, and laughter from the children and the amusing anecdotes their parents share with us are what makes my world go round, usually. My world feels like it has turned upside down, with me holding my breath until it rights itself.
Compared to others, my life is relatively good. My family is safe and healthy.My landscaping businessmay get a late start this season, but my freelance writing can fill in the extra time. And, my own gardens may get some extra TLC.
This extrovert is just impatient for this nightmare to be over. In the meantime, perhaps I should try channeling my inner introvert so I might enjoy the few things left we are allowed to do.
As an update, my gardening business did resume in May, although I lost several clients as they were either working from home and able to tackle their gardens themselves, or had to give up my services due to budget constraints. My own gardensdid indeed benefit from the extra attention as suspected, although they generated more expenses than income. I was not able to pick up as many freelance writing projects as anticipated, again mostly due to clients’ reduced budgets.
Nine months later, memories of 2020 became a poem in a recent post. Many things remain the same or have evolved, been reinvented, or reinstated, but some have changed. Some in a positive way and others not so positive.
The judgement, finger-pointing, blaming, and ugliness has ramped up to an all-time high. Family get-togethers are still taboo, especially since our immediate family members total 12. As one son stated, “he can work with his brother, but cannot have Christmas dinner with him.” Where is the logic in that?
As for the positives, a hot summer meant more time in the lake at the cottage. Socially distanced from our neighbours, it was the place to be. Family members came to visit, but not all at once.
In July, when it seemed like we had “flattened the curve,” we were able to gather for at least one birthday celebration this year when our second grandson turned one…
Sadly, it was only the second time these five cuties were able to see each other since March.
Also on the positive side, we (as a family of 12) have decided that since I have been assisting our 7-year-old granddaughter with her online school and allowing our almost 3-year-old granddaughter to visit weekly to give her mom a break after the birth of their new baby, (our 5th grandchild, a celebration in itself) that we would continue this support system by allowing the grandchildren to visit. This decision was made despite the fact that Ontario residents have recently been told not to permit anyone outside of their household into their homes. As a support system for my family members that are considered essential services, I feel it my duty to do whatever works for them, and I take great pleasure in the visits.
In fact, I believe my mental health and that of my precious grandchildren rely on these visits.
After all, I am still an extrovert. That will never change.
To steal a line from that famous carol, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in my home. With the pandemic sucking most of the fun out of 2020, many are decorating earlier than usual this year. Me too, as soon as remembrance day was over, I hauled out my decorations.
It helped too that the weather outside was not so frightening, so hubby was coerced into putting up the outdoor lights. This becomes trickier each season as the trees we adorn with multicoloured lights get bigger and bigger. This blue spruce was purchased more than thirty years ago, as a dwarf variety, supposed to achieve a height of five feet at maturity. Currently it sits at around 15 feet, no dwarf for sure, but hopefully as mature as it’s going to get. It sure does look pretty though when all lit up, even from way down the street. So my neighbours tell me.
Moving inside, our artificial (due to hubby’s allergies) Christmas tree is up in our front window with more lights twinkling on it. My almost four year old grandson helped me add the ornaments, three per branch in many instances. It’s the thought that counts, right? I wonder if he will notice that I could not resist moving them around a bit to fill in some needier spots…
Last year, during a Florida vacation, I purchased these four beautiful Harvey Lewis ornaments, embellished with Swarovski crystals, one for each grandchild I had at the time…
This season I tried to order another “J” for our newest family member, the grandson that was lucky enough to be born at the beginning of the pandemic. Unfortunately, it seems lots of J babies were born this year as that letter is now unavailable. I will keep trying, my fingers are crossed hoping more will become available soon. As my sister in Texasis a little closer to Florida than I am in Ottawa, I have her looking for me within the USA.
My oldest granddaughter helped me unpack decorations from their designated buckets (yes, all labelled with the room they go in) and add them to the holiday decor, during her breaks from her online school lessons. Some decorations are very old (the bulbs in a vase on the dining room table belonged to my hubby’s grandmother!), some brand new, most somewhere in between. Many were handcrafted, like the wooden snowman-like guy at the bottom that my middle son made in grade two. He is now pushing twenty-nine years old. The point is that all have special meaning to us. Another example is the fibre-optic tree that was rescued from my Dad’s crawlspace just before his house sold after his passing…
I had to remove and relocate the (fake) poinsettia plants I had inside my fireplace, as my granddaughter was very concerned they might deter Santa…
A beautiful, real poinsettia, received from a friend, looks awesome on my kitchen table. The white blooms pop against the colourful tablecloth…
Both of my granddaughters love crafts. I knew I held onto my craft bucket (for many years) for a reason, or two. We made snowflakes,a la Martha Stewart, ensuring every one is unique, just as nature intended…
My younger, almost 3 year old granddaughter helped me make loops of red and green paper to decorate the doorways.
I’m sure when she sees the snowflakes crafted by her older cousin, I will have a few more to add to my windows. I won’t tell her that I am counting on it. I also saw a neat (and kid friendly) craft on the Marilyn show I know she will love. A Christmas tree made of a paper cone and plastic spoons,decorated with glitter sounds right up her alley.
New Decorations for 2020
Shopping on Amazon recently for ideas on crafty decoration kits I could purchase to make with my granddaughters, I saw these really cute, very 2020, customizable Christmas tree ornaments. Spoiler alert to any family members reading this, I ordered some for each of our families!
Supporting our local shops, I purchased a few items from Wood N Delights & The Country Cottage out of Frankville, Ontario. Lots to choose from, visit their site for yourself for more ideas…
I settled on some stocking stuffers and a little something to add to my Christmas decorating. I am in love with the sweet cardinal-inspired salt and pepper shakers, now on my dining room table…
Where are you in your decorating this year? Have you started early or are you still waiting to get motivated?
This is my granddaughter excited to see her new baby brother for the first time. He was born in April, 2020 when siblings were not permitted to visit new arrivals in the hospital, so big sister had to wait until he came home…
This is (still) one of my favourite pictures of this granddaughter!
I worry about the short and long term effects of this covid pandemic on our children. Social distancing does not come naturally to them. It is difficult enough for us adults, but we (most of us) can see and understand the reason behind the rules. We also do our best to explain these rules to our kids and grandkids.
When we were not allowed to hug or touch each other I would tell my grandkids that “grandma is sick and doesn’t want to make you sick.” This little white lie worked, but I could see the confusion on their sweet little faces.
The primary (pun intended) lesson learned in sending our kids to school at four years old is supposed to be the development and practice of social skills. You know, stuff like sharing, trading, empathy, taking turns and more. How can they do this if social distancing is their new norm?
What lessons are they going to learn instead? Don’t touch, don’t get too close, don’t care, and god forbid, don’t share. Will they learn anything beneficial? At what point are we doing them more harm than good?
Parents are facing a dilemma. Most families need two incomes to stay afloat financially, and cannot afford to have one parent stay home to look after young children. Single parents have even less choice. Daycares offer the same risk and discourage social skills as schools are doing.
So, what is the answer? Perhaps a Covid related, government issued benefit for a parent to stay home to care for, nurture and educate their young children. If we can pay any previously employed adults to stay home even though they could/should have returned to work, why can’t we pay parents to stay home? Of course, like a maternity/paternity leave, it would have to guarantee a job upon their return to work.