Week 45 {52 Weeks to Simplify Your Life}

Last week we talked about planning for Christmas. It’s just 6 weeks away now! How are your plans going?

This week we’re talking about traditions so I’ve been thinking about what makes something a tradition.

  1. The transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation, or the fact of being passed on in this way.

Growing up in a split family, one of our traditions was to have several Christmases because we had to have one with mum, one with dad, and then one with each of their sides of the family. It wasn’t necessarily a terrible thing to have 4 Christmases, but it could be exhausting and it wasn’t much of a “tradition”.

The main thing that has really been a tradition over recent years is to have a BBQ breakfast at the beach Christmas morning. This means getting there EARLY – 5:30 am sometimes earlier – to get a BBQ and a good spot. We have been going to the same spot for as long as I can remember and I hope it’s something that will continue into the future. I’m not sure when or how this tradition started, but I’m glad it did. It’s just a given that our family will be doing a beach BBQ Christmas morning, unless it rains.

We have always had a star atop our tree. Last year and the year before Nick was the one to put the star at the top, and it always goes on last. We also have 2 trees – my blue  and silver one and one for all the “other” stuff. That one will probably need to be replaced by a slightly bigger one this year. Whether or not that is a tradition, I don’t know.

Last year I bought an advent train in the Myer post-Christmas sale. I am going to have to find something to put in the little boxes for this year. That was something we never had as a kid, so perhaps it will be a tradition we can carry on for Nick, depending how it goes this year.

For several years in a row I sent out Christmas cards with a family update/letter. I know people think these are quite cheesy and/or egotistical. I ended up giving up sending them because I never got anything in return, and if I did, it was a card saying To A, M, N, Love X, Y, Z. I suppose the sentiment is there, but I felt like I put a lot of effort into a Christmas card and greeting for nothing. I have done a card this year, but won’t include a letter, and will send it to far less people than I did last year. Last year I spent $50 on postage to not even have the card’s receipt acknowledged.

Once Nick is a bit older, I think a nice family tradition would be to volunteer Christmas day at a shelter. I think he’s still a little bit young for this, but I believe it’s something that is really important. Without having done research, there are probably a lot of volunteer opportunities around Christmas time. I think our kids need to see how very fortunate they are, and how much worse things could be.

I think a couple of special traditions is a nice touch to the holidays. But too many traditions can be a bit over-kill. I’ll be paying closer attention to this this year, to see what works and what things we do that I’d like to carry over from year-to-year. I’m keen to read other people’s traditions and get ideas too, so let me know in the comments, what Christmas traditions do you have?

Linking up with Deb at Home Life Simplified for Week 45 of 52 Weeks to Simplify Your Life.

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Week 44 {52 Weeks to Simplify Your Life} With Deb @ Home Life Simplified

Deb doesn’t really need to give me any more reasons to love her and her blog, but she did – she is talking about Christmas! For this week’s edition of 52 Weeks to Simplify Your Life, we are getting organised for the holidays! You know it’s only 7 weeks away, right? That is practically no time at all!

But it’s hard for me to think about Christmas at the moment, because between now and then, I will have a new baby niece! She is due December 9, which leaves Christmas a little bit up in the air at this stage. As any new mum will know, the weeks after giving birth can be very difficult. You’re adjusting to so many new things, probably not sleeping well, and often don’t know your heard from your ass.

I admit in the past, I’ve been somewhat of a Grinch. Before we had Nick, Christmas didn’t mean much to me. But now that we have a 4 year old, it has taken on a whole different meaning. This year has just gone SO FAST. Last year he finally seemed to “get it” – Santa, presents, Christmas eve, etc. Now here we are again, just 7 weeks away from doing it all over.

Last year we hosted a Christmas Eve dinner at our place for 13 people (including Nick) and it was a little cramped, but it was great to have family over. Christmas Day The Mechanic flew to the US at 6 am to visit his family, leaving me and Nick to have breakfast with my family then spend the rest of the day together. I wasn’t bothered by it and it was quite nice to not be rushing off to lunch and dinner like my sisters have to with their in-laws.

No one has really talked about what will happen this year, partly because we’re in denial that it’s so close, and partly because we’re waiting to see when my niece is born. Also, we have so many things on between now and Christmas we’re just trying to get through them one at a time. I’d love to host Christmas Eve dinner again, but need to get the ball rolling on that if we are going to. Christmas dinner for us usually involves ham off the bone, hot roast chicken, sometimes turkey, with salads and roast vegetables. Pavlova, chocolate cream log, fruit salad and other yummy deserts usually follow. It’s not a small production, as you can see from last year’s pics and last year’s menu. My sister who is having the baby usually helps with several dishes, but I wouldn’t expect her to chip in like that this year. My mum, last year, brought about 12 pieces of ham for 12 people, so I’m not entirely sure I can rely on her help! My motto is “I’d rather eat left overs for a week than people leave hungry.”

The decorations will be up before anyone else’s, because come the end of November, we won’t be able to help ourselves and certainly can never wait for the 1st of December. The only problem this year is that where our Christmas tree used to go, there is now a big fish tank (geez, thanks Deb for bringing this up now as I hadn’t even thought of that?!). The tree is always decked in blue and silver, and nothing else can be added to this. My obsession has landed me the title of “Tree Snob” in the past, but I don’t care, that is how it has to be. We have a second, smaller tree for all “other” decorations (no, I’m not joking!).

I’m usually on top of the gift buying, too. But again, this year, not one thing has been bought as yet and really, I don’t even know what I’m going to buy. I went back and looked at blog posts about Christmas from last year, and had forgotten about some of the Christmas decos I bought in Myer’s post-Christmas sale. There’s a train advent calendar so I need to get things to put in that for Nick, and I don’t even know what goes in advent stuff!

Ok, a to-do list for tomorrow, when I have some time to sit down and do it:

  • Choose a Christmas Card. I’ve designed 4, just don’t know which to use.
  • Check last year’s Christmas Card list.
  • Get on snapfish or similar site and create grandparents calendars and other photo gifts to print.
  • Figure out where the tree is going to go.
  • Scour the growing collection of catalogues for Nick’s present(s). I’d like to get him a boogie board for the surf. That’s about as far as I’ve got.
  • Scour the growing collection of catalogues for our Secret Santa gifts.
  • Look at the calendar and check when I am working, when Nick’s at school, when The Mechanic’s holidays start and stop (they close down for 3 weeks!!).

I’ve contacted my cousin to organise a get together with her side of the family. I also need to find out what my dad’s sister and her family have planned so we can see them at some point. I’d like to do the shopping sooner rather than later. I *hate* (yes it’s a strong word, but fitting) shopping centres at Christmas time. It’s ridiculous!

I think I’m about as prepared as I can be at this point, thanks to this week’s challenge of making me actually start thinking about it! Thanks Deb!

10 Things I Love About My Husband {52 Weeks To Simplify Your Life}

This week for Deb’s 52 Weeks to Simplify Your Life challenge we are talking about marriage.

I’m not ashamed to admit that The Mechanic and I met online. I had just got out of a relationship, he was new to the area. I had intentions of going on a lot of first dates, not anticipating any second ones. As it turned out, in a city of 5 million+ people, covering a massive amount of land space, we lived in the same apartment complex, just two buildings away from each other. I often forget that piece of information. I suppose if you were someone who believed in fate/destiny, you’d think that was surely a good example of it.

In the early days

Next year we’ll have been together 10 years (married for 7). I never thought I’d see the day I was with anyone for 1 year let alone 10. All my relationships seemed to fizzle after about 3-4 months. I even joked to The Mechanic early on, “If we’re still together in 6 months, I’ll probably marry you.”

One of the first things I loved about The Mechanic was that he loved his family. When we met, his sister was heavily pregnant with her second child & he carried around pics of her first child (his Goddaughter) in his wallet. As well as the rest of his family. I also loved that he came from a big family – 1 sister, 3 brothers, 5 of them in total.

Neither of us were particularly looking for anything serious. Just casual, occasional company to do things. For the first couple of months I wouldn’t even admit that we were “dating” even though we pretty much saw each other every day. The benefits of living in the same complex! After less than 6 months we moved in together – why pay 2 x the rent if we’re only ever in one apartment?

The next thing I loved about the mechanic was that he loved my cat, Colby, and Colby loved him. It takes a real man to admit he loves cats! They even looked after each other while I was out of town for work.

Our Wedding (obviously)

Here’s 8 other things I’ve since come to love about my husband:

* He is thoughtful. He puts a lot of effort into gifts, surprises, and doing things for me that he thinks I might like or appreciate. I’ve talked before about how he likes to surprise me and spoil me with great gifts here and here. Most recently, he surprised me with a Canon 5D Mark III to go with the new lens he got me! I almost fell off my chair.

* He is a really hard worker. He is perhaps one of the last of the generation of hard workers. He doesn’t expect to be paid well to sit around and do nothing. This is a wonderful characteristic to have, but can also be frustrating when he is really sick and won’t call out from work! I do love that he respects his boss and his job, though.

* He’s the most hands-on father I know. Our son is lucky to have him for a dad. He reads to Nick, takes him to the theme parks, takes him for ice cream, lets him help around the house and with his truck, there is nothing he wouldn’t do for that kid.

First photo as a family of 3

* He was willing to move to the other side of the world for me to be near my family so we could start our own family. I know how hard it is to move to the other side of the world knowing few, if any, people. That quite easily could have backfired on us but I’m lucky (and thankful) that he loves it here, even though I know at times it’s really hard for him to be so far from his family. We knew when we got married that one family or the other would always be missing out on having us close, and that’s not easy to live with. But we knew we had to do what was ultimately right for us. So far we don’t have one regret about moving here.

* He believes in me. He wouldn’t have bought me a Mark III if he didn’t! When I said I wanted to go back to school, he not only supported me, he encouraged me. He knew that I could handle it and wanted me to succeed. When I said I wanted to go to personal training and try to start running again, he bought me a Lorna Jane gift card and new running shoes. He has been my biggest supporter through this fitness/weight loss journey, and I don’t think I could have done it without him.

* He knows that I work long hours, too, and he picks up more than his fair share of household chores while I’m not at home. He cooks when I work late, he does the grocery shopping every week, he does laundry & dishes, too. He doesn’t see his job as more important than mine, or feel that I should still do all the household chores just because I’m the wife.

* He’s smart. He knows a lot about a lot. He’s handy, he can watch things and/or read things and remember them. He would have made a great doctor. How much different can it be memorizing body parts/illnesses and car parts/known issues? I really hope Nick got his daddy’s brains.

* He’s made mistakes, and so have I. But we’re still here. We find ways to get through the tough times so that we can enjoy the good times. He’s willing to fight for what we have, even when it feels like a losing battle, we always seem to come through it.

Most recent family pic

Linking up for week 41 of Deb’s 52 Weeks to Simplify Your Life challenge.