Monday, December 17, 2012

A Christmas Letter

Dear ______________, (I have left this blank so you can personalise the letter, to make it seem like I wrote it just for you!)

Merry Christmas! I hope this year has treated you well and you have lots of fond memories.

So. I was trying to convince Leah that she needed to write a Christmas family letter, like grown-ups with families write. But she didn't. So I decided I would, despite the fact that I am family-less (hmm actually I have family... more like... decendantless) & I am yet to feel like a proper grown up I thought I'd write a letter to you, my dear friend, to tell you about the happenings of 2012.

I started 2012 in Seattle (after 2.5 weeks of travelling LA, San Fran, Vancouver & Vancouver Island) with my friend Mindy. It was a white New Years which was pretty fun!

For the next 4 weeks I travelled around Canada - Whistler, Edmonton (where I nearly died of cold), Toronto (where I bought an "I love Toronto" shirt) & of course Vancouver. It was a cold adventure, but filled with many highlights like Niagara Falls, an ice festival, ice skating outside, skiing (or an approximation of skiing) and such. (The underlined word are hyperlinked to the posts I wrote about them earlier in the year, so it's like I'm writing a super detailed letter to you... but only if you want to read it)

On January 20th I moved in with a family of strangers - a mom, a dad, 3 boys and a dog. Since then they have become my Canadian family (and there are also now 2 frogs), who I am going to miss dreadfully come next month. For the past 11 months I have worked as their nanny, cooking for, cleaning up after, crafting with & entertaining an 8 year old, a 5 year old and a super smart 2 year old. They are such a lovely family and have spoilt me a lot over the year. I seriously consider it a blessing to have ended up with such an amazing group of people.

Although I have had many many fun adventures with the family, it is impossible to write about them all, so I will summarise the year...

The first few months were cold. And wet. We spent a lot of time at the hockey rink as L plays (E does too now, which is super super cute to watch). It occasionally snowed, which was suuuuper exciting! But the only day the snow actually stayed on the ground was the day I arrived (which tricked me into thinking this was an everyday kind of thing).

The next few months were still cold. And super wet. Spring was absolutely gorgeous. It was like "POW!" colour! EVERYWHERE! So so pretty. The down-side was the rain. In June it rained 25/30 days. That's a lot of raining. I spent Easter with lovely Mindy in Seattle & her siblings. I also popped down again at the end of May for another American hit.

May and June were the months of baseball and also lots of visitors!
Both L & E and their mom play ball. It was fun to watch them all play!
In May mum, dad & Lauren came to visit. It was so good to catch up with them and do some touristy things.
In June Aunty Nel & Uncle Pete popped in for a cup of tea. It was lovely to hear about their adventure!
Later that month Katriny came. We did an amazing road-trip together to Banff and Jasper National Parks. It was so exciting to see some wildlife and the gorgeous scenery of the Rockies!
After Katrina left I turned 30.
The family went away for 2 weeks so I did too. I spent a few days with Jackee and Larry on Vancouver Island, and even saw some orcas up close! And then I spent a few days with my Year 11 English teacher in Yakima. It was so nice to catch up with all these people & have a chance to relax.

The next 6 weeks was still Summer Break (it is pretty long over here). It was fun coming up with activities to do with the boys. It even got warm, and didn't rain! So nice! Daylight savings here means the sun is up till 10pm! Such nice long days! We built a patio. There was a fireworks festival. We picked berries. And we built a scarecrow.

At the end of August I had some pretty bad stomach pain and bought my most expensive souvenir - a $930 hospital bracelet. After another few hundred dollars and a few more tests it seems there is nothing wrong with me, maybe I had a stomach ulcer. But at least it's not gall stones, which is what they originally thought. (And this is where my last blog post left off...yep slack.)

September meant E started Kindergarten. Full day kindergarten is a new concept over here. Most pre-schools only have a half day program too. E still finds the full days long.
At the end of September L had his 8th birthday party. It was an 'Angry Birds' theme. I  got to make a bunch of different decorations for the occasion.

October brought with it all things orange - Autumn arrived! Canadian Thanksgiving is in early October. It was fun to do the whole family thing with turkey and pumpkin pie.
The Cranberry festival was another highlight of October. It still amazes me that a town can put on a whole festival celebrating a berry! I love it!
At the end of October was Halloween, so we went 'pumpkin patching' to find our perfect pumpkins for carving.Pumpkin patching includes a hay bale ride and a corn maze!! So fun! And so like the movies. I love all the family traditions and school activities based around fall and halloween - pumpkin carving (oh so fun!), baking things, family events - like at the fort and cupcake shop, and of course trick or treating :-) I dressed up as a fairy. The boys were iron man, batman and a 'black & white dinosaur' (who looked a lot like a skunk). Because it was raining we only stayed out for an hour. But the candy still lasted us a few weeks.

November was pretty and Autumny! At the end of the month we celebrated Cristal's birthday Mexican style, and the next day she and Ryan headed to Mexico for a week. I learnt that being a single mother is super hard. I had lots of fun with the boys, but it was also a lot of work taking care of everything! Especially with 5am wake ups for hockey and a sick 2 year old. (The following week I was sick. Bleh!) November also brought with it an unforseen bathroom renovation and another toilet replacement. For a few days the 6 of us were down to 1 bathroom...

December has probably been the funnest month so far, actually it's just the most recent in my memory. So many good months!!!
We cut down our own Christmas tree (they look smaller in the wild (of the tree farm). Our tree is nearly 10 feet tall with the star on the top! Everyone has Christmas lights up and there is a radio and tv channel dedicated entirely to Christmas carols. Everywhere is dressed up. We have been busy baking and crafting and decorating. The boys are super hyper about Christmas!
I am yet to ski again, but I did spend last Sunday up Grouse mountain with my friend Anita! It was so gorgeous up there! We even met reindeer.
Today was the Sunday School Christmas production. It was so cute. J was a sheep. His class danced and sang a cute little song. E's class sang Silent Night, whilst waving (furiously in the case of E) sparkly stars which Cristal and I had made. L was Simeon in his group's play. At the end where he says "And a sword will pierce your own soul too" he decided to add a bit of impromptu drama and fake stabbed himself in the chest and fell to the floor, dropping baby Jesus. Boys :)
Yesterday it actually snowed, at one point I actually felt like I was in a snow globe as the huge flakes swirled around outside. I am hoping for a white Christmas (again), but we'll see. E has PROMISED me that it will snow for Christmas. But apparently it's not that common here.

I have 19 days left here in Canada. I'm so sad to be leaving, but at the same time so excited about seeing my people back home! I already have my souvenirs and gifts suitcase packed.
I look forward to catching up and hearing all about your 2012.
Much love! Say hi to your family for me.


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