Sunday, 3 January 2016

Fourth Sunday of Advent: Home for the Holidays

The Fourth Sunday of Advent, that wonderful point in time where we're deeply into Christmas/Not Yet Christmas territory. As a kid this was always my favourite Sunday of Advent -- Christmas was *so close*, less than a week away, and school was out and I was home and everything was just geared towards the fun of the holidays.

I usually like to decorate the tree on Gaudete Sunday, but this year that certainly wasn't happening. So we moved it to a weekday, planned an easy dinner, and then let loose with the Christmas decorating! It was so much fun! We don't have much space and with David working from home it's too much for him to try to keep an eye on the kids AND write AND ensure that the Christmas tree doesn't tip over so I opted for a tiny tree this year. I think it was 1.5' tall. But, as we were away for half of Christmas, it didn't make sense to stress ourselves out with a tree that we wouldn't be around to enjoy. And one year if, God willing, we have more space our little Charlie Brown tree can be upgraded to a centerpiece or mantel decoration. Plus the kids didn't care and enjoyed being able to hang ornaments on a tree they could actually reach the top of.

Bobble Head Shakespeare approves. 

My friend's brother made the sign. All proceeds from the sale of his holiday signs were donated to help a family with the adoption of a child from a European orphanage. 

I put up the window clings after the kids went to bed. They were so surprised and happy when they woke up!
This year we had the opportunity to head to Victoria for David's birthday & Christmas (they fall in the same week). Our whole week preceding this Sunday was one of major preparation, because traveling with young children never seems to be easy no matter what. This time around was one of our best travel experiences with them and still felt like running a marathon (my FitBit tells me that I hit 5000 steps by 1pm which is pretty impressive when you consider that it all came from packing/readying the house to leave). We managed to get all the dishes washed and lots of other little cleaning tasks done before leaving. I give myself immense credit for this because I said we should leave on Saturday instead of Friday which meant we could have a much more leisurely (haha) time of getting out the door.

We almost had an emergency when my brother's roommate forgot to leave the keys to the car that was supposed to take us to the ferry. Fortunately my cousin Tara stepped up in a major way and lent us her [super amazing awesome family friendly] van. I was so happy because it is my favourite vehicle (seriously so easy to get the kids in and out and holds loads of luggage) and it saved on a lot of stress and toddler fights on the way to the ferry.

We also had another almost emergency because PHYSICS and I are doomed to be enemies. In the haste of packing up the bottom drawer of our bathroom cabinet did not shut all the way, and one of the kids helpfully slammed the bathroom door shut which caused the drawer to slide out all the way (I think?) which, in our tiny bathroom, meant that the door was completely blocked by the drawer and couldn't be opened. Thankfully, armed with a butter knife and ten million prayers, I managed to slide the drawer back into place after several frantic minutes and we were all good, although my nerves didn't recover until much later!

Emergencies aside, I feel that this is the first trip we've taken as a family, to the Island, where I can look at David and say "we've got this. We're adulting". We have a system down for the ferry -- a spot where we like to sit and where the kids are easy to manage, a plan for how best to feed the family while traveling and trying to not buy too much food on the ferry, and a method for keeping the kids entertained and relatively quiet. It's a flexible plan, depending on the time of day we're traveling, the weather, and the length of the boat ride, but the main pieces are relatively consistent. Arrive early. Secure a spot with ample room so that Walter doesn't feel crowded. If leaving from home, pack some tasty food (like a bbq chicken, baguette, and fruit) buy drinks from the grocery store in advance, but plan to pick up a few supplements (like cheese, yogurt, and ice/water) from the ferry cafeteria because taking a kid through the lineup is a great way to kill 20+ minutes and keep the children separate and occupied. Do separate bathroom trips with the kids because that usually kills 30+ minutes and they need to stretch their legs. Find little chores for them to do, liking carrying trash to the trash can, because it helps them feel like part of the experience (and... kills time!). Colouring is great and we learned on this trip that crayon easily wipes off of the ferry walls (because baby wipes are AWESOME for removing crayon).

Traveling on a Saturday, and arriving in the afternoon, meant that I could have a leisurely time unpacking in Victoria. David's parents are very generous hosts and his mum always has the room done up to perfection for our arrival. We were given "the suite" to stay in on this trip, which gave us plenty of space and privacy (so useful for toddlers and their nap/bedtime schedules). I had the time to get us organised and settled in which goes a long way to helping the kids settle in to strange beds and different sleeping arrangements.

Our Fourth Sunday of Advent was lovely. We were back at Mass after a two week absence. That alone was so nice. We were able to go to Mass with extended family, something which rarely happens, and that also was nice. And we know enough people at Star of the Sea that going there is like a mini reunion. After our giant parish in Vancouver, where it seems like no one notices when we're coming or going, it's nice to feel like part of a community again. Star of the Sea also has an awesome choir, which makes me happy, and it just happens to be a military parish on the naval base, which makes my boat-loving-pirate-obsessed little son very happy. He dubbed it "Pirate Mass" and was quite eager to go.

We never got to the Advent wreath and we never said our Advent prayers but the kids were so happy to be with their Grandparents that I don't think they noticed.

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