Thursday, December 27, 2012

Merry Christmas from the Taylors

Merry Christmas in Christmas pyjamas from the Taylors!

Well, hello friends and family (and blog stalkers),

As promised to those of you who have received our Christmas cards already, here is our family newsletter in blog-post/email form. I can hardly believe it's the end of 2012 already. I feel like I barely started writing it down right and soon I'm going to have to switch to 2013!

Swimming at Commonwealth
It has been quite the year. I kicked off the year with another round of P90X, which wasn't so successful when I first started it, so I tried out 10 Minute Trainer. I didn't like that so much, but when Zoe started getting picked up from school by our friends, I was able to work P90X back into the schedule and had a much easier time of it. I didn't see a lot of numbers moving at first, but later when I made a few other changes to my diet, (including adding Oolong tea; try it!) I dropped another 10 lbs almost without effort, so I'm down about 45 lbs from when I started nearly 2 years ago. I also sang in the King's Community Choir and it was fun, but it made life very busy for me: too busy, so I didn't continue with it this fall. The Commonwealth Recreation Centre opened up in March; it's been great to take the kids swimming and to take in a few drop-in classes. It's such a great facility and it's so wonderful to have it so close!

Dan doing an open mic comedy show in Montreal
Dan has continued working on his comedy this year and he's quite good at it! He was in a few different contests and made it through to the semi-final level in most (maybe all; I can't remember) of them. He's even picked up quite a few paying gigs, which has been fun to make a little something for a hobby he enjoys. He's been well received in the "comedy community" in Edmonton, which is a fun opportunity for him to meet other people. We made a few trips for a couple of comedy competitions, one to Lethbridge in April and Calgary in May.

Isaac boxing with my grandpa
We also made a trip to Creston for the May long weekend to celebrate my grandma's 75th birthday (sorry, Grandma, now the Internet knows how old you are) and my uncle's 50th. It was lots of fun to see a good chunk of my family. We drove over the mountain for a day to visit my other grandparents and uncles in Salmo. We took the kids to the Blossom Festival parade, which they really enjoyed; Zoe especially appreciated the candy-throwing.

Simon's first stitches
The kids and I created a "Summer Bucket List" at the start of their summer holidays: a list of all the summery things we wanted to do this summer! I'm happy to say we completed the whole list! We had a great time visiting the U-pick strawberry patch, learning to ride a bike on two wheels, camping in the back yard (thanks to our neighbours who lent us a tent!), visiting the legislature grounds and splashing at the city hall wading pool. I highly recommend this to parents; it solved a lot of problems: it kept me accountable to doing fun summer things while the summer is here and once something was done once, the kids didn't beg to do it again. As an example, we kept waiting for the ice cream truck to come around and catch it; when it came, we could all excitedly go out and choose an ice cream. After we checked it off our bucket list, they never asked to do get ice cream from the ice cream truck again. It made it fun for everyone, mom & dad included! One of our summer bucket list items was to go to an outdoor swimming pool. Shortly after I'd given the 5 minute warning to Simon and Zoe, Simon ran right into a pole at the splash pad and ended up with his first set of stitches.

Zoe on her bunk at camp
I took Zoe down to Mill Creek Camp, near Pincher Creek, where my sister Alison directs the camp, for her first sleep away camp. We went down early and hung out with my sister and newest nephew,  Caedmon. Then I took the boys to visit my parents in Lethbridge for a couple days, since Zoe's camp was so short, I didn't want to drive back to Edmonton to turn around a couple of days later. We picked Zoe up from camp and then we all camped with my parents at Beauvais Lake Provincial Park for a couple days. We had a great time breaking in mom & dad's new 5th wheel! Zoe had such a good time at camp; she said how sad she was to leave and how much she missed her new friends as we were driving home. She's so excited to go again next year.

Camping with Gramma and Grampy

Though hail damaged, I
grew a zucchini the size of
my leg!
I planted my first real garden this year. I've been container gardening for a few years, but I built one raised bed at the end of last summer and two more this spring: three 4x8 raised beds. I planted strawberries, tomatoes, beans, peas, lettuce, herbs, zucchini, cucumbers, stevia, leeks, and a whole bed of carrots! It was a great year for gardening, with lots of sunshine during the day and rain at night, until the awful hail storm that ravaged the garden on my way home from the grocery store. Despite the hail, I still ended up with some edible vegetables and the desire to have a go at it again next year.

Unfortunately, the entire time I was on holidays from work, taking the kids here and there, camping and  visiting and driving, I had the worst cold of my life, which, as it turned out, was actually pneumonia (or turned into pneumonia... I'm not really sure how these things work). It was an acute case of pneumonia, apparently, but still, it sounds pretty dramatic. I ended up taking another week off work in sick time. When I was still not getting much better, they ordered some blood work and diagnosed me with mono as well. To top that off, a few weeks later, I also tested positive for strep. So, that was my summer! I was so grateful for some fantastic neighbours who looked out for our kids so much as they played with their kids while I tried to get some rest in the afternoons. Our block is fantastic!

Back to school for Zoe & Simon

Isaac showing us how old he is
The older two children started back to school in the middle of August, which is a little earlier than most kids, but their school follows a year-round schedule, meaning they get an extra week break at Thanksgiving and Easter. Our kids are still keen to get back to school, so it's a schedule that works well for us. Simon started Kindergarten and Zoe started grade two. We had our first report cards and demonstration of learning this fall: Simon is right on track with where he should be and Zoe's report card was absolutely glowing. Her teacher couldn't say enough positive things about her, how pleasant she is to have in class. We are very proud parents! Simon has been secretly learning how to read; he sometimes pretends he doesn't know how, but then he'll just read something to us, out of the blue! What a kid! Isaac turned 2 this fall and is well into the terrific twos... or at least that's what we'll call them. He's sweet and hilarious one moment and an absolute terror the next. It's a good thing he's so cute or I'm afraid he wouldn't have made it this long; one can only handle being yelled at by a toddler for so long. He's been the slowest to talk of the three children, which makes for a lot of being yelled at because even though he doesn't talk much, it doesn't mean he's without an opinion! More recently he's been taking bigger strides with adding words to his vocabulary. He can recognize and say most of his letters and numbers, which is kind of fun, but I wish he'd focus more on saying the things he wants and use those words instead of the yelling and grunting.

The two of us at a vineyard in Quebec
Dan and I celebrated our 10th anniversary in July and October, not because we have two anniversaries, but because our anniversary is actually in July and we took a celebratory trip in October. In July, we went out to Taste of Edmonton (a festival with sampling of foods from all over the city) and discovered that Edmonton tastes delicious! Then we took a trip in October to Montreal! Dan's parents came out to watch the kids for us, while we flew to Montreal and took in the city for a few days around Thanksgiving. We visited with some friends in the Eastern townships, toured a winery, purchased a piece of functional art, ate some fantastic food and just spent a lot of time together. It's amazing how much you can do in a day with just 2 adults! Everything takes so much longer with kids.

Salted Caramel Cupcake
This fall, I kick started my business by marketing a little more, mostly at my workplace, since I'm pretty confident that my best marketing is going to be word of mouth and just getting people to try my cupcakes. It's gone pretty well. I donated some cupcakes to King's annual banquet dessert auction and they were auctioned off for a very good price! So, I've been baking and decorating a lot of cupcakes this fall. It's been fun doing something I enjoy, something I can do from home while the kids sleep and Dan works and tells jokes. I baked a lot of cupcakes for the King's Guild Craft sale, which was a good learning experience. I learned that next time, I don't have to make nearly so many cupcakes! All in all, not so bad, though. I got my first non-word-of-mouth order through Facebook this last week, so my little marketing campaign through Facebook was at least a little bit successful.

Simon caught me working out.
I'll be back at it full force in 2013!
I'm gearing up for another round of P90X in the new year; I've let myself get a little soft, so it's time to whip this body back into shape again. Sometimes I wish I could keep it going strong all year long, but this cycle to life isn't so bad either. It's going to be quite the test of will to be able to run a cupcake business and not eat any leftovers! I'm thinking of taking my business on a bit of a New Year's resolution with me: experimenting with healthier recipes and natural sweeteners, but not compromising on taste and beauty.
We worked on a little project in preparation for Christmas this year: a recipe collection of our kids' favorite recipes! We printed up copies for some of our loved ones, but we also ordered this pdf version for you to enjoy! Click here to view our favorite recipes collection for 2012!

pdf version of our recipe collection!

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