The Christmas I Didn’t Christmas At All

Those of you that have been hanging out here for awhile may have noticed that I haven’t been posting much (or at all!) for this Christmas season. Which is pretty a strange decision given this is a lifestyle/design/home blog. I mean, Christmas, is big right?  Crafts, meals, decorating, and gift guides. I tried. I really tried this year but I couldn’t do it. Here’s why.

The year I didn't Christmas the shit out of everything. Or anything at all. 24cottonwoodlane.com

 

First, I went back to social work/teaching. Actually teaching courses in a traditional Aboriginal healing/counselling program. For the longest time after leaving my child welfare job I swore I wouldn’t people anymore. Then last winter my friend asked if I would fill in at the college where she works, teaching a counseling course. Turns out I loved it. Not right away, of course. Social anxiety had me in a bit of bind until I got over myself. But once I did, I hit it hard and this fall I actually taught 4 courses to an amazing group of college students on the Reserve (Reservation for you American folks) near where I live.

Just like that, I tumbled back into the real world after almost 2 years of working at blogging. Not that blogging isn’t real. It’s just a different kind of real than the trauma, PTSD, Aboriginal legal issues, Native psychology, and the reality of life for most of my people and the people I’ve worked with as a social worker over the last 20 years deal with on a daily basis. Suddenly creating Christmas recipes, design ideas, and Pinteresting the shit out of everything had a whole lot less meaning. Every time I sat down to create an article or something for the season, I just felt blocked and resentful. So I went with that.

The disconnect I was already feeling really  hit home in November when America elected a child rapist, misogynistic, racist, pussy grabbing, hate mongering president. After the shock rolled through me, I had a hard time putting together a link party about cookies, crafts, and design. It felt silly and trivial given what had just happened.

Earlier that fall, my people had been gathering in Standing Rock to make efforts to protest, pray, and protect the water that we all need for life to continue. Again, I struggled to come up with ideas for or creating DIY gift tags while I watched those gathered in Standing Rock (including some members of my friends and family) deal with law enforcement shooting them with rubber bullets, grenades, and hitting them full force with freezing water in frigid conditions. In an effort to push forward with a pipeline that would only benefit big oil and their bottom line at the expense of everyone else. If you’re looking for an understanding of the issues at Standing Rock, here is an excellent and quick background read.

water-cannons
Source– Police use water canons and tear gas on unarmed protesters in sub zero temperatures in Standing Rock.

At the same time, I was driving to work in the mornings to the Reserve where we don’t have drinkable water and haven’t as long as I can remember. My own people don’t have water they can cook or drink with. In 2016. As an aside, there are 133 water advisories in First Nations communities across Canada and most of them are in Ontario.  That’s why Standing Rock became more important to me than making 16 kinds of cookies this year. My waist line was also pretty happy about that, just as an aside. Not that happy since you can buy really good cookies from a bakery, but still.

And of course America now has a president that invested in that Dakota pipeline. We’ll see how that plays out, I suppose. But I don’t imagine, given this guy’s refusal to believe in climate change and his history of racism against anyone that doesn’t look like him, including Native Americans, that the temporary cessation of building that Pipeline on traditional reserve lands will be anything but temporary.

Meanwhile back in the classroom, I was teaching a course called Aboriginal Psychology which looked at our history of colonization, residential school, and the child welfare sixties scoop*, and the inter-generational trauma that Native people continue to experience. We looked at domestic violence, addictions, and the astonishing rates of suicide in our communities and again, I couldn’t get into writing a gift buying guide or blogging home tours for the holidays. I spent 4 classes teaching about PTSD, multi-generational trauma, and the psychology of forgiveness. And I just kept on ignoring that it was December completely.

The final piece that hammered things home for me was that my word for 2016 was INTENTIONAL. I was really trying to live with intention vs reacting to things. Major good things happen when I let go of reacting and start asking how we want to live and if this is something I really want to do. So Christmas was a big fat no. Just like Easter (when we went to Cuba), June (Dominican Republic) and Thanksgiving (Cuba again!). Not celebrating the holidays in a Pinterest worthy fashion made for some really intentional living. (Hello, beaches! Goodbye, family drama and craft overload!)

This year, I did all of my Christmas shopping in two days. I made not a single baked good nor did I prepare our standard brunch or Christmas dinner. We had frozen waffles, bacon, and mimosas. (Much yum!) For dinner we ordered Chinese. And you know what? Not a single f#*^ was given by anyone. No one cared that we didn’t have our traditional meals, the cookies were store bought, and we snacked all day on frozen hors d’oevres.

For the first time ever, I wasn’t tearing my hair out trying to get everything done and trying to create some crazy fantasy Christmas miracle. I wasn’t blogging so I wasn’t creating, writing, and photographing everything I created and trying to make everything Pinterest perfect. I just sat and worked on my courses at night and read and graded papers and finals this year. While binging on Netflix, of course. Perfection. I didn’t yell or cry this Christmas. Not even once. I didn’t feel overwhelmed or exhausted or taken for granted. I didn’t feel resentful because I had done all the work while everyone just showed up for the party. I joined the party because it only takes a minute to order in Chinese food. Hell, I was the party this year. That’s what letting go of all the Christmas crap did for our family.

I feel a bit like the Grinch who realized that even after he stole all the Christmasy things, Christmas still came. Because Christmas really does come from something bigger than 15 different tablescapes, and 12 over the top handmade gifts for your neighbors. I think we may have had the best Christmas ever and I literally did almost nothing to prepare. No lists, no baking, no cooking, no posting and publishing. Not a one.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this blog because I really do love a good project and all things home but I know that this year, taking a big step back has been the best thing I could have done for my sanity and for my family. I’m sure I’ll get inspired again soon enough but I’m already pumped up for the winter classes I’m teaching which will probably hold my attention to the fullest. I love all of  you and I’m grateful you’ve hung in there with me for the last four years. Keep hanging…I’ll figure it out eventually. 🙂

NOTE

* The sixties scoop refers to the practice of child welfare professionals removing (or scooping) entire generations of Aboriginal children in Canada from their homes and communities and placing them for adoption with non-Native families. I was one of those children. This practice continued through the 1960’s into the 1980’s and some would argue that it continues to this day citing the over-representation of Aboriginal children in care compared to population stats. 

For more about Standing Rock, check out the facebook page. Show your support buy grabbing one of these T’s from Amazon (affiliate link included).

Support Standing Rock- Water is Life
Click to buy

Updates, Changes, and the Link Party

Hello, my lovelies. How is everyone doing as Christmas season heats up? I’m planning to spend the weekend with my littles making Christmas ornaments for their tree. (Actually, they’ll be crafting and I’ll be drinking wine and supervising.) Yup, we have two trees. Because of my OCD ornament hanging issues and all. The sexy tall white tree is all mine and they can hang pretty much anything they want on theirs. They are thrilled.

Source
Source

If you’re hear looking for the link party, I’ll explain about that in a minute. Otherwise, bear with me. It’s been a long couple of months.

For those of you that are new here or don’t know our story, I’m the foster/grandmother to two wonderful little boys with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder (FASD). My guys are 4 and 5 and while they are a delight and I love everything about being their “forever mom”, there’s often a lot going on behind the scenes.

cuba-fall-2016-boys

I’ve been teaching four college courses…which I totally love but it’s been far more time consuming than I would have believed. Duh, right? I’ve also taken on some part time working doing clinical investigations for the Office of the Children’s Lawyer. Love. But still….kind of time consuming sometimes. And the boys have regular medical, OT, speech therapy, physiotherapy, and all that good stuff.

professors

 

Along with all of that, I’ve been in battle, once again, with the child welfare agency who is the technical guardian of the children. This time it was over school and it has burned me out. We won the battle to allow the boys to stay in daycare until they’re actually ready and to ensure the agency continues to fund daycare for working foster parents, but, truly…..I’m wiped out. Like, lay on the floor with a cloth over my eyes exhausted. Which I’ve tried but the boys keep jumping on me lol. #humantrampoline

wayfair-gift-card

 

And, finally, I’ve been struggling with insomnia off and on for the past couple of years but it’s been awful since the end of August. As in, I haven’t slept through the night since then and I’m really, really tired. Mostly I just flop around like a beached walrus looking for the magic sleep position. I haven’t found it yet.

insomnia

Which lead me to having to take a look at what I’m able to manage around here. I love this blog and I’m not quitting. But I’m taking a few steps back and in order to figure out where we go from here. Things have become a little unmanageable lately. This year, I’m not doing a ton of DIY Christmas projects and you’ve probably noticed that. I don’t trust myself with a glue gun on this little sleep. I will continue to post and share as I can this season and on an ongoing basis but I’m taking a little break from the link party until after Christmas when I know what I can reasonably manage with my winter courses and work load.

If you’re looking to link up, please visit my lovely co-hosts who have been very supportive over this much needed break. They will continue to party and I’ll continue to tweet, pin, and share your links from their sites.

Cindy, Little Miss Celebration  |  Facebook |  Pinterest  |  Twitter  |  G+
Amy, Ms. Toody Goo Shoes    Facebook   |   Twitter   |   Pinterest  |  Instagram
Ginnie, Hello Little Home | Facebook |  Twitter Pinterest|   G+   |   Instagram
Paula, Virginia Sweet Pea | Facebook |  Pinterest  |  Twitter  |  G+  |  Instagram

wayfair-xmas-2016

Have a great weekend, everyone. If anyone needs me, I’ll be over here not sleeping… 😉

 

Best of The Weekend- 11.25.16

Hey, everyone! No party today because of Thanksgiving and Black Friday. And honestly, work. I’m super tired and just need a day off.

Check out our Black Friday sales here and be sure to visit the other hosts to link up for the regular party.

black-friday-wf

 

Cindy, Little Miss Celebration  |  Facebook |  Pinterest  |  Twitter  |  G+
Amy, Ms. Toody Goo Shoes    Facebook   |   Twitter   |   Pinterest  |  Instagram
Ginnie, Hello Little Home | Facebook |  Twitter Pinterest|   G+   |   Instagram
Paula, Virginia Sweet Pea | Facebook |  Pinterest  |  Twitter  |  G+  |  Instagram

 

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

thksg

 

The Ultimate Kitchen Gadget Gift List

I consider myself a bit of a cook. Not a chef or anything like that because, you know, the hat would ruin my hair and all. But I’m a pretty good down home kind of cook. With two picky eaters, I cook a lot less than I used to. Because one kid is addicted to PB&J sandwiches and it’s not worth the argument. But soon….soon, I’ll head back to the kitchen and, then…watch out!

So when a friend asked me what to get her sister-in-law who loves to cook, I kind of couldn’t stop with the suggestions. As in, text her 5 or maybe 10 ideas all day long. Maybe a few more actually. Which is why I’m sharing this gift idea list. So I can stop bothering Lisa with all my brilliant ideas.

The Ultimate Kitchen Gift Guide for Serious Cooks #giftideas #kitchengadgets 24 cottonwoodlane.tom

 

Mix masters come in all sorts of colors…I’m loving that turquoise blue! And how about that spiralizer for those low carb folks? #notme #eatallthecarbs Personally, I would love to see that deep fryer under my tree. Hint, hint.

Kitchen gadget gift guide #sprializer #deepfryer #mixmaster #immersionblender # mandoline #ricecooker
deep fryer || sprializer || mandoline || stand mixer || rice cooker || immersion blender

 

Could someone grab me that electric wine corkscrew? Because sometimes I forget to buy wine that doesn’t have a screw top. And maybe the egg poacher since I’ve never mastered the art of poaching an egg. Life is hard.

Kitchen gadget gift guide for the serious cook- #christmastgiftideas #kitchengadgets 24cottonwoodlane.com
milk frother || sink cutting board || electric corkscrew || bagel cutter || coffee grinder || egg poacher

 

That french fry cutter will go perfectly with that deep fryer!

Kitchen gadget gift guide for the ultimate cook #3. 24cottonwoodlane.com #giftideas #kitchengadgets
fat separator || sushi kit || french fry cutter || batter bowl || raclette party kit || crepe pan

Omg….I would breakfast sandwich all the things if I found that baby under the tree.

The Ultimate Kitchen Gadget Gift Guide #4 #kitchengifts #giftideas
salad scissors || pizza stone || rotary cheese grinder || mason jar blender kit || breakfast sandwich maker || mortar and pestle

 

This was so much fun to prepare, that I’m thinking of doing an entire gift guide series. Stay tuned.

Pin it for later!

Kitchen gadget gift guide for serious cooks. #giftideas #kitchengadgets 24cottonwoodlane.com

Black Friday Sales! Our Best Finds, Steals, and Deals.

I know. It’s not really Black Friday yet since we haven’t exactly made it through Thanksgiving. But if you’re ready to do some online shopping a little early, I’ve combed through all of the best deals and I’m sharing them with you today. I mean if we can see Christmas decorations in October, then what’s wrong with Black Friday sales starting on Monday? #amirite

BLACK FRIDAY DEALS

Pre-black Friday sales. #giftideas

 

First of all, Wayfair has had their Black Friday sales up and ready to go for the last week. I appreciate that they can understand my inability to delay gratification.  Some of these deals are pretty amazing.

black-friday-wf

 

Area rugs– 70% off

Black Friday sales- 50% off area rugs. #bluerug #vintagerug
Click to shop

 

Stock the bar with items up to 50% off.

Bar carts and accessories #barcart #blackfriday

Seriously, pop over to Wayfair when you get a minute. They have pretty much everything on sale. I’m a big fan since they also ship to Canada and have always been happy with everything I’ve purchased from them. And, it’s a lot.

 

Who doesn’t love DOMINO?


domino - Bring Your Style Home

Save 20% off site wide at Domino, including decor essentials, gifts, furniture and more.

If you can wait until Cyber Monday, you can save 30% site wide.

 

Modcloth’s sale doesn’t start until Wednesday but it’s worth waiting for. Find gifts for everyone on your list. Use the code FRIDAY40 for 40% off $200+, FRIDAY30 for 30% off $100+, & FRIDAY20 for 20% off EVERYTHING on the site.

 

Minted has gifts, including gorgeous art pieces for just about anyone you need to shop for. Including yourself.

Gift guides #art #christmasideas

Minted also has holiday cards on sale at 15% off until November 22. Use the code HOLIDAYS15 at check out.

 

Walmart already started on their pre-Black Friday sales as well.

Wal-Mart.com USA, LLC

 

And where in the world would we be without Amazon? Tons of pre and post Black Friday sales.

I’m loving the Amazon Echo. I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t love to see this under the tree. Particularly great for hard to shop for dudes or so I’m told.

Amazon echo #giftguide #mensgifts #giftideas

 

 

Finally, you don’t want to miss the sales at Zazzle this week. They have something for everyone, and lots of great kid ideas.

Black Friday Week Sale on Zazzle

Happy shopping!