Tuesday, December 16, 2014

christmas 2014.

christmas 2014

christmas 2014

christmas 2014

christmas 2014

christmas 2014

christmas 2014

christmas 2014

christmas 2014

christmas 2014

christmas 2014

christmas 2014

christmas 2014

christmas 2014

christmas 2014

christmas 2014

christmas 2014

christmas 2014

christmas 2014

christmas 2014

christmas 2014

christmas 2014

christmas 2014

christmas 2014

christmas 2014

We celebrated Christmas this past weekend because we'll be in Cambodia(!) for the actual holiday. So our "Christmas Eve" was Saturday, the 13th, and "Christmas Day" was Sunday, the 14th.

Last year, for some reason I don't remember, we decided to make dumplings on "Christmas Eve." (We celebrated early last year too, because I went to Vietnam for the holiday.) I remember saying to Tony, "Hey! If we stay together, this could become a tradition! Making our own dumplings every Christmas Eve, maybe someday with our kids!" That was the plan this year, because if we did it two years in a row, that would make it a tradition, right?

Well, we didn't make dumplings because we were really lazy Saturday morning... and Saturday afternoon... and by the time we were ready to go grocery shopping, we decided it would make more sense to just go to our favourite dumpling restaurant and well, eat dumplings. (So maybe our Christmas Eve tradition will just be to eat dumplings?? But really, I hope it will become a tradition that we make them and then eat them.)

After eating so many dumplings—and broccoli, and beans, and some tofu/lotus root/bamboo/noodle dish—we came home to drink hot chocolate and watch Christmas movies. (Correction: I drank hot chocolate; Tony ate chicken feet. Hashtag cross-cultural couple.)

The movies we watched? It's a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Story. The former, I had never seen; the latter, I've seen a million times, mostly because TBS used to play it on repeat for 24 hours on Christmas Day. Ah, memories. (Confession: I fell asleep during both.)

Sunday morning, "Christmas Day," I woke Tony up at 8:30 so we could open presents. My favourite gifts were probably new pajamas from my mom (a Christmas tradition) and a Beats Pill speaker from Tony. I considered Christmas morning a success when Tony opened Jenga and asked, "Can we play!?" (We played and laughed and he'd probably like you to know that I was the one who knocked it over.)

After presents, we cooked Tony cooked breakfast. (I made the toast!) And after we devoured our eggs and bacon, we watched Jingle All the Way. (Other movies we watched this holiday season: Christmas with the KranksErnest Saves Christmas, and Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.)

Unfortunately, Tony had to work most of Sunday, but he was able to come home for a bit late in the afternoon for "Christmas dinner." We had planned on chicken, potatoes, etc., but decided we'd rather have Indian food. We ordered from our favourite Indian restaurant, Ganges. Untraditional, but delicious. I wouldn't mind if it became a tradition, too.

Later in the evening, we had friends over for Häagen-Dazs ice cream cake, hot chocolate, and mulled wine. We lit candles, played Christmas music, and it felt Christmas-y. No small thing here in China.

Christmas 2014, you were a good one.

Monday, December 15, 2014

access to information.

This. This tweet right here made me breathe a huge sigh of relief the other morning. I mean, I don't know who Dan Curtis Johnson is, but he answered a question that I often ask myself (and others):

Was the world always this scary and I'm just more aware now, or are things getting worse?

For my peace of mind, I'm choosing to believe Mr. Johnson here:


If you're judging by retweets and favourites, it seems I'm not the only one. What about you?

Friday, December 12, 2014

christmas 2013 (better late than never).

I wrote this post (minus the photos, which I just found in iPhoto and added tonight) last year, but didn't finish it and obviously never posted it. Tony and I will be celebrating Christmas this weekend (since we'll be in Cambodia for the actual holiday!), so I thought I might as well share these thoughts/highlights from last year!

***

christmas 2013

christmas 2013

christmas 2013

christmas 2013

christmas 2013

christmas 2013

christmas 2013

christmas 2013

christmas 2013

christmas 2013

christmas 2013

Christmas can feel weird when you're not home, especially when you're in a country that doesn't celebrate Christmas. Still though, last year and this year, I managed to find some Christmas cheer. And this year felt extra special because it was Tony's first time celebrating Christmas!

Some things I want to remember:

Watching Christmas movies together. Tony had never seen a Christmas movie! (I know it was Tony's first time celebrating, but I was surprised because he has "western" friends and works at the same Canadian International school I do.)

We watched Elf, Love ActuallyHome Alone 1 & 2, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, Frosty the Snowman, and The Santa Clause.

Elf was the first movie we watched and when he saw Santa going down a chimney, he said, "Oh! A bad guy?" At one point he also asked me, "How do reindeer fly?!" and of course I told him, "Magic."

He laughed SO much while we were watching Christmas Vacation so I thought for sure it was his favourite but when I asked him, he told me Elf.

Mom's Christmas package. My mom sent Tony a Christmas package this year, just like she does for me, and when he got it, he sent me a message saying, "Your mom sent me a package. I think it must be for you." Even when I asked him, "Well, whose name is on it?" he told me it had to be a mistake. When he finally realized it was for him, he said, "Oh God! So nice of her!"


Putting up and decorating a Christmas tree.

- Dumplings.

It was so fun to share a bunch of "firsts" with him and it makes me excited for future Christmases that will include a real tree, snow, and family.

P.S. We have a real (fake) Christmas tree this year!

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

we have a christmas tree!

christmas tree

The branches are few, it doesn't have that heavenly pine tree scent, and the lights aren't as bright as I'd like, but it's a Christmas tree!

Sunday afternoon, after spending time at a Christmas bazaar, and shopping for decorations and wrapping paper at a makeshift Christmas market (behind? on top of? at? a place called Dirty Nellie's—as you can see, there's some confusion here, which explains why we spent a small amount of time wandering around outside while a freezing cold wind blew), we set up the tree that a fellow teacher sold me last year for 100RMB.

Tony wanted to nap after we put together the tree (my first fake, not including the paper tree we used last year), but once it was up and I said he could sleep for awhile before we decorated it, he practically shouted, "No! I'm into it now! I'm excited!"

christmas tree lights

And it was while he was stringing the lights that I realized, "Tony! Is this your first time decorating a Christmas tree?!"

His reponse, a look that pretty much said, "Duh! What do you think?" made me even more excited. Not only our first Christmas tree together, but his first Christmas tree, ever (again, not including the paper tree we had last year).

So, with Christmas songs playing on Songza, and while I drank hot chocolate with a candy cane (shout out to my Nan!), we decorated our Christmas tree.

decorating the christmas tree

decorating the christmas tree

decorating the christmas tree

christmas tree star

christmas tree star
We bought ribbon to put on the tree, but Tony wanted to use the garland a teacher gave us last year. Childhood me was happy.

christmas tree selfie

christmas tree selfie
It's really hard to take a good selfie with a Christmas tree!

christmas tree ornament
We got this ornament made on our vacation in Dalian last year. 

chinese character christmas tree ornament
I bought a set of handmade, Chinese character ornaments at the Christmas bazaar my first year here. So happy to finally be hanging them on a tree (and now that I'm marrying a Chinese man, I won't need the paper that tells me what they mean! :) This one means "blessing."

great wall of china christmas tree ornament
We bought this at the Christmas bazaar on Sunday.

christmas presents
Presents under the tree, mostly courtesy of my momma. (Tony, if you're reading this, you better start shopping!)

christmas tree

P.S. I wrote this while drinking eggnog tea. It almost, almost, feels like home.

P.P.S. The paper Christmas tree we used last year was a digital download from Caravan Shoppe. I used it at home and in my preschool class; it was so much fun! (And it's on sale right now for only $3!)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

reframing my thoughts.

reframing my thoughts.

It's not always sunshine and whimsy over here. I can be grouchy, grumpy, complain-y, etc. In fact, I'm those things way more often than I'd like to admit.

I've been trying to catch myself though. Catch the nasty, negative, complain-y thought, and turn it into a positive, thankful thought.

Examples from the past few days:

1. "I spent 7 hours on Sunday finding and booking hotels for our trip to Cambodia. My whole day was wasted!"

becomes...

"I'm very fortunate to be able to travel to other countries, and to be choosy about where I stay."

2. "Ugh. I have to make hummus tonight, or the vegetables are going to go bad."

becomes...

"How lucky am I to be able to afford fresh vegetables and choose to eat healthy snacks?"

3. "I wish he'd get up a few minutes earlier instead of sleeping 'til the last possible minute! Then he could be the one doing this!" - As I'm making the bed in the morning, worried about being late for work.

becomes...

"Woah. I could have got out of bed a few minutes earlier and then I wouldn't be stressed about being late. Plus, he always makes my second coffee for me."

***

I really hope this doesn't sound "preachy." I just wanted to share something I've been thinking about lately. I'm in the midst of my usual seasonal blahs and it can be difficult to feel happy. Trying (struggling, sometimes) to reframe my thoughts has been helping.

(Photo by Designlovefest)
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