Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas as we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Monday, 24 December 2012

Christmas Lights and Fun

Just over a week ago we went with Nathan`s family (minus his sister and her family from out west) to Boston Pizza for supper and then to Christmas at the Taylor`s and Canad Inn`s Winter Wonderland.

A description of Christmas at the Taylor`s.....

Since the first train rides in 1996, The Assiniboine Valley Railway has given rides to over 130 000 passengers through the Taylor family’s Christmas light display. The display grows every year and now has over 98 000 lights. The Assiniboine Valley Railway features four 1/8 scale trains transporting up to 45 people at a time through the 7 acres of forest. The railway winds through trees and light displays.

The trip takes about 6 minutes and can accommodate up to 700 people per night. Tickets can be purchased at the station, where you can also warm up and enjoy hot chocolate. Visitors must walk in from Roblin Blvd or from the 1 hour parking area in order to purchase train tickets. Those walking in will enjoy a 1000 foot lighted pathway in the bush, which will not be accessible to those who drive in. You can also enjoy a longer path of about 2000 feet that takes you deeper in the forest. This trail will take you past the new Gingerbread Village that can only be seen from this trail or by riding the train on the old line. This trail has been improved this year and has more lighting along its length. It is a natural trail so watch for roots and trees, etc.

It was a fairly nice evening when we went but we got there well after 6:30 (when it opens) and ended up having to wait almost an hour for the train ride.  We decided it was worth it (considering it wasn`t too cold!) but if we did it again we would make sure to come for exactly 6:30 so we wouldn`t have to wait as long.  The tickets were $2 per person or $20 for 12 people I think.
Nativity scene on display while waiting in line for the train.

Walking the light-lit paths.

After that we headed to Canad Inn`s Winter Wonderland which is a drive through light display.  The light displays are quite amazing, but for the price ($15 per vehicle) it is a little disappointing - there should be more displays.  But at least you stay warm!  

Next year we`d like to do Christmas at the Taylor`s again, but we`d likely skip the Winter Wonderland and rather head to Candy Cane Lane, Polar Bear Lane, etc in Lindenwoods for some beautiful lights viewing in a warm vehicle.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Book Review: A Christmas Homecoming by Maryann Diorio

About the Book: Seven Christmases have passed since Sonia Pettit last heard from her daughter Jody. Since Jody's departure, Sonia's world has been turned upside down. Her husband has died of a broken heart, and her son, bitter over his sister's destructive actions, has become rebellious.

Her greatest desire is to have her family together at Christmas, but after what Jody has put them all through, can Sonia truly forgive her daughter?
Jody Pettit O'Dair ran away to experience a life of adventure and excitement, but since her departure, her world has been turned upside down. She's been abandoned by the man she met and married, lost her job, and is unable to care for her two children. With nowhere else to turn, this prodigal daughter begins the long journey home and prays she will be welcomed after walking away so long ago.
Will Jody find forgiveness in the arms of her family as easily as she received it from God? 

My Thoughts:  A Christmas variation on the Prodigal Son story, this short story is a quick and inspiring read.  

Our decisions, big and small, can have a lasting impact, not just on ourselves, but everyone around us.  We often tend to think of ourselves as isolated entities but nothing could be further from the truth.  Jody realizes this in a big way as the reality of her rash choice comes crashing down on her and she throws herself on the mercy of God and then her family.  

God will always forgive a repentant sinner, but people are not always quite as willing to do the same.  Hurt often gives way to bitterness, resentment, anger and hostility and it can take time and the healing work of the Holy Spirit to break down those walls in order for reconciliation to occur.  I loved the way the author brought about reconciliation between Jody and her brother - I won't say more because that would be a spoiler!

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for organizing this tour and providing me with my complimentary review copy.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Insanity - Final Fit Test!

After 9 intense weeks of exercising, I am done the Insanity workout and it's time for my last update!

I am so glad I'm done.  It was an amazing workout but man was it tough, and it was long.  I will probably do it again in a couple of months, but I think I might just do my own variation.  I'll probably do just the first month's workouts (the second month are just too long to do on a long term regular basis) and intersperse them with some Jillian DVD's - particularly some of her weight training ones.

So, here is my final Insanity Fit Test update....

Switch kicks: 82, 85, 94, 96, 101
Power jacks: 43, 50, 56, 58, 59
Power knees: 80, 88, 94, 98, 105
Power jumps: 22, 30, 32, 33, 35
Globe jumps: 8, 10, 11, 11, 12
Suicide jumps: 11, 14, 15, 16, 18
Push-up jacks: 16, 23, 25, 27, 32
Low plank oblique: 32, 40, 43, 46, 56

I improved on every single exercise!  Some more than others, of course.  I even beat the DVD participants on a couple of them! I tied them on one, and they kicked my butt on some of the others. ;)  But there was a significant improvement if you look at the difference in the numbers between my first fit test and my last, that's for sure.

So, yeah, that's one effective workout!  If you're looking for a challenge, I'd definitely recommend giving it a try.

I'm just sorry I didn't take any before/after pictures - if I had, they would give me a free shirt!  Oh well. Maybe next time, if there ever is a next time :)

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Operation Christmas Child 2012 Edition

Packing Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes is a tradition in our house and the kids absolutely love it!  Our kids know that this is likely not only the only Christmas gift these kids will get, but could be the very first gift of any kind that they've ever received.  If you've never seen some of the YouTube videos showing the reactions of these kids, you need to check it out. (Here's one).  Getting to go along on a trip where they hand out those boxes would be an amazing experience, don't you think?  I think that one's going on my bucket list.

Each of our kids packed a shoebox for a child their age/gender. 

Here's some of the things (that I remember!) that we packed in our girls boxes - facecloth, box of soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, pencils, pens, pencil crayons, fun erasers, notebook, bracelets, hair ties and clips, sunglasses, blurp, hard candy and a stuffed animal.

The boy box included all the gender neutral stuff from the girl boxes, and then instead of the girlie things we added little toy animals, a Hot Wheels car, a monster truck and some more stuff that I can't remember right now!

Each of our kids made a card for the box recipient to receive along with their gifts.  Unfortunately, this year I've been slacking on getting our family Christmas photo card done so we couldn't put that in this time.

Yup, a good time was had by all!

Monday, 3 December 2012

Book Review: No Safe Harbor by Elizabeth Ludwig

About the Book: She came to America searching for her brother. Instead all she's found is a web of danger.

Cara Hamilton had thought her brother to be dead. Now, clutching his letter, she leaves Ireland for America, desperate to find him. Her search leads her to a houseful of curious strangers, and one man who claims to be a friend-Rourke Walsh. Despite her brother's warning, Cara trusts Rourke, revealing her purpose in coming to New York.
She's then thrust into a world of subterfuge, veiled threats, and attempted murder, including political revolutionaries from the homeland out for revenge. Her questions guide her ever nearer to locating her brother-but they also bring her closer to destruction as those who want to kill him track her footsteps.
With her faith in tatters, all hope flees. Will her brother finally surface? Can he save Cara from the truth about Rourke... a man she's grown to love? 

My Thoughts: I've always loved a good "coming to America" story, and this one captivated me from the beginning.  I have not read many books of Irish fiction, so this was a nice change of pace and an interesting historical plot line.  

I really appreciated the way the author portrayed Rourke's internal struggle between "good" and "evil", and how easy it can be for us to declare evil good, and good evil, how our sin blinds us and twists the truth until we hardly even know what it is anymore.  

I thoroughly enjoyed this story and look forward to the next book in the series.

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for organizing this tour and providing me with my complimentary review copy.


Related Posts with Thumbnails