A Visit from the Christmas Elf

When I was a child, one of the holiday traditions in my family was “The Christmas Elf.” According to my parents, the Christmas elf was one of Santa’s helpers, and on one night in December, he would come to your house to make sure you were well-behaved. He would check to make sure your room was kept nice and clean and if it was, he’d leave candy in your shoes while you slept. If your room was messy, there was a distinct possibility that you’d end up on the dreaded naughty list. Since the Christmas elf could come on any night you’d have to keep your room clean for the entire month. Clearly this was a sneaky plan by my parents to make us keep our bedrooms tidy, but it also stems from my father’s German heritage and Saint Nicholas Day.

Since my daughter was young, Christmas has always been celebrated in the tradition of her father’s family, which is always super fun for her, but this year I wanted her to experience something of the way Christmas was when I was little. It’s the first year we’re spending the holiday together at home, so I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to introduce her to the Christmas elf.

I told Symphony now that she’s big enough to clean her room all by herself, the Christmas elf might come. She’s done a great job of keeping everything tidy, and this morning there was a candy cane, chocolate balls and coins and a chocolate bear, pink and purple M&Ms and a small wrapped gift in her shoes. Here’s a dramatic re-enactment of her goodies:


She was so thrilled when she showed me what she’d found, and when I asked her to grab something from my bedroom and she discovered that Taylor and I also had candy-filled shoes she just about exploded with excitement. I would say our first visit from the Christmas elf was a huge success!

Date Night Report: Ikea! & Christmas Vacation Plans


On Wednesday my daughter went to her dad’s house (usually she goes on Thursdays but we switched this week) so Taylor and I decided to go to Ikea. Normally I wouldn’t consider shopping trips as Date Nights but for Ikea I’ll make an exception.

We booked an SUV through Zipcar and headed out to the suburbs. There are two Ikeas near Vancouver- one in Coquitlam and one in Richmond. We usually go to the Coquitlam one since it’s bigger and newer and easier to get to by train, but when you’re driving the Richmond store is easier to get to after work since you don’t have to take the freeway.

Unfortunately we didn’t have as much fun as I’d hoped, Taylor wasn’t feeling very well and didn’t want to eat anything or look at literally every fake room and tiny item, but it was still a nice enough time. I picked up a pair of shelves for the Trofast cupboard I keep the daycare toys in (I almost forgot to get these, we were already in line and I had to run back to the warehouse to get them and I’m glad I did since they were on sale), a long Lack shelf for our bedroom, about a thousand meters of wrapping paper, a dozen picture frames for all Sym’s school pictures (I like to think ahead!), and a Mikael desk for her room. We’d been planning on getting it for a while but she doesn’t know that I bought it so it’s going to be one of her Christmas gifts. It’s in these two big boxes and I’m going to wrap them up and put them under the tree. She’s going to freak.

In non-Date Night news, today is my last day of work before two whole weeks of vacation. I have to say I’m pretty excited! We aren’t going anywhere this year so I made a big list of things I want to do around the house:
– finish painting the library (yellow) and paint the piano (also yellow) This is going to be a MASSIVE undertaking- at some point in history someone (badly) painted the piano glossy black, so I have to sand it first, but first I have to test for lead in the black paint.
– paint the kitchen (pink)
– paint the hallway (yellow)
-paint the bathroom (grey)
– paint our bedroom (cream) When I do this I’m going to move our mattress into the living room so we can sleep under the Christmas tree. It’ll be like all my childhood dreams come true!
– build new bookcases for the library, since right now it just has the piano and a couch in it and no books!

… and things I want to do around the city:
– go ice skating at the recently reopened rink at Robson Square, or “GE Ice Plaza”


– go see the Festival of lights at the Van Dusen Botanical Garden


– take Symphony on the Stanley Park Christmas Train, especially since I missed the Halloween Train this year


As you can see, I’m really into Christmas lights. The thing I’m most excited about though, is Taylor is taking the the week after next off of work, which means that I get to sleep next to my husband for ten nights in a row! Hooray!

Making it Work


The biggest ongoing challenge in my marriage is my husband’s work schedule. I work Monday through Friday, 7:45 until 5:15. Taylor works Monday through Friday, 12 until 8. Except that’s 12 midnight until 8 am, and really it’s usually more like 9 or 10 or even 11 am.

Night shift. It sucks. I’m already working by the time he gets home and when I’m finished, he’s still sleeping and I feel bad about waking him up, since 5 or 6 pm feels like 5 or 6 am to him. On the weekends he tries to switch to a more normal schedule so he can spend time with me during the day, but he’s often so exhausted that he falls asleep on the couch. It complicates every aspect of our lives. It’s hard to plan meals for the family when my daughter needs dinner by six and my husband is still asleep or in breakfast mode. If we go away for the weekend we have make sure to be home by early Sunday afternoon so Taylor can get to bed on time in order to work at midnight. If one of our friends has a mid-week dinner or get together he can’t have more than one drink and we usually have to leave early (which is usually true on the weekends as well). It took almost a month to coordinate a meeting with our financial advisor because Taylor sleeps during normal business hours, and while the financial advisor already accommodates me by coming to the house, I sincerely doubt he’d take a meeting at night.

People are always saying that it must be so difficult to be on opposite schedules and asking us (especially me) how we do it. Here are some of things that help keep us close:

-As I mentioned earlier, Taylor switches his sleep schedule on the weekends so he can be awake during the day. It’s terrible for him and I feel guilty about how little sleep he gets, but if he didn’t do this we’d have almost no time to spend with each other, and certainly no daylight hours!

-Constant text messaging. We text the whole time he’s walking to work and the whole time he’s walking home. If I can’t sleep or I wake up in the middle of the night, I text him. Sometimes when he’s asleep I’ll send him a lovey-dovey text for when he wakes up. We also get each other’s twitter updates sent to our phones so when each of us gets up we can see what the other has been doing/thinking about while we were sleeping.

-I work from home. If I wasn’t here during the day we’d only see each other in the evenings before he left for the office, but because I’m around the house we get to catch up with each other before he goes to sleep. Plus, Taylor brings me a white mocha americano every day, and somehow it tastes better than if I went to Starbucks myself.

-We do as much together as we can, even if it’s just running silly, mundane errands. Last night Taylor came with me to buy a new toothbrush. When we go to the gym we run on adjacent treadmills. We’ve even gone Christmas shopping for each other together while keeping the gifts a surprise (it involves a lot of waiting outside stores while the other person gets their bags stapled shut).

-I try very hard to have patience and understanding about it. Sometimes it isn’t the easiest thing in the world to only get to sleep beside your husband two nights a week. It can be really lonely with just me and the cat poking my face, and a few weeks ago I broke down (admittedly after a few too many glasses of wine) and cried about it. But the next morning, I got up, put my happy face back on and spent the day with my husband.

People are right to say it must be hard, because it is, but when they ask how we do it, well, the answer is, we just do.


This year I participated (or rather, was bullied into participating) in an ornament exchange online, and in some crazy random happenstance, I ended up getting assigned to a girl I’ve been e-friends with for years and years. Originally I wanted to get her a vintage Russian ornament but I was worried about shipping delays so I ended up sewing her a little felt Santa Claus instead. I’ve been holding off posting a picture until she received it but he arrived at her house today.

Elina’s Santa Claus


My Favorite Person in the World Over the Age of Ten

Obviously, this would be my husband Taylor (of Taylor’s Holiday Nog Shake fame).

For those of you who don’t know, we have been together for just over three years after being introduced by a mutual friend, and have been married eight and a half months. We were married March 21st on Paipu Beach in Wailea, Maui, after a three month wedding delay (a snowstorm cancelled our flight and trip and postponed our elopement in December 2008).

This is just after the ceremony, when we discovered that at a certain point n the service we’d both thought “And so say we all” (a Battlestar Galactica reference for all you non-nerds out there).

Wedding of the Century

Sometimes he has a beard…


And sometimes he doesn’t…
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But to me is is always A+ handsome, not to mention funny and generous and kind and patient and good at video games and all things my husband should be. GO TEAM HUSBAND!

Wedding of the Century