Christmas Gifts for the Homeless…The Delivery

I don’t have any pictures for this blog.  It just isn’t right to take pictures of handing out a small gift to someone in hard times.

Usually we go out Christmas Eve afternoon and find homeless to hand them to.  This year Jason worked until 2.  By the time he got home and I finished the baking, we barely made it to the 6pm Christmas Eve service.

So, we decided to drive around downtown I hopes of finding 15 people to bless.  And indeed we did manage to find some. It was a rougher crowd this year, since it was cold and late and most were inside for the night in the various shelters.

We did however  find some really needy people to bless.  We had 2 warm blankets and we gave them to the first 2 people we saw hunkered down for the night.

Kieran got a talking to from a gentleman who had already been generous with the liquor.  He was told about 50x to stay in school until he was 25.  But I was super proud of Kieran.  He looked this gentleman in the eye the entire time and he shook his hand several times.  And although even I was uncomfortable he didn’t show it to this gentleman.

We found a couple sleeping in front of the bottle depot doors with 4 baskets of bottles.  They said they’d have to stay there for 2 days.  They weren’t willing to let the bottles go so they could have a warm place to sleep.  We gave them each a bag.

We found a gentleman who was trying to stay away from security and we blessed him too.

Karyssa and I blessed a gentleman who was trying to get to the Drop in Center.  He was a couple blocks away.  He fell over twice and we helped him back up and by the time we were across the street from the Center with him, helping him stay on his feet, a worker from the Drop In saw and came and helped him the rest of the way.  The worker knew him by name and helped him.

Fifteen people were the recipients of our gifts tonight.

However, the real blessing was all ours.  We left feeling humble and grateful for all we have.  We wished we could have done more.  Every year it is the same.  And somehow every year we manage to do a little bit more.

But this year our gifts went to the most desperate of the homeless.  And it sure felt great to be able to help and see how  the warm socks and blankets and cookies were sure appreciated.

Gifts for the Homeless…

Tonight the kids and I wrapped the last of the gifts.

Theirs have been wrapped for awhile.

However, we had the box of gifts for the homeless to wrap.  We needed to sort out the warm socks and the gift cards for meals and the gift cards for hot drinks.  We needed to figure out how many gifts and how large each gift would be.

We decided on 15 gifts.  So we sorted through and found a brand new reusable travel mug for each gift.  We added a gift card for hot drinks and a gift card for food.  Finally we added warm socks.  A few got a little extra.  We had one brand new fleece jacket and 2 soft warm brand new blankets.  We had some candies too and a few other miscellaneous things like toothpaste and hand cream and soap.

When everything was all sorted we found we were a little bit short of what I would have liked, but not much.  And really we had made the gifts extra generous anyway.  Still I really wanted to make sure each gift had at least $10 to $15 in gift cards for hot drinks to somewhere like Starbucks or Tim Hortons as well as $15 to $25 in food gift certificates for McDonalds or subway or something.  In the end we were 2 coffee cards short and 4 meal cards.

That’s when our oldest son stepped up.  He had said he wanted to do something to contribute and I suggested he wait to decide what until we finished wrapping the gifts.

He decided he would buy 1 coffee card and 4 meal cards.  And when he was trying to decide if he could afford to do the final coffee card…my youngest son said he wanted to help his brother and he would buy it.  After much discussion about how this shouldn’t be to help his brother, but should be to help the homeless he decided he was still going to buy a gift card.

So tomorrow I will take my excited 7 year old to buy a gift card out of his own money…his birthday money.  And my 16 year old is going to also buy some gift cards out of his own money from his job.

Tomorrow the kids will each make 3 personal Christmas cards to add to the gifts.  And then they will get to give away the gifts that have their cards in them.

Some days I know I’m raising the kids right!

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I can’t wait until Christmas Eve when we get to find people to personally give them to.  The kids love that part the most!  (And so do I!)

The Family Kayaking Day…

This weekend we went camping.

OK, we sort of went camping.  We had numerous problems getting the van packed and the kids ready.  We were supposed to go Friday right after work.  However, the rain made us postpone our going.

We finally arrived at the camp site at 4 pm Saturday.  Sunday after lunch we went to the nearby lake to try out the new tandem kayak and let the older 2 try out the new kayaks.Since the camping was in Kananaskis it was supposed to snow, which it did.  And frankly I’m a prairie camper.  Meaning I don’t like the words cold or snow in the same sentence as camping!

So, I think it could be better be called…the lake that wasn’t.   We went to Sibbald Lake.  Honestly it’s an overgrown pond.  We went kayaking anyways.  But we were all bored pretty quickly.  After an hour we called it quits and came back home.  It was fun though having the 6 of us all out.  Kieran had to work so wasn’t with us.

The lesson in this… make sure the lake you are going to isn’t actually a pond! 😀

First Week Back to Work…

Well, my first week back at work is over.  Luckily for me the school is early out on Fridays.  The students are great and I already know almost all of their names. Unfortunately, I will only be driving them one more week.

This was a week that I had not planned to work.  I had scheduled swim lessons for 3 of the kids.

So I spent the week doing my bus run then hurrying home to hurry the kids to their lessons.  The lessons were between 10 and 12.  Then 4 of the days we took lunch with us to the pool and stayed for an hour and a bit of swimming.  The day ended with a rush to get back to my bus and do my run.

On Monday Kieran had a dentist appointment.  I actually had to leave him in the hygienist’s chair so I wouldn’t be late for my school run.  I handed him my credit card and all the money I had… $2.10, which is luckily exactly enough money to ride the bus.

The chores got put off and put off, but finally they too got done.

So, all in all it wasn’t a bad week at all!  There was loads of stuff to fill my days to make it feel like summer still and I managed to get in some quality time with those who wanted it.

Although my summer break is over, my kids’ isn’t and I think I managed to keep their week feeling like summer break.

Why I Love Camping…

I love camping.

I love the slower pace.

I love the car ride to get to where we are going.  It let’s the kids open up and talk about things they just don’t at home.

I love the campfires and cooking over them and just the smell of them.

I love the branch carving and wood chopping that happen when we camp.

I love the skies full of stars.  Millions of stars.  Stars we just can’t ever see with all the lights of the city.

Eastern Mountain Sports camping

I love being unplugged and unreachable.

I love the connection it brings between us.

I love the simpler life.

I love the simpler meals.

I love the comraderie and helpfulness it brings out between  me and my kids.

I love the openness.

I love that my kids have been so often with me that we can set up the tent in no time at all.  Without any men.

I love nature.  I love explaining what kind of animal something is or what lichen is or whatever.

I love that science and social studies are like constantly on all the time.  We all learn together about where we are and who’s been there and explored and how the nature works.  Like how glaciers move and melt.  I love that we learn it all together.  Even who places are named after and why.  The history is awesome!

But mostly I love the nature and calm and relaxing.  There is something about being in nature that makes everything better.

There is something special about sleeping the entire family in one tent.  The conversations that come while walking to the outhouse at midnight are irreplaceable.

So, I will continue to camp with my kids.  We will float down more streams and raft down more rivers and climb more mountains and follow more paths and stop to see more things like underground springs.  Trees and rocks and branches and streams and rivers and beaches and mountains and prairies and just magical!

Rafting Down the Red Deer River…

Today we went rafting and floating down the red deer river.  The deepest spots were MAYBE waist deep.  Mostly it was just above my ankles and below my knees.

But it was a very relaxing time!

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When all else fails….or you need a second floatation device….use the extra air mattress!