Calling the crowd

Yesterday was a spontaneous Christmas-y day — my favourite kind of day. Bruno had his haircut lined up for noon, and with some time to kill in the morning, we decided to go to the Christmas Farmers’ Market at The Log Farm. It would be our first Christmas Market of the season.

Because it was the opening day, it was packed with cars and eager visitors. Keaton was particularly smitten with the ice cream truck, which sold extravagant hot chocolates that featured snowman marshmallows, ice cream, and a cute-as-a-button gingerbread house.

Sharing this hot chocolate with my little guy was the highlight of my visit. He was so kind to offer his daddy a snowman marshmallow, too, even if they were meant for him to enjoy.

That evening, we also spontaneously attended the Magic of Lights at Wesley Clover Parks. We were lucky because the weather was mild, with just some sprinkles of snow along the road. Otherwise, it would’ve been a challenging drive (we’re still waiting on our winter tires order).

The holiday lights drive-through experience was so magical. It was our first time doing it. Keaton wanted to get out of the car and walk around, and rightfully so, because it was so enticing and colourful. He loved the dinos most of all, and even cried for his daddy to go back and do another stroll, which of course we couldn’t because there were cars behind us. Petit bout de chou.

We also tried our fireplace for the first time last night! We were trying to figure out ways to keep the fire going, with Bruno grabbing logs and sticks from the yard. We even tried using cardboard recycling. (I guess that’s a good way to get rid of recycling, too, hah.) Unfortunately, our fire didn’t stick around for long — an ultimate fail — but oh well, we’ll try again soon.

This morning, we ventured to Ian’s Christmas Adventure Park. There were plenty of fresh Christmas trees to choose from and cut. There were also pre-cut ones. But because we already had a tree at home, we’ll be saving this activity for next year’s holidays. I think it would make for a memorable and sweet first family tradition.

Instead, we enjoyed the activities offered at the farm. Keaton’s favourite part was meeting Santa and taking a tractor ride with him. (This gentleman was filled with warmth.) We also walked through the Candy Cane Lane and visited Santa’s Workshop, and Keaton fed the rabbits, one of which tried to eat his scarf. The animals were so fluffy.

It was a very cold day given the intense wind, and ever more, I felt the weight of my own big pregnant belly, equipped with the full knowledge that our daughter could very well be born right then and there, in the snow and in the middle of a farm. It could’ve also happened in Santa’s Workshop, too. Imagine that.

Gaia’s arrival is imminent and could happen at any moment, so I’ve been trying to enjoy as many Christmas activities as possible before I’m homebound with a little snuggle bear.

Choo choo

If there’s a Christmas location where Hallmark movies should be filmed in Ottawa, it would be at Tinseltown Christmas Emporium, a local, family-owned Christmas shop that’s beyond magical.

Walking past this store, be it during the hot summer months or the festive winter season, is always a dreamy experience, no matter the time of year. With towering nutcracker statues, shades of festive red, and decorations that adorn the windows, one’s senses and lust for all-things Christmas are bound to be tickled.

Words can’t describe the feeling one feels when walking inside. There are nooks and crannies of decorations and ornaments everywhere, and it smells like holiday pine and floral cinnamon. It’s become our family tradition to go there yearly to buy ornaments for our Christmas tree.

My husband picked this gingerbread family ornament, to honour our soon-to-be completed family of four once our daughter arrives. She’ll be here just in time for Christmas!

Keaton chose this train ornament this year. He was really enamoured with the moving train in the store. It encompassed a magical winter village, and looked like something one would see in a film or catalogue.

Last year, he’d chosen a West Highland Terrier doggie in a red car as his ornament. It was the first ornament that he’d chosen himself, so it was particularly special.

I chose this squirrel ornament in a wreath for our daughter’s first Christmas ornament. Since we’ll be naming her Gaia, which means Mother Earth or Mother Nature, I felt that this ornament was fitting. The squirrel and the leaves remind me very much of nature. (I also love squirrels, I must admit. And shamelessly so.)

We also put up our Christmas tree this past weekend, with some festive Christmas music in the background for sweet company. My parents, Keaton’s Kong-Ma, were there to take part in the experience as well. Now that they’re very old, these family moments are deeply meaningful to me.

It was amazing to see Keaton put up some ornaments. He looked like an older kid helping us; in fact, he is! How he’s grown from his little self, whom I recall was so much smaller last year. His daddy even had to hold him up to help out with the ornaments; and now, he’s all independent!

It will be our first Christmas in our first home, and I’m already feeling all the cozy and warm vibes. I love, love our Christmas set-up. I’m looking forward to movie nights by the lit fireplace with my husband, and above all, to having our dear daughter join our family. She’s the best gift we could ask for this year. We’re lucky to have her just in time for the holiday season.


Every year, for Halloween, we try to take Keaton to some Halloween-themed festivities. Whereas last year, we took him to a nearby local park for some Halloween pumpkin-carving and bake sale fun, featuring costumes, this year, we took him to the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum for their Barnyard Halloween event. We were so happy to hear Keaton exclaim with joy when he realized we’d arrived at this farm.

It felt very heartwarming to be back here, where we used to take our son routinely, back when we used to live nearby. We didn’t have a car back then, but luckily for us, walking here with a stroller was manageable, be it during the warm or cold winter months. Now, we had the pleasure of returning — this time with a car of our own. How different and more easy life is. The freedom of movement and comfort is something that I can’t fail to appreciate on a daily basis.

The event was packed with families and littles ones, many of which were dressed in their costumes. It was such a cute sight to behold. This year, Keaton was a dragon, or what others might mistakingly take for a dinosaur. (Sometimes, I, too, would think he’s a dino.) Our little dragon had a lot of fun amongst kids his age. He enjoyed his beloved playground and seeing the farm animals again. He particularly liked the piggies this time around, and of course, his quail buddies never ceased to captivate him. Again, he’d spent the most time observing the quails.

We also got to enjoy some games at the barn dance location, as well as pick a pumpkin from the pumpkin patch. I’m a sucker for little pumpkins — they were all kids size! How stinkin’ adorable. As if they were made for little hands. Keaton refused to enter the scary barn, so my husband and I took turns visiting it. The set-up was really spooky and well-curated.

Finally, it was October 31st, trick-or-treating. This year, Keaton went with his new pal, Amelie. He was a dragon and she was Skye from Paw Patrol. It was Amelie’s first trick-or-treating experience ever (she’d recently arrived with her mom and grandma from abroad). It was so fun for Keaton to have a friend with him, whom he adores deeply, and to share this experience with her. It also warms my heart that we were able to give Amelie and her mom and grandma a new experience and memory. They enjoyed it so much! Grandma had a blast — she was so youthful in her laughter and smiles.

My husband and I also had a wonderful time as parents. There’s something endearing and lively about observing our kid trick-or-treating and being excited and experiencing the simple wonders of life. We’re thankful for a local experience, wonderful friends, and for the physical and mental freedom and privilege of movement and joy — even if it’s our birthright — because it’s not always a given, depending on one’s life circumstances. I think about it often, to keep perspective in life. I’m also thankful to my dear husband who’s such a dedicated father, who guided the kids around and kept the fun alive, and who’s always there for Keaton when it mattered, and every day and all moments in between.

When I look back on old Halloween pictures from last year, I noticed just how much Keaton’s grown in one year. Last Halloween, he was baby Batman — we were the Batman family — and he was so much smaller. I even recall him crying when we went trick-or-treating at the very first house, only to get excited afterwards because he finally understood he was getting candies and chocolates. Now, one year later, his physique and personality have evolved immensely; and what a treat it is to be able to witness that.

PS. Keaton would say “tank-oon,” instead of “thank you” when he went trick-or-treating. We noticed it’s been his version of “thank you” lately. It’s so hilarious because he seems to have made up a hybrid of “thank you” between English and Khmer. Brilliant, actually.