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"The Beauty of Christmas"


With all the busyness and the stress that surround our lives all year long, have you made a habit to just completely stopped for a day or two to relax and just enjoy the company of your loved ones and close friends? For my family, it’s Christmas.

Christmas brings that magical beauty of family and close friends’ togetherness, giving, preparing good food, and just pure fun. This year, we didn't spend as much like the prior years, and it’s quite surprising we have more fun.

What’s the secret? I think it’s the early preparation and the combined effort of the whole family to make it as a huge success Christmas celebration.  Each family member and their other half did something special, big or small and made it a special occasion to remember.

Family Togetherness

We have ten people this year, each one has busy schedule, except for the two youngest ones. Even with the busyness, different work schedule and studying constraints, each of us tried to take time off and be with family, loved ones and just enjoyed the special moment.

Giving Gifts

Coming from Christian’s background, giving gifts is part of the celebration, either big or small ones. Over the years, my husband and I made a rule on gifts, we both give a set amount of small cash and store bought gifts. The cash is for them to buy whatever they want, or pay for other extra expenses that they wished to.

As to store bought gifts, my husband @AlbertRiopel and I begin our Christmas gift source of fund right the start of the New Year, through making room in our favourite department store, Hudson Bay’s store card. Even with the higher interest on it, but with the cash voucher through purchased points, and the special discounts for store cardholder, the interest is as much as the bank credit cards. Thus, the thought of affordability and good value for your money is a nice way to start preparing for the most important event of the year.

This year, I get a little help with my Christmas shopping. Besides being our home Christmas decorator, my eldest daughter helped me with the Christmas shopping this time. It was nice that we went a few days earlier than I used to shop (every New Year’s Eve). I guess in the past when the kids were younger it was alright, but in the last two years, things changed a little. For over twenty years we used to celebrate on Christmas Eve, had a late dinner and opened presents right after the strike of midnight, and had second Christmas celebration at my parents’ home on Christmas Day.

However, since my parents moved out from their home in 2011, and my beloved father passed away in 2012, my widowed mother has been living with us. Thus, the last two years we decided to just have one Christmas celebration, and have an earlier dinner and opened the gifts right after. So that way on Christmas Day, each family member who would like to spend time with their other half, or with a family member or with close friends can celebrate Christmas on their own special moment.

Preparing Good Food

As always, I cooked our Christmas Eve dinner, and tried to accommodate what my whole family wanted for dinner.  This year, they requested both a turkey and a ham dinner with mashed potatoes, stuffing and gravy. Unfortunately, the turkey wasn't perfectly done this year. What happened is that, roasting turkey and ham at the same time, side-by-side is not such a good idea. Though the ham is nicely cooked, but one side of the turkey closed to the ham side is not 100% cooked, the oven is not big enough for the two to get it nicely cooked. So, the turkey had to be put back to the oven for a few minutes to get it fully cooked. Otherwise, the dinner is just perfect.

I usually save time baking for desserts, and just went and get our favourite pumpkin pies at Costco. But this year, besides with our pumpkin pies, my youngest daughter baked some special cookies. She loves to bake. This time she made many batches of ginger-bread cookies for everyone. She decorated each cookie nicely, and placed them in colourful containers. At first, we thought they bought them at a bake shop, since it looked like store-bought cookies. But they are home-made ones, and she put her artistic skills on them.


Just Enjoying Christmas

When each family member tried special effort in making Christmas a moment to remember, from saving money or source of funds for Christmas gifts, to home decorating, to shopping, to cooking, to baking, to serving dinner, to entertaining, to be the camera person, played the part of Santa Claus and little elves, or other things that make it as a success, Christmas can’t go wrong.

It’s just pure fun of celebrating Christmas, with lots of love to share, joy, happiness and long lasting relationships around your family and other loved ones. You have that special feeling of looking forward of next Christmas, celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ and that specially holiday of giving.

Until Next Christmas!:)

"My Not So Boring Life"

September is always somewhat special for me. Not only it's the start of school and the youth soccer league for our household, but it's my husband, Albert and myself wedding anniversary.

School Started Late
The school season started few weeks late for British Columbian (k-12 grades) kids due to a long BC Teachers' strike which started in June, ending the school 2013-2014 term early than the regular scheduled date.

Though my 15 year old son has some other extra-curricular activities besides school, such as his SFU Soccer AcademyCliff Avenue Soccer and doing self-taught computer programming, but like other school kids, he's just happy to be back at school and so am I.

Our Wedding Anniversary
Time flies. It's seems like September 1990 was fast-forwarded for us so fast that we just celebrated our 24th! I guess, having three children, ages: 22, 21 and 15 years old, we considered ourselves as one of those young parents in the 40s and and early 50s. As to the celebration, we didn't do much on our 24th anniversary, just spending time with each other. It was fun.

After being with his last job for almost 13 years, this year, my husband Albert accepted a new employment. He likes his new employment at ICOM Canada. I won't call it so much as a new line of work, since it was related to his previous employments (amateur radios) which started at least 30 years ago. It started more like a hobby for him at 15 years of age, took related training, apprenticeships and became his employment before and after we got married in 1990.

Lately at ICOM Canada, his love for amateur 'ham' radio has been given extra credit and recognized by his colleages and giving him opportunity to go to some of ICOM Canada's trade shows. Of course, my love of photography and spending time with Albert on the weekend always a 'treat' for the two us. I don't know what Albert does at work, but I got invited a couple times already! Not complaining of course, my curiosity and love of photography always tempted me to say 'yes' and tagged along. Just hoping with all these trade shows that Albert and I attended, we made a difference to promote Albert's work, ICOM Canada and even globally. ICOM is celebrating its 50 years anniversary this year, which originally started in Japan.

Twitter and Paperli Curation
Twitter and Paperli have been part of my life in the last 6 years and 5 years respectively. I am not making money out of it, if you are wondering. If Albert has his amateur 'ham' radio as a hobby, Twitter and Paperli are my two hobbies that I can't live without these days. It brings that enjoyment of social networking and it feeds my brain everyday, knowing what's happening out there, locally and globally is priceless. Love it!

Soccer Drills
Laugh if you will, but since I injured my right leg last year, I skipped 2014 for any running races. Since 2004, I have participated at least 56 running related races, including 6 triathlons and 15 marathons. I decided to be nice and a little 'softie' to my body this year. You can call it 'laziness' or 'rehabing' or 'gaining some extra pounds', but I'm happy with my current 'fitness program'. Going with Albert and our 15 year old son, spending time with them during their Cliff Avenue soccer practices and games are so motivating, defying all 'comments' of very traditional people of having a woman in her 40s doing soccer drills instead of running or walking around the soccer field.

Albert and my son don't care! They are both just happy to see me doing something for myself, fitness wise. I guess, I have trained my husband and my son to think that way, since I have been doing soccer drills on the sideline on and off since 2006! For the record, I received my BC youth soccer certifications and coached younger kids, including my son's U9 and U10 team as a head coach. I have 3 kids who played soccer since 2006, and when I am not coaching, just watching, taking soccer photos, and promoting soccer sport online, I enjoyed doing soccer drills on the sideline. My advance apology for the 'very traditional'. Having seen amateur soccer men past 50s participating during annual Nations Cup at nearby town (one of my favourite events, by the way), I can't see why women should stopped doing soccer drills, stay fit and having a fitness program that has the title 'FUN' in it!

US CPA Exam Review Continues
Besides on the above things that I do, when I find a spare time, I am still in pursuit of my forever US CPA designation. I guess it's not so much of how much money I could make out of it at this time, but it's becoming a challenge of finishing a long journey which started in my home country Philippines at least close to 30 years ago. I received my Bachelor of Science in Commerce diploma in October of 1985 at University of San Agustin (USA), and received my Diploma in Accounting at University of British Columbia (UBC) in May of 2002. It's  all fun for me, except when I get a 'fail' mark in my FAR!

Until next writing...

Earla Riopel
Contact info:
Earla RiopelBScom (USA), DAcc (UBC)
#310 – 8725 Oak Street, Vancouver, BC V6P 4B4,