This time last year, my husband was standing on a rocky beach in White Rock, waiting to dash into the freezing Pacific Ocean for an annual “Polar Bear Swim.” My family and I stood a few feet away from a swimsuit clad crowd who were busy dancing around, trying to stay warm while waiting for the signal to dive in. A horn sounded without warning and confusion reigned as towels and sweatpants were tossed aside. Leading the way was a tall, red headed, Swede (he prefers to be called Viking Warrior). A couple hundred thrill seekers splashed in after him, paramedics on the standby, and my family giggled from the warmth of our winter coats as everyone scrambled to get back out of the ocean.

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Every year, for as far back as I can remember, we’ve spent Christmas Eve at my grandparents home. While I thoroughly enjoyed stuffing myself with baby onions, mini pickles and tiny quiches, the highlight of the evening was always Grandad’s Shrimp Dip. Upon arriving at my grandparents house, I’d kick my shoes off and race – socks slipping and hair flying – into the living room, where a glass bowl heaped with dip sat on the coffee table. I would dig through the bowl for shrimp and shove salty, dip laden chips into my little mouth as fast as I could.

Grandad

This year, our tiny apartment was the place of honour for the Smith family Christmas Eve gathering. Sadly, Grandad passed a couple days before Christmas, which makes me all the more thankful for holiday traditions that are passed from one generation to the next. I will proudly carry on the shrimp dip tradition and, in the process, share this delectable recipe with you.

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‘Tis the season of Christmas Cards. Unfortunately, this Christmas your fridge will sadly be lacking a picture from the three of us. Perhaps next year we’ll get our act together soon enough to create a holiday photo (complete with colour coordinated outfits and a smiling Alistair wrapped up in Christmas lights.)  But we did manage to put together a little something special. What’s better than a super adorable picture of Alistair? That’s right. A super adorable Christmas video of Alistair (and his parents of course.)

Merry Christmas from Andreas, Liz & Alistair!

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Our Christmas tree doesn’t have a particular theme beyond the mismatched assortment of ornaments that I have collected over the years. Perched on the branches are  half a dozen of my baby ornaments, a couple miniature figure skates, and two, brightly bedecked snowmen sitting on the words, “Our First Christmas Together.” I love the jumble of gold and silver beads, tiny chips on plastic apples and the paper Swedish flags purchased from this year’s Christmas market. Each ornament brings me back to a specific time, a certain memory. They’re mini snapshots of a Christmas past.

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From the start, our pregnancy was classified as high risk simply because we were carrying twins. Truthfully though, since the beginning of our pregnancy was so smooth, I really didn’t pay much attention to this label. Until one takes a quick glance at the statistics regarding twin or triplet pregnancies, it’s easy to forget just how delicate a multiple pregnancy can be.

Compared to singleton pregnancies (one baby), multiples are almost 17 times more likely to be born prematurely, with half of all twins having a birth weight under 5.5 lbs. And, as was such in our case, women carrying twins are twice as likely to experience a stillbirth.*

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I’ll always remember our first ultrasound photo; a grainy image capturing two little blobs sitting side by side. It’s a moment forever engraved in my mind, a feeling I could never forget – the day we discovered we were pregnant with twins.

Three weeks earlier, we were at the doctor’s office and had just found out that we were expecting. Overloaded, mind swimming,  we were in a state of shock. Pregnancy wasn’t part of our plan – at least, not yet. We had laid out a road map for our marriage and it didn’t include kids for another five years.

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This year, my Christmas decorations started going up mid-November – way earlier than they ever have before. With our newly renovated apartment, I wanted to make the place look really festive. We were going to do more than just a plastic tree and string of lights. This year we were going to go big! (So big in fact that I had to take down a wall of decorations as Andreas and I felt that Christmas had thrown up all over our apartment. Okay… not that big…)

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It’s that time of year again. There’s something about Christmas that just feels different from the rest of the year; a tangible change in the atmosphere that marks the beginning of the festive season.

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A very good place to start.

I believe that every story of new life is worth telling, no matter the number of cells, heartbeats or breaths. For some mothers, those precious, early moments are all we hold of our little one. Arms empty, our grieving hearts tenderly cradle the few memories we have. I look back on my pregnancy with nothing but pride. I am completely overwhelmed by the fullness of emotions as I remember tiny feet kicking or little hiccups rippling across my belly.

Some are afraid to ask about what happened, scared that they’ll cause more pain.  But for me it’s more painful not to talk about it, to feel like I’ve forgotten one of my wee ones, to ignore the pregnancy that gave us two of the most beautiful little boys. Like any mother, I am eager to share with you about my sons, to share our story. To give even a small glimpse into the redeeming work of Christ in our family.

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