Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Eve 2011

We were lucky enough to host Christmas Eve again this year- I love having everyone over that night, and NOT needing to take my kids anywhere!  (And, by correlation, not needing to convince them to leave anywhere to come home.  Hallelujah.)

(Oh, and I have to tell you that once Wonder Daddy opened up the NORAD web page, Ernie was kind of obsessed with checking it during the day.  Naptime?  Got to check the page first.  Dinner time?  Snack time?  Potty time?  DITTO.  And OMIGOSH, I'MSOEXCITED, SANTA IS IN BUENOS AIRES!)

I made a simple dinner this year- Ivar's, a local fish and chips institution, makes a killer clam chowder...lucky for us, it's sold in a frozen concentrate at our local stores!  One crock pot of clam chowder, an armful of bread bowls from my aunt, and a huge tossed salad from my sister made our meal.  We also had the red Jell-O that my kids request from my aunt at every family celebration, a DIY italian soda bar, a whizz-bang cheese platter from my dad (have you ever had Wensleydale studded with dried apricots?  DO IT.)  and an amazing bouche de noel from my sister.  My candied cranberries made an appearance, and were joined by candied ginger.  There was something for everyone to eat, it was easy, and we spent hours just gabbing and noshing and gabbing.  Grandma read books to the kids, the girls disappeared downstairs to play kitchen, and it was just perfect.

After the extended family had gone home, we caravaned with Aunt LoLo's family around the neighborhood to look at our favorite Christmas displays one last time.  My parents stayed behind, in the blessedly quiet house, to tidy up the kitchen and  :)

Christmas Eve always brings certain things to our house, once the guests have gone home.

The Christmas jammies (sent by Nana this year- thank you!!)


(His first EVER present.  Awwww, bless his little heart, look how hard he's trying!)

The new Christmas story book, with its gold wrapping.
the annual book

This year's addition was Redheaded Robbie, by Bill Lutrell.  Please PLEASE go look up this book- I get a little misty eyed each time I read it.  It's the story of a little 2nd-grade boy, Robbie, who can't seem to speak properly whenever he gets nervous or excited.  All the kids in his class are anxious to see whose name will be drawn from the hat, to write a Christmas story to read in the school assembly...and of course, Robbie's name is drawn, much to everyone's dismay (and Robbie's most of all.)  He goes to all his friends to ask for help with his story, and it's just the sweetest thing I've read in a long time.  It teaches kids how to help others and how to stick up for your friends.  It teaches what Christmas is about.

Of course, Santa can't be forgotten this night- Grandma helped the girls leave him and his reindeer a little treat.

I think Ernie was worried he'd be confused, she wrote up these labels a few days before hand.  (I know it says meringues....she wrote it when we still HAD meringue cookies :)  It was the only word she asked for help with.  She left a darling note for him, too- I found it when I was tidying the table before our guests came.

Christmas Eve
December 24th





On the back she drew my husband and my stockings, to make sure Santa knew whose was whose, since they're not labeled like the kids' are.  Oh my goodness, I love that girl so much.  Santa wasn't sure what the question actually was, but he wrote "yes" and she was thrilled!

We all read Luke 2 together, took the necessary "jammies in front of the tree" photo shoot, and scooted the kids off to bed.  Then all we had to do was wait an hour or two for the girls to fall asleep (!!!!), welcome Santa to our living room, and turn out the lights to wait for morning!


Monday, December 19, 2011

Mama and Baby Doll (Birth Doll)

I have a friend who teaches sibling classes at the local hospital- just a little course to prepare kids for the new babies who will soon be coming.  A new clinic opened up, and a new teacher aid was needed!

I had so much fun making her- I call her Mireya.  Kids don't all come in one color, and I tried to choose a color scheme for this little mama and baby that many children could identify with as they learn about birth.  She's gone to the clinic now, and dressed in a hospital-issue gown.

The hair is Lion's Brand fisherman wool yarn- it's soft and warm and squishy.  The body is a sturdy cotton twill, with a stretchy lycra womb (a kangaroo-style pouch on her stomach.)  I stitched the face by hand, with two-tone eyes (caramel and chocolate floss.)

mama doll face

The baby has a snap belly button, to attach to the umbilical cord/placenta.  (Funny little aside, Ernie stuffed the placenta for me, and spent the rest of the day rolling that word around in her mouth.  Placennnnnta.  Placennnnta.  Is it "La placenta?"  It sounds Spanish.  I don't think I'd call MY baby Placenta.")

baby doll belly button and umbilical cord

He has blue eyes, and a fuzzy head full of newborn hair.  I love newborn hair!  Mine never have any :)

(I added a mouth after this picture- just a little blip of pink lips.)

baby doll face

baby doll hair

Mama and baby.
mama and baby doll

I had so much fun making these- it was nice to get back into doll work after a  year or two hiatus.  I'd still like to open my doll shop one day.  Some day :)

(Scroll down for a full shot of the dolls, if you'd like.)

mama and baby doll

Thursday, December 15, 2011

How to Make an Advent or Count Down Candle

Advent candle

Materials Needed:
1 taper candle
permanent, fine-tip, marker
a festive sticker

This was such an easy thing to put together, but the kids have really enjoyed it, so I thought I'd throw the idea out for anyone who'd like to have their own.

Lay your candle out next to a ruler, and measure from the top tip to about an inch and a half from the bottom.  Divide this number by 25, and mark off each section with a permanent, fine-tip, marker (I used a colored Sharpie.)  Label each mark with a number, and put a festive sticker at the bottom to mark the big day.

This has been such a big hit, we might do these for other events- counting down to birthdays, the arrival of relatives, last day of school..... if you can't find a sticker you like, you could use a pressed flower or picture on a thin piece of tissue paper, and use melted bees wax or paraffin, painted under and over, to secure.  

Monday, December 5, 2011

Getting Ready for Christmas

Christmas is exploding all over in here!

I don't know why, plastic and lights and fiber optics all just make me so, so happy this time of year!

The girls decorated the tree Saturday night- what a great job!  Wonder Daddy did the lights, I helped with the garland, and then I sat on the couch and just watched :)  Way to go, girls!!  We have such a collection of ornaments, it's funny- my childhood, his childhood, their childhood.... just so many little, colorful, things :)
building the gingerbread house

The girls and I went on a special trip to the store this morning for a gingerbread kit, while Cocoa slept.  (Have I told you that there are definite perks to having an unemployed husband??  Gosh GOLLY we love having him around!!)

building the gingerbread house

building the gingerbread house

I figured out the trick- you need to decorate all the walls and roofs BEFORE you assemble the house.  Yes.  Let those suckers dry, then glue them all together.  No more suicidal gum drops.

building the gingerbread house

building the gingerbread house

Cocoa was pretty pleased to sit back and watch his sisters- he sure loves those girls!
building the gingerbread house

It helps that he hasn't figured out how to put anything in his mouth, or why he would want to!  (Is that weird?  That nary a toy or cracker ever goes from his fist to his mouth??)

This past weekend was the annual Festival of the Nativities at our church.  It's an enormous undertaking- the gym has hundreds of nativity sets displayed, all on loan from church members.  One large classroom is filled with pictures of Christ, another room is set up like a child's room with activities and a little video about Christmas.  Another is set up as a photo studio....

Festival of the Nativity

Pretty cute, right??  I'm partial to those angels....  my family helped with music too.  The vocal mics weren't ready at our start time, so I punted with a handful of piano pieces for about 20 minutes.  That was actually pretty funny- talking to my dad afterwards, he mentioned that we didn't get to start on time, because "they had some piano stuff going on."  Heehee, mea culpa!  Soon as the mics were up, I sang through a piece my sister and I worked up, and then we were joined by our husbands to sing Christmas carols, and Mom played for us.  I love doing music with my family- we all blend so well :)  After our time slot was up, I accompanied some wonderful sopranos for another hour.  Nearly two hours on that stage....this is MUSIC SEASON!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

December 1st

I haven't felt much like writing the last few weeks.

I turned 30.  Something about that seems so final.  It's easy to impress people when you're young, and doing big-people things on occasion.  Now, I'm not young, and I supposed to be able to do Big People things all the time!  The socks next to the bed and crumbs on the counter seem rather incriminating- definitely not feeling like Big People material over here.  But, I had a beautiful birthday.  My kids each got me a slipper and a package of candy- my feet haven't been cold in a week!  Mom and Dad ordered lots of books off my wish list, and wrapped up a Kindle Fire for me.  SO fun!  I've read 4 books in the past week.  I'm totally spoiled.  My brother found a really great glass work pendant necklace, and my husband's family sent the cutest Thanksgiving decoration, a wooden turkey head and feathers on metal spikes to latch into a pumpkin.  Instant holiday gobbler for the porch!  We couldn't find a big enough pumpkin this late after Halloween, so they hung out in my door wreath for a few days.  My sister's family found "gardener's therapy" lotion- awesome for this girl who always forgets to wear gloves in the garden.

My husband, after much thought and prayer, said good bye to his business partner, employees, and tax practice he's spent two years building.  Our marriage will be 8 years strong this year, and most of those years have been spent with him in college, studying madly for a CPA exam, or working 100 hour weeks building this business.  It was time to come home, and be with his family.  Get some house projects done.  Be here for family meals.  Play with the kids, and have time to play guitar.  We've been blessed in a lot of things, and this is no change- his business partner was perfectly amenable to this plan, and other financial constraints have changed so that we have some flexibility.  But wondering what we're going to do next wears me down!

Holiday preparations are ramping up- the kids are so excited!  We have everything but the tree put up.  We've entered our yearly negotiations of whether or not to get a fake tree.  No needles on the floor, no long drive every year, no driving on the freeway with a tree tied on top.  Downside?  No pine smell, not as magical, when the lights start failing the whole thing needs to be replaced, need to store it all year.  And if we get one, we couldn't possibly get one NOW- we'd wait till after Christmas, for the sales right?  And by then we're so totally DONE with everything having to do with Christmas decorations, that we don't even look at the sales!

Our two fish, Stella and Hazel, have passed quietly on.  The first was buried in the yard, the second (a few days later) was flushed.  My poor kids- when they asked where it was, I said it was with their cousins' fishies.  Swimming in the great sewer system in the sky.  They thought I meant I'd taken the fish to live in my sister's aquarium.  I actually feel really terrible about these fish.  Until I brought them home and started reading, I had no idea it was a bad idea to stick two goldfish in a little 1 gallon bowl.  I guess they need 10 gallons EACH.  I think the second fish might have been eating the first one, too- seemed awfully hungry and listless once she was removed.  If we try fish again, I'll get a bigger tank.  Maybe set up an aquaponics system.