I know we're decorating amateurs (one step up from lamos) but here are some shots of us trying to get in the spirit. Seriously, I do try.
Our nativity set is by Willow Tree. I know lots of other people have it. Someone recently told me, not knowing I own this, they find it creepy the figures are faceless. Doesn't bother me. I love this set; the postures bring me comfort but most of all I love that Mary is holding baby Jesus - in other sets he is almost always lying in a manger. I also know this set has more pieces but I kind of like this simplicity. Again, love my photo ropes from Photojojo! Holds all our Christmas cards with magnets, and I hang the ones the kids know lower so they can look at them, which they love to do. Year by year I am slowly transforming our ornament collection, from odds-and-ends hand-me-downs to ones that we pick out and have meaning for us, plus a few heirloom favorites from growing up. How do you like the triple-scoop ice cream cone ornament in the middle there? Ginger and I picked it out at Kohl's. I also got an awesome globe one at Crate & Barrel. But my favorite? In the Michael's dollar aisle I found initial ornaments for $2 each, and they even had all of our initials! Sorry I didn't take a picture. I'll try to remember to go back and do that. And per Tona's request on this VGP post, here's the cupcake Dessert Club ornament my Mom made. By the way, you are following me on VGP this month, right? I'm doing a post a day. And it's all really yummy stuff. Come visit.This advent tree is the girls' FAVORITE part of Christmas preparation at our house. Alternating days, one hangs the ornament, the other choose the hook it will hang on. They remember every day. Plus it's great for counting and subtraction practice. THANK YOU to amazing KAT who MADE this for us!!! The wall by the front door is adorned with Christmas (and a few Hannukah) crafts that have come home from school. So much cuteness. The Little People Nativity Set is, can I just say yet again, the best Christmas present we ever got!!! We keep it packed up with the Christmas stuff so it only comes out once a year for about a month and the kids love, love, love to play with it. Truly it is a gift that gives every year. The play has developed over the years, from just holding/hitting/chewing to complex set-up and storytelling, and that is what makes it so wonderful, for all ages. Sometimes we also pull it out in the summer for a short time when we are desperate for something new. One year I will get my act together and buy one of these for the nursery at church.Our first substantial snow, a few inches at least, came on December 16, Hazel's last day of school. Luckily just a few days earlier I had gotten out the snowboots to see if everyone's still fit. After that, they insisted on wearing them everyday. Which worked out pretty good.On December 17 we attended a Christmas pageant at Ginger's preschool. I was totally sick so I let Hazel take the pictures. Ginger's class were reindeer and the entire thing was as adorable as you could imagine.And finally, does anyone else's wrapping station look like this? I'm adding "wrapping room" to my dream house list. I'm trying to compensate for the craziness of the last few weeks and months by planning the chillest, calmest, low-keyest Christmas ever. My parents will come over for a fairly regular dinner Christmas Eve, followed by some kind of relaxed Family Home Evening. We probably won't even follow our traditional program of readings and songs. Maybe we'll read some of the kids Christmas books or let them choose some songs. There will of course be dessert. Christmas morning will be jammies, some kind of leisurely breakfast buffet, the aforementioned bouncer, and present opening. Something simple for dinner. Maybe a family walk or drive. Maybe a movie night. All I want us to do is CHILL.
Hi, is this month getting away from anyone else? Why does it go so fast? I was so ahead, and then one week later I was so behind! Maybe it has something to do with trying to prepare for a massive major holiday while also plowing through normal life. Maybe it has to do with being THE MOM, which means there is always so, so, so much to do. Maybe it has to do with variable health conditions around here, including a round of strep throat and my own occasional blinding pain due to nursing issues. It might also have to do with unpredictable night sleep, completing 3 years worth of continuing education units in just a few weeks so I can maintain my SLP certification, shopping/wrapping/shipping for 18 people, and shuttling kids to playdates, dance class, schools and lots of doctor appointments. I don't know, it's baffling.
But. Time to talk about gifts! I always love to hear what new coolness people have come up with for their loved ones. Unfortunately many of mine (except the kids) read this blog so I'll have to be general.
First of all, Ed and I have decided to be "practical" and get ourselves a new front door for Christmas. It's true, we need one badly and not having an Arctic draft blowing through our entire downstairs would be the ultimate gift that keeps on giving. It took me some time to mourn the element of surprise this decision lacks, but I am a grown-up now and that brings ups and downs alike.
But the kids are getting fun stuff! I tried a new tactic this year; I think it kind of worked. Usually I start buying early, and end up with entirely too much stuff for the kids. This year I wouldn't let myself start buying until December; by that point, I had been working on lists for months so I was able to pare down and pick only a few choice things. Girls
DVD's (Ginger - Muppets Christmas Carol, Hazel - Toy Story 3)
Super froofy pettiskirts from Costco (Ginger - blue, Hazel, purple)
Books, PJ's, and matching Wiggles T-shirts (Ginger's request)
And their BIG gift this year is this inflatable 2-person bouncer. We're going to inflate it Christmas eve and have it waiting for them in the living room Christmas morning. The homeowner in me hates how big it is, especially since there's no good place to put it, but the Mom in me is thrilled to have something for them to JUMP on - maybe we won't break a couch this year!
fruity Tootsie roll banks
mini clicky instruments from the Michael's dollar bin
measuring tapes (the real ones, heavy metal, from Home Depot - they love to play with the one from our toolbox)
Band-Aids (Ginger - Cars, Hazel - Dora)
There are eight kids in Ginger's preschool class. Luckily one of the other moms got us organized and collected for a group gift - $10 per family for a Tysons Corner (mall) gift card. Who wouldn't love $80 to spend at the best mall around?
Not quite so organized for the kindergarten class. Hazel has two teachers so I perused some of the comments in my past gift posts, and went with simple but hopefully useful: movie passes, two each. They'll like those, right?
Poppy I wasn't going to get Poppy anything this year. There's just nothing she needs but to play with the wrapping paper and bows. But in the end I broke down and got her exactly three things:
Nothing for her stocking. In fact, she doesn't even have a stocking. We hung up my old childhood one for her. I'll make her one next year. Or the next year. Actually, we just discovered today that she likes grapefruit. Maybe we'll put one in her stocking.
Unfortunately I can't go into what I got the aunts, uncles, cousins and Ed, but I think I did well this year. We pick families on each side, so we had my sister Tona and Ed's brother Preston. I conferred with Tona - she has kids age 10-18, and this year it's all about gift cards. I remember being a teenager and that truly is the most appreciated gift, and also the easiest to get, so that family is done. (Do you think I can pull it together and package them this way? We'll see how the week goes.) And Preston has four kids, the three youngest of which are about our kids' age so that was easy to come up with. And for his 10-year-old, I consulted Tona's 10 and 13 year olds for recommendations and they had good ones. Done!
Finally, I was browsing around on Design Mom tonight and thanks to her super suggestion, I ordered this for my grandma in her 90's - just in the nick of time for Christmas delivery! Grandma lives in Oregon and I have only gotten to see her a handful of times in my life, though we have written. How pathetically sad that I have never sent her a Christmas gift. That is going to change starting now.
So now let's hear it from you - what are you getting your kids, your spouses, your relatives, your parents? Any *big* gifts this year? I could especially use ideas for your husband's stocking. I might be short a few things.
I just passed through the kitchen and found this note on the counter:I figured it's just another of the thousand papers laying around the house that Hazel has written or drawn on, and picked it up to throw it away.
But I couldn't. Because it was taped down. Taped to a goody plate some friends had brought us earlier today. Ed looked over and laughed at my confusion. "Hazel have the fug? Ginger to have the fug? What does that mean?" I asked him.
Earlier tonight, just after dinner, the girls asked if they could have something from the plate for dessert. We opened it up and I told them all their options. Ginger chose a peppermint taffy. Hazel had a chocolate cookie. And then they both said they wanted the only piece of fudge tomorrow. "Yeah, well, that's only if I don't eat it," I told them.
Hazel took it to heart. Later , she was clearing the table under Ed's direction and told him she had to go do something quickly. A few minutes later she came down from the office with this sign she had made, and asked Ed to tape it to the plate for her. Because she knows her Mom well. And because there is no messing around when it comes to "the fug."
Well here she is, our big baby on the downhill slide to 1 year. Hallelujah. This age definitely brings its own challenges but I'm super glad to be out of the newborn era.
So. Poppy has changed a ton in the last month. First, she actually sleeps most of the night most of the time. Progress! Next, she cut her first tooth (bottom right) on November 17 and loves to feel it with her tongue and fingers.She has also made the executive decision to skip baby food and go straight for the good stuff. Despite having only one tooth, and a tiny nub at that, she insists on having whole crackers, bread heels, carrot sticks, whatever we will give her that is not fed by a spoon. I've scoured the grocery shelves and come up with some unexpected solutions - more on that in a future post.
Poppy's current nicknames include One-Tooth Wonder, The Great Pooparoopa and Ruggabugga. Because she is often found face down on the rug. This kid is ready to crawl but just not there yet. She sits for awhile, then spots something out of reach and dives for it, usually ending up on her face or in a split configuration any dancer would envy. We're just glad she's not crawling yet, and hopefully won't until after Christmas (all those low hanging ornaments are just too great a temptation.)
Here are a ton of pictures. She has a crest of hair that stands up straight unless I hairspray it down (which I only did once, for the photo shoot. When her hair is wet down in the bath the girls say she looks like a boy.) You can see it well in these pictures: Favorite toy: the remote - Chewing on her "mini me", our baby doll Zoe - I just LOVE this hunched over concentrating posture they do at this age. Often accompanied by a focused groan - And, I never, ever, ever get tired of this smile: That's our 7-month-old!
(This is one of those rare posts that is like, which blog do I put this on? But in the end it is more about what we did than what we made, and besides, it is all recipes I've posted before. Except one.)
One of the things we did to keep busy while Hazel was on fall break, and Ed was gone hunting, was to make some fall goody plates for our neighbors. Although we have been in the house over a year we are still very slowly meeting the neighbors. Not the ones right next door and across the street, but the ones around the corner, the ones down the street, the ones down the street and around the corner. We have met some through walking to school, and some through Hazel's classmates. Some through other neighbors and some through conversations in passing. It is a new experience for us, to meet our neighbors and build relationships with them, in a we-are-all-going-to-be-here-awhile way. We've never had a neighborly community. It's kinda nice. And we wanted to show that with, what else, goodies.
Over two days the girls and I made: Gingersnaps Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread Shanna's Ooey Gooey Caramel Popcorn (with almonds) Apple Bread (this was the new recipe; it is a variation at the bottom of this muffin recipe) Then we packaged them up and delivered them in the stroller, I think six or seven plates in all. We got nice-looking paper plates at the grocery store, and autumnal ribbon and stickers from the craft store. New fine-point Sharpies and white tags from Staples topped things off. Making goody plates is fun. What would you put on yours?