Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas Day 2015

Merry Christmas! We have had a long day of spending time with family and it has been wonderful!

Santa arrived early this morning and left a long letter thanking the girls for all of their Good Deeds. His letters are always on red paper with silver ink...
There were presents, of course.

Even the dog had gifts.
Of course, she's a dork and prefers to carry her toy like this!
We spent most of the day at Granny and Poppy's with Aunt Robin and Uncle Brandon and the cousins from Chicago. There were stockings full of all sorts of goodies...

And more presents for all...

After my sister's ordeal with breast cancer this year, when I discovered NPR's Best Books of 2015 list and saw a graphic novel called The Story of My Tits I guessed that Robin would appreciate the author's humor.
We spent most of the day eating and playing.

And some people even took naps...

Mom made another batch of oley koeck...
...we played Rae's new card game, put together two different 500 piece puzzles, told stories, chatted, and just enjoyed hanging out together. It was a good day.

This evening we came home and put away all of our new loot. We have plenty of books and games to keep us entertained through the next week. It has been such a good day...

2015 was a Harry Potter Christmas at our house! Both girls discovered the series recently (I read the first book aloud to Rachel) and are big fans. Between Santa and Aunt Robie, we now own the complete set of books, a copy of the Illustrated Sorcerer's Stone, a DVD of the first movie, a Harry Potter cookbook, and two (partially eaten) boxes of Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Christmas Celebrations

It's been a busy 24 hours at our house! Last night, we went to my mother's extended family Christmas gathering. As always, we crammed 40-some people into a house and spent the evening chatting, stuffing ourselves, and trying to avoid the roving hordes of kids underfoot. Just a typical gathering!

There were all sorts of finger foods and multiple batches of the fried fritters that are the only Dutch tradition my immigrant family chose to keep.
They are quite delicious, although you inevitably end up with powdered sugar down your front!
My cousin's baby, Korra, made her extended family debut and was the star of the night.

Santa has been coming to this Christmas gathering for generations. The current Santa also brings Mrs. Santa. She talks to the children and reads them a story, while Santa ho-ho-hos and pats his belly every time cookies are mentioned. The adults enjoy Santa's arrival as much as the kids.
And all the kids must sit on Santa's lap, especially if they think they're too big.
This gathering is an integral part of my own childhood Christmas memories, a constant in our year no matter where we were living. I am so grateful to pass on the tradition to my own girls.

(On a side note, Rachel was a little disappointed in the KC and the Sunshine Band CD that Santa brought her last night. But this morning, I stepped out of the shower to find Shake Your Booty blasting from the stereo and Rae shaking hers for all it was worth while grinning from ear to ear. Sometimes Santa knows what you need, even if you don't realize it!)

This morning was the children's Christmas program at church.
I feel a bit guilty, but for the first time ever, I had nothing to do with the pageant. I dropped the girls off at rehearsals and that's it. But the girls were just fine. Katherine had a speaking part and Rachel sang every word and did every action.
The program was terrific - sweet and simple and the kids knew every word.
Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Waiting for Christmas

I have had a hard time getting into the Christmas spirit this year. I think there have been several factors related to this. My girls have grown up and there are no longer endless opportunities to dress them up in Christmas clothes and have little photo shoots. The current political situation is both depressing and alarming and I find myself repeatedly lost in thought about refugees or gun violence or the hateful rhetoric spewing from the mouths of presidential candidates. And the weather has been ridiculously warm, which is lovely but doesn't put me in the mood for Christmasy activities. I put the tree up last week and most of the gifts have been purchased, but that's all I've really managed. So today I decided to spend the day on Christmas preparations and hope the spirit of the season would fill me.

It was in the 70's and balmy, but overcast all day so at least it looked like Christmas. I put on Christmas music and shopped for stocking stuffers and wrapped presents. The girls have been busy with our favorite Christmas tradition, their daily Good Deeds. They'd fallen behind, so we made cards and ornaments together.
We also made dipped pretzels. The girls always love doing this and we have fun telling stories about past years' pretzel making. (When Rachel was 2 she was so enthusiastic about shaking sprinkles that she smashed the pretzels and gummed up the shaker!)

The sight of all of those well-decorated treats always makes me happy.
Tonight be went caroling at the local Light Parade with friends from church. It was a balmy 65 degrees out, so no one had to worry about being cold!

The parade itself was delayed a few minutes while a brief thunderstorm moved through! We sought shelter in the entryway to a store and laughed at the absurdity of thunder and lightening in December. After ten minutes, the rain quit and the parade began.
It was a fun way to spend the evening and a nice end to a good day. The weather is still odd, the political situation is still lamentable, and my little girls are still growing up, but it has finally started to feel like Christmas!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

A Teeny Tiny Party

Rachel turns 8 on Monday, but we celebrated today. This afternoon she had three friends over for a Teeny Tiny party. Birthday parties are far too loud and chaotic for me to actually enjoy, but I sure had fun planning this one!

I made teeny tiny invitations, printed in 6 point type and then mailed them in larger envelopes.
Then last night Kate and I made and decorated teeny tiny "cakes" made of oreos and frosting.
When the girls arrived (and calmed down a bit) we had a teeny tiny art project. Each girl had a teeny tiny easel and an adorable two inch square canvas. They "painted" with bright colored sharpies.
Too cute!
Then we had a teeny tiny treasure hunt. I made teeny tiny clues...
...that sent them all over the house. I insisted that they walk with teeny tiny steps, too!
Katherine and I had set up little scenes with teeny tiny toys around each clue. The kids (and I) thought this was great fun.

The last clue led them to baggies of mini marshmallows, chocolate teddy grahams, and a large toothpick. When they came back to the kitchen I had votive candles lit for a teeny tiny s'mores roast.
Of course, I had to keep re-lighting the candles because they'd catch their marshmallows on fire and blow them out, blowing out the candle in the process.
It was quite entertaining!
The girls ran off to Rachel's room plan their own activities - making hair bows from notebook paper and bobby pins and trying on dresses from Rae's closet. Then they came back in for a teeny tiny snack.
I served the oreo "cakes", assorted teeny tiny cookies, and baby goldfish.
Then topped it all off with teeny tiny coke floats.
I was glad when everyone went home and my house was calm and quiet again, but Rachel and her friends enjoyed themselves. And teeny tiny everything was a lot of fun.

This evening both sets of grandparents came over for supper and cake. Rachel had three gift requests for her birthday. She wanted black boots and went shopping for them with Granny last week.

She wanted "something smelly" from Bed, Bath & Beyond. (We picked hand sanitizer.)
And she wanted a diary with a lock. Aunt Robie carried through and sent not one, but two diaries.
They were her favorite gifts, by far.
Katherine baked a red velvet cake and we sang to our almost 8 year old girl.
Happy Birthday, sweet Rachel! 8 is going to be awesome!

I love birthdays!

the ladybug cake

The Ladybug Sisters


Jie Jie and Mei Mei

Park Pictures

Park Pictures
Peeking through the windows

Park Pictures

Park Pictures
Katherine and her toothless smile

Park Pictures

Park Pictures
The little one leads the way