Thursday, December 25, 2008

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas...

From our family to yours,

Merry Christmas!

Although I know the traditional twelve days of Christmas occur AFTER Christmas, this concludes my own series. It's been fun to share with you our anticipation of and participation in the joy of creating Christmas memories. Thank you for reading.
E, J, O. and N.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

On the Eleventh Day of Christmas...

He sees you when you're sleeping. He knows when you're awake.

He knows if you've been bad or good,
So be good for goodness sakes!O! You'd better watch out. You'd better not cry.
You'd better not pout, I'm telling you why.

Santa Claus is coming to town!!!

And his cute little elf, too.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

On the Tenth Day of Christmas...

...we finally left the house for some festive family fun! First, to Krohn Conservatory to see the live nativity and the Christmas plants display (and to explore the rain forest, says O.).

Then, to Museum Center for the Holiday Junction train display (and to see the dinosaurs, says O.).

We told O. he had to take care of his sister on the train ride. Look how well he's doing his job, evil eye to the other kid and all.

Hope you're all having wonderful holiday adventures as well!

Monday, December 22, 2008

On the Ninth Day of Christmas...

We tried to get a decent picture to send out as our Christmas card this year. After last year's abysmal attempt at a professional portrait, we decided to just try it at home. Although I had purchased cute dressy outfits for each kid with the goal of wearing them for this picture, when the time came, and we still had decorating the tree ahead of us, I thought maybe they would just be more comfy in their matching pj's.
We set them up in front of the fireplace, N's chair draped in a Christmas-y blanket, and Christmas toys at the ready for distraction purposes.Here's N. with the juice box I gave her to avoid a meltdown. Of course, she still had one as soon as I took it away from her to start the photos.

After a failed attempt at O. standing next to the chair, we tried it with O. sitting in front of the chair. N. , not happy with him invading her space, tries to kick him out of the way.
Mommy jumps in to readjust children and make funny "smile" noises, and Daddy snaps the photo at just the wrong time.
I never would have believed it if you'd told me I'd be posting a photo of my behind for the world to see.
And then we got a couple that are good of ONE child, but not the other. Notice we changed our mind about the pajamas midstream and put on parts of the dressier option. Nice ensemble, O. Oh, fine. NOW you smile.
If I was for sending a picture out that reflected my children's true personalities, this would be the one. (O. pretending to be a dinosaur, N. pretending to be angelic.)

But, here's the keeper. Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

On the Eighth Day of Christmas...

...there were some sweet treats being baked up in the kitchen of the Small World. First, we worked on Mommy's famous peppermint chocolate bark.

N. really only liked the candy canes with the plastic on them. Figures. If there's no choking/falling hazard, she's out.
O. was a good chocolate stirrer, but the most fun was chopping the candy canes up in the blender and seeing peppermint "smoke" billow out the top of it. (I have since discovered, while trying to make a fatten-up smoothie for N., that my blender is now officially only good for candy cane crushing duty. I blended that ice cream/frozen berry mess for a good five minutes and only got a few of the chunks smoothed out.)
And then we were on to the cookie press cookies. (Oh, and MEP, there are the peanut butter jammie balls too -- no one has eaten a single one). O. spilled a good 3/4 of the container of sprinkles on the floor, then used the rest to cover one pan of cookies before losing interest. He was enthused about preparing these specially for Santa, stating "Santa likes his sprinkles nice and flat, so I will pat these down really good."
N. arrived on the scene late, after a nap, and took her rock star sunglasses off long enough to play the sugar maracas.And to close the lid on the project for me. I'm the only one that has eaten these cookies. O. prefers the ones I bought for 1.29 at Kroger that come in a box with cartoon snowmen printed on it.
Oh well, it's all about the memories, right? (Speaking of, that's my grandma's tablecloth we're working on, from the kitchen table I grew up making cookies around.)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

On the Seventh Day of Christmas...

The kids spent some time making their lists and checking them twice before sending them out to Santa Claus. Here's N. looking over the Toys R Us ad for pictures of babies, marker in hand.

And here they are affixing LOTS of stickers to Santa's letter, to make sure they survive the trip to the North Pole. N. has somehow gotten one on her forehead.
Can you tell we sort of live at the kitchen table? Check out N's favorite books, her face down baby, and the dancing snowman she loves. O's stuff must be on the other end.
I just realized that a good third of the pictures I've posted or plan to post this year take place around it. Part of that is due to the fact that the dreaded stomach bug has kept us inside much of this season, but really, this is where the action is in the Small World.
Hope Santa is reading all of your letters carefully and bringing you what your heart desires.

Friday, December 19, 2008

On the Sixth Day of Christmas...

O had his first Christmas program at preschool! In the week or so preceding, I kept asking him if they were practicing any songs for school, and the only thing I could get out of him was "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star." I thought this sounded a little lame, but maybe my expectations for three year olds are a bit high.
The day of the program, J. asked him about it, and O. revealed that they had been to "church" to practice. J. asked if they were singing Christmas songs, and he said "only the God ones."
Sure enough, the night of the program, we were treated to the most adorable rendition of something called "The Little Shepherd," a song and narration show involving lots of hand motions. The cutest one was a repeated refrain of "a box of hay??!!" with arms out in an astounded, questioning way.
Here they all are, lined up in the church to sing:
Here's my boy looking particularly pensive and angelic, as all those around him perform different motions.
And, for hard core fans, here's a low quality video of a few seconds of the performance. I didn't remember I could take a video with my camera until close the end, when things were falling apart a bit, but you can get a sense of things, including the crying baby in the audience (not mine!). I'd love to hear your own memories/stories of Christmas programs in a comment!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

We interrupt these days with...

...a little review of last night's episode of Top Chef, featuring...wait for it: the 12 Days of Christmas! Well, it was actually 11 days, since no one pulled a knife for Four Calling Birds.

I was pretty pumped to see this as the theme, because, you know, I'm a dork. It was pretty sad to see how it all turned out, though.

This could have been an amazing challenge, working to get all of the contestants thinking creatively and producing witty and pretty dishes. But it didn't work out that way. I don't know if it was the fact that in addition to making them follow a theme, they also had to cater to a huge number of people solo. I hate to echo the judges, but you really CAN'T win Top Chef by making deviled eggs. Well, tell that to Ariane, who has now won TWO challenges by cooking meat. Turkey breast in a toaster oven, and lamb in a regular oven. What does it tell you about this year's competition that not serving something raw or burnt is what earns you a win?

I am starting to grow a soft spot for those Europeans, they're getting endearing in their attitude, or maybe it's just that I want someone to step up and show off. Where is my Richard Blais and his food knowledge? I mean even Lisa, my least favorite contestant of all time, had rocked out the miso bacon by this time in the season, hadn't she??

However, Jeff is becoming a bit of a rock star, isn't he? Though I didn't really follow the logic of that "island leaping" cheese, his dish last night looked yummy.

I'm a little uncomfortable with the edit of Hosea, the player, when it's now been shown he not only has a girlfriend at home, but also a sick father. What's up with that??

I'm still wondering about this "holiday reprieve" of not sending someone home and wondering what the real reason was. Was there more to the refrigerator incident than we saw? Because if it was really so bad, why NOT send someone home??

That's all I've got on that for today. What are your thoughts on this season, and how many of you will be interrupting your Christmas Eve plans to watch the special holiday episode next week???

On the Fifth Day of Christmas...

...we decorated our gingerbread house! Because we had such a hard time keeping ours standing up last year that I had to hot glue it together, this year I bought a pre-assembled one. However, this is what it came out of the box looking like:

However, you may notice in the photo that the box is UPSIDE DOWN on the table. O. decided he needed to take it out by himself, so that may have had something to do with the broken roof and wall.

Wouldn't you think that a gingerbread house kit that comes with the house already assembled,
would be super easy to decorate? That's what I thought, too. But no, the icing, rather than being the kind in a pouch (as in a tube of cinnamon rolls), was powder that you had to haul the mixer out to transform into icing. And the directions came with three different house designs, with instructions that said things like: "roll out gumdrops and shape into ribbon pieces", and "mint leaves may be snipped into tree shapes" Seriously?

No, we much preferred the
"lake of icing on the table to dunk candy into" technique.

And the "rake fingers through rooftop icing and smear on face" technique.

And voila! The saddest gingerbread house you ever saw!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

On the Fourth Day of Christmas...

We got a little snow!
Enough to haul the sled out and head down the hill beside the driveway. Not enough to think we had to get on the snow pants and boots. Besides I'm not sure we have the right sizes this year, and it's always a gamble as to whether or not we'll need them in southwest Ohio.

Daddy's getting ready to give O. a push.

Here's the course: watch out for obstacles!

Scout says, "Hey, you left the baby sitting in the driveway."

Oh, okay, Scout. Here she goes, too!

Wishing you and yours a white Christmas and time to play in it!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

On the Third Day of Christmas...

...while listening to old favorite Christmas albums (Charlie Brown and the Brady Bunch), we decorated our Christmas tree!

Our tree is decorated with a mix of "special ornaments" from my childhood and beyond as well as lots of colored glass balls for shininess. My parents bought my brother and I a special ornament of our choice every year, and then gave all of them to us when we got married. I'm starting the same tradition for my kids, so far by buying them ornaments that match their personalities/interests. N's this year is the vintage Fisher-Price barn ornament from Hallmark, because of her love of Old MacDonald and animal sounds, while O's is a blue triceratops he picked himself.

O was very meticulous this year with the ornaments, admiring each one, listening to the story behind it, and then finding the perfect place for each, keeping in mind which ones shouldn't be in N's reach.
Here he is admiring his handiwork.

N., who is currently infatuated with pictures of babies, carried around any ornament that had a photo on it.

Almost finished...Notice the outfit change? We started the process after our Christmas card photo shoot, in which the kids wore matching pajamas, and O didn't want to take his off at first. Later, I talked him into putting on his "soft pants" (his word for sweats)

Ta Da! As usual, I will submit this photo as an entry in the "Rigged, Uncle Jim Always Wins Because He Makes the Rules, But What Else Is New" family Christmas tree contest.

What's your favorite Christmas tree ornament?

Monday, December 15, 2008

On the Second Day of Christmas...

We went to go get our Christmas tree!
Grandma and Grandpa came along to get theirs, and it was COLD. We're not quite up for the "stomping around the Christmas tree farm and cutting our own" thing, so we go to a nursery that has a few fun extras, like farm animals and a straw maze.

J. told O. this was the one we were going to get. Look at his face. Mean Daddy.

Now we're in amongst the full sized trees, and he's much more excited. I don't know what N's doing -- she makes this face all the time. It also means "cat" but there wasn't one around that I could see.

N. was most excited about this inflatable snowman outside the straw maze. She kept punching it and laughing uncontrollably.

O. liked seeing his goat friends from last year. (Quote from 2007: Hi goat! My name's O. What is your name? Will you be my friend?") He didn't have anything quite as cute to say this year. Instead, he got occupied with throwing ice from a frozen puddle around, and then was upset when his mittens were wet and dirty.

And here is the whole family with the tree we picked!

Stay tuned to see it decorated...