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Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas Wrap-Up

Is Christmas really over? We had our last family celebration last night (only 4 this year!), so now we are in recovery mode. Christmas is like going on vacation - you need another week after the holiday/trip to recover from it.
However, here are some of the highlights:
Homemade Mint Meltaways. Ooh, the yumminess.

Chocolate covered pretzels - ooh, the messiness.

The Christmas story on Christmas morning.
Trying out new presents: (Yep, a certain Grandma give Finger Paints) And of course there was lots of time spent with family and friends.
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas too!
Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas is Coming: Day 23

With the first Christmas celebration only a day away, I had almost given up on this last project. I just decided I didn't want to get all stressed out about a sewing project. True, I really wanted Brynn to have her new Christmas Dress, but she has three older cousins who have passed down awesome hand-me-downs made by Grammies and Aunties, so she didn't really need it. However, Friday arrived and I was in much better shape then I expected. I thought, I'll work on it today, and if it gets done, great, and if not, I'll be fine with that. I don't think I would have been fine with that, because I was way to excited when I got it done!
This was my first experience with a Mandarin collar. They certainly are more work, what with all the extra interfacings and facings, but they are super cute!

And can you believe it, while I finished hemming and sewing on buttons, Aaron made cookies! From mixing to baking, the man did it all on his own. I LOVE my husband.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas is Coming: Day 22

Day 22 brought the arrival of the last of my ordered presents. It's always a tense moment, waiting to see if everything arrives when it should. Thankfully, all my gifts have...but my Christmas photo has not. That took a grumpy email and a reorder, but my inbox tells me they should come tomorrow. I'm crossing my fingers.
Day 22 also brought snow. While the two bigger kids were outside, Blair was my trusty side-kick. This is her favorite little cubby-hole/hiding spot.

I also finished my last hand-made gift today. It's a sort-of-a scrapbook for Brynn, called "The Princess Book."

If you've read here very much, you've probably become aware that Brynn loves all things Princess. However, I am not as enamored with the notion of princessness, because of the intense emphasis on beauty and outward appearance. When Ian was really into Knights, I could easily find him stories that encouraged positive traits like honor and bravery and courage. If you search for books on Princesses, you get make-up manuals and fashion magazines. So, that's when I decided to make my own.

I bought tons of pink paper, stickers, and sparkly stuff. Then I picked some positive traits that I would love Brynn to develop: kindness, obedience, and being polite among others, and found Bible verses, poems, and stories (some modified) to illustrate those traits. I'm pretty happy with it, and I hope Brynn will be too. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas is Coming: Day 20 & 21

I think yesterday and today were the calm before the blizzard of Christmas. We took things a bit easier on the Christmas front - but that is not to say that we weren't busy.

Yesterday was still a school day - probably the last until after New Years. By coincidence, for our Bible lessons the past few days, we reached the section of the book on Christmas. Yesterday's story was Herod's "Slaughter of the Innocents" and I found myself choking up as I read. I don't often get that way when I read (as a former "history major" my reading in violence and atrocities is fairly extensive), so it really got me thinking. While people have done terrible things to each other throughout history, hurting and killing children has always been considered an extreme and utterly disgusting thing to do. People do not forget or forgive that sort of horror. Yet Herod was willing to sink to that depth to protect his unthreatened throne. Even at the very beginning of His life, people couldn't tolerate the very idea of Jesus. It is a very sobering thought during this joyful season.
Today was MOPS Day, although it wasn't a typical MOPS day. Instead of our usual meeting, we gathered at Libby's House - a Senior Care facility - and spent an hour singing Christmas Carols and handing out cards. Hearing a bunch of squeaky preschoolers sing Christmas songs is enough to make even the grumpiest crack a smile.

After singing, we moved on to decorating Christmas cookies. This job is a lot less painful when you share the "fun" with a bunch of other moms and kids.

Oh, and our day wouldn't have been complete if I had forgotten to mention that Brynnie's glasses arrived. So far she is quite willing to wear them.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas is Coming: Day 19

Christmas cookies. 'Nuf said.

There is one area into which my OCD does not extend, and that is frosting the Christmas cookies. I really don't like doing it at all. So, I let the kids have at it. They did remarkably well...until the end. After they frosted all the cookies, I went to get my camera and they began to "clean up" - by licking out the almost empty frosting bowls.

This little princess needed a bath to get all the pink frosting out of her hair!

Merry Christmas and happy eating!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas is Coming: Day 18

I guess my son doesn't believe in a day of rest. Sunday or not, he wanted to be doing - especially after the Packers lost their game. He asked every five minutes: "Is it time to do a Christmas project yet?" Eventually I managed to get enough other things cleared away to make that possible.
Here are the fixings of what we made:

Getting those sticky marshmallows out of the bag requires a unique method of concentration...

And here is the finished product - an individual serving of Hot Chocolate with Marshmallows and Peppermint Sticks to go with each of the mugs Ian decorated yesterday. Oh yummy. I MAY have blown my special diet and had one of my own.

With only a week to go, Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christmas is Coming: Day 15 & 16

Yesterday and today were all about finishing up those things that have been hanging over my head. Like Christmas shopping. I am not a person who finishes Christmas shopping months in advance, but I do like to be finished at least several days before Christmas. Yesterday I got most of it done, and tonight I'll finish up the bits that were hindered by having certain young people with me.

We also started the last of the major Christmas projects yesterday. I found about a bazillion ideas for coasters made from tiles on Pinterest, so I yesterday I cut up some old Christmas bags and mod podged them onto tiles. Then I sprayed them with some spray Art Sealer I had on hand. Today I glued felt to the back so they don't scratch table tops.

My little helper, Blair, wanted to see what was going on up on the table SO BAD!!!

Brynn helped by making lots and lots of Christmas Cards.

Ian had a project all his own. Using special markers made for glass he decorated 10 mugs and 1 bowl with special Christmas messages. It was a real test of his writing and concentrating skills. Here are the results of the our labors over the past two days (including the Kolste Christmas Letter signed and folded - waiting for the pictures to arrive):
I think we can take the rest of the evening off and go for a drive to look at Christmas Lights.
Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas is Coming: Day 15

Yikes! Is it the 15th ALREADY? Slow and steady is going to have to crank up the pace just a bit here!

Today I worked on a little bit of this and a little bit of that - some of that slow and steady stuff. Then, these two desperadoes helped me make some Mexican Wedding Cakes. I should have taken an "After" shot, because the amount of powdered sugar sprinkled around the kitchen made it look like it had snowed inside the house, if not outside. But hey, when one black-hatted and one green-bandanad (how should I spell that?) characters show up offering assistance, you let them assist however they want.

Merry Christmas!

Christmas is Coming: Day 14

I think making things for my kids is one of the best parts of being a mom - especially for birthdays and Christmas. This year, though, I didn't come up with as many ideas as usual to make - maybe that's because there is no way I can mold plastic into legos or make tea party pancake flippers. However, I did come up with a few ideas, and this is one of them:

As baby number three, Blair really doesn't need more toys (or maybe I just don't want more noisy, cluttery, annoying baby toys) or even many clothes. The few things she does need got passes along to Grandmas looking for ideas, so I was left thinking "It's a good thing she's only one, because she is going to have NOTHING to open on Christmas morning." Then, I got addicted to Pinterest, and found millions of ideas for busy books, so I got motivated to make Blair one of her own.
Here are a few of the pages (made from felt):

A zipper pocket on one side, to hold the pieces of a rainbow on the other side:

Huge buttons with button-hole flaps on the left and a clock with moveable hands on the right:I made each page on an individual piece of felt, so I didn't have to worry about how the back looked. Then, I zig-zagged two pages back-to-back. I guess my sewing machine doesn't like felt, because at one point, in protest, pieces inside came out and I thought I had destroyed my machine. I stared at it for a while, tried to imagine what my Dad would do in this situation, and somehow managed to pop everything back into place. WHEW! What a relief.

Late last night I bound all the pages together by hand.

Merry Christmas Blair!

Merry Christmas Everyone Else!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas is Coming: Day 13

On "my" side of the family, my three kids have four cousins. If you do the math (3 + 4 = 7), that means big fun. Between early November and early January, there is a window of time where each child is a different but sequential number. Got that? Basically, the oldest cousin is 6, the next oldest is 5, and so on down to 0. We have a tradition of taking a "Cousin Picture" every year during this time. This year we made all the girls similar skirts and decided to try for a really festive picture. You'd THINK that with 3 moms and a Grammie, this wouldn't be a big undertaking. You'd be wrong.

Here is my best shot - only one child not looking and no screaming.

As you can see, despite much excited jabbering and attention getting from the grownups, the situation quickly deteriorated.

A new pose didn't really help much.
Then we tried props (their ages):
And then they were DONE! Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas is Coming: Days 8-12

YIKES!! What in the world happened to the past few days? Here I was planning to be so dedicated and write something about our doings every day, and an entire weekend (and then some) came and went without a word. Oh well, that is sort of how the whole "getting ready for Christmas" thing seems to go every year. So, I'll just give you an ultra brief run down of a few of our activities.
DAY 8 (Thursday):
I sewed like crazy to make something to wear to Aaron's work Christmas party on Day 9. Being pregnant during Christmas is not so much fun!

DAY 9 (Friday):
I finally finished my outdoor decorations, copying somebody else's idea. I used a red planter and turned a tomato cage upside-down (Helpful hint: Put something heavy in the bottom of the planter so that the wind doesn't tip it over during the next several days).

Then I wrapped the structure in Christmas lights and garland, tied a red ribbon on top, and set it outside next to my front door. I had already put garland and lights over the door and on the railings, so with the addition of a few red lanterns, my decorating was complete. DAY 10 (Saturday):
And let me tell you, in case you wondered, even the tiniest piece of fudge causes a massive spike in blood sugar. But oh, was it worth it.
This is all that is left of that batch (on Day 12):
DAY 11 (Sunday):
Yesterday I started the family Christmas letter and started work on several projects - Brynn's Christmas Dress and Blair's Activity Book. Sorry, there just wasn't anything photo-worthy yet.

Day 12 (Today):
Today I finished the Christmas letter, but decided not to take a picture of the computer screen or the print version of the letter. If you want to see it, you'll have to make sure that you are on my Christmas card list!
So, there you go. Another boring Christmas list. But, now I can cross "Catch up on blogging" off of my list.
Merry Christmas

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Christmas is Coming: Day 7

I know, I know, today is December 8th. Sorry about that, but yesterday's project - or maybe I should say event - happened so late in the day that I didn't have time to write about it on the appropriate day. Day 7 was not spent decorating our house or making fun little craft items. It didn't even involve yummy smells and tastes coming from the oven. Instead, we went and rang our jingle bells beside the Salvation Army's red bucket at the local Kmart.

When the MOPS (Mothers Of Preschoolers) group I belong to decided to take a bell-ringing shift as a sort of service project, I thought it would be a good way to show my kids that Christmas is about much more then just "getting ready to get stuff and then getting the stuff." We were able to have several good conversations about appreciating what we have and also about caring for people who are less fortunate then we are as a result of this little effort.

Mostly, though, the kids just had a blast ringing their bells and driving the poor Kmart cashiers crazy with their noise.

Ian could NOT understand why so many grownups turned down his offers of candy. What is WRONG with those people?Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Christmas is Coming: Day 6

Yesterday, Ian spotted some white specks that MIGHT have been snow. We are walking out of the library, and he started screaming with excitement. Some passersby got quite a chuckle! It made me think about how much we look forward to things and how excited we get when our wishes are finally fulfilled. This train of thought eventually made me wonder how Mary must have felt as she waited for the birth of her baby - a baby she knew was special. She must have been so nervous as she waited and wondered what this baby would be like. She certainly had no idea that the time she waited for would become a holiday called Christmas, celebrated around the world.

While my thoughts may have turned to things spiritual, Ian's thoughts stayed fixed on snow. So, today we made snowmen....from marshmallows and candy. First, I made an example so the kids would know what to do.

Then I turned them loose. I have no idea how many supplies ended up in their tummies, but I think it was quite a few pieces.

The kids' versions turned out quite different from mine. Ian got frustrated when his traditionally shaped snowman kept tipping over, so he created a base. He takes after his engineer father. Then he decided to dress things up a bit by having his snowman roast marshmallows over a fire. Being a good firefighter, he made a bucket of water to have nearby, just in case. Brynn decided to copy her brother's idea of stabilizers, but ate the marshmallow parts instead. They had fun and I got some VERY creative snowmen for on top of my microwave. In the end, these were all that was left of my candy and marshmallows:
Merry Christmas!