This will probably be a very long post, so get a snack.
What is that mess?, you might wonder. Well, let's see...
That would be the five ornaments I made for the annual ornament swap organized by one of the crafting blogs that I read. (Yes, I read a lot of blogs.) The category this year was "Fairy Tales," and it took me a couple weeks of thinking about that and not coming up with anything before I decided on these... things. And by "decided," I mean I dumped out the bag of supplies I bought for Chloë's canceled 7th sleepover Fairyland birthday party and started sticking things together in the hopes that they would look, well, fairy-ish.
Steph said they looked okay. I kept asking her if they looked stupid. She kept saying no. If you disagree, please tell me. I won't care! They're kinda pretty anyway, whatever they are. (Whatever they are is 18-gauge wire wrapped in lace and porcelain flowers.) Fairy tutus? Halos? Skirts? I don't know. Use your imagination. Yeah, your imagination, that was the plan from the jump. *wink, wink*
Each participant is matched up with five others. Our exchanges started rolling in late last week, and this one was the first. A cool idea, it's made with, I think, old Christmas cards découpaged onto an empty ribbon spool. I don't know that it fits the theme so much, but then again, last year I completely forgot there was a theme, and who really cares, anyway?
The next one to come in was this huge guy, a painted wooden pegasus. I couldn't get Jack to smile and not blink at the same time, so never mind that. The girls loved this one!
I love this one, which arrived yesterday. It's Rapunzel!! In her tower! What a cute, clever idea. Very nifty. It wins the gold star for the exhange from me ... so far. Who knows what tomorrow will bring?
Two more to go!
This past Friday, we had Chloë's Brownie troop's feast. The kids never went to school that day, so we were the first to arrive at the church at the agreed-upon time of 0330. The night before, I had put together these bags for each of the Brownies, just as a sort of little party favor thing. Basically, I had 8 of everything from the Advent box left over, and since there are 8 girls in the troop, well, der. It was a no-brainer. (The gift bags in the back were for Jack at the feast, Sophie, and Chloë's to exchange.)
I just used some of my scrapbooking supplies to make their little name tags, and I thought they looked okay, but Chloë loved them! It's good to get the seal of approval from your kid, right?
So, we dropped her off, and then the Littles and I ran to the party store to do a mystery shop. For my required $5 purchase, I got all of these pretty long-stemmed lollipops. Don't they look gorgeous? I was going to save them for gift-toppers and stocking stuffers (that first came out "stucking stoffers"), but the kids wanted one NOW, and I gave in. I mean, why not? But they are just so pretty, I like looking at them.
Oh, we ran to Target after that, too, because it was right next to that party store, and I had more coupons for $15 off a Blu-Ray/DVD combo (G-Force, this time), along with some other stuff. I forget what. Oh, rechargeable batteries, which is great now that we have a battery recharger (totally worth it), two disposable Kodak cameras that I got for free for the kids to take to Great Wolf Lodge, and a couple other small things. No pictures. Lucky you. We ran home to pick up Rob, before heading back to the church for the feast.
Sophie didn't feel well. Chloë didn't feel well. When we got there, she was sitting around, feeling miserable, trying not to cry. Not helping with the cooking and set-up, which was fine with me and the Leader, I guess, because she was visibly sick. Did she want to go home? No, she wanted to stay. Perhaps we should have left, though, because they kept coughing and not covering their mouths, despite the thousand reminders we kept giving them...
Jacky didn't feel too well either, but he was the best feeling of the bunch. I don't know why Rob was putting on the stiff upper lip here. Don't ask me.
After we ate, the girls sang a few songs for us. If you can see the wet spot on Chloë's pants (far right), she didn't have an accident. Rob spilled his gravy on her, or his drink, or something. Poor thing!
Then the girls did their Flag Ceremony. You'll probably have to turn the sound way up; I can barely hear it at all. Can you?
Afterward, it was time to hand out all the patches, Try-Its and other rewards the girls have earned so far this year, their third in Brownies. They started out together in kindergarten as Daisies, and most of the girls have been together since the beginning. It's pretty cool.
Everything Chloë's earned so far this year. There was another Try-It that she earned, but since she's already gotten that one (a year or two ago, when I took her to the local Girl Scouts HQ in Chesapeake for activities apart from her troop), she doesn't get a second one.
Finally, it was time for the gift exchange! Jack was particularly eager to get his present, which turned out to be just another Hot Wheels car, along with a pencil sharpener/eraser combo from the Book Fair. Exciting to him, though; he just can't get enough of them! Sophie got more of the extra stuff from the Advent box and a multi-colored pen I had picked up from the Book Fair. She seemed to like everything okay.
After all the girls, and the siblings, had their gifts, everyone opened them and shared with each other what they'd gotten. I feel really bad, because we gave a Webkinz, and it turned out not to have a tag on it! I never noticed... but I should have looked, because Sophia has been known to take them off in the past. D'oh!! J., the girl who got it, was really understanding and non-plussed about it, but I still feel terrible. We are on the hunt!
We packed up and left shortly after that, ostensibly to get the sickies home, but I also had to run and do another party store shop before they closed. I was going to get more lollies for the kids, but then I remembered that I am collecting all of their decorations for when Rob turns the big 4-0 in a few years. This time, I got the big banner to hang; last time, I got some candles. I thought I had bought a third thing, but now I can't find it...
Skipping around... On the 13th, last Sunday, we had a candle-lighting ceremony in our home for Robby and other children we know who have died. It was the Worldwide Candle Lighting, sponsored by the Compassionate Friends, but no one came even though we posted it - and invited everyone I know - on Facebook, and on the CF website. That's okay, though, because it meant I didn't have to clean! Next year, I'm hoping I can get with the program well in advance of the event and ask our church to host the event for us. There isn't a chapter for Hampton Roads, which is pretty surprising, considering its size and importance in the state. Er, commonwealth.
So, each of the kids, and then Rob and I, lit a candle. The kids stood around while Rob and I hugged each other and cried a wee bit. It's been almost seven years...
The day before that, on Saturday, was the Santa breakfast at the kids' school. I tell you what, this Santa thing is so weird. The kids "know" that he's not real, but I don't think they quite believe it, because they're still just as excited about him as always. Weird, right?
Rob had to work, but then he didn't because his radiator sprung a leak, so he had to fix that whilst I took the kids to the Santa breakfast. The first thing we did was eat our reakfast. We really didn't eat much at all, and for the most part, all of that stuff you see on the table got stuffed into my purse for later!
Midnight the (blue) Panther made an appearance after we finished eating, and my kids, especially Chloë, never get tired of seeing him. I remember when she was in kindergarten or first grade, Midnight went "away" to visit the troops in the Middle East, and she was absolutely heartbroken about it the entire time!
While we were waiting in line for the kids to sit on Santa's lap, the girls wrote him letters about what they wanted for Christmas. Chloë didn't let me see hers, but all Sophia wrote was her name before dropping hers in the mailbox!
Finally, it was time to meet the Big Guy! The kids were all smiles as they posed for pictures and whispered to him what they might like. None of them would tell me what they told him. But, they know that their Christmas present this year is the trip to Great Wolf Lodge, so hopefully they'll understand that as far as big gifts go, that is IT! (And feel free to tell me how cute my babies are! ♥)
The each got a coloring book and another small present, but I'll be darned if I can remember what they were. They probably do... actually I think the girls each got a necklace and bracelet set, and a lipgloss keychain. Jack can't remember what he received. Oh, right, he got a little finger skateboard, and a hackey sack which was lost before we even left that morning.
We headed to the craft tables after that. The first one was for the six-and-under crowd, but at the very end of the event, they let Chloë do it, too. They decorated cookies with red and green frosting and all kinds of sprinkles. Sophie ate hers before I could take a picture. Not surprising. Everything goes right into the mouth.
The girls colored pictures to hang up in the cafeteria after that, while Jack played with his hackie sack. Rob showed up then, surprising us all!
A little moment of joy, on the part of a small boy
Rob took the girls to make ornaments, but before we left, Rob had broken Chloë's silver ball, and Sophia had ripped the reindeer bits of her candy cane and eaten it. Such is life!
The day before that, Friday, was Sophia's Christmas breakfast at school. No cameras allowed, so I can't show you anything from that. It was really cute, though. The kids performed songs and poems, and they were just as adorable as could be. We all ate breakfast together, and it was a mighty feast. There were snacks and fruit and sandwiches and pies and cakes and all manner of things I can't eat. I had egg salad and tuna salad, and I was grateful it was there.
Earlier that week, we went to Open House at the girls' dance classes. First was Sophia's Music in Motion class. She's SO silly. And she looks so big compared to the other girls, most of whom were three years old. She'll be five in April. Not that she cares about the size difference. She just adores Miss Jessica and going to dance class. It's a whole different world from going to soccer!
The next class was Chloë's Jazz I. When she focused, she was pretty good at it... but she wasn't good at focusing. It was very apparent that she is having a hard time paying attention, not just in school, but at dance class as well. So, I guess we need to get her some help with that, to develop some tools for being able to focus on what needs to be done.
Finally, we watched her Ballet I class, which is her favorite. She seemed to pay attention a lot better in there, even though it was only her 2nd or 3rd week back to that class after soccer ended. That's meaningful, I know. I'll use that information when I'm teaching her on the boat!
All in all, I'm so proud of my lovely ladies and their accomplishments in dance. I love going to watch them perform and interact with their friends!
We baked a lot of cookies, the first Sunday in December. Not quite as many as I usually do, but still a lot. The girls helped bake; the boy helped eat.
And, I even broke from my strict "from scratch" only rules for the beginning of the baking, because we had mixes for gingerbread cookies and pumpkin spice cookies, and the children wanted them so. And, I usually give the vast majority of the cookies away, leaving my children wondering why they really couldn't have any, so I vowed not to do that to them this year. The mix cookies were just the thing. I didn't want to give those away, and the kids wanted them, so it all worked out just right.
I still had some of that frosting in the spray can, and the kids wanted that on their cookies. You may say nasty (and I may agree), but the kids say Yum!
Chloë added some Christmas sprinkles to hers.
And then, I started the "real" baking. Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures of all the cookies before I packaged them up and sent them away! Duh! But here are some strawberry linzer rounds. Don't they look delish?
More linzer rounds, some homemade Oreo-like cookies, rolled in crushed walnuts, and chocolate crackle cookies. Some of the cookies I made this year were from my old standby, the Crisco cookie cookbook that I've had for at least 15 years, but some were new, from the Martha Stewart cookie cookbook that Rob's sister gave me a year or two ago, for my birthday or Christmas. I love that book and want to make every variety in it! Someday, I will, too.
I gave the cookies away to three of our neighbors, each of the girls' three dance instructors, Steph (well, Tim, since Steph can't have any milk products thanks to Luke's allergies), and.. well, I guess that's it. Oh, and I took a bunch to Bunco. Usually I give some to the mailman and the fire department around the corner, too. At least. Guess I better get bakin'!
And now, you're pretty much caught up. Sure, there are things I've skipped over and pictures I've missed, but that's the big stuff. I have more pictures of Luke, but since they're old and I've shown more recent ones of him, I don't think I'll post those.
Oh, and one last thing: Please, please, PLEASE send me your address, so I can mail you our Christmas card. I have so many!!
Okay, I'm off to knit those three scarves and watch Slumdog Millionaire from Netflix. Toodles!