Wednesday, December 24, 2008

On the 24th Day of Christmas. . .

. . . we worked a little magic.

We signed up to be bell ringers for the Salvation Army.  I have to say that despite all the Christmas activities we had been doing it was not really feeling like Christmas was just around the corner.  Standing there in front of Freddies with the girls, wishing everyone Merry Christmas and seeing all the smiles and well wishes we got, not to mention the generosity of strangers, really made it feel like Christmas.  I had no idea that people were so generous.  It made me feel a little cheap to see so many people putting $20 or $10, even $5 at a time.  I would say at least half the people that passed threw money in that little red pot.  

I am sure that having two adorable helpers didn't hurt.  But it made me feel the Christmas spirit.  The Christlike spirit that the season is really all about.  I have to admit, when we signed up to do this, the weather was in the fifties (two weeks ago) and I had no idea we would be getting a snow storm like nothing this city has seen in the last thirty years.  But despite cold toes, it was worth it.  I grumbled on the way there, but I am glad we didn't cancel, or go home early like we thought we  might.  My nine year old wanted to stay longer.  

I think we may be back next year, ringing that little bell and bringing in a little Christmas cheer and charity.

I hope you have enjoyed this little series, and seeing what we do for our 25 days of Christmas.  To see more of what we do each and every Christmas Eve as a family, visit my regular blog.  I will post about it tomorrow.  

On the 23rd Day of Christmas. . .

We read a few Christmas stories. 

I bought some new Christmas books this year.  It is always fun to read about Santa and Jesus and talk about the different ways people celebrate Christmas.  Tonight we read three stories:

My Penguin Osbert

Room for a Little One: A Christmas Tale

'Twas the Night Before Christmas

This year at our church Christmas party we also received a bound booklet that was filled with a Christmas story a day for the 24 days leading up to Christmas.  Each day it has a scripture (that progresses through the story of Christ's birth) a Christmas carol, a thought that goes along with the theme of the night, an activity to do, and a Christmas story.  We did not do the whole book, but they are such cute stories and activities.  I am keeping it and will try to do it next year.  It might make deciding what to do a little easier.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

On the 22nd Day of Christmas. . .

. . . we were snowed in all day.  So Rob and I had a bake off.   I made two candies and he made one.  The goal was to see who could produce a better treat.  Technically, if you take a family vote (and add the stray friend or two) Rob won with his Perfect Penuche

I think my White Almond Fudge was equally as yummy.  

We all agreed, however, that I have yet to master the English Toffee.  Try as I may, it always comes out sugary.  

I cannot begrudge him his little victory, though.  It has been years of attempts (made entirely during the Christmas season) that has finally resulted in the Perfect Penuche recipe.  I will have to continue my quest for the perfect English Toffee recipe.  

We also spent hours on the golf course hill sledding.  For a glimpse at the fun we had go HERE.

Monday, December 22, 2008

On the 21st Day of Christmas. . .

. . . we had a gift exchange with our neighbors.

And for the occasion I made Peanut Butter Rice Krispies.

On the 20th Day of Christmas. . .

Throughout the year hundreds of pictures were taken of the young women at church (12-18) and I put together a slide show set to music that we played during the Young Women in Excellence program in November.  We, the leaders, decided to make a DVD of the slideshow for all the girls as a Christmas gift.  So I spent part of the day burning DVDs and making labels and wrapping them for the girls.

On the 19th Day of Christmas. . .

For our anniversary back in July, I bought tickets to the Chris Botti Home for the Holidays concert.  So, despite the snow, we drove downtown and enjoyed some great Christmas music by the symphony and some fun jazz with Chris Botti and his band.  He also had a few guest performers.  It was fun to walk around downtown and get out for an evening.  

Here we are all dressed to go. . .

On the 18th Day of Christmas. . .

. . .we got an unexpected snow storm and the girls spent hours in the snow.  Nothing like a little white to make it feel like Christmas:

For more winter fun pics visit my regular blog Here.

Friday, December 19, 2008

On the 17th Day of Christmas. . .

. . .We wrapped, and wrapped and wrapped gifts.

I had been storing up 0n the wrapping.  And then we went to the store and bought a cart full of things for friends and family members.  So we had a little wrapping party.  

Every year I decorate in red, white and silver. . . including my wrapping paper.  So we had to make all the gifts lovely and matching so they would compliment the tree nicely and go with the decor.  It's probably silly, but it makes me smile.

On the 16th Day of Christmas. . .

I sent out my Christmas cards and newsletter. . . finally.

Of course I ran around trying to get a family picture together, didn't.  Then searched through my picture files trying to find a family photo.  I have 5 bazillion pictures and almost no family pics. . . because I take them.  I found one, not great, from October and threw it on a card, ordered them, picked them up, addressed envelopes, decided to do a newsletter. . . and found a much better family picture.  ARGHHH!  Oh well.  I put it on the newsletter (which we printed on our cheaper printer so its all smudgy, of course.)  The joys of the holidays.

Here is the picture I used on the card: (and yes, there IS a glare on it)

And here is our newsletter:
I tried to make it so you could pop it out and read it, but it doesn't, so here is what its says:

A little over a year ago Rob took a new job which moved our family to Washington.

The weather is mild, if a little wet, the scenery is breathtaking, and the people are friendly. 

After a year in our new home we are settling in.  The girls both have new BFFs despite missing old friends.  

Even with all his travels, Rob finally has time to develop a few hobbies and wasted no time buying a boat to explore all the nearby waterways.  

Jenni has made many new friends and when she is not running the girls around, or fulfilling her three church callings, she fills her time with photography, gardening, house projects and writing.  In January she is returning to school to finally finish her degree.

To see more of what our family has been up to visit our blog:

With our new surroundings come new adventures.  And there are plenty of places to explore.  Rob has flown all over the Northwest, including Alaska, but the rest of us have stayed closer to home.  We are less than two hours from the ocean and surrounded by lakes and rivers.  We have taken several trips to Seaside and Astoria to run on the sand and chase the seagulls, but Signe’s favorite location is Seattle.  Despite seeing Pike’s Market Place and the Seattle Museum and staying in a fancy hotel, her favorite part was feeding the seagulls french fries from Ivar’s. She recently told us when she is a mom she is going to move to Seattle.

Adventures afar. . .

Aside from our trip to Seattle, we took our traditional summer trip to Idaho.  There we filled our days with swimming, fishing, shopping and playing with Manna, Grammy, and all the girls’ cousins.  We also took a week long trip to Disneyland this past month and enjoyed lovely weather and met many princesses.  

Close to home. . .

With the new boat we have had many adventures on the lake.  The scenery is beautiful, and maybe next year we will even get the girls on skis.  

But all the girls really need to do for a little adventure is open the back door.  When we are not tackling the landscaping, our yard provides a lot of fun and we even spent many free hours this summer building a treehouse for the girls.  It almost got done.

When more mystery is in order the girls can walk to the end of the street.  80 acres of forest surrounds our neighborhood and the girls love hunting for newts.  They rarely come home without one. . .or six.  And in the fall we can walk down the tracks to the trestle bridge and pick wild blackberries. Or just enjoy the beautiful fall colors.  

We hope the coming year brings you many adventures too.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

On the 15th Day of Christmas. . .

. . . we visited the giving tree.

Our church has a giving tree this year for families that need help with Christmas.  The girls each picked a child off the tree to buy gifts for.  Signe chose a three year old girl and Hannah chose an 8 year old boy.  Since Hannah picked a boy she had no problem giving away the presents she picked.  Signe, however picked a girl who wanted princess stuff.  She would have gladly kept the things she picked for the little girl.  In the end they were both happy to be getting gifts for someone who would be really happy to receive them.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

On the 14th Day of Christmas. . .

. . . our neighbor invited us over to decorate cookies.  

The girls love making sugar cookies.  We make them for every occasion, and even though I didn't make these cookies, if you would like my favorite ever sugar cookie recipe go HERE.

The girls, however, don't really care if the cookies taste good or not.  They are more worried about what they will put on them. . .

The test is to see how much colored sugar they can fit on one cookie.

They each brought home several masterpieces.

And large quantities of sugar were consumed.  But everyone was happy. . . and in spite of all that sugar, or maybe because of it, the cookies didn't last 24 hours!

On the 13th Day of Christmas. . .

. . .we caught up our advent story chain.

The girls and I made a simple advent chain on the first day of Christmas.  Then on sixth day of Christmas we attended our church's Christmas breakfast and craft activity where the girls made these really cute advent chains that had questions about the story of Christ's birth with scripture references in Matthew and Luke where we could find the answers.  We didn't start it before we went to Disneyland, so we caught up the on the two weeks we had missed.  The girls enjoyed finding the answers in the scriptures to see if they got them right.  

Each ring has a question like:

How was the baby Jesus dressed? ( Luke 2:12)

What king ruled Judea when Jesus was born? (Matt. 2:1)

I really liked this way of telling the story of Jesus.  It kept the girls attention and made it fun.   And after a week of commercialized Christmas is was good to remember what we are really celebrating.  Now that we are caught up, we can continue to answer to questions until Christmas.

On the 8th - 12th Days of Christmas. . .

. . .we went to Disneyland!

But don't think we had to forgo all the Christmas fun.  Disney was filled with festive Christmas activities--along with lights, trees, decor, music, and bubbly snow.

While there, we visited Santa's reindeer. . . 

Made reindeer crafts. . .

Took pictures by trees. . . 

. . . and in Santa's sleigh . . .

. . . and spent lots of Christmas money on treats and souvenirs.  (Legos for Hannah, and an Ariel costume for Sig.)

I also took a lot of pictures of the lights.  I have several posted on my Photography blog, if you wish to see them.

And the rest of our trip is showcased on my regular blog, Jenn's Pen.


On the Seventh Day of Christmas. . .

. . .we made a gingerbread house.  We decided to make it easier on ourselves this year and just buy a kit.  Last year we made everything from scratch.  What I didn't count on was having to 
deal with a broken roof.

But not to worry, a lot of frosting and a little hot glue later and . . .

. . . voila!  Lovely.  

The funny thing is we had given up on it after the roof caved like four times and said, "That's it, take a picture and call it good."  And then it quit falling in. So the girls, and a few friends, really laid on the candy.  

It looked so good they kept eating it like Hansel and Gretel.  I even snuck a piece. . .those pieces really aren't meant to be eaten.  But it looks good enough to eat--and it will adorn my counter at least until Christmas.