Sunday, January 15, 2017

Christmas Prep

As soon as Thanksgiving was over, Christmas preparations were in full swing.  The favorite toy of the season was this "melting" clay snowman, which would start to collapse as soon as it was built, so it could be built over and over and over.  Eloise loved all of this building.  
 We went to the pediatric dentist for cleanings, and then we stopped at the mall to see all of the Christmas decorations.  Since it was still November, there wasn't anyone stopping to see Santa, so he chased us down and gave each kid a sucker.  This was completely acceptable as a Santa visit for these kids, since they never ask Santa for anything anyway.
 Seth and I attempted sushi making.  This was my first attempt.  It was pretty good.
 Eloise decided one morning that she had had enough of having her hair brushed.  She cried and cried, and then I took her to a salon to get her hair chopped.  This is her hair before the cut.
 She was nervous about a stranger cutting her hair, but we were happy with how it went.  Our hairdresser had a daughter Eloise's age, so he knew how to talk to little girls.
 On November 30 we got out our advent calendar to prepare for December.  We participated in our church's Light the World initiative to celebrate advent with an act of service every day of the month.  It was a great, meaningful way to celebrate the Christmas season.
 We had a field trip to the water treatment plant and learned about water conservation.
 On Saturday, December 3, we drove up Snoqualmie Pass in search of a good snow hike.  We eventually found one near the summit.  Sammy couldn't figure out how to walk in snow.  Here he is offering his glove and saying, "Hand.  Hand," until someone takes his hand.
 Sammy wouldn't keep his gloves on.  After this experience, I started pinning his gloves to his coat so that he can't pull them off.  We hiked, played in the snow, made snow angels, had a constant snow battle, and built a snowman, which was unfortunately decapitated before we got a picture.  Here is another snowman that we found along the trail.
 On December 6, Annie Carver and I hosted a baby shower for our friend Amy, who moved to New York a week after the shower.  Amy's family lived two blocks from us, and were our closest neighbors who are members of our church.  We miss having them so close.
 Another family from church was getting ready to move, so we had their two older boys, Nico and Alex, over for a play date while their parents packed.  They hadn't gotten to do many Christmas things, since they were busy moving, so we decorated gingerbread cookies.  We had some other friends come over, too, so that it could be a party.
 Ten kids, dozens of gingerbread cookies, millions of sprinkles, lots and lots of frosting, and a few sugar cookies leftover from another baking project filled our house with sticky smiles.  It was fun to watch the kids load up their cookies with toppings, lick off all of the toppings, and then frost again.  Alex had so many toppings that we couldn't discern the shape of his cookie underneath.  It was a lot of fun.
 Less than a week after we drove up Snoqualmie Pass looking for snow, snow came to us.  We woke up to a winter wonderland.  Schools were canceled in Kirkland, since the city only owns one plow.  We at Santa pancakes for breakfast, and then we rushed outside to play before the snow melted away.

 All of the neighbor kids came outside, too.  A few cars were still going in and out of the neighborhood, but they were rare enough that we could use the street as a gentle sledding hill.
 The snowball fight picked up where we left off the previous week, and all of the kids worked together to build a snowman on the Flynns' patio across the street.
 Sammy loved sledding, but he never wanted to sit in a sled alone, so the older kids took turns holding him on their laps while they went down the hill.  By about 10:00 everyone was getting cold, and the snow was getting soggy, so we went inside to warm up and do some school work.
 By afternoon the roads were clear enough for me to take the kids to the Bellevue festival of the Nativity.  This event is AWESOME.  I think it gets better every year.  This whole church building next the temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Bellevue gets transformed.  The halls and cultural hall are decorated with nativities from all over the world.  Rooms are devoted to children's nativities, Bible videos, walking through the life of Jesus Christ, children's activities (coloring, puppet shows), and dressing up to act out your own nativity.
 When we walked in, a volunteer gave us a scavenger hunt paper.  We actually managed to find everything on the paper, which was very important to Jared.  They had something like 89 Christmas trees set up.
All of the kids wanted to be wise men.  Sammy immediately ran over to the baby doll representing Jesus and put his own crown on the baby's head, which I thought was sweet and appropriate.  Eloise thought it was hilarious.
 On our way out there was a candy prize for finding everything on the scavenger hunt, which was a fun surprise.  This is such a well planned free Christmas event.  We will definitely be back next year.

Our ward had a Christmas party.  Santa didn't come this year, possibly because he just had shoulder surgery, and Sister Philips wouldn't let him put on the red suit and pick up children.  I love sweet Brother Philips as Santa, but the Santa part of the ward party is always one thing too many for these kids.  This year the activity was a breakfast, and there were lots of crafts for the kids to do.
 Of course we had to do a few more crafts to get ready for Christmas.  B drew his cousin McKenzie's name for the Knight cousin gift exchange, so he made her these spoon puppets, with a little help from his siblings.
 Eloise spent her evenings for several weeks working on a surprise for Jared and B.  She stayed up half an hour past her bedtime working on a book of her favorite bedtime story that I made up.  It is about a cat named Julie who is teased by other cats because she likes to swim.  Eloise worked very hard on this book, writing every page out by hand.  It was quite laborious for a kindergartner, but she was determined, and it turned out really good.
 Jared helped me tie this blanket from Sammy to Annie.  Annie loves soft, fuzzy things.
 My activity day girls went to sing at a local nursing home.  Our four girls who were able to make it to the activity were nervous about performing Christmas carols with such a small group, but the nursing home accidentally booked us with a group of girl scouts, which worked out wonderfully.  I brought Jared along to help boost our numbers.  It was a great activity.
 Big Finn Hill Park (the park nearest to our house) had one of its playgrounds taken out and replaced.  We couldn't wait to try out the new playground before we left for Arizona.
 Lots of laundry, wrapping, and packing later, we were off to Arizona, cousins, grandparents, sunshine, and Christmas!

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