Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Christmas Parties #2-5

Oh yes, we are very popular. We are all over the Christmas party scene this year. Seriously, we are very blessed to have such wonderful friends (that love to party).

Tanya and Daylan had a Christmas party and "Yankee gift swap." Our gift contributions were a little on the boring side (I didn't have much time to put something together so I wrapped up a new toothbrush and toothpaste... it's useful). The Candrians won a head-scratcher and a ham sandwich...the winners by far. Our girls got so sugared up at the party; Ruby did not go to sleep until midnight. Very fun.

Our neighbors had a party on Saturday. It was the most perfectly picturesque Christmas party I have ever been to. The snow was falling silently outside as if we were in a giant snow globe. The home was beautifully decorated, and everyone looked festively elegant in sweaters and cords. We sang Christmas carols and tasted all kinds of Christmas goodies. The kids joined in for the caroling by shaking maracas and banging cymbals. Alli and Ruby especially loved the giant bowls of candy left within their reach. Unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures, so you will have to imagine it.

The next party was at the church. The kids made reindeer antlers. Alli made some for the whole family. Alli found a sticky red circle to be her nose. The Bishop and his counselors read an updated version of "The Night Before Christmas." Ruby tried to steal the spotlight. She didn't have to try very hard with those pink boots on.
After the church party, Alli and Ruby went home with our friends, and Andy and I drove down to Beverly in a crazy snowstorm for another party with Andy's work friends. Mike and Amanda hosted a fabulous dinner party. Amanda performed on her piano. We sat by a cozy fireplace and talked while Mike and Amanda made dinner for us. They (especially Mike) really get into cooking. Mike caramelized onions for hours to make the French onion soup. It was delicious! They also served veal, homemade gnocchi and green beans. A-Mazing! Missy made a blueberry cobbler to top it all off. By then I felt like I needed to loosen my belt. Dinner conversation was lively, punctuated by reggae Christmas songs. It was really an unforgettable evening.
We left the party around midnight, and the snowstorm was still raging. The roads were terrible. We watched a car enter the highway, cross all the lanes of traffic, and do a 360 spin... and no one hit him! On our way back to our friends' house, the road was blocked by a car facing perpendicular to the road. Andy stopped to help, and our friend Greg came out to help too (he and his wife were watching our girls). A rear-wheel drive sports car really should not be out in the snow...ever! The driver wasn't going anywhere. Andy and Greg pushed him about half a block to an open parking spot and then they shoved the car in, sliding it sideways.
We were glad to get home around 2am. And we were even more glad to go to bed.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Christmas party #1

Alli had her Christmas party at school yesterday. We kicked off the festivities by singing "Happy Birthday" to Jesus. The kids all blew out the candles together. (That's Alli with the pigtails in the back. It almost seems like she is dressed normally, but that's because you can't see her necklace, orange striped tights and her multi-colored shoes in this picture).

The kids made ornaments and little Baby Jesus dolls. (Great crafts, Alison! You are too clever.)Here is Alli completely engrossed in her craft project. Ruby made an ornament too, she loved putting jewels on her project but didn't like sticky glue on her fingers.

Ruby and Alli enjoyed the birthday cake and cupcakes. Ruby ate hers hands-free-style, mouth-to-plate (she must get that from Andy...just kidding).

This is what happened when I said no more cupcakes....

But someone gave her a candy cane anyhow. That little tongue just cracks me up. She did not put that candy cane down. Probably half of it was melted on her hands when she finished, which she didn't mind at all. There is nothing like sticky, fuzzy, dirty little hands.
Merry Christmas everyone! I hope your celebrations are as festive as this.

Sugar Cookies

We made dozens of sugar cookies this week. It was (mostly) so much fun. Both Alli and Ruby love to help bake. They took turns mixing the ingredients and cutting out the cookies. They both love cookie dough. Ruby says, "Pinch please!" which means she wants to eat a pinch of dough.

Decorating the cookies was the best part. I glazed the cookies and Alli and Ruby covered them with sprinkles. By the time we were finished, both girls had multi-colored tongues and fingers.

Cookie making is one of my favorite Christmas traditions. My Grandma always made hundreds (maybe even thousands) of cookies every year to give to family and friends and neighbors. My family always made cookies together too. Every year we made cut-out cookies and decorated them as a family. The cookie tradition is one I plan to continue.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Bad neighborhoods...

Alli was telling me a story the other day. She started off telling the Nativity story but added her own little twists to it. Honestly, I wasn't paying full attention the whole time, but she started talking about Mary and Joseph riding their donkey into a neighborhood, and she said,
"It was a bad street. (pause) There were no good restaurants on it."

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Where are you?

This morning we were awakened with Ruby's version of "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" followed by a very loud, "Where aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrree you?

Ruby is a little chatterbox. Everyday she is saying something new to amaze us... or crack us up. She answers questions with a "Yes Mom." I have no idea where that came from.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

O Christmas Tree

Our trees are up and decorated. We have a cluster of three small trees. The biggest one is about 4 feet tall. I put it on top of a box to make it seem taller. They are a little Charlie Brown-ish, but quite charming.

The girls love the Christmas trees. I always get a good "Whoa!" out of Ruby when I plug in the lights. Both girls have had fun rearranging the ornaments and using them as toys. Alli especially loves the vintage Christmas star light from Andy's grandma. (Unfortunately, it stopped lighting about five minutes after this picture was taken.)

Only one ornament has been broken so far. Not bad.

Once there was a snowman...

We got a decent amount of snow last week, and Alli was so excited to make a snowman. We packed the snow into a big blob and decorated it with the snowman kit from Grandma. Alli named him Frosty, of course. Ruby just calls him "Man!"

We also went sledding (Sorry, no pictures of that. My hands were full: two kids and two sleds). Both girls are very adventurous and enjoy going fast and testing gravity.
I made Alli shovel the sidewalk.
Just kidding. She was just piling up snow to make snowballs.
Today the snowman is about 12 inches high and shrinking. Until next time Frosty...

Away in a Manger

Last Sunday Alli's preschool class sang in the church service at the Lutheran church. Her class marched up to the front of the chapel dressed as angels, shepherds, sheep and cows and they sang "Away in a Manger" complete with hand motions and adorableness. They sang "Twinkle, Twinkle Christmas Star" at the end of the service, and then proudly displayed their nativity collages that they had made.
I was a proud mama.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Alli's uniform

Some people say that school uniforms limit creative expression. I beg to differ...
Alli layered her uniform skirt under her uniform jumper and accessorized with striped tights, colorful boots and her Christmas headband.

Chicago Christmas Traditions

Last Friday we took the girls downtown to see the decorated windows at Macy's on State. This is my favorite department store ever (not Macy's, just the one on State). The building is huge and gorgeous inside and out. It is especially magical at Christmas time.

This year the windows were decorated to tell the story of the Nutcracker.

We went from window to window watching the animated scenes and reading the story of Clara and her Nutcracker prince. Alli was mesmerized.

Ruby was a vegetable... or maybe she was mesmerized too.

Ruby loved the FAO Schwarz section of the store. There were amazing stuffed animals at 3/4 scale of the real animals. It was like being at the zoo... an exotic petting zoo with very sedated runt animals.

Alli was a good helper with Ruby. She lifted her up to see a lion on a table.
The store was decked out. The tree in the Walnut Room was amazing! It was decorated by none other than Martha Stewart. Unfortunately, we arrived at the Walnut Room ten minutes after the last seating, so we didn't eat under the giant tree. Next time.

We did make it just in time to see Santa. They closed the line right behind us. Alli was anxious to tell Santa what she would like for Christmas. She got up on his lap and gave him a hug, and then he asked her what she wanted...

It was A Christmas Story moment. Alli went blank.
Uh. Ummm. Uh.

Finally she said, "I want a teddy bear." Up until that moment, a teddy bear had not been on her list.

Ruby was not excited about Santa. At all.
After all the Christmas excitement, we were starving, so we went to Wow Bao (a place that serves Asian dumplings...or hot Asian buns as they say). We were there just before closing, so we got a dozen dumplings for free.

I love the magic of Christmas time, especially in downtown Chicago.