Christmas Eve

Merry Christmas! Technically, it’s already Christmas. All I can say is, at least Abe and I are not in the throes of assembling Lydia’s kitchen–which is what we were doing last Christmas until 3am. He’s still downstairs wrapping the last present and tidying up, and I am typing as fast as I can so we can go to bed. Tomorrow I have to get up at 6 am to start the orange rolls.

Today has been loooong. It started with scriptures and Bikram yoga–a delightful combination, made better by Anique’s company at yoga. Then we both did some last minute grocery shopping, after which Abe and I went to Barnes and Noble to do our Christmas shopping. Before today, we had not even started to think about the process. The busy mall comforted us and helped us feel better about the fact that we are not the only procrastinators of the season.

Then I came home and played some piano, after which we headed over to the Miner’s for their Christmas Eve celebration. They do readings, songs and a talent show of sorts, so that was fun. I always miss the First Presbyterian Church of Evanston on Christmas Eve, because the pageant there never failed to bring home the story of Christ’s birth for me. But since there’s no similar event here, it is really nice to celebrate with Suzanne’s family. Plus they have a great cookie buffet at the end.

After that, we put out cookies and a letter for Santa, and we told the girls to listen for the reindeer as they fell asleep. Abe shook some bells outside their door and said, “Ho! Ho! Ho!” We could hear Lydia inside telling Mary to be good and that Santa was here to bring her cat back.

Then I made stratas for our brunch tomorrow, and Abe wrapped all of the presents. We still have to order some gifts online, and then we’ll be done and ready for bed!

Here are today’s pictures:

The girls started the day in bed with Nana reading books.

The girls started the day in bed with Nana reading books.

Lydia sometimes cries so much she gets a nosebleed. Or she picks her nose to the point where she gets a nosebleed. I think the latter happened here.

Lydia sometimes cries so much she gets a nosebleed. Or she picks her nose to the point where she gets a nosebleed. I think the latter happened here.

Leaving cookies for Santa.

Leaving cookies for Santa.

Writing a note to Santa.

Writing a note to Santa.

The note Lydia helped dictate to Abe.

The note Lydia helped dictate to Abe.

See that blue bag? I didn't see it until this evening, but Abe brought it up from where he's been storing it, and it turns out that Clark and Swathi sent us a microwave for Christmas! Those two. They are the sweetest siblings ever. But Abe has been eyeing the bag the microwave came in, and he used it as "Santa's sack." Also, note Lydia's cat peeking out of her stocking. We are so excited for her to reunite with him!

See that blue bag? I didn’t see it until this evening, but Abe brought it up from where he’s been storing it, and it turns out that Clark and Swathi sent us a microwave for Christmas! Those two. They are the sweetest siblings ever. But Abe has been eyeing the bag the microwave came in, and he used it as “Santa’s sack.” Also, note Lydia’s cat peeking out of her stocking. We are so excited for her to reunite with him!

Couldn’t cull the pics properly today…

In Sunday school today we had a lesson on one of my favorite topics, Zion. In Relief Society we discussed the mission of Jesus Christ (a lesson which Abe taught in Elder’s Quorum, and which intimidated him to no end). In Sacrament we had a fantastic Christmas program…but even after all of that, I didn’t feel like my day was super spiritually charged. I did feel uplifted, though, so church was not totally in vain.

Also, at the Linger Longer after church, we collected the pics of the girls with Santa from the ward Christmas party. Abe took the girls by himself to the party, so this is the first time I've seen these pictures. Note Lydia's finger up her nose. They retook the picture a TON of times before they got the bottom two with her finger out of her nose.

Also, at the Linger Longer after church, we collected the pics of the girls with Santa from the ward Christmas party. Abe took the girls by himself to the party, so this is the first time I’ve seen these pictures. Note Lydia’s finger up her nose. They retook the picture a TON of times before they got the bottom two with her finger out of her nose.

I spent most of the rest of the day in bed, although our home teachers came over to drop off some gorgeous cookies. I also played with my family and threw some cauliflower in the oven before we went over to a family party at the Miners’.

Abe pretended to be Santa and interviewed the girls. The pig puppet play was Mary's reward for being such a good girl.

Abe pretended to be Santa and interviewed the girls. The pig puppet play was Mary’s reward for being such a good girl. (Grandma, do you recognize that hat?)

Here's Lydia telling Santa about how good she's been.

Here’s Lydia telling Santa about how good she’s been.

Here's Lydia demonstrating to Santa her ability to share with Mary.

Here’s Lydia demonstrating to Santa her ability to share with Mary.

Santa was so proud.

Santa was so proud.

...And so Lydia got a puppy!

…And so Lydia got a puppy!

She was pleased.

She was pleased.

After that we played "fetch" with the puppy and Mary. Here's Mary throwing.

After that we played “fetch” with the puppy and Mary. Here’s Mary throwing.

Also proud of herself.

Also proud of herself.

And then I told Santa I wanted a snack, so the girls helped out and baked me a feast.

And then I told Santa I wanted a snack, so the girls helped out and baked me a feast.

Then I stopped taking pictures because my hands became full of “food.”

After a delicious evening at the Miners’, we came home and discovered that our friend, Aria, had dropped off some treats for us. I love Christmas.

Of snowmen and Christmas concerts

Lydia woke up this morning screaming for chicken nuggets, which is especially funny since she’s only had them once (when we were desperate on a road trip over a year ago), and she threw them up an hour later. Abe and I spent the rest of the morning in a tired fog, and I lay in bed procrastinating my final project until noon.

We did, however, work in a Skype visit with my mom and grandma, during which they watched Lydia run through the extra-elaborate obstacle course Abe set up this morning. While he was setting it up, I was lying in bed. He kept coming over and asking for pillow after pillow until he sheepishly asked for the last one. I lay flat on my pillowless perch until we Skyped. It was pretty funny.

After I finally typed up my final, we slowly collected ourselves for our afternoon errands. Just as we were about to get in the car, Abe tested the snow and asked if he could have ten more minutes to build a snowman with the girls. Um, of course!

Building.

Building.

Bonding.

Bonding.

 

The finished product

The finished product.

Then we swung by the library and went clothes shopping for Abe. His new job is much more casual than his current job, and most of Abe’s casual clothes date back to college, high school, or even (in some choice cases), middle school. We bought him two pairs of jeans and a shirt. It’s a start.

Then we came home, and I vacuumed the most offensively dirty carpets in the house while Abe got dinner ready and fed the girls. We then rushed to bathe the girls because guess what? A couple days ago, Misty called and offered us some tickets to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas Concert at the Conference Center. Misty is the kind of friend you want to have.

We gleefully accepted her kind offer, and tonight we had such a wonderful time at the concert. The Church pulls out all the stops for its Christmas concert, and there are just no words to communicate the feast this event is for the eyes, ears, and heart. John Rhys-Davies (Gimli in Lord of the Rings) and Deborah Voigt were spectacular. John Rhys-Davies narrated the tale of how Charles Dickens came up with A Christmas Carol, and at one point he and another actor flew across the 20,000 audience members. He also read Luke 2…I wish I had a recording, because I would just play that on Christmas and call the rest of the holiday good. Deborah Voigt’s voice had me crying in song #1, and Richard Elliot’s arrangement of God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman on the organ was as acrobatic as it was, in John Rhys-Davies’ words, “pure genius.”

The program

The program

IMG_5799

After our joyful experience at the concert, Abe and I went about the more pragmatic task of grocery shopping. But hey, at 10pm, it felt kind of like an extension of our date. I’ll take it!

Dinner with the Andersons (sans pics) and Variations on a Theme (with pics)

Pre-church. I would match my children every day if I could. Variations on a theme is my next favorite thing to do, and a little bit of both makes my heart unreasonably happy.

Pre-church. I would match my children every day if I could. Variations on a theme is my next favorite thing to do, and a little bit of both makes my heart unreasonably happy.

Lydia giving in to her natural hoarding instinct. Mary is waiting patiently for her to start sharing.

Lydia giving in to her natural hoarding instinct. Mary is waiting patiently for her to start sharing.

She did not wait in vain.

She did not wait in vain. (There was quite a bit of parental prodding/cajoling/threatening that took place to get us from point A to point B.)

Mary Berry! (Doesn't she look like one? Abe coined that phrase today.) This is Mary before Abe took the girls outside to build a snow fort.

Mary Berry! (Doesn’t she look like one? Abe coined that phrase today.) This is Mary before Abe took the girls outside to build a snow fort.

The two girls bundled before their snow fort play session.

The two girls bundled before their snow fort play session.

And then I stopped taking pictures, because I was busy cooking dinner. We had our friends, Paige, Michael, Ada and Olive Anderson over for dinner. I kept thinking that I needed to interrupt to take pictures of Ada and Lydia playing, but I enjoy adult conversation to the point where it’s hard to tear myself away. They were so fun.

We were supposed to go to the Christmas devotional at the Conference Center tonight because our friends, the Vattikutis, gave us tickets. However, Abe placed them on the windowsill where Mary found them and (we presume) swatted them into the trash can below. Sad! But at the end of the day, it worked out because we got to spend time with the Andersons.

And now I am full of food and ready for my bed. Goodnight!

Errands, Christmas and another C

This morning we clipped the girls' nails. Mary LOVES this activity. Her enjoyment is the only way we can convince Lydia to let us do the same to her.

This morning we clipped the girls’ nails. Mary LOVES this activity. Her enjoyment convinced Lydia to let us do the same to her.

Lydia didn't enjoy it to quite the same level.

Lydia didn’t enjoy it to quite the same level.

After that, we loaded the girls in the car and hit:

Target, Walmart, Old Navy, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Kid to Kid, Smith’s and Robinson Tree Farms:

We went here last year for the first time. Abe and I love walking through this big tree lot and pretending we're in a forest.

We went here last year for the first time. Abe and I love walking through this big tree lot and pretending we’re in a forest.

We all played pretend together.

We all played pretend together.

Mary found a tree she liked.

Mary found a tree she liked.

...And so did Lydia.

…And so did Lydia.

Lydia went around hugging various trees and becoming passionately attached to the most skiwompus trees in the lot. Abe would say stuff like, “Lydia, do you like this healthy, even looking tree or this gaunt, sickly one?” and she would reply, “The gaunt, sick-wee one!”

Lydia found a soap box on which to stand and declaim her love of gaunt trees.

Lydia found a soap box on which to stand and declaim her love of gaunt trees.

Mary started getting cold, so Abe bundled her in his coat.

Mary started getting cold, so Abe bundled her in his coat.

Lydia had a blast taking out every single box in our Christmas bins.

Lydia had a blast taking out every single box in our Christmas bins. Don’t let her sober camera face fool you.

See?

See?

Mary was DYING to help hang stuff on the tree, so we finally let her hang some candy canes.

Mary was DYING to help hang stuff on the tree, so we finally let her hang some candy canes.

We almost got Balu to come over, but he had a school meeting to go to. We could have used him tonight because corralling Mary around the tree was impossible.  She just wanted to help so badly.

We almost got Balu to come over, but he had a school meeting to go to. We could have used him tonight; corralling Mary around the tree was impossible! She just wanted to help so badly.

Lydia and I hung ornaments while Abe tried to keep Mary from undoing our work.

Lydia and I hung ornaments while Abe tried to keep Mary from undoing our work.

Here are Martha Stewart's felt ornaments on the tree. I went to so many stores today looking for the screw punch she says you need to thread these ornaments, but after going a million places with no luck, it occurred to me that I could just sew some embroidery floss onto the ornaments. After our afternoon nap, I spent an hour threading all the ornaments--and it worked! No $15 screw punch necessary.

Here are Martha Stewart’s felt ornaments on the tree. I went to so many stores today looking for the screw punch she says you need to thread these ornaments, but after going a million places with no luck, it occurred to me that I could just sew some embroidery floss onto the ornaments. After our afternoon nap, I spent an hour threading all the ornaments–and it worked! No $15 screw punch necessary.

The final product.

The final product.

The girls napped until after 6pm, and I didn't finish threading the ornaments until 6pm. I considered just doing canned soup for dinner, but since today was our official entry into the Christmas season, I decided to make some polenta cakes and kale. The colors were right, and they came together pretty quickly.

The girls napped until after 6pm, and I didn’t finish threading the ornaments until 6pm. I considered just doing canned soup for dinner, but since today was our official entry into the Christmas season, I decided to make some polenta cakes and kale. The colors were right, and they came together pretty quickly.

On the lower right you will notice Abe's Christmas tree from college. One Christmas he was feeling sad and not festive; he went to class and stumbled on a craft fair in the entry of his building. He bought this green retractable extendable tree and felt that God had given him a little gift to help him feel more merry.

On the lower right you will notice Abe’s Christmas tree from college. One Christmas he was feeling sad and not festive; he went to class and stumbled on a craft fair in the entry of his building. He bought this green retractable extendable tree. It cheered him up right away and made him feel like God had put that little tree in his path to help him be more merry.

And now to my homework. I missed another deadline for my menu class, so now I have to go make up that late work. The 74.3% in my online gradebook is seriously stressing me out. Maybe that’s why, even after all the decorating, I still don’t feel very festive this year. Hopefully getting this assignment done will help fix that.