Saturday, January 5, 2013

christmas activities

Always, always at Christmastime there are a million activities.  And always, always there are more ideas, desires and aspirations that there is time.  Next year I swear I am going to can our advent chain - a paper chain we have done for years and years and years that lists a different activities that we are going to do that day - for the first 24 days in December.  They just don't happen - I end up feeling guilty about it even if the kids end up saying that they don't feel like doing it (which surprisingly happens a lot! - it shouldn't be surprising, they are whooped by the end of each day).  I hate getting rid of traditions, especially since we really have so few - it is very hard to maintain traditions when things differ so much year to year - from where we are to what are the mandated activities with school and our ministry to what materials we have available to even do stuff with.  And half of them I forget to do anyway - we still haven't had chocolate fondue or done our Jesus stockings this year.  They WILL be done before school starts again!!
Well, a few things we did do:  Writing thank you cards.  Not only was if fun to open some presents early - and have gifts from family to open - but we could thank them and send the notes/cards back.  The kids were eager to write up their thank yous - it was something that used to be harder to get them to do but I think they get the value and feel the gratitude more deeply now!  Having access to less and having less access to family will do that to you.  Makes me happy.

We did get the nativity up.  And we also received a new nativity.  Haven't taken pictures of it yet but I would love to find some and get them for pretty well everyone I know.  We got it from the Douces - a little set of characters made from the pods of eucalyptus tree seeds.  So cute.
We also got around to making our annual snow-fall.  This is a very important tradition as we miss our white Christmases in Canada.   The funny thing was that we really did get a snow fall.  Since we had lousy ecuadorian masking tape instead of spending more money and getting the good kind, the snow kept falling off of the places the kids hung them.  Not quite as good as the real thing!

Not really a Christmas activity, but actually sad goodbyes to Grandma.....

Christmas story night.

And shoes out for Saint Nicholas Day on Dec. 6.  This year the kids got two candy canes, a hot chocolate on a stick, a dollar coin, the girls got nail polish and Cade got a mini slinky, and a few other candy things.
We never did do gingerbread houses at home (I could get tarred and feathered for that) but Cade made them at school.  It is complete laziness that we didn't do it - I long for gingerbread house kits.  Sigh.  Anyway, they kids could make whatever kind of structure they wanted.  Cade decided to do our house in Costa Rica.  That would be why it is a small, dilapidated looking building - he did it quite accurately!
I was actually kind of surprised when I saw it as he usually loves to build things.  It seemed like he would have made something pretty fancy.  For some reason he chose simple and it is the best one on the block!
The kids also did manage to get together all of their teacher and classmate gifts.  Thankfully we had made classmate gifts back in the summer - magnets - so they just had to package those.  Then we gave the teachers, aides and teachers from all of their "specials" subjects things that we had made that were leftover from the craft sale.
We also made cinnamon ornaments.  Since you can't buy apple sauce here and I was too overwhelmed to make some just for ornaments, we made regular salt dough type ornaments with a bunch of cinnamon and cloves in them.  They weren't quite as strong smelling as the others but they still looked and smelled great.

Mia wanted to make a holly and berry ornament but couldn't find the right size cutter for the berries.  I suggested using the straw that we used to make the holes for hanging them.  They were the right size but were difficult to use as the dough just stayed inside the straw.  Mia's solution was to blow them out. It worked great.  Of course the others saw and decided that that was way more fun than regular cookie cutting, so we ended up with a whole lot of little berries!

We also had the Casa G boys over to bake cookies.  The idea was for them to bake a bunch of cookies and give them to friends or whomever they wanted to give gifts to.  While I was putting the kids to bed, Eric took over with the boys.  Apparently I give him more credit in the kitchen than he deserves....  A bit of a disaster, but they managed.  We made two kinds of cookies, one of which was ginger snaps.  Jackson got rather gooey rolling the dough into balls, but he was committed!  Long after the others were done/tired of participating, Jackson kept right on rolling.  That boy has a great work ethic.
The last two days of school the kids were loaded down with all kind of presents and treats.  Gifts for teachers, gifts for classmates and snacks for parties.  It seemed at the time, as I'm sure it does for most parents, that the demands don't end, but they did.  And it all was fun in the mean time.
One of the gifts Lucy got from a classmate brought Eric down memory lane.  She received a chocolate (?) ladybug just like Eric and his brothers used to get from Germany when they were kids.  He was more thrilled about it than Lucy was.
I wasn't able to attend any of the kids' parties because I was helping with all of the middle and high school activities.  That was a bummer.  I was quite disappointed.  Lucy came home with some cuteness on her face.
Her teacher's aide is a great artist and has done all kinds of fun face painting on the kids.
One of the gifts that Cade received from a classmate was face painting crayons.  He and Mia decided they should get into the act as well.  Budding artists, to be sure!

Within a few days, Cade's gingerbread house looked like it had met up with a Costa Rican earthquake. I'm pretty sure the actually house didn't end up looking that bad when Costa Rica did have their earthquake, but it might only be because it was being held up on two sides by other houses!  Free standing, it may have ended up like this - a shack just waiting to fall apart!  Notice the candy is gone but pretty well everything else remains!
I did do some decorating throughout the month, but I didn't end up making anything new.  That was kind of a bummer and I missed not creating, but there just was no time for extra.  Those ideas will just have to stay in my head for next year or be replaced by new ones.
The Sunday after school was done for the year (Dec. 27) we had our annual Santa Clause movie marathon.  The Jensen and Tassy families made it, but unfortunately everyone else was busy.  A great time was had by all anyway.  We ordered pizza this year, which made much less work for me....  very nice.

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