Saturday, December 30, 2017

December 2017 in Review

Welcome to December, a jam-packed month.
beautiful embroidery by my friend, Janice

December began with Gabe and Ella trying their hand at making glittery Christmas ornaments.

Gabe and Ruby had their first school program. Ruby is in the first row, fourth from the left. Gabe is in the second row, fourth from the right. I know they are hard to see. The costumes were super cute.
After the first song, they flipped their Santa costumes into Christmas trees.
My good friend, Jennifer, has a daughter, Rachel, who is an absolutely extraordinary dancer. This year Rachel danced the main role of Clara in the Nutcracker Suite. She was exquisite. Christa, Charlotte, Debbie (Christa's mom), and I had a girls night out. Dinner and then the ballet.

I love this picture of the four of us.
Remember her name--Rachel Ogawa. I think everyone will be hearing more about her in the coming years.

The next day was the children's Christmas program at church. Charlotte had a starring role of her own--she played a shepherd with a terrible voice, which was not the easiest part for her, as her voice is beautiful. Her friend, Violet, was a sheep.
Levi was a narrator. Doesn't he look spiffy in his hat?
These two little friends, Ella and Amelia, are such fun to watch. Let's just have our own little conversation while we are here on stage. Gabe, in the meantime, is looking very serious.
It's so fun to watch them do the motions with the song.

We always take pictures after the service. Remember--Gabe is in his silly picture phase.

Come on, Gabe. Just one cute picture with Ruby. (Although these are pretty cute, and it will be fun to look back on them in later years.)
These two are always up for a cute picture together. Don't let their sweet faces fool you--they can be very mischievous.
Family pictures.

Levi and Charlotte had their winter strings concert. I'm always amazed at the level of competency in this school orchestra.

Our good friend, Mike Klaassen, had his mother and sister visiting from Kansas. Mark and Mike's father, Milford (sadly no longer with us), went to college together. It was wonderful getting to know his mother and sister.
I made a tooth fairy pillow and gave it to Gabe. Just in the knick of time too. He lost not one, but two, teeth that very night.

We had soup and cookie day on the 17th, always one of my favorite holiday traditions. Homemade soup (Mark made delicious ham, green bean and potato soup this year), then Aaron and Christa leave for a few hours of time to themselves, and we make cookies.

More funny faces from Gabe.

Charlotte mixed the dough for snickerdoodles.
 Levi rolled them in cinnamon sugar.
Sugar cookies ready to be decorated.

This is the first year Ella hasn't been napping during cookie time.
I do believe her decorating philosophy is that you can never have too much pink or too much sugar! I like her style.
Ella's birthday is four days before Christmas. She is now 4 years old. How did that happen so quickly?? She had some help blowing out her candle.

We went to Sequoia Brewing with Janice for a festive dinner. They never fail to amuse me with their mountain goat all decked out for Christmas. Ha!
Mark sang in the choir program this year. It was very good. I had a hard time getting a good picture of him--in the back row on the left.
I made some handmade gifts this year.

Book pillows for Gabe, Ella, Ruby and Amelia.

Pillowcases, because I hate wrapping gifts.
Ella and Amelia have matching pillowcases because of this fabric I found a couple of years ago. Seriously. What are the chances??
I also made Ella this mermaid. I'm not sure whether she has given it a thumbs up or thumbs down. But I do know it's not the most favorite thing I have sewn.
On Christmas Eve we went to Reedley and took my parents out for dinner and then drove around town to see Christmas lights. I regret not taking a picture.

For Christmas Day, we chose to have a red and green theme for dinner and snacks.
Grinchy fruit kebabs.
Cream cheese with red currant jelly and green pepper jelly.
Red tortilla chips and green guacamole.
For dinner we had pasta shells stuffed with spinach and ricotta.
Salad with craisins.
Lime (with crushed pineapple) and strawberry jello, which actually tasted much better than it looked. The two jello layers were supposed to be separated with a layer of whipped cream. But then the whipped cream rose to the top.
Strawberries and kiwi.
Homemade cranberry bliss bars for dessert.

We had our annual scavenger hunt. This year we actually wrote a separate set of clues for Levi and Charlotte, and another set for Gabe and Ella. We had given each of them little flashlights in their stockings. So when it was time for the scavenger hunt, all the envelopes with clues were hidden in rooms with the lights out. Ella was not a fan of the dark rooms. In fact, she has requested a "sunny scavenger hunt" for next year. And Gabe has requested separate clues for all four of them. Ella will likely get her wish. Gabe? Not a chance we are writing four separate sets of clues!

Anyway, Gabe's and Ella's presents were underneath the musical Santa.
Levi's and Charlotte's were in Mark's glass shop.

I momentarily felt a bit sorry for Levi and Charlotte. Mark and I had gotten Levi and Charlotte an Xbox for Christmas. They only come with one controller. What's up with that anyway? We purchased a second controller and that is what we wrapped up. They opened it up and excitedly looked around for the Xbox. Mark said, "Hey, we've been waiting all evening for you to tell us all about your new Xbox." Levi said, "We didn't get an Xbox."

We had set this up ahead of time with Aaron, so Mark looked at him and said, "I thought you were getting them an Xbox." He said, "No, I thought YOU were getting them an Xbox." In the meantime, Levi was looking totally crestfallen, but trying to be polite and thank us for the one controller. We told him, "Well, at least you will have your OWN controller when you play Xbox somewhere else." Levi dejectedly said, "Yeah. Thanks...Gramps and Grandma."

Then Mark said, "Levi and Charlotte, there is a Lands End box in the garage. We might have ordered a few extra things for you." I know Levi was thinking, "Yay. Sweatshirts and more pajamas." But he carefully opened it up. And I snapped this picture. They were both SO excited.
Then we played games.

These are the last roses of the year. Unbelievable--roses at the end of December!

We ended 2017 by having our annual dinner with friends at a local Chinese restaurant and then picking up Gabe and Ella for the night, as the rest of the family spent the night with friends as they do every year.
At around 10 p.m. we broke open some glow sticks and banged some pots and pans.
When I turned off the lights in the kitchen, the glow sticks were still bright.
These two precious little ones were asleep in our bedroom.
Looking forward to a fresh new start in 2018.