Friday, December 24, 2010

Twas the Night Before Christmas

Well, actually this was the day before the night before Christmas. Molly and I met Julie, Cheyenne and Carley for a pre-Christmas brunch.

Julie was our incredible travel agent the first time we went to China. Talk about customer service. She took care of us every step of the way. Julie’s daughter Cheyenne went to the school where I taught before adopting Molly. Cheyenne’s best friend, Carley, was one of my former students, and holds a very special place in my heart.

Our little group has been meeting for lunch periodically for the last year or so and it is always such an enjoyable time. Julie has such a kind heart and just loves the stuffing out of Molly.

It’s always fun to catch up with the girls, who are now in high school (I was Carley’s third grade teacher—how did they grow up so fast!).

And we always enjoy the food, no matter where we go. Today Molly has the best meal: Gingerbread pancakes with whipped cream. Oh my! Guess I should have rethought that egg white omelet before submitting my order.

Here is a picture of Julie actually loving the stuffing out of Molly!IMG_4187

Me and the girls. Everyone looks so much older. Especially me. And not in a good way. Ugh. The rest of the girls look great!IMG_4191

On the day of the night before Christmas, Molly and I assembled a gingerbread house. I bought this gingerbread house LAST Christmas, but time ran short and it never got put together. It has been on the bottom shelf of my pantry ever since.

Is there an expiration date on gingerbread houses? I mean it looked okay, relatively speaking. Some of the icing had hardened a bit and some of the candy gumdrop slices were a little slimy, but it really looked okay. Kind of.IMG_5265 I kept telling Molly that this stuff was old and should not be consumed. Yeah, like that’s gonna happen. Put a countertop full of frosting and candy in front of a four year old and tell her, “Don’t eat anything.” 

But she didn’t get sick, so everything must have been chocked full of nice healthy preservatives and chemicals to make its shelf life as long as that of a Twinkie. Ain’t science great?

Nothing says “yum” like a year old mini M&M!IMG_5267

Molly took her decorating job very seriously. She wanted her house to look exactly like the picture on the box. I was in charge of the icing. Pastry chef I am not, so the house only sort of resembled the picture on the box.IMG_5268

Here is Molly, thrilled with her M&M adorned roof (and tummy).IMG_5277

Now to add a few carefully placed candy canes…IMG_5278

And voila the house is done! I ran out of interest steam by the time we got to the trees and the gingerbread men. They look pretty weak, I know. Just focus on the house (and the cute kid), okay?IMG_5280

Later in the afternoon, I needed another activity to pump my child full of sugar celebrate the season so we made reindeer cookies for Santa. Molly,of course, sampled the goodies along the way.

We started with the most scrumptious peanut butter oatmeal cookies, and added chocolate frosting….IMG_5282

Mini Nilla wafers and red M&Ms formed a nose…IMG_5284

More M&Ms for the eyes, carefully nibbled pretzels form the antlers and voila: Reindeer Cookies! Now before you get too impressed with my cookie making skills, I completely stole this idea off of someone else's blog. IMG_5292

Molly posing with cookies and a little picture of Santa that she made.IMG_5291

Giddy with the holiday spirit, we embarked on another Christmas Eve tradition. Molly took her bath, put on her brand-spanking-new Christmas PJs and climbed into the van.

We cruised the neighborhoods, viewing everyone else's Christmas lights, because well, we didn’t put any up this year. Very Scrooge-like, I know, but cut us some slack. I had pneumonia and Tony was working out of town, remember?

Brrrr, it’s cold!IMG_5294

Enjoying the lights wrapped up in a blanket. Boy, that Snuggie Molly asked Santa for would sure come in handy right about now!IMG_5295

After we got home, Molly put Santa’s cookies on the hearth…IMG_5298

And posed for a picture, of course.IMG_5303

And our final tradition: Reading The Night Before Christmas, under the Christmas tree.IMG_5308Soon after this picture was taken, Molly was tucked into to bed and had visions of sugar plums dancing in her head (and digesting in her tummy).

Me, on the other hand, settled in for a long night of gift wrapping. At 10:30 pm on Christmas Eve, I wrapped my very first Christmas present. Ho Ho Ho, Merry Christmas to the procrastinator!

Everything eventually got wrapped and placed under the tree, and I got some sleep before the big day. But that’s for another post, which is coming soon. Unless I procrastinate some more!

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Tis the Season to be….Running Behind!

Most years, Christmas decorations go up the day after Thanksgiving. Nat King Cole is roasting chestnuts on an open fire by the end of November. Christmas presents are all purchased by the first week of December.

But this isn’t most years.

This year we were in China for Thanksgiving and did not return home until December 9th. I was prepared for everything to be running a bit late this year. I figured we’d get home, spend the weekend getting the house decorated and get the shopping done soon after. We’d still have plenty of time to enjoy the season. Fa la la la la, la la la la.

I wasn’t prepared for what happened. At all. I mean how can you prepare for coming down with pneumonia. Or having your husband leave for a business trip while you are sick. Or having a kid who desperately wants the house to look like Christmas, when all you want to do is curl up in a ball and sleep.

Yes, tis the season to be jolly for most, but tis the season to be ailing for me. I had it all, too. Chills, nausea, body aches, burning lungs, splitting headache, fatigue. And it seemed to last f.o.r.e.v.e.r.

Everyday Molly would ask if we could put up decorations. And everyday I had to tell her, “Not today, honey.” I had the best intentions, but I didn’t even have the energy to hang a Christmas stocking. I just lay there, in my Grinch costume, pathetically watching the days click off the calendar, wondering if we were going to have a Christmas this year.

Slowly, I did begin to recover and by Thursday, December 16th (only 9 days before Christmas!) the tree finally went up. By Friday, most of the other decorations were in place and the house was clean. By Saturday, the husband was home and I even had some Christmas shopping done.

I still don’t feel 100%, but at least Christmas will come to our house this year.Hallelujah!

On Friday, Molly had her Christmas Program at school. Praise the Lord that she goes to a Christian school and we can still call it a Christmas Program, but I digress.

Molly was excited to don her Christmas finest, once again, and head to school. She was even more excited to preform in front of a crowd. She looked adorable, as did the rest of the class. Unlike last year, the kids sang out loudly and had animation. What a difference one year of growth and maturity makes!

Here are the kids singling Jingle Bells. They were supposed to sing it through twice, but the kids kept going and going. Probably sang it four times before the teachers could get them to stop. So cute!IMG_5223

Go tell it on the…IMG_5228….mountain, over the hills and everywhere!IMG_5226

Go tell it on the mountain, that Jesus Christ is born!IMG_5227

Class photo at the end of the performance.IMG_5229

That’s my Molly…she eats a bite out of the cookie and then goes straight for the cheese. The girl is obsessed with cheese, I tell ya.IMG_5236

Molly and Makenna in coordinating dresses.IMG_5248

Some of the girls from Molly’s class.IMG_5243

Molly and Mrs. Sivak.IMG_5237

Molly and Mrs. Tullis.IMG_5245

Molly and Mrs. Riley.IMG_5246I take such comfort in knowing that everyday Molly goes to a place where she is so loved.

After school, I asked Molly if she wanted to go sit on Santa’s lap. She gave me a resounding, “Yes!” and went on to tell me that she was going to jump on Santa’s lap and give him a big hug.


For the past three years we have read about Santa, talked about Santa, practiced  our Santa visit. And for the past three years she gets to the moment where she is supposed to sit on the jolly man’s lap and….refuses.

So this year, I had no hopes that it would happen. I just chuckled to myself when Molly told me that this was the year that she was going to do it.

Well, darn it the girl didn’t prove me wrong! Take a look!IMG_5256Now for the record, there was no hugging, but she sat up there, had her picture taken and told Santa what she wanted: “A Snuggy…you know, the blanket with sleeves, and some books. Okay Santa?”

Alrightly then. A snuggy? Really? Hadn’t heard that before. I guess I have a little more shopping to do!

Yesterday, Molly had Chinese class. Another opportunity to dress up. Because last year’s Gymboree Christmas outfit was so insanely expensive stinking cute, she wore it again this year.IMG_5249

And here’s a little holiday gymnastics to close the blog today.IMG_5252


No if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to find a Jr. Snuggy…you know, the blanket with sleeves!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

China Friends Christmas Party

Home from our China/Colorado trip less than 48 hours and Molly’s social calendar is back in full swing. We started with Chinese class, followed by the highlight of the day, the playgroup Christmas Party.

Michelle and Faye--love ya, gals!--hosted a lovely soiree for the girls (and the moms, too). We were all kind of struck by the fact that as soon as we hit the front door, our girls were gone. Fled to the basement to play. With each other.

It seems like only yesterday that we all had to sit with our daughters and encourage them to play together. They were tentative and shy. Heck, they were just learning to play. Playing with someone was still a long way off.

But now, three years later, they run from the safety of mom to play with each other. And us moms just sit there cheering with nothing to do except for for finally socializing with other grownups without interruption.I have to admit that us moms have formed bonds that are just as strong as the ones our kids have with each other. Going to play group is as much for for us as it is for them.

After  ample play time, we retrieved the kids for some holiday crafts. Michelle and Faye had a big bag of crafts for each girl. Molly is really into projects these days so was  super excited to get started.

In the past few months, Molly has become very artistic. She spends hours drawing, coloring and creating masterpieces. Here she is working on her gingerbread house.IMG_5108

One project complete!IMG_5202

Getting ready to start decorating this tree ornament.IMG_5104

Still coloring….IMG_5105

Now smiling and coloring. What a multi-tasker.IMG_5107

Abby and Alex: Crafting sisters.IMG_5197

Chloe concentrates on her craft.IMG_5199

And so does Gracyn.IMG_5200

These girls were seriously quiet and calm focused on their work, and so proud of their results. Here’s Mia showing off her finished house.IMG_5201

Avery looks in the goody bag for another craft….plenty more in there to do.IMG_5203

A little more free time to play before….IMG_5204

Group Pictures! Right after pictures, the girls had a book exchange. Seeing these kids together makes me feel all  warm and fuzzy inside. I’ve said it a million times before, “I love these girls!”IMG_5205

One last picture before leaving. One of the reasons Molly loves to go to parties is because she gets to dress up. Guess who picked this dress with the absolute fullest skirt in the store? How did I, the consummate tomboy,  get such a girly-girl? She does look awfully cute though!IMG_5209

Merry Christmas China Friends!

Catch Up Post: Avery’s 6th Birthday

Leaving for China with a week’s notice can be described with one word: insane. In all of the preparation for travel, I did not have time to post a blog. Squeezed in time in to make it to the event, just ran out of time to blog about it. Little Miss Avery is far too important to skip over, so here is her catch up post!

Molly’s friend Avery turned 6 years old! And what a party she had. It was at a local bouncy house. Molly was a bit timid at Chloe's bouncy party, but with bouncy experience under her belt, she hit the ground running at Avery’s.

Avery and MollyIMG_4121

Getting squeezed.IMG_4096

Getting ready to…IMG_4099

Ride the slide…Whoa!IMG_4100

The whole gang.IMG_4107

Fun party favors.IMG_4113


Pizza and cake, too? This is a great party!IMG_4118

And as always, the opening of the gifts.IMG_4119

Have fun being Six, Avery. We love ya, gal!