We have been very busy, like most everyone we know. There was quite a bit of shopping, some wrapping, the annual writing out of cards (along with the apparent mis-sending of checks!).
Here's a recap...
We've had an Advent Wreath for several years now, but until this year, it was just a decoration. I found some simple daily prayers and we enjoyed lighting the candles each night before dinner. On Christmas morning, the wreath is supposed to be transformed into a Christmas wreath with white candles and festive decorations; I was all set on the decorations but could only find two white candles! That will have to wait for next year, but this year we had a lovely daily reminder of the meaning of Advent, and the children learned how to safely light and handle matches.
DD had a "holiday culture" project, and she wrote about The Christmas Pickle, charmingly. The kids had the opportunity to earn extra points if they brought in a treat or snack to share, so she prevailed upon me to make a Christmas Tree cake. Our family tradition is to make a tree cake for Epiphany, and I didn't really want to have to make a cake in the middle of last week, but I caved (as usual). We ended up making a simple white cake from scratch (it was delicious, even though we had no cake flour and the King Arthur flour I use has too much protein to make a truly delicate cake), and instead of frosting or anything complicated, I topped it with my new fast favorite, vanilla glaze. I later used that same glaze on the cappuccino cakes I made for DS1's teachers, using up the extra on the gingerbread cookies we made just yesterday. (Yes, there has been a lot of baking. I made pumpkin spice muffins, too. There's more to come, as I have everything on hand to make fruitcake. Yay!)
DS2's class performed the charming Christmas at the OK Corral. While he didn't have a part, we all enjoyed the show tremendously, as the leads had both talent and enthusiasm, and DS2 loved dressing up for the occasion and really got into the songs and dances he did as part of the chorus. DD also had a performance of sorts, as Amelia Earhart, at the "dinner party" conclusion of the biography reports her class had been working on. I made her an aviator helmet from brown paper and goggles from pipecleaners wrapped with masking tape, and with my old white satin scarf, it was obvious who she was. She wasn't too happy with the helmet until she saw how everyone else loved it, but she did a great job on her presentation.
Sadly, we were rained out of Luminaria last week, so Tuesday night we dashed over to the Phoenix Zoo to see the Zoolights (video at the link). The Zoo lot was full, so we grabbed the free shuttle at the Muni parking lot, and enjoyed the light show. I have a video of synced-to-music tree lights that I'll upload if I can ever get my account on YouTube straightened out -- for now, this not-great shot will have to do. My camera has a night setting and I was using my mini tripod, but obviously my skills need work. I was impressed with how well-organized the zoo was; the shuttles were coming one right after another, and I think the kids enjoyed the bus rides as much as the lights. As usual, I ended up piggy-backing either DD or DS2 about half of the time, and my hip was really complaining by the end of the night.
Last Monday was our final RE class before Christmas break, and the teacher whose classroom I share had these huge paper snowflakes hung all over her room. They were so gorgeous I wanted to make some myself, so I googled "giant paper snowflake" and found this terrific set of directions via tings wot i have found on teh intarweb, a great site in itself. I love crafty things like this! It wasn't difficult or time-consuming to make at all, you just have to take care as you curl the pieces together. The boys have been using it for target practice with their Nerf dart tag guns (Santa brought a set for each of them; there was a minor blizzard of orange foam darts in here earlier) a good part of the day, and it has stood up to the abuse pretty well.
Last but not least, a good part of Christmas Eve was getting our webcams installed and trying them out with our family in Pennsylvania -- the kids are having a great time chatting with their cousins, and I'm thrilled they're not using up cell phone minutes. You can see we're not taking Christmas too seriously around here. We went to Mass last night, then out to dinner as usual, so today was very low key.
It is, in fact, even more low key than usual, since DH is en route to Connecticut to spend a few days with his parents. He was here for presents and breakfast, arguably the high points of the day anyway. (sigh) Since then, we've found that the XBox 360 does not come with wireless internet capability and that Dance Dance Revolution is hard! The Nerf guns remain a blast, however, and I think the kids are as happy with their Christmas as could be.