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Elizabeth and Xander celebrated Boxing Day by going sledding.  Auntie Janice came too and at one point we had a train of Daddy pulling Elizabeth pulling Auntie Janice pulling Xander!


Mommy celebrated by making yet another Pinterest-inspired food craft. Brendan says he's debating blocking my access to the site, but I AM having fun.


Unlike a certain fruit tree, the hardest part about this food craft was locating fresh strawberries in Ottawa in the dead of winter that look edible! I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to generate an army of strawberry "Père Noëls". Elizabeth is still having none of this "Santa" stuff - it's Père Noël or St Nicholas...


One of the Christmas brunch ideas that I got from Pinterest was this Christmas tree shaped fruit tree. The site said it was easy and I didn't think too hard about this claim.  All I needed was toothpicks, a selection of fruit and a green styrofoam cone. So I went to the craft store and since the site didn't specify what kind of styrofoam, I picked the cheapest food grade version. Perhaps that was how I went wrong.


Or perhaps it was my idea that creating the tree would be a fun preschooler bonding experience. Turns out that sticking toothpicks into a styrofoam cone is surprisingly difficult. I had to break my toothpicks in half, because I was utterly unable to force them in far enough that they didn't stick out the fruit otherwise. This resulted in a couple of dozen tiny little splinters covering my fingers. It also turns out that covering the tree takes far more fruit (and toothpicks!) than I anticipated. I was at it for over an hour! Elizabeth was kept entertained by eating most of the green grapes, which she has decided she really really likes. I had originally thought of making a second one for Boxing Day, but my family will be lucky if I ever try making a fruit tree again!!! Luckily, my also-Pinterest-inspired cheese and cracker plate WAS as easy as advertised.


Elizabeth was very excited to finally be allowed to open her presents "for Jesus' birthday". She was less excited about the stocking at first, but by the time she got to open it she seemed to have come around. This was a relief because up until late Christmas Eve she was still insisting that stockings were not a good idea and we should be asking St Nicholas to come back and fill her shoe again! Her favourite part was trying to figure out who had put which items in her stocking!


Auntie Heather, Grandma and Grandpa J, Auntie Janice and Ray all joined us for present opening and Christmas breakfast. We skyped with Grandma and Grandpa H, who were VERY unseasonably dressed in shorts and t-shirts - clearly we are Northern Hemisphere kind of folks! Elizabeth thought this was very funny. In the evening we had a lovely dinner at Chris and Yukiko's with the whole family.


I was looking for Christmas Brunch make-ahead ideas on Pinterest and tripped over this really cool idea for making ice decorations using coloured water and balloons.


We dripped food colouring into regular balloons and then filled to the desired size at the tap. We tried a couple of plain old ice, but they kind of blend into the snow. We tried a number of different colours. Purple didn't work at all, although the water colour was good it came out a dark blue. We found they used a lot of food colouring, and I think next time we'd even use more!


It was rather warm out the day we made them (hovering just above 0C) so we left them out on the porch to freeze. Although the temperature went down well below zero that night it still took THREE days for them to freeze and quite a number were actually not totally frozen when we impatiently placed them in their final resting places. Guess the porch was too sheltered as the ones closest to the house were the least frozen. The site recommended that we use scissors to cut the balloons off, but most of ours had already burst in places so the balloons came off very easily. Unfortunately this meant that the bottom layer of balloons was frozen to the concrete, which made them challenging to remove. Next time we'll put them out right into the snow where they will not stain or freeze to the porch, and hopefully where they will freeze quickly!


We will also second the recommendation for dark coloured gloves, especially if some of your ice balloons don't freeze all the way through. My gloves got totally soaked. On the plus side we used the extra coloured water to pour over the plain ice balloons which made them look a lot better. I don't recommend just pouring coloured water over plain ice though, because the effect fades after a few days.


We usually have a Chinese fondue for New Year's Eve, but we moved our traditional raclette night to New Year's so we decided to swap the two events (we felt that Gingerbread followed by raclette followed by Christmas Eve followed by Christmas day would be altogether too much partying!)


I'm going to claim that she gets her "good helper" genes from my side of the family, and the "making faces while stirring boiling oil" genes from Daddy's... Actually the oil wasn't particularly hot yet - Mommy let her stir at the beginning because we decided that she wasn't going to get the opportunity to cook her own meal in boiling oil until she's a wee bit bigger!


I would have felt more prepared for Gingerbread if I hadn't spent the morning baking eight dozen Christmas cookies. Don't ask me why I thought this would be the ideal time! Needless to say I didn't get around to building my own Gingerbread structure.


There's been a major shift in demographics. When we started out, we were all teenagers. Notice that there are now hordes of toddlers and preschoolers! Auntie Janice and Elizabeth helped me pre-bake pieces for some of the littlest builders. For the first time ever I actually downloaded some templates online. Seemed wrong somehow but we were glad to have the pieces when the kids arrived as most of them are at a stage where they are done after about fifteen minutes of candy placement!


Pre-baking was also a good idea because we got to test drive our dough. Slight panic occurred when it was a total failure; luckily we figured out the problem and were able to correct (it helps if you thoroughly mix in the dough!). The dough was much lighter than last year as we used fancy molasses rather than cooking molasses. This was entirely accidental, but I do think the result was tastier!


Elizabeth was very excited to have so many friends visit and especially loved having "her Rachel" come and build houses with her. There were many, many tiny little houses! I hear Maria ate most of hers within 24 hours... Two of them were lucky to survive long enough to go home, accidentally diving off various flat surfaces. It's a good thing that icing covers up most cracks! I loved David and Dianne's rocket ship (pretty sure that was a first!). Uncle Dave made a parking garage, inspired by the little gummy cars we had this year. Auntie Janice made a barn, complete with miniature hippopotamus. Iain and Renée are obviously hoping the hockey lockout comes to an end soon... Ben and Marie-Noëlle claimed they made Clara... Next year Clara will be big enough to show them how it's done I'm sure..


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*First outings: Music, library, karate
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