The 23rd edition of gingerbread featured 56 people, 10 lbs of icing sugar (and thank goodness for neighbours with extra icing sugar because I actually ran out!), three dozen egg whites and four batches of dough. There was lots of candy. So much candy. Our teenaged babysitters Emma and Alida successfully managed to prevent our house from getting demolished by sugar crazed children, and helped my kids make their own stuff with no help from me or Brendan!
Shout out to Auntie Janice who did this year's pre-baking and watched all the cookies to prevent burning! Dianne also made SO MANY batches of icing - thanks are due to the many helpers without whom this crazy event would descend into pandemonium pretty quickly. Fun times!
Amelia made a rainbow, Matthew made a Christmas helicopter with an epic backstory and Elizabeth made a water slide. Michael had a great time smashing up some cookies left behind. It was the first year that the kids had IDEAS about what they wanted to make and I was very pleased with their creativity.
Uncle Dave and crew had structural failure, and declared their house to have been hit by a tornado.
We had a manger, an airplane, a wand, a castle, Santa's sleigh, houses and lots of beautifully decorated cookies. David's rocket and Catherine's Christmas tree were probably my two favourite creations.
I forgot to buy sharks for the first time in about fifteen years. I promise there will be sharks next year. Can't wait to see what people will build and thank you all for coming!
Some memories from this year's advent. Lighting the wreath and ringing the bells while singing O Come O Come is still probably our main and favourite tradition.
This year our devotional was based off of the booklet provided by All Things with Purpose. I started out with one for the family but it became clear that one for each kid was going to be a lot less annoying so that's what we ended up doing. We also put some Jesse Tree magnets on the fridge.
Note that we have always been very clear with the kids that Santa is a pretend story, but the older two like to play that they believe he's real. Last year they wrote about two hundred little notes purporting to be from the real Santa and then stuffed many into neighbour mailboxes. This year the notes were more directed towards Santa.
I asked Elizabeth if that was her real Christmas list and she told me flat out that I didn't understand how to play kid games anymore. LOLOL
There was a big foofaraw at Elizabeth's school because the grade 4 to 6 classes did NOT have a Christmas concert this year. The school of course communicated this poorly, explaining very clearly that there would be an art show for the grade 1 to 3 classes, and the grade 4 to 6s would have an art show in June. Naturally, the parents were all "that's interesting, but is there also going to be a concert?".
Eventually it became clear that the answer to that was "no". I remain unimpressed with the principal who flat out lied to me when I asked whether there was going to be a note to parents to clarify that the art show was intended to be the replacement for the normal "spectacle". As in "it's already scheduled for Saturday". Turns out that someone complained about how long the concert was last year (which... really? They were always about what you'd expect, we thought; not overlong). So the principal unilaterally cancelled the whole thing with no consultation whatsoever. Shades of LAST year's foofaraw where apparently one or two students showed up extremely scantily clad and the principal decided to suddenly enforce a dress code effectively banning Elizabeth from wearing any of her shorts because Elizabeth has long arms. The uproar on that extremely sexist and stupid policy got the principal to back down and send it "for study" (we've heard nothing since), but I guess people were less outraged by the Christmas concert.
Now, we didn't exactly mind as we aren't exactly thrilled by the recorder and xylophone playing parts - they are comically terrible, mostly because the music teacher leaves much to be desired.
Luckily the rest of the school is fantastic.
Anyway, long story short, I guess Elizabeth's teacher felt that she needed some kind of replacement, so she got the class to memorize a pile of short plays and put on a little drama show all based on Aesop's fables. Elizabeth's group was assigned the Tortoise and the Hare. The students all did much better than I was expecting (I was expecting much mumbling and stammering through lines). Elizabeth's group was actually by far the worst, as their narrator did not know her lines and had to keep consulting the book. Elizabeth has a phenomenal memory and therefore knew her lines cold, but she did not know enough to memorize her cues and so kept having to be prompted. Even so, it was all surprisingly entertaining and I was very proud.
Matthew's last "ninja" gymnastics class featured a special visitor and Matthew decided he didn't want to go because he was worried about what that meant and whether it would be different.
We decided that was silly and drove him anyway. He was relieved to discover it was an ordinary class except that one of the teachers "had to leave early". Since we had flat out told him that the special visitor was going to be Santa, he put two and two together. "I know what you are really doing", he confided excitedly to the teacher who was heading out. Teacher played along and told him he was right.
Second teacher was less obliging and made him confused about whether she actually realized whether the first teacher was playing Santa or not. "Mom, I know some kids think that Santa is a true story and not a pretend one, but do adults believe that too?" LOL
He was very happy we made him go when he got his present from Santa (a transformers puzzle kit)
I was recently helping Matthew brush his teeth when he surprised me by telling me his tooth was wiggly (what? already???). I checked and it turned out that his two bottom teeth were loose. He wiggled them for a couple of days, but just when he was getting to that stage where the loose tooth starts interfering with life he came home from school with his tooth number one in a bag!
He had been expressing anxiety about whether it would hurt when it fell out or whether there would be a lot of blood - both things Elizabeth explained were possibilities in her experience and then was quite annoyed with me trying to explain this was not helpful. I was relieved to discover neither were the case!