The Christmas Wrap-up

We had an amazing Christmas full of family, fun and precious memories. My favorite part is always Christmas Eve, when the girls are so giddy with anticipation that they can't stand it. They were all in bed by 8:30 so "morning would come faster".
 They got the show on the road by reading "Twas the Night Before Christmas" on their own.
 Everything is ready to go!
My Christmas card trees. This was a fun new addition this year, and we enjoyed adding the cards to them each day and "browsing" them every time we went upstairs. See those Christmas presents under the trees? They were for my family, and I remembered them about 30 miles outside of town on Christmas Day, resulting in a speedy return home and a later arrival to my parents' house for Christmas dinner than anticipated. Frustrating.
Our gift from Tatum, lovingly wrapped herself. I don't know why I'm "Jere" but Tye is "Dad". It was a handcrafted photo wreath ornament, exactly what you hope to get from your kindergartner for Christmas. Priceless.
 Gentry's big "ta-da" gift was an acoustic guitar.
Anybody know how to play one of these things? Tye can do a rousing rendition of "This Land is Your Land" but that's all we've got.
Tatum is in a Toy Story phase. She got Bullseye from us and Buzz from my parents to complete her collection of characters.
Yep, Ava got a phone. As a rule, I don't think 5th graders need their own cell phone, but there have been several times her after-school plans have changed at the last minute, and I need to be able to know exactly where she is, so it's really for me to be able to communicate with/stalk her. She was ecstatic because she knew chances were slim that she would get one. The girl can already text like a pro.
Look at their faces! This was when they unwrapped the ping pong paddles and put it together that the gift was really a ping pong table out in the garage. Tatum was a little slow on the uptake at this point, but she figured it out soon enough.
Walking into the garage to see their ping pong table set up. Tye was up LATE the night before putting it together with no small amount of frustration, but their reactions were totally worth it.
 The aftermath.
One of Gentry's gifts was a coupon to get her ears pierced. She didn't rest until she was at the mall the day after Christmas, sitting in that piercing chair.
 Done! She did great.
Christmas decorations are taken down and stored, my house looks barren but clean, and I'm about to do a big purge of the playroom. I'm working on some orders that were placed before Christmas for January delivery, but I won't open up for new orders for another week or so. Everyone have a safe New Year's Eve and a blessed 2012!

Coming Soon

I'm still undoing Christmas decor and taming the laundry beast but I'll be back soon with a Christmas wrap-up post and some finished items. I think my Chocolate Zebra email is being persnickety, so if you've contacted me in the last couple of weeks and haven't received a reply, please know I'm not choosing to ignore you. Hopefully the issue will be resolved soon and I'll be in touch ASAP.
If you placed an order before Christmas for the month of January, I promise I'm working on it! I'm not taking orders just yet but you can email me if you need something after the first of the year.

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from my family to yours!

Making Christmas Memories

Since many of the items I need to post are for Christmas presents, I won't post them until after the 25th. Instead, you get to see more of our Christmas merriment. We've heard every Christmas song at least a dozen times (playing our annual radio roulette game in the car), driven around to see Christmas lights (a family favorite), enjoyed our traditional 12 Days of Christmas stocking gifts from Dad (I got especially spoiled this year!) and had our favorite homemade meal of the entire year, Cioppino, at Tye's parents' house. We made lots of Hot Chocolate Stir Sticks to deliver to friends and community helpers. They were very easy and kid-friendly -- a candy cane, a marshmallow, some melted chocolate and sprinkles. Yummy too!

I had 3 school Christmas parties to attend this year, but they were all at different times, so no running back and forth between siblings' classrooms! I can't get enough of these sweet kindergarteners. It's been a magical year with lots of new friends and the most fabulous teacher you could hope for. It makes me sad that we're already halfway done.

The 4th graders played some challenging games, like a relay race carrying a cotton ball with a straw. Made my lips hurt!
The 5th graders went all out with Minute to Win It type games, and more junk food than I've ever seen on public school property. They were in heaven!
We surprised the girls with tickets to the Nutcracker Ballet, and they all were ecstatic. We took them a couple of times when they were younger, but this was the first year they really got into the story and the music was familiar to them. Gentry, especially, sat on the edge of her seat from beginning to end. Tatum had only seen the Barbie Nutcracker movie and told us, "It's just like the Barbie movie!" Poor, uncultured child.

Ava posing with our nutcracker.
 Gentry, doing her best Clara impersonation.
 Tatum, having no idea why she's holding this wooden man but doing it because both of her sisters did.
Our seats were on the last row of the theater. THE last row. I mean, the wall was the only thing behind us. We told the girls, "It's so much better seeing the whole stage this way than having to crane your neck up when you sit close." Ha!
 Everyone got a Clara ornament (but not all the same!) to put on the tree when we got home.

 Ava had to make sure her Clara and the nutcracker ornament got to hang out together.
My heart is also with those families struggling at this time of year, trying to make it a special time for their kids, but just not feeling it because of the recent loss of a loved one or a serious health crisis. It has to be so hard, seeing the world celebrating all around you and feeling like no one sees the pain you wake up with and carry around every day. May you know the peace of Christ more in the next few days than ever before, and feel the joy that this season brings. God bless you all!

Some Final Christmas Items

It's too late to order for Christmas but I want to post these products to record them for next year. Isn't this reindeer initial shirt the cutest? Love her pink minky nose!
 These dish towels were a hit for family gift exchanges and teacher gifts. Who would be interested in dish towels year round? Let me know what you think.

For teacher gifts this year, I went with monogrammed throws. I found the softest, plushest throws for a steal at a discount store and bought them out. My girls gave some to their friends and then had to have some for themselves too, of course. They've slept with them, brought them along for our traditional looking at Christmas lights, and snuggled in them for movie-watching. It is definitely the Year of the Throw around here.

We're finally at the point where I breathe a sigh of relief that the madness is over and I can sit back and enjoy the festivities. There are a few more gifts that need wrapping and I still need to find something for my Dad, but he's easy to please so I'm not stressing about it. Christmas cards have been sent, but not without much gnashing of teeth over it. Seriously, I thought someone was playing a joke on me with how many things went wrong with them. In the end, nothing matters but Jesus Christ, the fact that He lived, died and was raised again, and the hope that we have because of Him. That truly means more to me this year than usual, and it's helping me to keep things in perpective.

North Pole Breakfast

A couple of Saturday mornings ago I planned a special North Pole Breakfast for the girls to show my appreciation for their picking up the slack while I finished up orders, prepared teachers gifts and just endured general Christmas hectic-ness. They were very helpful and (a little) more magnanimous with each other than usual. The North Pole Breakfast consisted of lots and lots of sugar, of course - powdered donuts, candy canes, pink snowballs, Oreos with red filling, Rudolph pancakes and milk in real glass bottles. I also presented them with their traditional matching Christmas pajamas and a unique ornament for each of them that represented them in a special way. I made a sign at the top of the stairs that read, "A surprise awaits downstairs. Don't come down until I call for you." Gentry woke up and saw it, went back to sleep, and then thought it was a dream when she woke again later, so I had to go get all 3 of them when I was ready.

Their sleepy faces and surprised reactions were priceless.

Tatum went for the goods immediately.
Gentry's first question when she saw the table was, "Do you want us to put the pajamas on now so we'll be matching in all the pictures?" Why, of course, my sweet brain-washed child!
Ava has a thing for owls. Can you tell?

Tatum's Rudolph pancake.
"Magic" milk that turns candy cane pink.

Ava got creative and made a Santa pancake.
Tatum didn't want to hang her puppy ornament on the tree. He needed to be played with first.

Giving her dog a train ride around the Christmas tree.
My precious matching girlies.
This made me a little teary-eyed. I'm so thankful for my 3 Christmas blessings!