Thursday, December 29, 2011

Holidays 2011

Wow! We've been SO busy this whole month!!! We got the majority of our shopping and decorating done before December 1st, and we were still running and running all month long!!!

I'm not sure how much time/energy I am going to be able to infuse this post with, but here goes....(it usually ends up longer and more detailed than I originally planned)....please, excuse any typos in advance

First up was the Great Santa Run! Kenny and I clad our red fur suits and completed a 5K at a leisurely stroll. It was fun seeing so many Santas (so alike, yet all so different) in one place. Plano didn't win the Guiness Book of World Records for having the most Santas run together (Vegas bagged the Record this year), but we had an impressive turn-out for our first year! Maybe 2012 is our year....

We look legit.

That evening we had a Progressive Dinner to attend/host with our church Neighborhood group. It was so fun hanging out, eating, and chatting with such wonderful people! We started with appetizers at our friend Marga's apartment, then enjoyed the main entree at Dutch and Ginger's. Kenny and I hosted the dessert/coffee segment and White Elephant gift exchange at our house to finish the evening. We all laughed heartily and came away with full bellies and horrible gifts! I think the worst was a pair of shoulder pads....or maybe the Harry Potter watch?? Oh, no - the used wine corks - that had to take the cake!

No pictures of that evening - I guess we were too busy having a good time!

Another fun get-together with our church family was our Christmas tree decorating party. Everyone was invited to make ornaments and hang them on the tree. There were yummy things to eat, face painting, and Santa was there, too, handing out bags of gelt!!!

Earlier in the month, we went to Fairfield to watch LaLa in her performance of A Christmas Carol. She played about 5 or 6 different characters, so Mira enjoyed watching and looking for her.

Such a beautiful and talented young lady. So hard to believe she's so grown up these days.

Proud Pappy.

Later in the month, I enjoyed making a few crafty gifts for Mira's dance teacher, gymnastics coach, and all her friends. Mira loved these Sock Monsters, as I call them, so much that I ended up putting one aside for her to have on Christmas morning. It has been a HUGE hit, so I hope her friends are all enjoying theirs as much.

Had some fun with the Cricut...

Mira has become completely proficient at writing her name - I love that I randomly find it scrawled here and there throughout the day and that she is able to sign her own cards/letters now.

The Sock Monster Gang - aren't they a cheerful bunch?!

I think Mira would have kept them all if given the chance.

This year, Mira took us by total surprise and tolerated (and almost enjoyed) a visit with Santa! Willow Bend mall had the most amazing arctic wonderland with "real" snow falling down and the absolute best Santa I've ever met! Not only did he have the look, but he was able to make friends with our daughter in about 45 seconds! Most know that she is slow to warm up (sometimes even with known loved ones, let alone strangers!), so this was quite a feat!! We visited him a the Ice Palace twice!

Playing in the snow.

She really loved this!!

All dressed up this time to have a picture made!

After last years repeated and insistent refusals to even wave at Santa, we figured we would never see this type of photo again. We're really not into the whole screaming-kid-on-Santa's-lap picture, so we wouldn't have forced it if she wasn't willing. She sat, she smiled, and she told him what she wanted for Christmas! And this was after standing in line for over an hour! Still amazed....

Mira was invited to a crafting party at her friend Shaylin's house - a Crafting Extravaganza it was called, and, boy, did the name fit!! Mira came home with a decorated bag plus 9 completed crafts and a goody bag filled with a Christmas book, yo-yo, and more! She really enjoyed it, and I loved it, too!

Mira was a big helper throughout the month with baking and wrapping gifts.

Making a pie crust.

She added some ribbon to my present. :) She has been having a ball with my bucket of ribbon, and has gotten really good at winding it up!

Making the sugar cookies

As part of our Advent calendar (in addition to the daily dose of sugar), we had a fun activity to do each day! We baked cookies and delivered them to family and neighbors, we sang carols at a senior residence with a group from our church, we drove around to see Christmas lights, we watched a Christmas movie as a family, we read all of Mira's Christmas books, plus much more, and we took Mira ice skating for the first time! We went to the Dr. Pepper Center which was great since it wasn't crowded and tiny like the mall rinks around town.

Size 7 is the smallest they carry, and this was the only pair! Phew!

Kenny was the hero of the evening and helped Mira "skate" around the rink a few laps.

This super-sweet skating instructor offered to help get Mira started...
But, Mira was pretty insulted and mad when the nice lady told her, "At first, you don't skate, you just walk. Can you march on the ice and make loud noises??" Mira burst in to angry tears and sobbed/shouted at the poor girl, "I don't want to walk, I want to SKATE!!!!" And that was the end of our free, professional, private tutorial....

For the second year, Mira was very happy to see the train set go up at SheesaNui's! She loves her conductor's hat and, this year, is a pro at controling the train's stop/go, speed, whistle, and steam!

She's a hip conductor.

PapaNui has a hat, too.

Business. All business.

Look at it go!!! Faster, faster!!!

On Christmas Eve, we invited everyone over to decorate cookies for Santa! Sheesa, PapaNui, Aunt Kara, and Coy were the only ones who could make it, but we all had a great time! I wish everyone else could have been there, but it's a busy day, so we understood.

Mira gets very serious and hyper-focused when she's working. This apron is still one of my favorite sewing projects that I've ever done!!!

Sheesa came prepared with her apron.

Sheesa seems to be doing some quality control with that cookie! We were all guilty...and they were some GOOD cookies!

PapaNui was very creative with his decorating - he took full advantage of all the gingerbread clothes and accessories that I made for the gingerbread people.

We had sugar cookies and gingerbread men plus all the colored frostings, royal icing, mini chocolate chips, sweetart hearts, and smarties as embellishments.

Sometimes it was hard to find Mira's cookies under the piles of icing and sugar sprinkles....

Maybe just another dash of pink....

Those are some beautiful cookies!!!
On Christmas Eve, we left cookies and milk out for Santa plus some carrots and water for the reindeer alongside Mira's letter to Santa.

Mira's picks for Santa

She started the letter at the bottom and ended with her signature at the top. she wrote this all by herself and the message below is soley her own - no help or input from us.This is how it reads according to Mira who read aloud as she wrote:

Dear Santa, I have such fun with you. I really love for you to bring gifts to me. I would like the ABC Soup game, and I want the fishing game.
Dear Santa, I would love you to bring me a doll like Avi's.
Dear Santa, I love you. I really love talking to you.
I hope winter will come again soon. I hope I'm going to talk to you again!
Happy Holidays!

I love that she said "Dear Santa" over and over again and that she added the "Happy Holidays!" at the end. The three gifts she asked for were the Campbell's ABC Soup game (discontinued - had to find it on eBay - what a fiasco!), a Cinderella Fishing for Gems game (girly version of the classic fishing game), and a magnetic dress-up doll that she plays with for hours at Avi's. Santa came through on the first two, and Mommy and Daddy got her the doll, so her wishes were granted.

After leaving the goodies for Santa and his crew, Mira opened one gift which was a book, Angelina's Christmas. Of course, it was one of her bedtime stories before being tucked into bed. She is a huge fan of Angelina Ballerina books, so she was very excited when she saw it. I had to include the entire sequence of pictures...I love that she decided, all by herself, to wear the Santa hat (all other times, she has refused to wear it when we suggested it).

This is what it's all about - look at the sheer joy on her face! 

She immediately opened it and started "reading" it from cover to cover.

Christmas morning was videoed, but not a single still shot was taken! Who knows when that video will be cut/posted....

But, Mira was very good and patient about opening gifts and really loved all of them. Well, she didn't get real excited about the embroidered towel set, but that was to be expected.

After church, we headed over to SheesaNui's for lunch and gift exchange. We got a few shots over there.

Delivering gifts to Sheesa and PapaNui

Mira enjoyed helping everyone else open their presents when she wasn't opening her own or...

...looking for more presents with "Mira" written on them.

The day after Christmas, we headed to Fairfield to see all of the Hughes'. You will notice that my family (especially my brother) likes to put things on their heads...

Mira's new tutu.

Unwrapping a gift from LaLa
A Sleeping Beauty necklace! She wore it for about 48 hours straight before taking it off!
Giving Pappy his gift. I wrapped it in a Annie's Chocolate Bunnies box, and Mira got so excited for Pappy when she saw the box! 

Oh, it's just a Lowe's gift card - boring!

A ribbon.

Mira actually pointed and laughed when she saw Uncle Kenny with the ribbon on his head.  

LaLa loved the exploding box that I made for her - full of gelt, brain teasers, quotes, and gift cards.

Avi opening her Apple gift card.

One of the biggest hits was the Melissa & Doug felt sandwich shop. She and Avi opened a deli and we all "ate" at least a dozen sandwiches each.

Pink tulle.

Mira got her apron on and was working hard on these sandwiches.

Taking orders with her Crayola marker.

Making a sub for Nanny.

CoCo takes a turn and is sporting a giant gift bag.

Then Avi and Mira took turns being a present inside the giant gift bag.

Mommy doesn't think it's a good idea to cinch the bag closed.

Oh, what did you get me?!!

It's a Mira!!!! Just what I wanted!!!!!

Time to try Avi's new foot bath with those little gel balls.

I was surprised Mira loved this so much.

Reminds me of an "I Love Lucy" episode....

There's probably more that could be added, but I am EXHAUSTED!!! I must go to bed....

We had such a great time and feel very blessed by the family and friends that we have and are very thankful for the lovely gifts we all recieved.

Oh, speaking of wonderful gifts...among other things, I got a new sewing machine, a Ninja blender, and a Swarovsky bracelet and earring set!!! Kenny got the new Nike+ GPS SportWatch, and we both got an abundance of great gift cards!!

Mira got clothes, games, a BIG piano, a make your own pop-up book kit, a VTech writing tablet, and more that I just can't think of now...did I mention I was tired??

We also celebrated Hanukkah this year like we always do, but I don't have a ton of pictures. Mira loves "lighting" the menorrah each night on our Hanukkah banner and seeing what little gift is in the pockets.

The first night, she got this cool Hanukkah cup with a crazy straw.

She also got her fair shair of gelt.

I made latkes and challah one evening. SUBLIME!!!!! What a great holiday!

Looking forward to spending New Year's Eve with all the family (minus Mark) at Jim & Sheila's house.