we went to see a live nativity put on by our church about a week or so before christmas. we did a lot of fun things to get ready for christmas this year, but this night really stands out. the nativity was darn near perfect once it got rolling (after mary fell off the donkey during her grand entrance-good thing she wasn't really pregnant!). the set was amazing, the narration and music was just right (not too cheesy or in-your-face), and the cast was fantastic (mary was beeeeautiful). it was a seriously classy production. aside from the birth of the baby jesus, my favorite part was the "o' come, o' come, emmanuel" procession. it gets me. every. time. partly due to nostalgia from my choir days and then just because it's such a great song. definitely one of my favorites.
the kids loved the angels and the star and getting to pet the donkey and see the baby jesus after the show was over. the peppermint ice cream we enjoyed together afterward was a treat, too.
if you live in vegas this is a "must-do," put it on your list for next year.
*the photo above was taken by a photographer hired to document the production (i'm still trying to figure out the source). rumor has it that it is untouched. isn't it amazing?!?! it looks like a painting! i'd love to get my hands on a print...
we had a little family christmas eve the night before we left for utah. it was perfect and i loved having the special time together, just us.
the kids and i donned our fancy attire and as soon as dad arrived home from work he was greeted by the maitre'd (nash). nash folded under the pressure and couldn't exactly remember what he was supposed to do, but eventually he coaxed dad to the table, set in our fanciest dishes and lit by candlelight. the fireplace crackled in the background (thanks l&d!) and the christmas tree sparkled.
the first course was served: baguette with olive oil and balsalmic. then we moved on to the rest of the fancy dinner: herb-roasted cornish game hen with pearl onions, mashed cauliflower with blue cheese, and a festive pisachio and beet salad. nash & haven were freaked out by the whole chickens on the table at first, but then they took a few bites and the fear was gone. they loved it. and nash asked for a christmas dinner with chicken on the bone again last night. then, of course, we had some martinelli's and offered up some toasts. the kids thought toasting was pretty fun and we had a few rounds. nash calls it "the toast, not the one you eat." his toast was the best. something along the lines of "we got a biiiig truck and put all our stuff in it and we moved to las begas MERRRRY CHRISTMAS!"
after dinner the kids opened their gifts from each other, from us and from my parents. nash picked out a little kitty furreal pet for haven. haven picked out a travel lite brite toy for nash. they put on their new jammies and we put in one of the hit gifts: beauty and the beast. when i bought the dvd for them a few weeks ago it came with a free cd with a few beauty & the beast tracks on it. i figured we'd get some mileage out of it before they opened their gift so we've been playing it in the car. the kids know all the words and love to sing along. and nash can sometimes be overheard singing in his room. (this makes me so stinking happy-it was my absolute favorite movie as a kid. i was obsessed.) so they were just a little excited to get the actual movie (please just ignore my presence in the video. i'm so weird):
finally, we said farewell to jolly & beaker. we'd been prepping haven for a week or two on this. we told her that if she could give jolly all of her binkis to take to santa, that santa would bring her a dollhouse on christmas morning. she was totally on board and was so excited about it that she even ran to the front of the line to see santa at our ward party a few nights before and told him the plan. well, when the time actually came it was pretty rough. she threw a HUGE fit. it was actually pretty hilarious and steve took a video of it. but i guess nash got a hold of the camera and deleted it the next morning, so it's lost and gone forever. in its place is this (nash being a bossy older brother, haven in her christmas jammies, christmas toys scattered everywhere, and a glimpse into our little home):
but she did it-she said goodbye! and we've been binki-free ever since. only problem is that she's decided she can't nap without it.
we sent a christmas card out last-minute with the above family photo, so some of you may get it. here we were in our christmas outfits. just imagine some red in there because the color versions are...blah. i've decided that my motto for this year is: "you win some, you lose some. especially when it comes to kids, baking, and taking your own family's photos." at least i keep trying, right? it was dark (inside), the camera was propped on blankets, we took two shots, i used costco + a template which wasn't the color scheme i thought it was, and i sent it late...but i tried, and i did it, and it isn't perfect, and i'm still fine. i think nash's face saved us here. classic boy. he could give mad max a run for his money with those ears. hope you've all been having a wonderful christmas filled with good times, good food, and good company!
on saturday we took a train ride to see santa. haven cried. nash requested a yo-yo (a modest request considering he had been thinking about asking for a submarine).
p.s. we have the inside scoop: santa's favorite cookies are peanut butter.
the other day we made cookies for a cookie exchange. not really part of the advent, but still festive. this recipe is from my grandma, and i believe she got it from taste of home (you bunco girls might remember this one from last february). it's normally pretty simple, but i'm not having any luck baking in this house (crappy oven + altitude changes + letting haven help, i guess), so i ended up throwing batch one away and doing it all twice. and they didn't turn out great. blah. you win some, you lose some. at least haven had a blast making a sugary mess with every utensil we own.
this is normally a really good cookie-sort of a cross between candy and cookie and great to add to cookie plates. maybe you'll have better luck (note: the photo above is prior to frosting/baking so this isn't how they look when they're done):
chocolate-covered cherry cookies
1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. cocoa
1/2 c. butter
1 c. granulated sugar
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. baking powder
1/4 t. baking soda
1 1/2 t. vanilla
48 undrained maraschino cherries (10 oz. jar)
1/2 (6 oz.) package semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 c. sweetened condensed milk
in small bowl combine flour and cocoa. set aside. in large bowl beat butter till soft. add sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda. beat well. add egg and vanilla. add flour mixture.
shape into balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet. press center down and place cherry in center of each.
in saucepan, combine chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk. heat till melted. stir in 4 t. of cherry juice. (thin with more juice if needed). cover cherry with frosting.
bake at 350 degrees for about ten minutes. move to rack to cool.
p.s. if you try these i think this is a great way to finish off the frosting part. i've also read that you can wait to frost them until after baking, which might be a better idea so that the frosting doesn't crack/dry out.
p.p.s. my blog is super cool and is a day ahead (see the date on the post?), don't let this confuse you...i have no idea what's going on.
a few days ago our advent activity was to make christmas banks and discuss chores and helping. we haven't established a household chore system yet (call me lazy) but i figured this was the perfect time to introduce the idea. we used some little gift boxes i picked up on after-christmas clearance last year. we simply cut a slit in the top of each box, taped the bottoms to make them more secure, and called it done. the kids have been earning change for doing things like unloading the dishwasher, cleaning up their toys, saying nice things to each other, taking laundry to the washing machine for me, setting the table, etc. they also lose coins for fighting and asking me for treats at the store (i am sooooo mean). depending on their total earnings come december 21st we'll choose a store and the kids will shop for each other's christmas gift with their money.
this was serious business. look at these hard-at-work faces:
alison and i planned to make gingerbread men with the kids using the leftover gingerbread from our house. the recipe was clearly not meant to take the form of little cookie men. alison and i managed to form ten or twelve deformed little men before we gave up (screaming/fighting children might have factored in to our defeat as well). once baked the cookies didn't look so bad, so the kids and i frosted that night. i tried a technique called "flooding" to frost mine. i don't know how i've never tried it before but it was really easy and i love the way they look.
do any of you have a tried and true recipe for gingerbread men? i want to give it another shot...
tonight steve read a christmas book to the kids and we all had hot cocoa with bob's sweet stripes and marshmallows (as evidenced by haven's shirt). then haven told me to "take pictures, mom. with your camera." so i did. this is my favorite...with the only light coming from the christmas tree.
speaking of christmas tree lighting, em took this picture of the kids with her phone while she was here last week. i sort of love it.
my favorite advent activity so far (and i'm not sure what's going to top it other than christmas morning) has been the arrival of santa's elves.
on saturday night there was a knock at the door. nash answered and announced "there's nobody there..." then i heard a gasp. someone left something! there on the porch sat two little elves with special letters from santa. if you could have seen nash's face! santa sent "beaker" to watch nash and "jolly" to watch haven. after a long round of Q&A as to how the elves got here (santa dropped them off), if they are real (yes!), when do they move (when people aren't watching), how long they will stay (till christmas eve), what do they eat (candy canes, gingerbread, and hot cocoa), we put the kids to bed. nash plays in his room for a bit before he goes to sleep, so i snuck upstairs and positioned beaker outside nash's door, knocked lightly, and then hid. nash opened the door and gasped. he then ran downstairs to tell dad all about how beaker wanted to see him so he came and knocked on the door! i went in to tuck nash in to bed and he explained to me that because beaker is a guest we needed to make him a bed. so we did just that and they drifted off to sleep. when nash woke up the next morning he found that beaker decided to take a ride on his horse in the night.
periodically throughout the day the elves move about. we've found them climbing down the stairs, reading books, hanging upside down from shelves, etc. each time the kids scream with excitement, "they're real! they're real!"
last night they must have gone back to see santa because they were gone when we woke up, but after we ran some errands this morning we came back to find them sitting on santa's mailbox. they had delivered nash's pile of letters to santa and brought back little gifts from him!
not only did santa send little snowmen for the kids, but he must have sent some magic, too, because they've been playing together (happily) ever since! which is why i'm posting twice in one day! christmas miracle!
the advent has begun and is keeping us busy and excited for christmas. so far we've decorated the tree + house, strung lights outside, opened christmas nightlights, gone to a movie, written a million letters to santa, watched christmas shows, crafted, and made a gingerbread house. apparently this gingerbread house was originally included in a 1960's relief society magazine. my mom's friend introduced her to it in the 80's and we've been making them ever since. some years my mom made them in mass and sold them, some years we only made one house. there used to be a method to it all, but now most of the candies that we traditionally used are scarce, so this year i went simple and easy. the kids were pretty excited about it and i even let them help a little ;) nash applied the gumdrops to the roof. next year i'll make two; one for me to perfect (my piping is not the best, as you can clearly see) and one for them to destroy!
nash is dying to eat it...too bad they don't taste as good as they look!