A Very Kaufman Christmas 2016

If you remember the end of my Thanksgiving post, I had not ordered nearly enough strands of lights as I thought I'd need for our tree. Early in December I remedied that and we got the whole thing totally set up.

This year we had some of my handmade decor, including this plaid, fleece, tree skirt with satin binding (which I wrote in detail about here), and these darling miniature cinnamon stick Christmas trees. I've created my first digital pattern with these trees, so forgive me if I spam you 50 billion more times with them.

You can get the Cinnamon Stick Christmas Tree Digital pattern here.

Another handmade item featured this season was this incredible Advent calendar my sister, Sariah, sent us. It was two years in the making. She made each one of these cross-stitched stockings, and I can't even on the quality of them. This is an heirloom gift that will stay in our family for generations if I have my way.

I mean, look at the incredible details on this hedgehog!

The girls and I are in agreement that Odette the owl is our favorite. I think it's her eyelashes that seal the deal.

Eric digs Alastair the snowboarding alligator.

Sariah knows we aren't religious so I doubly appreciated that there isn't any overt religious iconography on the stockings. While I still occasionally use the term Christmas, we aren't celebrating anybody's birth when we put up a tree. Call it a Yule tradition, or Winter Solstice, or Festivus, there's just so much of Christmas that I do like, that we incorporate the things we see fit (kinda like the way Christians incorporated all the traditions from the peoples their religion overran.)

Instead of filling the daily Advent calendar with chocolates, we had the girls sit down and think about people they'd like to do nice things for and we put their names in each little stocking. For 25 days we focused on helping others. We bought presents for children in need for a local gift program and we sent letters to friends and family who weren't in town. Even after delivering the gifts to the local gift drive we kept the tags on the tree. I hoped the girls would keep those kids in their hearts. 

I had invited several families we have met since moving up here to dinner on Friday the 23rd. However, when Friday morning dawned, I awoke to horrible pain in my right ovary. This pain has become cyclical since before the surgery I had in May of this year. I never know what level of pain each cycle will bring. Sometimes I can take Motrin and take it very easy and it's bearable, sometimes it's so bad I've gone to the hospital. Friday's pain was the 'don't move a muscle and do absolutely nothing and you'll make it through' kind of pain. It meant canceling dinner with my friends, which totally sucked.

The next day was Christmas eve and our town had received several feet of fresh powder. That meant two things: a white Christmas! and that Eric was high up on Mammoth Mountain riding double blacks down the face all morning. About mid-day he discovered he had forgotten to zip his jacket pocket and he'd lost his car keys. 

I'd been still taking it easy and trying to avoid pain. The girls had been watching Netflix almost all day. We all piled in the car in our pjs to pick Eric up once the tow truck arrived. We had the car towed to our house so we can sort out getting new keys on Monday. (You try getting a new key and alarm fob made on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day in a town as small as Mammoth). 

Eric took the whole thing in a stride, because really, what can you do? We also ended up helping the guy parked next to us whose car wouldn't start. The tow truck guy jumped him and then we all caravan-ed back to our house.

On the drive back I was still tired and recovering and knew that I wouldn't be making any dinner that evening. Eric was starving and the girls were hungry so we ordered pizza and salad from John's Pizza Works to go. It was a smart and delicious move.

As the night waned on we made sure we were ready for Santa and basically entertained the kids until it was time to send them to bed.

Finally, after wearing the kids (and Eric) out thoroughly, and reading 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, we got the kids to sleep.

The next morning came swiftly, and so did the pure joys that only kids really exhibit on Christmas morning.

"Candy?! We never get candy!!"

There was the joy of seeing Lyra, who had asked Santa for a reindeer, get one.

There's nothing quite like nailing a gift. 

We don't buy a lot of presents for the girls or ourselves. Of the stuff we did get, we focused on toys related to S.T.E.A.M. (science, technology, engineering, arts, and science). I was blown away by the state of LEGO today. This dragon is fully articulating. And it came with a little catapult too. 

This year I decided to make fabric gift bags instead of using wrapping paper. It's better for the environment, cheaper, and EASIER. OMG. So damn easy to "wrap" presents now. I wrote about the ones I made here

The sum total of our trash made up of wrapping paper fit in the palm of my hand, and came from gifts from friends and family.

We spent some time playing with the new toys (even as an adult it's hard to not get sucked into Goldiblox, LEGO, and snap circuits.)

But we didn't chill for long. Part of the cards we had written in the Advent calendar included our local police and firefighters. We explained that most people want to spend a day like today with their families, but some people have to work, including our first responders. The girls had drawn cards for them, and for our local friends, so we piled in the car to spread some holiday cheer.

It was a fantastic day and a wonderful month all around. We finished out the day playing with new toys, reading, and spending time together. I'm grateful for this wonderul life we've made in the mountains. 

Happy Christmafestivyulesolsticehannukwanzadan !

A Very Kaufman Thanksgiving 2016

It was a pretty good week, when I didn't allow myself to think about all the batshit insanity in the world right now.

Leading up to Thanksgiving C dug into some in-home science experiments.

She is reading The Curious Kid's Science Book, by Asia Citro and she can't get enough of it. And those are kid-sized goggles too.

We found out last minute that Mele was going to come up and visit for the holiday which pretty much made our first Thanksgiving in our new home perfect.

Eric hit up the mountain the day before Thanksgiving. Here are pics he sent while up there. Epic, no?

I've never been one to do a super fancy meal, so we kept this one simple.  Mele is a vegetarian so we made sure to have awesome food for her and Eric cooked a turkey. I repeat, Eric.cooked.a.turkey. In all fairness, Mele (yes, the vegetarian) helped him out quite a bit. Because the oven was going to be taken by the turkey, we started food prep the day before.

I've also been working on teacher gifts for the holidays. This is my prototype for a cinnamon stick Christmas tree ornament. 

In between food prep and hanging out, Mele and the girls helped me make 48 of the little trees. (Tutorial AND PATTERN coming soon!)

The morning of Thanksgiving I slept in and woke up to a breakfast of pancakes made by Eric. I love it when he does that.

The rest of the day was spent preparing food, working on the little Christmas tree ornaments, and doing some brainstorming for a list of people we want to do acts of kindness for during the upcoming holidays.

Our meal was simple and delicious and I'm incredibly grateful for the life Eric and I have built together.

Also, you should make this dessert. Mele and I used coconut sugar for the shortcake and sugar-free Jello and Coolwhip for the mousse portion. You can think me later. (Pro-tip, it's amazing the day after and served room temp.)

The weekend wasn't over yet! There was the tree lighting ceremony to attend on Friday at the village. Lyra skipped her nap so we stayed home last minute but Eric and C went to check it out. 

The next day we drove to Bishop to get a tree. 

A place about 18 miles west of Bishop, called Cardinal Village Resort, had a whole Christmas village thing going on. 

We saw Santa, had some lunch, and checked out their not-quite-frozen-solid ice skating pond. Lyra picked out our tree and we headed home as an incoming storm approached over the horizon.

It was JUST starting to snow as we got home. Setting up a Christmas tree while it's snowing outside is awesome.

This will be our first Christmas with a real tree in over a decade. There was, obviously, never room on our boat, but remember this darling felt Christmas tree I made? And when we were sent back to go, in San Diego, the first year we did a ladder tree and the second year we had a small, rotating, artificial tree loaned from my brother, Rich. All the decorations in those posts were also loaned from my brother, so this year, in this home, we are totally starting from scratch.

I thought ahead, though. I realized in October that this would be the case and tucked away in my mind to have things ordered for the tree when it showed up. I got a tree stand, and LED lights, and just a few packages of these. I thought I'd go sparse on ordering decoration because a) budget and b) I wanted us to slowly build our style over the years.

Since I haven't decorated a real tree in over a decade, you might have surmised that the 4 strands of lights I ordered were woefully inadequate. After discussing this online with friends, someone mentioned that Target had a tremendous deal that very day so I was able to get more ordered but they won't show up until Dec. 7th. Until then, our tree will look like this.

Sunday. The last day of a long week/weekend. Eric got up way before any of us because all that fresh powder was calling to him. Here's what he saw when he went outside. Beautiful, no?

When I woke up I found he had shoveled the stairs and a neat path to his car. The tire tracks are him beating feet up to the slopes.

I texted him a thank you and he sent me back this. Dude was in his happy place. Also, doesn't that look like something from Star Wars?

After breakfast the girls and I headed outside. I had more shoveling I wanted to do (paths to the wood pellet pile and the propane tank.)

Lyra is such as stickler for doing whatever we are doing that sometimes I forget just how little 3-years-old is.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. I hope you had a great holiday too.