Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Cheer

The kids and I are officially on Christmas break until New Year's! It's been really nice to not have a run-around schedule like we have every week day. Although we've intentionally kept things pretty low-key this holiday season, we have had a few fun happenings of note.

1.) Nativities Around the World - Every Christmas in Virginia we would go see the lights at the DC temple grounds, and walk through the International Nativity Display in the visitor's center. The rooms were beautifully lit with lovely music playing, and each unique creche was surrounded by festive poinsettia plants. This was the standard I had set for a nativity exhibit. A few weeks ago, Josh asked us to meet him after work so we could go to our Stake sponsored Nativity display. My expectations weren't very high. I knew they had asked ward members to loan their displays. My only set is a hand-me-down one, and baby Jesus has two broken hands! I thought they might have a few dozen displays, but off we went anyway.

I've never seen anything like it! Hundreds and hundreds of nativities, all displayed on beautiful tables in the cultural hall, which was transformed into a beautiful room (I didn't even notice the basketball hoops!). It must have taken hours and hours of work to set them up with lights, levels and decorations. We were greeted by a kind but firm sister, who gave a lecture to our kids not to touch the displays, and instead sent them on an I-spy scavenger hunt to find six specific nativities throughout the room. Watch the video and you'll hear her explaining it.

The kids loved that, and were completely engaged! As if that wasn't enough, we went down the hall to find a room with racks and racks of costumes for us to dress up and get a picture taken in our own Nativity photo! We had a bleating sheep, a sulking angel, a Mary and Joseph and a shepherd who was REALLY excited to be handed a wooden stick! Then they had a childrens' room, which had dozens of Nativities that they could touch, taste, rearrange and enjoy. They could do crafts, sit on the couch, play musical instruments, etc. I was amazed, and really grateful for all the people who worked so hard to create something so special. The only thing I felt bad about was that I didn't invite a friend.

2.) Ward Christmas Party - I love these! It's not Christmas without one, I tell you. This year the Primary put on a Christmas Pageant. I didn't know Boo was supposed to dress up and that she had a little song with choreography she was supposed to perform. You can tell by this video she didn't exactly know (or possibly care) what she was doing. The entire thing was so cute, though!

3.) Ornaments - Boo brought home a bag of crafts and activities that they have done in school throughout the month. I've been secretly hoping that her teacher would help them create some sort of Kindergarten ornament. You know the kind that your mom still keeps because she just wants to remember you being that little forever? Yeah.
Merry Christmas to me! :)

4.) Crafty Christmas Stuff - My sister-in-law Angie is the craftiest gal I know. I in no way want to say that I'm at her level of "craft", but I was channeling her craftiness when I did these projects. The first one was mostly out of necessity. I love getting Christmas cards, and I love reading and re-reading the updates on my friends and family. But, they usually get put into a pile and then buried under bills or magazines! I saw this blog that had a tutorial on a ribbon Christmas card holder, and I knew this was my kind of craft: cheap, easy, and doesn't take up a lot of space! The second was something I saw on another blog, and I had been wanting to try it for a while. We drew my sister Catherine's family for the gift exchange, and was stumped on what to get them. Then I learned that her two boys are into Dragons, so what better gift than some stenciled dragon t-shirts!? (Sorry for the sideways photo)I followed the tutorial here, and they turned out pretty awesome! Can you tell they are Night Fury from How to Train Your Dragon? Cath already peeked at her gift, so I'm not giving away the surprise.

5.) Cookie Exchange - I'm also not really a party planner, but I got so many people asking if we were having another one this year, I decided to go ahead and have it at our house. The weather didn't cooperate, and we were slammed by a bad storm the hour before it began. It was still nice to taste some different cookies, enjoy some brunch, visit with my sisters and meet some new people. Anyone have some advice on how to take pictures at parties? Most women HATE having their pictures taken, and I feel like I'm intruding on their space. Should I just snap away? Do you ask, "May I take your picture?" Is it rude to snap candid photos at your own party? I'm never sure, hence the limited number of photos. Please advise.

6.) Walking in a Winter Wonderland - Someone who never has any problems getting her picture taken is Diddles. I snapped these a few weeks ago. Little ones are such easy subjects to photograph.


Tim said...

Great post! I love Jane's "I dunno!" gesture during the Christmas performance. Those t-shirts are awesome. I didn't see a pattern for the dragon stencil on the website, so I guess you made it yourself. Nice job! I bet Owen and Tate will totally cherish those shirts.
Merry Christmas -

steph said...

Wow, Miss Crafty. I love the card holder and the tee shirts. The party food looks scrumptious. How fun to have a 'dress up' section at the Creche Exhibit. You all look great. Merry Christmas.

Dianna said...

That stake activity looks amazing - what great ideas! It looks like you are having a wonderful Paulsen family Christmas. Your posts are always great.

Plowgian Page said...

Amy, you are too crafty, woman! Look at that ribbon holder! It beats my "cards taped to the side of the tall cabinet" look I have going this year. I need a new holder because Rob sort of has a conniption about tape on walls, wood, etc. A friend of mine made a really cute tree holder out of sheet metal. Basically it's a tall piece of sheet metal cut with tin sheers into the shape of a tree. Then it's painted and has wood magnet ornaments to hold the cards. If I ever get around to making it for next year I'll let you know how it goes.

Mary Jane said...

I love all the pictures and the wonderful Christmas traditions. Merry Christmas to all of you!

Catherine said...

Wow i can't believe that nativity photo session! That looked like serious equipment! I'm glad you guys have had such a awesome holiday. The boys loved the package as I knew they would! Actually we came down with the flu (the real deal influenza) and have been deathly ill for the last several days and christmas eve night owen asked me something to which I just answered yes to, hoping I could go back to dying on the couch. Apparently he had asked if he and tate could open jane and ben's package and next thing I know I hear "Wow its Herme!" and "Dragons!" from the other room. I guess we made it close enough though!