Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas 2013

Christmas in Japan, year two, complete!  This year's celebration was quite different than last year.  This was our first Christmas in our new apartment, compared with the hotel room last year.  We also used our first fake Christmas tree.  Well, last year's tree wasn't real either, but the tree in the house this year was a little taller than the poster board tree we drew on and propped up in the corner last year.  Also, we were able to use Christmas stockings instead of Daddy's socks.  We had a wonderful Christmas in 2012 - one that I won't ever forget, and it was fabulous in it's own ways.  But, there is just something much more special about having all the traditional, passed down through the years, decorations around the house.  

This past weekend we made our cookies...molasses, sugar, Mexican wedding cakes, chocolate snowflakes, overnight cookies, lemon, and fudge.  I packed two tins, one for Kris' secretary, Ayako-san, and one for Garytt's Karate Sansei.  Then, I made four dozen for the Christmas Eve service at the Chapel, two lemon and two chocolate.  The kids decorated a couple dozen sugar cookies.  We also made a few dozen chocolate cookies with candy cane hershey's kisses, ingredients courtesy of Jibee Hoban, our elf.

Garytt's cookies

LOTS of sugar

Mackenzie's cookies...delicately decorated

Rolling chocolate cookies in sugar

Garytt's finished products

Mackenzie's cookies
 Next, it was Garytt's turn to roll chocolate cookies.  It took me three explanations before he understood that I wanted the cookies in three rows of four cookies.  Then, the lightbulb came on!

This is the first time I've made my favorite...molasses cookies....YUM!!!!

Here are most of the finished cookies.  I think the lemon cookies are missing.  So is the chocolate fudge I made...Ugh....I found a recipe I thought I'd try.  Well, I was rushing a bit because we had somewhere to be and I didn't let the temperature get to 234...I figured 230 was close enough.  It didn't set.  It was gooey and the taste was a little off.  If I hadn't used the last four squares of chocolate on this entire base, I would have tried it again when I had more time.  I miss having a yummy tin of Sandifer fudge to gorge myself on for the holidays.  I'll have to try it again when all the ingredients are available.  I am determined to have chocolate fudge next year!

Our Christmas Eve was pretty busy!  I spent most of the day cleaning and baking.  Then, after dinner I went to the Chapel service at 7.  Once I got home we had peppermint angel food cake and peppermint ice cream for our Happy Birthday, Jesus party.  I couldn't find the already-made peppermint ice-cream, so I decided to make some myself.  Garytt and I thought it was yummy.  Mackenzie even thought it was okay (at least, she ate all that was in her bowl).  Kris didn't care for the ice cream.  The cake was good...but, how can you go wrong with angel food cake and whipped cream??

Once that was all cleaned up (and, the kids thoroughly hyped up on sugar) the kids brushed their teeth and got pjs on.  Then, it was time for Pop Pop to "read" 'Twas the Night Before Christmas.  He recorded this book for the kids about four years ago.  When the kids turn the page Pop Pop reads the book (from a recording in the book).

Okay...this is really out of order, but sometimes fixing the picture order in here is more trouble than I care to worry about!  :)  Sooooooo....

The base theater has started showing free movies every once in a while.  A few weeks ago they showed Goonies.  This week they had several holiday  movie showings.  We decided to take the kids to see Home Alone.  It's a movie we remember as kids and thought it would be fun to see it (for free!) with our kids, and how awesome to be able to watch in a theater!  So, a few things we learned about this theaters are LOUD!  Theater sound is usually a bit loud, but I really think this theater is louder than needed.  Mackenzie has issues with loud sounds.  About thirty minutes into the movie she covered her ears and started to really complain about her ears.  So, she and Kris left early.  Garytt thought the movie was hilarious.  He kept falling over with laughter every time the bad guys got hurt.  The second thing I realized with this movie is that there are many words in it that are illegal in our house!  I cringed every several minutes at the shock of the, I'm talking about "shut up" and "dummy" and "stupid" and "you little creep".  Just things I would prefer my kids didn't learn.  We did manage to walk out of there and not have the kids repeat anything that they heard.  So, that's good.  We will surely rethink revisiting movies of our past before taking the little ones to see.
Just before the movie

Me and my boy
 Christmas Eve night, after the Twas the Night Before Christmas story, I told the kids to hurry up so we could read one more story before Santa came.  We checked NORAD and saw that he was in New Zealand, so we had at least two hours before he would be by here.  Well, Garytt had a bit of a panic attack...he walked around moaning in panic that he wouldn't get into bed in time and Santa would skip right over our house!  He barely listened to the story I read and then he was almost in tears as I put him in bed, terrified he wouldn't fall asleep before the Jolly Old Man arrived.  Luckily, he was out within fifteen minutes!

Christmas morning he came running in my room, whacked my back with his hands and squealed, "Mommy, you HAVE to get up NOW!  He came!  Santa came!  And, HE BROUGHT PRESENTS!!!"  :)  He promptly ran into Mackenzie's room to yell at her.  We all got out of see the excitement!

I got breakfast going, cinnamon rolls, sausage, bacon, banana bread, and then we started opening gifts.  What a great morning!  The kids got so many fabulous things.  The only things on Garytt's list that he didn't get was strawberries and yarn....weird, I know!  Santa tried to find strawberries, but can you believe there weren't any on this base!  I'm sure if he tried to carry them all over the world they would have been smooshed anyway.
Mackenzie's craft box
 Garytt got a belt rack from Uncle Dave.  It will hold all of his karate belts as he progresses.  He was so excited about this gift that he actually hugged the part that has his name on it.

Garytt's first 1/3 of his gifts were books and clothes, while Mackenzie opened toy after toy, with a couple clothes boxes in between.  Well, he finally sat on the bench with his arms crossed on his chest and said, "The only thing I'm going to get is clothes".  The Boy wanted some toys.

Breakfast buffet
 Frozen doll from Aunt Tisha and Uncle Clayton.  I planned to take her to see that movie next week, but after our last theater experience, maybe we will wait till it comes out on video.

 LEGOS!!!!  Post Christmas note:  He can finally build the sets all by himself!  I just had to sit nearby and make sure he followed the right order.  But, he put together his firetruck and his police car all by himself!  woo hoo!  

This is what she has been begging for ever since we talked about Pocahontas in school (and she found out that Pocahontas was a REAL person!)

Garytt picked out Ariel for his big sister.  

 Mackenzie picked out a Power Ranger for her younger brother (we aren't allowed to say "little brother" in this's very offensive)

Apron from Grandma

Slippers from Morgan
 What would Christmas be without the weird boxes??  We didn't give the Boy beer, he actually got a tooth-holder pirate in this box.  It was funny to see him so excited about the cool box it came in though.

Slippers from Morgan

The Trash pile
 Again, way out of order....the pile of presents (mix of us, Santa, several Grandparents and Aunts and Uncles)

 The Stockings hung on the tree with care...

"Mommy, he ate the cookies, drank the milk and the reindeer ate all the carrots!  I guess they really were hungry!"

We had an amazing Christmas this year!  We really enjoyed watching the kids open gifts all morning, then after a quick nap, we headed to our wonderful friends' house.  We ate an amazing dinner - ham, turkey, stuffing, gravy, sweet potato casserole, scalloped potatoes, veggies, green beans wrapped in bacon....YUM!  Then, we had baked apples for dessert.  The kids had a blast playing with Jeffrey and Sierra....what a wild game of NERF war they had!  And, then we finished the evening playing with a cute little hamster.  The kids conked out within minutes of their heads hitting the pillows.  Then, after a glass of wine and a tv show with the hubby we ended our Christmas day.  We are truly blessed!

Merry Christmas to all of our dear friends and amazing family!  We wish you all the best in the new year!

Terra, Kris, Morgan, Mackenzie and Garytt

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Elf on the Shelf 2013

Friends and Family, meet Jibee Hoban!  I know, he looks quite pitiful in this first picture...I'll explain more on that in just a bit.  Last year, just before we departed for Japan, Jibee made his grand entrance.  We let the kids name our elf, Mackenzie gave him Jibee and Garytt gave him Hoban.  Not a clue how or where they came up with those names, I guess they were just the first words that came to mind.  Anyhow, Jibee was a good little elf last year and followed us from Grandma and Grandpa's house in MS to my cousin Amanda's house in Tennessee.  Then, he appeared in our car and watched the kids all the way to Delaware where he popped in and out of Uncle Dave's house for about ten days.  And, like the good little elf that he is, he even appeared the very first morning we woke up in our new country.  Living in an apartment made it hard for him to have too much fun last year.  But, this year he made up for it!

So, he made his first appearance in the family room this year, hanging from the fan.  He left his book by the Christmas tree, which we quickly read just to be sure they remembered the rules of the touching!  Well, it took all of about twenty minutes before Garytt threw a toy across the room and knocked poor Jibee off the fan and to the floor.  Garytt immediately ran to the dining room and hid under the table (with his hands over his eyes, just to be sure no one could see him).  I picked Jibee up and put him by the television and we just hoped and hoped that he didn't lose his magic.  The next morning the kids were very anxious to see if he came back.  HE DID!  But, as you can see in the picture above, he was a bit injured.  He left us a note explaining that Mrs. Claus patched him up - bandaid on his head, and casts on one arm and one leg.  Poor Jibee!  The kids made sure to check on him several times throughout the day and even whispered "sorry" and "I hope you feel better" a few times.  

Here are a few things Mackenzie wrote and drew for him, just to be sure he was nice and cheered up after the fall-heard-round-the-apartment!

Jibee's response:

And, play he did!  He found a beautiful ballerina in the tree to dance with him!

Now, I have seen many boards on pinterest and on friends' Facebook walls of the hilarious things their elves do.  I'm sure glad Jibee decided to behave himself in our house, because I know one little boy who would have tried to duplicate any daring activity he pulled off.  

The next night Jibee decided it was time to decorate his own Christmas tree.  He found tiny ornaments and some yarn to decorate my Easter/Thanksgiving tree.  Then, he left some cool craft supplies for the kids to make their own ornaments.  

The resulting ornaments...stockings, hearts, trees and ornaments.  

A few nights this month Jibee decided to be a little more low key.  He must give his creative juices a break every few nights.  I managed to miss most of those pictures.  But, below is Jibee cleverly hiding behind Morgan's stocking holder....he could just peek through a hole in the top.
A few nights later, Jibee was at it again.  When he came back from the North Pole that night he brought back 20 candy canes!  He hid them all over the house and the kids had to find them all.  That was a lot of fun!  And, of course the kiddos had some of the candy right away!

The next night, Jibby borrowed our Bible Storybook and read the story of Jesus' birth to a few of the other toys.

He also brought four baggies filled with M&M's.  One each for Garytt and Mackenzie, and then one bag for each kid to give to a friend.  We hope Jack and Maggie loved the yummy chocolate!

The card reads:
As you hold these candies in your hand
And turn them, you will see
The M becomes a W, an E, and then a 3.
They tell the Christmas story, it's one I'm sure you know
It took place in a stable a long time ago.
The E is for the East, where the star shone so bright.
The M is for the Manger, where baby Jesus slept that night.
The 3 is for the wiremen, bearing gifts when they came.
The W is for Worship, Hallelujah, Praise His name!
So, as you eat these candies, and share them with your friends,
Remember the meaning of Christmas,
It's a Love Story that never ends!

A couple nights later Jibee decided he wanted hot chocolate.  He was even nice enough to bring two new Christmas mugs and the hot chocolate to go in them!  The kids enjoyed a couple mugs at lunch....I sure hope he cleaned up his mess before the next morning!

The next night was another low-key night.  We found him in our card holder, just barely peeking out.

The following night Jibee brought a coloring book!  And, he brought a manger scene for the kids to color and cut out!  I was very grateful for this, since we somehow managed to NOT pack our manger scene to come to Japan.

The finished Nativity Scene

I guess Jibee wanted to join in on the fun school activities the next day!  We found him sitting amongst the school stuff with the Arkansas state information card in his hands!  I had two eager learners that morning, in addition to Jibee!

The next day couple of days Jibee was in the mood for cookies!  I don't have a shot of it, but the first day he had Grandma's chocolate cookie recipe and candy cane kisses to go on top!  Yummy!  Both kids helped roll the cookies and then smoosh (some of them a little too smooshed-they went right through the cookie) the kisses on.  Below, he brought the molasses....I guess he was ready for my favorite cookies!

The next night I guess he didn't finish playing with his friends before we all woke up.  I never thought the kids would ask this...."Why didn't he hide before we got up?  He could have played all night and then returned my stuff before the sun came up!"  Well.....I guess he was having so much fun that he lost track of time.  That seemed to answer the question.  Next was, "But...I rrrreeeeaaaallllyyyyyy wanted to play with THAT elephant TODAY!", that one lead into a lesson on sharing.

Finally, Christmas Eve morning Jibee showed up ready for a party!  He brought us the ingredients to make a birthday cake for baby Jesus!  

He even brought a present....Jibee wants to give his heart to Jesus!