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