An Ottawa winter in late January is often frigid. There's no denying it. It is a time for long hot chocolate and extra blankets on the bed.
Unless you're Derek.
Derek's mind is wired very differently from mine. He thought -25 was the perfect weather for building an ice fort!
And so began the Andersen family ice block assembly line.
Food dye shall only be decanted while wearing fancy face gear, don't you know?
And your best white pants, of course. Please note the blue hands. Guess where those hands got wiped a bazillion times?
The blocks of ice were frozen in record time and before long they were able to transport them all to the front yard where the construction was to begin. Stay tuned for that!
It never fails. As January rolls around and I'm faced with several months of slugging three children through the slush and snow to school, grocery stores and random appointments and activities willy-nilly across the city, my mind starts to drift. I wonder why it is that we live in a place where the air hurts my face. I wonder why we don't live in sunnier climes like California or even rainy, drizzly British Columbia.
But then I wouldn't get to see my sweet little girls triumphantly build some super cool snowmen, like these...
They were having a blast!
While Elodie had quite a bit of help from Derek constructing a lovely, traditional snow man, Ingrid wanted to skip right based the idea of a anatomically correct snowman and just piled a bunch of snow up and got right to the fun part - dressing it! For Ingrid, love is very much in the details.
We woke up this morning at a surprisingly reasonable hour! Best Christmas gift ever!
Ingrid and Elodie were the first to make it downstairs. Santa left a trail of Hershey kisses leading from their rooms, down the stairs and to the tree and Ingrid decided to collect them all before digging into the treasures under the tree.
Elodie took advantage of the first few quiet moments and started in by herself.
She was quickly joined by a very excited Ingrid who kept repeating "Mom! Santa brought me real CLAIRES earrings! They're REAL, Mom! Mom! They're real!!! They're from Claires!!! Santa shops at Claires!!!!!!!" A moment I wish I had captured on video. It was so awesome to see her little face light up like that.
True to form, Elodie stopped along the gift-opening way to smell the roses. Or in this case, read a Jake and the Neverland Pirates Seek and Find book. She's into those big time right now so Santa kind of hit the nail on the head with that one.
Carnage by Elodie...
A Cinderella dress for my princess...
Ingrid asked for clothes for her American Girl Doll. Santa delivered some. MAN! Those things are expensive... err.. hard for the elves to make...
Stocking stuffers are always a big hit at our house. Doesn't really matter what it is, so long as it comes in a stocking.
Danica spent a good portion of her time downstairs just watching the paper fly from a distance. When the dust had begun to settle from the big girls' foray, she carefully waded in and began unwrapping her gifts. She had lots of help.
I don't know who was more excited that one of those packages held a foam chair made just for Danica. Danica, for sure was excited to have her own and to no longer be chased out of Elodie's. And Elodie was excited that she would no longer have to chase Danica out of her chair. Win-win. Smart Santa.
After the gifts were opened and everyone was sufficiently hungry, we went and had a breakfast made of scrambled eggs, bacon, cinnamon buns, toast with lime and grape jam, blueberries and grapes. It was good.
Afterwards we made sure to leave lots of time for exploring and discovering our gifts.
Eventually, the big girls discovered that instead of eating one of the gingerbread houses, Santa put it on the tree like an ornament because he thought it was too pretty to eat. Considerate Santa.
Danica found a few wayward Hershey kisses and helped herself. She was one happy camper.
We decided to take a little walk around the neighbourhood later. Note the lack of snowpants. Yep, it was a balmy Christmas Day, too.
My turkey was a bit of a bust again this year. While I didn't burn it like last year, I forgot to check to see if I had all the essential ingredients necessary to make it delectable. I assumed that I had savoury in the pantry. I mean, why wouldn't I? But alas I did not. My sister suggested an oregano substitute might work but, OMG! I had no oregano either! Who am I?
I used copious amounts of onion, salt and pepper and it just didn't taste the same. Ugh! One of these Christmases I'll get it right.
It was a quiet Christmas. It was a good Christmas.
Like most of our days together, Christmas Eve was pretty low-key. We just kind of hung around all day not doing a whole lot of anything. Derek took Ingrid and Elodie to work for a few hours (it's what his office does every year) and after that they went bookstore shopping for some last minute gifts. Then it was home to very impatiently wait for the day to pass.
Our resident house elf made his final perch on our door chime box in the hall. He kept a good eye on the little girls there all day. After supper I quickly darted off to the bathroom, grabbing the elf off the chime as I went. The elf had some big plans, you see.
And while the elf was putting those plans in action, Ingrid and Elodie noticed that he was missing and, according to Derek, were borderline terrified that he was on the loose somewhere in the house. They knew he was supposed to be going back to the North Pole tonight but they didn't think it would be until after they were in bed.
While they were in the kitchen beside themselves with worry and anticipation, I had stashed the elf in a closet in the laundry room, and ran out through the garage to leave a stack of presents and a letter on the front step. I rang the door bell and beat a hasty retreat back in through the garage. By the time I got back in they were undeniably terrified and over the top excited. They were too afraid to check the door. But eventually they did and found a present for each of us from the elf himself.
That funny little elf had left us each a new pair of pajamas and elf pillow cases for the little girls, so that they would remember him throughout the year and behave accordingly. (The elf meant to leave the pillow cases earlier in the month but kept forgetting.)
After we put on our jammies it was time to put together of mini gingerbread houses. Had to pass those dwindling hours before bedtime somehow.
I do not care for gingerbread house decorating. It is such a mess and they ALWAYS fall apart but the girls like it so we keep on keeping on.
We decided to leave a few gingerbread houses and homemade cookies for Santa this year. The cookies are Almond Fudge Topped Shortbread, Nanaimo Squares, Sugar Cookies, Key Lime Pie Fudge and Root Beer Float Fudge. Yes, they are as good as they sound.
Ingrid did the honours of bringing out the cookies while Elodie trailed carefully behind with the eggnog.
Last minute inspection to make sure everything is just right for the big guy's arrival.
A few bedtime stretches are always a good idea.
A Night-Before-Christmas family jammie picture. (Sadly this was the best we could get.)
And finally bed. Longest day of the year behind us.
Then, for the seventh time, Derek and I got our Santa on.
Santa sneaking is amplified 1000x when the unseasonably warm night air awakens with thunder and lightning. It was +6 degrees and undeniably humid. Let's just say that Santa sneaking + thunder and lightning + a couple anxious sleepers = a hairy situation!
We managed to pull it off! Looks like they were good little girls.
The clock is ticking down on Christmas 2014 and I'm trying to squeeze in as many last minute things as I can. Also known as, how to entertain three children during the day now that school is out for the holidays.
We started today intending to do our gingerbread men that my brother sent for the little girls.
Well, they came out of the box already broken and it only got worse from there. Ingrid loaded her's up with some icing and then dropped it, breaking it even more.
Then Elodie slipped and spilled a whole bowl of candy decorations. They were fun to clean up.
Danica was quite happy, though. I mean, who wouldn't be? Candy that just rolls right out to you at your favourite perch and you don't have to beg for it? Score!
After we threw up the white flag on the gingerbread men we decided it was high time we did some Christmas-y crafts.
I found these spoon Santas on the internet and thought they were adorable and easily doable for both Ingrid and Elodie.
With the exception of a few knots in the yarn here and there, things went pretty well.
The finished product! (from l-r: Ingrid's, Elodie's, mine)
We moved on to some dollar store pre-assembled foam sticker based crafts. Ingrid was clearly enjoying herself. Note the concentration on her face, particularly the protruding tongue.
Elodie enjoyed it for a while, too, but got bored and decided to do her own thing...
such as donning full princess gear while doing a little home repair. A modern day fairy-tale, for sure.
... or how I plan on surviving our first day of Christmas break at home with three all by myself...
We're going to finally decorate our white tree!
Derek decided to move the tree from upstairs where it was mostly just in the way and rarely lit to the playroom. I found some pretty girly ornaments on sale the other night and decided it was high time to decorate it.
I was going to decorate it myself when the children went to bed and tell them the elf did it because I didn't want to have to deal with another round of fighting over who got to put on more ornmanents...
But them I came to my senses and realized that I could use "let's decorate the tree" as a major time killer on Monday when I have them all to myself.
I love the whole idea of cookies at Christmas time. Though they are pretty easy to make, finding they are time consuming and finding that time isn't easy at all. However, it is completely worth the midnight effort when I get to see the concentrated looks on my little girls faces and all the "Mom! Look what I did!"s as they ice them up.
Tonight all five of us sat at the kitchen table and made it happen.
And it was fun!
Danica enjoyed a few handfuls of sprinkles.
Elodie thought it was a clothing-optional event. Again.
This is sooooo Ingrid's thing. She loves this kind of stuff.
Proud of herself - a rare moment.
The very best part of cookie decorating is licking all the icing that "accidentally" dripped onto your fingers.
No crumb left behind.
Even Derek got in on the action this time. He was very proud of his efforts.