December started of rather wet in our neck of the woods... and when I mean wet, I mean ongoing downpours that were so forceful at time that we had rain leaking into the house. Not pretty, but we were grateful to realize it was Mother Nature causing the problem and not the dishwasher leaking (which was our original theory). Even with the deluge of rain, we Olsons braved the weather and went out into the elements (aka Home Depot's outside tree area), got soaked to the bone, and found what we've all deemed to be our favorite Christmas tree ever. It was perfectly sized for our house the ideal tree shape. Annika gets credit for finding it ... way to go, cute girl! After letting the tree dry under our carport for a day or so, we brought it in (still damp, but no longer with rivers of water running off of it) and got to decorating it and the rest of the house for Christmas.
|Conor decorating the tree|
|Annika hanging ornaments|
|Eric helping Conor find the perfect spot for an ornament|
|Annika putting the finishing touches on the tree|
About mid-December, the kids' school had its annual Christmas concert, which (I'm impressed to say) is a very well-organized and paced event (1.25 hr total). The entire school performs... each grade sings a song and the two bands also play a couple of numbers. Our kids' classes did a lovely job and it was such fun to see the students in their Sunday best for the performance.
|All dressed up and somewhere to go|
|It is important to practice one's bow and/or curtsy before a big event|
|Perfecting the broken arm decorating technique.|
|Yes, sticking his tongue out does help!|
|Mr. Engineer on icing patrol|
|Mo candy, mo better|
|Even Mama got in on the candy action|
|I tried a new technique for adding snow to the trees ... it's needs some work, but not too shabby for a first try|
|Ready for the cast to come off|
|Conor was happy to don some ear protection once his eyes locked onto the saw|
|The brace model|
When our niece Abby, who had a 24-hour layover in Seattle, asked if we could make some fancy cookies while she was in town, Auntie was all too happy to oblige. It was such a treat to have Abby here with us! She lives too far away for our liking, so little visits like this one mean a lot to us! In addition to a cookie decorating session, we chatted about almost every topic under the sun, Abby played with Annika and Conor, and all of us had lunch with my brother and his family on the shore of Lake Union. Can't beat that!! The only downfall to the 24 hours was the INSANE holiday traffic at the airport the night Abby arrived.
|Abby, the cookie decorating apprentice|
|So proud of her tree and flowers|
|Fun to decorate the cookies, more fun to eat them!|
|Cookies for Abby to take home|
|Silly cousin time|
Christmas was such a treat for us! We were surrounded by so many loved ones and good times. My mom came up on Christmas Eve in time to go to mass with the kids and me. It was standing room only... and we stood, but were grateful to be there and among so many like-minded souls. The kids were real troopers and didn't complain about their seating arrangements (aka the floor) or the fact it was incredibly hot in the church. After mass, we returned home to have our traditional Christmas Eve dinner: breakfast! This year, we had baked French toast casserole... yum!! After reading "Twas the Night Before Christmas" and leaving out treats for Santa, we went to bed knowing the next day would start bright and early ... actually, dark and early.
Eric's folks arrived around 6:15 AM so they could participate in the chaos that is children on Christmas morning. Around 7:30, Conor couldn't stand waiting to open presents any longer, so Eric went downstairs to wake up Annika, who promptly asked if she could sleep a little longer. Her plan of getting some extra sleep failed once she realized it was Christmas morning and there were presents waiting for her. Unfortunately, soon after opening presents, my mom opted to go home because she wasn't feeling well. (We keep telling ourselves it wasn't really because our presents were terrible!)
|Annika and her Frozen gloves|
|Bestemor and Bestefar showing how well they know our boy well|
|Mermaid puppet from the Frisches|
|Dragon puppet from the Frisches|
|Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em Robots.... DUDE!!!!!!|
|Annika and her new Elsa doll|
|Eric working on mastering how to pilot his new drone|
As the afternoon progressed, two more of our friends arrived to share Christmas dinner with us. It was such a large group that we wound up setting up two card tables in addition to our kitchen table ... it was (in my opinion) an ideal holiday dinner... lots of stories, laughter, and smiling faces. We were all sure that it was close to 10 PM because of how tired we felt, and were rather floored to look at the clock and see it wasn't even 7 yet. (We're so old!)
|Nicole modeling her AMAZING elf outfit|
|Staci and her very happy pizzelle (until it fell on the floor, that is)|
|Eric and Annika snuggled up watching the UW game|
To wrap up our holiday season, a few days after Christmas we ventured out into the cold to walk through the Wild Lights exhibit at Woodland Park Zoo. We've been going to the display for a few years now and have made it a bit of a tradition to go with Eric's best friend (aka Uncle Dave) and his little girl (Anne). The six of us had dinner at a little restaurant in Ballard (where Eric and Dave go to trivia night every other week, in fact) and then made our way to the zoo. In 2014, we learned the hard way not to go to the exhibit on a weekend, so this year we really course corrected and went on a week night after Christmas ... the crowds were much more manageable. We were able to enjoy the lights much more than the year before when we were more focused on keeping track of the kids who insisted on darting here and there.
|Hello, Woodland Park Zoo@|
|Anne (6), Annika (8), and Conor (5)|
|Anne taking it all in|
|Anne and Conor watching the fish "jump" into the drain|
|Pablo the Peacock|
|Annika and the Komodo Dragon|
|Conor checking out the lights|
|Happy Wild Lights visitors!|
For New Year's Eve, the kids and I journeyed to our friends' house to celebrate. Gratefully, the Minnichs adopted our "Nova Scotia New Years" party idea, so the party started (and ended) early ... perfect for young kiddos!! The grownups mostly sat around talking about schools, politics, and current world events. The kids played and played and played ... they even treated us to a few impromptu concerts using the Minnich kids' karaoke machine. It was a hoot! Unfortunately, Eric missed out on the fun because he wasn't feeling well thanks to a bug that's been going around... one that I succumbed to a day or two later.
Thank you to everyone who helped make our holidays so special. We are grateful to have you as part of our lives!!