Christmas 2016

Christmas was quiet at home this year.

We got a Christmas tree right after Thanksgiving.  We opted out of the cut-our-own route this year.  The trees haven't been in good shape due to the drought, it's a long drive, and it doesn't save any money.  So we just grabbed one from the hardware store.

We wanted another Grand Fir, like we had last year, but no one seemed to have them.  So we ended up with a Nordmann Fir.  It seemed to hold its needles well, but it has no smell at all, and the needles have an almost plastic-y appearance.  We're going to try for the Grand Fir in the future (they apparently start stocking them a few weeks after Thanksgiving).

I added some berry-like lights to the decorations this year.  I thought they'd look neat hanging from the trellis / wisteria.  The effect wasn't quite what I had hoped, but I think I can re-work them next time around to have a better outcome.  The picture overexposes the lights hiding their color, so they're more colorful looking in real life.

On Christmas Eve we got the girls to bed and awaited Santa's arrival.

To discourage Heather from diving right in to the living room in the morning Jess set up streamers across the doorway:

Then it was to bed for the night....or so we thought.  At about 11:30 Heather got out of bed and came in to our room trying to tell us something, but refusing to open her mouth.  She then ran into the bathroom (thankfully) to throw up.  Once that was out of her system, she started freaking out about the streamers.  She was apparently interpreting them as locking us in or something.  We got her back to bed....and then Corinne woke up.  And around 4 she seemed to decide she was done sleeping.  And finally a little before 7 Heather got up, so we might as well all get up...

Surely Corinne doesn't have the cognitive capability to have been anticipating getting up Christmas morning, but she was definitely feeding off of Heather's energy throughout Christmas Eve day.  They were both completely loony.

Anyway, up we got, and much excitement was had.  But first with the requisite anticipation-building pictures:

Corinne ignored the shiny gifts and the colorful "Tote-a-fort" and bee-lined straight for the bowl of M&Ms on the desk (with lurking alligator) and starting shoveling them into her mouth (the kid is a chocolate fiend):

Heather, however, knows the routine and went for her stocking:

Gifts were opened, breakfast casserole was eaten, naps were taken, fun was had by all.

Corinne loves the fort:

Heather helps me open a gift (I think it's Funny Bones!):

Jess got a new jewelry box:

The brain flakes are lots of fun:

Heather, of course, wanted to do some science and try out the first project from The Magic School Bus Science Club (12-month subscription service).  We built a model lung (balloon), chest cavity (plastic bottle), and diaphragm (plastic wrap).  It actually works too.  Pulling the plastic wrap will inflate the balloon.  This picture is Heather recording her observations about the experiment.

A nice ham dinner was had later on in the day with fresh rolls, of course, and many dessert options.  I had been having waves of mild nausea throughout the day, but my stomach seemed to settle down by dinner and I was able to enjoy the feast.

Corinne was thoroughly worn out by the day.  She napped twice, so we thought she'd be up later than usual, but at about 7pm she dragged a pillow up to me, climbed up in my lap, set the pillow on my legs, folded in half on to the pillow, and fell asleep.

Catch Up: Halloween

Heather loves The Magic School Bus and had been asking to be Ms. Frizzle for Halloween for months.  Luckily Grandma was willing to take a crack at making her a costume.  And it came out amazing!  Thanks, Mom!

Heather wanted to look like Ms. Frizzle in her favorite episode, the haunted house episode about sound.  Here is the source material:

And here's the result:

Corinne got to make her Halloween-costume debut in the blanket costume Jess made when Heather was smaller.  I like this pictures because Corinne is so excited she's vibrating (since she's blurry, but Heather's not).

Heather was a little hesitant about it at first, but she loved it.  And her new "Liz" is one of her core-group stuffed animals now.  Liz is always next to her in bed and is always taken out to the family room every morning.

The above pictures were taken a couple of days before Halloween.  Here's a day-of picture.  Heather's face paint was from the Halloween party they had at school.

I got my ghosties up again and bought some batteries to light them up properly with LEDs.  Still needs some work, but they're getting better:

This was Corinne's first experience trick-or-treating.  She caught on pretty quickly.  As soon as a door would open she would try to climb inside and reach for any candy she could see.  We did 5 or 6 houses with her and then dropped her off back at home while Heather and I did some more.

We got most of the street trick-or-treated before it started sprinkling.  This caused most people to head inside, even though it stopped before we made it back home.  But we were a bit soggy and Heather was worn out so we called it a night.

Christmas 2015

After our Thanksgiving traveling, Christmas was a simpler affair.  We stayed in Livermore and decided to buy our tree from a lot, shipped from Oregon, rather than driving out to cut it ourselves.

In contrast to our cut-it-yourself adventures of the past, though, we did get a very nice tree.  We looked for a Douglas Fir at the tree lot, but the largest they had was barely 5 feet tall.  So instead we got this massive Grand Fir.  It's very full, very green, and the needles are fairly soft.  But I don't think it has as much pine smell as a Douglas Fir.  Economics and specialization being what they are, it was cheaper for someone to grow, cut, and ship this tree to us than it would be for someone to grow a tree here and for us to go cut it down ourselves.  I'm having a hard time selling the cut-your-own-tree Dickerson tradition.

Great Big Grand Fir
Great Big Grand Fir

I got the lights up on the house and added some more above the eave over the garage and wrapped around one of the trellis columns.  I had to more-than-double the number of lights we had inside on the tree to get this massive tree properly lit.


Soon enough it was Christmas Eve.  The Badger family invited us to their house for Christmas Eve.  We stayed there for a few hours, ate snacks (including l'il smokies and wassail), and hung out.  Then it was back home to get to bed and wait for Santa.

After Santa's visit
After Santa's visit
The bear was dressed up again this year
The bear was dressed up again this year

Last year Heather awoke to find various stuffed animals dressed up and sitting on the couch.  She seemed to get a kick out of that and this year she discovered the bear wearing this fairy costume.  Heather came trundling in to our room at about 7:15 am carrying this bear and being concerned / excited about the bear wearing this costume.  She insisted that she wear it instead.  So we put it on her and then headed out to the living room.

Dickerson Family - Christmas 2015
Dickerson Family - Christmas 2015

I set up my off-camera flash on a stand with a white umbrella in front of it.  In general it made the pictures all come out much better lit this year.

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Heather received this booklet (thanks Erin!) which has layers of material on each page.  When the top layer gets wet it allows the colors behind it to pass through.  So it's "coloring" with water.  Heather had played with similar toys at friends' houses and was enthralled.  She ignored everything else and played with this for the next 48 hours straight (minus eating and sleeping).