Matt and Little Bear picked a beautiful white spruce this year! Strong, straight branches, even spacing, and a spread of more than 6'... It's one of the best I've ever seen. The menfolk went out tree-hunting on the Fourth Sunday of Advent, and we got the lights and angel on that evening, but then we waited until the following morning for the kids to help me hang the ornaments. Little Bear was very helpful; Kit was very protective of whatever ornaments she picked up, and suspicious of our strange desire to hang them on a tree. She has done a wonderful job of not trying to touch the tree since we finished decorating it, though!
By a fluke of calendaring, Christmas Day wound up being the day that we were supposed to try Kit with cow's milk dairy again. She had been doing fine with A2 milk for two weeks—did I ever write about the technical protein stuff? I don't think so. Maybe another day—anyway, we were due to test and see whether she could handle regular cow's milk again, so I told my mom not to worry about trying to make dairy-free versions of things for Christmas dinner, Kit and I would eat what everyone else ate and we'd see what happened. And she's outgrown her casein allergy! It appears that she's still somewhat sensitive, in that she has some trouble if she's had a lot of it at once, so for now we are letting her (and me!) have baked items with dairy in them, small amounts of cheese, as much yogurt as either of us wants, but we're not having straight milk (which is relatively rare in our house anyway).
"Mouth!" she informed me brightly, when I caught her with my lip gloss.
Little Bear won a Christmas coloring contest hosted by ABCatholic.com, and they sent him this nativity playset! The kids have been having so much fun with it ever since it got here, and I'm very impressed with the quality and detail of the plastic figurines. Kit is constantly putting the baby Jesus in the manger on the coffee table, running over to hug me and exclaim "Baby Jesus! Sleeping! Coffee table!" and running back over to readjust him so she can come tell me again.
Little Bear's winning coloring page:
Christmas Eve the kids and I were busy baking stöllen and crescent rolls, and were very grateful for the woodstove's help making all of the dough rise. Little Bear was very helpful, rolling out the dough for both and helping me shape the crescent rolls.
I have no actual Christmas Day pictures, because as you've doubtless noticed, all of the photos my phone takes are blurry... Something to do with the autofocus, which is a warranty repair, but we bought this one used so there's no warranty. So Matt took the Christmas morning photos, and they're still on his phone. We did have a lovely day, though; we attended the children's vigil Mass on Christmas Eve, and on Christmas morning the kids slept until nearly 8 o'clock! We spent the morning at home, then went to my parents' house midday for dinner and presents there, and were back home in time for Kit to take a late nap. Peaceful: it was a peaceful Christmas.
Ha! Now I remember why it wasn't entirely peaceful: our furnace stopped working as we were heading out the door to Christmas Eve Mass! There wasn't anything we could do about it until the day after Christmas, since we didn't want to pay holiday call-out fees, but the woodstove kept the upstairs warm just fine and we plugged in electric heaters in the garage and downstairs so that we didn't have pipes freezing on us. (That happened the week before; didn't need to deal with that twice!) The repairman who came out Monday was great, though; he taught Matt a lot about how our particular furnace works, and what Matt can try on his own next time this happens.
We were bracing for a big storm a couple of days after Christmas, up to 18" of snow and 55 mph wind gusts, and I suppose that we did get both of those things, but we never lost power like we'd expected to. Folks near us did, and in a similar storm last winter people in this area were without power for a full week, but we only saw the lights flicker a couple of times. We did have an awful lot of snow to clear, and Matt did a heroic amount of the shoveling and snow blowing himself, since Kit and I both had quite the headcolds. Fortunately Matt had more than a week off work for Christmas/New Years (yay, working for a school!), so he was home when we got all of the ridiculous snow.
And I couldn't very well wrap up this Christmas season without mentioning music; our house has been full of it these past twelve days! Instead of toys, we gave each kid an instrument this year—a ukulele for Little Bear, and a pentatonic scale of chimes laid out hammer dulcimer-style for Kit (and the whole family). Little Bear is playing it in the photo with the Christmas tree. I am happy that they're both so excited about making music, especially Little Bear, but goodness the house has been getting loud these days! We've almost mastered the "no music while Mom is on the phone" rule, and Little Bear is doing a pretty good job of remembering not to play while anyone is sleeping, so I can handle it the rest of the time.
Well, instead of a fancy dinner tonight, the non-stomach-bugged members of the family shared a super vegetable pizza that Matt and Little Bear picked up in town. Mmm, pizza with cheese on it for the first time in more than a year! We laughed that it was still appropriate for Epiphany, because they had to travel a long way to get it and bring it home. Though if we had the ability to get Middle Eastern takeout in town, that would have been even better!