Today is the kind of cold that makes us want to bundle up under the blankets and do nothing but stay warm. It's not even really that cold, it being southern California--it's like 62 degrees or something. But our pilot light hasn't been lit and so it's also approximately 62 (or actually 63, according to Weather.com) inside as well as outside, and that's not a livable temperature for the likes of us. Fortunately, we have a space heater in the living room. Unfortunately, the computer is not in the living room.
I was telling about our Christmas vacation. We woke up on Christmas Eve at about the usual time. The idea was to sleep in after our long train/bus ride, but sleeping in isn't usually a thing when traveling. After we woke up, we had breakfast at a place called BJ's Kountry Kitchen, which had giant french toast. It didn't seem that giant when we got our orders, and yet it was giant. And tasty, too!
Then we went to Mom's house and just hung out until it was time for Celeste and Sarah to arrive with the boys. Apparently Logan was so eager to see us that Sarah used us as leverage to get him to behave earlier that day. She was like, "Your aunts are here and if you don't start behaving, you won't get to see them!" So he behaved and voila! Together we were at last. It was pretty much the same as usual--he took the iPad and did whatever he wanted with it until it was time to begin the newly founded Christmas Eve tradition of decorating cookies for Santa. Or more specifically, Santa and Logan. Sarah had told Logan that we were going to make cookies for Santa, and Logan said, "But I
want cookies," or something to that effect, and she said okay we can make cookies for you, too.
Mom had made the dough, so all we had to do was roll it out and cut it with cookie cutters. Logan liked to take the dough and roll it into spheres. He also like to take the rolling pin and make sure there was a nice big dough mat to cut into lots of cookies, but as the dough kept getting used, that required thinner and thinner cookies. Athena would say, "No, that's good enough!" but there wasn't enough space for the cookie cutters, so he kept rolling away. And he's learning at a very early age to do things like, "Oh, that gigantic piece of dough broke off. I'll just have to eat it." (He didn't say it quite that articulately.)
When the last batch of cookies was in the oven, it was time to play with the iPad some more, and then Mom made frosting for the cookies. I don't really remember anything from frosting the cookies, except that the frosting was really thick and really sweet, which made it hard to spread, but oh so tasty. But still really sweet, so after about one cookie, anyone who had one was like, "Okay, I'm ready for a non-frosted cookie now." That may be why not all the cookies got frosted. Later, some of the more OCD members of the party discovered several unfrosted cookies, and the idea of so many unfrosted cookies was so unbearable that a trip to the store was made to buy new frosting, because the homemade frosting had pretty much all solidified by that point.
When the lazier of us had gotten over the idea of frosting cookies, Logan came up to Athena and gave her a big hug, and then immediately asked for the iPad. So we played with the iPad some more, then let Logan play with it by himself while we chatted with our sisters. Then at one point Logan was having so much fun that he started literally shrieking with delight. That's when Athena whispered, "Shh! We're going to be very quiet!" Logan took the idea and ran with it, prompting us all to hide under the blanket. It was really cute, because he was watching Chuggington (on the iPad of course), and he reacted to something by laughing and saying, "Naughty monkeys!" Athena said, "Yeah, they are naughty monkeys," and then Logan remembered that we were being very quiet and reprimanded her for not whispering.
Soon Logan got the brilliant idea of turning off the lights and playing with a flashlight. Unfortunately, that was about when it was time for dinner. So when other grownups came to invite us to join them, Logan said, "No thanks. I'm not hungry." The adults were all like, "You don't get to choose this one, buddy," but Logan insisted, and consequently the flashlight was confiscated by his father. Logan reluctantly joined us for dinner, and ate all the Fritos off of his Frito boat, but because he had disobeyed before, his father was determined that he would not have the flashlight back, period. (It's possible that his father was also a little extra grumpy, because he didn't want Frito boats for dinner, and Sarah would have taken the boys home so they could have ravioli, but she couldn't bear to tear the child away from his super awesome aunts. Plus his little brother fell asleep in Grandma's arms. So the whole family was stuck at Mom(=Grandma)'s house.)
I suggested that Logan apologize to his father for not listening, but his father remained adamant, and so we left a rather distraught nephew when it was time for us to sneak off with Celeste and Sarah to practice the song we were going to sing for Mom for her Christmas present. Fortunately, Logan was able to watch his beloved Paw Patrol on Mom's Kindle, so he was much cheered when we returned. Unfortunately, he had to go home. We promised we'd see him again the next day, and we all parted ways. Those of us still at Mom's house watched Muppet Christmas Carol and went to bed.
The next day, we didn't have plans for anyone to come over until about noon-ish, so we would have slept in again except for the aforementioned reason. Eventually we were joined by Celeste and her family, and Steve's kids, and we opened presents. We were relieved that Celeste really liked the Beautifully Disney makeup we bought her (we got her some eyeshadow and nail polish from the Frozen collection, because Gaston told us those colors would look good on blondes; plus, of all of us Celeste dislikes Frozen the least), and as expected Nephew Gabriel didn't seem to care much about the Donatello plush we got him, but his father seemed to like it pretty well. Steve and his mother both seemed to appreciate the gifts we gave them (a book of fairy tales selected by the people behind Once Upon A Time and a box of Disneyland chocolates, respectively (actually pretty jealous of the box of chocolates; Disneyland makes good chocolate (or rather, Disney World makes good chocolate, which can be purchased at Disneyland))).
Athena got a very lovely gift of scented things (and fuzzy socks, and the hand sanitizer came in an adorable penguin holder, and some double chocolate hot chocolate mix) from Kimee. We're told that Kimee asked Sarah meticulous questions about just the right scents to get. I got a super adorable black cat pillow (a picture of which may be posted to Facebook later today) from Aurora and her husband (absentee gift exchangers). We also got some new shoes (Athena's old ones were ten years old), nice new socks, awesome warm fuzzy pajamas, more hot chocolate mix, and two sets of O-Fuku-san dolls made from seashells that Steve got at his missionary reunion.
After dinner, we were joined by Sarah's family, and we got to give them the presents we got them. We got Logan a big red plush dragon, and when he opened it, he immediately brought it over to Athena and me and said, "Look what I got!" So I hope that means he likes it. It was one of those Stuffies, with all the pockets in it, so we stuffed the presents for the rest of Sarah's family inside it. Neither Michael nor his father reacted very strongly to the gifts we gave them, but Sarah seemed happy with the hair stuff we got her (one ornament, some decorative bobby pins, a couple of spirally things that can be used to make fancy hairstyles, regular hair ties, and fancy hair ties), and very happy with the game of Don't Break the Ice that we got for the whole family.
We also stuffed the dragon's mouth full of Reese's trees, so he was a candy-breathing dragon. Not surprisingly, Sarah seemed a little less than happy about having to deal with that, but Celeste was happy to lessen the damage (she said that candy-breathing dragons were the best kind).
By the time all those gifts were opened, Mom had finished making copies of our sheet music (I feel a little pathetic making Mom help with her own gift like that, but she was the one who knew how to operate her scanner), and we were ready to perform a medley of A Dream Is A Wish and Once Upon A Dream in three-part harmony for her. We think it could have done with a little more rehearsal (or a lot more rehearsal), but it went over well nonetheless. In fact, a song from her daughters was the very thing Mom was hoping for! So it all turned out very well.
Logan was happy when all the gifting was done, because he had been very eager to retrieve the flashlight and get back to the brilliant idea that had been so cruelly thwarted by dinner on Christmas Eve. So we played for a little while, but then it was time for him to go home. He was very unhappy to leave, but he must love his father very much, because he was still smiling as he was carried off to the car.
The next day we made an attempt to buy some Belgian chocolate cookies from Costco, but the attempt failed because Costco had immediately erased all traces of Christmas from the store floor. So we had lunch and chatted with Mom, Steve, and Steve's mom until it was time for everyone to catch their various modes of transportation. We were able to get a ride home from the train station without incident, and we spent yesterday preparing for church today, including a Primary lesson on being kind to animals. We thought it would be an easy one because kids love talking about animals, but for some reason none of the kids wanted to talk about animals today. I guess that's because most of the kids who showed up today were visitors who had gotten a trip to Disneyland for Christmas, and they all wanted to talk about Disneyland. We're okay with that, of course, but we did technically have lessons to teach.
Oh, and Athena gave a talk on giving. It was very good, and quoted Fred's speech from A Christmas Carol about how Christmas isn't profitable but it does you good.
Today I'm thankful for today being the last week of nine o'clock church for a year, everyone at least sort of liking the gifts we gave them, the heater, the lovely gifts we received, and still having lots of cookies to look forward to eating (Costco may have gotten rid of their Christmas cookies, but Vons still had some good ones!).