It's time for December All At Once™! For anyone who is on top of their December memory-keeping, as always I encourage you to check out Ali Edwards' December Daily® project, which is actually a real thing. For the rest of us, play along with my not-actually-trademarked project! Today I will break Typepad with all the pictures I'm putting in this post, so like usual, if you are easily bored by posts with too many pictures (many of questionable technical value) please visit soon for Best of 2017 books/music/other things posts.
December felt a little bit like a scramble from the beginning since we were driving back from Ohio on "get ourselves together after Thanksgiving" weekend. We had to acquire and decorate our tree in shifts because of all the other things going on; Riverbend Nursery to the rescue as usual. The lady working asked to take a picture of us with our tree for their Facebook page, which actually turned out pretty well considering none of us had yet taken a shower that morning. Haha. The van was demoted from tree-hauling duty, and it was Maddie's turn to put the tree topper on. Her next turn will be December of her freshman year of college. WAAAAAAAAAH.
Christmas party season kicked off the first weekend of the month with the Wing Commander's Reception; 16 other Christmas parties would follow AND I AM NOT EVEN MAKING THAT UP. Pictured: me and my 2017 work-partner-in-crime, Sharon. Spoiler: by the last Christmas party I wore jeans, a t-shirt, and a ponytail. Heh.
I was assigned to bring a fun holiday drink for a Christmas party I went to, so I channeled someone's inner Canadian (I don't actually have any inner Canadian as far as I know, but the internet helped) and made something called Moose Milk.
Matt's big December adventure was attending National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas; he also got invited to play fantasy NFR by Gracie's science teacher (who happens to be a long-time CFD family friend of ours)(I had no idea you could actually play fantasy rodeo) and he texted us some fun photos from the Thunderbirds visit portion of the trip. Cheyenne and the Thunderbirds have a very close relationship because of Cheyenne Frontier Days, so it's always part of the NFR trip.
MEANWHILE, I was busy cutting 28 of these Cheyenne Gymnastics thingies with my Silhouette Portrait for the coach to adhere to the team's new backpacks; it started out as an Elizabeth Should Have Kept Her Mouth Shut project because I really don't have the Silhouette skills yet to pull off such a project, but in the end they turned out perfectly. We headed off to Evanston, WY (5.5 hours from Cheyenne) for the girls' first meet of the season—it was a weird meet, and they did better than their scores would indicate. The season truly kicks off the first weekend of January, and it was good to shake off the cobwebs at a smaller meet.
If you're following the story problem correctly, you'll note that Matt was in Las Vegas while we needed to go to Evanston which meant Ellie got her second road trip in two weeks. I ground my teeth and bought an extra night at the hotel so she could hang out while the girls were competing; I suppose it isn't so much different from back in the days where she had to stay in the kennel while we traveled. She had a great time, enjoyed herself immensely in the hotel, and didn't try to die at any point along the way, which really made us realize once again that this dog just hates Rock Springs. Funny story: on the way home we stopped at McDonald's to get a quick dinner to eat in the car; Maddie got a salad with chicken on it, and Ellie raced back to the backseat, put her paw in Maddie's face, turned into Iron Strength Dog and proceeded to scarf all the chicken down. Much drama ensued, and I'm sure anyone walking past the van (we were still in the parking lot) couldn't figure out what in the world was going on. After everyone had calmed down from the Chicken Drama, I got back on the road and TOTALLY FORGOT TO GET GAS. Which meant I was in the middle of Wyoming with literally 16 miles 'til empty in the tank when I realized. If you've ever driven in the middle of Wyoming in the dark with this little gas in the tank you know this is a TERRRRRRRIBLE plan. I panic-asked Siri where the nearest gas station was, and we ended up turning around and driving back to Sinclair, WY. Which is hilarious and ironic, because Sinclair, WY is THE Sinclair of the Sinclair Oil Refinery. I have never been happier to see a gas station IN MY LIFE. I definitely dodged a bullet there, because running out of gas within a 15 mile radius of Sinclair, WY is something I would never live down.
Not in the right order: Christmas concert photos. Bridget had her first-ever band concert, Maddie played in both the orchestra's and the band's concerts for a total of two evenings, and Gracie had her first middle school concert. All were festive.
At some point before the middle of the month, we ran out of coffee because I didn't order it in time to cover the gap. It was not our best couple of days drinking sad substitutes, haha. I went over to Fall Hall one day to get a plain old coffee and admired their very Christmas-y sign. I haven't been so happy to see a package in a while when it finally arrived!
Baby Gracie turned THIRTEEN years old! Seriously, time just flies. No class to take magic cookies to in middle school, but she still requested them for her lunch table friends, a couple of teachers, and her gymnastics team. Cellophane and sticks = still the magic recipe. We tried to surprise her with Trombone Shorty tickets (he is coming to Cheyenne of all places!!) but she wasn't as surprised as we thought she'd be because no one in this town can keep their mouth shut about a famous trombone player coming to put on a concert. She still was over the moon, and is counting down the days until January 31!
I did manage to pull off two actual Christmas surprises; pictured here: a CFD coin holder thingy designed by the Arts & Crafts Center on base for Matt (that will actually serve to hold belt buckles even better) and a custom "Share a Coke with Yushika" Christmas coke bottle that I randomly sent to my friend Shika. It was so fun to pull off actual Christmas surprises. 🎉
We didn't pull off Gracie's Gingerbread House/Birthday Party extravaganza this year (boo) but she did get to go to a fun birthday party at a pottery painting place downtown for a friend who also turned 13 in December.
The December timeline is getting muddier and muddier by this point; I did get gifts out on time (except for Deb's, which I forgot in the basement on the day I visited the secret UPS warehouse). UPS and I are currently embroiled in a bit of a scuffle about a broken gift, but otherwise I'm still thankful for the secret UPS warehouse.
As for other gifts, in a 24 hour period I made 11 little calendars, 8 dozen biscochitos, two trays of pine park, two batches of fudge (Mexican, orange), a triple batch of chocolate-covered cherries (thankfully Matt was not sick this year so I didn't have to do that by myself like last year), 16 hot chocolate gifts for school friends, and packaged everything up to hand out. It was not the earliest night of all time.
I managed to get Christmas cards out on time! Unless your name started with T, U, V, W, Y, or Z in which case I didn't order enough cards or stamps this year and had to order more after Christmas. GAH. One of these days I'll be on top of it.
No Gingerbread House party this year, but Maddie invited four friends over to decorate Christmas cookies after school got out (not included in the previous baked goods rundown) and between Maddie, her friends, Gracie, and Bridget we had the most beautiful Christmas cookies produced in this house, ever. I always end up making a different icing recipe but this year I'm keeping the one we used because it turned out perfectly. That, and I remembered in time that all we had for decorations last year was one lame bottle of ice cream sprinkles, so I stocked up beforehand.
Megan and her sister braved the snowy roads and came to see Coco with us, which was hands down my favorite Pixar movie EVER, and maybe even in my top ten movies of all time. We all loved it. Post-movie, Megan spent the night and she and Maddie baked a whole lot of goodies for Christmas gifts until sometime near the middle of the night. It was fun. And no, we have not actually reached Christmas yet in this post.
And then, Christmas Eve. We had our traditional pizza with Pizza Hut Dr Pepper things for Christmas Eve dinner; it was a quiet, fun, and more relaxed night than any previous night in December. I managed to get most gifts wrapped BEFORE 10 pm on Christmas Eve, so I didn't even have to pull a super late night. We had tamales and posole for Christmas dinner, and the last thing I did before I went to bed on Christmas Eve was put the posole in a pot to soak.
As a rule I don't generally take too many Christmas morning photos, but we were so happy that Ellie made it to Christmas that we do have more than normal this year. She is a tough dog, and so happy to laze around like a spoiled dog on her favorite holiday.
A few random things: we Sara-sat over break, and every day I took a picture of Sara with a different kid to send to Abby and Wes. We love Sara! I received an awesome package from my Book Bingo Secret Santa (oh! I forgot to add Secret Santa gifts to the list of things I managed in December: one for me, multiple for the girls, whew). Bridget and I were out running a couple errands the day after Christmas and spotted this super weird rainbow that we now know was a sun dog. I have never heard of such a thing somehow but now have heard of it at least ten times since December 26. Weird how the world works like that. And weirder still that I've lived in so many cold places and have never seen or heard of it before.
The Hunts came to town! For less than 24 hours, but still, we'll take anything we can get! It was so fun to have Jill, Curtis, and their wild monkeys in our house at Christmastime. Ellie had a bit of a scary night while they were here, but recovered by midnight.
We had some freezing fog so I headed to the lake to take some pretty freezing fog (now I know it's called rime ice) photos; Cora came for our second base movie of the week (Wonder, awesome) and we hit the library and the Discover Space exhibit there.
I sent these little second grade girls (!!!!) off to see a movie on their own (!!!!) and while they were gone, Bridget, Gracie and I went on our traditional New Years' Eve bookstore adventure (Matt was out in the field for alert). We got a couple good books and three new records for our new record player courtesy of Nana and Papa.
The month closed out with a freezing cold walk with Ellie the Miracle Dog, a quick visit to a base New Years' Eve party, another good movie (Queen of Katwe) and a deep breath to face whatever 2018 has in store for us.
Happy New Year!