OK, so December All At Once isn't actually trademarked, but I feel there might be a market for it out there for those of us who gawk in amazement at all the people who are able to keep up a daily record of their December activities : )
We had precious little true downtime (the first Saturday of December was pretty much it) and we managed to pull off masterful acts of laziness, like taking showers late in the day only to change into clean sweatpants. We also dug deep into the Interesting Toy Archives of My Youth.
We decorated the Louisiana House, which all in all turned out pretty well even though we had to leave a lot of our Christmas decorations in tubs this year for lack of a place to put them (not books, that's just a general photo I took). I made pretty window swag wreath thingies for free, which are sadly deader than a doornail now, which I'm sure causes anyone driving by to eye us with suspicion ("honey, is that lady with Wyoming plates a witch?") Maybe, neighbors, maybe. Just wait until I whisk away Christmas in one fell swoop in the middle of the night.
I am not making this up: I searched high and low for this particular box of Kleenex so I could give it to Gracie as a Christmas gift. Victory was mine, even though I did have to rearrange approximately 49 boxes of Kleenex at the commissary to get to it ("uhm, honey, is that the witch we saw earlier rearranging the Kleenex section? Don't make eye contact...")
Bridget climbed to the bell for the very first time ever, which was a VERY BIG DEAL. She has not yet been able to replicate her feat, but it probably takes a month for her stick arms to recover after such exertion.
We attended Maddie's Christmas band concert. It was approximately 23,000 times better than last year's Christmas band concert.
Someone turned 9, and was excited to share her favorite classroom birthday treat (the cookie lollipop) with a new part of the country. This happens to be the easiest birthday treat ever, except that I was making them at the exact same time as I was making homemade Buckeye ice cream for my parents, and that made the kitchen veer slightly out of control for a little while. The birthday girl received some lovely gifts from family and friends, and one gift from us this year: an engraved iPod Nano. She was most excited.
There was out-of-state gymnastics in Arkansas (new state!!) which ended happily with many first place medals, including a first place all-around in her age group for Maddie (and a second place all-around for Gracie). While there, we experienced a ginormous competitive cheer event that was running simultaneously at the convention center in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Competitive cheer appears to be both very popular and very loud. I had no idea how calm and quiet gymnastics is in comparison, but believe me, it is.
There were grandpa shenanigans....
...and cutthroat chess matches, because Grandma takes no prisoners now that Maddie is old enough to come [thisclose] to winning. But then getting cutthroated by her grandma at the last minute.
We saw Frozen (the five of us on Dec 1) and the second installment of The Hobbit (reprise of last year's movie-going cast: me, Matt, Maddie, and Grandpa). Grandma stayed home with Gracie and Bridget to watch The Sound of Music, because while hobbits and orcs and goblins aren't quite as scary to them on a TV screen anymore, an IMAX 3D screen is a different story entirely. We enjoyed both, though I'm going to confess that I didn't love the snowman in Frozen. I was distracted by the fact that it seemed like he dropped in from some other movie because he just didn't match. But that's a small complaint, really. We loved The Hobbit, and look forward to next year when we can go see the final installment in yet another state.
Traditional Christmas treats were made: sugar cookies with little girls old enough to tackle some far more complicated icing work than in previous years, toffee with Grandpa, and chocolate covered cherries. Matt and I have been making chocolate covered cherries together since Christmas of 2000—hundreds of cherries over the years—and this was the first year we had an absolute FAIL. The chocolate seized and we had to quit the first night (blergh!), and the second night we didn't get the hang of whatever the HECK the climate here was doing to our tried-and-true routine until close to the very end. We shared our mediocre cherries with our local friends here anyway, who were too kind to care. Either that or too busy stuffing their gobs with them to notice. Ha.
There were front yard portraits and bayou selfies taken at the end of a very fun visit.
We spent a lot of time trashing the table over and over with our Christmas mail mess, and a lot of time at various post offices mailing off packages to faraway friends and family.
Sparkle Twinkletoes had a fun day at Elf Elementary School.
The girls scootered on Christmas Eve while we dreamed of a proper white Christmas, though it was in the low 30s when we went for a walk on Christmas Eve night which made us all very happy. Better than nothing.
I made the best pizza I have ever tasted for dinner on Christmas Eve, which was an adaptation from a Pioneer Woman recipe (of course, as that's where all the best ever things come from around here). It was really, really good.
We had a terribly misshapen tree this year but it still served gallantly all month.
There were lots of thoughtful gifts exchanged—even Ellie got into the action, giving her family two Blue Dog books by George Rodrigue. We were saddened to learn a few days ago that he passed away this month.
The kitty-cat had a wonderful, wonderful day today. You hear about how rescue dogs seem particularly happy after living with their new families for a while, and she has definitely reached this point. She did a lot of dog-smiling and contented sighing this week, especially.
We have some very dear, thoughtful friends who know how much we're missing winter and snow this December, so they sent a kit to make our own—Bridget was in charge of the opening and creating today, and we now have a Ziploc bag in the freezer filled with happy, pretend snow.
I'm missing all sorts and kinds of things about the month no doubt, but that's what you get with December All At Once™.