Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

I’ve been lax with posting, mostly due to the fact that I have been run off my feet with work, while simaltaneously fighting off multiple illnesses, baking up a storm for the bakery and getting ready for Christmas. It’s all done now, except for the work, which keeps pouring in. I’m hoping that means a successful 2015! In the meantime, I thought I’d catch you all up on the holidays around here.

We always have pjs for the boys to open on Christmas Eve, but this year, they added a bunch of other gifts for . . . ME! :) I was so thrilled.

I was making tamales when Irving came in and suggested that it might be faster and easier if I used a food processor. I said I was going to get one and he said, “That would be so much faster and easier if you used your Christmas present.” Heh, so guess who got to open her gift early? Here it is, in use on Christmas Eve.

That night, we got the kids up for the midnight burning of bombas and fireworks. Normally we go to the other house, but recent events have put us even more at odds with Irving’s mother and his father no longer lives here, so we just hung out in the space between houses, stopping in just long enough to drop off gifts for the Sofias and pick up the ones for the boys.

On Christmas morning, the kids were super excited, of course. The older boys opened their stockings and went to play outside so we could sleep in until six or so, when Dominic got up. He was very confused as to why there were MORE gifts. He kept saying that he’d already opened his and the presents were all done.

Here are my gifts from the boys. Dante made me a stand up fireplace and Dorian wrote me some stories. So cute!

The kids got several games this year. In fact, most of their gifts were shared! We’ve had a lot of fun playing Candyland and Spot It over the past few days. These are awesome games because all three kids can join in the fun.

You’ll recall that we were also making the kids some gifts. They turned out really well!

All three boys got hobby dragons (like hobby horses, but cooler).

Dominic got a set of wooden cookies for matching. He loves playing with these and has been building houses and towers, as well, not just playing matching games.

If you’re wondering why these pictures are such lousy quality, it’s because my camera is on its last legs and most of these were taken with my phone camera . . . which is not very modern. :)

On the 25th, we had Melvin, Alejandra and Sofia 3 over for Christmas dinner. Then, we went to their wedding on the 26th! Pretty cool. We’ve decided to make it a tradition to have our own Christmas dinner, despite attempts from my MIL to ruin it all. It was so much fun being with people we enjoy being around! Plus, Sofia is really getting to love being around her cousins and they all adore her.

Works in Progress

As usual this December, I’ve been slammed with work. Last minute projects that everyone wants finished up before the holidays, but I think this year has been even worse than last . . . thanks to being on Elance. I’m still finishing up a couple of projects and Christmas is just a few days away.

We ended up finding some awesome deals on some games for the boys this year, so they’ll be getting several. I’m very excited because I actually found a copy of Candyland for them to play. They’ve been obsessed with it since they found a mod for Candyland in Minecraft and have asked to buy the game for months now. Well, I found it and cheap, so there will be some very happy little boys on Christmas morning.

However, we do like to give them some handmade stuff, too and despite working so much (Irving has been working nearly every day, as well) we managed to come up with some fun ideas. I designed these dragon heads to become hobby dragons and Irving cut them out of wood.

Irving took the boys to his band’s Christmas party today so I could work and while they were gone, I put some paint on the dragons. They’re far from being finished, but I think I’ll make it.

We are also making a wooden cookie matching game for Dominic, since many of the games are a bit too old for him yet. I saw it on a Montessori website and figured we could easily make them. Irving has cut out 24 wooden circles and sanded them, so now it’s up to me to get them painted by Christmas! I figure I’ll sew up a little bag to put the cookies into, though a cookie jar would be more appropriate.

Are you handmaking any gifts this year?

Dorian Turns Nine

I have a nine year old. How weird is that? Dorian’s birthday was on the 14th, but we celebrated over two days since Irving had to work on the actual date.

First, the cake. Dorian is obsessed with Garfield right now, having read something like 10-12 Garfield books that my sister brought down, in a month! So, naturally, his cake was Garfield. I can’t say how fun it was to do a non-zombie theme for the first time in years!

Dorian requested bacon and eggs for breakfast and we had pizza for lunch. After breakfast, the boys played with their new Slugterra blasters and played with Dorian’s Doctor Dreadful – Alien Autopsy.

Nice and gross. You didn’t think we’d have a birthday without ANY gore, did you? ;) The boys really enjoyed playing with the Alien Autopsy, especially with the oobleck stomach contents. There is a vibrating motor under the alien that makes the stomach contents crawl up and look like worms wiggling out and then back down again. It’s actually pretty cool.

Supposedly the candy is all edible, but the stomach was basically tiny cookie crumbs in cornstarch, with water added, so that was pretty unappetizing. They tasted it and then just watched it crawl around for a good 15 minutes. The intestines were far more appetizing and involved squeezing blue goo into the intestinal cavity with a syringe which everyone had to try. That produced a kind of gummy candy that you had to fish out of the liquid . . . perfectly gross fun.

The second part of the celebration was going to Florencia yesterday. We took along Sofia and her parents and everyone had a blast! The kids ran and rolled and played until they were exhausted while the adults supervised and cooked up some meat and potatoes on the built-in grills. It was very relaxing.

Iximche: Visiting an Ancient Civilization

While my sister, Caily, was here, we tried to get in a few ruins visits. We went to San Francisco, which she’d seen before, as well as the ruins at La Merced. But, by far the best adventure we had was a trip to Iximche in Tecpan, about 1 1/2 hours from Antigua. We packed a simple picnic lunch and headed out after some baked goods deliveries (more on that in a future post).

The ruins were incredible. Despite having been in Guatemala for well over a decade, I’ve never been to any Mayan ruins. Even the boys were impressed. We had talked about the Mayans and studied a little before we went, but reading a few articles on the topic was NOTHING compared to actually seeing the old temples and plazas and being able to walk across palace floors.

Only the bases of the temples remain, but they are still pretty darn impressive. Here, Dante and Irving in Plaza A.

Another temple, in Plaza B, I believe.

This was inside the royal palace. While the walls are long gone, you can still see where everything was.

I wonder what these were for? Irving and I have decided that we need to learn a bit more about Mayan architecture.

This is a terrific place for kids! There were things to climb and lots of open space for running. They were EXHAUSTED by the end of the day. As were we, but they ran around about ten times more than we did.

At the back of the town, there is this lovely little path . . .

Which leads to this, a sacrifice site. Just beyond this is a very steep drop off that made me nervous with the boys. There are also bathrooms back there. The Mayan people still come here on auspicious days to celebrate.

On the way out, there is a little museum. It’s not terribly interesting, but it does have a model of the site and some artifacts found there, including these skulls, which were apparently stabbed with obsidian knives (also displayed in the museum).

Overall, it was a fun day trip and a great place to take the family. We’ll be going back once we’ve learned more about the history. It’s so weird to think of this as the boys’ heritage!

Simple Nativity Suncatchers

We decided to make some nativity suncatchers, inspired by this post, today. We needed a simple activity since three of us have been sick over the past few days, but something that would keep everyone occupied for a bit since Irving is playing gigs pretty much every day and three hyper boys are a little much for this under-the-weather mama when they are going all day long!

I pre-cut the nativity scenes out of black construction paper and put them on contact paper with help from Dante. Then all three boys put squares of tissue paper over the whole thing.

We sealed the back with another layer of contact paper and then trimmed the pictures and hung them in the window so they were backlit. They all turned out really well!

The order, from top to bottom is Dorian, Dante and Dominic. As you can see, even toddlers can get great results!