Sunday, December 26, 2010

Holidays all week long.

This past year has, like every other year, had its up and downs though looking back there were far more ups than I realized in the moment. Jonathon celebrated his First Communion, Katherine was Confirmed, Rebecca became our second teen and Nicholas finally came out of his shell. Though there were difficulties, especially over the summer, we've come through with flying colors and look forward to an awesome 2011. This year wrapped up with Christmas celebrated Chez Nous with my parents and grandmother. My grandmother, aka Babcia, gets a post all her own. For now, here are the highlights from Christmas 2010.

December 2010: Katherine's holiday band concert
Aside from food, music takes part in most of our holidays. This December, Katherine performed in her band concert. She's third chair flute which isn't too shabby for a Freshman. Oh, here's a funny/odd story... Katherine is performing with the All County 9th Grade Honors Band at the beginning of January. The funny/odd part is she didn't audition back in November, apparently her band director nominated her anyway. Like I said, not too shabby for a Freshman.
Rebecca was supposed to have her choir concert the same week, but troubles with the music teacher led to the concert being canceled, which she was quite sore about. We were sore too, her great-grandmother and great-aunt were in town. Thankfully, she participated with me and grandma in the Messiah Methodist Church's yearly Christmas Messiah performance. By far the youngest of the group, she had a great time learning the music and stretching those vocal chords.
12/5/10: All dressed up to sing The Messiah
A week later it was time to get a tree and decorate the house.
December 2010: Tree is all set up. 12/25/10: One of my favorite ornaments. December 2010: Nicholas took this one of the tree the first night it was lit.  Blue and white lights only.
December 2010: Decorating the tree.
There are so many ornaments from just the kids (you do the math, 4 kids x 10+ years = no room for my ornaments) the tree was decked out in no time and ready for presents. We don't do Santa, never have, so presents appear under the tree in little piles until the base is completely covered. Every year we promise not to do that and every year we fail miserably. My parents don't help the "problem" either.
12/25/10: All the presents just waiting to be opened.
The tree all set, the only thing missing before the big day was cookies. My mom and I decided last year we'd do it the easiest way possible... she prepared some dough (candy cane and sugar) and I prepared some dough (espresso crinkles, molasses, a bucket of prepared chocolate chip) and in one afternoon we get together and roll and cut and decorate and bake all at once. With all the kids participating it goes really fast, the slowest portion was the baking. Rebecca also made cupcakes to share with the other December birthdays in her class at school on Monday. The house smelled awesome.
December 2010: Jonathon decorates the sugar cookies. December 2010: Katherine makes enormous candy cane cookies.
December 2010: All the kids and Babcia too. December 2010: Baking loads of Christmas cookies.
And before we knew it, Christmas Day arrived. Presents, tree, cookies, parties, who cares? Family counts.
12/25/10: Christmas dinner at the Hopper house.
We are blessed to have each other.
Presents are still nice though.
12/25/10: The boys did really well picking gifts for their sisters. 12/25/10: Grandpa, Nicholas and Ian are off to a Redskins game on 2 January. 12/25/10: Grandpa gets a Kindle for his travels.
There were some big ticket items this year. Ian and I did a night out at the Monaco Hotel across from the Verizon Center for a Caps/Penguins game on the 23rd, but also Nicholas will head to a Redskins game with Ian and grandpa, Grandpa got a Kindle for his travels, I was so happy to get a new vacuum, a lovely watch for Katherine, and a Soda Stream for the whole family. We had seen the Soda Stream this summer at a specialty shop and pondered the idea, but left it at that. Now we get to try it out. Anyone know if non-combustable CO2 canisters are safe to send through overseas mail?
[Let me interject for a minute a thumbs-up for the Monaco Hotel. It's pet-friendly, beautifully situated downtown across from the National Portrait Gallery and down the block from the Spy Museum and Museum of Crime and Punishment, and inside has a completely eclectic design style. Originally the first General Post Office, the rooms are high-ceilinged and corridors are odd and sometimes circuitous. If you don't bring a pet, the hotel can provide a goldfish to your room. And if you're in town for a Wizards or Capitals game, they have a package with their season box tickets. There were complimentary sodas and chips, the bed was comfortable and the staff was plain wonderful. We also got 2 complimentary mixed drinks (though we forgot to trade them in). A fantastic spot to spend a night away.]
A very special gift... the boys now have something living in their room. Something which will require a new home in 18 months, perhaps to another temporary FS family?
12/26/10: Christmas gift for the boys. 12/26/10: Meet Ovi the gerbil.
That would be Ovi, the gerbil. He didn't like getting picked up and moved to his new home so he bit Ian pretty hard. Ian currently has a grudge against the critter so if it doesn't want to end up as a cat snack it had better be nice.
Several items under the tree were group gifts for the all the kids. For the most part they were video games including Fable III and Just Dance 2.
12/25/10: Just Dance 2 12/25/10: Just Dance 2 is a hit with the girls.
Oh yeah, we'll have fun with that one.
Before my parents left, we finished our celebration with music. Nicholas and I on the cello, Katherine on the flute and my dad on the piano, we played "Silent Night." Next year, we'll get the rest of the family to sing or we'll be forced to pull out the recorders to get everyone involved. No one wants that, right?
There are additional photos at our flickr site, so pop over there if you wish. For us, we enjoyed our first day of Christmas at church (PSA: Everyone knows the 12 days of Christmas are the days AFTER Christmas, right? Twelve days reaches Epiphany on January 6th. All the days before Christmas are part of Advent), a tasty lunch out at Smokey Bones, and an afternoon at home enjoying our gifts. If you're looking for me, I'm the one wrapped in my new fuzzy robe and Tru Blood blanket, drinking warm apple cider and avoiding any housework. I'm actually looking forward to a little housework tomorrow, to break out my new vacuum. If nothing else, 2011 will have clean floors Chez Hopper thanks to my dad.

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