Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Morning!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas yesterday!  Hodel and I sure did.  We got up early and went running out to the living room to see if Santa had been here...and he had!

There were lots of exciting-looking presents...we hardly knew where to start, so we just picked the closest present and tore into it!

"Look!  I got a scarf!" I exclaimed.  
"And I got a dog mug!" said Hodel.

"It's a stuffed mouse!" cried Hodel, as she tried to free the little mouse from his wrapping.

"Oh my gosh!!!  A camera!" I shrieked.  "A digital camera - a real, grown up one that's not made for just kids!  I can't believe it!"  I'd put one on my list, but I didn't think I'd really get it!!

Then Hodel unwrapped a red scarf, and I got a penguin mug!

I got a stuffed husky dog, and Hodel went nuts because she got a camera, too!

Then we had one present left, something pretty big in a long box...and I started hoping maybe it was a doll...and it was!!  I got a little blonde doll with a Hello Kitty shirt and toy, and Hodel got a brunette doll with a Snoopy shirt and toy!

When the presents were all opened, we relaxed on the couch with some candy cane tea in our new mugs.  What a fantabulous Christmas morning this was!!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

All is Calm, All is Bright...

Well, we put out cookies and milk for Santa Claus and fruits and veggies for his all we have to do is go to bed and wait for him to come.

Hodel brought the recipe for these gingerbread cookies - don't they look so tasty?  We did sample a few...but we saved most of them for Santa. :-) 

The Christmas tree always looks so magical on Christmas Eve night...I wish I could just sleep on the couch or on the floor in front of it so I could fall asleep looking at the lights.  But of course, if I did that Santa might not come, because he would be afraid of waking me up when he tried to leave the presents.  So I'll be good and sleep in my bed. :-)

Merry almost Christmas from Hodel and me! :-)

Christmas Eve Rocks!

Wow, wow, wow - we had the best surprise EVER when we woke up on this Christmas Eve morning.  And what was it??  I'll let a picture do the talking:

Yes, that's right - it finally snowed!!  The weather people kept saying we probably wouldn't get any before Christmas, but it looks like they were wrong.  I peeked out the window right after I got up and couldn't believe my eyes!  Hodel and I were afraid it might melt quickly because it was already looking a little bit soft and tired early in the morning, so we threw off our pajamas and bundled up and ran outside to play in it, before we even ate our breakfast!

We wanted to build a snowman, but sadly the snow was not good packing snow.  You need thick, wet snow for that, and this was very dry snow and it wouldn't stick together.  So no snowmen or snow forts...but you can always make snow angels no matter what!

We were pretty soaked after that, so we had to go inside and eat our cinnamon rolls and change into dry clothes.  It's a good thing we went out and enjoyed the snow so early, though, because the sun came out and melted most of it by the afternoon.  So we read lots of Christmas books and watched Christmas specials.

Then we played another game of dreidel, and guess what - I finally, finally won!!  I couldn't believe it for a minute, then I shrieked!  Hodel cried "Nooooo!" very dramatically, but she wasn't really upset, she was just being silly. :-)

Now we have to go put some cookies in the oven to leave out for Santa tonight! 

Friday, December 23, 2011

On the Fourth Day of Hanukkah....

We got blue bead bracelets. :-)  Hodel's is dark blue and mine is light blue!

Also, today is Christmas Eve Eve!  Tomorrow is my favorite day of the whole year...I like it even better than Christmas Day, because there is so much anticipation and excitement.  When Christmas finally arrives, there is already that little bit of a letdown feeling that it's going to be over soon, you know?  But right now there is nothing but excitement. :-)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

On the Third Day of Hanukkah...

Tonight we got little wooden decorations for our rooms - I got a penguin and Hodel got a shooting star!  And I lost every game of dreidel, again!  Whatever happened to beginner's luck, anyway? :-)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Playing Dreidel

Tonight, after we lit the second candle on the menorah, Hodel taught me how to play dreidel.  It was really fun, just like she said it would be.  The dreidel has a Hebrew letter on each side of it.  The letters are: nun, gimmel, hay, and shin (Hodel helped me spell those). :-)  Those are the first letters in the Hebrew phrase 'Nes gadol hayah sham.'  That means 'A great miracle happened there.'  Which, of course, is the miracle of the oil burning for eight whole days when it only should have burned for one.

Besides the dreidel, you need something to put into the prize pot to play.  You can use pennies or other coins, candy, or any other treats you want, really.  Hodel and I used gelt, which are chocolate coins wrapped in foil especially for Hanukkah.

To start the game, everyone puts a coin into the pot.  Then you spin the dreidel, and what you have to do depends on which Hebrew letter the dreidel lands on.  Nun means neither win or lose, so the dreidel gets passed to the next player and everyone puts another coin in the pot.  Gimmel means you get to take the whole pot, hay means you get to take half of it, and shin means you have to put one more coin into the pot.  Once you run out of coins to put into the pot, you're out!  We played two games and Hodel won both, but we will have a rematch soon, and maybe luck will be on my side then!

After our dreidel games we got to open another Hanukkah present, from Katie this time.  We both got sparkly ornaments in Hanukkah silver.  So pretty!

Happy day two of Hanukkah! :-)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Happy Hanukkah!

Today was our last day of school, so we are officially on our holiday vacation now...and what better way to start a vacation than with the first day of Hanukkah??  Yes, that's right, Hanukkah began tonight at sundown!!  This is my very first time celebrating it, so I was very excited.  Hodel and I dressed up in our  fanciest dresses in the Hanukkah colors of blue and silver, and she told me the story of why Jews celebrate Hanukkah. Thousands of years ago, the Jewish people got their temple in Jerusalem back from their enemies.  They needed to relight the temple's lamp, but they only had enough oil to burn for one day.  They lit it anyway, and the lamp burned for eight whole days, enough time for them to make more oil.  Hanukkah celebrates that miracle, and that's why it's celebrated for eight nights and why it's sometimes called the Festival of Lights!

Hodel said the high up candle in the middle of the menorah is called the shamash, and you light the shamash first and then use it to light the other candles.  Since tonight is the first night, we only lit one of the other eight candles with the shamash.

Hodel said a neat prayer in Hebrew when she lit the candle.  You are supposed to light the candle on the right first and then move left each night.  The lit candle was on our right, but it looks like the left when you look at these pictures because we didn't turn the menorah around for them. :-)  Oops!

 After we lit the menorah, we exchanged the presents we got for each other.  I was nervous for Hodel to open my present, because I really wanted her to like it!

And what did I give her, you ask?  A Toy Story travel case that she can keep her toothbrush in, or her Ipod or hair stuff or any other little things she wants to keep safe when she is on the road! She said she loved it, and I was happy.

And my present from Hodel was super awesome - she gave me a beautiful dreidel that's all colorful and fancy and pretty!

Tomorrow on Hanukkah night two, Hodel will teach me how to play the dreidel game with it!  She says I will love it. 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Nutcracker Matinee

Today we got to go downtown and see a matinee performance of The Nutcracker!!  We were super excited, and got dressed up in the fanciest outfits we could find.  I was still hoping for snow, and there actually was a teensy tiny bit of it in the grass when we woke up this morning, and there was still a little bit of it coming down, too!  But by the time we left for the ballet, it had stopped and the sun came out and melted it all. :-(

Here I am checking out the little snow traces in the front yard.

And just for fun, here is a picture of me the last time I went to The Nutcracker, way back in 2008, looking out the same window.  There was so much snow that day I was afraid we wouldn't even make it to the ballet!  That was definitely not a problem this year.

Here's me and Hodel, all decked out in our fancy dresses and ready to go!  I love this dress on Hodel - she looks so good in red!

The ballet was amazing...all of us loved it.  My favorite parts are the snowflake dance when Clara first gets to the Land of Sweets, and the Russian dancers.  They go so fast and do so many big jumps!  Hodel liked the Russian dancers, too, and the Sugar Plum Fairy dance.  You are not allowed to take any pictures in the theater, but we did get a picture of us way up in the second floor lobby, looking out the window at some of the downtown buildings during intermission.

Only two more days of school till our vacation, only a week till Christmas, and only three days till Hanukkah!  Life is getting very exciting.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Christmas Walk

Last night, we all drove a few hours to the city where Katie used to live before she got married.  We had dinner in a train station from the olden days that has been made into a restaurant.  It was so cool inside and all decorated for Christmas!  The restaurant is right downtown where the city has put up lots of light displays, so after dinner we walked around the parks full of lights.

Here we are walking across the bridge over the river.  It was all decorated with pine garlands and looked very elegant.  This was one of the only spots with bright enough lighting where we could try to get a picture of ourselves, but it still turned out blurry. :-(  Oh well!

Here are trees in the park all filled with lights, and the old train station restaurant is right behind with the tall tower all lit up.  If only there was snow, it would have been perfect!  I can't believe it's mid-December in Michigan and we don't even have any snow yet!  How are Hodel and I going to make snowmen and snow forts and go sledding without any snow??

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Happy Stocking Day!

Well, St. Nicholas Day is almost over.  Hodel and I are munching on the yummy chocolate truffles we got in our stockings this morning!  We got some other little treats, too - Toy Story kaleidoscopes and spinny tops!  We tried to stay awake last night to listen for Santa, but we fell asleep without hearing anything. :-(  We got up super early so we could look in our stockings before school and not have to hurry.

We are going to have a contest now to see whose top can spin the longest!  The winner gets the last chocolate truffle. :-)

Monday, December 5, 2011

St. Nicholas Day Eve!

Tomorrow is St. Nicholas Day!  That means Santa Claus comes tonight to fill our stockings with candy and little treats.  It also means we have to write our Christmas lists and put them in our stockings before we go to bed so Santa can take them back to the North Pole with him. 

Hodel and I got dressed in our special holiday pajamas and worked on our lists.  My special Christmas pajamas are my red footie ones, and I only wear them for St. Nicholas Day and the few days just before Christmas.  Hodel borrowed my blue and gray striped pajamas to use for her special holiday pajamas, because the colors of Hanukkah are blue and silver.  I didn't know that until I first met Hodel - then I understood why American Girl always sells a red dress and a blue and silver dress for the holidays!

Here is what I put on my list:
Fancy dress
Nancy Drew or other detective stuff
Penguin stuff
Stuffed animal
Robot that talks

I never get everything on my list, and I usually get some stuff that I never even thought of.  So it is always exciting to get up on Christmas morning and see what's under the tree!  Hodel wasn't sure what to put on her list and kept asking me what I was putting on mine.  I guess it is a little weird to ask a magical stranger to bring you presents when it is not something you grew up doing. 

I can't wait for tonight - we are going to try and stay up as late as we can in bed so we can listen for any signs of Santa.  Once I swear I heard a reindeer whinny from up on the roof!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Haul Out the Holly...

Today Hodel and I put up the special Christmas tree that is just our size!  I untangled the lights while Hodel tried to keep the gold star garland under control.  It was going a little crazy and all over the place after being packed up tight in a box for a whole year.

First we put on the lights and the star garland and strands of beads - all the stuff that wraps around the tree.  I thought it looked pretty nice just like this, before we even put any ornaments on!  We only needed a TINY bit of help to get the decorations up at the very top of the tree.

Even though it looked fancy before the ornaments, of course we still put them all on.  I am sure most people think this about their own tree, but I really do think our Christmas tree is the prettiest one in the whole world!

Then Hodel got out the Hanukkah decorations - the menorah and dreidel and gelt coins.  You are not really supposed to put the candles in the menorah until Hanukkah starts, but I really wanted to see what the menorah would look like all full with candles, so Hodel put them in for me. 

Hodel is going to teach me how to play dreidel as soon as Hanukkah starts - I can't wait to try it!!