Christmas Parties & Such

January is almost over, so I guess that means it's time to hurry post the rest of my pictures from December.

We started off the month with Ballard Family Sunday. After dinner, Gloria gave us our new Christmas book for the year. While we each took turns reading, Rachel filled my phone up with pictures of my nephew, Ethan, hugging this stuffed bunny. (I promised him that I wouldn't post the pictures. On facebook.)

Later that week, we babysat Cora and Ivy while Sam and Kacie went to their company Christmas party at Sonora Grill:

Where they ate this:

That weekend, Gloria took the kids to watch Scrooge:

Steve and I were in charge of the food for our ward's Christmas dinner. He woke up at 4:00 am to start cooking. I think he multiplied this recipe for funeral potatoes by fifteen. He also prepared ten hams and four huge trays of green beans with almonds. Steve did all of the cooking and preparation, but then he had to work that night, so I was in charge of the serving. Everything was delicious. The only complaint was that we didn't bring butter for the rolls. And although Klondike bars are super easy to serve, they can cause a big mess when the chocolate gets smashed into the carpet.  

Unfortunately, I missed seeing Rachel and Lucy perform in the Nativity. I'm sure they did great. 

Next was Sonora Grill's Christmas Party:

It was held at Foley's Mixed Martial Arts Training Center. (Who knew there was a boxing gym in Ogden?)

They have a fight cage that is perfect for containing kids: 

Don't worry, we let them out to play some games: 

And beat up their parents: 

After gong to five different stores to look for a sweater, I really did ask an employee at JCPenney if she would sell me the one she was wearing. I saw her again at JCPenney last week, and she wanted to know how the sweater worked out for me. I told her it was perfect, but even better was the story that I had bought it from someone who was wearing it. "I know," she told me. "Nobody believes me when I tell them that a lady came up to me and asked if she could buy my sweater. And my boyfriend thought it was so funny. I told him you seemed like a normal lady, you just needed an ugly sweater."

Ryon Bingham cooked all of the food, and it was pretty incredible. His specialty is barbecue, and I ate until my stomach started revolting against me. My favorite was the garlic aioli dipping sauce for the sweet potato fries.

Jessica and Greg photobombed the picture I was trying to take of the hostesses: 

And then Lucy and Layla jumped in:

Finally got it:

My favorite sweaters of the night:

Actually, this one was pretty sweet too: 

Most of the ugly sweaters: 

I was really nervous about Adam's kindergarten performance, so I had him wear his suit. (It's a proven fact that society is more forgiving of a child's poor behavior when they are well dressed.)

He readjusted his boy parts four times during the first song. . . Seriously, does anyone have any ideas how to put an end to that?

After the first song was over, his teacher went and switched Adam to the back row so everyone could see the short little girl who was standing behind him. That was nice for me because then I didn't have to worry about the crotch touching. By the third song, he was pulling and tugging at his collar like he was choking.

Here he is after the performance with his friend, Madey: 

Okay, so technically I bribed him to wear his suit. We took Madey with us to Spoon Me for frozen yogurt: 

I wished I had my real camera with me, but phone pictures are better than nothing:

The next day we went back to school for Lucy and Rachel's class performances. Lucy made me promise not to take any pictures of her. Rachel couldn't stop laughing so I only took one picture. (Her class is not this large; this photo shows two fourth grade classes singing together.)

Then I hurried over to the Manor Care Center for mutual:

The Young Men and Young Women put together a Christmas program for the old folks who live there:

 This sweet, old lady was so fun to watch. She loved every second of it:

This is what your shopping cart at the grocery store looks like in December: 

The next day I went to school to help Rachel's classroom decorate gingerbread houses. Not graham cracker houses. Real deal gingerbread houses:

Rachel had told me the night before to buy lots of candy because she didn't think there was going to be enough for everyone to decorate their houses. These are the piles of leftover candy.

I thought it was absolutely ridiculous that people sent in movie theater boxes of candy because I've always assumed they are ridiculously overpriced. But if you buy them at Walmart or the grocery store for a dollar, then the Hot Tamales work out to only $2.67 per pound. Not too bad. 

There were eight or nine other parents there to help, so I probably shouldn't have made the effort to go. (Decorating gingerbread houses is clearly a bigger draw than asking for volunteers to teach P.E.) But I stayed for Rachel's sake. She was so excited that I signed up to help, and she wanted me to take some pictures: 

This might be my favorite picture of the day: 

(She's laughing, not crying.)

Rachel's class is every bit as racially diverse as my 4th grade class in Kansas was. 

A few last pictures of Rachel and Sophia and I was out of there: 

That weekend was the Milligan Family Christmas Party

Then it was time for the Children for Children Concert: 

There was a snowstorm, so this year's concert wasn't as well attended as last year's

The kids performed their amazing talents: 

Rachel, Lucy, and Kaleigh sang and signed the words to "The Rose" from Napoleon Dynamite:

 And then Ashton directed the kids in their Nativity play:

Cutest Mary & Joseph ever:

A few days before Christmas, I decided that I didn't want to make treat plates for the neighbors. Instead we gave everyone I Am Ogden books. I wanted to personalize the books for each neighbor by adding a picture of them to the book. But Steve forbade me from starting a project like that two days before Christmas. 

And then it was Christmas

This year, we held our Malouf Family Christmas party a couple of days after Christmas. 

It was also the same day that Kaleigh had surgery, which is why she is wearing pajamas and has crazy hair.

The highlight of our dinner was brussel sprouts with bacon and parmesan cheese: 

And then it was time for the pinata. The indoor pinata.

We started off with the little guy:

Swinging a bat at a pinata might not be on the list of approved activities the same day as a tonsillectomy. But then again, I think I remember the doctor telling me to let her do whatever she felt like doing. (Please note that Paul physically distanced himself from the activity; I don't think he approved.)

Kaleigh wasn't getting the results she wanted with the bat, so she just punched the pinata:

Sam gave Talmage a quick little lesson on how to swing a bat: 

And then BAM! He was good to go: 

India was a hard hitter. 

Hard enough that we decided to make a line for the kids to stand on. I have no explanation as to why Adam wore sunglasses all night: 

When Sydney started swinging, we started to get a little nervous about our walls: 

Fred had a hard time staying on the line, so we were even more nervous: 

Lucy did some stretching before her turn at bat: 

It totally paid off: 

Rachel was certain that she was going to be the one to break the pinata open. . . but she wasn't.

While the kids were waiting in line for their turn to take a whack at the pinata, there was some kissing:

Thanks to the mistletoe from my Aunt Marilyn: 

(I love the look on Adam's face.) 

We had to make a rule that they could only kiss hands:

Or give hugs:

But then Steve got bothered by all of the affection and finally took down the mistletoe.

Steve and Sam let the line of kids each take another turn at bat. Because being able to swing at a pinata is actually an important life skill.

And then I did the honors and broke it open:

Our gift exchange was awesome. 

Except someone forgot to tell me that the theme for the gifts this year was European treats. 

Paul brought these Stroopwafels for everyone: 

Guess where you can buy them? Walmart. 

And then Rebecca gave everyone jars of Lotus Speculoos spread. Which was crazy because I hadn't even written about it on my blog yet.  

Guess where you can buy it? Walmart. (Who knew Walmart was becoming so cosmopolitan!?)

P.S. This kind of makes me want to go out of town for the month of December next year.