The girls sang two songs with the children's choir. In addition, because the choir sat together in the front two pews, the choir director (Neil) and his wife (Ellen) encouraged the children to sing the Christmas songs loudly (and nicely) throughout the service. Everyone could hear the joyful voices of children throughout the service.
Afterwards, we drove around for a bit to look at Christmas lights. We visited some areas that we normally don't drive around, so it was nice to see how people decorated their home and yards for Christmas.
I made a simple "Christmas Around the World” dinner to celebrate our “roots.” Chinese and German are the two nationalities/cultures represented in the meal.
Olivia, Sophia, and me.
After dinner, the girls each could pick one present to open.
Olivia picking a present to open.
Olivia's present was a weather station that she can assemble. She enjoys reading the weather report each day in the paper, so it's a gift she was very excited to receive. Since we're studying about the weather for homeschooling, it's something that will be used right away.
Sophia's gift from Yoshiko, who lives in Japan.
Sophia picked out a gift from Yoshiko. I've known Yoshiko since high school when we became penpals - 30 years in 2012!
Since that time, our friendship has continued and we've had several opportunities to visit one another. Yoshiko has visited Minnesota twice (including once when she stayed here at the farm and the girls got to spend a lot of time with her which they enjoyed). We also met in New York once; and spent time in Japan on a layover when adopting Olivia. Hopefully, we can persuade to visit us again soon...we always have a lot of fun together.
The girls checked the computer to see where Santa was on his journey at http://www.noradsanta.org/ . They enjoyed touching the presents on the map to see the names of cities and countries around the world; and watching the videos about different cities. (Learning about geography on Christmas Eve...as a homeschooling parent, that's always a plus!)
Sophia and Olivia looking at the map where Santa has been.
When they touched an image of a gift or video camera,
they learned more about
different cities and countries around the world.
We cut carrots and and mixed up some bulgar wheat and sprinkles for the reindeer. (Normally we use oats, but we used them all making the homemade bird suet the other day.)
Reindeer food that Olivia made.
This year, I had the girls put the reindeer food and carrots in two bowls. In the past, they would sprinkle the mixture over the mudroom roof and lay the carrots on the roof (a bedroom window opens to the mudroom roof).
Olivia holding two bowls of treats.
Notice how she managed to borrow
Sophia's gift from Yoshiko?
Olivia said she wanted to be warm, and
the fleece shirt from Japan
helped her stay comfortable all evening.
So, someone in the middle of the night crawled onto the mudroom roof and slipped on the ice as she reached for that carrot. One more step, and falling off the roof would have been a reality. From that point on...bowls.
But, I digress. Back to Christmas Eve. Sophia and Olivia each wrote letters to Santa, including many questions they hoped would be answered.
Sophia writing her letter.
The girls put cookies and water on the table. Sophia even folded the napkin so it looked like a flower. The cup of water was placed in the center. (Santa gets milk instead of water since milk can spoil and make Santa sick.)
Sophia folded a napkin.
Olivia put three cookies on a plate.
Just as things looked like they were done for the evening, Sophia remembered: "My tooth! I have to put my tooth out!"
"What?" I asked.
"I've been holding on to it for about a month or month and a half now. I'm going to put it out like I did last year on Christmas." So, she brought a tooth, tooth holder, note, miniature table, tiny cup and plate, and bedding for Flossie (the tooth fairy).
"This is the 15th tooth I've lost!" she said.
After that unexpected addition to the evening, we checked one last time to see where Santa was - the Falkland Islands. He was heading to Argentina next.
With that news, the girls headed to bed immediately. They were asleep within a half hour. Santa waited until they were definitely asleep and arrived around 1:10 a.m. and delivered gifts, wrote notes, ate cookies, and drank some water until about 1:45 a.m. Santa was very tired at this point and needed some rest.