The first order of business in December, after Thanksgiving is over, is getting a Christmas tree! We went to a nice local farm this year (Reed Island Christmas Tree Farm) where you can choose and cut your own tree. It was really fun for everyone and the weather was pretty nice for us too, a little chilly but not terribly cold.
This was the drive in. Southwest Virginia is so beautiful.
After wandering around for a little while we finally decided on the perfect tree. Not too tall, not too short, not too fat, not too skinny, nice and full.
So Ryan got to work cutting it down.
Time to take off the jacket and get down to business!
After it was cut he dragged it down to the path to get picked up by the workers and we walked over to the little shop for some hot cocoa.
They had a nice little wagon ride that we took with the kids while our tree got shaken down and tied up. Betty really didn't like how I put on her gloves, although it made the rest of us laugh.
Looking back at the field we plucked our tree from as we left the farm.
Getting ready to cut the strings.
Here's our beautiful tree! It makes the house smell like Christmas is really coming. Elijah was playing with his little remote-control car from Great-Grandma that she let him pick out from a store at Thanksgiving time. She always loves to spoil the kids.
All of my babies have gone though this stage also, where they love to put anything on their heads and say "hat!"
Elijah decided on his own, at the beginning of the month, that he needed to write out his Christmas list. I think he got the idea from watching Christmas shows. I've never had the kids write letters to Santa or anything like that, because I don't want that to be what they're focusing on, but it is helpful to know what they would like before I've finished buying all the gifts. Elijah's requests were really pretty reasonable - his very own superhero book, a pretend can opener toy, toy snowman and a yo-yo.
Before we could really get down to the business of preparing for Christmas, we had to get through the Nutcracker. It was a little crazy and demanding for our little kids but they really enjoyed it and I'm glad they got that experience of preparing for a big performance, rehearsing, waiting, etc. It's a big confidence booster for them and they learned a lot. Elijah had been not wanting to go to dance the last few weeks of his class but participating in the Nutcracker sparked his enthusiasm again. The week leading up to the performance was the craziest, since they were still in school, but staying up late and working hard at the dress rehearsals at the high school. It wouldn't have been such a difficult week, if it weren't for the fact that Cora also brought home head lice from school and we had to treat and comb through her long, tangled hair every night, and wash all kinds of linens and things. Oh well. We got through it, and now I make sure that Cora always goes to school with her hair tied back in a ponytail to lessen the chance of getting it again.
Ryan taught some of the older girls a dance to do for the Russian segment in Act II and he got to perform as well, which was fun, since it had been a long time since he'd been on stage dancing. Here he is working with his class.
This is Elijah waiting with his little friends for their turn on stage.
His cute creative movement class were the mice in Act I. This is during one of the dress rehearsals. Their teacher is Whatley Ozer, the daughter of the director, Barbara, and a high school student. She is really sweet with them.
Their favorite part of the dance is when they get to throw some prop cheese off the stage towards the audience.
This is what Elijah does everyday after school before coming inside. Such a boy.
On the day of the Nutcracker, Ryan and Elijah went to watch the Galax High Football team win the State Championships! It was fun to see the great community from our little town and all the excitement.
Backstage (in the High School cafeteria) the night of the performance. They changed colors on us last minute from black to dark grey so I had to find a shirt for him at Walmart and sew it in to be a little slimmer. I found a pair of leggings Cora had outgrown that were the right color. A little eyeliner again worked for his makeup.
Check out his cute tail!
I didn't get to see his actual performance, since I had to be backstage to help get him on and off the stage, and keep him quiet back there while he was waiting. Cora and Ryan got to watch the first act, and then Elijah and I watched the second while they were backstage (or onstage.) Betty was pretty tired of the performance by then, and having been at so many rehearsals in that auditorium where she was able to run around and make noise, she really didn't want to sit still and quietly. I was able to watch Cora and Ryan perform, but I had to be standing in the back with her trying to keep her quiet, and then I had to take her out into the hall.
Our friends the Rivas came to watch and gave Cora these beautiful flowers, it was so sweet! Cora's teachers Mrs. Anderson (her homeroom teacher), Ms. Jenkins (her reading teacher) and Ms. Higgenbottom (Guidance counselor) also came to see her which was really sweet of them. The next week Cora's teacher gave her a little ceramic figurine of a ballerina for Christmas, saying she enjoyed watching her dance so much. We're so glad that Cora has such great teachers again this year.
Here's Cora with her two cute ballet classmates, Violet and Maggie. They performed in the Chinese number in Act II and it was so cute. They did great. Her teacher, Ms Sarah (Hall), was very proud of them.
I got to contribute by making Ryan's shirt for the performance. It was not the most professional thing I've ever made, since I was pretty much winging it, but I think it pulled off the appropriate look.
Ryan was amazing as the Russian solo and even pulled off an awesome jump split, which was a surprise to me since he hadn't done that in any of the rehearsals. I felt like I was back at BYU, watching my handsome boyfriend dance with the Folk Dancers. I was so proud of all of my dancers. Here they are after their performance with their flowers and gifts - we got Elijah a little mouse toy and a candy and a rose for Cora.
The kids were pretty tired after the long night (and the long week) when we got home, but we had root beer floats to celebrate. Elijah also insisted on having some cheese, since he was a mouse.