Tonight my niece, Emily, and I spent some time together. Her middle school is hosting a cookie contest on Friday of this week, and Emily thought this would be right up her alley. She wanted to make Cinnamon Polar Bears because she thought the chances of someone else making that same cookie would be slim. The contest will be judged on appearance, uniformity, and taste. The cookie had to be baked, nothing dipped or no-bake.
Trying to get the cookie uniform was a challenge for us. Usually these cookies are of varying shapes and sizes, but this activity gave us a great opportunity to exercise some discipline over ourselves. I think we came out with a pretty cute cookie.
Emily also made her own Christmas card this year, but in this age of electronic gadgets, she hasn't done much letter writing. She brought her cards with her and we had a little tutoring session in "how to address and mail a letter" Pictured below is her first official "letter".
I'm grateful God allows me the opportunity to have relationships with my nieces and nephews into their teenage years. A lot of conversation and general life wonderings come out when centered around activities such as these. So grab a niece or nephew near you and go bake some cookies!
UPDATE: Emily won second place in the school cookie baking contest out of 28 entries.
Our niece, Kylie, doesn't live as close in proximity to us as the other nieces and nephews do, so we don't see her as often as the others. With that in mind, when we have a chance to take in one of her events, we jump at it. Tonight we went to see her perform in her high school Christmas choir concert. It was a lovely event and fun to see her in action on her own turf. We're grateful God allows us an opportunity to be involved in her life.
Each year we have a Christmas party for the nieces and nephews, and that is our Christmas gift to them. Today was our 11th annual Niece and Nephew Christmas Party. We have done a variety of events over the years, but we keep returning to the Bunker Park Stables because you just can't beat the horse-drawn hay ride through the wooded trails.
Since we live in Minnesota, you never know what you will get when it comes to the weather on party day. Last year it was in the 12-degrees-below-zero range. This year it was 40+ degrees. We didn't even have to wear mittens if we didn't want to. We missed the snow a bit, but we certainly enjoyed the warm weather.
Cowgirl Emily and Cowgirl Carissa
Greg's brother, Dan, (Alli and Rylar's dad) was able to join us on the hay ride this year and even posed for a few pictures with us.
Ethan towered above the picture taking stand but humored me and posed next to it anyway. Ethan was only able to join us for the hayride this year because he had a choir concert to attend in the afternoon.
This was Rylar's first Christmas Party with us and his first hayride.
Greg's sister, Diana, (Ethan and Carissa's mom) was also able to join us for the hayride this year. It was fun to have her along.
There was a bit of hay tossing going on throughout the ride.
Some jumping off the wagon and jumping back on
Some climbing of the big hill
And some just plain hanging out and having a good time
Kylie wasn't able to join us for the hayride but met us at our house for the rest of the party where we started the festivities with our annual cookie decorating event.
Check out those gingerbread houses
We finished up the day with a lively round of the dice game for small prizes.
It was a fun day. We're ever so grateful to God for the opportunity to be involved in the lives of our nieces and nephews, and we pray they grow up to love Him with all their hearts, souls, and minds.
Tonight was Cookie Baking Night. In attendance this evening: Alli and Rylar. Our nephew, Rylar, Alli's brother, turned 3 years old (the official Cookie Baking Night age) last week, so tonight was his first time at Cookie Baking Night. His mom (Deena) told me he was pretty much ready to leave for our house after breakfast that morning. His enthusiasm showed. He genuinely enjoyed being here, and we enjoyed having him here.
Alli trained Rylar in on the proper hand-washing procedures.
Then they were ready to help me butter some bread for our supper.
For our cookie tonight, we made peanut butter blossoms.
Can you tell which cookies Rylar decorated? ( He was a big fan of the chocolate star).
Greg had put up the tree after Thanksgiving and put lights on it, but we hadn't decorated it yet. We let the kids do that tonight.
You might notice a high concentration of ornaments in one particular area of the tree (roughly about 3 feet from the floor).
For our Bible lesson tonight we read from Leading Little Ones to God (by Marian Schoolland) about the reason we celebrate Christmas, the birth of Jesus Christ. We read lesson 32 titled "Jesus Came From Heaven". After the lesson, I let the kids open the box with the nativity scene in it, and we talked about the story as we unwrapped each piece.
We finished up our time together by teaching Rylar how to play Zingo, which he thoroughly enjoyed.
This was our last Cookie Baking Night for 2014. We'll pick it up again in the new year.