In spite of the fact that Clare and I had a nasty cold over Christmas, we had a very nice time. We did end up not going over to Phil and Betty’s as planned, but we did manage to muster up enough strength between each blowing of the nose to play with the kids.
We spread out present opening over 2 days, which was a good idea. So on 24th we opened presents from each other, and on the 25th, we opened presents from “Santa Claus”. Spencer opened all the presents for everyone. He was very excited, and at each present would say “what is it?”
Spencer has recently gotten quite interested in trains. I had been thinking about getting him a train table for several months for Christmas, but hadn’t made up my mind. The last time we went to the railroad museum, he started talking about how Santa was going to bring him a train, so then I decided to get one. I did a bunch of research on train tables online, and most of them had very mixed reviews. Then I saw some instructions on how to build one, and decided to give it a try. I ended up mostly following the instructions in this video:
The main change I made was that instead of making the table 24″x48″, I made it 38″x48″, to fit the tracks we bought. I’m glad that I waited to build the table until after we got the tracks, and that I tested them.
It ended up taking me most of the day on the 23rd to build it. The thing I am most proud of is that the only thing I bought was wood filler, and some 3d nails. All of the wood was just scrap sitting in my garage. Of course, since it was scrap, it wasn’t necessarily the nicest stuff. I had exterior grade plywood, which had quite a few knots, which required filling. So I ended up using a lot of wood filler. This was my first experience with using wood filler. There were many different brands to choose from. Most claimed to be stainable, but it didn’t seem like it took the stain very well. So the table doesn’t look that great, but it is sturdy. I think we will eventually paint it. Spencer doesn’t seem to care at all how it looks though. He likes it very much, and that is the important part.
For the legs, I used pine 1″x4″s. For the lip around the top I used 1″x3″ douglas fir, which I have been using to trim out the doors I have been slowly installing in the house. So that wasn’t really scrap, but I had already had them lying around.
For the last several months, one of Spencer’s favorite games has been crashing. This involves running into each other and falling down. It is quite fun. Here he teaches grandpa how to do it.
Last Saturday we went to the railroad museum for their special Santa train. It was really packed, but we didn’t have to wait in line much at all, partially because we have a membership, and we also happened to get there at a good time. We rode the train, had some hot chocolate, and Spencer got to play with the toy trains. We also got to ride a bus back and forth from the overflow parking lot, which was fun for Spencer.
This past weekend we made Christmas cookies. We did a gender stereotype reversal – Clare, Ellen, and Meg went to get a christmas tree, while Dave, Spencer, and I stayed home to make cookies. Spencer was much more helpful than I had imagined, and he stayed on task until we finished the cookies. Saturday we made Spritz cookies. It had been a long time since I had made them, so I was little bit out of practice. The dough was a bit too stiff, which made pumping it out of the cookie press difficult. I saw in the instructions that one can add an egg yolk to remedy this, which helped quite a bit. My other mistake was that it seemed that instead of gel food coloring, we had decorating gel, so the cookies were not very green. Oh well. Spencer helped me make the dough, press the cookies, and sprinkle them. I made peppernuts by myself while the kids were napping, and then later made up the cut-out cookie dough to refrigerate overnight.
The cut-out cookie dough also seemed a bit stiff, even though I decreased the amount of flour. I’m still getting used to baking in a dry climate. I couldn’t get the cookies rolled out quite as thin as my mom does. Maybe next year I will be in better practice. After we finished the cut-out cookies, Spencer helped me deliver some cookies to the neighbors.