Christmas Wrap-Up

Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas was wonderful... I think it was the best one yet, actually! We have already taken down all of the decorations and trees, and found places for all of the new toys, but not because I was in a hurry to be done with Christmas - I just knew it needed to get taken care of before this basketball tournament that started today, especially since I need to work on the nursery a lot before we get back to school. 

To recap, the girls had their Winter Show dance performances, which were adorable. Phoebe could barely stand it, she wants to be a ballerina so badly. I made a dance bag for one of her Christmas presents, and gave it to her with a leotard, tutu, ballet shoes, and a Baby Ballet dvd, just to try and tide her over until she can start a class next year, because she can't WAIT.

We hit the rest of our Christmas bucket list activities, and had a blast - Christmas parties, driving through the lights at Interlochen, watching Christmas movies, going to see a performance of A Christmas Carol, making gingerbread houses and cookies for Santa, visiting with some of our brothers who are back in town from college for their own Christmas breaks, a little Nativity pageant with cousins...all kinds of fun!

Christmas morning was wonderful because we were able to surprise the girls with presents they weren't expecting. They didn't ask Santa for much, but I always feel like the Santa things are basically non-negotiable. Naturally Lainey, the child who cried repeatedly leading up to Christmas because she was worried she might be on the naughty list ("Why, what did you do, baby?" "I DON'T KNOW!") is the one who asked for the most random and specific things. The day before Christmas Eve I spent a solid chunk of time in my workroom at school, sewing blankets for the doll bunk bed she requested, and painting a little piano I found on Craigslist because she very clearly wanted a PINK piano.

Avalon has been seriously obsessed with American Girl dolls for a while now, planning IN GREAT DETAIL the American Girl birthday party that she wants, pouring over the tattered catalog, telling everyone she talks to about which doll she wants and how she has to wait until February to get one. The last presents to be opened on Christmas morning were American Girl dolls for Avalon and Lainey (and a baby Tinkerbell doll for Phoebe, who only wanted baby dolls and baby doll toys, and could barely be bothered to open any presents once she got ahold of a high chair and diaper bag) to their unbounded shock and amazement. For the rest of the day, at five minute intervals, we heard, "That was SO SNEAKY, how did you surprise me like that? I can't believe I have my Grace doll NOW!"

Christmas is so much fun when you have kids!

We had several family get-togethers on Christmas and the day after, which led to a bunch of skipped naptimes and late bedtimes. Yesterday I could barely get any of them out of bed! This morning we finished re-organizing all of the toys and then spent hours and hours watching the snow (which came out of nowhere, seriously, Texas weather is ridiculous) melt and playing some complicated and absorbing imaginary game, happy in the knowledge that we still have a whole week of break left. 

The Best Time of the Year

Saturday, December 12, 2015

The semester is officially over! Thursday was our last day of school! Bright and early yesterday morning I sat down with a cup of tea and made a list of all the things I need to do over the course of this Christmas break. A very, very long list. A great big project for nearly every day of the break because Christmas and getting ready for baby and switching the kids rooms and making maternity leave plans and also Christmas kind of list. And you know what? I was overwhelmed for about three seconds and then I remembered LAST Christmas break. Where we were packing and moving and essentially homeless for nearly three weeks because the new house wasn't ready when the builders said it would be ready and we didn't get to move in until the day before Christmas Eve. This is NOTHING compared to that Christmas break. We have a home this time.

Also, nowhere on my list will you see tasks like uproot the entire family, merge two households into one, or unpack fifty million boxes.

(Check, check, and check, by the way)

Partly because last Christmas was so chaotic and unsettled and I want to make up for it this year, and partly because one of Lainey's classmates and besties is an English immersion student visiting from China for just one year and we're having fun helping Dr. Flint introduce her to American holidays, we're hitting the Christmas bucket list hard this time around. We've already been to see The Nutcracker...

and The Parade of Lights...

 and the grammar school had a field trip to the North Polar Express in Grapevine...

we made presents for all of our teachers...

 and had awesomely fun class Christmas parties...

(I didn't get any pictures, but the upper school totally had a Christmas party too. We had a gift exchange game, ate a ton of treats, read A Christmas Carol  and then watched the Muppet Christmas Carol, which is HANDS DOWN the best Christmas Carol movie ever made and you will never be able to convince me otherwise)

 Also, Phoebe had her yearly run-in with Santa. Remember last year?

Yeah, he didn't make a much better impression this year. Worse, actually, because he rushed up and tried to hug her without her express consent, and that is just not how Phoebe rolls. Girlfriend has BOUNDARIES. She totally hauled off and smacked him, then had to have two candy canes and a lot of snuggles before she felt fully consoled.

I love my feisty pants baby. She's just like her daddy who once, when he was eleven, apparently punched out a performer in a haunted house because he startled him. I'm not entirely sure they even have flight responses...just fight!

Also I've been attempting to step up my Elf game this year (starting with the small miracle of actually knowing where I had stored him during all the crazy unpacking and settling in of last year!) so we've had a lot of this going on each morning...

In short, YAY CHRISTMAS SPIRIT AND CHRISTMAS BREAK! We are seriously feeling it!

Rested and Refreshed

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

We came back from Thanksgiving break yesterday, ready to power through the next two weeks before Christmas break. I posted this picture on Facebook yesterday morning...see how serene and cozy and studious we are?

Two hours later and we were more like:

"Check it out - Circe turned me into a pig!"

I missed these weirdos all week, there's no denying it. 

HOWEVER, checking almost completely out from school stuff this past week (I did spend a few hours cleaning and decorating my classroom for Christmas, and a few more hours dyeing some costume pieces for the grammar school play) was exactly what we needed. You may want to sit down for this revelation, but there were no basketball games or practices for the entire week. Unbelievable, right? Aaron was home with us all week and it was amazing. We got in a few projects around the house, got nearly all of the Christmas decorations up (just not the outside lights yet, thanks to a crazy amount of rain) and had lots of game nights and movie nights. We all really, really needed that! 

Steps to a Perfect Saturday

Monday, November 23, 2015

Steps to a perfect Saturday, Hallford family style:
  • Sleep in very, very late
  • Eat a lazy breakfast 
  • Play with toys and hang out while Mama crochets and Daddy grabs some video game time
  • Finally bother getting dressed
  • Head out to the movie theater for The Peanuts Movie and lunch

  • Bonus option: sneak the lid off of your drink and dump it on your unsuspecting mother's lap! 
  • Go home and nap hard
  • Wake up just in time to leave for the championship game of the tournament
  • Cheer on Daddy's team!

  • Have the feeling squeezed out of your hand by your mother, who is either experiencing anxiety because of the crazy close score OR is digging deep for the self-restraint to not scold the girl next to her for yelling mean things at our guys. Maybe both.
  • Talk about how to be a good, supportive fan and not an obnoxious one.
  • WIN the championship!

  • Enjoy the rare treat of going out to eat with Daddy after the game!

  • Go home and crawl into bed, declaring that you have just had the BEST DAY EVER.

Quick Takes

Friday, November 20, 2015

1. It's officially Thanksgiving break! I can't believe we're at this point in the semester already, it just flew by, thank goodness, we really needed a week off, let's see how many days we can all wear pajamas and not go anywhere, etc., etc. All of those trite (and true!) statements.

2. I am feeling a little stressed about where my classes are leaving off, especially considering that we only have two weeks after Thanksgiving break before Christmas break. I've been doing this for ten years and it's still difficult to avoid valuing quantity over quality, to keep from feeling like we're falling behind if we don't read! ALL! the books! like a little literature class factory. Our philosophy at Flint has always been to pick a few very good books and read them thoroughly, really digging in. Which is fortunate, because I just can't bring myself to hustle my students through any faster. I love all of our discussions, how they constantly jump beyond the scope of one story and the teenagers are suddenly discussing and formulating (and maybe verbalizing for the first time ever) their ideas about everything. That's really important.

3. Also, you get super adorable student work like this:

Yes. The Odyssey meets Twitter. Boom. Nothing about this assignment was my idea (I think I said something really boring like write a narration of what we read this week, blah blah blah) but I love it.

4. Aaron and I took some of the upperclassmen on a road trip Sunday and Monday to visit some Flint alumni who are attending Central Christian College in Kansas. It was fantastic to see them doing so well, talking about classes and work and Life Beyond High School. We got to tour the campus, have lunch with some of the coaches, talk to an admissions counselor, fill out applications, and watch one of our guys play in the varsity game that evening.

5. It was awesome! And then we made the long drive home...all night...through some storms that looked suspiciously tornado-y. We got home at six in the morning, caught two whole hours of sleep, and then taught classes all day. Aaron had a JV game that evening and I took the girls to dance class, and then our big achievement was staying awake until we put the kids to bed. It was worth it, but it DID throw the entire week into minor chaos. I'm not entirely sure I could have made it through without the promise of Thanksgiving break on the horizon.

6. All of the classes had their Thanksgiving feasts yesterday, which grandparents were invited to. I managed to sneak over to the grammar school hallway and see Avalon and Lainey's classes give their adorable presentations. Cuteness overload!

7. The varsity and the girl's varsity teams are in a tournament all weekend, but then there aren't any basketball games for the rest of the break. Which is probably a good thing - I realized last night (when I put the girls to bed and then ran back out to see the varsity's first game of the tournament) that basketball season is going to be interesting combined with my third trimester. From the way the baby somersaulted and kicked in response to all my cheering and yelling, I may need to learn to be a bit more zen during games this year!

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