The holiday season continues apace. We closed out last week with James's swim school holiday dinner on Friday night. He always treats all his instructors and staff to lunches throughout the year, with a big dinner at the end. This year was tough with the pool cancellation and uncertainty and then last minute find. The new location is awesome, but the gap meant some loss of clients (hopefully temporary!), which is stressful, but he'll keep putting out a great product and we're all looking forward to a big spring and summer. In the meantime, there's always Bricks and Bags!
On Saturday morning, it was time for Cora's ballet recital! Or, as she referred to it, "time to wear my Cind-Rella dress!!!".
She's been doing ballet through a local Stretch-n-Grow program. They come to her school once a week, we pay $40 a month, she gets to wear ballet shoes and dance with her friends, and I don't have to drive her anywhere during our free time - everyone is winning! Claire did the same thing, but turns out, she does not like ballet and refused to dance in two recitals and then stopped going to class without telling me so I paid for months of her non-attendance.
Cora, on the other hand, LOVES it. And her recital involves costumes! She was SO excited about the costume.
We weren't sure what would happen when we arrived, but she calmly joined her teachers in the ready room while we found a seat. She marched out with her class, allowed the microphone introduction (though refused to say her name), and then the music began and she...
...sat down and judged everyone else for being there.
For song two, she stood up! At the end of song three, she got a new spot - front row this time - and a look on her face that says, "Oh, you want me to dance? I'll show you dance."
2ND POSITION BITCHES.
Once she decided she wanted to dance, she wanted to DANCE.
At the end, she announced triumphantly, "I do my dance again TOMORROW!"
NYC ballet, here she comes.
Later in the day, after a big brunch and nap for our ballerina (still in her ballet shoes and tights), and creating a big kid assembly line to stamp, address, and seal up our 130 Christmas cards (if your labels are cockeyed, it's the elves' fault), we packed up to head to one of our favorite holiday traditions - the Casa Manana Children's Play! We subscribe to their Children's Series every year and the Christmas play is always a favorite. And this year, for the first time ever- Cora got to come!
And she LOVED it. She had to sit in our laps because we didn't get her a seat at the start of the series, but clapped at the end of every song and was utterly enraptured for every minute of the hour and a half show. She also rocked a giant head bow.
It was a super fun evening, finished off with the best pizza (Mellow Mushroom; the densest and chewiest of pizza doughs) picnic-style on the floor while watching Home Alone. We watch almost no TV all year until December when my beloved Christmas movies fill the screen guilt-free at every opportunity. I love a good Christmas movie. And the bad ones. I love them all.
Today dawned chilly and cloudy and after a little more Christmas movie watching, we embarked on the exciting task of taking apart and returning our new Christmas tree. Because after buying it last weekend, tetris-ing it into our car, assembling it, and fluffing it, we discovered a single strand of lights was out. And so back we all went, with the giant tree, to At Home- the worst name ever for a store I continue to call Garden Ridge because saying "I'm going to at home" sounds ridiculous, to exchange it.
The day ensued with more movies, a long nap for Cora (obviously still exhausted from all the dancing), lots of fighting with the big kids (WTF with the two of them all of a sudden; for the first time ever I'm tempted to use Santa as an incentive for good behavior except Landon's friend at school told him Santa isn't real and on Friday I got a text from Landon's teacher that he- Landon- was telling other kids Santa wasn't real and at the time I didn't even KNOW Landon knew that so we had to have a long, sad talk about adult secrets and keeping the magic alive for others; I was not ready; he was fine), and a bunch of errands for me.
I also had the most vicious headache I've had in months, to the point the pain was so bad I was nauseous, but after James took everyone to Kroger and I rubbed Aveda's blue oil on my temples, it finally started to ebb. I don't know if it was the quiet house, the oil, or the pretty powerful drugs I'd taken an hour before, but I finally didn't feel like my skull was trying to crack open -- and stopped hoping it would do it because surely then it would feel better.
So, now cured, I marched James around the house to hang up all the beautiful stuff I bought last weekend at Homegoods (there is never more romance in the air than when someone is holding a leveler and barking out questions re: anchor placement) and we ate a delicious batch of jambalaya and Red Lobster Cheddar Biscuits-from-a-Box (omg they're so good I don't even feel bad they're from a box; or that I once accidentally read the nutrition information). And THEN, after the kitchen was clean and the big kids had been grounded to their rooms to read because jesus, we got the gang back together, fired up the Raffi Holiday pandora station, put on some new Christmas jammies and decorated the tree!
The new, big tree is decked out in the finest $2.99 sets of gold and silver Christmas ornaments that At Home/Garden Ridge has to offer. As with all these new holiday traditions she's discovering, Cora took her duties VERY seriously.
The big kids helped covertly rearrange her intense groupings of similar ornaments. They may have turned on each other, but they are still firmly pro-Cora.
And because Cora was the only family member no one wanted to kill at any point during the day, she got to put the star on top of the tree. Third baby victories!
We then moved on to tree #2. It's the colorful family tree we bought on clearance at Target a few years ago and keep in the TV room. I love it. And I love having it in the room we retire to each night. So out came the mismatched and wonderful family ornaments- the kids' handiwork, the 15 "first Christmas" ornaments we have for Landon and the 0 we have for the girls. The six new princess ornaments I bought this year and the sparkly high heeled shoes that are Claire and my favorite. I love each and every one.
Again, Cora was the most dedicated, toiling away to arrange things just so. She kept climbing off her ladder to turn back on the dancing (and singing!) Santa that haunts my Christmas dreams. It was a fun night.
I'm headed to OTF in the morning, a bit of work, and then San Antonio for a 24 hour business trip. You can tell my life really changed when I joined the SEC because the big kids are flabbergasted I would be traveling "alone." "But you'll be all by yourself on the plane!" Claire cried out. "Well, no, I'll have the other passengers, honey." "Yeah, but you won't have US," a deeply concerned Claire replied. I love that they have no idea I ever used to travel. When Claire was about one I took 5 trips in a month and spent more nights in hotel rooms than my own bed. They have absolutely no idea and they are seriously worried about how I'm going to travel without them to help me and felt much better when I told them (1) I've done this before; and (2) I'm going to see all my grandparents the night before my meeting, so I'll have responsible adults around. They feel a lot better about my leaving now, but have each noted several times how weird it will be to not have me home. I'm so glad.