Tuesday, December 18, 2018

On the 18th Day of Christmas...

December is a month of insanity. It's sparkly and sugar-filled and so much fun, but it is NON-STOP in its busy frenzy. Especially with school-age children. I have a flexible job and work 5 miles from my kids' school (and have a husband who works from home until 2 p.m. and does all daytime chores and erranding and appointments) and still feel like I'm hanging on by my fingernails. But those nails are red-painted and festive and possibly holding a glass of wine, so let's just dive on in.

December in my mind

December in my reality
(I'm buried in there)

We're taking this in numbered paragraphs that I literally scribbled down on a post-it earlier because there is SO. MUCH. TO. COVER.

(1) Toddler chores. Cora's new obsession is our little dust buster (that I got during a Black Friday sale for $50 3 years ago, it's one of those things I can't believe we went ten years without owning) and she's constantly scanning the floor with her critical eyes, hoping to find a speck of dirt or food to "zoom up." It is the best, even though I feel like she's judging us the whole time she does it.

"Is this POOP?!!", she exclaimed, horrified, last week.
"No," I responded, "It's just a piece of dirt.
Cora remained unconvinced. We're animals.

(2) Landon's 5th grade performance! We had a 5th grade parents' meeting with a police officer who talked about social media perils and guidelines (oy, I am dreading the day that enters our life) and then an adorable winter-themed performance from the 5th graders. Landon was one of the comic relief characters and then did some dancing. It was so great.

He struggled with his directive to wear mismatched clothes, but luckily we found a tie-dye shirt he made in camp last summer that somehow escaped my Goodwill clean-outs (none of my children ever wear regular t-shirts; it's like they've rejected their father's entire wardrobe). Until then, his big plan for mismatching was slightly differently colored socks. He is my child, mismatching is hard.

(3) PTA Board Holiday Party! I came straight from teaching my barre class and wore my sweaty Christmas plaid leggings I bought three Christmases ago and continue to adore and wear 2-3x/weekly during the holidays.

I brought champagne and meatballs and was thankful everyone is used to me always being just a little sweaty at all Tuesday and Thursday evening events. #TrueFriends

(4) The Spelling Bee
was last week! One of my favorite days of the year and Landon's last year to get to compete at our sweet elementary school.

And you guys, he won!!! He studied all on his own, under his own motivation, and he WON!

It was super intense and sweaty.

Just for me. He was calm, collected, and confident.

I also thought he got eliminated in round 6 for, wait for it, the word "eliminate" because I don't know how to spell. I never made it into my school bee.

James threw his arms up in victory at the final word. Sports parents. And there was even a big shiny trophy!

And then he brought home an enormously thick packet to study for the regional bee in January. That was less exciting than the trophy.

(5) Teacher gifts! They are done! On Friday we picked up a catered Italian lunch for Cora's school. I'd been wrestling with what to get - it's a sweet, small Montessori school and this is her last year there. She's had every teacher and adores them all, but buying 10 presents means they would be pretty small, so, inspired by my love of lunch, my teacher mom's excitement over the one meal a year they have provided for them, and the knowledge that these teachers never get to leave school midday, we catered a meal! And they LOVED IT. After checking for diet and allergy restrictions we went with a tray of the most delicious lasagna from a nearby little Italian place, salad, and garlic knots. James and I drove it over and I can verify it smelled divine. I'm so glad they were excited and we could give them at least a little something special in December. I can't wait to stop paying for daycare, but I will miss these groups of people who have loved and cared for my children so very much over the years.

Lunch unpictured, but here's Cora on our Texas winter day

The elementary school teachers get little treats throughout the year and this year it was my Festive White Chocolate Chex Mix. Without the Santa Hats. We tried to get everyone- music teacher, art teacher, Gifted/Talented teacher, school librarian... we're so blessed by them all!

(6) Cookie baking! Speaking of sugar, on Saturday morning while James was at his swim meet (because he still does those, taper and all; not something I expected when I started dating a swimmer in 2001, but I can't complain about the aesthetics) I baked our traditional sugar cookies! This year, I accidentally changed the sacred recipe by using whole wheat flour because it was all I had in the house and driving half a mile to the grocery store seemed like TOO MUCH. In reality, the stress I felt for two nights while wondering if the cookies would still turn out or if I'd have to start all over was far more draining than a very short drive or walk to the store, but they DID turn out and they are DELICIOUS.

So the recipe is the tiniest bit flexible.

(7) Climbing Championship! After I baked the last tray of cookies (I think I did 15 of them?) we cleaned up and went to Landon's championship climbing competition! It was an "on sight" format, which involves an isolation room and tarps hiding the routes until it is a specific competitor's turn to climb. I dropped L off for his isolation time, ran some errands, and then joined James and the girls back at the gym when it was his turn to compete.

As he said in the car on the drive over, "I really hope I'm on fire today mom."

And he was! At least to the extent I understand what climbing fire is to be.

There were 4 routes for each age group. You got to turn around and see the route at the sound of a bell and then you had 3 minutes to get to the top and make a controlled hold for 3 seconds. Then you turn back around, rest for 3 minutes, and then have 3 minutes to climb the next route. It was really fun to watch. He's like a lanky spider monkey.

This is his first season and he's the youngest in his age group (11-13), and he was at the start of the climbing order and we really didn't want to wait for the next two hours for everyone to climb (well, "we" meaning everyone in the family except Landon), so being young and inexperienced, we assumed he'd end up in the middle to bottom of the pack and gave him high fives and hugs and headed home, with his coach promising to collect his participation ribbon to give him at the next practice.

Except I found out yesterday he got 4th! 4th! The only 11-year-old in the top 15 and the three finishers ahead of him were all 13. So apparently we nearly missed a medal moment and I would have felt very guilty indeed. Next time buddy. In the meantime, we're watching The Dawn Wall while he exclaims in glee and I hide behind my hands and hope he never thinks this is a good idea.

(8) Cookie sugar time! On Sunday I taught my barre class (in reindeer leggings! seasonal leggings are one of my favorite things about teaching barre, especially since I'm pretty sure my plaid ones are getting too close to see-through for teaching-in-the-front-of-the-room comfort) and then it was sugar time!!

I mean, cookie time!!

I made the frosting (4 lbs. of powdered sugar), got out our sprinkle collection that strangely never seems to get smaller, and made all the colors of icing (we went creative this year- teal! orange! blue! brown! plus all the usuals!). The kids got ready and as always, their personalities shone through the sugaring. Landon, enthusiastic and artistic most of the time, and mainlining sprinkles and icing anytime he thinks I'm not looking.

Claire, joyful and full of plans for each cookie. And then joyfully unbothered when none of her cookie decorating realities live up to her cookie decorating dreams.

James, mocking my traditions and making anatomically correct snowmen.

Me, decorating 85% of the cookies as always.

And Cora, super focused, super neat, and super detailed in her oral descriptions of the story her cookie was telling.

She decorated precisely 5 cookies without pause or interruption and she was decorating long after we were all done.

I had this pea soup simmering in the crock pot all day and it was an easy and delicious finish to an afternoon full of sugar and vacuuming up sprinkles.

(9) Talent Show! And yesterday! (Because oh yes, we're still going!) It was Claire's turn to shine!

It was the school talent show! Claire loves every minute of singing in front of a room crammed full of people (no way in hell, screams every cell in my body the whole time she's on stage) and looks forward to this day all year.

She and her buddy K sang "If Only" from The Descendants, a Disney made-for-TV movie I didn't know about until this summer but now own and have the soundtracks to it and the sequel memorized.

They did so great and we celebrated with tacos and margaritas (or, just tacos for the under 21 crowd) afterward with our friends. It was Claire's perfect night.

(10) Santa's General Counsel Which brings us to today. Claire has choir, Landon will go home with a friend (all my nannies are home for the holiday break and it's killing me), and then everyone goes to swimming. In the middle of that, I had my work holiday party! The email said festive attire encouraged, and we all know I delight in following directions:

My Santa's legal counsel ensemble was a big hit.

Dress for the job you want. (Not the one that might shut down on Friday.)

And with that, I hope you are similarly keeping your head above water and enjoying this holiday season! Speaking of, I checked off one of my last tasks when my personalized address labels that had been lost in the mail TWICE finally got delivered to my house and I activated my team of elves to get the Christmas cards I'd had printed, addressed, and stamped, TWO WEEKS AGO, labeled and off to the mailbox within twenty minutes. If I knew where all of you lived, and if I had a tripled Christmas card budget, you would all get a card from me. But we'll have to settle for this digital version instead.

Much love to you and yours,


  1. That is a fabulous card! I love how emphatically you guys celebrate. Merry Christmas!

    1. Thanks Chiconky! I always love seeing your name pop up in the comments. Happy Holidays to you and yours!! (And "emphatic" is exactly right- made me smile :).

  2. What a gorgeous card! I love how the colors coordinate with your outfits HOW DID YOU DO THAT?!? Awesome. Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and some serious down time. xoxoxo

    1. Thank you Lee! I love that you noticed because I spent approximately 100 hours scouring every Christmas card website to find one that matched our colors but still felt festive and seasonal. Not easy when you pick rainbow colors and take family pictures in May :). And Merry Christmas to you and yours too!

  3. Love that card so much!! It made me smile. And listening to y'all cheer for Landon made me tear up. I love how you guys do family. xoxo

  4. OMG-we sent the same card! Also, I saw a dermatologist for a full skin check this morning based on your cautionary tale. 2019–the year I take care of my basic needs! -Jennifer