Surprisingly, a week's cooling off period did nothing to assuage Mary's unmitigated terror at being handed off to a bearded stranger and forced to pose for pictures.
My favorite parts of this one are the way James is reaching out to comfort her, but she is trying to smack his hand away while simultaneously bracing her foot against Wes in a futile attempt to escape Charley's grasp. Santa attempted to give her a candy cane at the end but was SOUNDLY rebuffed. She did take the same candy cane from me approximately thirty seconds later, however. Girl likes candy canes.
After the Santa and breakfast parts of Breakfast with Santa, we had a couple of hours to kill while Ryan and the other church dads assembled the barn for the live nativity set so we hung out in the fellowship hall and did every holiday craft known to Pinterest. My car still smells like tempera paint.
James spent a solid forty-five minutes stringing Cheerios on a pipe cleaner. THANK YOU MONTESSORI EDUCATION.
Charley disappeared to the playground, but Wes stayed behind, hoping to do ALL THE PROJECTS. Every few minutes he ran up and put a few more of his creations in the stroller. I spent a lot of time drinking coffee and talking to people. EVERYONE WINS.
On the way home we stopped at an estate sale in our neighborhood. I went in first, took a quick spin, saw a few things I liked but passed them up because we didn't really need anything, then went back out so Ryan could take a look. Against my better judgement, he took Charley and Wes in with him. I was worried about the giant room filled with Beanie Babies, but OH, did I have no idea what I really should have been worried about. They came bouncing out of the house and gleefully exclaimed that they had gotten a REALLY GREAT DEAL! Since they weren't carrying anything I assumed they were kidding around. Then Wes's eyes got huge and he shrieked "CHARLEY BOUGHT A FISH TANK *THIS BIG*" and he held out his arms to show me. I looked to Ryan, pleading with him with my eyes. He was equally thrilled with their purchase. They went back to the house where someone was OPENING THE GARAGE DOOR so that they could get the thing outside.
It was exactly as huge as I had feared.
After that I dropped them off at home to set it up and went back and spent forty dollars on vintage pyrex because OK I SEE HOW IT IS, I CAN IMPULSE BUY THINGS TOO.
Charley quickly outfitted it with a water dish, log, bedding, and a handful of frogs, then begged us until we took him to buy crickets and something called "Cricket Quencher" that crickets "eat while they are waiting to be eaten." I now have a small ecosystem living in the corner of my kitchen. The more you know.
Sunday morning we did the Advent reading at church. While I love the *idea* of doing the Advent reading at church, together, as a family, with the togetherness, the actual implementation details terrify me. First of all, there are stairs involved, and fire, and a microphone, and hundreds of people watching. Ryan and I did some fast talking to convince Charley that reading with the microphone was actually a much cooler job than holding the candle lighter, so that Wes, who is a less confident reader, could hold the candle lighter and thus not cause a giant scene in front of God and all of our friends. I am happy to report that no one farted, puked, picked his nose, or fell into the pointsettias, the reading went smoothly, and nothing caught on fire. It as actually quite nice. Lots of people complimented Charley on his reading. Several people commented that they "saw our name on the bulletin and JUST HAD to stay for the beginning of the next service to see how that was going to go."
Monday morning Charley woke up with a sore throat, but he didn't have a fever so I loaded him up with ibuprofin and dropped him off at school with a "Try to make it to lunchtime!" Later I called the nurse at our doctor's office to ask if I'd need to reschedule that evening's flu shot appointment because of Charley's sore throat and Wes's weird rash. She said I didn't need to move the appointment but that a sore throat and a weird rash in the same family initiates Strep Protocol Level V and that they would both need to be seen, like, right now. So I took them both out of school and schlepped them in to the office to learn that Charley indeed had strep and Wes had some kind of unusual rash that also requires antibiotics.
It was practically a foregone conclusion that I would awaken Tuesday morning with a raging sore throat. Spoiler alert: I also had strep. And now it's already Thursday! Time flies when you're visiting after hours care three times in twenty-four hours, having three people in the house taking antibiotics with different dosing schedules and handling instructions, and still somehow having to manage to finish a research project, write a paper, send out the Christmas cards, write a final exam, make TWENTY BAG LUNCHES, and wash more clothes than you ever knew existed. I am about to cry uncle and there is still one more day this week and five more days next week before Christmas "Break".