I think this picture summarizes nicely how we are all feeling on this last day of Christmas Break.
At least that's how I'm feeling NOW. I was all riled up a few minutes ago because James and Wes added "listen to a story read aloud" to their list of things they cannot do without fighting. Other items include riding in the car, eating a meal, and urinating. But after I sent them off to bed I inhaled a couple of chocolate chip cookies and now I feel better. Self-medicating FTW!
Thanks to the Industrial Revolution we've been squeezing in lots of outdoor activities these last couple of weeks. Yesterday we ate our burritos outside and then went for a hike. We went a mile and it took an hour, but it was beautiful and fun. And because I'd hiked the more reasonable trail in this system last week with the boys, I insisted we do the more challenging trail, which has a warning sign at the trailhead. As it turns out it was kind of a lot for Mary.
I love this picture of them. I need to get over my disdain for our Christmas card, except that every time I take a picture like this I'm like THIS ONE! WHY DIDN'T WE USE THIS ONE?!*
*Fun fact: I spent two hours making a new Christmas card only to realize it would cost more than a hundred dollars to reprint, scrapped the whole thing, and bought a Kindle Fire instead. #fiscalresponsibility
Miss N came over again and we noticed that she, Charley, and I all have the same size feet.
Miss N had come to take James on a fun birthday outing of his choosing, so we all went downtown to go ice skating on the roof of the Whole Foods.
Charley wasn't allowed to skate because of the thumb so he and I walked a block away to go to my favorite bookstore, where he talked Rick Riordan with one of the workers for more than thirty minutes and bought two new books. He also got to buy a peppermint tea. Pretty much anything he wanted since he was so sad about not skating. We found ways to have fun.
After that we met up at the Capitol for Tuba Christmas, which was so much cooler than even *I* was expecting.
A hundred and eighty-nine tubas and euphoniums playing Christmas carols. WHAT'S NOT TO LOVE?!
The morning of Christmas Eve I sewed the "Helen" from my grandmother's stocking onto Mary's (Mary Helen's) stocking. It makes me so happy!
Wes was both a shepherd and a piano player at church. Charley was originally supposed to play the prelude, but again, the thumb, so Wes got to play it instead and HO BOY WAS THERE SOME JEALOUSY HAPPENING. Wes did a beautiful job.
During the service they all followed the star to Bethlehem (I was so relieved in this moment because before that Charley and Wes each had multiple different roles in the service that required them to sit in different places and get up at different times and read things and play things and sing things and it was... a lot to remember).
We went home to new jammies! (I've never done this before. Only did it this year because the big kids needed more jammies and I found a great deal and now I am doing this EVERY YEAR WITHOUT EXCEPTION).
A note about Christmas Eve. Last year the kids for some reason all conked out dead asleep by about 8:30, which meant that Santa came early and everyone was in bed by a decent hour, even considering movie watching and holiday cheer consumption. This year, we were worried Santa would have to skip us because KIDS WERE STILL POPPING OUT OF BED AT TWO AM. I fell asleep on the floor in the hallway until Ryan took over at 1:30. It was UGLY. I thought at least they would sleep a bit later in the morning, but NOT TO WORRY because Charley set an alarm for 7:00 so he wouldn't miss anything important. LIKE SLEEP. HEADDESK.
It was still wonderful, even on a newborn level of sleep.
The screams of excitement as I wobbled down the stairs when they realized that Santa had left everyone rollerblades.
Charley got to break the rules, because on Christmas all fractures are magically healed!
How many Christmas morning playing outside in our jammies pictures do we have now? A lot. They are my favorites.
Santa brought me high-quality journalism and in depth analysis. And coffee. Obviously.
Mary was a very serious mommy.
And then we went over to my aunt and uncle's house for benign neglect, alcohol, delicious delicious food, and hot tubbing.
I can no longer tell James and Charley apart in pictures just by glancing.
The english muffin bag I secured to Charley's arm with a rubber band did nothing to keep the water out since I forgot to tell him it was to prevent splashing and not submersion. I blame the wine. So that's how I spent Christmas night carefully blow drying a thumb splint. #oops #smellsbetternow
The day after Christmas was incredibly productive, when I, free from the mental burden of providing a magical childhood holiday experience for every moment of the day, was free to do six loads of laundry, dig my kitchen out from the mountain of sticky and sprinkles, send two letters of recommendation, and start gathering materials for my spring class. It was like a DRUG my friends.
And then we got in the car the next morning to drive to Dallas. The kids were less than excellent in the car, as expected, but we did get to stop for lunch at Crickets, a second location of a college bar we frequented in grad school. I was delighted to discover they added kids' menus and stopped letting everyone smoke so much!
Charley got SCHOOLED.
So did James.
Also: three words: Brisket grilled cheese. You are WELCOME.
And then we arrived at Ryan's parents and all was well. Ryan's parents make everything really special and homey and then keep the kids overnight and send us to the hotel where we drink Shiners and binge watch HGTV in bed. #traditions They took us to the Arboretum the next morning so we could go to the wonderful children's garden and play. We all had a good time and even met up with Ryan's high school friend and his family, who have a tiny baby that James wanted to take home with us. We had another great meal for dinner and everyone fell asleep relatively fast. The next day we got up early and went to see a cattle drive down a city street, then watched Charley in a mock gun fight.
A friend recommended a great taco restaurant so we headed there next and met up with our old nanny, the OTHER Miss N! We were all so excited to see each other that we blocked the whole line at the taco restaurant for several awkward and huggy moments.
And rolled around in piles of leaves in the street for a couple of hours. A good day.
Three of the kids slept for nearly three hours on the way home, woke up to eat some pizza, and STILL went to bed at a normal time, which means it was a really fun visit. Now we are just hanging out trying not to kill each other before school starts ON WEDNESDAY. Mary and Ryan go back tomorrow, though, so the rest of us are going to go to a movie and maybe, I don't know, take a three hour nap or something. And then I have three half days to slap two syllabi and a writing assignment together along with a dentist appointment, physical therapy, and a visit to Charley's orthopedist who will know NOTHING of Charley's misadventures over the last two weeks and hopefully will tell us that it is normal that it still hurts him to bend his thumb (which is why I tell him to STOP TRYING TO BEND IT OMG. TRALALLALALA!). Also I really really need a haircut. Also I accidentally put the kids to bed an hour early tonight which explains why I am sitting at the top of the stairs writing this in the dark.