1. That last week before Christmas break nearly did us in, as is the case nearly every year. In a perfect world I'd spend those few days wrapping presents, baking cookies, and watching classic holiday movies while drinking hot chocolate in my pajamas; in the real world I cram in all of those activities in between a dance class christmas party, assembling and delivering 80+ teacher/staff christmas gifts with my fellow PTO board members, the 3rd grade christmas program, two class christmas parties, karate graduation, and packing for an 11-day road trip. These smiling faces, however, made - and continue to make - it all worth it.
2. Two years ago our drive to Nebraska for the holidays led us into (and thankfully, through) the worst ice storm I'd ever experienced, and that's saying something, given the fact I grew up in Wisconsin. This year we cruised along, through only one major traffic jam and no weather to speak of, to arrive safety and at the exact time we expected to arrive. On the way home we hit the road early (4:16am, to be exact) and made it home in record time: 14 hours door to door!
|A stuffed version of Tux joined us in the car. He rode on
Tom's shoulder just like the real Tux rides on mine...
|…Tux rode around on my shoulder for days before we left - he
could tell something big was about to happen - and has spent
quite a bit of time there since we returned home as well.
|We stopped to stretch our legs at a scenic overlook
in the middle of Oklahoma and inadvertently put the
kibosh on a young man's plan to pee over the ledge.
I should have known never to trust the weather report…
On Christmas Eve morning we woke to find the world covered with the most beautiful blanket of white crystals. The sight of winter (at least winter as it feels familiar to me) right outside my window, pleasantly surprising me like an unexpected visit from an old friend, brought tears to my eyes, as did following Will and Hallie as they gleefully ran from window to window, watching snowflakes fall elegantly to the ground.
|Completely in awe.
|Yep, that's Will. Yep, he's barefoot.
|Frosty our snowman.
|Having to find my scraper and then dust off, scrape, and defrost
my car also brought tears to my eyes…and not the good kind.
|Baby Forest was sleeping so he unfortunately missed the photo.
|Fabio (affectionately referred to as Fabi Puppy
Baby) spent a lot of time loving on Hallie.
|My first-ever real manicure. (I can't stand having people cut my
cuticles and file my nails so I have avoided manicures in the past.)
I did not enjoy it, but I loved the way my nails looked afterwards.
|I called them my "girl on fire" nails, and chose
both the color and gold sparkly design with my
third trip to see Mockingjay, Part 2 in mind.
|The best moment in one of the best Christmas movies.
|"Cindy Lou Who" hair for my little "Who".
(There's a water bottle in there!)
|Ferrell had the best ugly sweater at work!
|Working on sprints...
|…and then distance.
|I found this precious picture of two-year-old
Hallie helping wrap presents four years ago.
|I read this book every Christmas break. I seem
to regularly forget what happens though, so I'm
always pleasantly surprised by the ending.
|Per Santa's request, we set the drums up and took
a picture before we left. Then we blew the picture
up and put it on display with Santa's copter.
|The crutches were - and continue to be - an
enormous hit with both Hallie and Will.
|And in one of my best ideas ever, Santa's gift of
crutches for Hallie was accompanied by Mom and
Dad's gift of crutches for Hallie's American Girl Doll.
|I loved watching these two play together.
|Hallie taught Forest the basics...
|…and Will taught Forest about the
complex world of Bey Blades. Of course.
|Will schooled Aunt Chandi in Connect Four...
|…and Uncle Adam helped Hallie write her initials.
|And last but not least, bath time!