This winter break wasn't exactly what we had hoped for. Tom was slightly under the weather for the entire two and a half weeks (not COVID, but a nasty cold that settled in his lungs and then hung out there for weeks), we had to say goodbye to Tux, and then COVID spiked yet again, overwhelming our hospitals, clinics, and testing centers and making it difficult or unsafe to gather with friends and participate in regular activities. That said, I wish our winter break hadn't ended earlier this week - I wanted more time with my kids, and I HATED sending them back to school in the middle of this horrible surge given how few precautions our state and school district are currently taking to protect kids and teachers.
That said, we managed to fit quite a few fun activities into our winter break, and that's worthy of a high five or two.
Hallie and I kicked off our break shopping at an outdoor artisan market, dining on crepes at Sweet Paris, and decorating gingerbread houses. (The boys were disc golfing.) She purchased two of her three Christmas presents here, and was so pleased to have found things she knew Tom and Will would enjoy.
On the Monday night before Christmas, Hallie and I - along with her besties and my besties - drove to Houston to celebrate sweet Avery's 13th (?!?!) birthday. We had dinner at the Wortham Theater and then saw Houston Ballet's production of The Nutcracker. It felt amazing to be dressed up and out again, and because masks were required and almost everyone followed the rules, we felt relatively safe. The girls loved comparing our show to Houston Ballet's show (spoiler alert - they feel pretty darn good about their own production), and the moms loved spending time together and with our dancing daughters, as well as getting to actually watch the ballet from start to finish with absolutely no responsibilities. Oh, and we ran into friends from our studio who moved away about a year and a half ago - what a fun surprise!
We also celebrated with Avery on her actual birthday. We had plans for a semi-private contemporary ballet dance lesson, but instructor illness meant that didn't happen; instead, Hallie baked her a cake and we met at Starbucks for treats and gifts.
On something of a whim, I took the kids to Christmas at the Tree Farm, which was exactly that - a Christmas celebration at Brazos Valley Tree Farm. We cruised slowly through the 1.6-mile drive-through light show - which was beautifully done - and then stopped at the concessions booth for hot chocolate and cookies before driving the loop a second time. While simple in comparison to the Brazos Valley's other Christmas extravaganza (Santa's Wonderland, which is highly commercialized, epically congested, and extremely expensive), Christmas at the Tree Farm was exactly what I wanted and will always want out of a Christmas experience.
Will, in typical teenage boy fashion, didn't really want to go. But he smiled and laughed throughout the entire visit, and as we pulled out of the parking lot, he thanked me for taking him and asked to come again next year. Done, my love.
I had no idea we had a tree farm so close to us. Tom and I will definitely be making a trip there this spring to pick out replacements for a couple of trees we lost during the snowpocalypse!
We kept one of my favorite Christmas traditions alive, but by the skin of our teeth as we didn't make it out to Christmas at the Park - where we walk through the light display and eat cookies in the gazebo - until December 23rd. Better late than never!
Bill, Annie, and Molly have made so much progress! (Molly's progress has been a little slower than her siblings', but she's working so hard to interact and play like a "real" kitten.) It has been delightful to watch their personalities emerge, and we've loved having them out and about in our house now that they feel at home with us...and in our Christmas tree.
These babies, and so many others, still need forever homes. Let me know if you're interested!
We made multiple family trips to different parks, where we played disc golf, soccer, basketball, and on the playground. The weather was summer-esque until January 1st, and we took full advantage of the warmer days.
We had a lovely and relaxed Christmas day, so much so that I took almost no pictures.
|Santa brought the kids an outdoor movie projector, but set it up
inside so Hallie could have her wish for a white Christmas granted.
|I wanted only two things from Tom for Christmas. The first was to
have my car detailed, so he had me unwrap this little black car (which
looks like mine and has a Hawkeye sticker on the rear windshield)...
|...and this tiny little bucket, sponge, and scrub brush. 😍
|I also wanted this; I feel like I live in my car, which is why the
only things I asked for make being in my car more enjoyable.
|This photo doesn't show how cool the outdoor viewing experience is.
Already we've watched lots of television shows and movies out here!
After Christmas, and after Tux passed away, we tried to stay busy as best we could. Will spent a lot of time at the park with friends, Hallie danced, and Tom worked in his Mad Science Laboratory. I cleaned and organized and tried to prepare the house and myself for the craziness I knew would kick back in when the kids went back to school on Wednesday. My to-do list is always overwhelmingly long, but I was grateful for it that week, and I was grateful the kids and Tom had activities to keep them busy and distracted as well.
We had a fun and low-key NYE, which is exactly what I'm looking for in a holiday. We spent a couple of hours in the afternoon at the park with friends - moms and dads and kiddos - and then in the evening, Hallie celebrated with her besties for a bit before coming back to ring in the new year with the rest of us at home.
Dance and soccer started back up prior to school, so while those last couple of days of winter break didn't exactly feel like they were "off", they did allow us a little extra time during the day to fix the hole in my tire, make the drive to Trader Joe's, and visit the DMV for the third time in the last two weeks. Why the DMV, you ask? This:
|Learner's Permit ✔
Happy weekend, friends!