There's lots of things I love about Greg. He's hilarious and smart and an out-of-the-box thinker. He's calm in emergencies and patient when the kids are flipping out. He works harder than anyone I've ever known. He's constantly putting the five other people in our family before himself. Also? He keeps our house filled with music. Greg, who can't sing his way out of a paper bag or play an instrument, is a great lover of music. It is always, always playing if he is in the house. He usually still has his coat on as the sweet harmony of the Avett Brothers begins to fill our kitchen. He puts together a rockin playlist every year and we listen to it every day. Here are a few of our 2014 faves:
1) Old Toy Trains by Jessica Lea Mayfield
2) Away in a Manger by the Avett Brothers
3) Xmas Eve by the Damnwells
4) Auld Lang Syne by the Barenaked Ladies
5) Oh Holy Night by Tracy Chapman
6) I Saw Three Ships by Sting
7) Christmas by John Popper
8) Baby It's Cold Outside by Al Hirt & Ann Margaret
This is one of the year's biggest highlights for Chloe. We've gone home for it every year since we've moved, even though it's only a few days after Thanksgiving. It's a tradition we can't bear to part with. We loved getting to see so many sweet faces from our Pittsburgh homeschooling community.
We loved catching up with our best pals.
We loved seeing the ballet in our favorite city, our forever home.
We loved spending the morning with Nana. Nine hours round trip twice in a week, and completely worth it.
This has become a favorite tradition in our home. I have a collection of Christmas books that I add to every year, and I keep them tucked away deep in our classroom closet. Each year when we put our Christmas decorations away, we put the books away too. A few days into December, I turn on the fire, surreptitiously pull all the books out, and call the kids. It never ceases to be a fun surprise. Some of the books were bought for the kids for their first Christmases, some were my Mom's from her teaching days before we were born, and some were gifts from last year. The ever-growing stack remains out during December, and hours and hours are spent pouring over the dog-eared pages of their Christmas favorites.
Herewith, a few simple, inexpensive gifts I've loved.
A little Christmas chocolate, a holiday cookie cutter & a sweet note:
Family sundae night in a box:
Wrapping paper and tape:
For my hardworking tutors this year I assembled a little rejuvenation bag: tea and a new teacup, homemade bread wrapped in a basket liner sewn by my mom, and a little devotional book. My kids received hot cocoa and marshmallows in mason jars from their tutor, and it is already gone :-). One of my favorite gifts of all time to both give and receive is a handwritten note. In the age of emails, texting, and living out our relationships in two hundred characters or less, what a blessing it is to receive the heartfelt sentiment of a friend in their actual handwriting. I'm grateful that I'm finally beginning to learn that expressing gratitude doesn't have to be complicated or expensive. Now go thank someone :-).
Max insisted on making an entire tray of gingerbread Yoda's and not a single thing created by Charlie was edible, but other than that, baking day was a success. They loved it, and my kitchen is a disaster. Cheers!