December has flown by in an absolute whirlwind. I seriously cannot believe how quickly the season has come and gone. I’ve been so excited to share the holidays with Penny. We had a TON of plans, but many of them didn’t come to fruition, just due to lack of time and of course there are times that you just can’t do everything. Consequently,we missed the Fredericksburg Christmas parade, among other things!
I had suggested she take a sick day on the 9th so we could go to the National Tree Lighting (I know, bad momma!), but it turned out she had something crazy like 3 tests that day, so she went to school and we missed seeing the tree being lit. On the 11th, we went up to my friends Paul and Kris’s house to attend their church’s annual Christmas pageant. It was a beautiful 2 hour Christmas concert with scenes from the Christmas story acted out, plus my (*cough cough*) favorite liturgical dancing and a rather passionate sermon delivered from the pastor about accepting Jesus as our savior. Penny handled it all rather diplomatically and we assured her in the car that we didn’t really feel that way about the hereafter, but she didn’t seem too concerned by it, so I’m not sure what she was thinking.
After the program, we went back to Paul and Kris’s house and met with their friends for a big lasagna dinner. They made Penny a special meatless lasagna while the rest of us feasted on beef, and I think she was pleased they made the effort. She did a great job of dealing with their 3 spazzy dogs—we had to teach her not to scream and run away but to firmly say, “No!” and push them off, and by the end of the evening, she was a pro. She also approached someone she didn’t know at the party and she struck up a conversation with them and I was very proud to watch her interaction with them.
After the party (sorry, we didn’t get any pictures!), we went down to see the National Christmas tree. I did want her to see it and I had never been to see it myself, so I thought it was very exciting. All I knew going to DC was that the tree was “somewhere near the White House” but once I got down there, I could see it shining brightly. You literally can’t miss it. I had to pull an illegal u-turn to get a parking spot, but we got an amazing parking space right outside the park and while Mike and Leah waited in the car, Penny and I went to see the tree. I was very impressed by the whole thing. They have a beautiful display set up down there with trees representing every single state in the country plus every US territory. They have a Santa’s village, but the line was crazy and we didn’t wait. There were hundreds of people down there looking at the tree and it was quite spectacular, particularly with the White House so close by. I can say it definitely won’t be my last trip to see it!
This past week has been similarly busy. I have been busy with choir rehearsals and Penny babysat for us while Mike and I finished up our Christmas shopping. We’ve been busy wrapping gifts and Penny has helped too, although I think she was of the opinion that if she helped with the wrapping, she’d get a peek at her gifts. Sorry, Penny, I wrapped yours first! Monday, Penny stepped outside to discover a quarter inch of snow on the ground and she was so excited she even knelt down, touched it, and tasted it. The neighbor was out there and looked at her like she was a little bit crazy, but she was so excited! I promised her we’d get more before it was over and she’d probably be sick of it. She was disappointed that she didn’t get a picture of it, but leave it to me, I knew she’d be in a rush and wouldn’t have taken a picture, so I took one for her. She had to write a descriptive essay this week about her favorite winter, so she wrote about seeing snow for the first time and the fact that I took the picture and wrote “I laughed until I cried. My mum always knows what I want.” That touched my heart. :0D
Wednesday, we went to the tree lot at the local Catholic church and picked out our tree.
And yes, it was FREEZING out there. When we got home, we put the tree in the stand and I conned her into watering it. Then I dug out a craft kit of ornaments and Penny and I made ornaments to put on the tree. It was a kit of bird cutouts that were adhesive and little tubes of glitter that you shook over them as you removed the adhesive coverings a bit at a time. It was fun project and definitely a good thing to do AFTER the wee one went to bed!
Thursday morning, I happened to get up early with Leah and checked Facebook to discover that Spotsy schools were closed, so I checked the SHS web page and discovered that even though it wasn’t snowing, Penny had been granted a snow day. I intercepted her just as she was about to leave and she couldn’t believe she had heard me correctly. Then she said, “Should I be happy or not? I am already up and dressed!” I told her to be happy, we’d have fun together. So she decided to work on her homework for a while instead of going back to bed. Once Leah was up and we were settled in downstairs, Penny came thundering down to announce that the snow had started. She was positively giddy. I told her to get her coat on and we’d go out to WalMart and grab supplies to bake cookies and do some things together. When we got outside, it was like the world stopped. Penny just stood in the falling flakes and gazed in wonder. I was so happy about her childlike awe of the whole thing. She said, “I feel like I’m in a movie!” She went in and got her camera and I got mine and we had fun taking pictures and catching snowflakes.
The little things about snow were the most impressive to her—how it stuck to her sneakers, how it got dirty near the road, how it turned to ice when it got clumped into a pile, catching flakes with her tongue. It was ADORABLE!
We loaded up with supplies at Walmart and then came home and I taught Penny the Cherepon Method of putting lights on the tree. She was of the misguided opinion that you just sort of put them on there in a swirly motion and that was that. I corrected that misconception right away with my dad’s tried and true “push the lights in and pull them back out” method (which doesn’t sound like it makes a whole lot of sense until you see it in action!) and we wound up putting 600 lights on the tree. I could probably have done another strand on there, but I was out of lights and didn’t feel like going back out, so we made do. We were both sweating and tired afterwards, so we took a break and baked cookies in the afternoon while Leah was sleeping. I had been sick for almost 2 weeks and by Thursday I was feeling absolutely miserable from pain, exhaustion, and just not feeling well, so when Penny and I sat down to play cards at 9:00, I started debating going to the local urgent care clinic. Eventually I abandoned her and went over to the doctor and good thing, as I had a massive sinus infection, the second one I’ve had in 3 years. (I know that doesn’t sound half bad, but in general I’m very healthy and this is not anything I encountered in the first 32 years of my life, so to suddenly get these infections SUCKS!) The doctor told me not to go home but to go straight to the 24 hour pharmacy and get prescriptions, so I did, and consequently Penny was in bed before I got home. But…
Friday, Penny had ANOTHER school day, so while Mike was at work, we got the house ready for company, since my best friend from college Joe was coming to spend the weekend and my dad was arriving on Saturday. We also baked her beloved raspberry bars, which made her happy since we made 2 pans worth. Joe and Mike took the early train and got in at 5:40 and Penny and I tried our hand at making stir fry together. It came out pretty well! After dinner, all of us went into the living room to decorate the tree. Leah presented Penny with an ornament that says, “I’m the big sister” and that was the ceremonial first ornament on the tree, placed by Penny herself. Then all of us got into the act, listening to Penny’s new favorite musical artist, Kenny G. She says she loves jazz and the saxophone so when I was at CVS and saw he had a Christmas CD other than the Miracles CD I already had, I picked it up for her. She loved it.
Saturday morning I had dress rehearsal for my concert all morning and when I got home, we ordered pizzas for lunch. Penny spent much of Saturday in her room. I think we had a lot of together-time and she just wanted to relax and listen to music, which was fine. In the afternoon, Joe and I baked cookies while Leah slept and Michael hid out in his man cave. My father arrived Saturday night, which was a lot of fun since Penny just adores him.
Sunday was my big day, the day of my choir concert. I was very excited as we had been rehearsing a lot and I was ready to sing, but as the time drew close, my dad, Penny, and Leah hadn’t arrived. As we lined up to go, I still hadn’t seen them anywhere, so I was really relieved to see Penny come running out of the ladies’ room and wish me good luck. She enjoyed the concert a lot and I enjoyed performing in it. Afterwards a bunch of friends met me with flowers, which was a sweet surprise as well!
Afterwards, Dad, Michael, Penny, Leah, and I went home and had dinner, and then Penny, Mike, and I worked on a project for AFS. They asked host family bloggers to make a video describing what hosting an AFS student meant to us, so we decided to include Penny in our video. The only downer about the whole thing was that Leah was already in bed since it was so late, so she doesn’t appear at all. However, if you’d like to see our video, you can do so at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6J6I89QHym0 I am pretty pleased with the final result. :-D
Yesterday, for reasons known only to the county, Penny had a 2 hour delay, but still nearly missed the bus. She still declines to wear her coat to school, but I’ve given up. If she gets pneumonia, so be it. I tried to make a lasagna for dinner, but it didn’t congeal in time, so we had lasagna soup and then I took Penny to school because she was performing in her second concert at school in the choir. She was in the women’s choir and they sang 3 selections, a Russian song, a Japanese song, and Santa Claus is Coming to Town. She did a great job and the choir sounded amazing!
Today she had a full day of school (must have been hard after all those days off plus a delay!) and then when she got home, we had dinner and then she and I picked up Mike and we all headed over to the mall for the flash mob chorus I was participating in. Penny needed some pants, so she picked up a new pair while we were at the mall too, which was great and she ran into a bunch of people she knew from school, which I think was great for her! We came home and she has been studying for her government test. Tomorrow she has early release and then she will be done with school until 2011!!!! I can’t believe it!
Thursday evening we are going to a potluck party at her liaison’s house and Friday afternoon, we will go up to a family member’s house for dinner for Christmas Eve before the big event on Saturday. Penny has decided to call home this weekend, so we told her that she can as long as it’s not during the big events on Saturday morning. I’ll make a special Christmas post post-Christmas! Until then, I wish you all a simply amazing Christmas with those you love!