The last time I checked in was before Christmas, just after my sister had arrived. It’s been a busy few weeks and I have so many blog posts I want to write and I’m feeling completely overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin. So let’s just do a recap with some photos from our holidays. It’s gonna be long because there are bunches of pictures, but I really don’t feel like writing a bunch of shorter posts at this point.
December 24 and 25
We had a lovely Christmas. Christmas Eve we had our usual Sicilian-inspired seafood feast. This year we had lobsters, steamers, shrimp, and scallops. I made a loaf of challah and served fresh pineapple and everyone seemed pretty happy.
We went to Midnight Mass. Well, Theresa and I took the three big kids. Anthony was sleeping like a log and would not get up so we left him and Lucy with Dom. As it was we had to creep through thick fog (it was unseasonably warm here for Christmas) and we missed the first hymn. But it was lovely. Ben, Sophie, and Bella all loved it. We sang Christmas carols all the way home and then they each had a cookie and went back to bed. Sophie said the best thing was getting to receive Jesus in the Eucharist for the first time at Midnight Mass. She’s been to Midnight Mass before, but never been able to receive. I’m so happy that for her the Eucharist is a thrill, an excitement, a joy, and the very best part of the feast.
We still got up ridiculously early on Christmas and opened presents before Dom and Anthony went to the morning Mass. Poor Lucy didn’t get to go to church for Christmas. All the kids got books and spent time poring over them. Sophie was most pleased with her macaroni penguin, who she named Slidey. Anthony was thrilled to get a dinosaur and Ben to get a doll of his own.
I made homemade cinnamon buns and the kids loved those as a special breakfast treat. They all got applesauce cups in their stockings and that did encourage a slightly less candy-crazy morning.
We had a lovely pork rib roast for our Christmas dinner. I realized sometime in the mid morning, after Dom came home from Mass, that I had no plan for how to cook it, no recipe looked up. So we ended up with a lemon-garlic-honey mustard rub and Dom grilled it. Yes, he was outside barefoot in shorts on Christmas day, tossing a football with Ben, who was also barefoot. All the doors and windows open. It was a very weird Christmas.
After our rather late Christmas dinner, we went to my brother-in-law’s house for the family party. Desserts and presents. Lots of presents. Favorite presents included stormtrooper and Kylo Ren masks for the boys, Legos, and a baby doll for Lucy. And of course there were plenty of cousins for the kids to play with. And we got home late and I was shattered, absolutely exhausted.
December 26 and 27
I spent the day after Christmas in my pajamas, hardly did anything at all. Recovering. We did finally get around to trying to tidy up the mess around dinner time. Ugh.
Then of course we had Sunday and had to do our usual Mass routine. Still reading Christmas books and enjoying Christmas toys. I tried to get pictures of the kids in their pretty Christmas clothes in front of the manger at church. No go. Everyone was already in their coats before I thought of it. No one wanted to take them off. Ben never wants to be photographed anyway. Oh well.
Then Monday Dom went back to work and we did a little tiny bit of school work because I don’t like to let it lie fallow for too, too long or coming back after break is really tough. For me as well as for them. Sophie and Bella did math. Anthony drew number 4. Anthony read me several pages from one of his new books: Katie Meets the Impressionists. Ben practiced some letters, attempting to read the chipmunk book. I finished reading each boy’s book to him. I picked up our read alouds again because we’ve been missing them: Coot Club and Lord of the Rings.
Tuesday December 29
We finally got wintery weather on the absolute worst day, the day I’d planned for our family’s first theatrical experience. However, we braved the slush and the rain of the first wintry day of the season and took the kids to Cambridge by train to see a musical, The Pirate Princess at the American Repertory Theater. The train ride was fun and we only had to walk a couple of blocks in the rain and slush. It was a delightful show for kids. In the lobby before the show the kids were invited to make pirate flags with colored paper and stencils which they then were able to wave during the show. The cast were wandering among the crowd, talking to the kids both before and after the show.
The play itself was a fantastical and rather silly version of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night aimed at children from 5 and up, so not highly sophisticated but fun. Twins, Violet and Victor, a prince who wants to be a librarian and princess who wants adventure, are shipwrecked and separated. She meets a fool, Feisty, who helps her to dress herself up as a man called V. to join the crew of the fabulous pirate Bloodbeard. Meanwhile Victor falls into the hands of the fearsome sea monster, the Kraken. Both the Kraken and Bloodbeard are in love with the beautiful but sad princess Olivia who mourns her dead brother by painting a black canvas. Both twins are sent by their powerful masters to woo Olivia, who falls in love with Violet first but then Victor comes the next day and takes her place. I liked the way the interplay of two messengers to Olivia worked. Victor charms her by covering her with colored paint. The darker Malvolio plot was cut, of course. And no Sir Toby or Sir Andrew. Instead there were silly pirates. As a piece of children’s theater it was fun and frothy. With beautiful jellyfish props.
After the show we had lunch at Tasty Burger, which offered gluten free buns and made some really very good burgers. The kids were very happy. We took the train back home, Lucy falling asleep on my lap.
The children did not want to sit for stories, though Sophie did later read Zita the Spacegirl to Ben and Anthony. Their new favorite book.
Wednesday December 30
One again we didn’t attempt any sit down school work. But we did a bit of read alouds. Read Coot Club, Story of the World, Mystery of the Periodic Table, Lord of the Rings— finished Fellowship of the Ring.
Thursday December 31
New Year’s eve. No sit down school, but read alouds seem to be working well enough. We read Pius XII, Coot Club, Story of the World, Lord of the Rings— began Two Towers. Watched first half of the Globe Theatre production of The Tempest, which Bella got for Christmas. Caliban is my favorite character so far. I’m finding Miranda a little annoying and Prospero is ok, but Caliban steals the show.
Stayed up with Dom and Theresa watching Broadchurch and Dr Who and drinking mimosas. Not a bad way to see in the new year.
On New Year’s Day we went to Mass, came home, hung out.
We celebrated Lucy’s birthday and the feast of the Epiphany. (I’m always torn between my desire to celebrate with the Church and my desire to have the feast line up with the traditional 12th Night, but this year was easy: celebrate while my sister is here was a no-brainer and to roll Lucy’s birthday in with the feast for one big party just made sense.) We let Lucy open one box before Mass and then everyone opened everything else after we came home: each kid got presents from my very generous parents and a book for each kid from Dom and me. Plus we gave Lucy a stuffed dinosaur for her birthday.