Around Here: Christmas 2023

Sunday, December 31, 2023

Dear future me,
I am living in the good 'ole days.
I promise I'll make the most of it while I'm here
if you promise to never forget the magic.

guess who is photoshopped (LOL)

Intentional Outdoor hours: 685+ hours (of 1000)
minutes added from Christmas eve sprinkling of reindeer food & carrots..but not much else.

Reading Our Violent Ends by Chloe Gong but barely at all.

Adams family Christmas at Uch's house on Friday night. We had lasagna, stuffed shells, fresh baked bread, and cookie trays. We played sock wrestling and TikTok partner challenges, opened gifts all at the same time to make a huge wrapping paper mess, and had tarot card readings from Russell. Kitty and Bryan got us each a framed map of the Pacific Crest Trail with a tiny movable picture of them that we can track their journey this upcoming March! Abba and her daughters all wore their Christmas long sleeves and Kitty photoshopped Bryan on Grey's head for the Chum+son in laws photo (hah, I laughed for a million years). 

Christmas cookie baking. chocolate/m&m/pretzel bites, chocolate covered peanut butter balls, and peppermint bark. We also had sugar cookies from Miss Emma and the babies (she is a superhero girl - we love you!) 

Trying to make friends between all the classroom pets. We put them all together in Mr. Watt's playpen and they got along just fine. Nothing miraculous (or horrific, thank goodness) happened. So it was cute for a photo op, but not much else. Gem wasn't thrilled about the poop and pee that needed cleaned up afterward - LOL. 

Mimi Christmas on Saturday afternoon at her house. We had lasagna, meatballs, salad, and breadsticks. Cousin Tausha brought a funny white elephant game for all the cousins to play and cousin Morgan mixed up fun Christmas themed adult drinks. Cousin Kaitlyn stopped over from Uncle Ray's house and it was so nice to catch up with her about her new apartment in our old stomping ground (Erie, PA) where she is an ER nurse. It was a cozy evening and I will always be grateful for time spent with incredibly blessed we are to have our kids' great grandma (my husband's grandma) still in our lives and hosting holidays. 

Delivering our neighborhood notes to say thank you for putting up Christmas lights. This is an annual tradition and the kids love stopping by houses to hand them out. We printed off 12 thank yous (Canva helped) and the kids colored them and we picked as a family which houses had our favorite displays this year. All were in our own neighborhood except for the house that is on Main street (with the balcony!) Thank you to everyone who brings holiday spirit to us through their house displays! 

Nothing like the clean up before people come over. On Christmas eve day, the kids and parents worked their way through the to do list to clean and prep food. Christmas music blasting and everyone working (mostly) together until the kids were allowed to turn on Gremlins while we finished the last minute things before heading out the door in the late afternoon. 

Dropping off our cookie tins and Christmas cards to our closest neighbors on Christmas eve too! Merry Christmas - thank you for all the ways you support us throughout the year as our neighbors. Accepting our packages, chatting through car windows, smiling and waving on our ways to and fro, laughing at and texting us when our animals (goats and/or dogs) wander from home, and being kind and generous with our kiddos who walk and ride bikes through the neighborhood. We are thankful that it is YOU who are physically near our family as we grow up. xxo

Attending Christmas Eve mass at St. Davids. We got everyone dressed and out the door in (barely) time to make it. Abba, Chum, Kuma, Uncle Buck, Mimi, Kitty, and Bryan were all there too! The kids all behaved well (Liv slept for over half of it!) and at the end when we all light candles and sing Silent Night is one of my favorite holiday moments every year. 

Hosting Christmas Eve at our house. We opened our home to family and friends and had a great evening leading into Santa's visit. We made tavern ham in the crockpot, haluski, roasted potatoes, corn pudding, salt&vinegar pretzels, and buffalo chicken dip. I also pulled out my cookie tray and I made kid-friendly holiday punch (that could be made spirited if adults wanted to!) The Rummells and the Altimores brought charcuterie boards, Heather brought jalapeno dip with mini pretzels and naan, Miss Emma and Kolten brought pie, and Mimi brought leftover meatballs, and Kuma brought pulled chicken sammies. Kitty and Bryan brought a fun balancing game, and Abba read The Night Before Christmas to all the kids, and the elementary-aged kids tracked santa on the NORAD live feed on Youtube. Our kiddos opened up their Christmas eve jammies (Polar Bear/Osa themed!) and there was much chatting, laughter, and merrymaking all the way until Santa made it to Jamaica and everyone headed home! And it was magic and perfect and thank you all. 

Christmas eve bedtime prep. The kids picked out their cookies for Santa and poured a mug of milk (we had to use a mug because all our cups were dirty from the party!) The bottom four and Gemma (bless her) went out to spread carrots and glitter reindeer food in our front lawn (thank you Miss Emma for making magic reindeer food with the babies!) Everyone gave Marco a hug goodbye before bed and Violet and Rusty wrote notes for Santa - Vi even made him a friendship bracelet #SantainhisTaylorSwiftEra 

Then B and I fell asleep FOR THREE HOURS.

We woke up in a literal panic that we missed the window for Santa. Lol, but not funny, but also hilarious and so true to this moment in time of parenting. GOD BLESS MY STUDENTS who wrapped. honestly, saved Christmas. All we had to do was bring up from the hiding spot and organize. I had like two last minute wraps to do - but that was it! 

Kids woke up around 7a and we made coffee while they waited patiently at the top of the steps before they were released one at a time to the living room to see the gifts. Then it's mass present opening and a fireplace and Christmas music on Youtube on the tv and smiling at their smiles and shrieks of delight. Their favorite gifts to open are always their sibling secret santa and for that my mother's heart feels safe and comforted. 

Studer family Christmas at Gigi and Pappy's house. We had spaghetti and salad and broccoli and cheese and ham. Mimi came down to celebrate and the kids all opened their gifts one at a time and we sang Happy Birthday to Jesus with a real mini birthday cake. It was warm enough that the kids went outside to play catch with Rusty's new boomerang ball and we all cheered on (unsuccessfully) the Chiefs while we watched the NFL game. 


Christmas is the people and the food and the hugs and laughter and smiles and the snuggles and the air and the lights and the cookies, and the surprises, and the kindness and the magic and the everyone in on the secret for all the tiny, hopeful hearts full of belief and magic. 
it's the showing up, and the grace, and the forgiveness, and the patience, and the love.

gosh, the love.

I hope your Christmas was all those things.
sending you grace, and patience, and so much damn love.

Around Here Week 51: 12/17-12/23

This is it! The week we train all year for parents!
God speed to you & all your holly jolly magic making. 

Pajama day in three school buildings!

Learning period elf station! love these kids!

Cindy Lou Who and Kevin McAllister

Intentional Outdoor Hours: stagnant at 686+ hours (of 1000)
it is what it is. I accept myself as a cranky winter grump.

Reading some of The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel but then getting the second book Our Violent Ends by Chloe Gong from my student Ruby and I hopped right back into that world (yay!) I really don't have any business reading right now when everything is wild magic mania...but ya know; a momma's got to dissociate somehow (LOL, for real). A big thank you to Amber and Nancy at school who pushed through my project lit book order at the last-est minute ever! We will be reading Unwind by Neal Shusterman for our next book!

Staying up late to binge Love Has Won I need to discuss.

Marco the Elf antics: putting on Gemma's make-up, eating out of a cashew jar that was labeled "D's" (lol #fortheteen #deeznuts), hanging up snowflakes over our kitchen table, upside down out of the ice dispenser in our fridge, and drawing faces on our eggs (thank you to Heather for the fresh egg delivery to our mailbox!)

Smiling and singing during the Christmas Pageant at St. David's. The youth mass was beautiful and all the kids did such a great job. Violet was a cow, Rust was an angel (they both sang & rang bells). Gemma was a Eucharistic minister and the lead Magi in the play, and for the second year in a row Grey was Joseph. Bravo to all the kids and the youth leaders! 

Santa visit at Pappy's Pizza when we stopped before our secret santa shopping trip. We didn't even know he was going to be there- so what luck! We told him what we wanted and even got a surprise mini squishmellow and a cookie! It is really difficult (and expensive) to take our whole family out to eat - but Pappy's is a good place to go if we are feeling ambitious enough. Grey had three slices of pizza and a grilled cheese burger (a full grilled cheese as each bun) and a side of fries...and then ate a normal dinner at home that night. Moms of teenage sons - Know that I stand with you in tears at the grocery store.

Sibling secret santa shopping! It is was one of the kids' favorite holiday traditions; randomly picking a siblings' name and then shopping for them at 5Below. They each get $20 to spend and walk around trying to be sneaky to keep their gifts hidden from their sibling while also pointing out the things they like hoping that their secret santa will overhear them. I love seeing what they pick out for each other and then they all come home to wrap the gifts and try to guess who had who. The gifts don't get opened until Christmas morning (which is tormenting the heck out of 3year old Red). 

Grabbing dinner with Kitty after an overwhelming (mentally and financially, LOL) trip to Walmart making my run for all the little stuff (hairbrushes, scrunchies, stocking stuffers, toothbrushes). She and I got dinner and drinks at Tailgatez in Somerset and it was so nice to spend the night catching up and laughing together. We were there so late I missed my Walmart grocery pick up (?!) and Brandon had to get it the following morning (good grief - thank you!) 

DRESS UP DAYS: All three of our schools (CTES, CTHS, and NSHS) had pajama day on Monday! Miss Emma took a picture for us and Grey was so over it but he humored me - hah. Rust & Vi also had: reindeer, snowmen, character day (Cindy Lou Who & Kevin McAllister), and red&green themed days. Gem & Grey had: ugly sweater, grinch/who, santa/elf, and red&green day. My students and I dressed up with santa hats, ugly sweater, christmas character (I was ralphie's mom from A Christmas Story; I wore a cardigan and had a bar of soap in my hands), and White Out day. 

Assembling teacher gifts. Our kids handed out these baking jars - we picked Pumpkin Cranberry Bread since folks will probably be a little tired of cookies after the holidays. The kids all helped fill and label their jars and then they handed them out and thanked their teachers. I emailed our Christmas card and thanked their teachers too. We are so blessed by the educators at our kids' school who encourage and care for them all school year. (grateful for you all!) 

Smiling about Violet and her coding hobby. She has been loving making hilarious dance videos from this coding site and has us all cracking up with her creativity. Girls who, what a time to be alive. so proud and thankful for my creative-brained, fierce boss girl daughter Vi. 

The gratitude I feel for my gift-wrapping students, I cannot express. HEAVEN SENT. They just wrapped and wrapped and were so generously sweet with their compliments about what I got each kid ("ooh, this is cute"..."I bet Christmas morning is so fun at your house"..."how old is the kid who is getting this hatchet?" lol). I even purchased used Legos off of my student Emma (thank you!) for a gift and let me tell you - the moment you realize you can venmo your students to buy their used toys is the moment you level up. Thank you Emma, Shelby, Ruby, and Tyson for how you saved my Christmas eve wrapping stress. I love you so much. 

Thankful for the real santas. I bought at stores and also had gifts arriving all this week and they made it to me like Santa magic miracles. All you people working in retail and driving trucks and making this happen for us parents out here are actually the real life santa. thank you - love you. 

Knocking out appointments at the doctor, dentist, and ortho because why not!? Busiest week of the year? Yeah, let's dump these in here too. Good grief. Thank you to Pappy who took the girls to their dentist appointments. B and I had our doc appointments and our lab work results were available in time (whew! and we both got thumbs up on health). Then Grey got his Invisalign braces on Thursday! He was a little sore for a few days after that but seems to be doing good with the wearing and cleaning! 

Bringing home three classroom pets! My guinea pigs, Queen Barb and Toffee made their holiday break trip home on Thursday. They are all set up for the next 10 days and Olive could not be happier. Gemma signed up to babysit her classroom pet; a bunny named Mr. Watt! Mrs. Conn helped us get all loaded up and Mr. Watt will be spending most of the holiday break in the girls' bedroom being spoiled. I know what you are thinking, 'Tabitha, why are you this way?' and all I can say is...honestly, what's one more creature to love at this point?  

Completing, printing, and collecting paperwork for an application this week. Thank you to everyone who helped me get it all together during the busiest week of the year - looking at you Renee, Loni, Nina, and even my principal who was patient and kind when I gave him the heads up. 

Enjoying our early dismissal day at school. I participated in the cornhole & pickleball tournaments that day with fellow coworker Drew - we did half decent, but I'm honestly a terrible pickleball player (hah). Besides the tournament, I hung out in my room with students who were finishing up wrapping (bless them!) and holding our Project Lit book club meeting on our book In the Wild Light by Jeff Zentner. As always, we had great discussions and I love hearing from the students how they experienced the book. I also had lunch with my teacher bestie Renee as it was her LAST DAY and I was actually pretty emotional about it because I am so grateful to have worked alongside her and learned from her - and because I am so proud to know her now as the owner of a local book & toy store. love you, Renee xxox.

Teaching and holding it together for this last (full!) week before holiday break. Spanish 1 worked on their Capibara RAFT projects. Spanish 2 learned about El Sorteo/La Lotería in Spain and we even had a little Sorteo in our class including El Gordo prize: an LMA pass! . Spanish 3 finished up their Bananas novel, took the test, and learned about Caga Tío. I also attended an IEP meeting and we got a 2hr delay this week too which was honestly a little saving grace in this crazy week of holiday wiggles. I got some thoughtful gifts - student council sent a candy bag, FCS students make cookie treat bags everyday (they were really yummy this year!) Jasmine brought me a cupcake, Caliya wrote me a Christmas card with a sweet message, locally raised sausage from my student Heath who is a pig farmer!, and a tiny embroidery and chocolate bar from Gracie.

Sporting with two wrestling practices for Rusty. Gemma had three bball practices with the JrHigh team and then kept the book for them at two games this week. Grey had a baseball practice, two basketball practices, and two JrHigh home basketball games. Thankful to be there to cheer him on and to have lots of little siblings and cousins who are accustomed to sitting in bleachers and cheering (god bless the little siblings of athletes!)

Making chicken and gravy over mashed potatoes, Marry Me chicken with pasta and roasted veggies, roasted kielbasa, potatoes, and veggies. We also had slowcooker chicken taquitos and Korean beef with green beans and rice.

Christmas cookie baking: cherry almond cookies (aka holiday boobies, LOL), potato candy (the saga continues on Instagram stories!)