Book Fair at School
I love book fairs! They’re a lot like book stores, but just so much better. I know my excitement is certainly residual from my childhood because I am just as happy about my kids’ book fairs as I was about my own in school. I’ve been waiting since the beginning of the school year for the book fair and I wanted to be there the day it opened, October 31st, but Claire asked that I wait until after she’d had a chance to visit with her class and make a list of the books she wanted. I think she was really hoping I’d just give her a check and let her go buy her own books. Fat chance, kid! Mommy needs to see all of those pretty books and cute pencils and totally unnecessary but also totally wanted erasers, book marks, pencil caps, and more.
I managed to contain myself until the second day of the fair. Julia and I went up to the school to take the big kids to the fair during their lunch breaks, and have lunch with them. I usually pick something up for us all to eat, Chick Fil A mostly but only because Chipotle doesn’t open until after Logan’s lunch starts at 10:40, which is a travesty to be honest, but in my excitement over books I kind of forgot. So the kids ate cafeteria food and it was nacho day and that was a big hit. The big kids got to pick out two books for themselves and a book from their teacher’s wishlist for their classroom. Claire got one of The Never Girls books and a princess stenciling book for herself, and one of the Pete the Cat books for her classroom. Logan got two Lego books, one about dinosaurs and one about Star Wars, for himself, and Stick and Stone for his classroom. Julia got a Paw Patrol book because everything in her life must be Paw Patrol. I bought more than I care to admit but let’s just say they gave me a box to put it all in and the principal helped carry it all to my car because he’s ever so helpful. In my defense it was all Christmas presents, and I’m real excited about Santa’s taste in graphic novels.
It was Open House night at the kids’ school, so we all got to go after hours and check out the classrooms and talk to the teachers and see how everything has been going since the beginning of the school year. Claire is doing very well, she’s at the very top of her class in math and up there in reading as well. I asked her teacher if she noticed any anxiety in the classroom as after school Claire tends to say she had a bad day and be very anxious about school work, but her teacher didn’t see any of that. Claire is always very well behaved and ready to learn according to her teacher, so much like her brother she clearly expends a lot of effort holding everything together at school just to come home and fall apart a bit in her comfortable place. Andrew and I talked about offering more downtime and support after school, giving her a break between coming home and completing her chores, and that’s helped.
Logan has been doing very well in his special education and general education class. His special education classroom is the one with the swing in it, and that was a big hit with the kids. Logan showed me all of his math games he plays in class and where he hangs his coat up. It was so fun and exciting for him to have his family in his classroom where he spends so much of his time.
Julia Has Decided to Be Helpful
Sometimes. Other times she still enjoys being obstinate and shouting “no” from a distance. But it does seem like she is finally growing out of her unruly toddler years and into a more amenable, wants to be useful, preschool age. She helps to put away groceries and dishes. She picks up that thing she just threw on the floor when you ask. She even helps me run errands around school, but she hasn’t budged much on allowing me to brush her hair on a somewhat regular basis. She might be the next one getting a pixie cut.
Visit from Cousin Issy
My little cousin came to stay with us for two weeks over Thanksgiving break! We got to celebrate her birthday, just a day late, and have fun in Houston. We hit up the Tanger Outlets in Texas City, which of course wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Buc-ee’s, the Walmart of gas stations. The Texas City Buc-ee’s is “only” 60,000 square feet. The Buc-ee’s in New Braunfels, Texas, is 68,000 square feet, and thus the largest gas station in the world. What do they sell at the Walmart of gas stations? Everything. Well, almost. They have tons of typical snack and drink options that you’d expect, but they also have made-to-order food, local fare, and tons of souveniers and trinkets. It’s not the most exciting thing but it’s a fun one to check off your list. Kind of like a roadside attraction. If you’re going past it might as well stop.
The most fun of the trip was had at Rocket Park, the home of the Saturn V rocket at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.
The Saturn V rocket is over thirty stories tall. It’s truly massive and it’s hard to capture just how large it is in photos. Standing next to this amazing piece of machinery that helped humans commit the most advanced space exploration thus far is truly humbling. And while the Saturn V, which is housed in a custom built warehouse, is the big draw, out front there are other amazing relics of early space exploration.
From left to right: Little Joe II was used from 1963–66 for five unmanned tests of the Apollo spacecraft Launch Escape System. Mercury-Redstone was the first American manned space booster and from 1960–61 launched the first and second Americans (and the second and third humans) into space. I have no idea what this giant thing is but it is huge and I think it’s a booster?
The Saturn V. I kicked myself for forgetting my DLSR because my wide angle lens is probably the only thing that could have captured the entire rocket. It’s just so large. Julia in the middle shot for scale.
Some information about the Saturn V and the Apollo missions. The entire wall was covered in the history of the 17 Apollo missions, and it’s fascinating and sometimes heartbreaking. To be in the presence of actual history, to stand next to a machine created by man to carry us into the heavens, it’s just fills you with pride. This is what humans can do, this is what we can accomplish, when we put aside our differences and work together and feel the burning desire to beat Communism.
But serisouly, when someone tries to tell you the moon landing was a hoax go ahead and ask them, “Which time?” People tend to forget that we had another five successful missions after Apollo 11. A total of 12 people have walked on the moon, there is physical evidence on it’s surface. Denying these facts is silly and ludicrous, and you could always handle it like Buzz Aldrin and pop them right in the mouth.
New Glasses and Clothes and Haircuts, Oh My!
It seems like Claire and Logan are growing nonstop these days. Logan has been showing genuine interest in what he wears. We went to Carter’s and he picked out his own jacket (bright orange, which is great because it makes him easy to keep track of) and shoes. Claire got a new pair of glasses and she opted for some super cute purple ones with glittery hearts on the side. I just love to see their burdgeoning personalities. They also got haircuts, which was sorely needed. Logan has been receiving haircuts at home as he doesn’t do well with strangers, especially strangers that touch him. I usually do what I called a “long high and tight,” where I’d cut the side very short and leave what was on top to be brushed to the side, or even spiked up.
It’s seen many incarnations over the last four years since I first cut it this way. Sometimes it’s long, sometimes it’s short. Sometimes it cooperates, sometimes it doesn’t. But I’ve always liked the look on him. I finally felt like he could be reasonably still to get a professional haircut, something better than what I can do with my husband’s clippers in the kids’ bathroom. I showed the hairdresser a picture of the cut I wanted, pretty much the one I’ve been giving him his entire life but with a nice looking fade and a strong part. What I got was literally the haircut I can give him for free, but this cost me $25. My husband said he needs to go to an actual barber shop so next time that’s something he can do. I am happy with Claire’s trim though. I just wanted some shaping because as her pixie is growing out it was getting a bit unruly, especially on the sides and back.
I don’t have really any pictures from Thanksgiving because we had 19 people at our house – 11 adults and 7 kids – and I did the majority of the cooking. I loved having family and friends all gathered together and the food and football – the most important Thanksgiving activities in our house, so important we had to move one of the TVs into the dining room so we could watch while we ate, because we’re classy like that – was amazing. Friday we did some Black Friday shopping at the outlets but didn’t even leave the house until 9am because there’s really nothing I want more than sleep. I still got some great deals at Old Navy, Justice, Gap, Columbia, Michael Kors, Carter’s and J. Crew (love Crew Cuts). I took a spin around Kate Spade even though it meant standing in line (I waited until later in the day so it was a very short line) but I just didn’t feel anything jump out at me. All in all it was a great Thanksgiving and I can’t wait until Easter when I can gorge myself on food again.
The Night Before the Month of Christmas
The weekend after Thanksgiving, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! This will technically be our second Christmas in Houston as it was December 19th last year that we packed up our family and moved away from the East Coast. But this is definitely our first Christmas decorating and celebrating here in southeast Texas. It’s hot – about 80° most days, except last week when we had a cold front move in and it was “only” about 60° – and nothing like the winters I’m used to. I’ve had some trouble really getting into the Christmas spirit with such uncooperative weather, though I obviously knew this was coming when we moved to Texas. This weekend we’ll finish decorating the house and exterior and hopefully some wreaths and icicle lights will help cheer me up.