Academic Leigh Speaking

A professor, four kids, and a crash course in work/life balance

Christmas/December Fun Part 1 December 25, 2015

We hit the high points of our favorite holiday things this year, but so far, we haven’t done much extra. The tree went up in mid-November, because the boys really like to decorate it repeatedly. Ornaments go on, come off, go on, come off, and so on. We went to a few holiday parties with friends. It’s been ridiculously warm, so we’ve not had much hot chocolate or even many movie nights because we’ve been outside!


Seamus has been very skeptical about Santa this year. See previous post where he doubts the existence of magic. Gilbert has been very pro-Santa. Santa didn’t bring them exactly what they wanted, and they appeared to be disappointed. I actually found this very freeing this year, because hey, I didn’t bomb their presents, Santa did! They don’t get mad at me when Santa isn’t all he cracked up to be. However, the expectations were a smidge unrealistic. Seamus wanted a Death Star and Gilbert wanted a PopGun, exactly like the one he just left at my parents house. These were last minute requests. They each got a Lego set, (Star Wars and the Batcave), some winter gloves, a Star Wars book, and Bathtub Paint. Gilbert did get a packet of mints and Seamus got a key chain for his backpack. Porter was pretty excited with his bathtub tablets and magnetic blocks from his friend Max.

However, the best Santa is the Falls Church Fire Truck Santa. We caught it on Wednesday night when it drove through our neighborhood. The boys loved it again, just like they do every year. It makes it so hard to sleep that evening, anticipating, all the neighborhood kids running willynilly in PJs out to greet Santa. It’s maybe my favorite tradition of this area.

Christmas Eve Tradition

Last night, we had a lot to do! We went for a walk, delivered treats to the neighbors, and looked at people’s decorations. Then baths, new PJs, and dinner. The older boys had to write their letters to Santa, and put them next to the cookies and carrots plate. These are delightful, and I will insist on this tradition until they no longer can do it. Luckily I’ll have two more coming up to write their own letters soon.

We read the Night Before Christmas for the bed time story and checked out the Santa tracker online. The older boys were off to bed by 7:30, as they were actually pretty tired. However, they were threatening to get up really early. We told them they could not get up before 7 or before Porter, whichever came first.

All was well, until we were ready to have Santa visit. Porter started crying. He had been battling what looked like allergic hives on his face all day. Now they were on his bottom and spreading to his ears and neck. Gah. So 2 hours of unhappy baby later, he went to sleep. But by 12, he’s back awake, he’s in bed with us, and we’re fuming about the worst Christmas Eve ever. (To be fair, it wouldn’t have mattered if he were the first, or the only, but we knew that we’d have to get up with the older boys, no matter how sleep-deprived we were.) This morning he still has them, but they are looking a little better, and I had some homemade yogurt pops that I gave him to soothe his mouth. He did seem to feel a little better. We won’t forget this in a hurry.

However, he did settle down and slept pretty well from 12 to 6.


I did some baking, partly inspired by my friends who recently had a baby, and partly for cooking projects with the boys. I made four (or five?) rounds of pumpkin bread, and two rounds of banana bread. I use our small loaf pan and it yields four loaves per run. We ate a lot of it, but we also gave some away to friends.

Yesterday, I got into a kind of madness to bake cookies for the neighbors. It all started at 5:30 am when Porter woke up and I was aggravated. I whisked him off to the grocery store to buy breakfast items, and I decided to make Chex Mix for the neighbors (we came home to several treats on our doorstep from our neighbors). Then I went off to yoga.

When I got back, I invited S & G to pick out a cookie recipe each to help me make for the neighbors. Well, they were happy to pick the cookies, but when it came to helping, they were happier playing a game in their room. Fine, whatever, as long as they’re not whining. I ended up making toffee bars (on Seamus’s pick) and gingerbread people (on Gilbert’s pick). I’d never made either, and there were some learning curve moments in each recipe that I was concerned about. They turned out pretty tasty, though, and we were able to give them without shame. But then I was too tired to cook dinner.

Movies and Media

We have watched a few things: Seamus and Gilbert watched Home Alone for the first time this year. There’s a little bit of bad language, but they’re more taken with the physical comedy. They repeat the physicality of Kevin a lot and crack each other up every time. Patrick and I were talking about how this creates a mythos in families. When siblings reinforce something’s humor and interest, it gets ingrained into the family tradition. As an only child, Patrick didn’t have this as much because there was no one to laugh at the same joke over and over, as Seamus will for Gilbert.

Patrick and I watched Elf. I thought I had it last year, but I couldn’t find it, so we didn’t watch it. This year though, we laughed our heads off. We didn’t watch Bad Santa again. I’m not sure we will!

As a family we also watched the Grinch (cartoon version), Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, and A Christmas Story. The last one was way over their heads, but at least they recognize the word Fragile on packages now.

Perhaps we have done a lot of screen time, because Patrick took S & G to see The Good Dinosaur, which was a little sad and scary. They also are planning to take in an IMAX before the end of the year (I have a Groupon that needs to be used).


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