The preschool year ends in December, and Thomas’ school puts on a big production with a clever theme. Please note that I made his costume in 15 minutes with $2 worth of felt, an ordinary stapler and a borrowed pair of overalls. In retrospect, the hat was kind of distracting, but how cute is this whole thing? Love the end-of-year music performance at the elementary school. Usually it’s a holiday theme, but this year featured lots of drumming and interesting cultural notes with almost no singing. You could tell the kids enjoyed experimenting with the instruments though. And I got to see the entire thing twice, because Jon’s and Mary’s were at different times, but identical! Um, can you believe that Jon and that kid standing next to him are in the same grade?Jon’s big solo (improv): Haven’t you always wanted to hit one of those big cymbals? You can tell Mary was loving her job! (Even though that darn mike was in my eye-line the whole time.) And the mandatory gingerbread house mess — seems less and less fun to me every time, but it was Thomas’ first and they all love it so. Don’t think I’ve mentioned the awesomeness that is Sam’s new brace, on full display in this shot. He’s been wearing a brace to control his scoliosis for almost a year, but in November, they upgraded him to the more hideous version. He is an amazing kid and just takes it in stride. Thomas isn’t really sure he wants to be friends with this kid (at the church Christmas party) because “he sometimes chokes me, Mom,” but this was a sweet, spontaneous moment. I can’t decide if he is puzzled by the whole Santa thing (is that present really for me?) or if he’s looking at the low-grade Santa costume with skepticism (that guy does not look like the Santa in the pictures) but this picture makes me smile. Jon earned his Arrow of Light, the highest award for Cub Scouts. Kind of a biggie for us and now we have a little cub break until Thomas turns 8 in four years. Jon also did a stellar job on the big “wax museum” project that our 5th graders do here. I’m happy that he seems to be able to stay on top of these things independently (mostly) already. Ben worked hard on the big 7th grade project, which is called the Innovation Fair. Thomas asked me one day, “why is it never MY birthday at preschool?” because his January birthday is during summer break here. So we brought cupcakes in December for an early Feliz Cumpleaños. Because we’re finishing a semester just before Christmas (with all of the above and more), and we were also silly enough to plan a trip the day school got out, all of the Christmas traditions seemed kind of rushed and stressful this year. (When will I ever learn?) But I loved this moment — Mary was tired of waiting for me to read the evening’s Christmas book and it occurred to her that this year, SHE could read well enough to do it herself. Love them.