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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Falling Leaves and Giant Penguins

Day two of our first "half-term" break of the school year!  Hooray, a holiday. No better time to get ready for dark afternoons (our clocks went back today) and watch the Christmas preparations begin in earnest. Without Thanksgiving, the twinkling of lights and Christmas greens are a welcome sight in November.

But for a few more days it is truly fall and such a beautiful one. The leaves on the trees in Hyde Park are just a few days beyond their peak and the ground is inches deep in huge fallen leaves in spots.

Even though the idea of kids in class until the end of July is admittedly strange, I really, really like our school schedule here and think that it will be hard to readjust to the American one. The Mister, a former lifeguard who is devoted to summer evenings and weekends at a neighborhood pool, completely disagrees!  In general terms, the smalls go to school for 3 terms from September to July. Each half term is about 6-8 weeks and is separated by a nice, long (week or two depending upon the season) break. When we go back to classes again the kids will be in until Christmas break. There are rarely long weekends or days off. When you're in school you are on a schedule and focused. After 6,7 or 8 weeks of that, you're ready and so deserving of time off. Your mother is thrilled for a break from the to and fro, spelling lists, and piles of "rucksacks" and uniforms. The kids will start a new round of topics when we go back in November and their homework for the break gets them to start thinking about it in fun and creative ways.

There are lots of exciting Christmas events already on their calendar and this is the best part of being somewhere the second year. A treasured the chance to repeat activities. They'll sing carols and busk for charity at St Christopher's Place, sing in advance of the Marylebone Lights On (think Grand Illumination on our favorite High Street), and Baby Sister will be in her first ever assembly at Our Sweet School. Our little angel might very well be dressed as one!

Still ahead, though is Thanksgiving with 2 West Springfield Spartans and their families. I am noodling through how to add the boys' desk to our big table to ensure there's no kids table. Mass seating with a kraft paper "table cloth" with lots of crayons is the plan. This year we're sorted on the turkey planning. As the last Thanksgiving with the 14 of us living in London, it promises to be another special part of our "Senior Year" to be sure!  And I'm hosting an even bigger Thanksgiving coffee this year. I am beyond thankful for my girlfriends in London. I am grateful, indebted and insistent that they visit us when we're Stateside.

The party planning goes on because maybe even more exciting is that we're planning Big Sister's birthday party. That merits a whole 'nother post. How is Big Sister about to be 6? She's going to host a Mary Poppins party for a gaggle of tiny girls. Oh my gracious!  How much do I love Big Sister? And this theme? And my fantastic Richmond girlfriend who researched ooodles of grand ideas because she quite possibly loves birthdays and themes even more than I do? This "Mary Popp" party might be both the simplest and cutest party we've ever had. I think if you looked around your house you might be able to pull off a Mary Poppins party this afternoon. Think about it: you could dress like Mary in about 2 minutes: white blouse, black skirt, red bow @ the collar. Tack a few flowers onto a black bowler, grab a brolly and you're soooo set!  Maybe I just gave you a Halloween costume, too. Who knows what you'll find in my ramblings.

You're assured to find poor quality snapshots, a random comments drenched in sentimentality, words strung together and puncutated as jumbly as my thoughts -- today's post is SO representative! I'll quit here, but before I go I have to show you my favorite find for the party. With a vacation and lots of entertaining ahead I did pledge to keep Big Sister's party simple (and am proud that most of the supplies came from Poundland) but I couldn't resist this larger than life penguin. He's going to sit in the middle the table at the party!  Can you stand it?!  The Mister thinks my decor is increasingly "Silver Spoons" and there's some truth to that.

So spit spot and off you go!  And off we go to a Practically Perfect in Everyway holiday!

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