After ballet, I took Libby home, and we played a game of Junior Alpha Animals with my other niece, Hannah. That's not as straightforward as it sounds; Hannah is six years older than Libby, so it's like playing two games at once. Hannah and I just play the game as it's meant to be played, while I sort of make up rules for Libby. In this case, while Hannah and I tried to name animals that started with various letters of the alphabet, we had Libby roll the die and guess different animals based on the clues we gave her, like, "What kind of animal has a long neck?" Eventually Libby got tired of playing the game, but at about that same time David showed up, so we let him take over Libby's piece. Hannah and David continued playing after I won. Yay, I can beat two nine-year-olds at a trivia game!
Later that afternoon, we all went to see The Polar Express, which was much better than I expected. It had a completely horrible trailer, but the film itself turned out to be fairly enjoyable. Granted, my expectations were very low, but it certainly could have been much, much worse. (However, it says a lot that the part I liked best was seeing, beneath the giant Christmas tree at the North Pole, an enormous compass with each directional point labeled S.) All three of the kids seemed to like it very much, which I suppose is the important thing. But you'd probably be better off skipping the movie and re-reading the book on which the movie is based.
After the movie, we all went to the Northern Virginia Christmas Market at the Dulles Expo Center, which the kids didn't particularly like. My brother and I had a good time though. And Hannah learned a valuable lesson when she tried a small sample of Chile Man Boom! Hot Sauce, which contains both a Habanero mash and oleo-resin capsaicin. First I showed her the sign that said, "WARNING! VERY, VERY HOT!" Then she saw me try a small spoonful and yell, "OH MY GOD!" and run around to the other side of the booth to gobble down some plain tortilla chips in an attempt to ease the burning. (I swear, this was the hottest hot sauce I've ever had. A few minutes later I had a wasabi-covered peanut and found it quite refreshing.) Hannah then put a single drop on her tongue and spent the next twenty minutes complaining about it.
After a Tex-Mex dinner, we returned home to, believe it or not, do homework. My brother took David into the dining room to review for a social studies test on Colonial America, while Hannah and I went into the living room to work on her multiplication tables. After about an hour of that, Andy and David came into the living room and quizzed me on David's history questions. I did pretty well; I only missed one question (I forgot that the settlers who came to Massachusetts were called Puritans). Finally, that degree in American history is paying off. Then Andy and I put the kids to bed, and spent another 90 minutes or so just hanging out. Good times!