Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Merry Merry! (Part 1 of 3)

Well folks, I think we officially survived the holidays!  Whooo-hoooo!  And...... we even had fun!  I have this funny feeling that I'll forget to document the last week unless I do it right now, while C is occupied with is new train set, so here goes:

Our "vacation" started early, with two unplanned snow days on the Thursdsay and Friday before Christmas.  (You can read about our awesome experience here)  Having two days off before the weekend seemed to throw my whole universe into this wonky time warp and I honestly have not known what day it is for the past ten days.

C & I spent the Saturday before Christmas preparing for our meals and travels.  We also headed over to the Wellsburg Library to check out some new books-- and found this gem:


It's pretty funny because after reading that book, C talked over and over about getting a lump of coal in his stocking if he was naughty.  Which was followed by the fact that Thomas the train would like coal in his stocking to use for his engine.  Yes, my train obsessed child, that is true.

We had a pretty quiet Saturday and Sunday, with a little adventure over to the Youth Pavilion on Sunday afternoon.  I'm always amazed by how quiet it is over there-- and what a great place to occupy kids on a cold wintery afternoon.  After the children's museum closed, we headed to Target to buy a stocking for C.  (Can you believe that I didn't get his knitted stocking finished in time? Of course you can. Maybe next year....)  He chose a plain silver stocking with a big "C" embroidered on the front-- his choice surprised me but it ended up being perfect for Santa to stuff with goodies.  We headed to Carlos O'Kellys after our little shopping trip-- where C proceeded to eat an entire bowl full of chips and salsa before our meals even arrived.  I'm pretty sure this ability is rooted deeply within his genes as both of his parents could easily do the same thing.  We had a really nice meal with an amazing waitress who was more than happy to accommodate C with another bowl full of chips.

M always has to work Christmas Eve, but my Aunt Stacey was in the area and able to stop by for a chunk of our morning.  It was great having her hang out with us for awhile-- C showed off his hockey skills, somersaulting tricks, books, and toys in general. And, she surprised us with gifts!!  (Books for C and Starbucks for me-- we both were really happy!!)  Of course we were too busy chatting and watching C's acrobatics that I forgot to snap a photo.

After M got off work, we enjoyed our Christmas Eve preparations.  Since this was technically our first Christmas Eve in our own house as a family of three, (well, minus the year we were snowed in) we were excited to start our own traditions and memories.  That night we had a pretty simple meal of oven-grilled sandwiches, cauliflower mashed potatoes, shrimp cocktail, and other appetizers.  M & I usually splurge and buy a new bottle of Navar Vanilla Cognac (sounds terrible but it's amazing-- especially on Christams Eve) but this year we just opted for a glass of vino. After supper, we took our annual family photo in front of the tree, but when C kept wanting to make "silly face", we caved and had tons of fun posing for the goofy family shots.




Of course, Maddy looks the most normal and totally bored with this family.  After that, C opened one of his gifts (a Christmas book--another family tradition from my  childhood) and then we put our jammies on and hopped in the van to look at Christmas lights.  We covered most of Grundy-- and while you'd think it would be a short trip, it actually took a good chunk of time to weave through the town streets.  When we came home, we made a bee-line to the freezer to open up our special pink peppermint ice cream-- C had been waiting for this since he picked it out at Hy-Vee the week before!  After the three of us filled our bowls with the pink ice cream, we traipsed out to the living room where we indulged in our minty snack in front of the glow of the Christmas tree lights.  It's weird and mushy and cheesy but it really was a magical night.  I got a little caught up in the moment and with misty eyes told both C & M that I loved them.  And then C, with a giant gulp of ice cream in his mouth said, "I love Mommy and Daddy.  And Maddy. And I love everybody in the whoooole world!"  I know he was under the influence of ice cream, but I was a goner-- the misty eyes turned to full fledged tears for a moment.  We left milk and cookies for Santa, and an apple for the reindeer.  (I remember leaving Santa the same things... but usually we left a cold Bud Light next to the milk.  Dad always thought Santa might enjoy a refreshing beverage after all those milk and cookies)

The next morning we woke up to find our stockings overflowing with treats and goodies, and our living room taken over by a complete wooden train tracks set.




(All C wanted for Christmas was tracks tracks tracks) M & I happily watched C play with his tracks, exploring every nook & cranny, every train car, and every possible accessory.  Somehow, we tore him away from his train set long enough to discover a fishing pole that Santa had left and his presents under the tree.

M & I planned on giving him three gifts but somehow his pile had five.  (In my defense, socks & underwear don't really count as a gift) He's now set with his own legos, a Hungry Hippo game, new hat/mittens, and some much needed UNI gear.  And don't forget the new socks and undies.  M is always a good gifter--finding things I always need (a hat to match my new coat!), two new pairs of yoga pants (does he know me or what?), and a cell phone cover.  But he never forgets to throw in some things I want--like a new UNI sweatshirt and smart-wool socks (my absolute favorite socks worth the outrageous price).  And he's a sweetheart-- he never seems to mind opening his expected packages of socks/ boxers and a sweater.   His surprise gift this year-- new sunglasses!  I was proud of myself for actually ordering them on time, & taking a gamble on the color and style.  I think they look super.






We took our time opening gifts and then tidying up the house and packing our bags before heading to Spencer for two nights.  Having the train set helped immensely as C was occupied nearly the entire time we were busying around the house.  This was the first year Maddy didn't join us in Spencer but she seemed fine guarding the train set at home.  After the van was packed, we jumped in and headed West on 20.  It took approximately four minutes until we had this:

Don't you love that he had to wear his new mittens in the van?
And yep, they stayed on for the entire 3 hour drive!

NW Iowa, here we come.

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