Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Merry! Merry! (Part 3 of 3)

So my little C had been sooooo excited to go to his cousins "Savalin's House" and "Meelia's House" on the 29th.  Even though we had been going strong since Christmas Eve, he still had energy left in his bank that he was ready to spend on his cousins.  Of course, it helped that he slept the entire way to Dubuque-- which made him ready to rock when we arrived at M's brother's house.  (After his requisite ten minute warm-up period)

After that,  he and Sullivan were pretty much attached at the hip for the entire night.  It was fun for me to watch them together-- everything Sullivan did was mimicked by Charlie.  They played, they ran, they jumped, they air-hockeyed, they ran some more.  Amelia got in on some of the action, but the boys kind of tended to themselves, marching around the kitchen, sticking out their bellies, chasing through the living room, and jumping off the furniture.

As I watched them, I thought of my own cousins-- especially families that frequently visited my grandparents (because then we saw them too!) and the memories I have of playing with them.  I remember roller skating down my grandparents long hallway with my cousins, playing ping pong in the basement with my cousins, and being treated like a  "little sister" to some older boy cousins that had no little sister of their own.  As I reflected, it dawned on me that these are memories Sullivan will probably have for years, and soon C will be able to remember these moments too.  And while we reprimanded them for jumping off the couches, I know that those will be the kinds of things they remember the most.

After a bit of energy had been expended, we ordered pizza-- the perfect meal to have on a movie night.  The pizzas arrived, and were quickly gobbled up--with only a piece or two spared.  Perhaps the best part of ordering pizza is the lack of cleanup required-- which meant we could move right on to the good stuff-- presents!

He really is a happy elf, I swear. 
Of course, with three kids involved, the gifts were opened in record speed-- and everyone seemed pleased with the contents of each package.  The kids played a bit while the grownups got settled for the big movie event: The Polar Express.

M's brother and sister-in-law have a home theater in their basement.  It's complete with theater lighting, floor shakers, a row of actual movie theater chairs, and a more comfortable row of leather La-Z-Boy recliners (Guess where I sat?) I missed the beginning of the movie, but I'm told that C climbed into his movie chair only to have it fold up on him.  After the initial sadness about his chair-- and being given a pillow to avoid future foldings, he was a happy camper.  I had no idea how long C would last for the movie-- it could have been five minutes or the entire thing.  (I was kind of guessing it would fall somewhere in between) But he surprised me and was glued to the screen for the entire movie.  In some ways, I think that he had a better attention span than his 7 year old cousin! I sat behind C and could watch his interest in the story about a little boy on a Christmas train adventure.  It was pretty clear that he was mesmerized by the whole thing.  At several points during the movie, Sullivan reached over and tousled C's hair or gave him a hug or even a few kisses on the cheek.  It was super sweet and made me remember what this season is all about.

While we watched the movie, M joined his brother for a plane ride (Jeff recently received his pilot's license and has been doing quite a bit of flying).  I opted for a ride another day-- but the pics and video that M took so make me a bit more intrigued about climbing aboard.

The Instrument Panel of the small plane
Lights over Sundown Ski Area
Unfortunately, the movie was over by 8:00, which meant that C wouldn't be falling asleep for another 3 1/2 hours.  (Yes, you read that correctly-- this mama was not happy by an hour into bedtime but I've already explained that.) We had a nice and relaxing pre-bedtime moment, which was followed by the disaster that is starting to be known as "falling asleep".  However, like it tends to, sleep eventually came and we all rested until the sun came up.

The next morning, we dined on pancakes and banana bread (two favorites in our house) before packing up our things.  We still had a gift for M's other brother's family and planned on dropping it off on our way out of town.  However, schedules allowed them to pop over for a minute to exchange gifts before they had to get on with their day.  It was nice to be able to see the other cousins as we don't get together as often.  We left shortly after they did, and grabbed a bite to eat on the way out of town.

By that time, it was clear that C's energy bank was completely depleted.  I think he had over extended himself.  Tiny things were setting him off and his usual coping mechanisms were not working at all.  At one point, he put his head on my shoulder and cried, "I wanna go home! I wanna go to my house!" Our plan was to head to Des Moines for New Year's Eve, but it was clear that we were due home.  I called my friend to cancel postpone our celebratory plans and promised to reconnect when things had settled down a bit.

As predicted, C zonked out in the van minutes after hitting the highway, and his mother was asleep not long after that.  As I dozed off, I thought about the miles we covered over the past week, the faces we saw, and the fun we had.  I'm not complaining about the amazing gifts I received, but I'm with most adults in acknowledging that the best part of the season is being with those we love most.

After arriving back at 201, we had a nice evening at home and prepared for the worst as bedtime approached.  Much to our excitement, our cherub only took about 30 minutes to fall asleep-- and was sleeping two hours earlier than the nights before (9:30!!).  We're not hoping for any miracles but another 9:30/10:00 bedtime would be a great way to ring in the new year! 2012 ended on a sweet note, and I have a feeling 2013 has some good thing in store too.  Stay tuned....

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