I woke up today and realized that I was about to have the first completely normal day in two weeks. I wasn't very happy about that. I like having company, having Christian home from work, and having the kids occupied with friends. So, this morning I'm going to relive my vacation by sharing the details, and as many pictures as I have.
My Mom and sister, Dana, came on the Wednesday before Christmas (right in the middle of Christian's trip to India). Conveniently, the next day, I had an all-day trip to Chapel Hill to wrap-up Rachel's medical stuff before our move. Rather than pay a sitter for watching Nathan all day (really--I was gone over 12 hours) and Hannah all afternoon, they had Grandma! I was so thankful to have help for this last, quite stressful, doctor's appointment. Nathan didn't remember Grandma at all, but he warmed up quickly and when I got home, all the kids were happy (a miracle!). We spent the next few days just playing together, shopping for Christmas, and trying to catch up on sleep. Grandma is a kindergarten teacher in Washington, and she brought some of her classroom activities to work on with the kids, which they loved. Dana was always ready to get down and play with the kids and she especially bonded with Aaron, who spent the whole two weeks being held, finally getting the attention a newborn needs.
Christian was originally supposed to return Sunday morning, but that got pushed back to Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately, his connecting flight from India was in Chicago, and some of you may have heard about the problems O'Hare had just before Christmas. Christian's flight was cancelled, just like hundreds of other flights. The airport blamed it on the weather, but Christian said that the main problem was that people weren't showing up for work. Anyway, we started worrying that he wouldn't get home for Christmas Eve. After several hours of looking for flights, he decided to just go to a hotel for the night. On his way out of the airport, he decided to try one more time and found one seat left on a flight leaving that evening. The flight was, of course, delayed, but he did finally make it home by 5:00 the next morning. He hadn't slept in over 24 hours, so it was hard for him to stay awake for Christmas Eve.
In our family, Christmas Eve is supposed to be more spiritual-focused, while Christmas is just for fun. We started out the evening with caroling to a few families, then returned home for the traditional dinner of burgers, grilled pineapple, rice pudding, etc. Marc and Marcy drove down to spend a few hours of Christmas with us. After they arrived, dinner was cleared, and Christian had a short nap, we gathered around the tree for more singing and to read the Christmas story. The kids got to participate with a finger-puppet nativity given to us from Grandma last year. Then off to bed for the kids (and Christian, who by this time was feeling quite sick), while Mama and company helped Santa set up his things. That's my favorite part!Then Christmas morning! The kids actually slept in until 7:30, and were patient while all the adults woke up. We started out with stockings and Santa's gifts downstairs, then sampled the food left in the kitchen (yes, chocolate for the kid's breakfast. What can I say?). Santa leaves a meat and cheese buffet so we can snack all day and avoid cooking a real meal on Christmas. After that, we convened around the tree for the family presents, and took our time opening the remaining gifts. I love having lots of people around for Christmas! I was also pleased that my kids kept the fighting to a minimum. :)We felt so blessed (and spoiled) and thankful for all the friends and family we connected with this holiday season. Thanks for all the letters we received!