Lucky for us, our Elf on the Shelf Chippy brought us a nice new camera from Santa before we left, so we could take lots of good pictures.
The drive went well. We were able to adhere to Tim's timeline, arriving maybe a half hour behind schedule due to traffic. In order to do this, we only stopped to get gas and go to the bathroom, eating the snacks and sandwiches we had in the cooler. Sometimes we didn't even stop for the bathroom. At one point we were in the middle of three lanes in bumper to bumper traffic, maybe in Connecticut, when we heard a little voice say, "I need to use the potty." We were like, "Oh no.." I decided to break the law and have the girls use the potty-to-go in the back. You do what you gotta do!
Tim's parents and sisters were so happy to see us. I'm glad we didn't give his mom and dad a heart attack when we sneaked into their house the night we arrived. We've taken over Karen's house again. She was surprised to hear that we've actually unpacked and put our clothes in the drawers upstairs. She said, "Wow, you guys have moved in." We don't like living out of bags, and Tim is very OCD about his stuff being organized.
Here are some highlights of the last several days:
-- Friday night pizza at Tim's parents', followed by an impromptu Christmas talent show. Natalie sang a Christmas song from a Disney show called Good Luck, Charlie. She sang it in such a heartfelt way, with such dramatic expressions and gestures, that all the grown-ups in attendance didn't know whether to giggle or cry. She also worked the audience, taking one person's hand, pressing her cheek against another's, and one time hugging Delaney while Delaney froze like a deer in headlights. Natalie's shows are a frequent occurrence at every family gathering. She definitely has a future in the performing arts.
I was surprised to see Delaney take the stage next. She sang a song she'd learned at school that had a southern flavor, called "Way Down in Bethlehem." It made me smile, especially when she got to the last verse when she clapped her hands and stomped her feet completely out of rhythm as she sang, "They named the baby Jesus, Oh my Lord.." Then she, Natalie, and Annie sang Christmas carols together.
The older girls who are looking and acting more like adolescents every time we see them, did their best to stay away from the spotlight and the camera. Timmy just drifted around from person to person, charming everyone with that silly grin of his, and enjoying all the attention.
-- Crafting, eating pizza, and watching Disney movies at Auntie Karen's. The older girls put together some impressive foam gingerbread houses, and the younger ones had fun decorating Christmas trees with glitter glue and stickers. Karen had warned Tim and me that it was going to be absolute chaos, but we marveled at how calm and well-behaved everyone was. We attributed it to the atmosphere of Karen's house, and the girls' knowledge of her expectations and what they can get away with.
-- B Family Christmas celebration on the 23rd. There was lots of presents, food, more Christmas shows, a dance party, more food..
|This picture, as well as the next four that follow, were taken with Kathy and Brett's fancy new Canon DSLR camera that Tim is jealous of. It is very nice, but I like our little point-and-shoot. Maybe one day we'll have both.|
|B cousins left to right: Annie (3), Juliana (10), Natalie (turns 4 tomorrow, I believe), Delaney (5), Timmy (17 months), Alexa (8), Sofia (8)|
-- Christmas Eve. We went to 4 p.m. Mass with Tim's parents and sister Karen. Then we came back and took some pictures before heading to Aunt Jayne's house. It was another late night like last year, but for some reason it didn't feel as long. Maybe it was because last year Timmy was still an infant and waking up at night. Being well rested makes a big difference and I am so grateful to have good little sleepers.
|Timmy and his second cousin Kaden both sporting the outfits that Grandma, a.k.a. Auntie Carolyn got them|
|One of many yummy desserts. My favorite was a Rice Crispie treat wreath. Imagine my delight when Aunt Jayne gave us one of our very own to take home!|
|Tim's sister Kathy -- Sofia and Natalie's mom|
|Everybody participates in Christmas carols, and everyone has the words, thanks to the song books printed in 1992 and dedicated to "Auntie Carolyn." Do not be caught having a private conversation while the carols are being sung.|
|There are six siblings on Tim's mom's side. The family is huge and the last few years have seen a baby boom.|
-- Christmas morning.
-- The day after Christmas was a busy day. In the morning the kids and I visited with friends down the street. When we lived here, we lived in the same development as Karen, and these friends live in condo between Karen's and our old one. The kids did not cooperate for pictures, little boogers. In the afternoon, the girls went with Tim, their aunties Karen and Sam, cousins Juliana and Alexa, and Grandma, to go ice skating. After ice skating they went to Clay Time, one of those ceramics painting places. Timmy and I stayed back so he could have a nap.
|It was the first time ever ice skating for our girls. They did pretty well, I was told.|
This evening, after we get the kids to bed, Tim and I will go to the house of some dear old friends for a get-together. Then tomorrow it will be pack, pack, pack for the trip home early Sunday morning. We are going to miss everybody so much, but right now I am just so happy and thankful for the great time we've had. I'm just going to bask in that for awhile and try not to think too much about January yet.