Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Part 2

On Monday the 21st, two days after a winter storm dumped a whopping 22 inches of snow on us, we drove to Cincinnati. It took us 11 hours, with four stops. The drive was pretty uneventful, boring, with a minimum of crying, traffic and bad weather. Boring and uneventful is a beautiful thing, though, is it not?

We decided to stay in a new place, since we've stayed at the Marriott in Eastgate the last three times we've all gone to Cincinnati as a family. I'd always wanted to try staying downtown, so after thorough and exhaustive research (we had my parents do walk-through's on our two main contenders!), we made a reservation at the Garfield Suites Hotel. It's across from the library. The number one reason we picked it: S --P -- A --C -- E. We like our space, lots of it, with our two little ones. And you simply can't find the space for the money anywhere else. We had a two-bedroom suite, with a living room and a full kitchen. We paid $115 a night. It wasn't as luxurious as some other places, but it was clean and smelled alright. We got free internet, cable, and did I mention lots of space for us to spread our stuff around and let the girls play. We were on the 12th floor and we had good views out of at least a couple windows. You could see Union Terminal out of one of the living room windows. It was definitely a change of pace. The disadvantages of staying there were paying to park in a parking garage, and having no continental breakfast. And believe me, when we woke up all fuzzy-headed and sick the first morning after we got there, we were really missing that continental breakfast and coffee that we would've gotten at the Marriott! We're spoiled, I guess. But lest I turn this into a hotel review and not a post about our Christmas, I'll move on.

As I just mentioned, we had the fantastic luck of catching a nasty cold as soon as we arrived. That made it a little more challenging for us, with busy days and not-so-restful nights. Even now, we're still "junky", as Karen likes to say. But we made the most of it, and tried to maximize every moment we had to spend with my family. It made Mom feel better about them having brought their sicknesses while coming to visit us in October. "Now you get to be the ones to blow into town with colds." Yay!

That first full day, we spent a lot of time just putzing around at my mom's house, and that was nice. Delaney played with their newest pup, Georgie, and Annie napped in my parents' room. On Wednesday, we went to the Newport Aquarium with my sisters Anna and Sophie, my sister-in-law Faith, and almost all the kids. We had such a wonderful time. The kids were all in a good mood, there were no meltdowns, and no big crowds to contend with. It was just relaxing and fun. Delaney was so much more into it than she was the last time we'd taken her here. She was so interested in the fish, asking, "What's that?" She waved to the scuba divers, she petted sharks, and it was a joy for Tim and me just to watch her being so curious. When we were done, we went back to Anna's, where Mom was watching Roman and Annie, and had pizza for lunch.
We were told that the sharks would spit water at us if they were either excited or agitated. Miles wasn't afraid, but I'll admit, I was just a little bit intimidated.

That night, Mom and Grace came over and watched the girls for us while we went out to dinner -- gasp! -- alone. We haven't gone out to dinner by ourselves since July, but not for lack of willing babysitters. Up to now, baby Annie has been unwilling to part with her mama, but at last, this night, we were able to leave her with no worries. We went to Jeff Ruby's Waterfront, where the service was impeccable, the decor was cruiseship-like, the wine was divine, and the sushi was, as Delaney likes to say, "deee-licious!" Tim wasn't wild about the sushi, or with the triple-digit bill that came at the end. I have to say I was not impressed that the "Japanese Loveboat" -- a sampling of sushi and sashimi handpicked by the chef and priced according to the "market" -- included a California Roll. Really? What's the market price of a roll that contains no fish? But otherwise, I was happy with the meal, and the chance to go on a date with my handsome and charming curmudgeon of a husband.

On Christmas Eve, Tim and I took the girls to the Duke Energy train display in the morning. It's a Cincinnati tradition, and I hadn't been in a long, long time. It was very pretty, but it was crowded too, so we didn't stay long.

Back in our suite, we partook in another Cincinnati tradition -- Skyline Chili. Tim had the unmitigated gall to tell me it "wasn't that great." It's only the best chili in the world! What can I say, he is very particular when it comes to food, and very set in his New England ways.

We had dinner and opened presents at Anna and Robert's. Their home was beautiful, the dinner was yummy, and everyone enjoyed themselves. Miles tore around the hardwood floors in his little red tricycle. He, Aspen, Delaney and Jaden all played nicely together. Only once or twice did Delaney and Jaden seem to be about to fight over something. After a little talking-to, they agreed to take turns. As the night went on, they got pretty tired, but they hung in there.

Guess who, in the picture above, will be adding to the Schlosser clan this summer?

If you guessed us, you're absolutely wrong!

Scotty and Faith will be having baby #4 in July. Congratulations to them!

In the morning we went to Mass, then brunch at Anna and Robert's. They were such wonderful hosts, having us all over twice in a row. Then it was back to the hotel for naps, and over to my mom's for dinner. The Schlosser side of the family was all there. We stuck around long after the last guest left because the next morning it was time to leave.

The trip home would have only taken us about 9 hours, because we only stopped once. But as soon as we got onto 95 South, we were welcomed to the last leg of our trip by a horrible traffic jam. I can't even tell you how demoralizing it was to have what was supposed to be the last 30 minutes end up taking two hours. Anyone who is familiar with this area knows how bad the congestion gets here. Annie had been on a nursing strike for the past 8 hours, and I couldn't wait to get her home so she'd start eating again once she was in familiar surroundings. Delaney was a champ, though. It never ceases to amaze me what a good little girl she is. We hardly heard a peep from her.

I posted a lot more photos from the week on Facebook, because as I've said before, posting photos on Blogger is a huge pain, and I didn't want to clutter up the post with too many anyway. I hope everybody had as wonderful a Christmas as we did, and a happy 2010!

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