Now that the frenetic pace of the holidays is over, I can blog again!
Our holiday season started with Thanksgiving weekend. Since Ace worked T-day, dharmasmom invited us over to her family's home to have turkey with them & her parents. That was nice (got my first try of Snickers Salad - yum). As usual, the Walla Walla family came into town Thursday night, so when they got to mom's, T called to have me bring Princess over.
The following morning, T picked up the sisters & C.M. (pseudo-niece) from the airport, and I met up with them at mom's house a little later. Family dinner consisted of about 12 people, and was very good. Little C is so cute & smart, and Princess is a great big-cousin to her. While dinner was cooking, some of us went to the park at the church.
Saturday, we headed downtown to see Santa at our usual place. This year, we got photos of C & Princess together with Santa, and us "Big Kids" posed with him, too (you can never be too old for Santa). We all went separate ways until later: T, D, C, myself, and T & D's friends met up for gaming in their hotel room. Princess & mom went to see a play. J.H. had visiting time with a local friend, and D.W. & C.M. went shopping & bar-hopping!
Sunday, Ace and I met up with mom, Princess, T, D, and C for brunch before they headed out of town. That brunch was also the first time in quite a while that Ace had seen our niece, as he's always working when they come through town. She did the shy-kid thing, but in my arms, whispered, "That's Unc *****". By the end of brunch, though, she let him hold her and posed for a couple of pictures (some where she squeezed her favorite cousin a bunch) as we said goodbye for now.
The first weekend of December, the mini-fam took almost a full day to set up the tree (artificial, due to Ace's severe allergies & migraine tendencies, unfortunately) and put up all the decorations we have. We would have included the older two kids, but they were with their mother and I was getting antsy to get everything done.
The second weekend in December was dedicated to sending good healthy vibes to my Mama (who had surgery on the 9th), holiday shopping/wrapping, replacement school photos of the older two kids (their school ones didn't turn out so we had them done by a local company we love), and doing the holiday cards (one of MY favorite parts of the holiday). I made sure to have Princess choose one to send to her bio-dad & his family, as well as having her sign/decorate/etc some of them, since he doesn't have p/t anymore (since November, 2007).
The third week/weekend of December, I had a doctor's appointment (everything's fine; thanks). After that, I was all about baking and Winter cleaning. When we could, Princess & I made many batches of fudge, layered bars, and molasses ginger cookies. Ace also contributed to my tins-for-friends with his Crackle Drops and Applesauce cookies. After putting the tins together & delivering them, I had a lot of extra baked goods, so I took some of them to work. Seems my co-workers are big chocolate fans... LOL! I also made time to clean out the kids' and our drawers & closets of clothing & shoes that no longer fit (most of which are donated to charity). I went through Princess' "too-big" bins to remove things that now fit her, and rearrange a few things to condense the bins (success!), while Ace cleared some things in the garage we no longer need or use, or things that have been replaced with better items.
That left Festivus Week for Princess's dental check-up, and family get-togethers. The Monday prior to the holiday, Princess went to mom's to decorate a gingerbread house, then I picked them both up (after work) and went back to my house for Round One. My mother can be very generous; she is not, however, one to give gifts lightly. All her presents have meaning, and most are handmade &/or picked out especially to suit our personalities, likes, etc. My favorites from her to Ace & I this year include: my tote bag, the tix to a show we want to see, the g.c. to one of our favorite places to eat (DATE NIGHT!!), our family calendar, and the donation made in our names to one of my favorite charities.
Tuesday and Wednesday, I had full books at work, so Ace got to enjoy all three of his children's company alone for a big chunk of those days. Thursday, I had a couple of clients earlier in the day, then a couple of last minute wrappings & grocery store run. Friday was the actual holiday, so that was our family-only day. Gifts, brunch, playing with new "toys", steak for dinner (Princess made the marinade, as usual), etc... It was a good day (much better than the last couple; Gamerboy's recent attitude has improved drastically).
Saturday, after breakfast & chores, we packed up the dogs & their gear, as well as the kids & ourselves, and headed down to S&G's for Festivus with them. We had a nice ham dinner, a lot of visiting, and played on their Wii. They gave the kids gifts, as well, of course. Since we were headed to Washington on Sunday, they agreed to dog-sit. Of course, the dogs didn't know that so when we went to leave, they tried to follow. We gave them loves, and left. S said my dog whined quite a bit that night, and neither dog ate their dinner, but by day two, they were their normal selves.
Sunday, we made sure the older kids had everything they needed to go back to Mama's, and that the rest of us had everything we needed for our short vaca. We had breakfast, packed up the 4-Runner, and headed up to the mountain (older kids live at the base of it). After we dropped them off, we took one of the mountain highways, instead of backtracking, back to the main highway. We did encounter some ice & snow up there, but we have both 4WD and studded tires, so it was fine.
By the time we got up to T&D's house, it was about 630p. Princess grabbed a few of her things to take inside, but she was more interested in her cousin... As soon as she put her stuff down, she picked C up and C starting kissing & squeezing her. So cute! She does this thing where she puts her hands on your cheeks and strokes them very lightly. Princess got that and when I came in, I got it too. Ace got, "Hi, Unc D****" very quietly. T helped unpack the truck, and once we got all situated in our rooms, we had some dinner, and visited for a bit. We brought a ton of gifts for C (and one cool one for T&D), so we did the present thing at that point. After getting C down for bed, the plan was to double-date at 930p to the movies, but Ace was exhausted and his head was starting to hurt, so it was just the three of us. AVATAR in 3D was pretty cool.
The next morning, we all (mom was there, too) went downtown. Us girls shopped & walked while the boys went to T's work for a bit; meeting up later for lunch. T took C, Princess, & mom to the airport for mom's return trip, Ace & I went to see AVATAR in 3D (it was just as good the second time, btw), and D took a nap. When we returned from the movie, D's mom & her bf were there, and the rest of the fam had returned from the airport. Pizza for dinner, and a lot of visiting & games. Once the computers came out (I had brought my new laptop with us and T has a ton of computers), Ace was a happy camper. I taught Princess how to play Gin. Now she's hooked.
Tuesday was a chill day. T took Ace, Princess, & I on a tour of the area (no wine tasting, as red wine - the areas best - is one of his migraine triggers) while D went house-hunting with her mom & mom's bf (they're thinking maybe of possibly buying in the area and D loves looking at floor plans, etc). There was a lot of game playing, computering, and playing with C - inside & outside. T & D made pork chops for dinner that night (YUMMO!), then Ace & I packed up. He's been watching the weather and knew, since Monday night, that there was winter storm watches & warnings for our whole drive home. We knew we wanted to leave fairly early; I had a 5p client if we didn't have too much trouble getting home. We went to bed around 10p.
Wednesday, we were up even before Princess got up (she said she'd been waiting for C to wake her, as she did every morning, crawling onto her bed and saying her name in her cute way); around 730a. I peeked outside and saw that not only was it snowing, but there was about 4"-5" already on the ground.
While I was getting my coffee, C came up to me and asked where "Unc D****" was. I told her he was still sleeping, and would be down soon. Then she asked if he was going to have coffee, too. I told her yes and she said, "I help him make coffee?" As she said that, he was coming down the stairs, so I turned her around and said, "Why don't you ask him?" Then, she got all shy again. At one point, a little later, he went into the downstairs bathroom, and C knocked really quietly on the door a bunch of times... He said, "Who's there?" as he opened the door, knowing full-well it was her, and she smiled really big at him, then ran to me.
Anyway, by 930a, we were packed, showered, dressed, and ready to go. I told C we'd see her in a few months, when we have a party for her mommy & baby sister. We said our goodbyes to everyone, and were off in the snow. We stopped once for gas & once for quick sit-down lunch, saw five accidents, and were home (safely) by 345p. The dogs had been delivered about 1/2 hour before we got home, so there was some doggie hugs & kisses when we walked in the door... Of course, I had to be to work by 5p, so Princess' bag quickly got dumped out, repacked for ice skating plans, and off we went.
Last weekend, all the holiday decorations came down, was repacked, and put back up into the attic. It was a busy holiday season, full of family & good friends, but I was ready for it to be over.