Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas Hangover

I know I've been MIA for a few days.  I'm sure you missed my rambling terribly!

We had a wonderful holiday.  Was it 100% perfect?  Of course not!  We don't live in a commercial.  But it was exactly what I hoped for - the fun and excitement far outweighing anything that wasn't "commercial perfect".

Christmas celebration kicks off for me with Christmas Eve.  I think it may be my favorite part of the holiday.  I host my family in the evening.  We go to the family service at our church (which is so beautifully decorated for Christmas that it brings tears to your eyes), then come home to dinner of stuffed shells and homemade meatballs (my personal recipe - although it's not all that crazy, I just do my own eyeballing of ingredients).  Then we open gifts and stockings with that side of the family.

I wish I could get a picture of how gorgeous this church is without seeming tacky.  The entire ceiling is connected with stars.

It's such a special time.  My grandmother is in her mid-90s, and she's still able to be an active part of the celebration.  She's always marveling at all the gifts and paper and excitement of the girls.  I love that she's been able to experience Christmas as a child herself, with my mother as an excited child, with me as an excited child, and finally with her three great-granddaughters.

She comments every year about how much STUFF there is, and I love it.

Perfect evening?  Of course not!  Reagan had a very hard time sitting still in church, so I spent about half the service standing in the back with her.  Madison also started to lose it by the end of the service, and spent the final hymn, where all the children were given bells to ring, clutching her bell and burying herself into Adam.  Reagan was completely throwing herself out of my arms at that point, so we did sort of dash out.  (There's a reason they usually spend Sunday morning in the nursery, NOT the church service). But once we were home, the girls had a wonderful time.  We ate, we opened, and everyone was thrilled with their gifts - including ME, as I've finally joined the modern world with a Kindle!  Thank you, thank you!

Delicious dinner!

After the family left, the girls set out cookies and egg nog for Santa.  Madison loaded the plate with as many cookies as she could squeeze on.  We said a final farewell to Christmas the elf, put on our new Christmas jammies, and the girls immediately crashed.  As a final touch, it snowed just enough.  It was pretty, the timing was great, and it didn't impact our plans at all.  Just enough where we could say "oooohhh...we are getting a white Christmas after all!"

Hmmm....Santa could handle a few more.  No wonder the man has a weight issue.

I have to admit, I was sort of hoping the girls would sleep in, just a bit, since they'd been up later than usual.  Yeah, yeah, not the way the world works, but I can dream.  Madison might have, but Reagan woke up at her regular time and was overtired, so instead of waking up quiet and happy, she woke up crying...and woke up her sister.  Oh well.  Once Reagan had her milk, she was completely happy, and Madison wakes up cheerful 99% of the time.  They were so excited to see the snow, to see that Santa came, and of course, what Santa left for them.  Both girls were so excited with their unwrapped "big" gifts that we had to remind them to open the other gifts under the tree!

Completely content.

In retrospect, I sort of wonder what our rush was.  Adam and I could have slipped away to the kitchen and gotten our coffee, put the cinnamon buns in the oven, etc.  The girls were totally thrilled and completely occupied.  But hey, WE were excited to see them enjoy!

After all the gifts and stockings had been opened, we had a delicious breakfast.  We started with cinnamon buns fresh out of the oven while I made an egg dish.  This was a big hit with Madison.  But Reagan...the shortened night of sleep and the excitement of the morning caught up with her and she conked out in her high chair!  This is a kid who barely sleeps in the car, so she really must have been tired!  But she woke up in time to get ready for the rest of our day.

Poor tired Reagan.

We headed down to Adam's grandmother for Christmas afternoon, with a stop to see Adam's OTHER grandmother on the way.  I'm so glad that we were able to see so much family in one 24 hour period.  Great Grandma Josephine (Reagan's namesake) loves seeing the girls.  That's always a challenging stop though, because she has a lot of things that aren't quite toddler proof.  Usually I bring a bag of toys, but since we knew the girls would be opening gifts, I didn't want to have that much to keep track of.  The girls brought one toy each and with that and giving Great Grandma her gifts and getting their cards, were causing trouble within 10 minutes.  Madison finally found a game of spinning around on the kitchen floor...until she slipped and fell and whacked her chin into the floor.  Not a calm visit for me, but of course, I'm glad we made the stop.

Madison helping Great Grandma open her gift.

I was hoping the girls might doze on the second leg of our trip, but they didn't.  Reagan slept during the trip to Great Grandma Josephine's, and between that and her high chair nap, she was feeling fine.  They were good though.  Since they were so clearly wide awake, we put a Christmas movie on the DVD player (Reagan can't see it of course, but she likes the songs) and the girls were happy as we drove through CT.  I will say that it was a little unsettling to drive through Newtown.  Both Adam and I got very quiet during that stretch as we looked at the signs and teddy bears and crosses along the road.

Our Christmas afternoon with Adam's other grandmother was a lot of fun.  The girls are the only two little ones, and they are still young enough to really enjoy that and the attention they get.  Because they obviously couldn't see a tree with an ENORMOUS pile of gifts without doing something, we jumped right into opening gifts.  Madison's favorite phrase of the day became "open, open, pleeeeease open?"  She was so thrilled with all her new toys and books.

The ENTIRE room is filled with gifts.  This picture doesn't even do it a little bit of justice.

Getting help from their cousin.

Side note: WHY WHY WHY must toy packaging be so intense???  My kindle came in a box.  The Cabbage Patch girls came zip tied to the box in SEVEN different places, plus ties, plus tape, etc, etc.  Multiply that by 10 toys each (and that's conservative) and we were DONE.  Not to mention the cardboard.  Let's just say I'm really glad our town moved to 96 gallon recycling.

Reagan did crash a bit before dinner.  Here's where kids love to make you a liar:  I told my mother-in-law that the pack and play wasn't necessary (she's brought it the past two years).  Reagan refused to sleep in it during Thanksgiving, and it was such a struggle that I didn't even want to bother.  Well naturally, when I took her upstairs to give her a breather and a bottle, she conked out on me almost immediately.  She slept on me until my arm fell asleep, and then I figured she'd move when I put her down on the (twin) bed.  Nope.  She slept another half hour.  I obviously couldn't leave with her on a bed like that, so I was stuck upstairs with her, waiting for her to wake up.  Horrible?  No, of course not.  And if we did have the pack and play she probably wouldn't have slept there.

The girls had fun, but they were definitely out of whack by that point.  They were eating at different times, eating different things, not napping/napping at strange times, seeing tons of people.  Madison put her head down next to her plate and cried during dinner because she was so worn out.  She rallied to open her stocking, but once that was done she was begging me for her jammies, crib and blue pacifier.  I changed both girls, treated Madison to a very special exception to have blue pacifier out of her crib, and Madison fell sound asleep on my mother-in-law as we packed up the car (this was at 5:30).  Both girls were out before we turned off the street, and although they did wake up when we got home, went right back to sleep.  Definitely too much fun!

The stockings!

The funny part is that there was an incredible amount of activity all around her.  She's another one who never sleeps outside of her bed, so she was definitely wiped out.

Now I've spent the past few days dealing with the "Christmas hangover".  I'm trying to get the girls back on track, which is tricky since we don't have our usual schedule to follow, and Adam is "on vacation" so our days are different.  I did a major toy reorganization - finding new ways to store things in the living room to avoid a total takeover, and moving the toys with small parts up to Madison's room, and some more "baby" toys to Reagan's.  And of course the cleaning.  Oh my, the cleaning.  Somehow I got so behind that I've had an incredibly hard time catching up, and things definitely got worse before they got better.  Tonight I finally came upstairs with a completely clean kitchen and living room.

So now that I'm (semi) caught up (for now), I can stop being a negligent blogger and get back into it!  My next post will be my best giveaway to date.  You're definitely going to want to become an official "follower" and a fan of my facebook page so you're eligible for the giveaway.  It's painless, I promise.  Just give blogger all kinds of personal information, so they can properly own you for all time, and you're all set!

Honestly, it is pretty painless, and I hope to see many of you as little icons before long!  And then, when I finally stop teasing you, you can have a chance to win the giveaway!
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