This year was really the first meaningful year that we spent Christmas away from home with kids and it was a relaxing, enjoyable, and white Christmas. We were staying with my parents for nearly two weeks and it felt like a long time, in a good way. With family leave and the little bit of vacation time I had available I was able to take almost the entirety of it off of work and Bryan took one week off himself. This meant a lot of quality parenting time!
As mentioned in the last post, the first week was spent with a fair amount of time in memory of my Grandpa. Brooke and I went to visit my Grandma shortly after arriving in Michigan. I helped (but can’t take any credit) for making some photo boards for the funeral service with my mom and just having a lot of conversations with my mom about him. Then we had the funeral and visitation that first week. The girls did their best to have good behavior during these two days so we promised Reese to go do something fun for her after the funeral was over. We visited a trampoline park and all had a good time. I certainly felt a lot of stress come off me once the funeral services were over. Reese actually visited two trampoline parks during our visit; the second time going with Grammy and Granddad. Reese got to go swimming twice at the indoor Court One Pool and Grammy and Granddad took Reese to the free showing of the Polar Express at the theaters.
We spent Christmas Eve with my grandma and brother at my parent’s house, having our traditional king crab legs for dinner and Bryan’s grasshopper pie for dessert. On Christmas Day, after opening some presents at my parent’s house, we then went over to my Grandma’s for Christmas with the whole family. There were lots of gifts to go through, mostly food related now as that is the latest gift exchange trend for the family. There were a variety of belly-warming soups, snacks, and Christmas cookies to dine on. We didn’t leave until quite late and unfortunately that night Brooke started not feeling too well and didn’t sleep well at all.
Brooke was all levels of sick for about a week, probably reaching her worst when we spent the night in Chicago and unfortunately was back to her normal energy levels as we were boarding our flight home! Following Christmas, with all of the snow we had, we each took turns taking Reese out sledding which she really enjoyed. The temperatures started to warm up and we were finally able to build a snowman. Bryan and I enjoyed a run together which is a rare occasion these days but something we still really enjoy. The girls went to go get manicures (Reese included). And Chad and Sarah came to spend a night with us on Wednesday night and both girls greatly enjoyed their attention.
After our long visit with great meals, cooked at home and taken in, lots of reading books in the tent, puzzles, coloring, minnie mouse plane rides, hide and seek, etc, we got ready to head to Chicago on Friday morning. Bryan picked up our rental car and we were on the road right around noon after saying our goodbyes. Both girls did great on the drive, stopping just to get a quick bite and drink from McDonalds just as we were hitting Indiana. We checked in to the Embassy Suites near Navy Pier, settled into our room, and then hit the sidewalk for the short walk to Navy Pier to check out their Light Up the Lake festivities which was all indoors. It was a large exhibit of light sculptures, vendors with snacks, Reese got her face painted and we purchased her a light up magic wand that did special magic at each light sculpture exhibit. The apex of the event though was when we got Reese out on the ice for her first time ice skating, after waiting for and watching the zambonie. She was nervous and hesitant at first but after about an hour of skating was loving it and wants to try it again another time. We ended the afternoon with our free ride on the ferris wheel which was beautiful, heated, and fun.
We got back to the hotel and had reservations for dinner but Brooke wasn’t feeling well at all and super lethargic so we opted for takeout from a nearby restaurant instead. Brooke and I actually hit the hay rather early while Reese asked Bryan a hundred questions about the Lion King in her bed. The next morning both Bryan and Brooke still weren’t feeling well and needed more sleep so Reese and I headed down to breakfast which was super chaotic. We brought up food for the other two and Brooke was starting to feel better. Bryan took Reese for a quick swim in their small pool before we packed up our bags and headed for O’Hare. We had plenty of time before our flight and got something to eat and walked around. Our flight back to Seattle was uneventful and we got the light rail and then the bus back home, getting home just around 8 pm. Our New Year’s Eve was not too special as we were all so tired so we mainly just all went to bed after doing some unpacking.
New Year’s Day was the day that we celebrated at home for Christmas with another round of presents and this time stockings. The girls made out well but it did not go unnoticed that Mom did not have any presents in her stocking from Santa, so clearly Reese is worried I did something wrong this year. Reese went over to Lottie’s for a playdate that morning which allowed Bryan and I, and Brooke at my heels, to completely rearrange all of the furniture upstairs to get the girls into their new bedroom with their new bunkbed with a slide. It was a labor of love for sure and we had the bunkbed ready for the girl’s first night of sleep in it on 1/1 but it took another several days to free ourselves of all of the clutter, go through Brooke’s clothes to donate her 12 month clothes and pull out the 18 month clothes (which are way too big for her still), hang up the new hammock swing, and lastly get our office up to snuff with our new dual mounted monitor stands and my new stand up desk which was Bryan’s gift to me for Christmas. We are mostly there now with only a few additional to-dos: put up the stars in the girls new room and hang up more of our photos/artwork. We really love the layout and the girls seem to like it too which has made bedtime so much easier these days.
So that’s more or less the conclusion to our winter holidays. Reese had many more presents to open from Grandma and Papa Miller and we joke that she is going to think that Christmas operates like Hanukkah. Overall a great holiday season and end to a full year.