The 23rd we had a snow storm. Mike wound up working from home because it took him way longer than expected to clear away the snow. The snow also prevented us from going to play group. Mike did a fair amount of work while he was home, but didn't go over board since he didn't even have anyone he could email to say he wasn't driving in. Since he was home, that gave me a fair amount of time to get a head start on packing. We also made Christmas cookies (using cookie cutters and colored sugar for the first time) and had a visit from my friend to exchange gifts.
Christmas Eve we both got up so we could shower and finish packing. One thing about having Natalie around is that we always have to pack up a lot of things the morning we leave. We managed to get out of the house just a little late and had an uneventful drive down to my parents. Natalie slept a fair amount of the drive. We were the first at my parents', as usual. We took a while to unpack everything, both gifts, food, and setting up for Natalie downstairs. We got some snacks out, since Mike and I hadn't had lunch. We had a little trouble keeping Natalie out of them since my mother put them well within her reach, but after a while of struggling with it, she moved some things to the dining room. Natalie enjoyed crackers and cheese and had potato chips. My brother arrived not long after we put out the food, but my sister didn't come until about 330. To pass the time, we watched Rudolph for Natalie. Shortly after my sister arrived, we had plans to head over to Mike's long time friend's parents' house across town. Natalie was starting to be grumpy, and got grumpier after we'd been over there for a while, but it started out nice. She was running around and touching their Christmas tree. We opened up the gifts for her (an Ernie tub toy and an Elmo and Zoe purse), which kept her happy for a bit, but she wanted to run around. We left so that we would get home in time for dinner at my parents'. Natalie did okay during dinner. Once we were done eating, she still had some time to play, but continued to be upset. Bath didn't go that smoothly and there was some fussing at bed time. Once she was in bed, she made a lot of noise during the night, but never woke up all the way. We think it is that she wasn't used to the smaller sleeping space.
Since Natalie wasn't sleeping soundly, we were worried she would wake up extra early, but instead, she got up around 7. That was partly my fault since I got up to go to the bathroom. I'd been holding it for hours and didn't sleep well that night. Mike and I both got up and took Natalie upstairs for breakfast. After she ate, we did stockings. Natalie was very happy about getting more bracelets. She continued to enjoy the baby doll she got the day before, which was really one of my old dolls. Around 830, my sister and her husband returned, and we had pancakes for breakfast. Natalie had a clemintine orange she found in my parents foyer. Then, we started on presents. Natalie did very well considering how cramped for space the living room was and how chaotic. My family doesn't do one person opening a gift at a time, so it is a lot of activity at once. She didn't open much herself, just a couple of things. Mike and I opened some of her toys for her right away, but mostly she wanted to move around like always. By the end, she was ready to get out of that room.
We took turns getting ready and watching Natalie as the living room was cleaned up. We got Natalie into her Christmas dress. Around 1130, Natalie was getting grumpy because she needed to nap, so we left for Mike's aunt's house a little early. Natalie fell asleep in the car. Since it is only a twenty minute drive, I stayed in the car with her and read so that she could get a decent nap. After about an hour, Natalie woke up and I called Mike to come out and help carry in our things. It turns out it was just in time for dinner. Natalie ate alright, but ignored her mashed potatoes (which is odd) and ate mostly squash, cranberry sauce, and banana bread. There is no denying that she has a sweet tooth. After eating, she ran around upstairs for a bit until the family head downstairs to do gifts. There were 11 other people there for Christmas and they held off on gifts since they couldn't get together earlier. It was the largest pile of presents Mike and I had ever seen and it took them about two hours to get through everything since they go one gift at a time. Natalie stayed downstairs for only some of that time. At first, she was happy eating cheese and Triscates, but eventually she wanted to climb the stairs. Since Mike wanted to watch the Celtics game they had playing downstairs, I tried to watch Natalie as much as possible (especially since he had tried to watch her a lot at my parents knowing he would want a break for the game). I did alright at first, but got tried of chasing her by the end of the day and was starting to get hungry again. At half time, Mike called his mom on Skype and talked to her and his brother for a while. Natalie ran between the computer and Sprout on the TV in the other room. When Natalie started to show signs of wear, he ended the call and we head downstairs. Even though he missed most of the second half, the game was still on so we stayed a bit longer. When the game was finally over (the last minute lasted forever!), I rushed Mike out of there. I felt a little rude, but both Natalie and I were ready to go and I didn't want her to freak out again like she did at Thanksgiving.
Back at my parents' house, Natalie played for a little bit before we gave her a bath and got her ready for bed. She slept much more quietly that night. My sister and brother were still there, but my sister left soon after Natalie went to bed. My brother hung around until about 10 when my mother had to kick him out, which is how it usually goes. It wasn't much longer before Mike and I went down to bed.
Overall, Christmas went much more smoothly than I thought it would. Natalie was far more fussy and grumpy on Christmas Eve. I think that it worked out so well because at his aunt's house she was able to get away from everyone and run around upstairs and veg a little in front of the TV. She needed to have space to move, but also needed to get away from all the stimulation and relax like we can at home. The only thing that could have been better would be if Natalie was more interested in opening her gifts, but I'm sure that will change next year. Thus far, her favorite gifts are her Foofa doll from Nana, her Little People Barn from Grandma and Grandpa, a pair of new shoes from me, her puzzel board with doors and magnetic animals from my friend, and a bead maze from Mike and I.
As far as Mike and I are concerned in terms of gifts, we got money towards our new snow blower from my parents, but they still gave us some small things. My sister and brother bought us mostly things off of our wish lists on Amazon, which is something we will be doing again. I was very happy with my books, movies, cutting board, t-shirts, and Mary Kay items. As usual, it appears that my sister and brother spent far more money on us than we did them. This makes me feel bad because they also then spent a ton of money on Natalie. But, with me not working, we just can't see spending a ton of money on individuals at Christmas, unless we find a special gift to splurge on (like my sister and his mother's GPS last year). On the other hand, we spent more on Mike's brother's family, since we had three children to buy for and sent them a Visa card. I guess there is just never a way to find balance. We bought presents for 16 people this year (not including each other and Natalie), so we just can't afford to spent a lot on everyone.
The day after Christmas, Mike and I had planned to stay later in MA, but an on coming snow storm sent us home right after lunch. There was a bit of a fiasco first though. Natalie has started to fall asleep at the lunch table since she dropped her first nap. This happened that day. So, Mike rushed to get the car the rest of the way packed and I picked her up and held her for a while as she slept. This was all fine. More than fine actually since I loved holding her while she slept with her arm around my neck and head on my shoulder. The problem was that we could smell that she had pooped. So, we had to change her diaper. Originally, I had hoped to transfer her into the car without too much trouble since I've done the reverse successfully several times recently. A diaper change threw that plan out the window. The good news is that when I stood up holding her, she woke up, so I didn't feel like a total jerk waking her up with the diaper change. But, the diaper change itself was a disaster. At first, Natalie was sucking her thumb and still sleepy, but we had a lot of trouble cleaning her up because of the consistency of the poop. Then, she peed. And peed again. And again. She got her socks all wet and her undershirt. So, we had to undress her and kept rewiping her. We had packed all her clothes in the car already, so we were lucky that only her undershirt was wet, and we could put her other clothes back on and her shoes without socks. Once we were through, she perked back up, but the idea of her going right to sleep was over. She did sleep in the car after a little bit of playing.
The rest of Sunday, we spent trying to get reorganized. We got most of our new things from Christmas put away and our clothes unpacked. Monday, we were snowed in all day. This worked out okay since there were two of us to trade off with Natalie. We got the rest of our things up away, as well as moving a few things around in the house and doing all the laundry.
Today, Tuesday, Mike took care of all the snow. Natalie saw him getting ready to go out and wanted to follow him, so I went through a lot of effort to get myself and her ready to get outside. It resulted in a lot of crying for her and frustration for both of us. When I finally got her outside, she was happy for about a minute until she fell down and got her hands in the snow, then nothing could console her. I was pretty frustrated, so I wasn't all that delicate taking off her things. Not a shining tribute to my mothering skills. She wandered off into her room crying, so I picked her up and put her on the bed and she snuggled up to her Boppy pillow like she does at bed time. I put a blanket over her and rubbed her back and sang to her and she calmed down. She then wanted me to read her a story. Then she alright again and the ordeal was forgotten.
After Mike came in and showered, it wasn't long until lunch. Mike made he some grilled cheese which she loved. She even says cheese in her own way, which is the only food word she says. We played a bit longer, then I changed her and put her down for nap. I went out to run a couple errands while Mike talked to his brother, and then when Natalie woke up, we got ready to go do the weekly shopping. At the store, we were separated for most of the time while I waited to find out that Walmart had lost my pictures, and then reordered them and a new order. By the time we got home, it was 330. The rest of the afternoon passed without event. Bedtime tonight was a bit fussy, but just because she was tired.
Mike is on vacation this week, so we are trying to get a lot of things done. Tomorrow, we are going to the library since we missed going today and can't go Friday. Thursday is play group and our home visitor coming in the evening. We are toying with the idea of going to the Portland Children's Museum. For New Year's, we plan to conduct our own Twilight Zone marathon with our boxed set, like we did last year.