We managed to dodge storms and make it back home from Northern Colorado fairly unscathed. All our luggage arrived, our flights were uneventful and on time and Leif was a stellar flyer. Our biggest mistake with regards to flying with him was actually mentioning at any point beforehand even the remote possibility of getting on an airplane. AB slipped on Saturday night before going out to dinner and Leif ever so silently went to the front door, put on his snow boots (with no socks), put his coat on (upside down), came into me on the computer (once again checking flight status) and told me he was "all ready go airplane!"
After a half hour meltdown about not getting to go on the airplane and not understanding the concept of "tomorrow" we finally got out to dinner.
Traveling with a toddler is hard. Like I said, Leif is a stellar flyer once on the plane and at the airport where he can see planes. However, for us the destination is the problem. Being in someone else's house, even though he knows them and has two interactive cats to play with, was very difficult. He never slept well, he napped well when given the opportunity, he melted down easily with only a slight disapproving look. I sure couldn't blame him, as a hormonal pregnant woman, I was nearly in the same boat much of the trip. AB and I were both exhausted, Leif was clingy and though we had a nice time, we were all happy to be home.
Today, New Years Day, we are being a bunch of recluses with little desire to talk or interact with anyone else. No offense is meant, of course. We just need time to rejuvenate, pick up, unpack, and be together as a family with our very neglected dog.
As I say every year, this will be the last Christmas we travel for awhile. We will see if it sticks this time around. How short my memory is, and how strong our resolve is in the face of familial pressure.
At 2.5 years old, Leif is still fairly oblivious at Christmas. Even the plastic and blow up Santas in the yards are "real". The fact that Santa came twice in one week doesn't phase him. Next year we will have a 9 month old and a 3.5 year old who may not be quite so gullible. AB has dreams of "Griswold'ing the place up" next year. I have dreams of cooking my own Christmas dinner. We all have dreams of waking up Christmas morning in our own house.
We enjoyed a nice holiday with our families. Leif was pretty sick much of the time with a horrid cough that meant he kept his distance from his new cousin, Aidan, and pawned off the bug on grandpa Rick when he was through with it. Mommy, daddy and grandma's immune systems were strong and resisted temptation, while grandpa Rick ended up in bed for much of the last four days we were there.
Christmas eve was spent with my family. My sister and her family came up late on Christmas eve. We ate a light dinner... or maybe it wasn't light... maybe I just never ate much since I was busy pacifying a sick, unhappy little boy... The kids (including the one in utero and my sister, lest she be left out) each opened a gift. Then cousin Celeste read us "Twas The Night Before Christmas" and we all headed off to bed.
Christmas morning everyone was up early and tackled stockings, then we went and opened gifts. Leif and cousin Celeste raked in the goods. Leif had a fantastic time opening gifts, even if they weren't his. And no matter what the package contained, he took a few seconds to marvel at the contents before moving to the next one. The hit of the entire holiday season for him was the "Hungry Hungry Hippos" game. He is the grand master champion of Hungry Hungry Hippos in Northern Colorado and looks forward to defending his title now in Eastern Washington. (Watch out C...)
My sister and her family packed up and left immediately after breakfast and headed back to Denver. We got ready and headed over to AB's brother's house. Leif was shy to start, but as soon as aunt Angie (yes, there are two aunt Angie's in our family) pulled out the Hippos game, Leif and his cousin Otto became fast friends. Otto is about 10 months older than Leif. We spent a very nice afternoon and evening with AB's side of the family. We watched as our tentative little boy easily left our side to join his three cousins in such games as running at the speed of light around the basement, playing cars and watching Cars on TV. All the while hacking up a lung, of course, prompting many statements to the effect of "he needs to see a doctor". My SIL, the ever prepared mom of three (going on potentially seven kids) was quick with the cough syrup and sent us home with "THE stuff". She wasn't kidding. Delsym rules.
The rest of the vacation was a hodge-podge of activities. One day we went to Denver to the aquarium and met up with Vargas Girl. It was a great day. Leif marveled at everything, the fish, the bald eagle, the sharks, the tigers, the sharks, the macaws (or as Leif says "pawwots"), the sharks, petting the rays... It was a great place to spend a half day. The tigers were one of the big hits at the aquarium. (I know, go figure.)
AB spent an evening with his brother watching the Denver Nuggets on my BIL's new 92" high def projection screen TV... (our rinky dink 34" "regular" TV is apparently just no longer acceptable.)
Leif and AB spent a day with them again and my MIL, while my mom and I braved a storm to get out shopping at the new mall near her house. Truthfully, I was unimpressed with the new mall. First off, an "outdoor mall" in Northern Colorado? Just stupid idea all around. It works in late spring and early fall, but apparently someone failed to check the weather for the remainder of the year. Second, and this may be my huge 7 months pregnant status speaking, how about some variety in stores? There were NO maternity clothes to be found (my last pair of acceptable maternity jeans broke in Colorado and I NEED a mat swimming suit). We left the mall with one new pair of shoes for me (badly needed as my beloved black Dansko clogs sole split) and less than $100 of goods between my mom and I. A paltry amount for our nearly annual "after Christmas shopping" trip. But we ate at P.F. Changs and that nearly made up for the bunk shopping trip. I took AB back the next day.
And oh yes, the snow. The snow, snow, snow, snow. If there is one thing there was, it was the snow, snow, snow, snow. I looked forward to Leif getting to play in the snow. There was SO much snow that pretty much the only "playing in the snow" that was done was with Daddy (who loved the snow) and going for walks in the street to see the monstrous snowman and snow-walrus built by the big neighbor kids. As you will see in the pictures to come, Leif going out and playing in the snow was just nearly impossible. In most places, we would have lost him. He was just plain too little for the massive amounts of snow in my mom's yard.
AB did build a snow cave and tunnel with the help of Cousin Celeste and that entertained Leif. However, the best part of playing in 3 feet of snow for a 36" tall child is coming in for hot chocolate.