Whew, hope everyone is having a good holiday break thus far! We've had rather a whirlwind past few days, ourselves. For the first time in my 37 years of life, I did not spend Christmas Eve and/or Christmas morning with my parents. I was the last of the children to break the tradition; every year up until this year, we'd drive down a day or three before Christmas and stay at my parents' house until at least the day or three afterwards. This year, Hubby, Kiddo and I spent our very first Christmas alone, just the three of us, at least for Christmas morning. After Kiddo (who was beginning to think Santa would only bring her presents to Grandma and Grandpa's) opened her presents Christmas morning, we had breakfast, loaded up the car and drove on down to the motherland (aka New Jersey). Our only snafu was not being able to find a single, solitary fast food establishment between our house and my parents' house that was open and serving food. We were a little surprised that no one was open, even with it being Christmas day - we just figured somebody would be cashing in on all the travelers with appetites who hadn't thought to pack a lunch. (Well, The Waffle House in Clarks Summit PA was open but they don't have a drive-thru...) Hubby wound up buying us a bag of pretzels and a box of Pop Tarts at a gas station minimart and that plus the candy and bananas we had in the car already tided us over, mostly, until we made it to NJ. We arrived just when all the rest of the family arrived midafternoon, thanks to decent roads, decent weather and light traffic. (Total count at my parents' house for Christmas dinner: 17 adults, 6 kids ranging in age from Kiddo at 5 and a half right on down to the youngest nephew who is 13 months old, not counting the two more babies yet in utero.) As is customary, there was lots of food, then gift exchanging and opening, then even more food, then games, then dessert (yes, more food!) and more games and then collapsing.
The day after Christmas isn't known as Boxing Day in our family, but rather "Game Night" day. Everyone who is still in town gathers again at Mom and Dad's for leftovers (we're talking turkey *and* ham here, people - way too much food) and board games. Over the past several years, those games have come to include a poker tournament, which I am proud to say I won this year, including beating Hubby who finished second. (Mwah-ha-ha!) If anyone wants to stake me for the WSOP, I'm ready to go..... This year, we weren't expecting any of Kiddo's cousins to be attending Game Night besides the youngest (who, while ridiculously adorable, isn't really of an age yet where he is able to be much of a playmate for Kiddo) but then my sister and brother-in-law wound up coming, so Kiddo had her favorite cousin - only because he is closest in age to her and therefore a perfect playmate - to run around the farm with all day. Bonus!! Also a bonus: our new Wii. We brought it down to NJ with us and Hubby hooked it up on Mom and Dad's humongous TV, and many games of Wii this and Wii that and Wii the other thing commenced. I probably should mention here: I suck at Wii Sports. Seriously. Well, Wii Bowling, anyhow. I'm not kidding: both Kiddo and my 4 year old nephew kicked my butt at Wii Bowling. (As did my 25 year old brother, but you know, somehow that is a tiny bit less humiliating, especially considering that was the first day I'd ever played Wii anything and he's been Wiitastic for a couple of years now.)
Yesterday, Hubby and I took Kiddo into New York City (henceforth referred to merely as "the city" because seriously, it is the city, is it not?) for the day. She's been in the city before, but the last time was two years ago, and she didn't really get it. This time, however, she got it all. She loved every second, from riding the train in (standing room only - she was the only member of the family who enjoyed that particular part) to taking the subway and buses to get around the city to the tall buildings and crowds and everything. We didn't have a highly ambitious itinerary: The Museum of Natural History, FAO Schwarz and Rockefeller Center to see the tree and skaters. (I harbored a secret hope of taking Kiddo skating, but the plaza - actually all of Manhattan! - was insanely crowded, so we couldn't even make it to the line, much less the ice. Oh well, something to do next time!) Kiddo loved the museum this time around (we took her there a few years ago, too, but she was a bit too young then), especially the dinosaurs, ocean and African animal exhibits. She loved FAO Schwarz, for obvious reasons (and despite the moratorium we imposed a year or so ago on new stuffed animals, Rory the Tiger came home from FAO with us). She loved the tree and the policemen on horses at Rockefeller Center, and all the other lights and decorations, too. She thought St. Patrick's Cathedral looked like a castle and proclaimed Trump Tower the biggest building she'd ever seen. All in all, a successful, if rather exhausting, trip. I have so many fond memories of taking trips into the city at Christmastime when I was growing up that I am extra glad that I was able to share that experience with Kiddo. I regret not having the same proximity to NYC now that I did as a child, but with relatives still within an hour of the city, at least we have proximity by relation...
Today was pack 'em up and drive 'em home day, which is exactly what we did. Along with the memories and overloaded photo memory card (and a few extra pounds I picked up from ALL THAT FOOOOOOOOD), I managed to bring home some New Jersey Germies. That is a souvenir I would've been happy to leave behind, alas. Now, I'm just looking forward to sleeping in my own bed and lounging about in jammies tomorrow, not to mention doing some serious blog-surfing! Hubby has to work at some point this week but probably won't go in to the office until Tuesday, and we've got several Wii games we haven't even tried yet. (He's downstairs playing Wii right now - I'm totally turning into a Wiidow!!) Still not sure what we're doing for New Year's, though I doubt we'll be going out.
And that is the brief (well, brief for me, anyhow!) recap. I shall now unload a few of the pictures off that memory card and leave you with the slightly more exciting photo recap of Heather's Holidays Thus Far!
Kiddo's most wanted gift from Santa (as written to and told to Santa many, many times) was a scooter. Tada!
Cousins having fun! Kiddo is 11 months older than her cousin, though he is a good 2.5-3 inches taller than she is (my sister and brother-in-law are both really, really tall!):
I went outside with Kiddo and my nephew to play with Grandma's new puppy on Game Night afternoon. (It's a 13 week old standard poodle who is too freaking cute and energetic.) When we were out back, there was a deafening noise. We looked up to see an absolute horde of Canada geese flying overhead. They landed in the fields back behind my parents' farm, and were the reason it sounded like a war had broken out in central NJ early the next morning. Apparently hunting the geese has been not only sanctioned but encouraged as there are so dang many of them.
Kids + ball + puppy + lots of room to run around outside = Exhaustion all around.
Which then leads to more uninterrupted time playing Wii for the grown-ups....
On to NYC.... a kindly passer-by offered to take a picture of us in front of the ginormous whale in the oceans exhibit at the museum. No, no, no, the whale is behind me. Yep, that's the whale, honest. I ate a lot over the past few days, but not that much, I swear.....
On to the dinosaurs! Kiddo loved learning about them,
hanging out with them,
and especially touching them! This is an actual, 140 million year old Stegosaurus plate. Yes, Hubby and I touched it too. No, we didn't jam our hands underneath the approved opening the way Kiddo did....
Rockefeller Center with the tree. Hubby: "Do you HAVE to take a picture right here, right now? There are ninety million people trying to get by us, here.........." Me: "Yes. Yes, I do."
Kiddo was literally oooohing and aaaaahing over the size of the buildings, the holiday decorations and the lights.
Kiddo hasn't yet seen the movie Big, but that didn't stop her from waiting forever in line ("I'll be really, really patient if we can wait, please, please, Mommy and Daddy??") and dancing on top of the Big Piano:
Even the subway is an adventure..........
Now, I'm off to play the Harry Potter game Santa brought me on the Wii. I promise I'll make the rounds of everyone's blogs tomorrow!!