Let me start this off with the first thing that has to be said with the title like the one above -- I love my family.
And I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in saying "Thank goodness this week is over."
Traveling for a week. In the snow. With a toddler. Not knowing who is going to make it to feed your cats, be it the a)professional/paid pet sitter; b) the neighbor across the street who you gave the keys to your kingdom to, but don't really know her; or c) the gal you left your dog with who lives uphill in the foot of snow you found out fell the night after you left...
And would my house still stand, or would someone break into it? I think once your house has been broken into and precious things stolen, you never quite expect to come home to whatever you left behind.
And did I mention the traveling in the snow? LOTS of it? And 22 people in the house at some point? The huge productions that were meals to be cooked and eaten and cleaned up after (which considering the sheer number of people, went fairly well), the general mayhem, lack of slepp as Nora kicked me/us in the head repeatedly at 4 a.m. after refusing to sleep further in her pack and play...
But despite the holiday stress, we got through the rough spots and overall we had a wonderful time -- I'd say my favorite moments were seeing Nora have SO much fun with so many family members, and the Family Service at my mother and father-in-law's church, which allowed "free range" children, which Nora took FULL advantage of.
And gift giving was light for the adults and heavy on the kids as it should be. Nora's booty was books books and more books and clothes and a few toys to go with it all, but not horribly overdone, and all of it fun and educational and needed.
During our drive home, we stopped in Portland, did a little grocery shopping and gas-buying, and while I was checking the reason for the crappy windshield wipers, it came off in my hand, buying Nora a little more time with Daddy in the Elmo Toy Aisle at Fred Meyer, while I went to replace it.
After a long day on the road, pulling into the driveway last night was nice, as we said "Nora's home" and she delightedly ran around the house and saw the stuff we'd left behind.
And THANK YOU to Oma and Opa for hosting this fabulous zoo of people!
Soon it will be 2009, and another year gone, another year to be celebrated and remembered.
Merry Christmas a little late, and Happy New Year a little early.