Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Thanksgiving Weekend

We had a very eventful and fun (and really busy) long Thanksgiving weekend.  Thankfully I was feeling much better by the time turkey day came around and neither Louie nor Dan did end up coming down with the plague.  File that under "Things I'm Thankful for This Year".  Halleluiah! 

First, the actual Holiday...
Thanksgiving Day
I could be wrong, but I believe Thanksgiving Day is the only holiday that we still truck around our little crew to both Dan's extended family's and my extended family's celebrations.  We do this primarily because it IS possible.  Dan's parents host every year, serving the meal about noon.  And my grandparents host every year, serving the meal about 5:30 PM.  There is probably at most 2 miles between the two respective gatherings, so it is all set up perfectly to work out just dandy,  Of course we have young children, and things are known to get dicey whenever there are skipped naps/quiet times involved, not to mention multiple transitions for a couple of dudes prone to sensory overload in a loud house packed with people.  So yes, it's doable.  Probably not ideal, but I can't imagine hanging around our home all morning knowing Dan's whole family is at his parents' house having a grand old time. And I can't imagine hanging out all evening at Dan's parent's house, or even heading home early evening, knowing my whole family is all together at my grandma's. 

Oh and two chances in one day to eat all the stuffing and mashed potatoes and gravy that my poor squished stomach can possibly manage?  Well that part gets two thumbs up. 

Of course there was grape salad at our first meal, Kirsten couldn't help herself after the supreme uproar throughout the great state of Minnesota for a week leading up to Thanksgiving, in response to that now infamous NYT article ( #grapegate ).

And actually, most people at our gathering said it was quite good, though I couldn't bring myself to try it.  Out of principle, yes, but I'm also, as a rule, generally just not a fan of any sort of fruit soaked in sour cream or mayo.  She did not HEAT it though, (blech).  That aspect of the NYT recipe is certainly the most vulgar. 

The boys had a blast playing with their cousins, and in general holidays and parties are pretty "easy" (it's all relative) with Dan's family these days. The children all essentially disappear for large portions of the day, a big gang of cousins they are, just happy to be together and playing with the absurd amount of toys grandma has managed to hold on to over the years.  They are like a little pack of wolves, we only really see them when they're hungry, or when we suddenly hear them growling at each other or creating some sort of destructive-sounding racket that prompts one of us parents to venture into their lair to investigate.  Only intervene when necessary.  That is my motto.

I think we're all enjoying this time while we can because the dynamic will certainly be shaken up a little with the arrival of three new baby cousins in the next few months. 

Dannell is due early February, I am due late February, and Heidi in April.  I can't wait to have little babies in the family again, especially my own, of course.  But three at once?  What a trip.  So much to be excited about. 

At about 3:00 we started giving 10-minute and 5-minute warnings and preparing the boys to leave.  This of course coincided with a pretty epic Gus meltdown.  He was exhausted and didn't want to leave and I think somewhat peopled out (though he would never admit to anyone that he needs a break from his cousins).  He had to go compose himself in grandma's room for a little bit, and when I went in to talk to him he looked like he was ready to fall asleep, laying there in the sun on the bed.


So I used the most important parenting tool at my disposal... bribery.  I promised a movie as soon as we got to Grandma Sylvia's, and with that I HAD those fools, hook, line, and sinker. ;)  (Kidding of course, I would never call my children fools.)


Really, they were going to need some quiet time anyway upon transitioning between the two parties, so it wasn't a bad plan.  When we arrived at my grandparents' we set up a little nest of blankets and pillows on the floor for them in the office, prepared a little snack bowl of crackers and cut up veggies, and they were happy campers for the next hour while Dan and I were able to ease in ourselves into another social gathering.   

We managed to have a really nice evening, and I would even say it even had moments of relaxation, which isn't usually the case at these things.  Gus and Louie are the only kids on that side of the family, besides my nephew Graham, but he's still pretty young and in the case of Thanksgiving this year Ben and Michelle were in Milwaukee, so there are no playmates and no toys, and the TV is reserved for football, so really not much to do at these things for the kids unless we bring it for them...

Which is fine, of course.  The world does not revolve around my kids.  But it definitely makes our jobs as parents a little more challenging.

Of course on this particular night, the little basket of toys and projects and supplies we brought to keep them entertained barely got touched, in lieu of more exciting activities like rolling around and screeching underneath the big table during dinner, engaged in a tickle fight with my mom's cousin's teenage son.  :)

We knew we had overstayed our welcome and it was time for a clean break around 7:30 when Gus had another sobbing meltdown, this time about his ice cream being "naughty".  (There were bits of pumpkin pie on it.  Horrors!)  Poor little buddy.  He was done. 

Room Sharing Adventures

Being that we had such a nice long weekend at our disposal, we decided to tackle the much anticipated crib to bunk bed transition/shared room situation.  It seemed appropriate to go for it the night of Thanksgiving since both kids were so beyond exhausted we expected them to go to sleep pretty quickly and soundly.  

And that they did.  They wanted to sleep in the full bed on the bottom together.  Could they be any sweeter?  

More holiday indulgences on Black Friday

No peep was heard from either child until the next morning, so Night 1 was deemed a success.  Night 2 involved lots of middle-of-the-night arguing over space issues and other nonsense, and ended with the two of them sauntering into our bedroom like little ninjas at 5:15 in the morning, all ready for the day and "READY TO GO CHOP DOWN OUR CHRISTMAS TREE!!!!"  Night 3 was more of the same middle-of-the-night antics, mostly Louie being a pill and waking Gus up.  It's all pretty foggy, and there was one night this weekend of supreme sleeplessness and parental desperation during which at 3:45 AM one would have been able to find the entire family sleeping/not sleeping/trying to sleep in that damn bunk bed.  (Gus and Dan were up top, me and Louie on the bottom.)

Hmm... I wonder what the weight-limit is on that thing?

Eh, well.  These last few nights have gone much better, we decided the boys CANNOT sleep in the bottom bunk together, at least not yet, they are not ready for that privilege.  And since we made that decision, they've been sleeping all night in their respective beds. Mornings have definitely been earlier than normal, and when one of them is up for the day, so is the other, but that is to be expected at this point in the game.

Black Friday

Somehow I managed to get Dan to agree to watch the kids all day while I did some Black Friday shopping with my mom.  Definitely not my usual scene, but my mom was planning on going and I was feeling good and energized after having felt so sick and cooped up and crappy for the last week.

We spent most of our time at Macy's, and then a little time in the mall (Ridgedale) and I picked up a number of things for baby girl of course.  So damn much fun to shop for her.  I got a handful of people crossed off my list for Christmas, picked up the boys some mittens and underwear and Christmas jammies (you know, the basics) and it was actually just totally fun.  I haven't gone shopping, like... in a store as opposed to online... for fun (no kids)... not in a hurry, for a really really really long time.  

I got home waaaaaay later than I had planned, and walked into a house that was just spic and span.  He had also folded like 10 billion loads of laundry and was waiting on me to get home so he could go out and shovel.  So suffice it to say he was a little salty and I did feel some tinges of guilt about being gone alld ay... but then we had a relaxing evening... dinner, bath, kids in bed, stupid Hallmark movie.  Perfectly lovely day. 

Christmas Tree Farm

If you'll remember, Saturday started very early, 5:15 ish to be exact.  And the kids were both somewhat behind on sleep from keeping each other up at various points throughout the night, and a late night on Thanksgiving, so our morning was not the calmest or happiest.  We finally got the heck out of the house at about 11:00, to head up to the Kringlund's tree farm in Zimmerman to cut down our tree, like we do every year.  My mom's whole extended family meets up there, and then we head back to someone's house for chili afterwards.  Great, wonderful, lovely tradition.  Tricky though with the whole no-nap thing, again, and the children short on sleep thing, again.  

We stopped at McDonald's in Elk River and Louie managed to down an entire hamburger happy meal before desperately demanding ANOTHER hamburger.  That kid.  Our little Napoleon.  We obliged, mostly because it made us laugh and also because another hamburger was a whole 89 cents, and then we all sat there in amusement/horror watching him somehow ingest a second entire hamburger, face and sleeve covered in ketchup, happily bopping his head.  

We arrived at Kringlunds and immediately set out.  According to Mr. Kringlund there were about 3 years of drought during which very few of the 600 trees they plant every year survived.  So the last few years we have been suffering the effects of those bad years, with a very small selection of grown trees.  Last year and this year they were only open this one weekend out of the year, and they will likely have to do the same next year... but hopefully after that the place will be on the upswing again.

All that to say, our bar was low, and we literally found the first tree that seemed "okay" and cut it down.  It's pretty small and somewhat sparse, but from experience we know that they all sort of look the same once up and decorated in our living room, so there's no use in stressing and arguing and being picky and wandering the lot for an hour. 

It is always more magical when there's snow on the ground for this tradition.  Seems like that's an every-other-year thing... this year we were lucky.  A little bit of snow AND 36 degree weather.  Perfection.

Who gave that kid a saw?  ;)

My parents spent over an hour looking before we got there, and at that point had just decided they were just going to pick one up at Costco... and then they found a keeper just after we found ours.  The boys helped my dad cut it down.   

Snowball fights are their favorite.

Louie has turned into a total non-cooperator with photos all of a sudden.  Totally an almost THREE YEAR OLD.

We were about to get ready to leave when my mom found out they had chickens, and she of course had no qualms about asking Mr. Kringlund if we could go see them, knowing how much Louie would love it.  So we took a trip out back to the chicken coop and the boys got to pet this hen and fetch eggs from the coop and feed the chickens snow.  Louie was in heaven while Gus remained close to the door, a good distance between him and the unpredictable animals. ;) 

Louie fell asleep on the way back into the cities (thank goodness) and at my aunt Jeanne's house they camped out in her living room watching movies and playing with their iPad and Leap Pad for a few hours before we headed home for an early bedtime.  Because that's what the holidays are all about... packing the day full of activities and parties and then the subsequent collapse in exhaustion and reliance on electronic babysitters to keep the peace.

Decking the Halls

Sunday was another early morning, the boys woke up at 6:00 on the dot, SO EXCITED to get all the decorations out and get the tree up.  Dan and I resolved to not be crabby about the earliness this time.  We were intentional about having a good attitude, and were going to roll with it, stay in our pajamas all day, blast the Christmas music, let the kids play with breakable ornaments and climb ladders and put out the decorations wherever they wanted to because WHATEVER.  We had no where to be, no plans to follow through with, and no family members to appease.  Family. Day.  This is how it's done.

It was the perfect day, the perfect end to a long, exhausting, really fun but somewhat screwed up (routine-wise) holiday weekend.

It always looks worse before it gets better...  Lots of furniture that needed to be moved and toys that needed to be relocated.  Kind of loving the de-cluttering that was necessary to make room for all the Christmas. 

Last year after the holidays we packed away all the Christmas-related toys and books we have, so it's of course a huge thrill for the boys to pull all of that stuff out again.  They LOVE the two Playmobil sets we have and have been playing with them non-stop all week (tiny little pieces everywhere!).    

The boys got very antsy while Dan was getting the lights on the tree, so I let them take out the few decor items we have and do with them what they wanted.  Pretty much they put everything on the mantle, and then I slowly relocated and re-arranged it all throughout the morning. 

Marveling over their ornaments.  Gus especially was so excited and so helpful and so pumped to help decorate.  This Christmas with kids thing just keeps getting better and better.   

Both of them took every chance they could get to be on the little step ladder.

Looking guilty.  This is about the time when certain ornaments started ending up broken. 

We took a break for lunch...

... and then decided to let them watch The Polar Express while we finished things off.  All in the name of just getting it done, and avoiding more broken ornaments.  ;)

Louie did not nap. 

Jeez, I'm really pregnant. 

The sun is going down outside, still in pajamas!

The house started turning into crazy town about 4:00, which is to be expected when naps are forgone.  I was trying to get them to do a Christmas craft, or color in the Christmas coloring books we had pulled out with all the other stuff.  Nothing lasted longer than 3 minutes.  My suggestion to write letters to Santa was just flat out shot down.  They were like little pin balls of energy bouncing all over the living room, whining about being bored and fighting like it was their job.

So we all bundled up and went outside in the freezing cold (seriously it was like 8 degrees) for a little change of scenery and to run off some of that energy.  Dan hung the wreath on the door and I arranged some garland I had bought from our friend's Boy Scouting son in the window boxes.  

Dan busted out some impressive chalk skills.  I mean seriously, look at that?  He wins at life.

And finally, a dumb little video of the boys dancing to the ear-worm of a song that plays when you press a button on this little Spider-man ornament they got last year from my aunt.  This song has been haunting my dreams, I have heard it so many times over the last few days.  You have to turn the volume way up to even hear it, I am posting this really just so I can remember the ridiculousness. 


val said...

I love every inch of this whole post. Last weekend was insane here too, tree, boom, do it all. I have no napless babies, but there are others.

Thank you. I feel like I was in on your weekend even though we weren't actually even together, and that's a beautiful thing.

Dan's chalk drawing? Was that from memory or did he watch that show recently? I laughed. Why are he and James so absurdly good at sketching?

Okay, I love you and your ginormous belly and those crazy kids and your husband who folds laundry like a machine.

xo. love always, Val

Nicole Tully said...

Oh my goodness, how precious are they cuddled up together under their construction blankets! So so cute :)
Our family gatherings involve a lot of cousin time too (there are 7, all between 1.5 and 7 years old) and I commented several times over Thanksgiving how much easier, and calmer, it seems now that most of the kids are old enough to just play on their own in the playroom or outside. W and our new babe will be the youngest, but now that all the other kids are a bit bigger, there are plenty of open arms to help out with them, so again, just easier!
Looks like it was a fun (and VERY FULL!) weekend! I'm impressed you cut down your own tree. We consider doing that every year….but when the day comes it just seems so daunting!

Lisa said...

What a fun post to read! I'm jealous of your holiday weekend, despite the fact that I'm exhausted just thinking about it. But it sounds like so much fun with little kiddos!

Gus and Louie sleeping in bed together? Priceless. Glad that transition is going well (err, better).

And lol to your parents leaning towards a Costco tree...glad they found one they ended up liking, as buying at Costco seems a little like a travesty when you could cut down your own. :)

Are you ready for next year with a sweet little girl added to the mix?? :)

Erin said...

What a lovely weekend!!! I was a little bummed that we didn't get a real weekend because of the wedding in Fargo, but those are the breaks I guess. We often have to do the 2 families in one day thing, and yeah, I can't imagine just NOT going to one just because it's somewhat easier for us. I'd be so sad, even though I'm also kind of sad when I have to deal with my cranky children too :) Amen for electronic babysitters!!! We have to squeeze both families into Christmas day this year, that'll be..... interesting. It seems worse for Christmas because of all the sensory overload with gifts too. I'm sure it'll be fine hopefully. Anyway, love the post and that you got a day of shopping out of it!

Berbs33 said...

Sounds like a great family filled weekend! And Louie eating two cheeseburgers is amazing! I am scared for what is in store when our boys are teenagers, we may need to get part time jobs just to feed them.