We left Sunday morning and made it to Fayetteville without a hitch, where we stayed with our friends Katie and Scott for the night in order to break up our long thirteen hour drive. Alex was wired when he got out of the car, but slept hard and didn't get up until after eight o'clock in the morning.
The weather in Fayetteville was a blustery 18 degrees, and as I attempted to repack our overnight stuff into the van with frozen fingers, uttering things like, omigosh, I'm going to die, it is so cold, I'm going to die, I'm going to get frostbite on my fingers, then it will turn into gangrene and spread up my arms and onto my chest and into my legs until I will need a full body amputation, then all I will have is my head, which will freeze because I won't have hands to put a hat on, and then I will die a cold, cold, freezing cold death, Timothy reminded me that, at 7 degrees, Peoria was a whole 11 degrees colder than it was in Fayetteville. For just a moment, I had visions of Christmassing on the beach in Hawaii, of palm trees strung with lights and surfers in Santa hats, but then I realized that my family wouldn't be there, and decided I would brave the cold (and certain death) to spend the holidays with them.
So off we went, the only silly birds heading north for the winter. We were afraid that we might run into some bad weather, icy roads or blizzard-like conditions, but the roads were clear all the way to P-town, and we arrived in good time Monday evening. After dinner from our local fave, Avanti's, Alex crashed in his pack 'n' play and slept in again. He tends to do that, to sleep in after long road trips, probably because he doesn't get his usual 2 hour naps in the car. I'd rather him get good sleep during the day to prevent potential beastage, but being able to stay in bed past seven is nice, too.
This was the first time in a looong time since my whole family has been together now that my brother is living in Chicago and my sis is in Colorado Springs, so it was fun to reminisce about the "good ol' days" in the house where we grew up.
Every year, we spend our Christmas Eve at my aunt's house, and it is a big "to-do", so we spent most of Tuesday at the house, preparing food and wrapping gifts for the following day. Dad has become the resident chef in the family, and he had plans to make two large batches of his delicious homemade jumbalaya - one shrimpy batch and one shrimpless - in order to accommodate the varying palates in our family. I have to admit, I thought his plans were too ambitious and doubted that he would be able to get both batches ready in time. Luckily, Alex was willing to pull up a chair and pitch in to get the prep work done.
So he did much more eating than he did prepping. He had some celery, carrots, green peppers, and even some onion. He is definitely his grandfather's grandchild.
Mom was on dessert patrol and made cookies, although none of those cookies actually made it to my aunt's house. In fact, some of that delicious cookie dough never even made it into the oven. Salmonella, shmalmonella.
Once we got our work done, we spent the rest of the day goofing off. Here's what happens when you ask people in my family to pose for the camera:
Before Alex went to bed, he snuggled up and watched Christmas movies on the porch with Uncle Nick.
After A went down, we stayed up and played games, one of the things I most look forward to at the holidays. Maybe because I'm good at games and like to talk trash, but also because most of the games we play do not state "age 12+ months and up" somewhere on the box. No, these are "5+ years" games we're talking about, none of that sissy stuff that Alex and I play. You know, the kind of games that you've got to be more smarter than a toddler to play. And sometimes I just need to prove that I'm more smarter than a toddler...
Anyway, things went well enough for the first few games.
Then, I don't know, someone must have spiked the eggnog or something, or at least that would have been a good explanation had any of us been drinking eggnog, but things started going horribly awry. First, my sensitive, artist-type brother pulled out his crochet hook and went all Granny Fannie on us. I can understand a man being in touch with his elderly feminine side, but seriously...
Speaking of elderly and feminine, things didn't get much better as far as the girls are concerned.
Mom was self-admittedly having "hair issues", although I can't possibly imagine why.
Oh Mommy dearest, poor, poor, dear mother of mine, you didn't really think that I would let these pictures sit in my computer without posting them, did you? Let's just call this payback for all the embarrassing pictures you taped to my locker during my tumultuous teenage years. I'd say we're about even, wouldn't you? Luvya, mean it!!
Needless to say, we had a ton of fun, and we hadn't even gotten to Christmas Eve yet! More on that later...