Monday, January 12, 2009

What I Did on My Winter Vacation

Stage one: Appleton

My parents and I drove separately to Wisconsin. They, traveling through the UP had a worse time than I did, traveling around Chicago, though mine was not particularly safe. They had slippy roads and a couple of white-outs, and I had nonfunctioning wiper fluid on the salt-laden highway and skiddy patches on the roads. I was extra glad to arrive in Appleton, even though they had three feet of snow!

The baby (she's a toddler now, really, but she's still baby-sized) was running around, and peeked at me then ran away giggling while I was getting settled. Eventually we were all together in the cozy living room, and the fun began. I was surprised and gratified that the baby seemed comfortable with me so quickly. The very next morning she climbed into my lap for a story, which she then did every day. The family had a good couple of days of relaxing, eating, going to a Christmas Eve service, and playing with the wee one. On Christmas Eve we also brought the gifts down from upstairs, as is the tradition, and the baby was excited, making cooing noises over the pretty boxes, but not touching anything.

It's so great to have Christmas with a littler one than me! She is not old enough to take over the job of handing out gifts (which I actually enjoy, mostly), but she is old enough to get excited about things. The first package she opened was an Elmo from her parents, and that critter went everywhere with her from then on, or at least had to be visible. We all had a laugh when she opened her Sesame Street Giggle Remote from Aunt Abby (picture of me trying to get it out of the box below), and she could barely stand up she was laughing so hard. I also got a kick out of my brother-in-law immediately putting on the Badgers hockey jersey I got him, and later when my Dad read straight through one of the books I bought him during our stay.

I myself got some fantastic things, too many if truth be told. I've used most of them already, including my big skillet, fancy olives, hymnal (that's right, I asked for a hymnal, and I love it), puzzles, Pushing Daisies dvd, CDs, and so on. One thing I haven't gotten to play with yet but which I can hardly wait for is my new interlocking cutting board. It comes in pieces (much like a puzzle) and you can use as many pieces as you need to get the size you want. And I can use it with my rotary cutter.
A few more favorite moments (and I'm probably forgetting more):

We had to split presents up over a few days, and we did a whole bunch of the baby's packages at once. She plunked down on my lap for each one, and I helped her open them. When she opened the (pink, frilly) tutu skirt her Aunt Abby got her, it had to be worn immediately and she had to dance in it, on her tippy toes. I also held her up to the mirror so she could see herself, and she didn't want to stop looking. It was very sweet and heart-melty.

I also got a football for Christmas, and my brother-in-law took me out on a balmy, sprinkly Wisconsin evening to teach me to throw. I don't have much strength, but with his instructions I was able to throw fairly accurately, at least standing still. I need work on catching, but I did grab it a few times. And fell in a snowdrift :) We got soaked and it was awesome (the baby, meanwhile, was on a walk with Grandma and Grandpa, and had to be directed back home against her will--she was out for adventure!)
My sister and I got out on our own for a bit, to the mall. We browsed around and looked at sales, and she had a pretzel and I an Icee, and she bought some maternity jeans. Then she bought an awesome hat and I bought my sweet shoes at Younkers. How can you go wrong with girl time? We had quite a good chat, which continued when we walked to the nearest postbox to their house, in the dark, with all the twinkly lights and snow.

My favorite meal was Mom's prime rib and Yorkshire pudding on Christmas Day--I was craving Yorkshire pudding, actually, which has not happened at quite that level before. We ate fabulous meals all week, but a tradition for us is take-out Chinese on Boxing Day. This year, we had Christmas crackers (which scared the baby) and wore the paper crowns from them (which she thought was hilarious--and it was). My little dinosaur from my cracker is now on my desk.

My parents and I left around the same time on Sunday, and we had quite a nice drive back after we got south of Appleton (which had had more snow). The drive down 294 (which we take around Chicago instead of the Skyway) was actually really nice, fast but dry and not too busy. It was actually the best driving of my trip out, too, which is surprising. The worst part was already missing everybody, especially the baby!

Stage two: Home home

I came back to BG for a few days, and then bumped up my trip home home so that my folks and I could go to the MSU vs. Alaska-Fairbanks hockey game Saturday night. We go at least once a year, usually at Thanksgiving, but MSU didn't play at home this year, so I was glad to get this opportunity. MSU, sadly, did not win, but I know a guy on Fairbanks' team, and so it was nice to see him in action. As always, I heart Jeff Lerg.

The rest of the time, I hung out with my parents, watched some movies and TV, relaxed, and went to church. Even though I was behind at the office, I was glad I came when I did and glad I decided not to do any work. It was peaceful. I ended up picking the exact right time to go, Saturday to Monday, because it was icy on Sunday and then snowed Tuesday through, well, now.

Stage three: BG

This week I've been working my butt off to get ready for the semester, and I think I've managed pretty well. I'm still behind, but my to-do list has a respectable number of things crossed off, and the rest have to do with stuff for me and not for school. I managed to get to both hockey games, joined by Carrie and Paul on Friday night, which was extra fun. And now...vacation is over. So get off my porch, you kids.

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