16 January 2017

A Christmas Holiday Recap

When I arrived back home from my January work trip last week, I was tired. It was late, I had a few long days with productive, but exhausting meetings, my to-do list in several areas of my life was too long, Colin kept the girls up so they could see me before they went to bed, and Zoe had a bad rash that was going to need medical attention in the morning. After a good night's sleep and recovering (to some extent) from the most recent trip, I realized that feeling so drained may have been a result of so much travel over the past 10 weeks. I'm still feeling a little drained after a 3-day weekend, but it was good to get more things checked off the to-do list.

Between November 7 and January 11, I've spent almost 6500 miles in the car. The bulk of those miles came from trips up to the northeast for both Thanksgiving and Christmas/New Years.  And while sitting or driving the car is one aspect of travel that can be difficult, I find the packing, unpacking, and recovering from the trips to be the hardest. My monthly travel for work is the easy packing since it is just me. But trips up north require thoughts about the weather, holiday outfits, activities we might do, and making sure things like clothes, diapers, snacks, food, beverages, and activities are available for the 12 hour trip. Most of that planning and packing falls to me since I get to rest in the car (or entertain in the backseat) while Colin does the bulk of the driving.

In between all these trips, which took place just about every other week, we tried enjoying some holiday events in or around home. We enjoyed a holiday potluck with Portuguese friends, gingerbread house making with our friends and neighbors, tried making Aunt June's famous cookies as a family of 4, and checked out a few holiday light displays and shows. We capped off our holiday fun with the annual Pullen Park Express, which is a fun evening of endless rides on the carousel, holiday crafts, a train ride around the park, and the girl's first (and only) time meeting Santa.

All dressed up for a holiday dinner
Girls enjoying their fancy, sparkly silver shoes
Scheduling and actually doing activities with two toddlers is no easy feat. They did surprisingly well in their holiday outfits, but we spent more time entertaining them and chasing them around the holiday dinner than talking to anyone. Colin spent a long time building gingerbread houses, only to have Zoe eat part of one and Darwin completely demolish (ie - eat) our neighbor's house. The clean up for any food activity is always a challenge and I wonder if it is worth it. But, I know it is. While Zoe is still too young to follow some of the rules, I see Rose focus and take pride in her work. And watching Zoe naively eat a gingerbread house is endearing. I sometimes catch myself all wound up in a type A personality, and it seems we all have different triggers. I am constantly grateful for a husband who is much more relaxed and doesn't seem to mind spending an entire afternoon putting together gingerbread houses that will all be demolished either during decoration, or shortly thereafter.

Gingerbread house decorating (or eating if you are Zoe)
Rose likes to organize mommy's cookies - perhaps picking up on some type A organizing skills
I've never been too eager to have the girls meet Santa. It seems cruel to force kids to sit on the lap of a stranger so we adults can take a picture. We gave Rose the option to meet him and she said she wanted to, so we went for it. She was completely into it this year, but we made the mistake of trying to have Zoe sit with Mrs. Claus for the picture, an experience that petrified her. When we got to Santa we didn't bother trying to see if Zoe wanted to sit with him. Even Rose was a little reluctant to sit on his lap, until they got to talking about the movie Frozen.
Our friend Lucas and his family joined us at the Pullen Park Express
Rose hamming it up on the carousel
Zoe enjoying her ride on the carousel with mommy
Ready for the train ride

First time meeting Santa

While traveling 12 hours is not ideal, we continue to make it bearable by leaving between 1-2am after a few hours of sleep. It helps if we can have the car packed early so we can go to bed shortly after the girls do. They typically sleep for the first 5-6 hours, and are fairly content in the car for most of the morning. We have been able to make pretty good time on our recent trips. Unfortunately, during the Christmas trip, I battled a sore lower back, which has been hurting on an off since starting the trip.

Rose alternates between sleeping and playing in the car
Zoe could sleep for most of the drive
While visiting family, we were able to engage in some new and some regular activities. There was some snow on the ground in New York, so the girls got to try sledding down Colin's parent's front lawn on Christmas Day. We also checked out a museum in Albany that has a free carousel. We rode it about 3 times. In Rhode Island, we checked out the awesome Boston Children's Museum and managed to make a trip down to the beach. It was a little too cold for me, but Rose enjoyed playing in the sand.
All smiles waiting for the carousel ride in NY

The girls loved spending time with their entire family over the Christmas-New Year's trip. Rose looks up to her 6-year-old cousin Isabella, and is exhausted after a day of playing together. Both Rose and Zoe love the attention from their aunts, uncles, and grandparents. I always feel like I've gained 10 pounds when we get back, but there is so much comfort in being surrounded by family and food during the holidays. I also like getting a quick glimpse of winter and then heading back to our warmer weather. Though Colin and Zoe managed to catch a bug during the week, it was short-lived for both of them. My back was (and continues to be) a major bummer, though I hope some rehab and massages (Merry Christmas to me!) will be the fix I need.
Opening presents in New York on Christmas Eve
Rose posing with presents on Christmas morning

Girls opening presents on Christmas morning
I'm glad we were able to enjoy some holiday fun and visit with family to celebrate the season, but I'll admit that I am very grateful to have a few weeks with minimal travel and scheduled events on my calendar. It felt good to take down the tree and Christmas decorations this year. For me, it was the promise of a less hectic schedule ahead. We've started to get back on track with our diet (except for a few lingering sweets). Now, I'm hoping the weather can cooperate so we can enjoy some walks to the park as a family on the weekends and I can get back to some regular exercise.

I hope you were all able to enjoy the comfort and joy in your family/friends this holiday season and that your New Year is off to a tremendous start.

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