Monday, January 2, 2017


So, since I last posted, we are all done with holidays for 2016 (well, and 2016 as a whole!). This has the potential to be a very long post, so I'll try to keep my recap brief :)

We did Thanksgiving at our house again this year, and it went well enough, except for a situation with an undercooked turkey that led to a touch more drama than I would have preferred.
[Here is a representative picture from Thanksgiving... I do not know what was happening here]

The next weekend, Josie and I met up with one of my friends and her daughter for some winter-themed fun. I had originally thought about taking Josie up to NYC (since there's nothing like NYC at Christmas-time!), but decided that was too ambitious for now... perhaps in the spring instead, when the weather will be better and I'll actually drive up there (instead of taking the train, which would have added some significant cost and complications). Anyway, we went to National Harbor instead, which was a good time... and considerably closer ;)

Josie and I took that Friday off, and got up there a bit earlier than when we were to meet our friends, so we walked around a bit, I said hi to my old friend the giant ("The Awakening"), and Josie got up close and personal with the slightly smaller, but still life-size statues there.

[In front of the giant Christmas tree]

We went to ICE! at the Gaylord Resort, which was shockingly cold but also surprisingly interesting. The girls seemed to like it but still kind of blew through it pretty quickly, but I was impressed by how just about everything was made of ice... and even verified it a couple of times, since it just didn't seem possible that some of things could be made of ice. So even though we were only in the exhibit for maybe 15 minutes, my fingers were completely numb by the end from touching the ice (and trying to take a few pictures).

[Josie, lying on some ice]

[Sofia and Josie]
[Sofia rightly wondering why Josie is lying on some ice again]
[Me and my little ducklings]
[Carving some more ice sculptures]
[The nativity scene]

We went to decorate gingerbread houses next, which the girls were very excited about. We shared a house (everything was a bit pricey there!), so the girls each got two walls and one side of the roof to decorate, which went pretty well. We then had some delicious hot chocolate in the atrium of the Gaylord, where Josie proceeded to get very confused as she demanded to know why there were houses INSIDE the hotel (to which I replied, "Good question").
[Pretending like I know what I'm doing]
[Hard at work]
[M. taking a turn at pretending like she knows what she's doing ;)]
[The finished product]
[Josie's roof flower]
[Licking some knives]
I had gotten a hotel room for the night, which maybe was an extravagance, but at least not as much of one as if we had stayed at the Gaylord ($300+ a night!). I was counting that weekend as the mother of all Mommy/Josie outings, and a large part of that was staying at a hotel (probably more so than ICE!). Josie had been talking about it for weeks, and I'm pretty sure her favorite part of the whole weekend was the breakfast buffet.

Anyway, so we went back to the hotel for a little while, and then headed out to an oyster bar for dinner (which I had jokingly suggested, thinking that was one of the more unlikely places to take two ~5 year olds, but my friend called my bluff and we ended up having a very enjoyable dinner there... even the girls!). We then wrapped up the evening by going back to the Gaylord for the indoor "snow" and lights/music show.

Then, a couple of weeks later, we did Christmas with the local side of my family. We were a bit worried about if we were going to be able to celebrate all together before my sister-in-law had her baby (given that she was quite pregnant at the time), but decided to forge ahead anyway, despite pretty much everyone being sick (and I think my mom and I were the only ones to come down with another cold afterwards, so that mostly worked out!). Benjamin was able to get more into opening his presents this year, and it was fun to see all the kids tear into their gifts.

And then one week after that, it was Christmas proper. At first, the girls seemed a bit lackluster about the presents that suddenly appeared under the tree Christmas morning, although Audra at least noticeably perked up once she asked "Oh, is it Christmas today? Do we open presents now??" So after everyone ate a leisurely breakfast, got dressed, and did miscellaneous other tinkering around (my dad would have been so proud! ;) ), we finally sat down to open presents. This was the first year we had stockings, so the girls were quite excited about their stocking stuffers... although we don't have a mantel, so we hung the stockings with care from a side table instead.

Then they got to the presents under the tree, opened one each... and then promptly stopped the proceedings to read a book together. Can't complain about the girls being so excited about their presents that they needed to play with each one at that exact moment, but it did make for a longer episode of present-opening :)
[Testing the video conferencing capabilities of Josie's new Kindle]
[Audra had some drilling to do]
[Josie and her favorite boots EVER]
One big present that didn't find its way under the tree on Christmas was Josie's loft bed. This was Ryan's first major welding project, and he finished it up just in time for Christmas, so now the girls are sleeping in the same room! It doesn't really seem like they're "sharing" a room yet, since all of Audra's stuff except her bed is still in her old room, but we are starting to figure out how we're going to rework the girls' room to accommodate Audra's stuff too... and then once we finish with that, then we'll work on transforming Audra's old room into an office.

So Josie loves her new bed, and the girls seem to like sleeping in the same room so far... granted, Josie doesn't appreciate when Audra cries and wakes her up, but since Audra has been having troubles sleeping again lately, I'm back to sleeping with her anyway, which means I can usually catch it and help her calm back down before she wakes Josie up. It's all baby steps :)

After opening presents at our house, we headed over to Ryan's parents' house for the rest of the day. So we had some brunch, opened presents, played with said presents, and then had dinner, which wrapped up all the Christmas celebrations with family, as it should be ;)
[Ryan was done tuckered out]
[Josie singing some karaoke with cousin Taylor]
And then the final excitement for the year: Brian and Emily's new little boy :) Emily held on until after Christmas, and Elliott was born on December 29th. My mom and I went out to visit them on New Year's, which was a wonderful way to start off the new year. Yay for adorable little babies :)

Miscellaneous cuteness:
[Our dining room was card-making central for December... this is before the mess consumed the entire table]
[Surviving my first time with the girls on my own with Ryan gone on travel... this was our good night picture to him]

[Sad Audra bringing down the mood for cousin pictures since 2014 :( ]
[Josie with her decorated cookie for her school's holiday party]

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