Now that the tree has lights on it, we were able to decorate it. Henry won't leave these ornaments alone though. He likes them too much. They were both past Christmas gifts from Nick's mom.
Thursday, January 16, 2014
The cold is here, in full force. Nick cut of the non-working Christmas lights on our tree, so we headed to Target to buy new lights for it. Since we were out, we took the opportunity to have lunch and extended playtime at the McDonald's Playland.
Amy and I took the kids to the ward Christmas breakfast. The hot chocolate was spiced, I am told it was Mexican hot chocolate. I thought it tasted like someone was trying to poison me.
After the closing prayer, Santa came for a visit. Amy, the baby whisperer/Mary Poppins, convinced Gigi to go see Santa and tell him what she wanted for Christmas. When Gigi got off Santa's lap, she asked Amy "Where's my Ariel [doll]?" Apparently Gigi thought it was an instant request/fulfillment deal.
In the evening, I went to Nick's work party, without Nick. I wore a nice dress, had Amy do my hair, and went for a night on the town by myself. I like Nick's co-workers and enjoy the chance of spending a nice evening with them and their spouses, even if Nick is on call at Northwestern. Another spouse came without her doctor husband, but she also brought a friend as a date. I totally should have done that.
Katie is not here, but we will celebrate her birthday anyway.
Amy helped me get Christmas decorations set up. The only problem is that the lights on the top half of the tree don't work. That means that 2 of the 4 feet of the tree aren't lit.
I took the kids to the library for a special performance by a puppeteer. This gentleman had obviously spent the 10,000 hours required to achieve mastery in a field, but it didn't change the fact that his marionettes were creepy. Santa met with the kids downstairs after the show, but once again Gigi wanted nothing to do with him.
Gigi never consents to have her nails trimmed, unless she sees Nick cutting his own nails, then she gets jealous and wants hers trimmed too. Henry doesn't need his nails trimmed because he bites his nails, including his toenails. Yes, I've tried to stop him.
We stayed in the same hotel as the Utah/Colorado Johnsons so we could spend more time with Nick's family. On Sunday, they headed back west, and we did a couple things we love and miss from St Louis before we headed home. There are so many people and things about St Louis we love, there's no way to fit them into one visit. We didn't visit or even tell anyone we would be there because our visit was so short and dedicated to the purpose of spending time with Nick's family.
Our hotel was a mile away from the Butterfly house, so we started our adventure there. We then drove to the Magic House (an awesome Children's museum). I took the kids inside for two hours while Nick slept in the car so he'd be ready to drive us home.
The most special even was attending the Missouri Botanical Garden's first ever lighted evening holiday event, the Garden Glow. I will admit I cried because it's so beautiful and I miss the garden so much. Their annual Holiday train show was at the same time, so we were able to see it too. It really was a beautiful evening, and I am so grateful Nick let us do it even though it meant we got home at midnight and he had to get up so early to go to work the next morning.
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
We woke up and left for St Louis at about 4:00 AM. We got there just before the viewing for Nick's uncle Alan was about to start. Alan passed away from cancer just a few weeks after his diagnosis. He was really an exceptional, upstanding guy. One of the sweetest things about the funeral was seeing more than a dozen Boy Scouts in full uniform act as ushers and assist in the funeral. Alan had spent much of his adult life in scouting. The Bishop commented that in the last 3 1/2 years, Alan had taken the scouts on 41 camp outs.
In addition to the sadness of the funeral, there is also the sweet part of getting to meet with family from far and wide. It's always special when we get to see Grandpa Buddy.
The electronics did a lot of babysitting today. Gigi woke up vomiting in the middle of the night. It soon became clear that whatever she had, I had too. I was really sick. It was all I could do to get the bedding in the wash. I basically spent the day keeping the kids alive, and laying on the bathroom floor. I was supposed to be packing for a funeral trip to St Louis so we could leave as soon as Nick got home, but I was too sick to do that and certainly too sick to get into the car. This illness chose its timing poorly. Thankfully, Nick and Henry were spared.
The Shreeves left early for a long weekend in Nauvoo. We were invited to Thanksgiving dinner at a friend's house. It was fantastic. The only downside was that Nick worked such long hours today, he made it home only in time for pie and to put the kids in bed. He did enjoy some delicious leftovers though.
Henry is serious about his train operations. We had a lovely pancake breakfast with Natalie and her family. And too soon is was time to head back to Chicago. Fortunately, the ride home was very uneventful except for Henry suddenly needing to pee when we were very close to home, but in a bad neighborhood.
If you ask Henry what his favorite thing about Toledo is, he would probably tell you about this Christmas train and village. All the kids had a fun time playing together. For the evening, Natalie found a sitter and we went out with two other ladies to see Hunger Games and get dessert.
We visited my friend Natalie. We became friends in St Louis and residency has taken her to Toledo. The art museum is the number one attraction in Toledo, according to TripAdvisor.com. That does not speak well for Toledo. The museum had a very nice children's art area. Gigi loved painting. Henry just wanted to play with their trains, which seems like a waste since we have those at home.
Tuesday, January 14, 2014
I had put Amy and myself on the cancellation list for the Village excursion to see Wicked downtown. The night before the show, we got a call saying two tickets were available. We said yes first, and the later sorted out the babysitting issues. We were the youngest people on the old-folks bus (except a granddaughter someone brought that was about ten), but it was super convenient to be shuttled downtown and dropped off and picked up right in front of the theater. I did find the tour guide a little unnecessary. I know how to get back onto a bus by myself.
I was excited to finally see Wicked. When I found out we were moving to Chicago I told Nick, "I'll finally get to see Wicked!" I had seen a giant posted for it every time I was ever at the St Louis airport. My mom and sisters had talked about how great it was. And then it closed right before we moved, so it took me more than three years to finally see it. It was good, but I don't get why it has a cult following. It has all these "big surprises" but the foreshadowing is so heavy nothing was surprising. And it has something of a plot/motivational hole that drove me crazy. This was a first rate production, but there's lots of other shows I'd choose to see again ahead of this one.
Our Village had our annual Family Portrait Event/Turkey Bingo night. Nick couldn't make it, so we didn't have family pictures, just kid pictures. But then Gigi wouldn't go anywhere near Santa, so it's just Henry pictures.
We enjoyed our first Bingo experience with Turkey Bingo. The Shreeves came along for the fun of it. For each round, the first Bingo received a frozen turkey, then several secondary winners won side dishes for Thanksgiving dinner. For all the money we all dished out on Bingo cards, we left with a grocery store cherry pie and a can of olives. The kids got prizes in the rigged children's game, because all the kids won.
We took a break in the middle of the day. Gigi napped and Henry swam. He was happiest in the 6 inch deep baby pool (shown.)
Then we headed back over to the park, rode McQueen again, got to meet the man himself (Gigi wouldn't go near it), and we shut the park down as the last people to go on Toy Story Midway Mania except the employees who went on their way out of the building.
We had a wonderful day at Disneyland. I was sad that Nick couldn't come and he had to miss the magic of seeing his kids enjoy it, but I was having too much fun to dwell on that.
Both Henry and Gigi thought that the Chip 'n Dale roller coaster in Toon Town was the greatest ride of all time. We went on it more than once.
We did not wait in any lines to meet characters, but by serendipity, Gigi was able to give Belle a hug when they crossed paths.
The Smith grandkids, after riding Winnie the Pooh.
My favorite part of the day was probably the Christmas parade. The parade was spectacular and cute, but the real magic was watching my kids' faces as they watched the parade. And I loved that Gigi was perhaps even more excited to see the Toy Story characters than she was to see the princesses.