I'm back. :) Not too happy to be back at work, but happy to be able to blog today. I've been off almost a full week, and it's always hard to work the kinks out when you have gotten used to being "off routine." So, the highlights.
On the 23rd, I stayed home and wrapped presents. It was WONDERFUL. Mike is home on winter break as well, so spent a beautiful day together, and I felt so excited to see little Hank's excitement on Christmas morning. To me, this is one of the most wonderful times of year to be a parent. This is when the category 10 temper tantrums in the middle of Target all even out in a in a karma guided explosion of sweet memories. Good stuff.
The 24th is our larger family celebration. We gather with my mom's family and pretty much eat and visit for hours. We also always attend the Christmas Vigil. We arrived about 20 minutes early for the 4 pm Mass this year and easily got seats, but even this large church (our parish doesn't have a 4 o'clock vigil, so we usually attend somewhere else on Christmas) couldn't accommodate everyone that came. Lots of standing people in the back. We were crunched into a shared pew, but we did ok. Hank was an excellent boy. He's been so good at Mass lately I can hardly believe it. Just for saying that, I'm sure I will be smited this coming Sunday with a consecration-timed meltdown of Biblical proportions, but it's true. I had a wonderful time.
I have to say though, I usually enjoy attending Mass on any random Sunday more than on Christmas Eve. It sounds awful, but 'tis the truth. Like this past Sunday, the feast of the Holy Family, one of my favorite of the year. It was peaceful and special. On Christmas Eve, I feel crowded and claustrophobic. It's too bad that so many people that feel inspired to attend church on Christmas are not subsequently inspired to attend the rest of the year. But Christmas and Easter really brings the crowds out of the woodwork.
At any rate, after Mass, we headed to the family gathering. Hank is at a fun age now where he plays independently. So we arrive, and off he scampers with his cousins, not to be glimpsed for an hour at a time. Every time I did catch sight of him, his cheeks, from the running around and the warmth of the wood stove, were pinker and pinker and PINKER. He looked like a freshly plucked apple by the end of the night. It was so cute.
Christmas Day we do our own family gift opening first thing in the morning, then we gather at my parents to exchange with them and my sisters and their families. We cram into our parents living room, drink mimosas, and open gifts for what seems like hours now that our family has grown so much. This year, we had dinner at my house afterwards. Mike made an awesome ham, and my mom brought her family-famous lasagna.
The day after Christmas, I always go out to lunch with my mom and my visiting sisters. The men gathered at my house to drink beer, eat pizza and watch football. Hank played with his new toys and is in total bliss that he doesn't have school all week.
Yesterday, I just stayed home, ran errands, and puttered around the house with Mike and Hank. It was wonderful. I so hated to leave them today. :( I'm trying to conserve my vacation days for when the baby comes. I am taking off more time at the end of this week for when my mother-in-law comes to visit, so I have a nice long weekend to look forward to. It's all giving me a hopeful and good feeling about my upcoming maternity leave. When I had Hank, I suffered from postpartum depression (I'll post about that extensively before the baby comes) and my time at home was not good. I was crying, upset, and out of sorts the whole time. Going back to work was actually good for me, since it helped me to feel like me again. This time, I think it'll be different, and I couldn't be happier about that. I'll have Hank with me too, once school lets out in June. I'm very excited. I miss my boys so much today.
Over the holidays, to me, the special memories are the little things. Humorous baking disasters, sitting around talking, something cute that one of the kids does. This time, one of those things was the Game of Life. Mike wanted a copy, it was a favorite of his growing up, so I picked one for him as a gift. Sunday night after Hank went to bed, we embarked. I had never played before.
"Ok, you have to decide whether to go to college or pick a career straight off."
"Oh, I guess I'll go to college."
"That's fine, but you accrue debt to do so, just like real life."
"Typical. Oh, and interest too, lovely. I'm a veteranarian! I like that. The buildings are all cute. Hey look, a church! Oh, I like this game."
"That's where you get married."
"Married! Oh yay, you and I can get married!"
"Well no, we can't marry each other, but our pawns do get married. I think everyone has to."
"Oh, well, I guess that will have to do. Hey, what are those little blue and pink pieces?"
"I knew you would like those."
I ended up adopting twins, which caused much squealing and happiness. I also won. :)
At any rate, I'll be blogging today and tomorrow, before a short New Years break. I hope everyone is having a good vacation week.