Yesterday morning dawned cold and snowy. The day became even snowier, and it seemed determined to bury us in for the duration. As more than six inches of fresh snow fell in our yard, we wondered if we'd ever make it out of town that afternoon to spend Christmas at my parents' house.
By the time we left home around 4, the snow had stopped, but the roads in town were near impassable in places. We had to slide down a hill once because the tires started spinning. Once we were on the highway, the roads were okay until closer to Minocqua, where they became snow-covered and slippery again. We made it, though.
During the Christmas Eve church service, I drew pictures of Lightning McQueen and Mater for Ben on the back of the program. Snapshot: When we started singing "O Holy Night," Ben started jamming next to us, complete with air guitar and booty shake. It's hard to explain to an almost-three-year-old that not all songs are dancing songs.
Back at Nana's, we let Ben and Anna open a couple of presents from family to keep him occupied. Snapshot: My brother's family gave Anna a box of tissues as a present. I knew she'd love it, because she's often strewn tissues around the house like rose petals. Instead of going crazy and tossing them everywhere, she pulled one out at a time and then brought them directly to the garbage bag that was sitting open for discarded boxes and paper. Such a conscientious girl!
My brother Mitch and his family opened their presents to each other. (They gave each other Mike and Ike's ... I'm so jealous!!) One of the gifts unwrapped was one of those new Monopoly games that uses a credit card system instead of cash, and Becky (Mitch's wife), Alisha (their 14yo daughter), Chris and I played until we were near to passing out around 10. Ben and I went to bed while Chris stayed up with a sleeping Anna on his chest. He was talking to Mitch and Becky until 1:30 in the morning. Crazy man.
Morning came far too early, and we gorged ourselves on homemade cinnamon rolls (we call it by the Finnish name "nisu") and breakfast pizza. My sister Jolene and her family came later in the morning. She has a son Gage who just turned 2 a month ago. Gage and Ben were chasing each other around the house and playing so easily together. It was remarkable to watch. I got to know my new niece Mya (she's 4 months old now) while Jo's stepdaughter Taylor entertained herself with Alisha.
We opened lots of presents after lunch and just before our family was going to leave for Wausau. So many gifts. So much fun. The ride home was easy, and as soon as we got home (and retrieved Molly from the dog sitter), we started putting together the new toys. The big circus tent playhouse was erected. I put together Anna's dolly stroller (now we just need a dolly). And Chris started the gargantuan task of putting together the play kitchen.
After no few than 3 hours, the kitchen was finally completed, and Ben and Anna were delighted with the finished product. Snapshot: Ben's favorite task is to wash his hands in the sink. Over and over again. At least I've taught him something wholesome. Snapshot: Ben knew instinctly where the ladle and spatula were supposed to go, even though we didn't have a clue. He placed them where they belong... on a couple of hooks built into the backsplash. We were dumbfounded.