Last Wednesday morning we finished packing a few things and then loaded everything in the car to head north to my oldest sister's [Cara] house in Minnesota. It has become a tradition for us to go to her house for Thanksgiving and we decided that we would make the trip up there again this year. I went back and forth with that decision this year though. Knowing the drive time is about eight hours, I wasn't sure how it would be with a five month old who eats every three hours. But we decided to go up anyway [after deciding not to go, it just didn't feel right to not go, so I changed my mind, kind of last minute, and off we went]. I was glad we decided to go up there, it's the one time during the year that I get to see my sister and her family. Plus, with the exception of two Thanksgivings since we've been married, we have gone to my sister's for Thanksgiving. It's tradition!
On the way up we drove straight through, stopping only for lunch and one other time for Oliver to eat. We were both pleasantly surprised at how smoothly the trip up went. When we were about an hour or so away from my sister's house, Oliver decided he'd had enough of riding in the car and started to fuss. I climbed in the backseat and talked to him for the rest of the trip and he was full of smiles, giggles, and coos. The boy just needed some company.
We arrived around dinner time on Wednesday evening and shortly after put the boys to bed. We were all staying in my niece's bedroom. It was nice to have a room to ourselves for the visit, but it was tight! Unfortunately for us [or Emerson, or both], Emerson needs his space. Especially when it comes to sleeping and waking up. He did not sleep very well while we were at my sister's house at all, with the exception of the last night, and that was probably because he was so exhausted. And naps? Well, those didn't really happen either. But it was only for a few days and we managed. Even with the lack of sleep Emerson still managed to be fairly happy and sweet. The last night we were there was his breaking point and he lost it. Poor boy. Thankfully it was the last night and he slept like a log that night. whew!
Thursday morning started out cold and rainy which soon turned to even colder and snow. It snowed into the early afternoon and it was so calming and peaceful to look out and see the snow silently fall from the sky. Inside the house was not so quiet - two dogs who loved to bark at anything, all the time and five kiddos make for a full and busy place. Cara and I spent a lot of time in the kitchen that day baking, cooking, looking up recipes, washing dishes, and holding Oliver. Around four o'clock that afternoon the turkey was finished and dinner was ready to eat. We gathered around the "Thanksgiving Table" [the official name of the table as that's the only time it's used for eating at :] on stools, chairs, and benches of all sizes and heights and enjoyed our Thanksgiving meal together.
In the years past, Cara and I have gone Black Friday shopping at the Mall of America because it's close to where she lives. I wasn't sure about going this year since Oliver was just a baby and would wake and need to eat in the night. Though, he's kind of consistent in his sleeping and waking to eat in the night, he's not consistent enough for me to plan how much milk to leave for him. Add in that we weren't sure how long we would be gone and I was leery of going shopping. But, it's become a tradition for us to go shopping together and I really like that special time we are able to spend together - talking in the car, shopping together, and just spending quality time with each other. So I decided that Oliver would come with us, and we figured we'd just go in the middle of the night after he woke up for his middle of the night feeding, usually round 2am. It turned out to be about 11:30 that night though. So... we left a lot earlier than anticipated and on very little sleep, but we went and had a good time walking around together. And Oliver slept the whole time. He woke up around the time he normally would at home, so I just snagged a fitting room and fed him. If you're on the look out for a nice place to feed your baby while shopping, go to Eddie Bauer, so nice. After he ate, he went right back to sleep and we finished our shopping trip and made it home in time for breakfast. hah.
I took a little nap and then we spent the rest of the day hanging out, telling the dogs to hush, playing with fun toys, and reading books.
My niece and nephews are a little bit older so they were able to play with and help look after Emerson and Oliver a little bit, which was nice. Emerson quickly warmed up to my niece and figured out who to ask for things he wanted. hah. He also carried around my travel size Bible the whole time we were there. Oliver enjoyed the new faces and the fact that he was being held pretty much constantly.
Every Friday evening after Thanksgiving, the little town my sister lives in has a Holiday Stroll and then a parade downtown. Shops open, hot cider is sold, carolers sing in the street, chestnuts roast on an open fire, there are reindeer, penguins, and Santa makes an appearance. So much fun. This year her boys didn't feel like going, so we bundled mine up and took them to enjoy the festivities. My niece came along and we walked through the cold on our Holiday Stroll.
We got to see Santa, decorate cookies, and see a reindeer. Oliver was a trooper through all of it and just hung out in his carseat/stroller with lots of blankets and a warm hat to keep him nice and cozy.
It was a fun and full few days with lots to do but at the same time not much at all to do. Not sure how that works, but it does. At least for me. On Saturday morning we packed up the car again, said our good-byes and headed for home. Though that's a story for another day...
*I realize the quality of these pictures isn't the greatest, but at least I remembered to take pictures this year! :)