Although there will be many more pictures posted in this entry, I chose to give this one first place. Anna took this with her new camera, and it was supposed to be a family picture. I think it depicts rather well my general impression of our Christmas vacation: a little crazy, slightly out of focus, and somehow we’re still mostly having a good time.
A few nights before we left for Utah, it snowed in Seattle. For anyone who knows anything about Seattle, you’ll know what that sentence means (hum the theme music from Psycho, if it helps). Needless to say, the entire town shut down for two days, right when Adam most needed to be at work and finish up his project. It was worrisome for us in terms of traveling. However, to cheer things up a bit, the night before we left we took some time to play outside in the snow with the girls. They loved it!
To answer your questions, yes, the diaper box (above) was our homemade sled (what use would we have ever had for a sled in Seattle?), and no, that’s not a hill at the park (below). That’s our driveway.
We left on our 850-mile drive around 9:00 AM Friday morning, and we made it to Boise that evening without too much trauma. There was some serious blowing snow in the Blue Mountains, and the road was pretty slick in some places, but from what we’ve heard from others who made the same drive, we got pretty lucky. We visited Adam’s grandpa in Boise that evening, stayed at a hotel, which Anna LOVED, and got to Lindon the next afternoon. The most eventful part of the trip, oddly enough, was getting stuck about 1 mile north of an accident scene just south of Brigham City, Utah. We waited for about 45 minutes, watching the NINE ambulances flash past, and as they finally let us through, a highway patrolman helped us pick our way through the wreckage of nearly 20 separate minor accidents, all probably resulting from one driver not understanding icy roads. There were 11 other wrecks on the northbound side, probably from an original rubbernecker. It was incredible. Luckily there were only a few minor injuries, we learned later. Anyway, it made us grateful that we hadn’t been five minutes faster.
and some time with the people we love best. We also spent a fun evening in Salt Lake (the Gateway and Temple Square) with Audrey and Emily (and their parents :)), and between the Trax ride, the McDonald’s toy, and the pretty lights, we had a darn good time.
I would, however, like to lodge a complaint with the office of He Who Decided Christmas Should Replace the Solstice Festival. Those decision-makers long ago should have left the Solstice Festival alone – everybody come together and share your food (since it’s running out) and your company and get drunk (to keep yourselves warm)—and celebrated Christmas in the spring. Or the summer. Then I wouldn’t have to dread Christmas as the time when I just KNOW my kids are gonna get sick. Sure enough, they were sick through almost the entire vacation, which made them much less cute than their normally sweet, adorable selves. It’s always at the least appropriate times that my kids end up with snotty noses, fevers, and coughs. It made for bad sleeping, and it turned darling, precocious little Mariah into an over-attached, grumpy, night-banshee. And here we are now, home for three days, and sure enough last night she slept through the night and went to bed without even a cry. And not only did everyone probably think she was a nightmare, but carrying her around EVERYWHERE I WENT for 2 1/2 weeks made me a bit of a banshee, too. But to prove that I still love her despite all, here’s a picture of us on Christmas afternoon.
See? I do like her.
So now we’re home, after a less-harrowing-but-longer-and-more-miserable one-day drive, and it’s good to be back. I was worried that it had been such a stressful vacation that I wouldn’t even feel like I’d had a break, but apparently just doing something that’s not my everyday routine, combined with seeing so many people we like, has rejuvenated me. I’ve spent two-and-a-half days alone with my girls again, and I haven’t even yelled once. :) Hopefully the new cheerful energy lasts for a while. It’s easy to get beaten down by this motherhood grind, and sometimes all it takes is a break to pull myself together again. Plus, a break as crazy as this one was does make me grateful that our lives, while monotonous, are quiet, peaceful, and predictable.
Yesterday we were painting the girls’ room (did I mention that we put them in the same room when we got home? I’ll report on that success/failure after a few more days of trial) with pretend paint when Anna suddenly declared she was the mommy, Mariah was her “Life’s First Baby” and I was her “Life’s Second Littlest Baby” (don’t ask me about that phraseology) and it was time for me to take a nap. So she led me to my bed as I crawled through the house, showed me how to climb into my crib (my bed, luckily), and told me to go to sleep. And as I lay there, snoring like a chainsaw, I looked through my eyelashes at my girls. They were standing side-by-side at the side of the bed and both gazing up at me with huge grins, giggling at my ridiculous snoring, and I was overwhelmed by the innocent pleasure of making those beautiful girls happy. I felt warm all over knowing that I had put those smiles there. It was so easy, in that moment, to do it, but I also realized why sometimes it feels so hard: just like the pleasure is so easy to bring, it’s so easy to lose. They were thrilled by my pretend snore, but in the next moment they were hungry and in the depths of despair before we could even walk to the kitchen. It’s exhausting to keep trying so hard for the smile that doesn’t last, to be instantly confronted with abject misery or blatant disobedience. That’s why sometimes it’s so hard to just sit down and play, because although you love the purity and joy of the reward, you also know it’s fleeting. So, sometimes play is a chore, which is easy to procrastinate. I suppose that’s where the love comes in—we play anyway, because we love them. It’s also where the wisdom comes in—we play anyway, because we know from our own memories that the things they’ll remember are those few moments of warmth and not the tantrums. So I’ll keep playing, even when it’s boring or frustrating, and 200 times a day, I’ll get a smile worth facing the tantrums for. :)
Happy New Year.