Monday, December 31, 2012

Celebrating Christmas

1,560 miles traveled.

27 and three quarters hours in the van.

34 states found playing the license plate game (including Hawaii!).

Countless episodes of Tom & Jerry, Charlie Brown, and Looney Tunes.

Approximately 4 days of on-again off-again fevers.  (Praise the Lord that Reed's fever never materialized into anything.  He only had a severely drippy nose, and chapped lips as a result of that.  So thankful for this!)

Endless dirty tissues.

Our "Dance" playlist on repeat...repeat...repeat...repeat...

(Only!) 6 pit stops.

2 servings of Culver's custard.

2 parents.  2 kids.  1 dog.

Priceless Christmas memories spent with our entire families.

(But let me tell's good to be home!)

We headed out of town bright and early on Christmas Eve morning.  And by "bright and early" I mean 8:30.  Because we're parents of small children and their sleep is numero uno preceding an extensive period of time wherein we are all trapped inside a moving vehicle.  We arranged the van like we did when we went on vacation this summer (except this time we had Luci), and we hit the road headed for Iowa.  We stopped along the way for lunch, gas, the potty, and, well... 

I think by now we're all very aware of our love for obsession with this place.  I mean seriously.  And it's pretty much required on road trips.  It's like fuel for the Mama's soul.  Not to mention her sanity.  Especially on lengthy road trips.  With children.  At Christmas time.

{Sidenote}:  I kid, but the boys truly are awesome travelers.  Sure there are complaints and squabbles and whining and aches and pains (mainly mine) and we won't even go into the little episode Reed had while we were coming home (Drew even said, "Mama, you've never been that mad."  Yeah, it was bad.)...but for a three and five year old, Drew and Reed were super.  We had our arsenal of snacks and movies and toys and activity books to keep them occupied, and when necessary, paused for either ice cream or another go-round of "We are never ever getting back together..." and we were golden.

We arrived at Brad's parents house that night around 6:30 and celebrated Christmas the next afternoon with his family.

Not a bad looking bunch.

And, as always, the boys' cousins totally loved on them, giving them so much time and attention.  Their cousins sat down with the boys and did puzzles and games and Drew's new Legos with them.  They allowed the boys to use their iPods and phones to play video games.  I love this.  {Now, I have to figure out a way to get one or two of them to come to our place next summer to do a bit of nannying.  That would be sweet.} :)

On Wednesday, we had the extra special treat of playing for a bit with what would be the boys' second cousins.  Or first cousins once removed.  Or something like that.  (I have no idea how all of that works.)  A few of Brad's cousins and their kids stopped by for a visit, and it was nice getting a chance to catch up and see each other.  It doesn't happen very often.  

Thursday morning we headed from Pella toward Minnesota via Des Moines.  After having breakfast with my aunt, we headed north and arrived at my parents' house late afternoon.  Justin, Mindy and Perry were already there, so the little boys began playing two seconds after gracing the front door with their presence.  You wouldn't know how infrequently they see each other for how well they play together.  It's pretty awesome.

When we left Midland, there was barely a trace of snow left on the ground.  We have yet to go sledding here this year.  Minnesota, however, very rarely disappoints and on Friday afternoon Dad and Justin took all four boys to the hill.

I hear it was a good time.  :)

We celebrated Christmas together Friday night...

...complete with presents, tons of food, and an extra late bedtime.  But totally worth it.  I love being with family. :)

We spent much of Saturday laying low, and enjoying each other and our new gifts.  That night we went and saw the lights at Sibley Park.  It's the first year they've decorated like this, and with over two million lights, it was pretty impressive.

Back on the road Sunday morning, aiming to make it home in one day's trip.  It is a 12 hour drive, should you not have to make lengthy stops along the way, so with small kids, it borders on 13 or more hours in travel time.  The first five hours were great because we were looking forward to this...

Like we were gonna pass this by!

We noticed on our first car trip to Midland (back in June) that the World's Largest Culver's was along our route, and boy oh boy, we were not going to pass up the opportunity to make this a definite stopping point along what will be our many travels back and forth along I-90!  It was significantly larger than most Culver's, but not like amusement park size.  Definitely cool for this butterburger lovin' family!

We only ended up having to pit stop twice, so we clocked an official travel time of 12 hours, 45 minutes.  That's a full day, folks.  And boy did my body feel it!  

We've made playing the license plate game a little tradition when we travel.  And traveling so far makes it such a worthwhile game to play.  Although, until the boys can read those license plates for themselves, I would say that I get a little more enjoyment out of it than they do.  It's still fun, and does make the time pass, especially when I'm the one driving!

(And we did spot Hawaii!  Once in a lifetime is probably all I can ask for for that one!)

Back home, with one day to spare before the end of the year.  And I'm sure it'll be filled with laundry.  Lots and lots of laundry.


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