Wow, what a crazy 2 weeks!
We started the holiday season with Grandma and Grandpa, a smoked turkey dinner and nice family time by the fire and with the tree. Grandma Kay made Aunt Minnies potatoes, Kay homemade chocolate confections and Tom a gourmet meal. It was so nice and yummy and great to just relax and visit with Tom's mom and dad. So thankful that they drove down to see us before our craziness started.
We did our family celebration Christmas Eve Eve, going totally against tradition with evening present opening and prime rib (normally we have beef wellington - tough life, I know). We also didn't have a real tree (for the 1st time ever) and the kids let me know how upset they were for weeks in advance about all this "un tradition" - in fact, at one point, they said "why don't you just cancel Christmas this year?!" I would have been totally fine with that! We did compromise and I bough pine scented spray to spray on the tree. Man, does that stuff stink! But, alls well that ends well. We had so much fun opening presents together and our neighbors even stopped by for a little holiday cheer. Kay had the best Christmas ever with HORDES of cooking supplies, a new phone and case that matches her new bathing suits. She was on top of the world! Billy was thrilled with his Legos and new 3/4 size guitar, he starts lessons next week:) He' going to give Jimmy a run for his money! Tom loved his new shorts and shoes as well as new casserole dish. Tracy was super excited about her new shoe sneakers (for dog walks) and appreciation basket from Kay (loaded up with chocolate!). Jimmy, in true 13 yr old fashion, was the hardest to buy for this year. Couldn't decide what he wanted, kept changing his mind and had expectations WAY out of our realm. He got some nice gifts (go pro, video games, etc) which is promptly decided to return and save the money for something bigger. I keep reminding him that these are very much 1st world problems and that he had a hard time deciding what he wanted because he already has all he needs. I think he gets it and he was a pretty good sport about the whole thing.
This is all leading up to why we had an early and non-traditional Christmas - MEXICO!!!
My parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary this year and treated us all to a week vacation in Playa del Carmen. SO generous and lovely and fun. Since we had been planning this for so long, our flight was out of Toronto so... we needed to fly to Toronto on Christmas Eve to get our flight to Mexico on Christmas morning. We had Christmas Eve dinner at Jack Astors, the kids swam in the hotel pool and by some divine intervention, we had a room with a fire place where we could set out our stockings along with a cup of coffee and treats for Santa. A pretty good approximation of home:)
Everyone arrived in Mexico throughout the day, we all got checked in and the kids hit the pool. We had a lovely dinner and went to the 1st of many shows that we would see at the resort that week.
The second day was the pinnacle. We had a surprise vow renewal planned for my parents complete with champagne, cake, bouquet, boutinerre and the girls as flower girls. Its was really touching and beautiful and both my parents had a little tear in their eye. Jimmy took photos and Tom was videographer and they all turned out lovely. Dinner was special at the fancy Italian restaurant and the kids were VERY well behaved.
The next 4 days were a blur of beach, pool, soccer, football (TV and beach kind) volleyball, sailing, kayaking, reading, eating, drinking, etc etc. I highly recommend it:)
Tammy and Jeff generously took 6 of the kids on an excursion as well - the Mayan pyramids and ruins followed by cave snorkeling and kayaking. Julie, Mom and Sue took a few boys to the pyramids as well (Billy was enthralled by the lizards) and Tom took a few boys to the driving range (god help us). Everyone got to do exactly what they wanted, when they wanted.We celebrated my parents, our family and Georgias 12th birthday AND, we even got to see the Packers WIN!! (best present yet!)
The whole family was together for the 1st time in years. The kids got along amazingly and we all got to relax and just be together. Really, a trip of a lifetime.
Unfortunately, all good things must end and on New Years Eve we were all up early and headed back to the airport. We were the last to leave and the kids got in 1 final swim and breakfast buffet fruit gorge.
We landed in Toronto at 9:30pm and promptly headed to our hotel and friends house (Rod/Peggy) for a bit food, drink and to ring in the new year. We actually ended up at a different neighbors house (long story) but that was fine. The kids saw their friends and we got to catch up and toast the new year. Perfect.
New Years day and the next was a series of running the kids around to see all their friends. They were thrilled! In fact, it was like we had never left, everyone fell right back into their friendship - easy peasy, love it! We were able to spend some really good quality time with Russ/Kim (thanks for the wonderful relaxing chili dinner) Peggy/Rod (thanks for letting Tom cook, he was going out of his mind - he hadnt cooked in 10 days!!) Luke/Laurie/Asher/Coya (thank you for the super yummy Korean lunch - still craving pork bone soup:))
Then, Saturday morning, after 1 final play date for each kid, it was back to the airport and back to our own beds in MPLS. We were so excited we could stand it. We picked up Nikki on the way home from the airport, got home, started the 1st of 10 loads of laundry, and .... promptly went to our neighbors for a casual wild rice soup dinner and dance party (ok ok, just Kristin and I danced but how can you NOT dance when Janet Jackson is on?!) Today is all about the other 9 loads of wash, packing up Christmas, getting caught up on bills, etc and then the monster grocery shopping trip. All in time for school to start tomorrow and for all of us to get back to a new normal.
We are so blessed - a wonderful/generous/healthy family and friends/neighbors in MPLS and Toronto (& Bangalore for that matter) that are like family. What a wonderful end to 2014 and a great beginning to 2015!!
Peace & hugs to you all!!