We went to Utah for Christmas again this year. Thankfully the roads were clear and this was our first time doing the drive in the our Odyssey and with Rose. We were both dreading it because we didn't know how well Rose would do since she is not a huge fan of car rides in the first place, but overall it went pretty much as good as we could have hoped. We woke up at 4:00 a.m. and were away by probably 4:30, and while the girls didn't immediately fall back asleep, they sat quietly looking at the lights flash past outside for a while, then finally nodded off and slept until probably 8:00, which was right about the time we were pulling into Reno. So we stopped for breakfast, gas, and a bit of a stretch for everybody. The rest of the way the girls snacked, played with toys, looked at books, and watched movies, although Rose did take a good nap somewhere across Nevada. Really, we only had maybe 30 minutes of serious fussiness out of Rose but she never started crying, so all in all the drive went well.
We spent the first couple of days of the trip at my parents' house in Farmington. We baked Christmas cookies, did a little bit of shopping, and took the girls swimming at the Bountiful rec center (its a tradition now, I guess, since we have gone the past three years). The biggest thing that happened at my parents' house was that Rose legitimately, officially started walking. Like, from one side of the room to the other side of the room walking. It was very exciting. I also finished reading "The Boys in the Boat" (which I loved - my favorite book of 2014) and started reading "A Town Like Alice" (also a wonderful book - thanks Brooke and mom for the recommendation!). Paul and I went and got pedicures (another Christmas tradition) while my mom watched the girls one morning. Then we headed down to Alpine on Christmas Eve to stay with Paul's family.
The girls woke up around 7:00-ish on Christmas morning and we all played downstairs before going to the living room to see the things that Santa had brought. Dave and Deborah were there too with their boys, Colton & Graham, and it was so cute to see how well Clara and Colton played together this year. It is really the first time that they have really interacted and truly played with each other instead of just by each other. Rose showed off her newfound walking skills.
We have such a hard time scaling things back, even though we talk about this every year. Our plan for next year is just three things per girl. Hopefully we can stay committed to that and not get carried away. Rose got a vTech car track, an owl puppet that she fell in love with at Yosemite, a book about colors and shapes, a Leap Frog phone (it has been a huge hit with her - definitely her favorite gift), and a rocking bunny (from Pottery Barn Kids - I agonized over whether to do this because it was expensive but majorly lucked out and got it for half off and both she and Clara really love it).
Clara got puzzles, stamps, books, colored pencils, dress up clothes (ballerina, witch, Native American, and princess), a mermaid doll (easily her favorite gift), Dusty Crophopper plane, and yes, an Elsa doll. But after hugging the box with the Elsa doll, Clara never asked us to open it and didn't give it another glance the rest of the trip because she was so enamored with her mermaid doll (which I KNEW would be the case because I know Clara and her tastes and what she really loves) and since she already had so much stuff and we knew she wouldn't even notice, we took the Elsa doll back to the store (at Paul's suggestion) and Clara is none the wiser. The mermaid, on the other hand, has hardly been out of her grip since Christmas morning. While driving home from Utah we looked back to notice Clara tenderly rocking the mermaid in her arms while humming softly to her and stroking her hair. When Clara noticed us watching her she gave us a small, perfectly contented smile and Paul and I high-fived for nailing the Santa thing with that little doll.
We had also wrapped a couple of things for Clara from us, including an Elsa nightgown (it was a solution to the whole Elsa thing - a nightgown meant she could dress up in it but we could also rationalize with her that she couldn't wear it all day each and every day since it was primarily for sleeping in, not wearing to preschool and stores and such) and a purple winter coat. The nightgown was easily Clara's other favorite gift and she wore it all day long on Christmas and every night since. Really, the nightgown was probably a more comfortable solution for her too since it has short sleeves and most of the costume options were long sleeved.
The girls also got goldfish crackers, jellybeans, and gummy bears in their stockings, which is huge because those aren't normal things we keep around our house.
After taking our time on Santa presents, everybody eventually started opening up gifts that we exchanged with each other. Between Paul's family on Christmas Day and my family the day after, we were very spoiled. The girls got lots of new books, new clothes, a tiny rocking chair for Rose (another major hit), a purple camelback for hiking and a scooter for Clara (she has already got that thing figured out and is flying on it when we go for walks). Paul and I got lots of new clothes (much needed and much appreciated), shoes (both running and flats for me!), a soundbar for our entertainment system, and a gorgeous new set of 12 steak knives to replace the sad, sad, sad ones (four of them) that we have hobbled along with for our entire marriage.
Clara also got this sweet teddy bear from Kayli and ladybug bag from Kayli's family in Texas, which is right up her alley.
And after all the presents were unwrapped the girls were in heaven when Grandpa Nash brought in the kittens. They got them a few months ago as a way of dealing with a mice problem and told Clara about them when they were out visiting for Yosemite. Clara has been dying to get to Utah to see Mittens and Midnight and they did not disappoint. She carried those kittens around the house like a pro. Rose was pretty interested too.
The day after Christmas we packed up and headed back to my parents house for the afternoon. We opened more presents and had a delicious dinner of Chicken Cordon Bleu that my mom made, then Jennie, Ryan H., Jessica, Paul and I went to see "Into the Woods". We headed home the next morning, which was a day earlier than we had wanted to but with the weather forecast we didn't want to have to drive in snow the next day. The girls did just as well on the drive back.
It has been a lovely holiday season over this past month. But I always feel ready to move on by the time Christmas is done. It is so nice to have taken down all our ornaments and packed everything away until next year. But I have one last thing about Christmas to share ... a little video compilation from some of the things we did this year set to one of my very favorite Christmas songs. Merry Christmas!