Thursday, January 17, 2013

A White Christmas - Montana Style

Christmas in Montana was lovely.  The girls did really well on the loooong drive to Nana and Papa's house.  It helped that Ava watched Mickey Mouse Clubhouse almost the whole way, of course.  June hardly cried at all, with maybe just a little crankiness during the last 45 minute-or-so stretch (who doesn't get cranky during that part?).  We put a Pull-Up on Ava for the drive just in case she got really desperate out in the middle of nowhere in Wyoming.  She kept it dry the whole way, despite being in tears for the last stretch because she had to go so badly.  We told her to go ahead and go in her Pull-Up (there was nowhere to stop and it was cold and windy and getting dark) but she refused.  Funny that she'll go in a Pull-Up during nap or at night, but apparently will NOT go any other time.
It's amazing how much longer that drive takes now that we do it with children.  We used to be able to make it in about 7.5 hours easily, but now it takes us around 9-10.  Just another way life was easier before children.  :)  But that's quite alright.  Part of the extra time is stopping for a long lunch to let the girls be free of their carseats for a bit.  Getting out of the car for a decent chunk of time is refreshing for us all.  And Casper is such a fabulous place to have lunch (not so much).

Watching Mikey Mouse Clubhouse on the road.  (It's a little blurry.  I am NO photographer.)
When we finally reached our destination, both girls seemed happy to see Nana and Papa.  June's reaction to seeing Nana at Thanksgiving was not so good, but she was happy to see Nana this time.  :)  The day after we got there was Tim's birthday.  That night my grandparents and my aunt Kim and uncle Jim (from my dad's side) came over for New York steaks and oh-so-yummy (professionally made) cupcakes.  There were lots of cupcakes in two flavors:  peppermint or gingerbread.  YUM!  Ava enjoyed her cupcake, but I'm pretty sure that when we sang "Happy Birthday" to Tim, she thought we were singing to her.  :)

Nana and Ava playing the piano.  Ava loves to "make music" on Nana's piano, which is why we got her a keyboard for Christmas, which you will see pictured later.
On Christmas Eve evening, we went to church with Nana and Papa.  It was a very nice service, although I ended up in the back hallway rocking Junie through most of it, and Ava had a little trouble sitting quietly.  Afterward we went over to Kim and Jim's house for dinner and the usual Christmas Eve celebration with the Dunn clan.  Evidently I failed to get any pictures from the night.  Darn!  No pictures even of the girls in their cute dresses.  What a fail.  :(  
It was great to see everyone, although I couldn't help feeling a little sad without Grandpa or my dad there.  This was the first Christmas I have been back since Grandpa passed away and it seemed like something was missing.  Kim always has a lovely spread of food, though, and we really enjoyed being there.  It's only too bad we couldn't have stayed longer.  June was having a rough evening for some reason.  Unfortunately the Dunn side didn't really get to see her fun, happy self that night.
The drive back to Nana and Papa's on Christmas Eve (it takes about 20-25 minutes) was beautiful.  It was getting later and was very dark and snowing and just lovely.  Everything felt so peaceful with a soft blanket of white.  The snow was falling lightly and it seemed like the picture-perfect Christmas Eve.  When we got back we rushed the girls to bed and then Nana and I filled their stockings.  :)  I love that part.  I always thought stocking stuffers were one of the best parts of Christmas as a kid, and I love giving those little gifts to my girls now.  I mean . . . Santa giving them, of course.  Ava is getting older and I'm going to have to start being a little more careful about what I say so I don't give it away!  Hopefully she doesn't read this in the next couple years.  :)

Christmas Eve morning.
That little butterfly toy goes EVERYWHERE with us!
The girls woke up early as usual on Christmas morning . . . but Daddy sure didn't.  We waited and waited around for him to get up so we could do stockings.  ;)  The girls are not old enough to know yet, so it didn't matter.  In fact, Ava was too busy watching a new Mickey Mouse DVD to have noticed any full stockings or anything.

Watching Mickey on Christmas Morning.
Eventually we headed out to see what Santa had brought us.  The stockings were too heavy and full to hang anymore, so they had to sit on the fireplace hearth.

Do you see who was waiting for Ava . . . just peeking out of her stocking?

Santa brought lots of fun stuff, including toys, Mickey DVDs, a stuffed Mickey and Minnie (and Donald for Junie!) and . . . of course . . . socks and underwear!  Who doesn't want those from Santa?  ;)

Something new to watch on the ride home!

Sure is fun watching Ava open everything for me!
And then came the special Santa gifts that were hiding in the basement:

Ava opening her new . . . 
Strider bike!!  In pink, of course!
And Junie's new wagon!
Ava had fun walking her bike around Nana and Papa's house . . . until she realized Mickey was still on.  :)

Watching A Muppet Christmas Carol with her new Mickey and Minnie.
Once the Santa stuff was opened, it was time to do some cooking!  And watch A Muppet Christmas Carol, per the family tradition.

Such a beautiful Christmas tree and SO MANY presents to be opened!
No wonder our fingers were bloody stumps by the time we were done!

Our dinner party that evening consisted of the four of us, Nana and Papa, Granny and Grandpa, my cousin Brian and his wife, Tiffany, and their son, Lane.  It was not a big party, which was nice.  Nana and Papa served an amazing dinner of prime rib and all the fixins.

Nana and June on Christmas
Trying to get a decent family photo . . . not so great.
Ava watching Nana work her magic in the kitchen.
 Ava woke up very cranky from her nap.  I'm not sure how I managed to get her dressed in her Christmas finery, but somehow we got through it just in time to Skype with Jess, Brandon, Cameron and Everett.  Perhaps someday we will all spend Christmas together again!
After dinner it was time for . . . opening presents.  Finally!  We can get away with waiting until Christmas night while the girls are young, but I'm not sure we'll be able to do that forever.  I know I would have been putting up a fight.  I'm notorious for having been the child who couldn't wait to open presents.  We'll see if that is in Ava's genes.

Ava opening her new keyboard.  I had one as a kid and  LOVED it, and we figured Ava would, too, with her love for music.  Not so much so far, but maybe she'll become more interested as she gets older.
Junie with one of two shape sorters that she got.  There are always a couple duplicates, it seems!  Oh well.
Playing lovely music, I'm sure.
Num num!  This new "Beast" toy is super tasty, Aunt Jess!
Playing on the floor with Brian.
Wearing her new vest and playing with her new Legos.  
Opening June's new ball popper elephant, which is the hit toy of Christmas.  Ava LOVES it.  In fact, she loved it so much from the moment it came out of the box, that she broke it that very night.  Apparently it is not good to stick little pieces of cardboard in the elephant that can get stuck in the fan.  Poor girl.  She was SO upset that she couldn't go to sleep.  Fortunately Daddy was able to take it apart and fix it (Way to go, Daddy!) and once we told her it was fixed, she stayed in her room and went to sleep.  :)
All in all, it was a wonderful Christmas. Our trip went too quickly, as they always do. The only down part was having to leave . . . and realizing that someone had gotten into our Yukon and stolen some stuff. :( On Christmas Day Tim moved the Yukon from Nana and Papa's driveway out to the street in front of their house (right behind Ernie's detective car). Apparently in all the hustle he left it unlocked. As we got ready to go to lunch at Red Robin the day after Christmas (Buffalo Clucks and Fries . . . YUM!) he found our DVDs spread out all over the driver's seat and an empty glasses case where his brand new prescription sunglasses had been. Come to find out they took the sunglasses and our two sets of wireless headphones for the DVD player in the vehicle. Such a bummer. And, although expensive to replace, not quite worth enough to make an insurance claim. I suppose sometimes we need a reminder that stuff is just stuff. I am just so thankful that we didn't have anything more valuable in there and that they didn't do anything to trash the actual vehicle.
The drive home was uneventful and we were sad to leave as always. For a couple weeks afterward Ava talked almost every day about going back to Nana and Papa's house. Tim would try to remind her of how long it takes to get there and how much she dislikes the drive! It is too bad that it is so far away because we would LOVE to see Nana and Papa more. I guess that's part of what makes spending time with them so special!
We love you, Nana and Papa! Thanks for everything!

No comments:

Post a Comment