I know most of you are way past Christmas, but Christmas for me this year lasted from Christmas Eve to New Year's Eve so I'm still regrouping.
We left Big City on December 20 and took a train to meet up with Jon's sister and her family. Then we spent 13 hours in a Honda Civic with four adults and a 3 year old in a car seat driving to Capital City. All things considered, this trip went remarkably well. Jon's 3 year old niece is fun and really knows how to "use her words" instead of screaming and whining as some 3 year olds prefer. She was a great traveler and a car seat is a perfect headrest for napping on (much better than the windows).
Photo highlight: This sign is from the Amtrak bathroom. Devil or janitor? You decide.
Jon has a big family and most of them live in or near Capital City so we had a busy few days having dinner at various houses. His family celebrates Christmas on Christmas Eve and I think I ate at least a pound of cheese that day alone (I love brie). Amazingly, everyone still buys everyone in their large family gifts and they open them one at a time so it takes about 3 hours to open presents.
Photo highlights: Not only were there seven children at this gathering, there were two of the cutest puppies in their cutest stage of life! I think they were 11 and 8 weeks. I think you could sell tickets for cute puppy wrestling. Also, did you know that sea turtles nurse from puppies?
The highlight of Christmas Eve for me was when I sat down next to Jon's seven year old niece and asked her what she was most excited about for Christmas. I didn't necessarily mean gifts, but she said, "I'm excited about getting science stuff!" I did all of the shopping for Jon's younger nieces and nephews at the Big Natural History Museum gift shop anyways so I was thrilled to hear her say she wants science stuff. I told her I'm a scientist so she can call me if she has science questions and I'll try to answer them. I'll do anything I can to encourage an interest in science for the young people in my life.
After Christmas we headed to see my family in Midwestern City. I celebrated my birthday with them and got to celebrate Christmas with my extended family. Only two of my cousins are under 18 so we did a Thieves' Christmas with the 23 adults present. Good fun, and we managed to get smallish gifts that wouldn't take up too much space on the way home. But then we ended up acquiring massive amounts of stuff anyways and had to send a FIFTY-THREE POUND box to ourselves in Big City because we couldn't carry it all back in our bags. Ai!
Some of my favorite Christmas or Birthday gifts:
-ipod nano from Jon. I finally have a way to listen to my favorite podcasts on the go! The nano doesn't come close to holding all my music but I really just want it for listening to podcasts. One of my favorite podcasts is Living On Earth. I highly recommend it.
-The Sierra Club Guide to Sketching in Nature. I'm really excited about improving my drawing skills with this.
-Settlers of Catan with the expansion packs. We asked for this specifically because we've been borrowing it from friends for months now. This is now my favorite board game and I highly recommend it.
-knitted mitt/mittens. They have flaps that turn the mitts into mittens. Very cute!
-From Curries to Kebabs: Recipes from the Indian Spice Trail. Jon and I love Indian food and have been eager to learn how to make it ourselves. We made two recipes from it the other night and it was excellent!
-His Dark Materials Trilogy. This begins with the Golden Compass, which we saw in the theatre and really liked so Jon bought the books for me.
-Christmas ornaments to replace some of the ones that I lost. Thanks Mom!
Jon and I tried hard to buy one thoughtful gift for each person/family. We didn't have a budget but I don't think we spent more than we could afford to. For ourselves we had a $20 limit, which he kept but I exceeded (I justified exceeding it because I bought him winter athletic clothing that he needed but hadn't purchased yet). I only got one body lotion and one candle! For the things that just aren't quite worth keeping, we're going to have a party where people bring their unwanted gifts and we auction everything off with fake money. After all, one person's trash is another person's treasure.
We got back to Big City on New Year's Eve just in time to receive an very unexpected call from a SFC friend who was stuck in Big City Airport due to weather-related delays and cancellations. We hadn't seen her since just before we left for RFC when she stopped by on similarly short notice. We were thrilled to spend NYE with her and sent her on her way on New Year's Day. Since then we've been catching up with various friends (which has been fun but also tiring) so I'm really enjoying this time to sit around and do little other than write for my blog and read. So many books, so little time!