We got home from Michigan last night, after a very wet but thankfully uneventful drive. We were worried about ice, but on both ends of the trip we managed to luck out and miss it. We didn't even realize that we had missed ice storms on the way out until we were driving through the mountains and realized the trees were all caked with ice, although the roads were dry by that point. The drive home had a lot of driving rain, but I'll take that over freezing rain any day. K was an absolute champ and entertained herself in a model-child sort of way for most of the trip.
We had a wonderful time in Michigan. The nice part about not being there on Christmas Day is that there was nothing stopping us from opening presents the first day we were there, which gave all of us plenty of entertainment for the rest of the trip. Apparently my mother decided she wanted to indulge this year, which I certainly don't object to. I got several books that I wanted, a new winter jacket and a dvd of The Princess Bride, which I've been wanting for years.
K made out like a bandit, getting a Melissa and Doug pizza, a dinosaur stamp set, Fisher Price Little People farm AND a trip to the Build-a-Bear workshop, where she became the proud owner of a fierce looking dinosaur with a sparkly blue shirt and skirt (I think it says everything about what kind of girl K is that she went straight for the dinosaur, but with the addition of a mini-dinosaur, she's been playing Mommy and Baby with them ever since). Part of me feels like it was a bit too much, but my mother doesn't see K much and pretty much restricts the gift-showering to birthdays and Christmas, so it's not like we're drowning in toys from her. They're nice toys that will get played with for years by both children, so if it makes her happy to be generous, I'm fine with that. Besides, we're basically only giving her one big gift this year (wooden castle bought at an outrageous discount last spring and heroically kept in the garage until now, with cute little wooden figures and even some furniture that Melissa and Doug read my mind about and released just in time for Christmas), so it's nice for her to get some more smaller things for variety's sake.
We decided to get my mother a webcam so she can see her grandchildren on a regular basis. And then she gave us a webcam, as well as my brother. Great minds think alike, apparently. This left us with two surplus webcams, but it shouldn't be a problem for us to videoconference now. And my brother getting a webcam as well means we can implement our cunning plan to start gaming regularly with Champaign crowd via webcam. Useful all around.
Can I just digress for a minute to say how much I love Amazon's wishlist function? I have a tendency to see something I would like in July, forget to write it down and then have it completely drop out of my head along with the 12 other gift ideas I had during the year when it comes to telling people what I want for my birthday or Christmas. But with the wishlist, I can quickly add it and then just direct people there for their gift-giving pleasure. It's wonderful for K as well. Instead of having to create a list to give to the various far-flung relatives, I just direct them to her wishlist, and best of all, I can tell when someone has bought something for her so I know not to recommend it to someone else.
Anyway, apart from the consumerism, we had a good time. We didn't do a lot except enjoy each other's company, but that was good enough. And then we left before things started to feel too cramped. I don't begrudge my mother moving to a condo, but I occasionally wish she had gone for a three bedroom. When all of us are visiting, there isn't really any place to retreat to once K has gone to sleep and ye olde condo starts to feel a bit crowded after three days, especially when you're cramming five introverts in together.
It was a good visit but I'm glad to be home again, especially since we need to prepare to have Christmas in our own home for the very first time. We put up the tree tonight, finally getting to use the various ornaments we've been collecting over the years. It took approximately 15 minutes of unsupervised tree-sniffing for the cats to knock it over. The first time. It is now barricaded by two chairs preventing it from falling over until we can wire it properly. Possibly with string made from cat gut.