Still, we survived our long Christmas vacation, and had a wonderful time seeing our families. We even survived Oliver's first plane ride, which he loved (and thus the other passengers on board loved too).
Flying in the winter is always a bit risky, add a toddler to the mix, and yeah, my pre-vacation anxiety level was through the roof. Of course, the day we were set to leave town (the 19th) was the day the Blizzard Of The Century was forecast for the northeast, canceling almost all the flights from our airport. We were so lucky that our non-stop flight to Chicago was not canceled and got out just in time. We are also lucky that we have an amazingly well-behaved toddler who, though he missed a nap and didn't sleep a wink on the plane, enjoyed the two and a half hour plane ride with hardly a fuss.
Walking up and down the terminal (over and over and over again...we took turns). Yes, that's a harness disguised as a backpack in the form of a teddy bear. Don't judge. You try roaming an airport with a toddler who won't hold your hand and doesn't want to be confined to the stroller. For 2 hours. He loves his bear. We do too.
Watching the planes. We flew Southwest. I love them. They don't charge for luggage (helpful when you are hauling a pack-n-play), and you get free sodas and snacks on board. Like the old days, sigh.
Getting ready for take-off! Yes, he is in his car seat. Though it was a pain to haul around the airport, it was awesome on the plane, and so totally worth it. He never once asked to get out of it. I can't imagine him crawling around on us for 2+ hours.
First stop was Kankakee, to visit Ma-maw and Pop-pop and Uncle Dan (Marty's parents and brother). It was very nice and relaxing. Oliver couldn't get enough of his Ma-maw, literally wouldn't leave her side the whole time. I was worried it was becoming annoying, but who am I kidding, she loved every minute of it! And I loved the break!! I'm so happy Oliver is already close with all his grandmas. I had special bonds with mine, so I want him to have that too.
Playing "This Little Piggy Went to Market" with Ma-maw
Family photo before our Date Night at a Fancy Restaurant (minus Oliver).
Uncle Dan and Pop-pop before their night at the movies.
Oliver giving Dad high fives over his stack of Christmas gifts.
Leavin' him hangin'
Reading with Ma-maw
Looking at his Elmo Christmas ornament
We all had a great time! Thanks again to Ma-maw and Pop-pop for the new sofa bed, the (too many) nice presents, the wonderful hospitality and the fun times, including a game of Catch Phrase we'll never forget.
From there, we hopped in a rental car and drove to St. Louis, to see some of my family for the remainder of the holiday. The highlight of our road trip was of course a stop at Steak n Shake. Uncle Dan, these photos were taken just for you!
"Don't you people know I don't like hats?"
"Eh, I don't think it looks any better on you Dad."
St. Louis was a blast, as usual. Ate way too much food and drank, well, actually less than usual this year! We must all be maturing. My brother Bryan had a party for the Illinois/Missouri game, and Oliver was the life of the party, dancing the night away and eating lots of pizza (sorry, no pics from that night). Christmas was lovely with (too many) great presents and lots of laughs. And big coincidence, another lively game of Catch Phrase! Thanks to Grandma Linda for putting up with all our cooking messes. We promise to make Red Velvet Cake again every year because we know how much you enjoyed that! Big congrats to Liz & Ty on the new baby, it will be so fun to have s/he on our Hawaii Christmas trip!
Oliver was thrilled to be near a piano again!
Demonstrating that his musical skills extend to the drums too. This does not mean that anyone should buy him a drum kit as a gift next year. Or ever.
My crazy family
Uncle Bryan's Bowl O' Gravy
We'll never escape the kid's table.
Fun with Tupperware and Aunt Bonnie!
Playing gently with the pretty tree at the nursing home.
Riding the carousel with Dad. He wasn't quite ready to ride the animals yet, though he loved watching them.
Our plane ride home was almost as successful as the first. We got very lucky again because our initial flight left late, but our connecting flight was also delayed so we didn't miss it. Oliver was a little more fussy...maybe because of Southwest's boarding policies which don't allow families with babies to board first (ok, so my love for them was short-lived). I will be writing the company on that one. We sat in the very last row. Not a good place for a toddler. But still, he settled quickly and actually fell asleep for a little bit. For having 2 plane rides in one day, he did great, better than we could have expected.
Ok, that was a long post to write, and it's getting late. Family: these photos and many others will be posted on Shutterfly in the next few days (those will be better quality than these). Give me a little time to get them on there. If you don't have the link, email me and I'll send it to you. Thank you everyone for a great Christmas, and we wish you all the best for the New Year!