Marshall, Aunt Charlie and Uncle Todd got to have a sleepover at my house! And I got to play with my cousins Rory & Caleigh on the Fox farm!
Where last weekend was all about the Christmas-time hullabaloo, this week was about coming down from that high and prepping for New Years and a visit from Aunt Charlie, Uncle Todd and of course Marshall! The plans were hatched some time ago, to have them come stay with us to escape the city and do our belated Christmas together here in London. And Emelia was over the moon about having Charlie, Todd and – most importantly – Marshall come to our house for a sleepover.
Last week, post Christmas, I had a run of shifts at the store that started Sunday and carried me straight through till Wednesday—ending with a closing shift on New Year’s Eve, Eve. Then, I was burdened with three straight days off: two to spend with Charlie, Todd & Marshall; and, one to be able to go to our Uncle Jim’s wedding in Chatham yesterday. It was a near perfect schedule I am happy to say!
The nice thing about the week between Christmas and New Year’s was that for the first time in In think ever, Danielle and Emelia had the week off together. So while I was at work, Danielle got to be daycare obligation free and spend very different time with Emelia during the week, I was getting all sorts text updates during my work day from Danielle about the fun they were getting up to.
Once the store was closed Wednesday night, my only focus was on sleeping in the next morning… that was until I remembered I had a 7:00 am date with the rink and my hockey equipment. Because it was the holidays, the usual Friday morning skate was nudged to Thursday and New Year’s Eve to get in our weekly skate. The best part about it was, my friend James who was back in London visiting his family for Christmas by way of home in Australia, was coming out to play with us. It was great to see and connect with him again in the same way we did originally: playing hockey. And the better part is plans to meet over a few drinks before he heads back to Aussie-land are in the works!
After I got home from hockey, the main focus was to help Danielle get the house ready for our visitors. Now, Danielle being Danielle, that meant there wasn’t much left me to do except play some games on the AppleTV (of course if you ask Danielle, that wasn’t part of the ready-getting). Actually the real part that I chipped in to the ready-getting was watching the World Juniors Game that pitted Canada vs. Sweden. (also, not actually something needing to be done too, per Danielle). But after all that ready-getting was done, all that was left was waiting for Charlie, Todd and Marshall to arrive.
Dinner was an amazing showcase of all that Danielle could make with her beloved Instant Pot (that now I share joint custody with for Danelle’s affections). We had a pork roast, mashed potatoes, and steamed green beans—all cooked to juicy perfection in what seemed like minutes in the Instant Pot. Then, for dessert, Danielle whipped up chocolate lava cakes. And shortly thereafter we rolled ourselves on the couch and pretty much took in the rest of the night from the vantage point laughing and carrying on until we arrived at the countdown to 2016. Remarkably (and un surprising at all), Emelia was there up with us. And even had enough energy to put up mild protest at the mere suggestion of bedtime.
The next day was all about taking it as easy and as slow as we could. Of course there was a Instant Pot appearance at breakfast time too (sensing a theme here?) Once lunch time approached it was time for Charlie and Todd to time Marshall’s nap perfectly with the drive home, and our time to de-Christmas the house. Given that the next day we had a full dance card and that the daycare kids were back tomorrow morning, Friday was the perfect time to return the house to normal.
Saturday was up and into the usual routine—the primary focus of course was Emelia’s gymnastics. But, as soon as that was done, were to be dressed up fancy and ready to head to our Uncle Jim and (soon to be) Aunt Elizabeth in Chatham with the rest of our family. While I was heartbroken watching Canada lose their World Juniors semifinal game (and composure), Danielle made quick order of picking up Testza and Greg who were riding down with us, and Emelia from gymnastics. She then hauled ass to pick up me so we could get Emelia out to her cousin’s place where she was going to visit while we attended the wedding. All-in-all, given my need to watch the game that made leaving cutting it close, we still made great time down and got to the wedding with time to spare and visit with family.
The wedding was a wonderful time and so great to see our Uncle Jim just beaming with happiness after such a difficult time of seeing his wife and best friend slip away from him and this world in such a heartbreaking way a few years ago. I know wherever our Aunt Michelle is she would be so happy for him and in the choice he made in marrying Elizabeth. And I could see that reassurance in the look on his kid’s faces too. Everything about the wedding was beautiful–even down to the oriental style dress that Danielle decided on to wear – literally minutes before we were to leave. We had a great meal, a great time and were happy to hear that Emelia did the same with her cousins. By 10:00 pm were all loaded up in the car to make the hour-long trip back home. I would bet no more than fifteen minutes after getting home, the entire household was snoring something fiercely.
Today I was back to work while Danielle enjoyed her last day of vacation before we all get back into the usual routines. Emelia is back to school tomorrow, and Danielle has the daycare kids back. This week is going to be all about just trying to keep up as we get back to the regular, daily grind. The good news is, with this new Instant Pot there will be plenty of new recipes to try to fuel us through these dull, dark days of winter.
And a creme brûlée is never more than 6 ingredients and 10 minutes in the Instant Pot, away! I like those odds!
What a fabulous week! With Christmas now officially under our belts and a new year under way we are back to the normal grind of day to day life. But, with normal life we have so much to reflect on about the last couple weeks.
This last week was all about three things: family; downtime; and, celebrating!
We started out our week with John back to the day to day and Emelia and I spending a lot of time together. She and I spent a ton of time snuggling on the couch watching movies, playing her new games, playing with her dolls and coming up with fun creations in the kitchen.
In 8 years of daycare life this is my first time having the week around Christmas off, and I can tell you I wish I had done it sooner. Although Emelia loves the daycare kids this break of not having to share her space and her parents was exactly what she needed this Christmas break. She and I took life at a beautifully lazy pace and spent a few days barely getting out of our pjs. I feel relaxed and reconnected and that itself is priceless.
It is not to say this week wasn’t filled with fun activities, Emelia had play dates with her school friends, Tuesday she and I went with Helen and Doug to see Doug do a presentation about the history of Christmas at a local retirement apartment. Wednesday she had gymnastics and we had a play date with Maria and Emma. We had trips to the Y and more play dates with friends. In the middle of that she and I were planning one of bigger events of the week, our visit with my sister and her little family to celebrate not only Christmas but the new year.
Once John had his work schedule for the holidays we sat down with my sister to plan our Christmas with our two families. It happened that John had New Years Eve and New Years Day off and my sister had the same time off. It was perfect we had it all planned out. Charlie had decided that they would make the trip this way as a break for them from the city. With plans laid out next came the plans for dinner.
Now that I have been experimenting with my much loved Instant Pot I began searching for the perfect recipes for the meal. We settled on apple pork tenderloin, garlic mashed potatoes and green beans. The meal turned out perfectly and once again the love of this pressure cooker continues. Once dinner was done and the dishes cleaned I started on dessert, now I am not a baker AT ALL, so taking on lava cake seemed a bit ambitious but it worked out perfectly and they are dangerously simple to make so I have to resist making them too often.
Once we had dinner done we settled in over a couple bottles of wine, some music trivia games on the AppleTV and lots and lots of laughs. It was so incredible to spend so much time with my sister, Todd and of course Marshall. Each time I see him I am amazed how much he has grown and changed, he is such a happy baby and we could not love him anymore. The kids made it up to midnight and shortly after the adults attempted to crash for the night.
Emelia was up the next morning earlier than we had hoped but she has slept in a bit over the holiday so we could take the day at a slightly slower pace. Emelia and I made our way downstairs to plan and prepare breakfast for everyone. Once everyone was up and ready we had breakfast together and squeezing in a couple more hours of family time before Charlie and Todd had to get on the road to head back home. The visit seemed to fly by in a second but it was so incredible for me to be able to spend as much time with my sister over the holidays.
And if that was not enough excitement and family time we had one more family event to attend. The big event was Uncle Jim’s marriage to Elizabeth in Chatham. After getting Emelia to the Fox family farm to be cared for by Heather, Emelia and Caleigh were off playing before we even left the farm. We made our way to the venue and got ready for the big event. Even though I spent much of my childhood in Chatham going to the Retro Hotel Suites was like seeing Chatham in a different light, it was a hotel in a historic building just down the road from my childhood home but it is nothing like the building of my youth. The hotel was bought by a family I knew as a child and it has been transformed into an incredible high-end boutique hotel. It is stunning and a beautiful venue for a wedding. The wedding was personal, filled with happy tears and lots of laughs. We got to spend the evening catching up again with family and share in the joy of seeing two people so in love come together. It was the perfect bookend to an incredible holiday season.
As I sit here now writing the blog I am sad that this break with Emelia and John has come to an end but it has been filled with so many incredible family memories that our hearts are filled and we know how lucky we are to have so many amazing people in our lives. So with that Happy New Years, I cannot wait to see what 2016 brings to our little TeeterPod.