Get a cup of something warm, sit down, and make yourself comfortable. This is going to be a long and picture filled post of our most dramatic Christmas ever. Not drama-bad, but drama-good :)
It all started on Christmas Eve. We'd laid the wee ones into bed and were comfortably seated in our beds, watching tv and talking. Elly woke up, as she does sometimes around 11pm, and I went in to feed her and lay her back down. I could tell right away though that something was amiss. She was too fidgety and crying like she was wide awake, not a "hey, I need to be topped off" type of cry.
Indeed, my senses proved correct and little Miss Ell did not go back to sleep until 3am. Not only was she just awake, she was screaming and crying the whole time. Folks, we tried everything. Every. Thing. Nothing helped. I was crying myself for the last two hours because I was so tired, and I was so upset that THIS was my Christmas Eve and all I could think about was this busy day coming up and we'd be sleep deprived.
Jason finally sent me downstairs to sleep so that one of us could get some rest. Around 3:30am she settled down and both J and I fell asleep. However, it was only for just over an hour and then she was crying again. I went upstairs and nursed her, said a little prayer (I hadn't done this earlier, heaven knows why not) and right as I finished praying, little Elsa passed gas (upset tummy was part of the problem perhaps?) and went to sleep. I oh-so-carefully laid her down and Jas and I sunk into an utterly exhausted sleep. Not for long though, because not 15 minutes later, at 6:00am, Ethan comes in and our Christmas morning began.
It all went well though. J and I pulled it together and were able to make it an enjoyable time for all. The kids loved their gifts, and so did Jason and I! I won't list out everything the kids got, but thanks to very generous grandparents, they got a haul! The big things for the older two were a bike for Gwen (she rides it so well) and a remote controlled car for Ethan.
So, while we open gifts and eat breakfast, snow is falling quite heavily and its beautiful. A real white Christmas. My Mom sends us a picture of their house, showing how much snow they have. It looks like a lot but we aren't concerned as my Mom is a little prone to exaggeration about conditions sometimes (its true Mom, I still love ya though). We pack up and head out.
Its quite snowy and slick around our house, but nothing we haven't already done in the past two weeks... however, as we get closer to my Mom's house, conditions do get worse and worse and the amount of snow piled up gets deeper and deeper. We turn onto the road they live off of and immediately see a guy who has hit a power pole. He was fine and there was a power truck there anyway trying to repair the lines that had been damaged by trees falling. So we continue on, just amazed at how much snow there is.
Farther up we pass another power truck repairing lines. Right next to them are two deer. I wish I'd gotten a picture, especially because those same two deer were there when we left my Mom's 6 hours later. We think the house there must be feeding them or something.
The tracks on the road have narrowed to 1.5 lanes and there are trees and branches down everywhere. Our car has some new scratches I'm sure.
We notice that the snow is getting deeper and deeper on the sides of the road.
We pull carefully into my parent's long gravel driveway and see this on one of the for sale signs. Wow, we think, that looks pretty dang deep.
We churn and slide up and down the driveway (there are barely any tracks, so we're going through pretty deep snow) and come to the last crest and see this
That's my Daddy and Jenni and my Dad's car. He was trying to go up and cut the trees off the road (yes, more scratches on the car) and had gotten stuck. Its hard to see in the small picture, but you might notice that the snow is up to my Dad's knees, and my Dad is not a short man.
Jason and I pulled up by him and hopped out. We'd brought a shovel in case we got stuck, so we started helping to shovel and spread sand for traction. The big problem was that the snow was so deep that the front bumper of the Subaru would start plowing snow, get stuck, and then the front wheels would just spin. We pushed and shoved and did everything we could to get that car turned around and unstuck, but no luck. There was simply too much snow and it was too deep. Jason and I didn't have boots or anything on, and we were getting pretty wet, since the snow was so high on our legs. We started leaving them there so we could drop off the kids and come back to help with my brother Michael crested the hill. He stopped to help, and we went to the house, where we saw this.
This is the deck. The drifts here had to be close to 4 feet.
Craziness people. Crazy. We've never seen this much snow out in these parts, ever.
J and I started walking back to Dad's car, when Michael pulled up with Dad and Jen inside. The car was just too stuck and they were abandoning the task for now.
Amazingly, my Grammy arrived not long after, though she did have to be pulled out of a snowbank herself on the way. She has the same car as my Dad, but was able to do it because she didn't have to get off the tracks like my Dad did. That's what really got him stuck.
Whew, so just getting there was full of excitement. I'll tell ya, being out in super deep snow and shoveling and pushing a car is a good way of waking up. Really got the blood flowing.
After everyone was warmed up and settled, we opened presents. What a great time we had! This was Ethan's reaction when we told him that we'd decided not to open presents and wait until tomorrow. Heh, why do I feel like I might see more of this expression in the teen years?
Aunt Michelle helping Gwen to paint her fingernails and Uncle Peter helping Ethan assemble a Lego set.
Oh, did I fail to mention that my parents had no power either? My Dad has a pretty cool generator system set up that keeps all essentials running (like freezers, lights, etc), but there is no generator for the well so there was limited water and no hot water. We had to follow the old adage, "if its yellow let it mellow, if its brown, flush it down". And if you do flush, you must use a bucket of water that was kept by the toilet.
After gifts, I volunteered to burn the garbage (one of my favorite chores) and clomped out there in my sisters big barn boots. The snow was so deep I didn't have to step off the back stairs... I could just walk straight across.
The burn barrel was mostly buried in snow
Everything was just so white
While I waited for the first round of paper to burn, I took some more pictures of the snow, because it just was so bewildering in its amount.
I kept nice and toasty though. I was a little worried about the flames being so high, so close to that plastic bag of Christmas leavings, but then I thought, "Why?". If it catches on fire, its not like there isn't massive amounts of WATER nearby that I could extinguish it with.
I tossed a ball for Kai and she went diving into snow that in its deeper parts was nearly over her head. She still found her ball though. She's excellent that way.
Inside, dinner was being prepared and people were getting silly. Gwendolyn got this fun little guitar and asked Daddy to hold it while she went to the bathroom. Daddy did hold it and proceeded to rock out and perform a little concert for us.
Gwen also got some darling wings and Ethan put them on. We called him Cupid.
Now, I know my Mom would want me to make this clear. THAT BOTTLE IS SPARKLING CIDER.
This picture cracks me up. Not just because Jason looks silly, but my brother Mike's expression.
Now, back to dinner. Due to our power limitations, we had to turn off absolutely everything in the house in order to run the stove. No lights, tv, computer, nothing. In fact, one time Ethan accidental turned on the bathroom light and that was enough to trip the breaker that was only running the stove! We couldn't even run the burners on top of the stove. Well, that was a concern since we had three things that needed to be cooked... two pans of potatoes and steamed carrots. So we got out the trusty Coleman stove and put it out on the BBQ and cooked there. I was running to and fro and trying to be helpful. When one pot of potatoes were done, I ran outside to bring them in. I was barefoot, but it was right outside the door so no worries. I picked up the pot and turned towards the door. All of a sudden the handle of the pot fell off and the whole boiling mess crashed down. I screeched and jumped away, luckily avoiding most of the hot potatoes and water, though not all of it. For some reason I did not want to jump in the snow, so I had to hop over the hot liquid and it was very slippery due to the starch and melted snow. Everyone came running out and they forced me to stand in the snow and cool off my feet. No harm done... I just have a minor burn on my left instep. It could have been much worse though, and I'm so grateful that I danced away in time.
After that, dinner went off without a hitch and we celebrated my Grandma Betty's birthday, which is on Christmas Eve, with a cake and 79 candles! I think Elsa looks a lot like Grandma Betty (who is my Dad's Mom).
My Mom graciously invited the older kids to stay the night with her and so just J, Elsa and I headed home. The roads were still bad on the road my parents live on, but once we were off that they were just wet and mostly bare. We got home and I fed Elsa some food and then we crashed. Elsa started fussing again, like she did on Christmas Eve, and I went online and looked up how to calm an over-tired baby (as I suspected this had been part of the problem on Christmas Eve since she did not nap the entire day). One suggestion was to swaddle, which she did not take well to the previous night. But, I tried again, this time walking with her for about 10 minutes. She fought it at first, but then she drifted off and eventually I was able to lay her down. Know what? She slept through the night. The whole night! Something she hasn't done for the past 3 months. And, she woke up at 7am, much later than she's been waking lately.
She fell back asleep at 8:30 and has been asleep ever since (its 11:15 now)!
Anyway, that is our Christmas adventure story. What an enjoyable and exciting day it was, even though it started out rough. I just have to thank the Lord that he turned something that I'd been dreading and thought would turn out difficult into one of our most memorable occasions.
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas as well!