Christmas did not disappoint this year.
We dressed up in our finest just-pulled-out-of-a-very-over-stuffed-suitcase clothes and headed over to the Grandparents house as early as we could pull ourselves together. Baby Bug finally got to wear that dress I bought for her last year for Christmas. I guess that is one advantage of having a micro-kid… she fits her clothes longer. She looked so cute prancing around in her “skirt” as she calls it.
I don’t know what I was thinking… I was busy with the shop and being a mom and for some reason I thought it would be okay if I didn’t get everyone gifts this year. I’ve gone all out other years and really pulled it off. Like that year I got everyone Chinese robes. I’ll never pull that off again. So I guess I didn’t even try. What a loser I am.
I got the kids presents but I never quite pulled off the something-very-thoughtful-and-meaningful for everyone else. I am SUCH a scrooge. Toby said, “Oh, don’t worry about it.” But I knew in my gut he was wrong and sure enough… he was. Why do I ever trust a man about these things? Especially a man who thinks birthdays are for kids. Never again, I tell you. Never again.
Everyone got us very thoughtful and special gifts. In fact we are so spoiled I think I will have to go home and make personalized stationary or send them all a fresh-baked pie every month. I’m so pathetic. Like check out this hand-held tri-pod from my mother-in-law (Toby’s step mom). You know, because I always take pictures of myself from arm’s length. It’s like she KNOWS me or something. Even Toby, Mr. PhoTOGrapher himself, thought it was pretty cool. That was fun. I got hours and hours of enjoyment out of that toy. I’m sure you’ll be seeing a lot of it in the future.
She also got me a whole box full of Paris things. PARIS! The city that stole my heart. An Eiffle Tower Christmas ornament, a book about Notre Dame, a little black and white art nouveau ash tray (that I will use as a little dish of course since I do not smoke)… Someday I am going to have a whole room in my dream house devoted to things from Paris. It may be a bathroom but still… there will be a Parisian themed room.
My mother-in-law knows that what’s really important about getting toys for Baby Bug is that I like them. Right? Isn’t that what it’s all about? Just kidding. But she couldn’t have made me happier when Baby Bug opened a Parisian trunk that had a Madeline book and doll inside! Madeline! I LOVE Madeline!!! I always have. I wanted to get Baby Bug one myself but just never quite got around to it.
It turns out I’m not the only one who is in love with Madeline. My father-in-law told me all about Ludwig Bemelman and how he (my father-in-law) has been a fan of Bemelman’s illustrations since he was a kid! My father-in-law even has this really old book from the 40’s that I’m coveting quite a bit. There is so much in this world I do not know about. So many amazing illustrators, so little time!
I thought that was the cherry on top. I thought Baby Bug made out like a bandit with her many books and puzzles and stuffed toys… But no. Nope. They had to go and spoil her rotten!
My kid got a four-wheeler. A motorized vehicle! I dreamed about having one of these when I was TEN!!! She is such a lucky duck. Of course she hasn’t quite got the hang of it and there seems to be some trouble with charging it but I just know this is going to be a big hit around the house. I know she is going to be tearing around our little apartment, giving the house cats hell. Can’t you just see it? I think Pounce will permanently take up residence in the closet. It’s going to be hilarious. I can’t wait. I know I always say I don’t want big plastic toys that I have no place to put but I think I will make an exception for this. This is fantastic.
(See her tongue sticking sideways in that picture up there? She’s concentrating. My Dad and Toby do the exact same thing. I think it’s adorable.)
Christmas is not all about gifts of course. There was some apple picking and gourmet dinner eating, and eggnog drinking… and of course some goofing around with the relatives.
My family is a hoot. (Baby Bug took that photo by the way.)
Next up: Cousins!
We also made a lot of stops so Baby Bug could get out of her torture chamber (car seat). Even though we hate that Toby is a smoker (cough cough, hack hack), it is kind of handy that he needs to take smoking breaks every four hours or so. Of course if I had the choice I’d much rather suffer with cramped legs in the car and have him live a few years longer but that is sort of moot point. I’m just glad we were able to stop along the way and get the wiggles out.
Speaking of Wiggles! Guess what we listened to in the car? The Wiggles! I can’t believe that Toby put up with it. He hates catchy commercialized tunes. He even got a chuckle out of Baby Bug singing “Hot Potato” as loud as she can in her super duper toddler voice. It’s amazing what a little child can do to a grown man. He didn’t sing along but I saw the sides of his cheeks scrunch up from my back seat point of view. I just thought I better put that down for posterity. It may never happen again.
He’s a good dad…. and a good husband too! I might as well go with this for a theme because Toby really scored some brownie points with me on this trip.
This time the trip was different (besides the fact that we now have a toddler that we never had before). Toby played travel agent. It was sort of a behind the scenes Christmas gift to me that I really really appreciated. He usually asks me to do the online researching for booking hotels and such but I just don’t have the time and brain power that I used to for this sort of thing.
So when he told me he had taken care of all of it I was filled with glee. A holiday trip AND secret surprise stays at hotels that I did not pick. I know to most people, that sounds like a recipe for disaster but I am a true adventurer at heart and the thought of not knowing where I am going to stay for the night (but still knowing that it will be pleasant and nice) is fun fun fun. If I wasn’t such a picky eater I would sign up for the Amazing Race in a heart beat. I want to travel the world someday!
The first night we stayed at the Hilton in Sonoma Wine Country. It wasn’t super snobby fancy but it wasn’t the Motel 6 either. It was really really nice. Ever since we had that horrendous stay in a Motel 6 in Vallejo where some drug dealer called us up on the phone in the middle of the night and said he could see what I was wearing… we pick our hotels a little more carefully. That was the creepiest hotel stay I have ever had in my entire life. It even included mysterious brown poop matter and cockroaches. But enough about that. You get the point. It was really bad.
Not like our stay at The Hilton. Hiltons are nice! I couldn’t help thinking of the Hilton sisters as I sampled the fancy shampoo and admired the faux plein air paintings of local landmarks and cows. I wondered if Nicki or Paris helped their Dad pick any of this out. Probably not. But it was a fun day dream.
I don’t really care about hotels though. What was really fun about staying in Sonoma was waking up the next morning and exploring a little bit. Toby and I have toyed with the idea of moving to this part of California because it lends itself to the type of photography he does for a living. We aren’t set on it yet but we talk about it from time to time.
It was really fun for me to wake up early and take Baby Bug on a brisk walk in the crisp morning air. I imagined what it would be like to live here where the grass is so green and the sky is so blue. I know it might be a lot colder in the winter and a lot hotter in the summer but I think I could manage it. It’s very very pretty. I think Secret Agent Josephine could find plenty to blog about in wine country. Who knows though. We’ve talked about a lot of different areas around the bay area and north… I don’t think we’ll be moving anytime soon but it’s fun to think about.
After a delicious breakfast (included at the hotel stay–hot dog!) we hopped back in the car and headed north. This last leg of the journey was definitely a lot easier. There is so much more to look at and the scenery is beautiful. We really appreciated the moon roof in our car as we drove through the redwood groves. I should have take a picture but it was too dark and blurry as we whizzed by going 90 miles an hour. I might try again on our way back. What’s the point of having a moon roof if you can’t take pictures out of it, right?
And that was pretty much our drive…with lots of stops along the way.
Next up: Christmas at the Grandparents: Baby Bug gets SPOILED ROTTEN!