So, after a short break over the holidays, Cool Moms Rule! is up and rolling again.
Here's how I spent my winter vacation: we took a drive up to my sister's place (which is GORGEOUS) in PA, so the owl and the rhino could see their cousins.
The Engineer, the kids, the grandparents and I all piled into the minivan for the long trek up north, through icy scenery and snowy skies. We spent our first night on the road in West Virginia, where the snow was so thick we had to wait until the roads were plowed before we could start moving again.
As we continued on toward the small town in PA where my sis lives, the Owl could hardly contain his excitement, as his girlfriend, who he hadn't seen since the summer, lives in PA. I need a nick for her as well, so I'm going to call her Raven, as she currently has her lovely hair black (perfect for my gothic son).
Before school holidays started, every time the Owl would walk into a classroom with his friends, they'd say, "Hey, how many days now?" and he would answer, "10, 9, 8...days until I'm with Raven." He'd been counting the days since, I think, November!
We had really good traffic on the drive north, despite the weather, and made excellent time. As we drove up to the door, we were greeted by my sis's dog, Hattie McSpaniel. Hattie has a LOT of energy, an she LOVES to fetch. Her favorite toy is her barbell--here's a movie of the Engineer throwing it for her.
My sis, her husband and the kids couldn't have been better hosts. They have newly designed their kitchen and it really is the heart of their home now, with a huge granite countertop that also serves as a casual dining space when they aren't using their dining room. We were just plied with delicious food the whole time we were there, and even decorated gingerbread cookies. Here's my favorite personal creation (I am NOT the best decorator), the Jolly Green Giant cookie.
We exchanged gifts for Christmas and just had a great time. The Engineer went sledding with first the Rhino, on a hill nearby, and then took the cousins, the Owl and Raven to Avalanche Express for more outside adventures while my sister, grandma and grandpa and I saw Sherlock Holmes at the movies.
It wasn't all idyllic, of course. Hattie McSpaniel gave my sis a scare when she devoured some chocolates, foil wrappers and all, and had to be rushed to the vet just after we arrived (chocolate can be toxic for pets. Please be careful!). Then, the windshield on the van CRACKED all the way across from the cold! Turned out we had a small nick in the glass that just couldn't take the extremes in the weather. It was easily fixed, though. We also ended up changing hotels. The grandparents had picked a little budget place that had, as total storage, two small cubbies and a half-closet (not full-length), and that just wasn't enough for the Engineer and I and our two teens--we needed some drawers at least. Thanks to the Engineer's frequent business trips, he was able to get us a good rate at a nearby hotel with a full hot breakfast every morning (and cookies in a jar on the counter!).
We were really pleased at the way Raven fit in so well with the family. Her hearing impairment really didn't pose any problems at all, and she is a total sweetheart. Other than the fact that she is a vegetarian and the Owl is a dedicated carnivore, the two of them have SO much in common that she just fits seamlessly by his side. Of course, they are only teens yet, so there's plenty of time to see how that relationship develops.
The way home didn't go so well as our visit, unfortunately. Traffic was HORRENDOUS, adding a good four hours onto our drive time. But overall we had a great Christmas vacation!