Christmas vacation: The finale

We’re at home tonight, relishing the final hours of our Christmas vacation. I spent the afternoon watching the football playoffs and playing with Faye, while Kates took Phoebe with her to the elementary school and made some preparations for her week.

My vacation beard is shaved. The kiddos are in bed. And tomorrow morning we’ll return to the organized chaos that is getting them ready for school and daycare and navigating the workday.

* * *

We completed the traveling portion of our vacation Thursday, although it officially was Friday morning when we rolled into our garage.

By the time we got everyone dressed, bathed and packed that morning, it was 11 a.m. – far later than I preferred, but I’m coming to grips with that part of having two girls under the age of 5. We said goodbye to Kates’ parents in Milwaukee and next headed south to suburban Chicago for lunch with our good friends Ray and Leah with their 3-year-old daughter Audre.

A chili lunch waited for us there, and we conversed while Phoebe and Audrey set up a pretend birthday party with all varieties of dolls in the next room.

We departed around 4, with our next destination set on our house. Kates had pitched the idea for trying to drive as far as we could and spending the night at a hotel in Iowa, but I wasn’t going for it. Besides, we didn’t need to spend the money.

We stopped for supper in Davenport, Iowa, at a McDonald’s – Phoebe insisted – and it had a play area that was modeled after a jungle. After downing her Happy Meal, she was in playtime heaven.

Shortly after we began traveling again, the girls were asleep for the night. We made a final pit stop in Osceola for gas, and they barely stirred.

Also, note how packed our vehicle was …

After leaving Ray and Leah, I pinpointed 1 a.m. as our arrival time in The ‘Ville, and we hit it.

I carried Phoebe to her bed, and Kates carried Faye to hers, both sound asleep. Then I unpacked the car, only to get everything in the house. The suitcases and bags and new gifts remained in the dining room until I could put most of it away Friday afternoon.

One of the best things about returning to our home after being away for a while? It has a distinct, flowery aroma within it. Coming back to it and moving our stuff back inside Friday morning was almost like the bliss of moving for the first time – except our furniture was already here. It’s refreshing.

Being able to finally sleep in our own beds was refreshing, too.

* * *

Friday, I was up by 7:30 a.m. and got Faye off to the daycare. Again, we had to pay for the duration of our two-week vacation, so we were going to get as much of our money’s worth as we could.

Kates was off to her school by 11 a.m. for a meeting and work day. Phoebe and I spent the day hanging around the house, putting things away after our traveling and running some errands.

* * *

Friday evening turned slightly traumatic. Kates came home around 5, not feeling well and wanted to lay down. So I ordered some takeout and the took the girls with me to pick it up. … As I was pulling into the crowded parking lot, there was a pickup truck in front of me and the driver appeared to be attempting to pull into a parking space. Then, she started backing up. I began honking my horn as the truck showed no signs of stopping and – crunch – the truck hit my car’s front end.


Then! The truck pulled forward again, the driver apparently trying to squeeze into the same parking spot. I didn’t move, waiting to see what the driver was going to do and whether she was going to acknowledge she backed into my car. Instead, she gave up on parking, exited the parking lot and drove away.

In the time it took for her to attempt to park, I used my handy dandy smartphone to record her license plate and a description of the vehicle. … Frustrated and shaken and with the little ones in the car, I opted not to call the police right away, got our food and headed home. … I then called the police, who had me come down to the station, and filed a report. Although I’m no expert in auto bodies, there doesn’t appear to be any damage to my car outside of a broken license plate cover. Still, I believed that filing a record of it was the right thing to do.

As of tonight, I’ve learned the driver was a 17-year-old girl who just received her license. The police obtained her insurance information, which is under her father, and we’ll have to sort out what to do next.

* * *

I cooled down from the mishap and we enjoyed our takeout. The food seemed to help Kates, who admittedly was exhausted and hadn’t eaten much all day, feel better.

For our evening entertainment we turned to our DVR recording of last week’s Kennedy Center Honors program, which this year featured Dustin Hoffman, David Letterman, Led Zeppelin, Buddy Guy and Natalia Makarova.

I respect the other performers, but really I just wanted to watch the program for David Letterman and Led Zeppelin, who, fittingly, were the last two honorees highlighted during the night.

Tina Fey’s introduction of Letterman was perfect.

And the tribute to Led Zeppelin was electric.

Afterward, all I wanted to do was crank some Led Zeppelin. So I did, on my iPhone. And we proceeded to rock out, having one of our epic dance parties in the kitchen. Phoebe brought down her instrument kit from her bedroom and she danced and jumped around the room, performing while Kates and I sat on the floor as her audience.

I’m on a Led Zeppelin kick now and was playing my vinyl copy of their IV album earlier tonight. The music made Faye smile and she seemed to really enjoy it.

* * *

I reserved Saturday for catching up on emails, online reading, running errands, taking down the Christmas lights and getting the cars washed.

We also took in the Packers playoff win over the Vikings. Aside from the Vikings opening drive, which yielded a field goal, it was hardly a contest. The Packers rolled, and I like the way they’re looking as the playoffs are gearing up.

Admittedly, I dozed off during the last couple minutes of the game and then stumbled to bed around 11. I still needed to catch up on lost sleep during our travels.

It’s been a very good Christmas vacation.

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