And… we’re back! Happy New Year! The Danielson family is just starting to get back into the swing of things after a nice, long and relaxing (but busy!) vacation in
the North Pole Maine!
The majority of our trip was spent at the very top of the state, on the border of Canada, where I grew up. Unfortunately, it’s a 6-hour drive from the airport we fly into, so getting there is usually a 2-day affair to avoid tantrums and meltdowns (the boys get pretty cranky, too). Luckily, I have college friends that live in the Portland area and were gracious enough to host us overnight on the first and last night of our trip.
Flying and driving with two two-year-olds isn’t exactly what I would call an ideal situation, but it’s worth it to be with family, so we don’t mind in the slightest. I was thinking of listing some of our traveling tips in a future post since, after at least seven (!) flights with the boys, Shane and I have things down pat at this point. Be on the lookout for that in the future.
The trip lasted 11 blissful days which was wonderful, but much too long to recap each day in this post, so let me present the Top 11 Moments of our Christmas Vacation:
11. The Food. Let’s be honest. Anyone who goes back “home” for the holidays looks forward to those special homemade meals or food from their favorite restaurant. I am no exception. The scale would indicate that all my “cravings” were fulfilled. Chicken stew & ployes (Acadian buckwheat pancakes), Poutine (french fries, cheese curds & gravy), lobster rolls and Jeff’s Pizza just to name a few of my faves.
10. Christmas at the Lodge. The Four Seasons Trail Association has a fantastic family event at their beautiful lodge, which overlooks the St. John River Valley. Lots of families enjoyed breakfast, expertly groomed cross-country ski trails and a fun sledding hill for the kids. Santa made quite the entrance by coming in on a horse-drawn carriage through the fluffy, white snow! The boys loved the M&Ms from Santa, can you tell?
9. Making cookies for Santa. It’s a well-known fact that the big man in red loves him some Christmas cookies, so we couldn’t disappoint him. And after traveling such a long (or maybe short) distance to get to Memere & Pepere’s house, we made sure he had special sugar cookies. We were all covered in flour as proof of our hard work and it paid off! Santa ate the WHOLE PLATE!
8. Swimming! We figured temperatures not much warmer than zero warranted a trip to the pool! It’s time to toughen those boys up! Just kidding! The pool was indoors and was toasty warm! They both love falling off the side of the pool into our arms. Lack of pictures due to the fact that no one looks good in a bathing suit in December, especially after the holidays (please refer to #11). And it’s my blog, so there.
7. Tubing! It was only at the end of our trip that the boys finally got used to all the snow and were open to the idea of actually playing in it. Wyatt was very content to just walk on it for the first several days, but was always concerned that his boots were dirty (covered with snow, mind you) and forget about getting any other part of his body covered in snow. But we persisted and we had great success taking the boys down the big sledding hill on these fantastic (and fast!) LLBean tubes. Heck, even Shane and I went down alone a few times since it was so much fun.
6. Both of my grandmothers still live in the area so it was really nice to spend time with them. We had a small gathering with my maternal grandmother who suffers from dementia. She still looks like the same woman I remember from my youth but she struggles with who I am and which kids belonged to me. Because her short term memory is nearly non-existent I would explain to her that the boys were my children and that they were twins approximately every 15 minutes. It’s uncanny to see the genuine shock and surprise at her finding out she has twin great-grandsons every 15 minutes, but it’s really like she’s hearing it for the first time. We had a wonderful visit and I think that seeing the boys and her other great-grandchildren running around brought her a lot of joy.
5. My paternal grandmother is also in a nursing home and is as sharp as a tack at 94. She loved seeing the boys and even bought them little toy cars to play with. My grandmother raised 14 children essentially on her own since my grandfather died when she was pregnant with the 14th. It’s obvious why she’s such an inspiration to me. We had a fantastic visit with her and she really made an effort to try to speak english around Shane since he doesn’t understand french like I do.
4. Playing with cousins. We live far away from both of our immediate families so I love it when the boys can play with their cousins. They had a blast and we loved spending time with our nephews as well.
3. Opening gifts on Christmas morning! This is really the first year the boys understood Santa and his trek around the world on Christmas Eve. They marveled that the cookies, milk and carrots were eaten and Santa even left a note for them! They loved all their gifts and were able to enjoy them the rest of the week. This will likely be one of the only years they didn’t really ask for anything (well, Caleb actually asked Santa for a light bulb and a tennis ball this year) which was really nice. And, since they were extra special this year, Santa even made another visit on New Years Eve to our house in Maryland!
2. Caleb on Skis! I mentioned to my parents that Caleb had a hard time using his walker in the snow because the wheels don’t roll properly. This significantly reduced his ability to be mobile in the snow seeing as crawling would get his mittens soaked. My dad, aka Mr. MacGyver, build ski attachments for his walker so he was able to easily glide over the snow. It was amazing to watch him and I just felt so proud to have a dad who would come up with a way for his grandson to experience that crunch of fresh snow beneath his boots. Priceless.
1. Caleb and Wyatt with their Memere and Pepere. It’s hard to live so far away from family for several reasons, but most importantly, you just want your kids to have strong relationships with their grandparents. This trip I witnessed first-hand how close my kids became with my parents and it was really heartwarming. Each morning my parents would wake up with the boys and take them downstairs to play in front of the warm wood stove while Shane and I slept in. I would awake to hear the most adorable conversations between the four of them. The boys would help feed the dog and sit down together for breakfast. They had this whole morning routine that they all really enjoyed. Seeing your kids become attached to your parents makes you fall more deeply in love with your kids and immensely appreciative of your parents and I just think of how grateful we are to have them in our lives… even if they do live at the North Pole.