I really must get better about writing more often. As it is, I’m just going to sum up the last couple weeks. I probably wouldn’t even bother, but I feel like I generally should do the major holidays, especially since it was the first for Fawkes and Phoenix.
Also, I should scatter some images throughout the post, but I don’t feel like going through, picking a bunch out, resizing them and all that, so just check out the photo gallery at the bottom of the page if you want pictures.
I suppose we should start with parties on Saturday, December 22. Tristen, the boys, and I went to a Christmas party at the home of her co-worker, Leslie. She and her husband were using the Christmas party as a cover to announce that they’re expecting their first baby. Working with her, and working at a fertility clinic, Tristen and I already knew. They were pretty clever with how they did it, too. They had printed out songs for everyone to sing and assigned different parts to different groups. So some parts would be for everyone to sing, then some for guys, some for women. They broke it up into all kinds of different groups, but one of them was for preggers. The reveal, of course, was when Leslie and her husband, Blake, sang those parts. (The only other person who did was Tristen.)
We had a good time there. I talked a bit with one guy who was watching the UNC-UK game. Carolina wasn’t ever really in it, and I felt kinda bad for the guy. I know what it’s like to want to watch a big game that your team is losing when there are a lot of distractions going on. I didn’t feel bad that Kentucky beat the Heels, but I empathized with him.
We left a little early and went to Tristen’s parents’ house for another Christmas party. We were kind of beat at that point, but we hung out for a bit and socialized.
My parents arrived in town on the afternoon of December 23, picking up Milly from Amanda’s on the way. They got to the house just as Fawkes and Phoenix were waking up from a nap, so we thought it would be fun to let my parents go into their room to pick them up. I wish I’d taken video or at least pictures because the boys, Fawkes in particular, were really confused. Fawkes’s face melted and he started to get upset. They warmed up to their grandparents shortly after we got to the living room, though.
Hanging out ensued. Milly and my mom made some cookies. We called my nephew, Jackson, to wish him a happy 14th (FOURTEENTH!?!?!?!) birthday.
Dad and I went on a Chick-Fil-A run the next morning to get breakfast for everyone. Milly had been invited to make some cookies with our neighbor, Pam, so she did that for a while. Mom, Dad, and I took the boys on a Costco run. I enjoy taking Fawkes and Phoenix to Costco in part because it keeps them occupied, but also because they enjoy the samples (which is how I discovered how much they like blueberries). And also because I like the attention they get from people.
Amanda had just pulled up to the house as we pulled up. She had texted to say she was almost there and I had texted Tristen to tell her to let Milly know, but Tristen had been in the hower. Anyway, Amanda picked Milly up to take her to church, after which they did Amanda’s mom’s immediate family thing. It’s usually been at Amanda’s grandparents’ house in Beulaville, but they did it this year at her aunt and uncle’s house in Wrightsville Beach. She brought Milly home when they were done.
Meanwhile, back at our house, Tristen’s parents came over for dinner. My parents always enjoy hanging out with them. Milly got in a little late and we all eventually went to sleep so Santa could come and leave presents under the tree. He was, fortunately, not put off by how terrible Fawkes and Phoenix slept that night. It was the worst night I can remember, and Tristen and I didn’t get back to sleep until 4 AM.
Milly was nice enough to not act like a normal kid and let us sleep a little bit, but I got Tristen up a little after 7 anyway. We only had Milly until about 10 and we had a lot of Christmas to get in by then. Santa brought the boys a new… I don’t know what you call them. I used to call Milly’s her fortress. One of those things a baby can stand/sit in with toys all around it. Anyway, this one is nice because it can eventually convert into a kiddie table. Milly got a digital drawing pad that lets you save your drawings to a device. They got a few other things too: the boys got new WubbaNubs and some balls, Milly got a new bike helmet, some books, some other stuff.
After opening things here we all went over to Tristen’s parents’ house and opened gifts there along with Torrie, Johnny, Sebastian and Gabriel (who was also celebrating his first Christmas). This year we did a small Secret Santa gift and a Dirty Santa. Johnny and I each got each other for Secret Santa and gave each other (well, Torrie did Johnny’s shopping, but anyway) socks and snacks. Tristen had bought me some Alexa-enabled smart outlets for Christmas but then bought me something else so we decided to use the outlets for Dirty Santa. Some thought went into whether we should use it as a gift at her parents’ house or mine because I wanted to be able to steal them back. We ended up doing them at her parents’ house because we figured there would be less interest in them and there were fewer people. I did end up with them.
I took Milly to Amanda’s at 10:00, where she had her fourth Christmas. She’d have another one the next day with Amanda’s extended family and another the following week in Rougemont with my family. Recounting all the Christmases she got to have, we laughed about how there are some perks to being a child of divorce.
I went back to Tristen’s parents’ house where we hung out for a while, eating and just being together. My parents took off to head back to Rougemont after a bit. We went back home after a bit and napped. I did anyway, I can’t remember if Tristen did. She’s not the best napper, but we got very little sleep the previous night. Later on, we went back to Tristen’s parents’ house for dinner. It was the normal whole Schauer clan plus Mary. Poor Sebastian was sick and spent the whole night sleeping.
Since Fawkes and Phoenix went to sleep there as well (though from bedtime, not from being sick) Laura told us to let them stay the night there, so we went home that night and got a really nice rest. Well, I did. Preggo-Tristen said she tossed and turned a good bit. Still, it was nice not having to worry about getting up and taking care of the boys (even if I wasn’t able to sleep in late). Laura and Craig gave them a nice big breakfast.
Christmas was on a Tuesday, so there was a short work week right before another break for New Year’s. Milly came back Wednesday evening and we left for Rougemont to celebrate Christmas with my family. I hooked the smart outlets to some lights and geeked out about it. I told Tristen I felt like I was living in the future, being able to turn lights on and off with my voice. I decided my business needed a few smart accessories, and I got my friend Jason hooked on the idea of them, too.
We used a canvas luggage rack my mom bought us for Christmas (or really just because I had mentioned in a text how difficult it will be to travel with four kids next year). There was enough room for all our luggage, a box of presents, and a pack & play with a good bit of room left over. It was raining pretty hard and some water did get in, but I blame myself for setting the thing on the car with the zipper (which was covered with a flap) facing the front instead of the back. Still, considering how much it was raining and that we drove for two-and-a-half hours and the only thing that happened was that the box we had presents in was only slightly damp, it did a really great job.
The ride was pretty uneventful. The boys started getting a little fussy shortly before we got to my parents’ house. so that wasn’t too bad. Andra’s crew was already there. Erin came a bit later, as did Adam and Rachel.
In addition to buying a luggage bag, Mom also bought an extra pack & play to keep there. They had one at some point, but nobody’s sure what happened to it. Anyway, as they’ve done on recent trips, they set me and Tristen and the boys up in their room and took the room at the top of the steps.
Joe Runkle and his girlfriend, Christa, came by on Saturday, which is when we did presents. I mentioned that with Dirty Santa, we plotted to get a gift back at Tristen’s parents’ house. Well, we did the same at my parents’ house. This gift was a portable DVD player. Now, at first I didn’t think much of it because in this day and age it’s a pain to carry around a bunch of DVDs. This player, however, also had an SD card slot, so we figured it would be very useful for trips once the boys are old enough to care about watching movies. Tristen ended up stealing it. I almost stole a smart doorbell, but it wasn’t Alexa-enabled.
I have to give props to Andra for the coolest gifts. She got our parents custom-made t-shirts. My dad’s says PAP (est. 2004) on the front (that’s his granddad name, and his first grandkid, Jackson, was born in 2003) and on the back it says Pappidy Wappidy, a name Milly and Addy started calling him at some point, with the names of all the grandkids around it (including the upcoming one, which you’ll see if you look closely). I teased Andra that Fawkes and Phoenix should have been switched in order to keep them all in age order, but it’s really a cool shirt. My Mom’s is the same on the back (although it says Mum Mum, of course), but the front says My favorite people call me Mum-Mum.
Milly and Addy kept themselves busy together. Addy got Milly interested in Tik Tok, a video-sharing app. I somehow managed to get Erin, Adam, and Joe all playing Clash of Clans. I think Jackson even got back on there for a bit. Fawkes and Phoenix were kept generally busy with all the attention they got.
There was a lot of general hanging out, watching football, playing board games, eating and drinking. Aunt Reggie came by Sunday and spent the night. She stayed in my old room, which is where Adam and Rachel, who had left that afternoon, had stayed.
We left Monday morning, which was New Year’s Eve. The Sawyer crew left not too long after us. I was planning on dropping Milly off at Amanda’s on the way into town, but Amanda was working, so she picked Milly up after she got off.
Tristen and I needed to make a Costco run, so we loaded up the boys and did that. There was this oddly dead energy there that evening, I guess because it was about 5:30 New Year’s Eve. We decided to grab a bite to eat and ended up going to Carolina Ale House, which is kind of a go-to for us. We got a fruit cup for the boys. They’ll eat just about anything these days, and they’re bottomless pits. We had a good time with them though.
We got home, put the boys to bed. I fell asleep around 8:00 or so and woke up at about 11:50. We watched the ball drop, kissed, then went to bed. Pretty exciting times.