03 January 2018

Christmas Break: By the Numbers

The past two years, we've done roadtrips with my family over Christmas break: after Christmas 2015, we went to Singapore, and after Christmas 2016, we drove to Thailand.

This year, I told the family that if they wanted to travel somewhere, I'd be happy to help with the planning, but I didn't think I'd feel up to any major travel adventures myself. This ended up being an even more accurate prediction than expected when, just before Christmas, the doctor recommended steroid shots as a precaution and medication to prevent labor from starting and extra rest at home for a few weeks. So...good thing I wasn't planning on going anywhere!

In the end, my parents decided that they'd go on a little adventure themselves to celebrate their 27th anniversary, leaving my little sisters at home with responsible babysitters Angel and Rachel. My sisters had grand plans for their own break, including plenty of art projects, movie watching, and cooking experiments, so they were also very much looking forward to spending the break at home. Here are some of our highlights, in numbers:

6 - ambitious cooking experiments. We like using vacation to cook things we've never cooked before, apparently. Recipes made include: pork and chive dumplings with spicy dipping sauce, peri-peri marinated chicken, Cheese Tteokbokki, Cream of Pumpkin Soup, Pumpkin Pie, and Cinnamon Sugar Donuts.

2 - Movies watched in the movie theater: Jumanji and The Greatest Showman

1 - Famous painting recreated. So...Angel really loves The Road to Emmaus by Robert Zund, the famous 19th century Swiss artist. He loves it to the point that he has long wanted the painting in his house...not a print...the actual painting. This is unrealistic. Somehow, he decided that the best alternative, since he cannot own the original painting by Zund, was to sketch out the shapes of the painting onto a large piece of paper from my sketchbook and commission MaryGrace to paint over the sketch, her own "copy" of Robert Zund's work. The above picture shows her masterpiece in progress, I'd show you the finished painting, but Angel already brought it to the framing shop so that he can have in hanging at home. (So, in summary, in our family, it's considered a completely normal activity to ask a 15 year old to paint a 'forgery' of a famous painting over Christmas break).

3 - Watercolor animals painted by me, and hung up in baby boy's room. I'd decided on a ocean-themed nursery, now I have actually started doing something about it!

3 - Curtains sewed. MaryGrace and Sarah have never had curtains in their bedrooms, just pieces of cloth clothes-pinned to the window slats. I wanted to make a curtain for baby boy's bedroom--in a dusty light blue, and at the same time, we got purple and turquoise cloth so that I could make curtains for their windows, too. I got busy with my sewing machine, and Angel and Dad had the harder task of drilling into the plaster walls to install curtain rods.

2 - new watches for Angel. One a Christmas gift from me, one from the rest of the family. Angel could be affectionately known as "the watch killer." The watch he received last Christmas broke a couple weeks before Christmas, so I gave him my gift early so that he could still keep track of time. The watch from my family is a fancy GPS watch for running, so that one he's being very, very careful with, and only wearing when actually running...or whenever he wants to check his heart rate or do something that the watch is supposed to be tracking. The rest of us don't quite understand his love for the exercise watch, but have immensely enjoyed making bogus claims as to its power--the watch hooks up to an app on my phone, so when he comes back from a run I'll say, "Your watch app tells me that you stopped in at 7/11 and got a slushie and a candy bar mid-run, so it reports your calories burned as -200." ;) Just messing with him. I think technology is creepy.

7 - daily outings for Sarah to practice learning to ride a bike and learning to ride a caster board. These are her new year's resolutions, and Angel decided to help her get a headstart. In an interesting turn of events, after this much practice, she's getting quite independent on the caster board, but still not able to balance on the bike without training wheels.

2 - Model Lego vehicles built: a VW Bug and a Double Decker London Bus. One was Dad's Christmas present, one was Mom and Dad's anniversary present. This is a family with a fascination for building models and motor vehicles. You would never guess my parents met at engineering college, would you?

2 - haircuts given by me. Sarah just got a trim, but MaryGrace got a solid 6 inches cut off and loves her new spunkier curls.

3 - pedicures. Angel and I always take the girls out for a Christmas outing, this year involved being pampered with pedicures, before watching a movie and going out for lunch and donuts. Angel skipped the pedicure part and I skipped the donut part. I'll never understand the world's love for donuts.

2 - Books read by me. This doesn't sound like much, but Bill Bryson's One Summer: America 1927  is over 500 pages and that's bound to slow you down a little. Also, I'm nearly done with my 3rd book of break, but not quite.

1 - Season of Psych watched. Sarah found their copy of Season 6, which has been lost for quite some time, so we watched it while working on various projects while Mom and Dad were away for their anniversary adventure.

1 - tiny steam engine that we got running. Dad's had the engine for nearly a decade, originally found and purchased in a random hardware store in Sweden, but this was the first time it's been run in several years. We learned that tiny steam engines produce about enough energy for a tiny saw and a tiny drill to cut and drill through...paper. ha!

2 - plush soft toys given to ME at Christmas. This has to be a record for the notorious detest-or of stuffed animals: Rachel G. However, neither of these are animals, and my family couldn't help but think of me when they saw a stuffed cactus (due to The Cactus Who Craved a Hamburger ) and the world's biggest soft pencil. I think the cactus will find it's nice place in baby boy's room (cacti and oceanic themes can somehow be blended, right?) and the pencil should come in useful as a handy prop when teaching.

1 - Roadtrip. But Angel made his roadtrip all by himself, all the way to the capital city, in order to do a few errands, including the very important job of picking up my repaired laptop, the one I've been without for two months! (Blog post brought to you today by my joy at having my own laptop again). A friend of my parents had been able to pick up the laptop in Singapore, but had only been able to bring it as far as Kuala Lumpur. That's a whole lot closer, though, so Angel spent a day driving down to KL and back, and knocked out several errands. I'm very happy to have a computer again, but I will admit I've been too scared to shut the lid of the laptop since its safe return.

It was an altogether wonderful break, that provided much-needed rest and fun for all. It's really nice to have spare time off of work to relax and enjoy activities that the hustle and bustle of everyday life doesn't leave so much time for--things like reading, and making art, playing games and watching shows. I love the tasty treats of Christmas and the fun exchange of presents: we determined that the 'theme' of this years family Christmas presents was distinctly book- and art- and lego-related. Except for Angel. Angel's theme was watches.

Happy New Year to all! What were some highlights of your Christmas season?

Linking up to What's New with You
Rachel ¦¦ A Nesting Nomad said...

You did so many fun activities! I've also got some great Christmas present ideas for next year from this post, so thanks :)

Both you and MaryGrace are so good at painting, I'm quite in awe. I can't paint for toffee so I'm always very impressed when people paint things that actually look like what they're supposed to be.

I do understand donuts but I don't understand muffins. I think I might also be too ticklish for pedicures...

The Lady Okie said...

That painting looks so good! Please show the completed one when you have it back :) Amd I am with Angel! I love my running watch!

Gretchen Braun said...

What a busy break you had! I went on a road trip myself, but nothing as crazy as the ones you've done in the past (just from Pennsylvania to Florida). Thanks for linking up!

Heather said...

Those water color paintings look so great, love hoe bright they are and really make a good base for the ocean or nature themed nursery. The cactus will totally fit! You got a lot accomplished, it really is nice to have that down time when family is around!

SMD @ lifeaccordingtosteph said...

I love the watercolors you did!

What a great break even without travel.

Happy New Year!

Lauren said...

What a fun break! Your watercolors are gorgeous - great job. I'm glad you weren't planning on a trip either; hope you're feeling okay! Lots of rest is always kind of nice though. Yay for reading! And a 500 page book would certainly slow you down.


Suzanne said...

Those paintings are great! And the one under construction is coming along well.

I'm glad that you're taking it easy and haven't overdone it during the holidays. Sometimes they can be hectic.

My husband was home from Hong Kong for almost two weeks and we really enjoyed our time together. I just drove him to the airport this morning and the house is now empty without him.


Elizabeth - No Lazy Days said...

What a fun break! Isn't it funny how we can be so busy during a 'break' that it's still considered rest and relaxation? :)

Kaycee said...

I love how you broke up Christmas by the numbers. Such a fun way to post! Looks like such a fun Christmas break!!!

Kristen @ See You In A Porridge said...

i love your ambitious cooking experiments! so fun. pumpkin soup, yum. i want to see both of those movies. glad you were able to have some fun times even without travelling with your family and the doctors orders. and yeah, cacti and oceanic totally go together ;)

Mrs. M ~ a.k.a. ~ April said...

Looks like you had a well spent Christmas break! The girls and I were sick but Sadie got better and spent time with the family. Olivia and I spent Christmas evening at home which was relaxing actually.

AnneMarie said...

This looks like such a fun Christmas break! I love that "forgery" painting-what an exciting project! A definite highlight of my Christmas break has been going with my husband on a toddler-free date to the Legend of Zelda Symphony of the Goddesses. I've never really played the Zelda video games, but I love the music, (and my husband loves the games) so it was a fabulous experience!

Ericka @ A Quiet Girl's Musings... said...

Fun post! I love this idea (by the numbers). I may have to steal, ahem! I mean "borrow" this idea myself. Have a great weekend!

Farrah said...

Those watercolor animal paintings are so pretty, and I look forward to seeing the rest of the "under construction" one! <3! It sounds like you had a pretty awesome break! I really want to learn to cut my own hair sometime--I only get it cut like...once a year, but it'd still save me money! :P

Unknown said...

I've heard such great things about The Greatest Showmen but my husband has no desire to see it, so I have a feeling I will have to rent it online to see it since I've heard such good things about it. I'm so jealous you can cut hair, it would definitely save me money if I could! Here's to an amazing rest of your pregnancy! You are looking amazing, and I hope you are feeling great!