I survived! It went OK. There were some dark moments (one of you got a desperate email during one of those moments, sorry and thank you) but overall no major conflicts with MIL and the kids had a nice time watching movies all day every day and getting generally spoiled. G and I took advantage of the childcare and went to the gym 5 times, saw 3 movies (The Martian---amazing, Spectre---blech, and The Force Awakens---also amazing, especially with beer and food) and even stayed one night in a hotel downtown (a nice break). B turned 6 and got presents and cake and pizza. All in all it wasn't terrible, though I was pretty much DONE by day 7 and basically zoned out on my phone for the last two days of the trip. I'm relieved to be back home, though I have a long call weekend beginning tonight that I'm NOT looking forward to. January 4th can't come soon enough.
The kids were disappointed that there was no real "Christmas" celebration, and I admit that I was too. MIL didn't have a tree or any decorations up. She always buys TONS of presents for the kids, so I didn't pack and bring along the few Christmas gifts I'd gotten for the boys (books, mostly) since I figured we'd be overloaded. Well, she DID get a ton of presents for them, wrapped them all up in Christmas wrap...and gave them all to them the first day we arrived. So there was nothing to open on Christmas morning. So we improvised---we had gotten some stuff for B's birthday and we wrapped 1 small toy for each kid and made a cardboard/construction paper 3D tree and put them underneath. I told B Santa brought them, but MIL and G later told him that actually mommy & daddy bought those (they don't do Santa, its really my thing and I never got G fully on board. we discussed it on B's first Christmas, I convinced him to do it, and then he "forgot"). So for the past few days he's been wondering dejectedly why Santa didn't bring him anything, and maybe it was because we didn't have a tree, or because he was "bad". I tried to explain that they had already gotten so much stuff from grandma and had so many toys already and Christmas was not about presents but about family, etc... He did seem to have gotten over it but when we got home last night, he hunted under the tree, saw nothing and was disappointed all over again. (L is just such a happy-go-lucky kid, he didn't seem phased one way or the other, but B is...intense).
So I woke up early this morning (better late than never!) and put the presents in gift bags under the tree and in their stockings and told him that Santa saved them since we weren't home and brought them last night after we got back. (And I told G to please just play along). B was SO SO happy. They got 2 sets of books to share (Star Wars and Oliver Jeffers), B got a DVD of Madeline cartoons I bought last Christmas and never gave him, L got a Lego Kit we had gotten for his birthday and held on to because he had already gotten 4 kits, and they both got some activity books, pencils, erasers, cars and puzzles I had stashed away from who-knows-when. I was late to work since L slept until nearly 9 and I wanted to see them open the gifts. They were happily looking at their books when I left this morning.
B's birthday was also a disappointment to him (how do you teach a kid to be happy with what he has instead of disappointed in what he doesn't have? is that teachable?). My MIL believes a proper birthday includes going to the temple (an hour drive away) to get blessings, so she had planned that and we went and got our blessings on. He complained the whole time and acted up terribly. Even MIL who thinks he can do no wrong was annoyed. He did get to watch movies afterwards, and got presents, and some family came over for pizza and cake later. (we made the cake and it was unfortunately not very good. we quickly found a recipe online in the middle of the Christmas-eve rush in the grocery store and, well, Martha Stewart, your "quick and easy" chocolate cake and marshmallow-fluff frosting recipes were both disgusting and full of HUGE errors in ingredients/timing/etc...). The night ended in a MAJOR meltdown because family brought a gift for L that B actually liked better than his gift. Not share why MIL and other relatives insist on getting L presents (MIL even got him a CARD) on B's birthday. I told her not to, since B wasn't given anything on L's birthday 2 months ago, and he's the type to remember!
In any case, we are planning on not doing Christmas or birthday at MIL's house next year. It will be a HUGE conflict. We'll see what actually happens. Because of the expense of the flights we didn't do a birthday party for B this year, either, and he was OK with that when we told him he'd have the family party and the trip, and yes, he could have chocolate cake with white icing and maraschino cherries---6 for him and 4 for L. At least the cherries were tasty, I guess.
I'm making my way through emails, phone calls, and other administrative crap today (plus commenting on your blogs!). I'll get sign out this afternoon. I have no idea if I'll be rounding for 3 hours or 8 hours the next 3 days. I usually just plan for 8, so I (and my family) can be pleasantly surprised if I make it home earlier. I'll meet the boys at G's office to watch the 6 pm fireworks (we did this last year and the kids loved it) and go to bed as early as possible. Hopefully they will have gotten some food and maybe unpacked a little? though G said he had to do work and was going to have the boys watch movies this afternoon so he could work from home.
Stay tuned for all the year-in-review/new years posts I've been writing in my head for the past 10 days! Like I said, better late than never!