An alternate title for this post could be "Lauren's First Christmas: The Better Late than Never Edition."
As usual, we spent Christmas with my family and Second Christmas/New Year's with Matt's family. My family's celebration took place in Lake Charles, Louisiana, where we stayed at my aunts Louise and Bethany's house, along with my parents and Ashley and Donnie, who traveled in from Florida and Georgia, respectively. We also got to see Al and Melinda, who live in Lake Charles. To reduce and space out our driving, we drove to Louisville first then flew to Louisiana (and back) from there. In Kentucky, we spent time with Matt's mom and grandma (Nana, as our kids call her) and Sarah and Dan, who were in from NYC. We had a wonderful visit with everyone, which went too quickly. Here are some highlights from our baby girl's first Christmas.
Christmas was Lauren's second trip to Louisiana. We had to go to Lake Charles, sadly and unexpectedly, in October for my Memaw's funeral. After about a day of warming up, Lauren seemed to adjust to the new surroundings and people. Then she was content to be passed around from arms to laps to hips. There was little need for her feet or bottom to touch the ground. She even took quite a few naps being held, especially with Aunt Sarah. Meanwhile, her brothers too enjoyed their additional playmates, spending hours playing football/baseball/soccer, board games and various touch-screen games, courtesy of the many devices at their disposal.
Our trip also included Lauren's first flight. Make that flights--very plural--including an extra, unexpected flight to Cleveland en route back to Louisville. Our flights down to Louisiana went off without a hitch. But our return flights, which were on Matt's birthday, were delayed because of morning fog in Houston. On the day we were to return to Kentucky, we got up at 4am so we could make our very early flight out. But with the fog delay and consequent rebooking, we ended up getting to Louisville 9 hours later than planned via an extra connection in Cleveland. The worst part of the whole day was probably the beginning, when we boarded our plane on time, were taxiing presumably to takeoff and then the pilot came on to tell us that we couldn't take off because of fog in Houston. So we waited in the plane on the runway for two hours! With three small kids! About an hour into our "taxiing" experience, Lauren blew out her diaper, which I had to change in the tiniest airplane bathroom. I tried to reassure myself that it could only get better from that point.
And basically it did. Those two hours weren't great, but they could have been a lot worse. When they finally let us off the plane in Louisiana, we spent another couple hours in the airport, waiting to leave for Houston again. During that time, I was able to rebook our flights to Louisville with customer service over the phone. The boys watched movies and played with Matt's ukulele. Lauren nursed and napped and bounced in our laps. God bless my ergobaby carrier, because she spent most of the time that we weren't on planes in that. I'm thankful it's so comfortable for her and for me. Once our flight left Louisiana, everything moved much faster and much more smoothly. We went to Houston, ate a late lunch, got on the plane to Cleveland, ate a late supper (the best Sbarro pizza ever!) and boarded our plane to Louisville, arriving just shy of 10pm. After a good night's sleep, enhanced by the fact the boys were still on Central time and slept until 8am, we were ready to be festive for Second Christmas. Although that travel day isn't an experience I'd like to repeat, it wasn't totally terrible either. I credit our amazing kids. They were such troopers.
As much as we travel, we have been granted many traveling mercies. A huge one this year was that all the kids were healthy--no snotty noses even. This was the first time in three years that we didn't have to stop by a pharmacy on Christmas Eve to pick up antibiotics. I can count on one hand the number of antibiotics the kids have ever had, but there's something about Christmas time that usually gets us. We're thankful we were spared this year.
So Lauren's first Christmas was fairly classic and should introduce her to what her future holidays will be like with lots of traveling, loving relatives and good food. Well, she'll get a better idea of the food next year, as her diet still consists of mainly mama's milk with the occasional puree or cereal serving. In any case, here's our Christmas in photos. Enjoy!