Saturday the 3rd Nina got to see her first Nutcracker ballet with dancers from her dance school with Jill, then I took her to a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese in the afternoon. Jill and I went out to see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them in Mosaic that evening – very well done addition to the canon. We needed a very quick meal beforehand and Spice 6 obliged with tasty Indian food, then had a drink at B Side afterwards. Friday I wondered if 2016 would not give up as I learned Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake & Palmer had passed away right after I was listening to his Christmas song. I suggested if I was Carl Palmer, I’d spend the rest of the year in a bunker (Keith Emerson died earlier in the year).
Saturday the 10th was our annual holiday party, and the kids threatened to outnumber the adults. Nina had a blast, as usual (she helped bake cookies the day before too). Too bad the next night we hosted a party as well: St. Nick’s night at Emmaus UCC for a “spaghetti dinner”, actually a giant potluck dinner with a special visit from you-know-who, but the weekend exhausted everyone.
Thursday the 13th was parent’s night at ballet, with a special performance of “Frosty The Snowman”. The next morning was Nina’s school’s winter concert with her class singing “Shake Those ‘Simmons Down”. Saturday our next door neighbors hosted a party, which resulted in the following firsts for Nina: first grownup party (with downstairs babysitter) and first caroling (she was one of the doorbell pressing scouts). Other firsts from Sunday included first programming (with a robot) and first time losing a tooth at a concert (and 2nd tooth ever) as we went to see David Wax Museum at Jammin’ Java.
Wednesday the 21st Jill’s mom was down and the girls were going to Meadowlark’s Winter Walk of Lights, so I got takeout from Dumpling Queen for dinner (delicious), then went to see Rogue One in IMAX – enjoyed it (although I liked Episode 7 more). That was a good day – the next morning was not as Nina refused to go inside the jump camp she’d been to twice before because there were “too many kids”, and I had to drop her off at the dentist where Jill was. Of course I left my coat at the camp so I had to go all the way back there again (plus we thought her backpack was there as well, but that turned out to be at the dentist).
Friday the 23rd we got an early start on our drive up to Massachusetts. Not too bad a time until we got to Hartford, then we needed to stop at Blue Back Square to get a gift that was on hold and ended up at The Cheesecake Factory for lunch. The food was fine, but it took a while and then there was a traffic jam on the highway so we took back roads to get closer to Melissa’s house.
Christmas Eve my Mom and David and my sister and her family arrived and we all met up at a church for their Christmas Eve service. We planned on everyone getting takeout but the baby was tired and the visitors went back to their hotel while Jill and I got Chinese food for everyone else. It was probably a good thing they didn’t stay as it was over an hour until our food was ready (got some last minute shopping done at Walgreens). I had to post the best tweet of the day later:
@omically: John: I’ve done it. I’ve written the worst Christmas song ever
Paul: Hold my beer
Christmas started with Nina and her cousins opening stockings and gifts (and there was a special video for Nina from Santa explaining why her bike was at home and not there), then all the immediate family on both sides trickled in. We opened more gifts and had a big dinner of ham, plus the 1 year old boy cousins got to play for the first time. My sister in law doesn’t have BBC America, so we used the Verizon Mobile app (first on my phone, then Jill’s tablet) to watch Doctor Who live later. Worth it, that was a good one.
Boxing Day we went to Jill’s sister’s Robin’s house for lunch with my family, and the boy cousins got to play all afternoon. We followed my family over to Northampton with the intention of exploring but it was getting icy, so we explored Thornes Marketplace before ordering takeout from Paul and Elizabeth’s. Jill, Nina and I stayed to wait for the food while everyone else went to Jill’s mom’s, and Nina and I got a chance to shop at Turn It Up! and the surplus store before we had dinner (almost everyone got the fish and chips, very good).
The next day my family went we went to Jill’s dad’s house where we met up with Robin and her family as well as Jill’s dad’s parents. More gifts were passed out, and we had meat pie and sandwiches for lunch, then Jill, Melissa, Dominic and I went out for dinner at Texas Roadhouse. Wednesday Jill and I took Jake out for Indian food in Springfield (nicely spiced lamb for me) before taking Nina and Ava to see Moana.
Thursday morning Melissa and I took Nina, Ava and Maddy to see Sing (both movies were good with catchy songs), then we’d planned to go to an escape room in Easthampton. The weather had different plans (snowed hard enough to close the road to Easthampton), so we came back to East Longmeadow and had dinner at Center Square Grill (the best meal all week, I had the lobster roll). I went to Walgreens for materials, then designed an escape room for everyone else after the little kids went to bed (Jill knew she’d solved the puzzle of the two presidents when she figured their order was 21 and 12, won’t get away with that number sequence again). Friday morning we took our time to let the roads clear, then started the long drive home.
Saturday the 31st was New Year’s Eve, and we actually went out for the first time in years (so out of practice, but it was the 15th anniversary of our first date). We did late dinner at the reincarnated TenPenh in Tyson’s (absolutely fantastic selection of dim sum), then walked over to Earls (we had taken the Metro from Reston) and had drinks at the bar while we did the countdown before heading home (babysitter Julia slept over).