keep your expectations low, and limit family visits to 3 days max. =)
It worked for me!! Visiting the family went a lot better than I had anticipated. I stayed at my mom's place, but spent a lot of time with my sister's family. In fact, my sister's family picked me up from the airport. They live relatively close so had stopped off at Target to do some shopping on the way, as they were getting back into the car a plane flew overhead. The kids said "Look - it's Auntie's plane!" but my sister told them "No, her plane doesn't land for another 15 minutes or so." But then, right as they got back on the road I called (the joy of having a cell phone - I could call them from the plane as we taxied to the gate) them. So it really really was my plane they spotted! Smart kids. ;)
I know everyone thinks their own kids are the cutest... but you're all wrong! My niece and nephew are the sweetest kids ever, so freakin' adorable I could barely stand it. I mean, they're normal, and they fight, but they also whisper to each other and play well together. On the ride home my niece 'stole' my nephew's nose. "I've got your nose!" she sings. "No - it's right *here*" he answers back touching his face. They just cracked me up the whole time.
We all went out to get the Christmas tree together, and we all managed to agree on one that was not too big, not too small, just perfect. Then we brought it home, decorated it, made cookies and had dinner. I put all my presents under the tree and the kids were just bursting with anticipation. "I can't even wait! Can you even wait?" "No I can't wait until after we eat dinner and then we open PRESENTS!!!" They thoroughly enjoyed shaking their presents, and pestering me to find out what they were. My niece asked "Is it a book" and I answered "I don't know... maybe" to which she responds. "But you wrapped it!" I love kids who take everything literally.
They enjoyed their gifts, my niece wore her shawl the rest of the day, and the next day too. It was everything from a scarf to an Audrey Hepburn head scarf, to Hannah Montana's wig. The pictures are cute, but I don't feel right posting pictures of kids online. So just take my word for it. And my nephew and his dad both really enjoyed the spiderman motorcycle toy I got him. So "Christmas" was a big success.
But by Sunday night though, the complaining started, and I was ready to come home. And when I did get home... what a surprise!
There are good mail days... you know, like when you get an actual letter from someone, and then there are really good mail days, when you get a package you've been waiting for. But I don't even know how to describe how awesome a mail day it is when you get three fantastic things you weren't totally expecting.
2. The 'kicker' check. I thought I heard something about getting a tax kicker check back this year, and officially I'm opposed to the kicker... but seriously, how can I complain about getting my own money back. And it was not a small check... easily enough to pay for the trip I just took, or some new tires, or something else really fun. Yay for free money!
And finally 3. A GIANT box of goodies from Aunt Mag. Wow... I can't even believe it. Apparently this is what didn't fit in the last box she sent me out of the blue. Totally unexpected, totally undeserved goodies - Yay!
Lots of pretty pink yarn, a pink colander, lettered stitch markers and a new tape measure. Fun fun fun. Oh... and the suitcase is just to showcase how appropriate the pink theme is. =) That really is my luggage, and it cracks me up when I'm waiting at the luggage carousel and I hear the announcement that "Many suitcases look alike, check your tags." So far... my bags have been pretty easy to spot. ;)