January 02, 2024

A Holiday Staycation

Well, that was a very refreshing break from reality over the last couple of weeks! Everything has been SO different around here. I'm still not at all used to Noah not living here anymore. Jerry's work schedule changed drastically, but he had a week off and then a long holiday weekend. Having him home a lot and Noah gone a lot has been such a big change.

I wish I could say that we did all sorts of fun things while Jerry was home, but we actually just enjoyed our down time at home. Like I said in my previous post, we celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve with the boys and their girlfriends.

Noah gifted me this welcome mat that has a black cat on it and says "Welcome, peasants." I thought it was funny when Estelle laid on it--her eyes look nearly identical to the ones on the mat. And if she could talk, she would totally be sarcastic like this.

Rose, Noah's girlfriend, works at Panera (not the one from my sad avocado story, thankfully). When I first met her and asked her about her job, I mentioned that I used to love their salt bagels. They haven't had them in a long time, but they were so good! She said that they were discontinued a few years ago.

Imagine my surprise, then, when she gave me these for Christmas!

Six salt bagels, made just for me. She knew how much I liked them, and her manager actually made these for her to give to me. She also gave me their original salt bagel magnet that they used to display the price. It was a unique and perfect gift. Ava, Eli's girlfriend, gave me a tumbler that has "Best Bonus Mom" on it (if Duck wasn't on my lap right now, I'd get up and take a picture of it). I love Ava like a daughter and her gift made me feel good.

Oh! Remember the dollar store gift idea that my family was going to do? We had a list of things to buy at the dollar store for each other--things like "something that is your favorite color" and "your favorite snack" and "something we can do together", etc. There were eight items on the list, and all four of us went shopping separately. We bought something from each category to give to each person (so, 24 things total). I made sure to tell them to do it at the dollar store, because it was just going to be fun and silly.

Well, I wasn't taking into account that the "dollar store" doesn't really exist anymore. We have Family Dollar, which is basically more expensive than Kroger. Then there is General Dollar, and most things in there are about $5. Finally, there is Dollar Tree--that is the dollar store I was talking about. It used to be $1 per item, but now it's $1.25. Still, not bad for what we were doing.

Since I hadn't specified which store, well, the joke was on me. Jerry went to General Dollar (thankfully, he only bought a few things there; the rest he bought at Dollar Tree). Eli went to Family Dollar because it's the closest to our house. His total was $110! My jaw dropped when he told me that. I almost decided to take everything back before he'd even wrapped it, but he'd put thought into each of the gifts so I just chalked it up to a lesson learned--be specific when talking about the General Family Dollar Tree. (That's what Jerry and I started calling the trio of stores.)

Exchanging the General Family Dollar Tree gifts was fun! It was interesting to see how well we knew each other (favorite snack, drink, color, etc.).

Remember the tiny plastic babies that I hid in random places for Jerry to find? Well, I'd gotten Cracker Jacks to put in the kids' stockings, and I thought it would be funny to put one of the babies in there as the prize that comes from the Cracker Jack box. I used a razor blade to carefully open the bottom of the box. I cut the tiniest slit in the bag to push the baby inside, then I used hot glue to seal the bottom of the box again. Eli wound up with it, and I played dumb for a minute before I told him what I did. It was a fun prank!

The day before that, we'd gone to Brian's house because Luke and Riley were there. He invited my parents, Nathan, and my family to come over in the morning and watch the kids open Christmas gifts. I miss having little kids like that on Christmas morning! It was fun watching them get so excited.

Riley is super into "mini brands". They are ridiculous--teeny tiny toy versions of actual brand items you would find in a grocery store--and SO expensive for what you get. When we took her to Barnes & Noble one time she picked out a mini brands item; it contained five pieces and I think it was $10. Each one is about the size of the tip of your thumb and it's just a piece of plastic.

Anyway, Brian had actually found a big container of them on Facebook Marketplace and he got her a little toy store for them. She was super excited and wanted to play with it right away. When I helped her open it, there were SO MANY PIECES to put together, including a page of tiny stickers that had to go on the plastic pieces. Brian is lucky I like putting things together because I spent (literally) well over an hour assembling this store!

After Christmas, Jeanie and Shawn came in from the upper peninsula for a couple of days. Jeanie and I walked all the dogs (she has three basset hounds, and I have Joey). Then we ran a few errands--nothing exciting, but it was good to spend time with her one-on-one since we never really get to do that.

There was a very big Lions (football) game on Saturday and I'm sure if you follow football at all, you heard about the shitshow that it turned into at the end, haha. The Lions would have won but the referee made a bad call--EVERYBODY agreed that he'd screwed up--and they lost. Lions fans were so angry because it was a very important game.

On New Year's Eve, Luke and Riley came over for the afternoon/evening. I was hoping that my other niece, Shelby, would be able to come too, but she had other plans. Eli went to a party at the golf course where he'd been working (they are closed now for the season), so it was just Jerry and me with the kiddos. We told them we were going to have a "party" to ring in the new year.

My mom was going to be taking them home (to Minnesota) early the next morning. (She has flight privileges though Brian, so she can fly with them and hand them off to Becky at the airport in Minnesota.) She didn't want them to stay up late, so Jerry and I pulled up the Times Square event from 2022 to watch the ball drop--hahaha! At "midnight" we shot confetti cannons in the living room and the kids loved that.

They were SO funny all day because of all the things we could do, they just kept wanting to run on the treadmill. And at their ages, they wanted to one-up each other with their speed. If Luke did 5.0 mph, Riley wanted to then run at 5.5. And then Luke wanted 5.6. And so on. By the time my mom arrived, they were running at 7.1 mph, hahaha. I wish I loved the treadmill like they do!

In the afternoon, I got a phone call and was SHOCKED (in a good way) to see it was Del--my boss from Curves when I worked there from 2003-2005. Even though she's much older than me, we were close friends. I hadn't talked to her in probably 10 years, so when I saw her number on my phone, I was excited to hear from her. We chatted for a while and it was nice to catch up, but there is way too much to catch up on, so I suggested we get together and talk some more. It was great to hear from her.

The very best part of the break--probably the highlight of the year--was when Jerry got to show Luke and Riley the Ghostbusters movie for the first time. Jerry is obsessed with Ghostbusters and he'd been waiting for them to be old enough to watch the movie without getting scared. He even busted out his proton pack and goggles, haha.

I cannot even describe how giddy he was when the kids were immediately interested in the movie. They started asking him all sorts of questions about the ghosts, so he took out a big Ghostbusters book that he has. It contains all sorts of trivia and behind-the-scenes info. Luke actually told him to hold on a minute, then he grabbed the remote control and paused the movie so he didn't miss anything. That was when I knew he was genuinely fascinated. 

My heart was totally melting while I watched them with Jerry. I haven't seen Jerry that excited in at least a year! He doesn't know anyone who is into Ghostbusters (I've watched it with him a couple of times, and I even wore a Ghostbusters costume for Halloween in 2022, but I wouldn't call myself a "fan") so he doesn't get the chance to talk with another big fan. When the kids were asking questions a mile a minute, he was thrilled to get to tell them all about it.

It's sounds silly, but seeing that interaction was the PERFECT way to end 2023, which was probably the most difficult year we've had in our entire marriage. (I don't mean that our marriage was suffering; we just had to deal with SO MANY stressors all year, as well as the second half of 2022.) It was completely heartwarming to watch the kids showing so much interest in Ghostbusters and Jerry being ridiculously happy to watch it with them and answer questions.

And finally, we spent the day yesterday planning out some goals for 2024. I'm going to do a separate post with my goals for the year (I'm *that* person who still does resolutions), so I won't get into it here.

The last couple of weeks have been busy enough to keep from getting bored, but we also had enough down time to relax and watch movies and just enjoy some laziness. Today, it's back to reality!


  1. Thanks for sharing. I can see how happy Jerry was with the kids.. very nice 🙂

  2. What a perfect holiday and end of the year :D

  3. I cannot believe that your niece and nephew have already mastered the Jerry Face. This was a beautiful piece about a nice holiday season.


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