With a suitcase loaded down with German presents and one very excited 3 year-old, (okay, and two very excited parents) we were on our way to good ol' Indiana for our favorite time of year.
We had a lovely start to our trip with an overnight stay at the Munich airport hotel. What a fantastic place and amazing gourmet buffet dinner. Levi, it turns out, it a huge fan of caviar. Mostly though, he was excited to go home and for the plane ride. I was informed, "I'll be careful not to bump people's feet." (with his rolling backpack he pulls, that is) and was questioned, "What toys will be at the hotel?" It's always an adventure.
Then, while landing in Chicago, "I see an American flag on that plane!!" and "I'm going to run to Nana and Pa and scream and shout!" (He didn't. He got shy.)
And we're home! Levi's first words waking up were, "I had a hard time sleeping!" Then, there was A LOT of, "I'm so happy to be here!!!!" and plenty of dancing and singing the entire morning.
First stop - Dulls Tree Farm. We were a little late in the season and it was crazy cold, but it is still a favorite place. There's just something homey, easy, friendly, and immediately casual as soon as we're back Stateside.
What to do when you are all awake at 5:30 in the morning with jet lag? Head to the BEST DONUTS IN THE WORLD. Snowy roads, pi's and all…..
Levi informed his plane toys before he left home, "Planes, we're going to go get donuts. We'll be back soon and we'll bring you some donuts." And then to me, "I'm so excited to go get donuts with you, said Mommy." (He still sometimes enjoys pretending he is writing a dialogue in a book.)
And then why not take some to one of your best buddies? How we love this family!
A night out with friends to hear Monique rock it at Birdy's singing her original work.
What a party! I am hoping this becomes an annual tradition: a gathering of our Ethiopian friends each holiday season. Our group keeps growing!
And another favorite annual event, Jingle Rails at the Eiteljorg Museum. This year our friends, Eric, Jen, Isaiah, Elias and Baby Maya joined us. They have since moved to Florida (hence the slightly teary look Jen and I have below….) and we miss them already!
And, of course, Papa had to come and see some Jingle Rails too!
Below, running to show Papa what he was finding...
Also enjoying the kids' area in the Eiteljorg, especially decorating and showing off our very own totem pole.
Another must - a visit with the Motts! Every time I see these kids lined up on the couch once again I am amazed at the passing of time.
Whenever "Miss Elizabeth" announces a plan, Levi is front and center to hear.
One of the biggest differences? How much "Baby Abby" (yeah, can't call her that anymore I don't think) interacts and plays with the boys. Such fun to see.
Spontaneous party chez Todd with quite a few old Zville friends, the Dubays, Leonards, Smiths, and Sowinskis. A rare opportunity as we all gather from Zionsville, Cincinnati, Hong Kong, Michigan, and Germany!
And a wonderful trip up to Chicago with the highlight of stopping to see Elizabeth and Keith.
One of Levi's first Christmas gifts? A fantastic find by Aunt Miriam - a dinosaur reading light! Oh yes, and it "Roars" too!
Mom's in town! She arrived nice and early in order to enjoy things like, well, her adorable grandson, and naturally, Mexican food! Ah, El Pastorcito, how we miss you and the amazing Mexican markets.
And with an army of grandparents in town it must mean that there are date nights in our future! Like our favorite spot, Tastings, and then a Pacers game with Miriam and Brian.
Note the recommendation….
Later in the month we had the present of a Colts game from Bob and Bonnie and also Butler tickets to enjoy! This is one of the things we miss most about living in Indiana. And it's not just the high-quality sporting events available, but the community feeling it inspires. At brunch before the Colts game every person sported their blue and white….
Good ol' Hinkle.
Decorating our little tree with Neenie.
Rediscovering one of his favorite baby moments….
Decorating Christmas cookies with Nana
Always one of our favorite moments in a visit home, a trip to the Children's Museum. Levi informed us, "I want to go in there because I love learning about dinosaurs and all they do." In reality, he's still a little scared of the dinosaur room, but it's good to have a goal.
Levi's obsession - the ball chain reaction wall in the new Playscape area. He could spend all day there.
We also love the lily pad climbing maze. This time he made it up to the boat!
And doing a bit of fishing (…kinda…See the little blonde girl way at the end - he threw his fish and it landed on her head. Whoops….)
A festive winter scene in the lobby.
Finally made it to the front of the Yule Slide line. When we asked if he was sure he wanted to wait in the very long line he exclaimed, "Yes! I'll be patient." No way we could say no after that. Levi was definitely one of the more excited of its passengers when he reached the bottom. Bit of a scene, but worth it. Levi also managed to scream down to me in the midst of the crowded lobby, "Mommy! I tooted!" That's our boy.
Okay. Afterwards it is possible that our tired boy just laid right down and had his nap in the booth at our favorite foodie pub.
Christmas Eve! Again, seeing (and snapping) our great friends.
And the magic that is Christmas morning. Our Santa presents (in front) were delivered right on time while Levi slept, in their annual wrapping paper.
Getting a snuggle after receiving the lovely modern paperweight Levi chose for me from West Elm.
Levi couldn't open another present until he had completed his new 100's board all the way up to 100!
We also had to pause to read our new Curious George book while clutching our new golf cart.
And to line up his geography puzzles
Oh, and the road tape Neenie found continues to be a huge hit.
But the big surprise was his real working Thomas train!
And later in the day Bonnie spoils us with our traditional Christmas brunch. Then we have special Nana and Pa present time.
And his world is complete. Somehow Nana and Pa knew he was dying to own a car transporter.
Levi actually did a craft! He worked hard at painting an old puzzle and then Mommy helped arrange it into candy cane shapes for ornaments. We both signed the back with our ages, haha.
Bob's annual creation.
Bring back memories? Nana saved THE BEST toys from when Daddy was little.
Chair pictures, Month 35 - Tired Boy?
Levi Says, Christmas Edition:
- Me: "How old do you think Mommy is going to be on her birthday?" Levi: "4, like me. Happy Birthday, Mommy! It's your birthday. And I want to eat Mommy's cake. I will have some. Mommy will have some. I'm going to share Mommy's cake."
- Levi: "When I was scared in the dark and cried I said a prayer to God." Me: "Aw, sweet boy. Did it make you feel better?" Levi: "Yes."
- Levi: [at 6:30 a.m.] "Is Papa still asleep?" Daddy: "Yes, Papa is definitely still asleep. He sleeps late." Levi: "We don't like it when Papa sleeps late." Daddy: "You'll have to tell him that." Levi: "No. That will make him feel funny."
- Me: [after he spotted yet another something that is crazy far away] "Levi, your eyes are amazing." Levi: "I have a big eyesight…I have eyesight….What's eyesight?"
- [After looking at some family pictures on my phone in the car, hands me back my phone and says,] "Um, I think I've had enough screen time."
- "Um,..and this is going to be funny Mommy,…."
- Me: "Would you like to take anything to Nana and Pa's?" Levi: "They have toys there. We should leave our toys here so that we don't take too much…..We need to leave on schedule. I don't want to be late. Let's hurry."
- [While we were both laughing really hard,] Levi: "I tooted!" Me: "Why can't you stop tooting!?" Levi: "They just keep coming out of me!"
- [Levi's telling the story of seeing Neenie after nap time] I came out of my room and you were sitting there on the couch and I was so happy to see you!
- [Greeting us one morning] Mommy, Daddy, how's your sleep goin'?
- Me: "Hey, watcha doin' Levi?" Levi: "I'm doin' trains. I'm working a little bit hard, so I can't talk."
- Do not trick Nana and Pa. It's not show time [time for one of his limited TV shows]….I love tricking Nana and Pa because it's my favorite thing to do.
- I love my doggies at my pink Germany house. We should sep and get them some food….I love my doggies and saying sweet things to them.
- I have a plethora of friends and toys.
- [Seeing Daddy check on him while playing with his model train from Papa:] Daddy, I'm being very careful. I want you to go now. [And later….] Daddy, this train is extremely delicate.
- [When Daddy asked him to get ready to go for yet another outing] Good grief! I just want to stay home!
- [Before drinking tea] And I will be VERY careful not to drip all over our BEAUTIFUL house.
- After he broke his train table at home he told Neenie he was worried that we would be "disappointed."
- [Then, telling me about the train table:] Levi: "I'm sorry." Me: "Can you tell me what happened?" Levi: I had a problem. We talked about it. I said I was sorry. I won't do it again."
- [Listening to us discuss going to get Chipotle for dinner one night.] "Not Shipotlay! That's lunch!"
- [Lots of pointing out "beautiful" things] Mommy, I see something beautiful!
- [Once, when Brad and I, though trying hard, couldn't understand what he was trying to tell us] I'm just not going to talk. I'm going to rest.
- [After I knocked down a Duplo tower] That's ok, Mommy. You can try again. Sometimes towers do that. But you can try again.
- Lots of, "Mommy, did you notice….."
- [Spying some Matchbox toys Neenie and Papa brought him] I see it!!! I see it!!! It's a gift!…I did not notice this! I did not understand!
- [Lots of talking things out on the potty or to the dogs after he has a tantrum, often word for word what I have said. Overheard once on the potty:] Oh, Levi. Why are you acting like this?…I know, I miss Cal and Gracie too. We'll see them soon. Then we'll spend a little time in our pink Germany house and then go back to our Iniana house….[He then came out, gave me a huge hug and ugga mugga and apologized for his tantrum.]