When I left off the story yesterday, it was just before Christmas Eve. Now, we knew that Steve had been planning a big dinner for that day, but due to lack of asking the proper questions, what we didn't know is that this was because most everybody else in the family had booked Christmas Day with others of their respective families (in-laws for our sisters, their mother for our step-siblings). We did kind of figure it out ahead of time, though, because when the menu includes a turkey and about thirty casseroles, usually that indicates some sort of holiday feast. Our stepbrothers are both vegan, so there was even a vegan casserole...which, you may have guessed, we stayed far, far away from. Not because we're such vicious carnivores, but because we hate vegetables. We generally stick to bread, and I think we probably ate the same variety as the vegans, just of different items.
Anyway, dinner came and everybody sat down to eat. (Nobody came early, so there aren't any cute stories from before the meal.) Logan's little brother was determined to be even pickier than us, and unfortunately had procured some fruit snacks before we were able to use them as a bribe to try other things. (Athena and I ended up at the kid's table, which I don't mean to say as a complaint, but as a "we didn't know what was going on, and that's where events led us.") That led to the clever exchange between him and his cousin, who demanded, "Eat!" "No!" "Yes! Eat!" "I don't want to eat!" For some reason, I find it extremely adorable to hear approximately-three-year-olds yell at each other. By the time he was excused, Michael had had a bunch of fruit snacks and one kernel of corn. (There was another amusing incident in which Athena tried to get him to eat mashed potatoes by putting a bit on a fruit snack before handing it to him, but he took the fruit snack right out of his mouth, wiped the mashed potatoes off of it, then put it back in his mouth. These kids are problem solvers.)
After dinner, it was time for presents! ...Actually it was time to go play with the small-appetited children while the people with real appetites finished eating. I only mention that because that's when Logan pulled out a Leap Pad and we got to snuggle while he played on it. And also because the nieces were adorable putting on all the Mardi Gras beads that were lying around the playroom.
Then it was time for presents. Stepbrother Scott had me this year, and he got me a very pretty figure of Sailor Moon doing her end-speech pose from SailorMoon Crystal. I was especially impressed because I think we were completely over our SailorMoon phase before we really met him, so he couldn't have known that we liked it, or the extent of its relevance in our lives. As for the gift from Aurora, it was a ruby-throated hummingbird plush representing a symbolic adoption of a hummingbird! And it chirps! We wondered how she knew of our recent weakness for stuffed animals, and figured it probably had to do with our posting pictures of the plushies we bought in Japan not once but twice. And now every time I see a hummingbird, I'm going to say it's mine, mwa ha ha ha...
Sarah had Athena this year, as previously mentioned, and in addition to the story from Logan, she gave her a beautiful owl-shaped backpack. Now we're going to imagine more things we need to bring to Disneyland so she'll have more of an excuse to take it with her.
Mother discovered that we like warm cozy things, like blankets and pajamas (even though we live in the not-exactly-frozen climate of Southern California), so she bought us footy pajamas! They're great--it's like you're wearing a sleeping bag. It's pretty much the definition of cozy.
After everybody opened their presents, we all hung out and chatted until it was time to take the kids home and put them to bed so Santa could visit their houses. It was just us and Mom and Steve then, and after some talking, somebody brought up the possibility of ice cream, so we all headed out to Baskin Robbins...which was closed because it was almost nine o'clock on Christmas Eve for crying out loud. But now we were all craving ice cream, so we went to Walgreen's and bought a carton of some vanilla and some peanuts, and we had that with some of the fudge from Gaston's friend's ice cream place. It was pretty yummy.
For us, Christmas Day was very low-key. We went to church and did puzzles on our iPads and watched Galaxy Quest. I don't know why, but it had been brought up, and we said we hadn't seen it in ages, so we all watched it, and that was nice.
The next day, our train didn't leave until the afternoon, so we spent time visiting with the sisters. First, it was off to Celeste's house, where we discovered that her husband had nabbed his sister's copy of Pokemon Sun! He wasn't very far in it, though, so all we could get was a Cottonee. But! he alerted us to the wonders of "mystery trade" (which is called "miracle trade" in the Japanese version), which is how he got not only all three of the starter Pokemon for Sun & Moon, but also a Cyndaquil and a Chikorita. So we did that a few times, and then decided we might want to have a chance to see all these Pokemon in the wild before they randomly showed up in a trade.
As we sat talking, there was the constant sound of small objects being buffeted about. Sometimes the source of the sound would come into view, and we would get to see the adorable little kitten that our brother-in-law found by his fire station soon after they missed their chance to adopt Rogue. He's a black kitten with white paws and I think a white chest but I don't remember. Athena thinks he has a white chin, too. And they named him Figaro. And he tore up my hand because he is a frisky little guy. He and the baby of the house are very good friends. She'll hug him, and he'll chomp her head, and apparently they both love it because neither of them avoids the other.
After a lunch at MacDonald's, we headed off to Sarah's house to see how Logan fared with Santa. Turns out he got a super cool remote-controlled Tyrannosaurus Rex, that turned its head and roars. He also had some sticker books where it shows part of a picture, and then you get to put stickers on it to complete the picture, and we saw some of the pages he'd finished, and he'd done such a good job! So then he wanted to do some more pages, but I think he was under a lot of pressure now that we had all seen and commented on what a good sticker sticker he was, so he would put a sticker down, then he'd have to take it off and realign it and stuff. He seemed to have less trouble with it when we weren't watching so intently.
We hung out and played for a while, and then it was time to go. So Mom took us to the train station, and our train was not delayed! So we made it everywhere on time, which meant we had time to check out the creperie at Union Station. It was pricey, and they don't cook the crepes quite as long as they do in Japan (we don't like things too crispy here in Murica), which makes them a little floppy and hard to eat (and they don't have fancy cones to put them in, either), but they tasted pretty good and the staff was friendly. If we're feeling rich next time we're in Union Station, maybe we'll try the dark chocolate ones or the maple ones.
And those are our adventures. Today I'm thankful for the beautiful and cozy Christmas gifts we received, getting to spend time with our lovely family, getting to try the crepes at Union Station, our train not being delayed, and making good progress on work today.