On the 22nd, we left this beautiful, festive house behind...
...and drove up to my parents' house in Ellerbe, NC. That was the first half of our trip. We got smart this time though and invested in a DVD player for our car. I don't know why we didn't think of this before - Gemma was glued to the screen the whole time and didn't even seem to notice or care that we were in the car for about 20 hours over the course of about 5 days. (We are pretty sick of listening to Baby Mozart and Baby Beethoven by this point, but hey, it was better than listening to a crying 1 and a half year old.) The evening after we arrived in Ellerbe, my parents were nice enough to babysit Gemma so that Cy and I could go out on a double-date with Rachel and David. We had a delicious meal at Olive Garden and then very much enjoyed the new Sherlock Holmes movie. And then the next morning, it was back in the car for 4 more house until we arrived in Bedford, Virginia, at my grandparents' house. (Gemma also suddenly developed a horrible stomach bug while we traveling of course but I will not get into that.)
We spent Christmas Eve at my Uncle Jeff's house near Smith Mountain Lake. Uncle Jeff and Aunt Carolyn were super thoughtful and had rounded up tons of stuffed animals and musical toys for Gemma to play with. We ate the traditional Bradshaw Family Christmas Eve meal of ham and Marilee cheesy potatoes, then played some traditional Bradshaw Family Games (a "Wright Family Christmas" and our white elephant gift exchange), then exchanged some real presents. By the end of the evening, Gemma was exhausted. But she looked so cute in her little candy cane dress (I didn't make this one; my mom did):
We drove back to my grandparents' house and hurried to bed so Santa could come (I think Rachel was the most excited about this). The next morning, the living room was crammed with presents. Daddy helped Gemma open hers, and thought she was most excited about his M&M light saber (she learned to say the word "light" that day), she did pretty well opening presents and was very excited about her new slippers and her new pink Converse shoes.
We spent the afternoon at Uncle Jeff's again, where we enjoyed some stuffed pasta shells and salad and some more time with family.
Since we didn't know anything about any of the churches in the area (and the nursery situations), we didn't go to church on Christmas. We are planning to spend Christmas in Charleston next year (since we will have two small children) and hopefully we can focus more on the birth of Christ instead of just rushing around frantically like we did this year.
We headed back to Ellerbe the day after Christmas. We debated driving straight through to Charleston because we were ready to be home, but decided to give Gemma a break from the car. We should have just gone for it, because she refused to go to sleep that night (and this was not our first bad night during the trip), so we ended up just packing up the car around 9 pm and heading out. We got home at 1 am, climbed into our own, and those next 5-6 hours were the best sleep any of us had had in about 5 days.
A couple days later, Nana and Pops drove down and it was time for Christmas with the Shealys. (See what I mean about this 12+ days thing?) We had takeout from California Dreaming and opened presents at Wes and Kelly's house. My favorite part was giving Noah the giant Angry Bird we'd gotten him. He insisted that everyone call it a "fat" Angry Bird and he seemed very excited about it:
Nana and Pops gave Gemma and Liam each a Cozy Coupe car. It only had about a gazillion pieces, but we eventually got it put together and Gemma has enjoyed cruising around the house in it,
While Nana and Pops were here, they stayed with Gemma and let us go see ANOTHER MOVIE! We couldn't believe it - we normally see about 1 or 2 movies a year, and here we were, seeing 2 in one week. Crazy! We went to see the new Mission Impossible movie. It was pretty fantastic. Then Nana and Pops went back home and we kicked off the new year with all of us getting sick with a head cold. Welcome to 2012.
Okay, so I wasn't exactly "brief," but a lot of this post was cute pictures of Gemma, so that's okay, right? And because she's so cute, here are just a couple more (I did a very chaotic photo shoot with her in her Christmas dress trying to get a good picture for all the grandparents):
Okay, I'm for real done now. So Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Shealy family! We are so excited about 2012 because in just three more months we will get to meet our baby boy!