It was a grueling week, that last week before Christmas break. Truthfully, it was a grueling month. By grueling, I mean mentally and physically overwhelming. We were giddy with excitement over the tutu orders that kept pouring in. But I knew the day I mailed out seven tutus with a huge sense of accomplishment and came home to a single order for SEVEN more...and another FIVE later that night...that we were going to be in for a serious challenge in meeting our Christmas deadline. That, on top of Christmas portrait orders and editing, Christmas shopping and wrapping that had to be done before we left for our trip, finals for the kids, Christmas concerts and programs, was enough to rattle me, for sure.
I might have freaked out a bit, here and there.
We made a deal, though, Mindy and I...we would not freak out at the same time. It became a family affair, actually. Before it was over, they were all making tutus, even Mindy's boyfriend. We also had a few wonderful friends lend a hand. Jon designed numerous spread sheets to help us track production and expenses, and Abi, always the voice of optimism and encouragement, talked us off the ledge a few times. And we had plenty of laughs along the way. I actually have some funny stories to share, but I'll save those for the tutu blog. I'll wrap this chapter up here by saying that the holiday rush stretched our faith and solidified our determination in this fledgling effort to bring Mary-Kate home.
So on Friday, the 17th, we still had more than 20 tutus to finish, some for local pick-up, before we could leave town the next day. I might mention that I hadn't packed a thing. For a six-day trip for six people. Yeah. I never even made it to the store to pick up snacks for the road. It made for a mentally rough day...you know, one of those days where, no matter what you do, you feel like you should be doing something else?? We pulled yet another all-nighter, finished boxing tutus around noon and sent Jon and Mickey to the post office, showered and started throwing stuff in suitcases. We pulled out of the driveway four hours and thirty minutes behind schedule and headed north.
I needn't have worried about snacks. We threw what we had in the house into a bag, and even those didn't get touched. Mindy and Abi were out before we hit the highway, and Mick and Caroline kept quiet with Leapster and DS games until they finally snoozed. Thankfully, Jon had gotten a few hours of sleep and was able to do the driving. We roused the troops with the smell of food and the lights of Chicago before they passed out again. I was good for absolutely nothing. The GPS decided it was taking a vacation, too, and Jon asked me to navigate a route past Chicago. Let's just say we got there, and not too much out of our way, okay?
We pulled into Christmas Mountain Village in Wisconsin about midnight. And it was bloody cold. I think the high the next day was 5 degrees. We didn't care all that much. We slept late, ate lunch at Taco Bell and made a run for all the stuff we forgot. It wasn't pretty, folks. We made a hefty impact on the local economy. And it completely validated my system of packing over the course of several days and copious list-making. And then we took our crew to the snazzy indoor pool...the boys took a dip in the outdoor hot tub surrounded by snow...and spent the rest of the evening watching Christmas movies.
No agenda. No deadlines. No laundry. No errands. No tutus. No internet!
It was, in a word, awesome.
We had free passes for tubing or skiing. We opted to do tubing on Monday. Caroline was absolutely THRILLED that she made the height cut-off. I wish I would have had a camera handy to capture her jumping up and down and squealing with excitement when she found out she was big enough! And, again, I wish I would have had that camera handy to record her face on our first family tubing run! What would be about a five-inch snow began to fall just as we ventured out in the late afternoon. And that first run gave us a good taste...literally...of fresh powder. It was a blast! Caroline didn't quite know what to make of it at first. She looked a little terrified on the way down, but she squealed with delight at the bottom, grabbed her tube and headed back up.
Most of the runs we lashed our tubes together and went down as a family. One of the runs had a bump, and we saw many a group head down that run and lose hats and even people as their tubes sailed over it. Our menfolk were game, though, and just had to try it. Let's just say they had similar results. We girls finally mustered our courage...I was so afraid all 32 pounds of our little Caroline would go sailing into the next lane. It scared the tar out of her...and me...but she held on tight. I, on the other hand, seriously bruised my tail bone on the landing. And, somehow, Jon managed to crash and burn with Mickey on one of his last runs and thought he might have broken his other toe.
Oh, didn't I mention that? We have SO much to catch up on.
We were snow-covered and exhausted by the time our passes ran out. Well, except for Mickey. He just had to go to the pool again, and Caroline wasn't about to be left out. So while Abi and I whipped up some Mexican treats and warmed up the DVD player, Jon and Mindy bundled the two younger ones in snowsuits over their swimsuits and made the trek to the lodge..which was no easy feat. Our cabin was at the bottom of a hill, and our van barely made it up in the snow. Apparently, they slid all the way down on the way back, too. We were stuck until the roads were plowed!
We weren't really all that upset. We had junk food, hot chocolate, lots of movies and games, a warm fire and, most importantly, each other. Couldn't have been better.
Although one of these days, I'd like to be one of those families that gets to go on the exotic tropical Christmas vacation. I'm just sayin'...
More in the next post...hopefully, before spring...