Okay, back to the WI trip . . .
On Thursday my mom and I went shopping, which was really fun and then mom, dad, Matt, Iris and I went to Culver's for egg nog milk shakes. Yum! One wonderful thing about WI is Culver's, who are known for their frozen custard. That night an old friend, Brian, came by to visit. We hadn't seen each other since last time I was in WI, and his life has changed considerably since I last saw him. He's been to China and fallen in love and I couldn't be more excited for him! He kicked mine and Matt's asses in Scrabble, as well.
Friday morning Matt, Iris and I went to visit another friend, Beth, at the home she recently purchased with her fiancee. We only had about an hour to catch up, but it was wonderful to see her and explore her new home. She and her fiancee, Dave, are getting married this summer. We stopped by my dad's work to say hi and meet his co-workers, and of course show off our lovely daughter! It took the rest of the afternoon to get all of our crap together and pile in to the van for the drive to Milwaukee. That night we ate some fantastic nachos and drank some REALLY fantastic margaritas, and caught up with my sister's family and visited with her kids. Iris has a terribly hideous night of sleep that evening. We were stuck inside most of the time in hot, dry air and our noses and throats were getting pretty fry. Iris had a hard time breathing most of the night and I was trying to sleep on a couch next to her pack-n-play. When she got too fussy I tried to sleep with her on the couch, but needless to say, that was quite uncomfortable.
The next morning we had to get up and get going early to head up to the Fox Valley for the huge family gathering. This gathering was the main reason we scheduled our trip for when we did, as most of my extended family has never even met Iris. The drive is long, just over two hours, but I managed to keep Iris and the boys entertained in the back of the minivan while Matt drove and my sister navigated. So, the Christmas gathering was held at a nature center. A nature center filled with, you guessed it!, stuffed, dead animals. It was incredibly creepy and disgusting but of course non of the children seemed to care. There was every animal you could imagine, from polar bears to owls to fish to wolves, just sitting there. My sister told us that my youngest nephew, who is 2 1/2, was standing in front of the case of birds saying "dead. all dead.". Creepy! We caught up with my grandma, grandpa, all of my aunts, uncles, cousins and cousin's children and it was so much fun! We ate, played, opened gifts and played our ornament exchange game. Each year everyone brings an ornament and wraps it up. We all draw a number out of a hat and the person with number one gets to pick the first package, and they get that ornament. The person with number two gets to pick a package and either keep that ornament or exchange with the first person. The third person picks an ornament and gets to keep it or exchange with the first or second, and so on and so forth. Matt ended up with an old school glass ornament of a Santa sitting on a toilet, and I have a hula monkey :)