An early Christmas weekend up north

The weekend before Christmas, we packed up our truck with warm clothes and Christmas gifts, plenty of snacks for the drive, and a loaf of sourdough bread, and drove north to see my family in the Twin Cities. It had been over a year since we spent time in my home state, and it was a so nice to be back for a visit.

We stayed at my parents' house, along with my Grandma Donna, and much of the visit was the lovely little things of life: making coffee and meals together, Cooper exploring the house, eating, lots of laughing with Cooper and the sweet and silly things he does and says, and chatting together in the evenings. We arrived late on Thursday, and my mom had hot beef stew ready for us; such a cozy meal. And then, after visiting for a little bit, we all got ready for bed.

Friday morning, we made coffee and breakfast, and then got dressed and drove over to see my dear friend, Lauren, and meet and hold her youngest little girl. Cooper played with her older daughter and they explored toys, snacked on cookies and clementines, while the grown ups could catch up. How sweet to see and hug a dear friend, spend time in her home, and snuggle her babies after time away.

Since it was lunchtime by the time we left my friend's house, Cooper, Nicholas, and I stopped by a local burger place, Red Cow, for some lunch. They serve really good burgers, and offer them on sourdough bread (per request) from a local bakery. Cooper had fries and the time of his life having his own order, and it was a fun meal. We grabbed coffee across the street from Nina's, a coffee shop I hadn't visited in around ten(!) years, and I do love a good nostalgic coffee. It was a good coffee, too. I really enjoyed showing Cooper and Nicholas a little bit of St. Paul.

The rest of the day, we spent at my parents, relaxing, and playing with Cooper, and chatting. My mom showed me her current quilting project. We sat in the living room, by the tree. It's so special to see how he wanted to help my dad refill their Berkey water filter, or toss a large stuffed bear back and forth with my grandma, or look in every room for flashlights and ask, "What's this tashlight? What's this tashlight?" My brother grilled dinner and we spent more time visiting in the evening.

On Saturday, after breakfast, we exchanged Christmas gifts with my family. Cooper loved the process of opening gifts and the gifts themselves, but a notable favorite set of gifts were pocket flashlights from my brother. He had at least one in hand for the rest of the entire trip (and for some of the drive home). I have never known a toddler more enthralled with flashlights, or indeed a group of adults who found more enjoyment in Cooper's excitement with them.

Saturday afternoon, we bundled up a bit and visited Como Zoo and conservatory with my parents and brother. Cooper enjoyed seeing the animals and also really loved walking in the snow in his boots, ie. "I'm gonna walk in this snow." He also was particularly interested in the metal seal statue. The sun was setting as we left the conservatory, throwing warm light through the glass against the cool snow. It's a beautiful park.

We had a nice breakfast on Sunday, with my parents' church service playing in the background, and then after chatting and lingering for a bit longer, packed up the truck and headed south, back home.

Other favorite little moments from our trip:

  • lots of hugs
  • the way that Cooper brings joy and lots of laughs to nearly every conversation
  • Coop snuggling in our bed, between us
  • My brother showing Cooper how his trebuchet works (something he built in his physics class years ago)
  • seeing the little details of my parents' home that makes it feel so, well, homey to me: the coffee mugs, the snow in the backyard, the cardinal stained glass hanging piece, my mom's paperweight collection, etc.
  • Cooper turning on and off my mom's vintage Christmas tree, standing on the couch to get a good look
  • a short and sweet nighttime walk around the neighborhood to see Christmas lights
  • Cooper riding the rocking horse my Grandpa Bob, who was a carpenter, made for me and my brother
  • Talking about advent readings in Isaiah with my family (they read through Isaiah leading up to Christmas, and my reading plan had me read some in Isaiah, as well)
  • At some point, Cooper managed to find an older digital camera and carried that around for awhile.
  • Looking at photos from my Grandpa Bob's childhood: of the family log cabin, the one room schoolhouse school picnic photo, photos of my grandparents on their wedding day, etc. The history of my family.
  • Sitting next to my grandma and seeing her joy that Cooper brings. He "made" her coffee a few times and asked to see her special teapot, which she kindly showed him with my dad before we left :)

It was a lovely visit! so sweet to celebrate Christmas a week early with my family. We miss and love our Minnesota family.

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