I'm going to hit the highlights because I don't think I have the energey to recap the whole thing.
First - the burglary...I mentioned in my last post that we got the stuff back. According to the neighbors, who are very upset about the whole thing, we assumed it was a friend of the (early 20s) kids who had the party. However, the neighbors say that there is a son in the family who is a drug addict and has stolen/broken into homes in the past. So, perhaps getting our stuff back wasn't really the impressive act we thought and was more just the dad asking his son for the stuff back. Either way, we have it back and will be more careful in the future. However, to add insult to injury, the same family (immediately next door to us) had *another* party on Christmas Eve, only this time with a live band. I was so not in the mood. The music was actually so loud that in *our bedroom* Joe and I had to talk loudly to be able to hear each other. Try putting a two-year-old to sleep with her saying "Listen, mommy, music!" at midnight. I finally fell asleep around 1am when the band quit playing and they started in on karaoke. Sort of hard to have the quiet family-focussed time we were hoping for, you know? The only good part was that the music was pretty decent (PR Christmas music, which is way more festive than the American version).
Second - Christmas Eve was tons of fun. We went to the beach with everyone. Ellie is at an age now where she loves the sand and the waves. She also loves my brother who is great at playing with her and teasing her and so on. All he has to do is look at her and she squeals in laughter and terror. After spending several hours at the beach, we went home, rested, and then went to church. The service was very nice with great music. I really enjoyed it - both getting to sing all my favorite Christmas songs and listening to the choir. Ellie spent most of the time in the nursery with Evelyn (we sort of wanted her with us but was dying to see Evelyn) and I went to get her just before the end of the ceremony. She held my candle (with my hand on top of hers) and thankfully didn't try to touch it. She got to blow out mine, Joe's, and my mom's which made her night. There was a moment near the end where I was singing O Holy Night, holding Ellie and the candle, standing next to Joe and my mom with my dad, brother and SIL in the pew, where I just felt to blessed to be there with my entire family - happy and together.
Third - Christmas itself was also a nice, very relaxing day for most of us. Joe was sick for the vast majority of the day (some kind of stomach flu/food poisoning) and the rest of us sat around and opened sticking presents and then regular presents. Not surprisingly, Ellie was the star of the day. She is at the perfect age for opening presents. She doesn't have any greed in her yet so she was completely content to open a present and then play with it until someone asked her to open another present. There was no crying or begging to open more, which was nice. She crashed hard and took a nap (falling asleep in about 3 seconds) around 11:30 (instead of her usualy 10 hours, she had only gotten about 7 due to the party next door). When she woke up we...opened more presents. I had asked everyone to sort of try to reduce the number of presents she got this year, but she still ended up with a ton of stuff - books, toys, and a pair of fleece pajamas for when we go to New Mexico. She insisted on wearing those until she was a little ball of sweat. The best presents, from my perspective, were the baby stroller, crib, and high chair. She seems to really like all three and spent much of the day putting her baby in all three. I knew she would like those presents, but I had an ulterior motive in that I'm hoping that having her own "baby" will make the arrival of her little brother a slightly smoother transition.
I'm stuck at work today but the rest of the family is at home hanging out together. Hopefully, the day will pass quickly.