So ... where were we?
I was quite far away, actually. After a surprisingly successful December store/yard sale, Mr. Baby and I bundled up and headed north to surprise Cha Cha and Pops for their 40th anniversary. This involved various lies and nefarious deeds, most of them performed by my allegedly legit big sister, culminating in the cancellation of their romantic hotel weekend in downtown Minneapolis in exchange for a completely unexpected party with two dozen friends and family and a week with their littlest grandbabies. It seemed like a fair trade, at least until Pops had to come out of diaper-changing retirement during my last-minute, pre-Christmas mall run.
It was a very nice visit to the homeland. And also very cold. Very, very cold. Mr. Baby and I spent an extra two hours at the Memphis airport waiting for our plane to de-ice and emerge from the tundra, and landed amid a dark, snowy, gusty, bitterly cold landscape that looked like something out of a sci-fi movie. Fortunately, I really had no reason to leave the cozy, well-insulated ancestral estate (except for the aforementioned visit to Ridgedale and an unabashedly dorky yet very sweet reunion with my former church youth group peeps), so the windchill of -30 degrees was really just a useful tool for showing up my southern friends, huddled against the barely-below-freezing temps in their drafty bungalows.
After a week ensconced indoors with two toddlers, however, the origin of the term "cabin fever" was clearly evident. Those babies wanted to run around, and the grown-ups wanted to set them loose, but there just wasn't anywhere for a wee California girl and a tiny Tennessee boy to be free. So the second and third generations packed back up and headed to our warmer homes for another year. Or, for some of us, at least until the job and housing markets align (note to Auntie K: look into a house with a heated dog/child run).