This was actually our first Christmas away from family. Last Christmas we were in Washington, but the McBrides came up to have Christmas with us. In Arizona we were close to family so we would spend the holidays with them. This year it was just us! I was actually looking forward to having Christmas with just my family. (Of course we missed everyone!) We were also able to spend some time with my mom beginning of December and mid December Brianna and Chris’ mom were here as well, so we weren’t completely family-less over the holidays.
We didn’t have much planned for Chris and the kids’ time off. We thought maybe we would do some work on our house. (We are getting so close to really getting into the remodel.) But other than that we were going to have a pretty quiet break!
Since our fireplace was wood burning we knew we wouldn’t have fires in it, thanks to allergies! But I still wanted to use my fireplace some how. Since there is no gas line to our house we couldn’t convert it to a gas fireplace. We decided that we would settle on an electric insert, but neither of us were thrilled about that. When we had hvac people come out and give us bids on converting our heating over to forced air (we currently have a HUGE oil furnace that takes up a big area of the downstairs, plus it expensive. When we bought the house we knew we wanted that gone, but we still need to have heating so we needed to find an alternative source.) they recommended a little pellet stove to help heat the house. They recommended putting it downstairs, but that would make the family room layout super wonky. Chris recommend we get a pellet stove insert for in our fireplace. (I didn’t even know you could do that.) And I LOVED that idea. I was so excited about getting one!
We spent a few days going to different stores looking at the pellet stove fireplace inserts and I got a little discouraged. They were pretty pricey! Of course just a regular pellet stove isn’t too bad. Or a wood burning fireplace insert isn’t too bad, but the pellet stove insert is pretty expensive! (Of course!) But we were both pretty set on a pellet stove insert! (For us it wasn’t realistic to be chopping wood to heat our house. I want something that I can do without Chris. Yes I could probably chop the wood my self, but I knew I wouldn’t.) So Chris went looking on Craigslist for one. For some weird reason there weren’t many for sale near us, but in Oregon, near Portland and Salem, there were quite a few! Once Chris makes a decision about something it gets to a point where he just needs to act on that decision or else he’ll drive himself (and me) crazy thinking about it! We knew we wanted a pellet stove, and we found 3 that we wanted. All in Oregon (About 3 hours away) all about the same price and all willing to see us asap! So it was time to act on that decision and go buy one! (The one on Craigslist was over 50% cheaper than the ones we saw in the stores so definitely worth it to us to make the drive to pick it up!)
Chris and I decided on the stove we wanted, and we were off to get it! I love drives so I was really looking forward to our three and a half hour drive to Salem Oregon to get my pellet stove! (I just kept imagining Christmas morning, opening presents by the nice warm fire…heaven!) We checked the weather before we left and we knew there was a possibility of snow in Seattle. Portland and Salem just said rain, with a chance of freezing rain, but honestly it didn’t look too bad so we were off! The drive was beautiful as always and it was great to have time to visit with Chris. The kids loved having the longer than normal tablet time in the car as well so everyone was happy!
About a half hour outside of Portland it started raining some, but not terrible. It was about what we were expecting and the flow of traffic was still OK. Of course google maps was showing us an accident in Portland that was going to slow us down, but we didn’t think much of it. We crossed the bridge into Oregon and were still doing OK weather wise. It was starting to snow some, but wasn’t terrible. We had gone about 90% of the way so we figured we would get our stove and head home fairly quickly and we’d be fine. If we had left our house and the weather was like this, we probably would have turned around, but since we were so close, it didn’t make much sense to turn around and go home empty handed.
We came into Portland and it was a snowy, icy, mess! Cars are sliding everywhere. We’re on roads that curving and either going up hill or downhill so terrible to drive on when its snowy and icy. Crossing some of the bridges was a nightmare. We were crawling. I’m happy to say that we were able to drive very slowly through it all without incident. Once we left Portland things got much better. It was a bit stressful driving through that, but we were optimistic after we picked up our stove! We needed to grab a bite to eat (we stopped at Early Bird Cafe so yummy!) and last minute we decided that since we were in Oregon we should hit up a Home Depot and get some stuff that we needed for our remodel. (Oregon doesn’t have sales tax so we got some of the more expensive things we needed and saved a couple hundred bucks in taxes alone!) We also passed a Sonic, so of course we had to stop there!
After our very successful stops we were going home! It was about 5 PM when we headed home, which is about when we were hoping to be home. The weather wasn’t great, but it wasn’t terrible either so we weren’t too worried. Once again just outside of Portland it turned into an awful mess. We were creeping along again and it was awful! We finally decided we needed to pull over and put the chains on our tires. (Luckily in Washington it is required to have chains in your car if you are going over mountain passes. This trip we weren’t going over passes, but we keep the chains in the car just so we won’t forget.) It was the first time putting the chains on and Chris was quick and got them on without a problem. They did wonders. It was like a night and day difference! Traffic was still creeping along, but the weather finally cleared up some and we were able to take off our chains. Finally after what felt like forever weather was decent enough where we could pick up the pace a bit.
Finally after over 6 hours we made it home! (remember this drive was only supposed to be about 3-31/2 hours!) When we got home we were in a winter wonderland! There was snow everywhere! It was pretty magical!
We got kids in bed (it was past 11 PM by now) and Chris and I decided to unload the dang stove. It might not look like it, but this thing is several hundred pounds (at least 300!) Our drive way is a hill. Since there was snow we couldn’t make it up the drive way. So we were parked in front of the house. We also have to go up a flight of stairs to get to our front door as well, so hauling this heavy thing was no walk in the park. I helped Chris lower it onto our dolly, then he pulled it and I pushed it with all our might. We made it up the hill/driveway, then we made it up the first landing of stairs. Chris was feeling this was impossible, but I wanted my fire Christmas morning dang it so I refused to give up. (Of course Chris was doing all the heavy lifting and I was mostly support-of course without me it would have been impossible I’m sure- ) With a lot more heaving and hoing we made it in our house!!!!
By this time it is close to midnight! Oh did I mention we did this all on Christmas Eve? Yes we went on a quick trip on Christmas Eve that turned into being a HUGE LONG event! Before we left I told Chris I thought it was fine that we went on Christmas Eve as long as we weren’t home too late so we could still do a few presents and play games and get ready for Christmas. He reassured me that we would for sure be home with plenty of time to do all that. (But he did tell me to grab the Christmas Eve Presents just in case, which I did, which the kids opened in the car!) Anyway we didn’t get home until after 11 PM on Christmas Eve. We probably had the stove unloaded around midnight, now on Christmas day. We finally got the stove running around 2 am and were ready to get into bed!
The kids woke up early on Christmas morning, but we had a fire dang it and it was just as spectacular as I thought it would be! It was worth it and I’d do that crazy trip again for my stove!
Christmas was great! Ryan did complain that he had too many presents and they were taking too long to open! (What the heck? What kind of kid do I have?) We took breaks for breakfast and playing in the snow. Did I mention we had a White Christmas? Well we did! The kids thought it was crazy that it was their first white Christmas and our first white Christmas as well! They made snow angels and built a snowman. They had a small snowball fight with the neighbors. (The boys are several years older than Ryan and they were so good to him. If they hit his head, by accident, with a snowball they would apologize and make sure he was ok. I’m glad they’re such nice boys!) Chris decided to take the kids sledding down a street in our neighborhood. I hate watching them sled there. I’m such a baby and it just gives me anxiety. I told them not to go, but Chris really wanted to take them so I let them go and I stayed to clean up the house some so I wouldn’t have to watch. They got back from sledding and it sounded crazy. (I was right!) Lillian came home telling me that she got hit by a car. Chris explained that she almost slid into a parked car, but our neighbor caught her (He was standing in front of the car for this reason and she was in no danger at all!) But ask her about how she got ran over by a car and she’ll tell you a great story! But sledding was a bit too crazy even for Chris.
After playing in the snow we opened some more presents. Some how the kids let Chris and I lay down for a small nap after that, then we went to Macaroni Grill for dinner. I LOVED eating out on Christmas day. No dishes, no time in the kitchen! It was wonderful and I think we will eat out every year! I’m pretty sure after dinner we got home to open more presents. (Yes I did get my kids a lot of presents, but not so many that it took us ALL DAY to open. Ryan just was tired of opening presents after he opened like 3 so it took forever. )
We spent the rest of our evening playing with new toys and talking to our family on the phone! (All by the fire of course!) Christmas Eve was a bit crazy, but not unexpected from us. Christmas day was perfect!
(Stove update: We have been using it as our only heat source for a few weeks now and I LOVE it! Its so warm and cozy and heats our whole house pretty well. We are hoping to get our oil tank disconnected or removed soon and removing the ducting in our basement to get ready for the remodel. Also the stove won’t be our only heat source when our house is done, we will have ductless mini splits as well. But the stove is better than I hoped! Thank you Chris for the best Christmas present!)