We are off to my dad's tomorrow for Christmas (he lives the other side of the town I grew up in to my mum, they are divorced but get on OK if dad's new woman is not around, which she isn't at the moment) tomorrow and I was looking forward to it but now I am starting to become very apprehensive.
I spoke to my nieces on the phone last night and the older one was very sweet ("oh, you are staying at Grandpa's? Oh. Will you maybe come to Granny's to see us?") and I'm looking forward to seeing them but as usual my mother has rather overplanned (this is of course where I get it from) and Mr Spouse will get very stressed with all the together time (having no siblings and only 1 cousin his age, he is not used to The Hordes). And everyone else (brother, sister-in-law, other relatives) is very relaxed about timekeeping and this sends my mother round the bend. And my dad has supposedly upgraded his spare beds but we are not convinced they will be sleepable on.
And... we have been saying for months to both my mum and my brother that we'd REALLY like my older niece to come and stay when we come back home after Christmas, and my mum initially said "good idea" and my brother said absolutely nothing (which is precisely what he and niece said when I asked whether she'd got her birthday present, too), and I didn't ask my niece yet because she can be a bit shy and I haven't seen her for over a year.
But now my mum is acting as if it will all be TOO inconvenient for her, she does not want to look after the younger one if brother and sister-in-law want to go away on their own (they are borrowing our holiday flat), I don't think it would be a good idea for us to take both (the younger one doesn't really know us, as I say we haven't seen them for over a year and she is only 3 so that's a long time), and my mum doesn't want to come and pick my niece up (and since we'll have done the whole journey twice already we don't really want to do a quick-turnaround drop-off, so we offered an overnight for my mum but she's already booked something on the best day for that, which she didn't tell us was that day).
This is all very complicated and moany, but we were kind of hoping to have niece to stay mainly because we really like her and get so see so little of her, but also as adoption-related experience - we can't really ask friends to lend us their children overnight despite what social workers would like to believe. Our SW is very positive and doesn't seem to think we need to bolster our experience, but I would like to get the experience myself and I think niece would have a good time. And if we say this to the family they will either say "social workers are mad, how can they make you jump through these hoops, you should refuse" (yeah, you just try that with social workers) or, probably, just get all negative about the whole idea of adoption.
And in other adoption-related business, we have to find a nice, natural photo of the two of us for the agency (I don't know if this will actually serve any purpose as we'll do a whole set of photos and a letter for our proper profile with the agency later) and we have been instructed No Alcohol in the photo, but if we could get some decent photos of us with the girls that would be fabulous. The main decent photographer though is Mr Spouse and again, having to explain that we need loads and loads of photos from which we may be able to use one or two, and get people to keep taking them in casual situations (most of my family think photos should involve standing still, staring into the camera, wearing special clothes, grinning madly and preferably having redeye), and again not give up and say "why on EARTH do you need so many photos? surely that one of you in front of the Christmas tree in the nice red jumper I made you will do?" will be, er, challenging.
Now before my sentences get any longer, I will go and do something else. Lament the icing sliding down the sides of my Christmas cake, I suspect.