Mr Spouse got his annual Christmas cold and kindly passed it on to me when he was finished with it. Hence I cannot breathe properly and didn't sleep well last night. Although I didn't actually strangle my mother, when this morning she asked what was happening with a rubbish bin and I was in the middle of my shoulder exercises and said "it would be helpful to empty it into the other one" and she told me not to treat her like a servant, and then when Mr Spouse asked her to do the same and she did it, you may understand why I am repeating my usual Christmas mantra:
"Extended family is God's reward for having to be related to your immediate family".
And my extended family are mainly jolly nice. One of my aunts wins Olympic prizes for weirdness and stinginess and another uncle and his wife for having the most dangerous house in the world to eat/sleep/live in (mainly due to salmonella risk), and another aunt still thinks we are all 9 and refusing to eat sprouts, and if we don't, reminds us of when we did. But when you have 12 cousins and 5 blood uncles/aunts and almost as many by marriage, you have to hit lucky with a few of them - and I have. My youngest uncle is writing our family adoption reference; his middle child (just a teenager) thinks Mr Spouse is highly hilarious so perhaps we should get him to write it.
Both my mother (gratefully, in fact) and my brother did eventually acknowledge our desire to tick a childcare experience box and we were In Charge on Sunday from (more or less) child-up to child-down (I let my mum get them up). We only had one tantrum (niece 2) and 3 whining sessions (niece 1). No screaming whatsoever at bedtime and both of them managed to sleep in a bed without either parent, and to go to bed when told by an adult, not waiting to decide for themselves when they wanted to go to bed. They are 6 and 3 by the way. I am not sure how long my brother has before the older one notices it is weird to share a bed with your parents.
(Top "aww" moment - we were sleeping at my dad's and the family were basically convening at or just after breakfast and then parting after dinner/at bedtime each day - on our last day niece 2 charged in the door and saw me in the living room, not good enough apparently, she demanded to know where Mr Spouse was and charged off to see him instead. He has a slightly difficult name to pronounce - many children ask what he's called several times - and before this visit she hadn't seen him for about 18 months - so, when she was very tiny - but he had become a firm favourite very quickly).