Sunday, January 05, 2014

Christmas


































We spent Christmas at home this year and then drove up to my parents' house over the weekend to be with my parents, grandparents, and my two youngest sisters Elise & Rosalind plus their husbands (respectively) Paxton and Chris. I felt like we got the absolute best of both worlds--we had a quiet lovely low-key delightful Christmas at home where I was 100% focused on my little family, and then I got to spend a glorious 5 days with my extended (but they don't feel extended! I just don't know what to call them now that I have children. My "original" family?) family. Magical and marvelous.  It would have been twice as amazing if my sisters Ruth & Mary Beth had joined us with Jordan and Evelyn...but I'm hopeful that we'll all be able to get together in the next year! I have to admit that it makes me so sad to know that all of my sisters live within an hour of each other and can get together whenever they want--my sisters are truly my best friends and I miss them so much living so far away! But I'm also really grateful that they are so close to each other and can be a support network for each other--one of my sisters was hospitalized yesterday and I was so grateful that one sister could be with her in the hospital while the other orchestrated the hospitalized sister's cross-town move that day.

Speaking of magical and marvelous, when I was a kid Santa's reindeer always left their droppings on our floors (did you know Santa's reindeer leave behind dark chocolate-covered raisins?). This year they were even more untidy and tromped snow all over our house. Abigail was 100% sure that it was powdered sugar, so the kids were all licking it off the carpet. Sadly, we decided that the North Pole snow tastes more like baking soda than we'd imagined.


All the presents were such a hit and we've been glorying in all of the days off school so that we can fully appreciate the goodness of sitting in your pajamas all day playing with toys (as I type this, Neil is sitting on the floor working on a LEGO model--Isaac has become so obsessed with LEGO assembly that nobody else can really get in during the day).

Luke's favorite was this giant T-rex from my sister Mary Beth, or "Unicorn Aunt," as the kids usually call her.

And why do they call her "Unicorn Aunt," you ask? Well, one year when my girls were little she saved all of her stocking goodies and fed them to the girls while they watched "The Last Unicorn" on her laptop. This year she sent them the DVD and of course everyone wanted to watch it Christmas night. We made a big comfy nest and snuggled up.

Then we had all the fun of Christmas all over again once we got together with my family!

I have to say that one of my very favorite parts of this trip was something I just did by myself--I went on two runs through the snow all alone and it was just wonderful. I haven't been able to run outside in weeks because of Neil's work schedule, and let me tell you, training for a marathon on a treadmill is preeeettty boring. I was running over ice and crusty ankle-deep snow and my pants were caked with ice up to my knees and I literally had ridges of snow building up on my cheekbones and It. Was. Awesome. I did a 5.25 mile run the first day and then walked another 3 miles with my family later and then 4 miles the next day and I was SO sad that I didn't get to run more! I seriously felt like I could have gone for hours. So incredibly beautiful running through the snowy woods and just feeling so grateful for a healthy body and my family and the snow and all of the wonderful things in my life.

Like this guy. He's my favorite.



































Tot was a total stinker the whole time we were there (as in he pretty much didn't sleep AT ALL, which is why he looks so tired here cuddled up with Rosalind), but we love him anyway.


Speaking of Rosalind, I just adored her gorgeous wrapping job. Isn't this beautiful? She made the stamp herself.


And some sideways pictures of my dad and Nathan that are refusing to rotate...

Which is a real shame because these are some really awesome pictures.


I'm not sure who actually received this puzzle because all of the kids were doing it simultaneously. Big hit!

My sisters are blessed with beautiful voices and I loved the evenings where we gathered around the piano and sang together. Paxton provided some gorgeous guitar accompaniment because wise man that he is, he'd learned John Denver songs and we were all thrilled. :-)

Not the best picture of Jules, but I was sort of shocked to see how tall she looked. She and Abigail can now wear the same clothes.

More family gathered around singing. The ones listening look pretty tired, don't they?

 Elise with Tottles

So the afternoon that we went on a hike through the woods was super cold. I was planning on zipping Tot up in my jacket, since I had him in the Ergo carrier, but my coat wasn't big enough to go around both of us. My dear noble husband suggested that we trade coats and he was SUCH a good sport about it.



His coat was a great fit for Natie and me, and Nathan just conked right out and went to sleep (which meant that when it was time to turn around and walk back to the car, I opted to keep walking in hopes of getting Nathan to take a decent nap. My dad, Elise, Paxton, and Abigail kept me company while we trudged another couple of miles through the snow to end up at home.

One of my favorite family traditions is our New Year's Eve hors d'ouevres extravaganza. I look forward to it all year! This photo shows Paxton and Chris wrapping Little Smokies in bacon before they covered them with brown sugar and baked them. Yeah, it was awesome.

A blurry photo of Elise and I while I was folding spanokopita and she was laughing at how horribly I did it with Mary Beth there to help me...

Luke at 6:30 PM on New Year's Eve. He's actually sitting up, but the picture is showing up sideways.


Neil feeding Nathan...I love this color on him! (We had to go buy him a bunch of new clothes because he forgot and left his garment bag at home).

And last but not least, Dad and Isaac at 7 PM New Year's Eve (Isaac conked out just when Luke woke up. Thankfully they both went to bed around 8:30 without any problems).

One of the things I love most about my family is that they are just the coolest people--definitely the kind of folks I'm thrilled to be sealed to for eternity!! I love being with them so much and I always look forward to seeing them. I know that this is often not the case for many people and I'm really grateful that my sisters and I all grew up and became people who adore each other instead of fighting like a bunch of teenagers. :-) (It gives me hope that my kids will eventually feel the same way about each other!) One fun thing that we did this year was to make up a family bingo card for all of the adults with things that we often say or do. It was hilarious to have someone just talking along and hit one of the bingo items and see everyone drop what they were doing and rush for their card to mark off the square. Good times.

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