Friday, December 28, 2018

holly jolly christmas

Merry Christmas!

I took this photo of Mae, Ollie, and Archie when we visited over Thanksgiving. It was a whole-family effort to get a Christmas photo of the three grandkids. I took 200(!!) photos, resulting in a handful where all 3 kids were looking... and zero photos where all 3 kids were smiling.

We are mid-way through our Christmas traveling extravaganza. We drove to my parents' house on Friday the 21st with Mae and Charlie wedged into the back seat between all the suitcases and presents. We unloaded all our stuff and settled in for a few days of playing, baking, and gift wrapping/unwrapping. On Saturday morning we all went to see a Christmas train display at the museum.

Over the next few days, Kelsey and I churned out dozens of Pinterest-worthy Christmas cookies. We kicked off the baking with some Great British Bake Off-inspired checkerboard cookies, but we added a twist by flavoring the white squares with peanut butter instead of just vanilla. They were well-received at the party Laura hosted for my high school friends on Saturday evening. We also made some chocolate-dipped gingersnaps, chocolate peppermint bark cookies, and our traditional sugar cookie cutouts, which we decorated with mini M&Ms to look like strands of Christmas lights.

On Sunday evening, we went to Yuletide while the little ones stayed home with a babysitter. We had a fun dinner and evening out!

Christmas eve, we had a family dinner with the massive ham Christopher gets from work. In the evening, we went to mass, watched Christmas specials, set out cookies for Santa and carrots for the reindeer, and read "'Twas the Night Before Christmas." As I was tucking Mae in to bed, I realized my huge parenting mistake in hyping Christmas: Mae thought Santa was going to be there to get her out of bed in the morning. I never thought to say, "Santa comes, brings presents, AND then he leaves." She was very disappointed when I explained that he has a lot of other kids to visit on Christmas Eve, and it was just going to be me there in the morning. This probably wouldn't be as big of a deal for kids who are afraid of Santa, but Mae LOVES Santa. Oops!

(We still had a great Christmas morning with only a few tears when we stopped opening gifts to eat some breakfast... I consider that a win for an emotional toddler's Christmas.)

(Don’t worry, these gifts aren’t all for Mae! All 11 of us have presents in this pile.) Mae got a tricycle and helmet from Santa, along with a sled and a few other goodies. She also got lots of fun toys from Grandma and Grandpa including a marble track and a high chair for her doll. Christmas night we went to Aunt Ruthann's house for dinner. It was chaotic but fun with 10 little kids all full of cookies and Christmas excitement!

On the 26th, we packed up the car again (minus Charlie, who is extending his vacation at Mom & Dad's house until we get back home) and drove half way to visit Dan's family. I booked a night at an inexpensive Holiday Inn in the middle of Pennsylvania with my only requirement that it have a swimming pool. We were pleasantly surprised to find the hotel looked like a classy alpine ski lodge all decked out for Christmas, and realized we were only a few miles away from a big ski resort! We had a fun night of swimming before finishing our drive in the morning.

I'll have more pictures from the second half of our trip soon! (Also, a big thank you to Colleen who took our family pictures while visiting for Thanksgiving this year!)

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