Whew. We just recently finished a round of 5 family Christmas celebrations. So, of course, I have a ton of pictures to post. I thought about just skipping a Christmas post this year, but then decided that even if my general viewing public is bored to tears, who cares? I still want to document our holiday, so brace yourselves for the Great Christmas Slideshow.
Christmas #1: My family
We headed down the Saturday before Christmas to celebrate with my side.
What an awesome present!
(Although the convection oven would've been nice too...)
The girls were pretty excited about Tate's toy too.
And here's my lovely parents who hosted all us hooligans.
Straighten up, Dad.
(Side note: My dad went into the hospital on Christmas Eve with heart problems and ended up catching pneumonia on top of it all. They were eventually able to shock his heart back into rhythm - it had been beating at 150-190 when it should be in the 80s - and he finally got to go home on Wednesday. What a great way for them to spend Christmas, huh?)
Christmas #2: Our family
Our Christmas celebration started on the 22nd (which we pretended was Christmas Eve since we were leaving for Michigan on the 23rd) with our traditional Christmas Eve hamball dinner. If you're not from Iowa, you might not understand out love for hamballs - but trust me, they're amazing! They've even become my Michigander husband's favorite meal!
After dinner, Chad read the Christmas passage from the Bible as we anticipated Jesus' birthday.
Then each of the kids got to open one present. This year's gift - robes!
Don't they look all warm and cozy?
We ended the night by snuggling up in the living room and watching a good Christmas movie.
Christmas morning (well, actually it was the 23rd...), they ran downstairs to find this:
We didn't want our Christmas to feel rushed (which was difficult since we had a 10 hour + drive ahead of us), but we were afraid it was going to take all day once the girls started pulling out each of the 24 silly bandz and rings out of their stockings one at a time and ooh-ing and aah-ing over each one.
The girls each got to spend $5 on each other. Here they are posing with their gifts.
And no, they didn't get Tate silly bandz. They got him some cars, but he was too into the silly bandz to notice.
Addie's Sleeping Beauty musical globe was a huge hit for all.
Another favorite was the Zhu Zhu pets!
But the most exciting presents were definitely the Pillow Pets!!
After opening all the presents, we gathered around the table to listen to Daddy read The Light of Christmas by Dandi Daley Mackall. If you need a good book that explains the true meaning of Christmas and encompasses the gospel in a way that even children can understand, you must check this out. We looked and looked for the perfect book and this was by far our favorite.
After the story, we lit the candles on the Monkey Bread and sang Happy Birthday to Jesus and then devoured as much of it as our tummies would allow.
Then began our 10 1/2 hour drive to northern Michigan, in which Tate only slept for 45 minutes and fussed for about 70% of the time. Fun.
We knew we were close to Nana and Papa's house when we came across a sign like this.
At least they were hibernating. But we did get to see deer in their backyard in broad daylight.
Christmas #3: Nana B's side (Christmas Eve)
And so begins the Michigan series of Christmases (all hosted by Chad's parents). I got to see my "sister" Betsy again! Actually, she's Chad's cousin, so we're not related at all, but we always get mistaken for sisters. She just moved back from France in August after being an "au pair," but is moving back there again in a few weeks. Lucky girl.
Part of the clan.
The lovely sisters.
The girls made a few new friends.
Christmas #4: Papa B's side (Christmas Day)
All of the little reindeer with their Great Grandpa and Great Grandma.
The kids enjoyed Papa's surprise in the basement - a pair of Cadillac Escalades!!
Watch out, Decklin, I hear Millie's a crazy driver.
But apparently not as crazy as Elsie. Hold on, Addie!
Can't wait to take these in their backyard this summer!
The girls entertained us all with Christmas carols, sung from the very popular catwalk.
Millie's up there too (on the far left), she's just not tall enough to see over the railing.
I thought the guys were playing a serious card game. So I was surprised when I saw this:
Rock, Paper, Scissors? Really? Notice that no one chose paper. Paper's for sissies.
The kids eventually tired out and ended up in the den in their new jammies.
Christmas #5: Daddy's side
We celebrated with Chad's family the day after Christmas.
Addie was thrilled to get a set of 16 Junie B. Jones chapter books.
This girl LOVES to read. I'm pretty sure she's already read at least half of these in less than a week!
Once Tate got his football, he was all set.
And more Michigan highlights:
Daddy and Nana took the kids out in the snow. Nana went in my place. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU. I'm not a fan of the cold.
The girls got adorable matching outfits.
The kids enjoyed soaking in the deep tub.
And we all enjoyed soaking in the hot tub.
We loved getting to see Uncle Mark all week!
Tate learned how to wear out Nana and Papa.
They went around and around and around in the basement.
On Wednesday, we left the kids with Nana, Papa and Mark and headed off to Traverse City to meet up with our old friends, Scott and Dawn.
We had lunch at Don's Drive-In.
(Hmmm... there's something unusual about this picture...)
And dinner at The Blue Tractor.
(Yikes. It's happening in this one too... why does this photo feel a little, um... off?)
Ah-ha! So, that's what it was! The boys were wearing matching shirts. At least they were different colors. Oh, Chad wants me to mention that this was not planned. But it still deserved a special photo in front of the fireplace.
Isn't that precious?
Scott and Dawn suggested this cozy cabin for the night. It was beautiful!
The men prepared breakfast for us the next morning. Aw, how sweet.
Sausage and eggs. Yummy.
So, there you have it. Our Christmas in 42 pictures.
Is anyone still reading this?
If so, I hope you had a Merry Christmas too!