(First off, let me apologize for the long hiatus. We've had a quite a month, a topic to be discussed in a later post. For now, enjoy the pictures from our Christmas vacation).
Our Christmas started out with celebrating as a family on Christmas Eve. Considering Ben will always work the services Christmas Eve afternoon and evening, we started the tradition of opening presents Christmas Eve morning as a family. The kids wake up, run downstairs, and get busy with their stockings, quickly moving onto the tree.
Highlights from our small family get-together include safety goggles, battery-powered power tools, a polka dot bathrobe and slippers, and a new razor scooter.
Mike and Bonnie (Boppa and Tutu) joined us mid-morning, supplying the kids with more fun gifts to open and more of an audience to entertain. We all played together until the afternoon service. At our church they don't offer childcare on Christmas Eve, and offer a "family-friendly" service to young families like ours. Imagine a loud, active barn full of toddlers and small children; that's pretty much our service. The kids did great up until the children's sermon, at which point they descended upon the stage like ants on a sugar cube. As Maddie made her way forward, Sam took off running and to my surprise, his Dada let him go. I lost visual contact a few seconds in, and we anxiously scanned the hordes of children to find our boy. Eventually he made his way through the crowd and onto the stage. Ben followed and sat off to the side where he could keep an eye on things. Sam proceeded to play all the instruments on the stage (thankfully, most were turned off). Soon Maddie was running after Sam, grabbing his arm, and trying to corral him back to the appropriate place (great job, big sister). Before I knew what was happening, Sam had grabbed the drum sticks and was banging with all his might on the large, loud cymbal located on stage. Dressed in his Christmas finery and safety goggles, I might add. Priceless. Pastor's kid.
Christmas Eve night we feasted on dungeness crab, a fresh salad, and champagne. A true California Christmas, as Boppa would say.
Christmas morning we boarded a plane for Oregon, where we spent a week with my family. Some scenes from the week:
Clockwise from top left: Maddie and her cousin Lizzy, Papa, Grammy & Sam at Wildwood, Maddie and her cousin Lewis, Sam & the folks, Sam & Lewis, Papa, Uncle Joe and the kiddos throw rocks in the river, Great-Grandma Mimi and Grace, the Painter cousins, Grammy & Grace
We spent the day after Christmas playing outside. We went for a long, nice walk through Wildwood. It was the first day Ben was up and around and it was so nice to have him enjoying life with us again!
Uncle Joe got more than his share of a workout in the few days he spend with our kids. Nonstop shoulder rides, horsey rides, playing, sledding, towing, make-believing, wrestling, tickling, tea parties and more! Such a great uncle. We love you, Joe!
"Look how high I can jump!"
I just love this one!
Two days after Christmas, it snowed. Five or six inches. Awesome! Our first plan: build a snowman. The snow was so fluffy and light it rolled up in no time at all. A few rocks, a baby carrot, two sticks for arms, and a hat topped it off!
We spent much of the next few days sledding down the hill at my parents' house. It was perfect conditions! Maddie and Sam stopped playing for a millisecond so I could grab a shot:
One day our friends Chris and Stephanie and their kids Anna and Emi joined us for a full day of sledding and adventuring. It was so much fun. Maddie loved having buddies to play with and Ben enjoyed catching up with his best friend of over two decades.
We even convinced Papa to go down the hill with Sam. You can tell by their faces that it was very, very fun.
One evening I just spent some time walking around the property snapping shots. It was so clear, cold and beautiful and the snow just sparkled.
Clockwise from top left: snow crystal close-up, Mt. Hood in the morning, icicles on the barn, sunset over the neighbors.
Joe and I took Sam down to the barn to check out the tractors and could hardly pry his cold little hands from the steering wheel. He would have stayed there all night if we let him. My dad even parks a tractor in the back yard so Sam can venture out and ride any time he feels like it (sometimes first thing in the morning, donning boots, jacket and hat right over his jammies!)
Clockwise from left: icicle, trees in the sunlight, sunset, and more icicles on the barn
I just love walking around my parents' property. All at once I am nostalgic, joyful, happy, at ease, and at home. The cold farm air fills my nostrils as I breathe in hay, old wood, cows and evergreens. My kids love it there, and so do I. It's so hard to leave, but so fun to visit.
We flew back into town New Year's Day, and now it's back to life as normal. Happy New Year, readers!