We spent Thanksgiving in Pocatello with the Nielsons, stuffing ourselves with my mother-in-law's amazing feast, snuggling all the babies, breaking up fights between the toddlers, trying to get the little ones to pose for photos...all the usual. ;) It is always chaotic but oh so fun.
In the midst of the mayhem, we also managed a trip to Lava Hot Springs for swimming, a tennis clinic for the Nielson siblings and parents, and a couples' ballroom dance class that my in-laws scheduled just for us in the church gym (we didn't get any photos of this, which is too bad because we looked pretty awesome doing the cha-cha!). Funnest!
At the end of the weekend, my mother-in-law gave me my Christmas gift: a beautiful quilted Christmas tree skirt that I love! What a treasure! When Noah saw the big wrapped present, he was convinced that it must be an electric train, and Uncle Derek of course encouraged this belief. When Noah opened the box, his reaction was priceless. He frowned in dismay and said, "A blanket??" Pretty funny. I love my blanket!
A few weeks later, we headed to my home in Colorado for Christmas. It was equally chaotic and equally fun. Lots of little kids, lots of mess, and of course a horrible cold which everyone passed around. It wouldn't be the holidays without a contagious illness making its way through the ranks, would it? Poor Noah got it the worst and had a high fever and was wiped out for several days. You know he doesn't feel good when he takes three-hour naps and still starts sobbing at dinner that he just wants to go to bed. He literally went to bed at 6:30 p.m. several nights in a row--such a bummer when all he wanted to do was play with his cousins!
It's a unique dynamic being all together at my Dad's house because my mom isn't around to help with meal-planning, clean up, or the kids. Without a Mom running the show, we all really have to pitch in with the cooking and cleaning, and it's exhausting but also strangely bonding. Laura will probably kill me for posting this flattering photo of her on the worldwide web, but I have to document it since it pretty much sums up what we did the whole week: dishes! (She has horrendous eczema so she has to wear gloves when she does dishes, but she makes them look gooooood.)
It doesn't matter what I do with my family--I always love it. Even cleaning the kitchen fifty times a day is fun when I am with my sisters! And we did end up fitting in some legit fun, such as stories and crafts with the kids, a fancy Christmas Eve dinner planned by my brother-in-law the chef, a super cute Nativity with the kids, carols around the piano, and a trip to Granny and Grampy's to play with their car tracks.
Christmas morning was magical, as always. I just love the tradition of having the kids wait at the top of Bapa's big stairs until we give them the go-ahead, and then they run down together to see what Santa brought for them. My sisters and I did this as kids, and I love seeing our kids do it together.
Noah had been hoping for an electric Polar Express train, but it was too expensive and he is too little to take good care of it, so I got him a plastic push version instead. I was a little worried that he would be disappointed on Christmas morning, but I underestimated him: He loved his simple train, and he loved all of the excitement of the morning, regardless of what he got. Good boy. His favorite presents by far have been his "big boy" Legos from Santa and his Titanic ship from Bapa--both have gotten so much use already and will be beloved for years to come!
Miss Sally only got a cup and a candycane from Santa on Christmas morning (ha!) but she was perfectly content with both. Her big present was waiting at home in Idaho: a play kitchen! I worried that she is too young for it, but she seems to really like it. She even cooked up a little Dirty Diaper for dinner the other night. ;) (She pulled it out of the trashcan when I wasn't looking--nasty!)
We had a great time in Colorado, and the fun wasn't over yet. We rested at home in Twin Falls for a few days, and then we headed to Sun Valley with the Nielsons for New Year's weekend. It was a winter wonderland, as always, and we spent time tubing beside the cabin, going for walks and pulling the kids in sleds, and then warming up in the hot tub and making gingerbread houses with Grandma!
On New Year's Eve, my pyromaniac father-in-law put on a spectacular firework show. He was so funny, lying in the snowy field and watching his beloved firecrackers exploding overhead. ;) It was a fantastic end to 2015!
So the months of November and December were a blur of fun with family, but we made the most of it. I can't imagine celebrating the holidays any other way!