We had a wonderful trip out east to see Rob's family and celebrate Christmas together. It was quite a long drive (with diaper changes just about every 2 hours, it took us over 14 hours to get there! The trip home was worse, as we clocked almost 16 hours in the van. But it was complicated by a blizzard for the entire stretch of Indiana, and by the fact that one of our kids needed a fresh diaper almost once an hour for the first half of the trip. Talk about bad luck!). But it was SO worth it!
We celebrated Christmas together with a gift exchange the day after we arrived. This year was particularly comical as the number of children continues to grow and opening gifts gets louder, more chaotic and messier as a result!
None of us will have to wonder if we'll remember the holidays together... they are well documented!
Great-Grandma Nellie (Livingston) was sweet to hold Ellie, but after this moment she politely declined attempting to hold her again, saying "She doesn't know me!". Can you blame her!?
Ellie and Katelin (3 weeks apart) continue to enjoy these little moments of getting to know one another. They seemed to really love sitting or laying next to each other, and would reach out a friendly hand to explore the other's face when they were close enough. Such sweet girls!
Thank you for your inspiration and example, Katelin - Ellie is now certifiably rolling over!
The boys were just as cute as ever together. They spent a LOT of time running around the house or couch, playing toys or trains, pretend cooking at the little kitchen, watching Madagascar 2, and wrestling. Robbie took a few bonks that were good for him, and continues to talk about Nicholas and James constantly, even praying for them unprompted at meals. We love fostering their cousin-relationships!
As you can imagine, Christmas was a little overwhelming for Robbie this year. He knew what was going on (sort of), and enjoyed opening gifts. But once he saw what the item was, he wanted to open it and play with it immediately. If we declined and tried to divert his attention with another gift, he would get upset. (Remember, he had just spent the entire day prior to this in the van, sans nap.) So, he spent much of the gift exchange playing with the first gift he opened - a toy toaster and bread slices for his kitchen at home - at the pretend kitchen we moved into the doorway of the family room so that he was at least NEAR the action!
For the rest of the week we let him pick presents from his pile still under the tree and open his remaining gifts at will. It took him 2 or 3 days to get through them all!
It is such a blessing to be able to stay at Robs' parents' house when we visit. There is so much space for everyone and plenty of bedrooms for us. And the best part is all of the time the kids get to spend with Grammy and Papa in between the excitement and activities.
Papa and Robbie spend a quiet afternoon building with Legos.
Papa read this new Thomas book (with sound buttons) to Robbie over and over one day, until he could press almost all of the buttons correctly at Papa's command! You think of the best gifts, Grammy.
Not much of a story here... just cuteness I couldn't ignore.
All 5 cousins - why are MY kids the ones that are so hard to keep still and facing forward!?
(Katelin, James, Nicholas, Ellie and Robbie)
Uncle Ryan was able to come home the evening of new year's day and we spent the time opening his gifts for the kids, wrestling / generally playing in the family room, and then watching Madagascar 2. I missed everything after that, since we needed to be packed up to leave by 6/7am the next morning and I wanted Rob to spend every minute he could with his family. But it was great to see Ryan even if only for one evening.
Family movie night - James kept saying "I can't hear the movie!" when the other boys were playing or the adults were talking. Uncle Brad and Aunt Christine's laps are always in demand and rarely empty.
It was such a memorable trip, and we are so thankful that we made it out and back safely. As you can imagine, the kids were spoiled by the generosity of everyone.
I was so blessed by the gift Christine gave to me this year. (Every year we draw names among the siblings and spouses, and this year Christine had me.) She surprised me by turning my blog - each post from 2009 - into a published book via Blurb.com! It was unexpected, and totally shocking since I had attempted it myself and all but given up because of the amount of time it was taking me. She figured out a quicker way of putting it together, and it's so much cuter than what I had started. Thank goodness. Such a labor of love, and the perfect gift for me! I have so little free time and started to blog partly so that we would eventually have some sort of family photo album with stories included. I am still shocked and thrilled to have most of my blog in a hard back book, and everyone on both sides of our family has enjoyed rereading posts and looking at pictures from the last year. Thanks again, Christine! Your thoughtfulness and generosity continue to blow me away.
We spent New Year's Eve in New Jersey as well, but now that we are parents to two small babies, there's no going out or staying up all night. They wake up at the same time (EARLY) no matter what day it is! After dinner at Rachel and Marc's house nearby, we enjoyed ringing in the new year at midnight from our cozy spot in bed, quietly hoping that the fireworks outside wouldn't wake the babies (they did Ellie). I did get to take a lovely bath before bed in the most wonderful tub you've ever seen at the Livingstons', so that was a luxury I hadn't experienced in quite a while, and worth noting!
We will always look back on this trip with fondness at the memories we made - getting to spend time with Frank, cousin Kate and little Jack; pop over visits from the Levines and Aunt Holly; matching hot pink vests and headbands for the girls from Aunt Christine; slow mornings in our pj's with Grammy and Papa; and great conversation over good food.