My dad's new annual tradition is instead of a Christmas gift, he gives us a mini vacation and time with the people we love most. It's beyond fab. Having time to actually enjoy my siblings, my dad, my almost step-mom, and her kids really is the best gift we could ask for.
My dad pays for everyone to stay a single night in a local motel and gives everyone a gift bag upon arriving that includes treats, cheeses, and wine! What a lovely thing indeed!
This bunny loves her swim cap. She looked so old fashioned and sweet. And her cheeks were so rosy the entire time.
All my little flyaway got misted and then froze! The air was that cold. And those beautiful trees behind me? Coated in frozen steam.
So many people! All my sibs (with significant others), all Traci's kids, my cousin Lauren, Traci's sister and husband and four grandkids. Seriously so much fun.
We all had to stay hydrated. Lots and lots of water bottles.
So much soaking and chatting. Everyone gets along so well. Lots of laughing and teasing and relaxing.
Londyn and James play so well together and never were separated.
And the water is crystal clear. The pebble floor just feels so good under your feet.
The town of Lava Hot Springs is just so charming and tiny.
It was cold while we were there. The daytime highs were 4 degrees, so everyone bundled up and there were plenty of icicles to play with.
Frozen trees and blue skies. There is nothing better.
Both days we spend a couple of hours at the hot springs, so lots of time to soak.
I warned you about how many soaking pictures there were, a lot. L to R: Lauren, Melissa, Witt, Londyn, Craig, Chandler, Brooke, James, Jess, Brandon.
For the third year in a row, we've smoked turkeys and hosted a huge family gathering on Christmas Day. It is stressful to host a big family party when it looked like a bomb went off in our living room, but it is quite nice to not have to travel and let everyone come to us.
We try for open house style, where people can come and go as they wish, but apparently we host a great party, because nearly everyone was there for the entire thing.
This kid's forced smile is my fave. It's so... ummm? It's just so him!
I have a few tricks to almost always get a real smile from her. She always smiles when telling me about certain things. ;)
This was only about half the party!
Love this one of James and Nana.
Lots of blurry happiness.
E's brother and his wife, my brother and his girl friend.
SUCH a fun party.
And as always, E's smoked turkey stole the show. It was AMAZING!
Christmas Eve was windy and dark, with the promise of lots of snow to come!
We arrived at my mom's house late in the day and started opening presents. My mom does all her Christmas presents the day before, to try to help ease some of the Christmas madness. It's brilliant actually, and so fun to space out the opening madness.
My mom doesn't pull any punches and found this incredible wooden dollhouse at a second hand store, along with all the furniture and accessories! James, Juliet and Auntie Melissa spent over twenty minutes setting it all up.
So many things to set up. And can I just say how much I LOVE this doll house? It's solid wood and gender neutral. No pink at all!
Soon we trickled into the back room to start opening more presents! Everyone was there, all four siblings, their significant others, grandparents, and my kids.
Lots and lots to open!
James ALWAYS needs to be sitting next to Jess (my brother's girl friend). They adore each other.
This adorable bunny was on her best behavior the entire night. She did not want to leave and even ate some dinner! Woot!
James wore the same outfit as last year for Christmas Eve, and Juliet wore a vintage dress I purchased on Instagram.
Christmas morning came quickly, as it always does, fresh snow blanketed the neighborhood and the living room was still cloaked in darkness. The kids were SO EXCITED to get out there, so I hustled out first, turned on the tree, the fire and the Christmas music. The family followed promptly behind.
Santa surprised us all with a Cozy Coupe (Grandpa Craig found it near the garbage a week ago and knew Juliet would LOVE it!) and LOVE she does. She's even eaten all her meals in it for almost a week.
The big present to each kiddo this year was magna-tiles, which we already have, but growing your collection is the best and both kids were quite excited.
E got a new rc plane radio that he was quite excited about. He surprised me with quite a few things too, some Sherlock earrings, a book, Sherlock tea and new slippers. All fantastic.
Soon we bundled everyone up headed up to E's family's house. The snow was beautiful and didn't stop all day.
Three cousins in a row!
This little love is such a darling thing. She thinks her cousins are better than the presents. It's adorable.
We opened stockings and sat down to brunch. What a lovely way to spend the morning.
Lots of blurry happy pictures.
Joe's hilarious shirt was a present from his daughter Emilia. It was rainbow with a cat wearing sunglasses. High style.
E was quite thrilled with this!
Emilia and family gave James a wrecking ball set. Both kids spent a long time analyzing the box.
These two kept hugging and being adorable.
After the presents were opened and everyone began to relax these girls played "rocket ship" on the chair.
James got light up legos and he and E spent some time building. It was fairly impressive.
Happy Merry Christmas! Christmas evening coming up next!