The rest of December consisted of a week and a half long trip up to the good ol' U.P. It was absolutely perfect. I know, I know...too many pictures. Way too many. But this is for our close family who weren't able to celebrate with us. (I included 28, yes 28, pictures to better help you feel like you were there with us. :-) Above: Anna and Benjamin Christmas morning at my parent's house. Sweeties!
First: Anna trying on the "Rock Star" outfit she got from Santa. Hmm, how did he know? Actually, I'm pretty sure she doesn't know what a rock star is, but she had a pretty good idea of how to act once she was all decked out. Second pic: Daddy and Mommy helping Anna open her stocking. Third: A very, very happy Ben. You can see his two little teeth pretty well in this pic. Last: Anna hiding under my parent's Christmas tree. Who needs toys when there are hundreds of ornaments around?
Christmas Eve at the Rayhorn's. First: Anna and her "own cousin Rorie." It was sooooooo good to see Meg, Jake and Rorie. Such a sweet little family. Meg and Rorie actually flew into Detroit and drove up to MQT with us. Ethan is driving them back to the airport right now. :-( Very fun times when the cousins can play together. Second Picture: Jake, Meg, and Rorie. Third: Ethan and Jake checking on-line for something...perhaps Santa's route?
First: Auntie Ashley with Rorie and Ben-Ben on Christmas Eve. Second: My sweetie, Ethan, and I on Christmas morning. Third: Rorie and Benjamin in their matching pjs from Gma Melissa and Gpa Chuck.
Ben and Anna in all their Christmastime adorableness. Rayhorn's house, Christmas Eve?
Benjamin got some quality time with his grandparents during this visit. First: Gpa Chuck feeding Ben part of a bagel. Do you notice him eyeing the bread, mouth open, just wishing he could somehow get to it. (Another good tooth shot.) Second: Gma Melissa and Ben-Ben on Sunday. Third: Gpa Dewey and Benjamin lounging on Christmas morning.
First: Anna helping Gpa Dew decorate the tree. Second: Ethan and Anna - an early morning snowball fight. Third: Gma Susan, Anna and I opening presents at the LaJoice gathering on Christmas Eve.
First: Our attempt at a Christmas morning family picture...maybe next year. :-) Second: Anna playing with some of the presents she got at Gma Melissa and Gpa Chuck's house. What a lucky girl. Third: Ben-Ben on Christmas morning at the Rayhorn's.
All right people, this is the homestretch...you're almost there. Above is the dress Anna's Granny Lee sent Anna. It is the most "fancy" dress Anna has ever owned and looked beautiful on her. Thanks Granny! We've been checking out the Fancy Nancy books from the library and Anna is very much into that right now.
First: Anna sledding on Christmas day night. She almost ran over Ethan in this picture. On one slide down the hill, Anna and I got "stuck" under a big pine tree. She loved it! Second: I had a little gathering with some high school friends at my mom's house. Very fun to catch up with each other. Third: The jelly bean puzzle at the Rayhorn's with my sister's fam and Ethan, Ben and KC. Unfortunately, this one didn't catch on like last year's puzzle, and I think we only finished the border and a few random groupings. Hopefully we can redeem ourselves next year.
Besides stuffing ourselves with delicious food day after day (yeah, it was rough), spending quality time with the fam, and discussing Rorie (tiny) and Ben's (huge) size, we tried working in some other fun activities: Sledding, caroling (in which Anna refused to sing...until she was bribed with treats or playing), swimming at the YMCA, game nights (Yay for Ethan's new Cranium game, and of course euchre!), darts with my brothers, date night for Ethan and I. I was hoping to go cross country skiing while we were there, but it just didn't happen. Even though we stayed for a good amount of time, it still just slipped through our fingers. So, I know this has mainly been a picture entry of events, but a big part of the Christmas season is hard to capture in photos: The peace and joy felt when celebrating the Savior's birth. That is what really makes this month so special. I am so grateful to Him for His perfect example that we can try to model our lives after. I love Christmastime when much of the world is focused on Jesus Christ and his birth and life. There is more love in the air, more kindness, more giving. It's awesome!