Hello from the other side of the Christmastravaganza! We got back from the lake on Saturday afternoon in time to unpack the car, dump everything in the laundry, put away all the new toys, and wave goodbye to our children and the nanny on our way out the door for a date. The kids were so excited to see Tara and tell her about all the things that had happened since they last saw her and James and I were so excited not to see or hear or police any of the things while we ate all the sushi instead. Arranging for a babysitter on the night you get back from a trip is my new favorite life hack.
But back to the lake. It was a great time, as always. At some point we're going to have Christmas in our own house, but it's so fun to see how many traditions we've started at the lake house- the kids don't even remember a Christmas not spent there and now that my parents are in the new much bigger lake house, everyone even sleeps well!
We arrived on the 23rd around 1, after 10 hours of packing the car (maybe less, my memory is fuzzy), just in time to greet some family on my dad's side- grandparents, Aunty L, cousin Z, plus some family friends and my sister's in-laws. It was a fun little house party with lots of snacks and playing of games and then that night, we watched a bunch of old videos of our trips to Florida to see my dad's parents and our Rice cousins when we were little. We had 14 people sleeping in the lake house that night, but everyone got a bed and the kids were THRILLED to have James and I in their bunks for a night (I woke up to Claire's upside down head grinning at me from the top bunk; totally not creepy at all).
On Christmas Eve, we ate some of my cinnamon rolls, said goodbye to the Rices, and then readied for the rest of the festivities. The men went to golf with the big kids as assistants and my sister and I worked on her baby registry (due in May with a girl!) while Cora napped and my mom alternated between prepping food for the Christmas Eve Feast and chatting about baby stuff.
We got dressed for dinner and I got my favorite shots of the whole weekend- Cora in her fancy dress (passed down from Claire) loving on her Gigi.
I even got a picture with me too!
We ate our traditional feast of flank steak, potato casserole, asparagus casserole (the world's most delicious thing that James doesn't like and I only get once a year), salad, and bread. We ambled off to try a new church this year. We're still trying to find the right one near the lake house.
And then it was time for presents and Christmas jammies!
Cora's first present was a Fisher Price farm and she LOVED it. Clearly, I was also super excited.
She loved it so much we had a hard time getting her to open anything else.
Landon got crocs and was just as thrilled (he's been asking for them forever because he hates putting on his running shoes when we ask him to take out the trash or do other chores; I mean, if we're going to make him do all the chores I hate, I suppose I could give him the right footwear for the job). He also got a modeling clay kit, rock tumbler, and a snap circuits set, all of which have been awesome to play with over the rest of the break.
Claire opened up a bag of fancy sweater dresses, a pink fur vest, and sparkly heeled shoes from Gigi (who else). Obviously, she was pleased. (Other items included a Frozen robe and pj set, holiday barbie, and set of American Girl doll pets with accessories.)
Everyone gave very thoughtful things and it was a fun evening, as it always is. Then Cora opened up her cleaning kit and got right to work tidying up.
Christmas morning dawned and Santa had found his way to the lake! Cora got a scooter, something Santa thought she'd play with when she got a little older (her birthday isn't until November, so Santa aged up a few of her gifts, thinking she could play with them in the summer), but holy crap, she ran right up to that thing, climbed aboard in puppy slippers and basically never got off.
Landon got a Ripstik, this crazy skateboard Santa didn't realize was quite so hard to ride. But after James and Uncle Eric zipped around on it, Tia bribed Landon into practicing and he mastered it by sunset! James gave him lessons and Cora judged his form.
Claire got a beautiful jewelry box ("WITH MY NAME ON IT!!") and some "jewelry like a mom has" (i.e., a small, non-costume, silver necklace and some pretty little earrings).
It was a fun lazy morning, with lots of playing, scootering, eating of cinnamon rolls and tamales (not together), and the watching of Aladdin, which all the kids LOVED and the adults did too.
The weather was weird- 80 degrees and muggy, but the kids got to fish and we spent a lot of time outside. The sunset was gorgeous and the boys even set off a small fireworks show from the boat while the kids and I watched from the dock.
We left midday on the 26th to come home and have spent the last few days hanging out, enjoying our presents (James got me this tea maker and I am OBSESSED. It is the greatest gift I've ever been giving, besides maybe my watch, wedding jewelry, and children, and I still get giddy every time it automatically lowers my loose leaf tea into the properly temp'd water to brew for the proper amount of time before lifting again and not overbrewing my tea and then just waiting, nice and hot, for me to pour it into my mug just like a coffee drinker! It is the greatest appliance in my life and if the house were on fire I'd try to get it out with me (and the kids, and James, of course; all of us, plus Tex and the tea maker). I've stalked it online for 3 years and I finally got it and it is everything I hoped it would be and more. Fresh hot tea! Brewed automatically! For just the right amount of time!! I've maybe already had like 10 cups today.
So far on break we've gone to the zoo when no one else in their right minds would go to the zoo (34 degrees out; literally the only people there; the animals seemed super excited to see us), gone to the park, made a quick stop at Lululemon where I picked up 3 gorgeous strappy support tanks for $30 each to match my crazy patterned leggings that I was just wearing with black tops when the pants deserved so much better.
The kids have jumped nonstop on their mini trampoline from Uncle Eric, while Cora scooters and alternates between playing with her farm and cleaning supplies. There has also been nerf gun fighting, clay animal making, snap circuiting, and rock rumbling - the kids really really loved everything they received this year.
I'm now prepping for our family New Year's Eve party and stalking a sparkly pair of workout leggings online that I don't need. I hope you all had a wonderful holiday, full of scootering toddlers and happy big kids. And tea. Lots of tea.