Oh the holidays…

It was hard to believe Christmas was just around the corner with the sunny 60s weather a week beforehand.

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But we took advantage of the sunshine, because it was followed by cold rain, snow, and dropping temperatures! The kids’ Santa letters appeared in the paper, thanks Southern Standard.

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Of course, Luke wanted to write him again, because he realized he would rather have Star Wars guys (go figure, Daddy knew that all along) and luckily Santa got word before Christmas Eve.

Well, we talked it over and figured it would be fun to spend all weekend with the family, to try and maximize our time with those visiting from a far. So we loaded the van for our four night/day stay, and I can’t believe how much that entailed!

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I thought since we were bringing some stuff to give away, it would be better on the way home, but it was still tight!

Gratefully, Darin and I got to attend the youth baptism trip Saturday morning to start the weekend off on the right foot. Then the other guests began arriving at Hotel Whitaker, complete with mints on the pillows! It was great getting to be with so much family. Uncle Don came for a few days and Grandpa and Grandma Keck arrived Christmas Eve!

There were foot rubs and movies…

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relaxing, gaming, silliness…

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cuddling…

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(Doesn’t it look like Scott and Marissa watching a movie?! Christina is sandwiched in between!)

All smiles…

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Gingerbread houses, letter from Santa…

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and surprises from Santa…

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and Christmas Eve jammies and lightsaber flashlights!

Just a note to remember… Natalie had been struggling with bedtime and throwing fits for the past few weeks, so Christmas Eve was quite a struggle. We tried all tactics to get the girl to go to asleep but to no avail. Darin drove her around for almost an hour, only to have her wake up the moment he opened the door to get her out! The excitement, not sleeping in her own bed at her own house, and pure exhaustion that leads to a second wind are hard to counter. I’m sure everyone was amazed when the crying finally stopped.  (I am happy to report that we are finally seeing improvement last night and tonight.)

CHRISTMAS!

finding stockings, so excited (oh, there are the new jammies!)…

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Rudolph ring pops…

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surprises from Grandpa and Grandma Payne…

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new tents and sleeping bags!

So here’s a glimpse of the major big preggers belly…

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Santa and Santa’s little helpers…

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excitement and gifts all around…

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hanging out with Great Grandpa…

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a few just ran out of steam…

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treasure hunts led Luke to an AT-AT Walker and General Grievous, Natalie to a Dreamlite and this much candy (raise your hands above your head or let Uncle Nathan measure it by kids)…

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Darin found a tool chest, and Nada, the iphone audio plug in for the van.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

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There was also lots of eating, cooking, laughing, eating, cooking, laughing! We had a great time and really appreciate all that Mom and Dad and Marissa did for us to be there.  I know that what my kids will remember most will be the time with family, not the new toys, clothes or treats. I know because that’s what I remember of my childhood Christmases. 

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