This is just a quick post... one with pics will be coming later.
We had a wonderful (if exhausting) holiday. On Sunday, Grandpa Les and Grandma Karen stopped by for a visit. The kids opened their gifts and loved them! Unfortunately, we didn't get to visit long before they had to leave, but we so appreciated them coming way up to our neck of the woods for a visit.
Monday we went over to my Mom's around 12, put the kids down for nap and visited until later in the day when (great) Grandma Betty and my cousins Shawn and Charlie showed up. I'd not seen any of them in AGES. Its strange to see my cousins grown up. I suppose because I still see myself as a kid its a shocker to see that my dear ones are adults now. Weird :) We had a good dinner, a good visit, and a good time. We left around 7pm so that we could get home and do Santa stuff before bed.
There was a shadow cast over our night though. Mom's neighbor called with some sad news. Phil, the guy who hosts the enormous 4th of July parties we go to almost every year and lives just up the driveway from my parents, and who has helped many in our family with free roofing and other assistance, had died suddenly of a heart attack. It was completely unexpected. He was a close friend of my Dad's and a kind and generous man. To recount all he'd done for his friends and family and neighbors and family of his neighbors would take more room than I have here. I didn't know him well, but was greatly saddened at his passing.
The kids left out cookies, a mandarin orange and some chocolate milk, along with a note. We got in our jammies and read "The Night Before Christmas", twice (thanks for that book Grammy!).
In the morning, Santa left crumbs, an orange peel and an empty glass. He wrote a little note back thanking them for the cookies and milk and said that Rudolph really loved the orange. The kids thought that was pretty awesome.
We were up early for Christmas and the kids loved the doll house! Its so much bigger now that its downstairs. Gwen can't even reach the attic! We opened our stockings... candy, books, and popcorn for the kids, and the same for Daddy and I, except Santa snuck an extra present in mine. A Canon PowerShot camera! Its the size of a credit card and only about 1 1/2 inches thick. I LOVE it and it was a total surprise.
Ethan got a Matchbox car racing track and some Geo-Track parts. Gwen got a teddy bear that she can color on and a V-Tech thingy that does colors, shapes and foods. Its shaped like a refrigerator and, as you can imagine, a favorite in this house already :)
I got Jason a really cool toy he's wanted for a long time. A Lego Mindstorm. Its basically an advanced Lego set for building robots. It comes with a computer program and everything. He's already built two robots and is anxious to try more. I also got him a Rubix cube (inside joke!).
He got me the camera, and a Thermapen, which I've been wanting for an age.
At around 10am, the family started arriving. Becki, Jenni, Mom, Dad, Michael, his girlfriend Melissa, and Grandma Betty. The kids were anxious to do presents, so we started right away. The kids got hop balls, really nice pajamas, Marble Run, personalized tote bags and each got a plush horse (Gwennie named hers Cream and Ethan named his Cocoa), and I feel like there is more but I'm forgetting something :)
Becki drew my name this year and went our spending limit, I'm sure. She got me a really nice study Bible and "Rhett Butler's People". Both things I'd wanted badly! My Dad gave Jason a new computer game and then played it most the day himself :) I don't have the time or memory to recount what everyone got, but there were two huge black bags of garbage when we were done.
Michelle and Grammy both called and it was nice to hear from them. Dinner went well and was delicious... Rib Roast with red Wine, roasted garlic and thyme sauce, mashed potatoes, corn and rolls. Becki made a very rich and delicious brownie desert. Everyone left around 5, thoroughly stuffed and tired. Kids went down at 7 and me not long after. What a day!