I have given up all hope of actually blogging the way I want. There are too many projects stacking up and one of my New Year's resolutions is to get more sleep so my list is quickly getting unmanageable. I decided to do a quick post to cover the rest of the holidays and another one to start the new year and then try again to (sort of) stay caught up. If it helps, another one of my resolutions is not to add any new tasks/projects until June. Of course, there is more than enough to keep my busy until then, and beyond!
We did our gingerbread houses again this year. I found a fun village with 5 different houses, but when I opened the box, three of them were broken beyond repair. We shrugged it off and enjoyed decorating what was left. I was surprised they didn't go crazy and cover them with candy, but they turned out very nice.
Then we had our Christmas with Randy's parents before we left for Arizona. The kids all enjoyed their presents. I was not carting them all with us!
Then it was on to Arizona. I haven't tried to travel on my passes during Christmas since Travis was born and I miscalculated. We missed 2 flights and we decided there was no way we were going to make it (even on Christmas Day it looked bad!) so we hopped in the car, stopped off at home to make hotel reservations in Fort Stockton and grab some clothes, and we headed out for Phoenix. It was a LONG trip but it truly could not have been much better. Randy drove the whole way (both ways) and I was on kid duty. We watched lots of movies, sang lots of songs, I passed out lots of snacks, and I picked up lots of toys. We arrived only a short time after Mireille and Jerry did on their way from Seattle. So we were all in Phoenix for Christmas. We got to meet Whitney (Jon and Olivia's 3 month old daughter) and Esther (Jerry and Mireille's 6 month old daughter). So many babies!
Jerry and Mireille managed to sneak a strider bike in the back of their van as a Christmas present for Thatcher. They also brought Jerry's bike so they could ride together. Jerry used to do a lot of riding (but might be a bit rusty) so we got a little show in Jon and Olivia's cul-de-sac. Thatcher was very impressed!
Then Travis got a ride on the pegs and Jerry got creative and rode backwards with Travis on the seat. Then he doubled up and took 2 kids out! I missed Alaina's ride, but I heard she enjoyed it too!
I have to put a plug in for the creatively brilliant thinking of my brother Jon and my mom. Since there were too many of us (specifically too many kids) all to stay at my brother's house, we needed another place for some of us to stay. The house that backs up to my brother was for sale, and it's the same floor plan as his house so we contacted the leasing agent and asked if we could rent it for a week over Christmas. There wasn't any activity on the house so she jumped at the chance to make a little money and we had the perfect place to stay, including a refrigerator and washer and dryer. A few air mattresses and towels later and we were set! Jon set up a couple of ladders on either side on the wall and we had easy access back and forth. The kids loved it!
The other brilliant move was borrowing the church bus so we could go to Christmas Eve service and then go look at Christmas lights all together. My brother, Jon has his CDL so he could drive us and we had a sweet ride! We did cause quite a stir everywhere we went: The greeters/ushers in the parking lot at church got huge eyes when we pulled up. They all let out a big, "Whew!" when Jon said there were only 13 people on board! (We might have been a little late...) And we got a "Nice ride!" from fellow Christmas light viewers. But the best was when we pulled up at Papa John's right before closing (on Christmas Eve) to pick up our preordered pizzas. I went in and the 3 employees just stared and no one offered to help me. So I just jumped in and said I was there to pick up our order and they all busted out in a relieved laugh. They thought I had a bus full of people needing to be fed! They were SO glad they didn't have to make up 25 pizzas quickly!
We also made a trip up to see my friend Marla from college who lives in north Phoenix. We had a very relaxed visit. We played legos, ate Christmas cookies, checked out their fish tank, and played bowling on their Wii. We bonded and enjoyed some great family time. The kids have only seen each other a few times, but they do so well playing together. It's great to spend time with them.
Then it was Sunday and time for baby Whitney's dedication at church. Justin made a great friend, Dina Brinkman (and her husband Gary). They are our friends from Wisconsin who now live in Arizona. I just love the tie! We got a few family pictures and then it was time to head home.
It was a wonderful vacation and time with family. A great holiday together. It was so sad to leave and even more precious to watch the cousins say their good-byes. We live so far apart and it's hard to connect but we were so grateful to make these memories!