Family Christmas and New Year's

We headed to Michigan for a whirlwind trip to celebrate Christmas with each of our families.  We started with my side, and arrived at my sister's place at 2AM.  I kept saying everyone didn't need to stay up, but of course they did!  The kids were so excited because this was their first time seeing their cousins' new house.  It was really fun to get to stay there and start making memories in that beautiful new home.

My sister and brother-in-law sent up this magical Christmas wonderland in their basement for the kids to camp out over the weekend.  How fun is that?!?

The next morning, we went to my mom and dad's.  Their home is always like a holiday haven around Christmas time, beautifully decorated everywhere you look!  We knew we wanted a family photo and snagged it before everyone went their separate ways.  And by "someone" I mean the kids, and by "went their separate ways," I mean ran around the house causing complete chaos and messing up their hair and outfits.  Love this group so much!

Adam and Heather brought a saran wrap game for the kids to play.  The intensity every one of them had was hysterical!

One of our gifts for AJ was a Detroit Tigers hat much like the UofM one we got Cole for Christmas.  And darn if I didn't get a picture of them together like I had wanted to!

Maurah and Hayden have been needing bags to put their knitting things in and Grandma and Grandpa got them that very thing!  

Maurah made my grandma this scarf that she knitted.  She and Hayden learned how to knit on the needles my grandma gave them, so this was a thank you and a pretty sweet gift.

The kids gave my dad a "Grandpa for President" coffee mug.  And again, I'm so bummed because I didn't get a photo of their gift with my mom!  Opening gifts became a *touch* chaotic, so I think there were a lot of moments I missed.  But the memories are still sweet!

I made this sign for Heather and Adam after she mentioned to me that she saw one similar to it in a store and thought it was really cool.  It was so fun to make it and hopefully it can add another personal touch to their new home.

Zoey was ready to get her Christmas loving!

One of my favorite things of Christmas is how the kids gather around mom and dad's table and work away at their gifts, building and crafting.  I remember playing games with my cousins growing up and know that these are precious memories they're creating together!

We headed North to visit Jake's family on New Year's Eve.  Sam was cracking me up because he kept saying "Take my picture."  Then, he'd crawl on his mom's lap and give me thumbs up.  Once I took his picture, he'd hop down and say, "Let me see it!"  Then, he'd giggle with glee when he saw himself.

Laina received the next books in the series Jake and I got her for Christmas.  She was pretty excited about that!

The adults have started a tradition where we have to make something for the person whose name we draw.  It's amazing every year what people come up with.  Jake made this lamp for his dad completely out of steel pipe.

Emily (and Matt!) made this sign for Jake out of nails and thread.  So cool!

Other gifts included homemade yard yahtzee, I received a beautiful wreath and picture from my sister-in-law, and I made a wooden coffee mug holder for my other sister-in-law.  I can never get over what people come up with each year.  We're not sure how long we'll be doing this, but it's so fun while it lasts.

These pictures crack me up because Cole was silently playing by himself on the floor and Roy walked up and just laid on him.  His stoic personality is so funny!

The above picture quickly turned into a pile-on and Cole was crushed!  I love the looks on his and Sam's faces!

Jake's aunt and cousin from Alabama were in visiting their other Michigan family and made a stop by the house for a couple of hours.  It was so great to see them!  It's been years!  And this is one more moment I missed on this Christmas weekend!  But, just like at my parents', they're still memories we'll record here and keep with us.

Our kids were completely exhausted, and we were *terrible* parents because we made them go to bed earlier than the New Year.  Little by little, everyone fell asleep or went home until it was just Jake, his mom and myself staying awake.  Honestly, the only reason we did this is because it was 11:40 by the time we got everything cleaned up and said goodbye, so we figured we should just stay up the extra 20 minutes to say we did.  Big partiers here!  :)

The next day we loaded up and the kids got in one last game of Farkle with their grandma before we left.  From the first game to this one, their sportsmanship definitely improved!  We went from tears in the first game to saying "Good game" once they were done.  Slowly, but surely, good sportsmanship will sink in, right??

Leaving Michigan is never easy for our kids.  I honestly thought it'd get easier as they got older, but it's the exact opposite.  We had a lot of tears and emotions on the way home.  I always wonder when the trip will be that they just can't get over their sadness and feelings of homesickness.  Thankfully, as soon as we got home, they settled right in and it really did feel good to be here.  And the next day was school, where they were so excited to be back with their friends and talk about their holidays.  I'm always grateful we've got such a great place to live, because it would be absolutely wretched to leave MI if we couldn't look forward to anything here!

And just like that, the holidays were over and we were on to a New Year!  Welcome, 2017!

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