As if our Christmas wasn't amazing enough, after my parents left we had only more fun in our future! First a wonderful evening with friends from college (one we hadn't seen since I graduated). Then a trip up North where all of Lucas' family - plus an aunt, uncle, and the Indy cousins - stayed at a hotel with access to an indoor water park!! Unfortunately, I didn't get a single picture of all of the cousins playing at the water park. Ry-guy (who once had to go for special testing because the specialists thought he couldn't hear) did NOT like the echoing noises of the water park. Especially when the giant bucket splashed water on everyone underneath. He and I ended up escaping to the regular hotel pool (where I also couldn't take pictures because I had my hands full with him). Long story short, in the end Ryan declared it "the Best Adventure Ever," so all was a success!
I did manage to snap a picture of a sleepy D snuggling with cousin Jeff while we waited in the hotel for everyone to be ready and packed up. Aw.
From there, we all went to Lucas' extended family Christmas party! Since 1988, they have enjoyed this tradition. It is a long and cherished tradition that we love to attend whenever we are able.
I think the kids favorite part of the party was the cake walk. Aunt Darleen did a fabulous job of planning games for the kids - and taking the time to make adorable parts of the game (like the beautiful, felt number pictures everyone is walking on below). While the adults could only win 1 prize in the cake walk, she didn't limit the kids. Fond of winning prizes, my children couldn't believe the number of amazing goodies they were able to take home!
My kids enjoying the walk.
Aside from games there is also always a ton of delicious food and fun time with family.
Cousin Jeff, confident in his manhood, shows off his coordinating purse and bow.
A relatively new tradition ("new" being relative to the number of years of the party) is a visit from Santa!
Aunt Debbie, as she is fondly known by the fam.
Everyone should have an Aunt Debbie. She is kooky, and sometimes a little crazy, but she certainly brings laughter and joy to every get-together and her generosity knows no ends. She made many - young and old - sit on Santa's lap to get one, or one of several, goodies.
You may notice, in the pictures above, that you almost always see the head or hands of one particular little Elf. Sweet D was enthralled with Santa. She barely left Santa's side, she gazed up at Santa adoringly, and, if Santa's arms were empty, she dove into them in a spontaneous hug. At least one child's day was completely made by the visit from this jolly gift-giver!
Then on to presents! There is a massive gift exchange for all ages. Of course, it was a wee bit difficult to keep all of the kids engaged during this time, so some parents got creative.
Little H getting a ride from his Daddy.
While Lucas and I opt out of the gift exchange, Allie and Ryan are always a part. As you can see, Allie couldn't wait to get her gift!
She was even extremely excited to give the gift that she (and, interestingly enough, Harper) picked out.
And then the pictures end...because even though I knew I took several hundred pictures since the last time I charged the battery BEFORE Christmas, I didn't think to check it's charge before our trip up North (doh!). But at the end of the party, Ryan and Allie told me it was the Best Christmas Party EVER.
All in all, I would say an extremely successful weekend overall. And little did they know, Christmas still wasn't quite over...