As I mentioned in my last post, we decided to go to Detroit for Christmas since it had been so long since we’ve been with my sister and her family. We started our drive on Sunday the 18th and made it the 8 hours to Springfield, MO for the night. While we do have the pleasure of having the DVD player in our vehicle, I wanted to add some fun non-TV elements to our journey. We’ve been having fun with our Elf on the Shelf Peter. (He has done such shenanigans as eating our cereal and using a sharpie to draw mustaches and glasses on Ellie and Emma’s photos in our living room!) Peter decided to make the journey with us, and he left the girls some surprises in their car seats. They were excited to have some new coloring books and a new movie each. I also put up a count down line in the car with milestone cities along our trip. The girls had fun taking turns pulling them down as we reached each city.
There’s Peter just “hanging out” and our little milestone banner.
And let me take just a moment to brag on my kids. All 3 kids did SO great. We had a super rough night with them before we left, but they were great travelers. Nathan cried maybe a half hour total on the whole way up there! The girls did great taking turns choosing videos and coloring, etc. I’m so glad our little family can handle long road trips, because I’m pretty sure we won’t be shelling out the money for 5 flights to anywhere anytime soon! :)
The next morning, we took off for Indianapolis where some of our very best friends the Cornwell’s live. We made it by dinner time and had SUCH a great 36 hours or so with them. It was so nice to let them get to meet our little guy. We played games (one of our favorite things to do!) and decorated cookies. I just love that even though we’re miles apart and only see each other every year or two, we can fall right back into a super comfortable friendship in no time at all. Those kinds of friendships are rare, and we’re super grateful for this family. It was fun to get to celebrate Paul’s birthday with them while we were there, too. Here are some photo highlights of that visit:
On Wednesday morning, we left fairly early to get to Detroit. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on those sweet nephews of mine! Jennie had her fourth son just 3 days after we had Nathan. (It was an eventful week!) I hope these little guys will be good buds. Here’s their first meeting:
Their size difference makes me smile, but it will be gone in no time, I’m sure.
Here’s our first attempt at getting a photo of the 7 cousins. If this doesn’t make you laugh, I don’t know what will:
Here’s the best shot from that session:
For sleeping arrangements, we started off trying to sleep the 4 oldest in the same room in two twin beds. Ellie with little James and Emma with Georgie. It didn’t quite work out. HA! We ended up deciding that little James was our biggest challenge, so he spent the rest of the week in with his grandparents. The other three had some challenges but succeeded generally speaking the rest of the week. We tried to be laid back about it in hopes that they were making some sweet memories.
On our arrival day, we just laid low and ordered dinner in. It was a nice time for everyone to reconnect. On Thursday, our main activity was decorating cookies. We also ventured out for dinner that night but ended up deciding to split up where Jen and I went to Olive Garden with the babies and the guys took the big kids to Burger King to play. (Yes, I know we got the better end of that deal. To pay us back, Nathan screamed pretty much our whole dinner…)
Georgie showed Ellie his video game skills
Emma and John playing with Uncle David
And another sweet bedtime scene
Friday was our big photo shoot day. We all went to a park (yes – outdoors in Detroit in December!) to take some photos. Stay tuned for another post with the highlights from that, but let me just say that the photographer was AWESOME about going fast. It was in the 30s, so we were all bundled up. She did great about getting the photos as quickly as possible. I think it went well and can’t wait to get the photos back. Here are the candid highlights from Friday:
Post photo-shoot cookie treats
Saturday was Christmas Eve. We had a nice day hanging around the house before heading to David’s Aunt’s house for a lovely Christmas Eve gathering.
Little James is such a sweet little love. He kept wanting to see “that cute little baby”.
Georgie and Ellie were good buds the whole time
This photo captures the difference in our babies’ temperaments while we were there. :) Nathan was just off from the trip in general, I think, and was fussier than normal. Joseph, meanwhile, was pretty much a perfect baby and never made a peep. I love them both to pieces, but the difference was funny!
Our crew at Aunt Ann’s that evening. The food was great, and the family was SO nice. We felt so welcomed.
We did our gift exchange here, so this is when all of our family opened their PJs that I made.
Ellie and James changed immediately and were pretty cute if I do say so myself.
And of course that leads us to Christmas morning! Here’s the scene before the kids woke up (oh – and did I mention that we had to WAKE them up around 8?!?! Most mornings they woke up Jenn’s in-laws in the 6am hour – nuts!)
Our sweet babies before they came around the corner to see what Santa brought them. Are we blessed or WHAT?!
Emma with her Sleeping Beauty doll from Santa
Ellie with her Tangled doll from Santa
All of our babies in their matching little jammies
Peter the Elf adopted the Brady boys upon our arrival. They ate it up, so I’m pretty sure they’ll have their own elf next year. He wrote them notes and even turned the milk green while he was there! Here’s his goodbye note on Christmas morning:
Ellie and Georgie wrote Peter a note on Christmas Eve asking how the elves make all the toys. How cute is that?!
The boys got a fun trampoline that all of the cousins enjoyed immensely.
In the afternoon, we were invited to a family friend’s house for a Christmas gathering. The host has 8 children and an AMAZING home. We were blessed to be included.
Georgie didn’t want his picture taken, but Aunt Amy didn’t care. :)
One of the traditions at this home is to do a play of the Christmas story. All of our big kids participated and Baby Joseph was even included as Baby Jesus. They did so well – it was super cute.
The whole cast including James as the leopard. (John was dressed as a cow but opted not to participate in the actual play. He was still a cutie, though!)
My tired little man at the end of the night. He was coming down with his virus by then, so he slept a TON while we were there.
This is the home we were at….just wow.
We left the next morning to head back. We were sad to say bye to the Brady’s, but we had SUCH a great time. So good to see you guys, and we pray it’s not another year or more until we see you again! Our trip back was less fun that the one there mostly because Nathan came down with a virus. He started running a fever and breathing unevenly on Monday, so we stopped in Bowling Green, KY to take him to an urgent care to get checked out. They thought it was still in his head and not down in his chest and gave us an antibiotic and some instructions on what to watch for. We were thinking about driving straight through but decided to stop and get some rest given his illness. We stayed overnight in Nashville where Nathan slept well and then made our way back home on Tuesday. Nathan clearly improved, so we were grateful for that. We made it home by bedtime and were so glad to have all of our kids in their separate beds for the night.
Throughout it all, we kept our focus on Christ and the true meaning of Christmas. What better way to celebrate our Savior’s birth than by building on the relationships of great friends and sweet family that he’s placed in our lives. We are immeasurably blessed and are grateful for yet another fabulous Christmas!