Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Christmas Chronicles: Part 2

Every fall (because we have to book plane tickets in advance) we have to make a big decision; who will we go visit for Christmas?  Most years, we've traveled to see both families (Michigan and Massachusetts).  This year, we concluded that flying all over the country might be too much for Evelyn (and us) to handle.  Evelyn's a frequent flier already (with over 18 flights under her belt) but as she gets older, she wants to move more, and airplane seats are not designed for movement!  We decided that we would go to Michigan to spend Christmas with Joe's family and that Evelyn and I would travel to see my parents in February.  It's always tough to be away from family at Christmas, but it was really wonderful to actually get to settle in and stay put for the whole Christmas break!

One of the greatest things about spending this Christmas with Joe's family was the chance for Evelyn to play with her three cousins.  Christmas morning (in Chicago at Joe's sister, Kate's house) was full of excitement; it was so special to see all the cousins together.  Evelyn finally had her older cousins (Sean and Kylie) to show her how to properly unwrap a gift!
Sean, Kylie, Evelyn and Braden
Evelyn's new roller suitcase!
Quiet time with Grandma
Kisses for Kylie

Hugs for Kylie
Joe and Kate (his sister) treating us to a duet on the piano

Evelyn trying her hand at piano 
Hugs for Daddy

We all drove from Kate's house in Chicago to Joe's parents' house in Michigan on Christmas night.   My mother-in-law (Carlene), was hosting her family Christmas party on Dec. 26, so we needed to be back to help get the house ready!  On Christmas night, the cousins had an opportunity to open their presents from Grandma and Grandpa. 
Evelyn loved Kylie's new pillow pet
Trying to figure out what's inside the box
Checking out Grandpa's new meat grinder with Sean

Seeing Carlene's family on Dec. 26 was terrific.  We hadn't seen many of them since 2008 (I believe that was the last time we were in Michigan for the party).  It always falls right around Christmas, and we have typically visited Massachusetts first and then headed back toMichigan in time for New Year's.  

On Dec. 27, our close friends, the Dykstra's came to Joe's parents' house for a visit.  Ben Dykstra used to work with Joe at Boeing and was in our wedding many years ago.  Ben, Mary and their children (Annika and Lane) moved back to MI (where Ben and Mary grew up) over the summer.  We've missed them in WA and it was a real treat to catch up in person.  We visited for several hours and went outside for a little walk around the Joe's parents beautiful farm.  The most hilarious part of the walk was that we (me, Joe, Ben and Mary) were each wearing a different pair of Alan's (Joe's dad) boots.  It was snowing out and none of us had the appropriate footwear, so Alan was kind enough to lend us his boots (we were grateful that he gave us so many to choose from).  We should have taken a picture!!  Evelyn enjoyed reconnecting with Annie and Lane but wasn't too excited about being photographed...just see the group photos below for evidence.
Lane, Annika and Evelyn
The Sosinski's and Dykstra's together again
Happy to have a decent group photo

I mentioned that Evelyn really enjoyed playing with her cousins.  She just wanted to shadow/mimic Sean and Kylie in everything they did (I think she's just at that curious age).  She had plenty of hugs and kisses for her younger cousin Braden, but seemed to prefer playing with Sean and Kylie.  In this picture, I caught Evelyn playing with Kylie's stuffed animal, while holding a block from Kylie's toy and standing quite close to Sean's Hotwheels track.  Sean and Kylie were incredibly patient and kind to let Evelyn play with them and all their toys.

Later in the week, we went to visit Joe's Grandpa Smoker (Carlene's maiden name is Smoker).  He lives in the same town as Joe's parents.  I love visiting him because it brings back fond memories for me of my own grandparents, who are now deceased.  Certain things about Grandpa Smoker's house also remind me of my own grandparents' houses; it seems familiar or something.  Grandpa has a favorite chair in his house and Evelyn thought she'd try it out for size!  She wasn't too keen on sitting down on her great grandfather's lap, so Grandpa moved so she could have the chair for herself!

 Carlene's birthday is Christmas Day.  We managed to give Carlene her special birthday presents on Christmas, but we weren't able to make her a cake until almost a week after the fact!  Sean and Kylie helped me decorate it and Kate did all the baking!  The rest of the family helped by eating it!
Happy Birthday, Carlene!  We love you!
Evelyn "helping" Braden with his milk
Sean, Evelyn and Kylie in adorable pajamas
The rest of our time in Michigan went by all too quickly.  We were able to visit with some of Joe's best friends and their children at the end of the week.  It was great to catch up with them all!  We had a great time as a family too, playing during the day and relaxing together.  We played Scrabble or cards most nights and went out for a nice dinner at the local steak house.  Kate and I spent our final morning trying to capture a picture of all four cousins together.  I wasn't very successful at catching all four kids at once, but I did get some cute pictures!
Evelyn: 18 months old
Cousins in Grandma's rocking chair 
Giving Braden kisses
On the rocking horse in the loft where we stayed! 
In the loft with the teddy bears
Good times with Uncle Jay
Well, we're back home now and missing all of our family, but happily recalling all the wonderful times we had this Christmas break.

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