Well, here we are-- another Christmas has come and gone. Yesterday, I listened to Christmas music as I unpacked from our trip, and felt a little sad that it's just about time to put it away until next year. We really had the most wonderful holiday this year-- maybe even the best ever! I really hate to do a "travel log", but we managed to pack so much into just a few days, that I'm not really sure how else to share our adventures. If you're bored, just skip to the slide show at the end! :)
Our celebrations started on Saturday morning, when we packed up the car and drove down to Salt Lake City. We met Chris's parents for lunch at Kyoto, our favorite Japanese restaurant. It was delicious, our boys were actually well-behaved, and it was the perfect way to kick off a fun weekend. Afterward, we went over to the Hansen's where we met up with Jon and Emily. We opened some great gifts-- our favorite was a painting by Jon!-- and had a great time just hanging out and watching movies. On Sunday, we went to church with Gramm and Gramp and there met Chris's older sister, Heidi and her family. It was funny to watch Gordon react to four more cousins to compete with-- he claimed a spot on Grammuh's lap and gave his best mean dinosaur look to everyone else!
After church, the kids got changed and went outside with Chris to build a huge snowman. Everyone else was dressed in their heavy winter gear, but Chris wore only a tee-shirt and gloves. Nice. Mike Crosby, Chris's best friend from high school, came over and helped a bit, then he and Chris caught up for a bit. It was fun to see Mike, but we missed Kristine and the kids!
Sunday was a glorious day for food. Emily made some amazing dips (and you know I love dips) for appetizers, then Marilyn presented a beautiful and delicious dinner of cornish game hens. YUM! Maybe I have a new Christmas dinner favorite? After dinner, we unwrapped the rest of our presents-- adorable "Peanuts" themed jammies were a hit (I'm the Little Red-Haired Girl) and our bratty six-year-old told his kind Grammuh, "Next year, don't get me any clothes." Sigh.
On Christmas eve morning, Gramm made us a delicious waffle brunch, then the kids all played together in their new matching outfits. They looked so cute!! I loved cuddling with baby Garrett-- he is just a little sweet pea-- and Thomas was thrilled to follow Sophie and Audrey everywhere they went. Even Gordon and David got along well! We also had a chance to talk to Andy and Amanda in Wisconsin via the web cam. They're such a great little family-- we missed them!
After lots of pictures and good-byes, we hit the road to Idaho Falls for the rest of our Christmas break. Although the pass in Malad was a little snowy, it wasn't until we were about 25 miles outside of Idaho Falls that the weather really caught up with us. It was insane, and I was so glad that Chris was such a cautious driver. We saw way too many cars in the median!
We arrived safely in IF at my parents' house and started to appreciate an incredibly white Christmas from the nice viewpoint of their cozy living room. When the Freeds and Flatlands arrived, we had all five sisters, two parents, three spouses, and six grandkids at my parents' house! Baby Graham was home (yay!), and I was delighted that Ann-Michelle let me snuggle with him for so long. Mmmm, he smelled so good!
We had a tasty chicken dinner, played some games, then enjoyed a darling Nativity presentation by the kids as my dad read Luke 2. Little Graham made the perfect newborn Jesus! Afterward, we opened our second set of Christmas jammies and cool slippers from Ann-M. We took more pictures, of course, then set out some goodies for Santa and sent the kids to bed!
Chris received a Deluxe Scrabble game from my parents as a belated birthday gift, so we made very good use of it during the whole weekend. Chris and the Todds worked on coming up with the highest-possible scoring word, theoretically following all of the rules, and ended up with bureaucratizing, which gave them a whopping 1254 points. Apparently the highest possible word scores somewhere in the 1700's, but they were still pretty proud of themselves.
On Christmas morning, we woke up to all sorts of crazy joy! Santa had indeed visited the DeArton home, and left some pretty great gifts. Thomas was thrilled about his remote control car, and Gordon could not be happier about his dinosaurs. It was really fun to see all of the presents under the tree. I think we each got a pretty modest amount of gifts, but because there were sixteen of us, the stacks of gifts seemed mountainous! My mom even had to block the presents off with a gate so that the pets didn't get into them!
The favorite gift of the day had to be Tom's Robosapien. I had first seen this awesome toy at Sherrie's, when her boys could hardly contain their excitement when showing me their new Christmas gift a couple of years ago. When Tom mentioned that one of his school friends had one as well, I knew it would be the perfect present. My parents bought it for him and all of us, including the adults, were taken with it!
One of the highlights of Christmas Day was getting to speak to my brother, Jake, who is currently serving an LDS mission in Vladivostok, Russia. Jake sounded awesome, especially when he practiced his Russian with Todd Freed, who also served in Russia. It was so great to talk to him-- he'll be home on January 19th and I can't wait to see him!
On Christmas evening, Chris and I made some of our favorite party foods-- cream-cheese stuffed tomatoes, little pigs-in-a-blanket, and a cheese and fruit platter-- as appetizers, then enjoyed a tasty ham dinner complete with my mom's incredible rolls. YUM!!
Afterward, we put our worn-out kids to bed, then spent the evening playing games. Our gift to the family was a game called "The Great Dalmuti", similar to "Kings, Queens and Peons", or "Scum". Players sit in order of rank, and my friend Karin gave me the great idea to get funny hats to signify which rank each player is. Caitlan and I picked out thirteen hilarious hats at Zurchers when I was in Provo-- everything ranging from a crown, party beads, and a red feather boa for the Great Dalumuti, to a funny chicken hat for the lowest peon. The game is really fun and I think everyone had a really great time!
I really felt like we made the most of every moment this Christmas. I loved that we were able to spend time with both of our families and that our kids have such adorable cousins! It was so great to be with my family again on Christmas Day. Chris and I were also surprised to realize that this was our first Christmas in Idaho Falls (since my parents moved to Washington for seven years, then back to Idaho) since our first Christmas as a married couple! WOW! It was a perfect and memorable vacation and I couldn't have asked for better people to spend it with.