Our time in Ohio was a lovely blend of celebrating and just being. I left my camera in NC (oops), but thankfully Aunt Shannon captured some photographic memories.
The time before Christmas was spent doing all the traditional pre-Christmas festivities. There was much decorating, which was quite hysterical. The kids loved helping, and I laughed until I cried as Nana and Aunt Shannon decided which decorations needed a little tweaking. I've never seen snowmen rearranged so many times.
We also did our share of baking:
I really can't explain Evan's crazy face.
My favorite moments, though, were the simple times of just being. Evan played cowboy:
There were indoor snowball fights, art projects, four-wheel riding, and story-telling:
The official Christmas festivities began with a trip to see Granddaddy:
Christmas Eve was spent with a warm fire and lots of love. My favorite sister:
The world's best uncle who snuggled Issa as she wrote the letter for Santa:
Two very excited kiddos woke at 4:15 to discover Santa had visited. Daddy tucked them right back in until a slightly more humane hour:
Evan was so certain Santa had brought the Bob (a martial arts training Dummy) he asked for he actually started sparring the box:
Thankfully it was a Bob, along with throwing stars and a training sword. Issa received Issabelle, the American Girl Doll, and all her accessories. There was much dancing and fighting. Santa also brought some of the coolest winter gear in history:
Once packages were opened at Nana's, we headed across the street where these cuties continued the Christmas PJ tradition:
Art supplies, toy cars, and a fire station set soon were scattered about, and we all marveled again at how well these kiddos play considering how rarely they see each other. There truly is something special about cousins.
I even persuaded my family to pause for my annual Christmas photo:
From Napoleon, we headed to Tiffin to see Grandpa Kevin, Grandma Pat, and the cousins:
While we were there, we ate some great seafood for Grandma Pat's birthday and enjoyed the chaos of five dogs running about. It was fun to watch Neela play with other younger pups. The funniest bit was the way she would start a tussle and then yip so Viv would wade in and end it. Never a dull moment with our crew.
We ended our trip in Upper with Papa Don and Grandma Nancy. We went to look at Christmas lights, played board games, and enjoyed a quiet New Year's. For the first time the kids made it to watch the ball fall, and they were hysterical. Apparently, it was a bit anticlimactic for my two. It dropped, and they were silent. "That's it?" It didn't do anything. It didn't bounce. Voila. 2015. Too funny.
The best part of our time in Upper, though, was our visit to the Historical Society's Museum. Papa is the president right now, and he was able to give us the behind the scenes tour. For such a tiny town, it has a very impressive collection, and the kids loved seeing the Wyandot Indian artifacts, military uniforms throughout history, hair wreaths, and antique dolls. The one room school house was also a huge hit, especially when Papa gave them each their very own slate. For our two young historians, it was so fun. They spent a lot of time comparing what they saw to our visits out West, and I love seeing history come to life in their little minds.
In short, it was lovely. I am always so grateful for the longer stretch of time we have at Christmas. The memories are lovely, and now we're all settled in for 2015 and all that it will hold.