It's amazing how much longer that drive takes now that we do it with children. We used to be able to make it in about 7.5 hours easily, but now it takes us around 9-10. Just another way life was easier before children. :) But that's quite alright. Part of the extra time is stopping for a long lunch to let the girls be free of their carseats for a bit. Getting out of the car for a decent chunk of time is refreshing for us all. And Casper is such a fabulous place to have lunch (not so much).
|Watching Mikey Mouse Clubhouse on the road. (It's a little blurry. I am NO photographer.)|
|Nana and Ava playing the piano. Ava loves to "make music" on Nana's piano, which is why we got her a keyboard for Christmas, which you will see pictured later.|
On Christmas Eve evening, we went to church with Nana and Papa. It was a very nice service, although I ended up in the back hallway rocking Junie through most of it, and Ava had a little trouble sitting quietly. Afterward we went over to Kim and Jim's house for dinner and the usual Christmas Eve celebration with the Dunn clan. Evidently I failed to get any pictures from the night. Darn! No pictures even of the girls in their cute dresses. What a fail. :(
It was great to see everyone, although I couldn't help feeling a little sad without Grandpa or my dad there. This was the first Christmas I have been back since Grandpa passed away and it seemed like something was missing. Kim always has a lovely spread of food, though, and we really enjoyed being there. It's only too bad we couldn't have stayed longer. June was having a rough evening for some reason. Unfortunately the Dunn side didn't really get to see her fun, happy self that night.
The drive back to Nana and Papa's on Christmas Eve (it takes about 20-25 minutes) was beautiful. It was getting later and was very dark and snowing and just lovely. Everything felt so peaceful with a soft blanket of white. The snow was falling lightly and it seemed like the picture-perfect Christmas Eve. When we got back we rushed the girls to bed and then Nana and I filled their stockings. :) I love that part. I always thought stocking stuffers were one of the best parts of Christmas as a kid, and I love giving those little gifts to my girls now. I mean . . . Santa giving them, of course. Ava is getting older and I'm going to have to start being a little more careful about what I say so I don't give it away! Hopefully she doesn't read this in the next couple years. :)
|Christmas Eve morning.|
|That little butterfly toy goes EVERYWHERE with us!|
|Watching Mickey on Christmas Morning.|
|Do you see who was waiting for Ava . . . just peeking out of her stocking?|
Santa brought lots of fun stuff, including toys, Mickey DVDs, a stuffed Mickey and Minnie (and Donald for Junie!) and . . . of course . . . socks and underwear! Who doesn't want those from Santa? ;)
|Something new to watch on the ride home!|
|Sure is fun watching Ava open everything for me!|
|Ava opening her new . . .|
|Strider bike!! In pink, of course!|
|And Junie's new wagon!|
|Watching A Muppet Christmas Carol with her new Mickey and Minnie.|
|Such a beautiful Christmas tree and SO MANY presents to be opened!|
No wonder our fingers were bloody stumps by the time we were done!
Our dinner party that evening consisted of the four of us, Nana and Papa, Granny and Grandpa, my cousin Brian and his wife, Tiffany, and their son, Lane. It was not a big party, which was nice. Nana and Papa served an amazing dinner of prime rib and all the fixins.
|Nana and June on Christmas|
|Trying to get a decent family photo . . . not so great.|
|Ava watching Nana work her magic in the kitchen.|
After dinner it was time for . . . opening presents. Finally! We can get away with waiting until Christmas night while the girls are young, but I'm not sure we'll be able to do that forever. I know I would have been putting up a fight. I'm notorious for having been the child who couldn't wait to open presents. We'll see if that is in Ava's genes.
|Ava opening her new keyboard. I had one as a kid and LOVED it, and we figured Ava would, too, with her love for music. Not so much so far, but maybe she'll become more interested as she gets older.|
|Junie with one of two shape sorters that she got. There are always a couple duplicates, it seems! Oh well.|
|Playing lovely music, I'm sure.|
|Num num! This new "Beast" toy is super tasty, Aunt Jess!|
|Playing on the floor with Brian.|
|Wearing her new vest and playing with her new Legos.|
The drive home was uneventful and we were sad to leave as always. For a couple weeks afterward Ava talked almost every day about going back to Nana and Papa's house. Tim would try to remind her of how long it takes to get there and how much she dislikes the drive! It is too bad that it is so far away because we would LOVE to see Nana and Papa more. I guess that's part of what makes spending time with them so special!
We love you, Nana and Papa! Thanks for everything!