For the first time ever, our departure for Sunriver was actually set to occur on Christmas night. (We are departing on New Year's Eve this year to accommodate family plans for the Schillings). This meant that our car had to be completely packed for Sunriver before leaving for Mom and Dad's. This took a feat of massive organization and teamwork to accomplish, not to mention supernatural packing skills to fit everything into our rig. Fortunately, we were able to make it all happen in time to get to Mom and Dad's by around 11:30 - just about a half hour before the Schillings arrived.
Michele and I pitched in to help Mom get the meal prepared for the table, and by 12:30, we were seated to smile for the timed pic, say a blessing, and dig in. As usual, if you were to take an "after picture" of the food on the table, it would hardly look like we made a dent. :) Though, that's certainly not because it wasn't delicious!!!
Nati and I had to pose for a picture together because we both showed up wearing very similar outfits. No, we didn't text ahead and plan it - in fact, this outfit was a last minute "costume change" given the sweater was a gift from John earlier in the morning.
On to present opening - an act that calls for the utmost patience from the kids given we open in "sets" - Mom and Dad, John and Michael, Michele and I, - and then all the kids....and we go round and round until we are done. These Nikes (common theme, right?!) were a hit with Traig.
How many Football PS3 game pics have we taken over the years?
These three guys had to take a break when it wasn't their turn to open.
We are trying to encourage the crafty talents of Mikayla. Recently, Heather introduced the art of crocheting to Mikayla - particularly in making Infinity Scarves. Heather's made two of them for me which are my absolute favorite look, color, and fit of scarves - and it would be so fun for Mikayla to get to that point.
Michele is stomping down the wrapping paper pile in the bin...
One of Dad's presents from me was about 18 pint size jars of four different flavors of homemade jam. He is a very difficult guy to shop for, so, knowing the jam I've passed on has made him happy, I thought I'd see if I could stock his shelves for a greater length of time.
Likewise, shopping for John isn't always easy, so Michele made him his Sunriver snack of choice from last year, Cinnamon Sugar Pretzel Bites. =)
Nope, the girls aren't too old to still love Webkinz...
The "special present" for Mom was taking pictures I'd tried to secretly take of the horses (though she knew I was up to something at the time) and convert them into tote bags. Walgreens did a fantastic job with this - I tried to assure Mom that they could easily be re-created, so use them as much and as often as possible. From left to right, the horses are Celila, Holly, and River.
It's always interesting just how often Michele and I's gifts to one another overlap. In this case, we both bought Roxy sweatshirts for one another...
As if there's any question as to why there's usually a ten pound weight gain from Christmas to New Year's for me?
Finally, the last-minute gift I threw together for Michele, Nati, Mikayla, and Ellie...
At the time of the USC/UO game (early November), when it was looking like not only would Brayden and John be attending the National Championship Bowl Game as well as perhaps the Heisman Ceremony in NYC (in support of the likelihood at the time of Kenjon's invite) - I started thinking that it would be fun to do something (within budgetary reason) for us girls. One thing I've wanted to do with Michele for a very long time is to see "Wicked" with her. I thought maybe it would be showing in Seattle, but instead, I had to look south to find an option. San Francisco, in fact. Given our positive experience driving last summer with the girls to northern California (and their thrill over that road trip) - we thought adding a couple more hours to the trip could be plausible, especially if we turned a the three-day Presidents' Day weekend into a four day mini-vacation.
I didn't hint any of this to Michele, instead I hastily threw four envelopes addressed to each of the girls into a gift bag on Christmas Eve night. Mikayla's envelope had a calendar of February 2013 in it, with the weekend we'd be going highlighted. Ellie's envelope had a Mapquest route of Eugene to San Francisco in it. Nati's envelope had the details of a Marriott Fairfield Inn (the cheapest of the chain that we can hopefully use our points to stay in) located about 20 miles north of San Francisco. And finally, Michele's envelope contained the "Wicked" program I'd saved since attending the musical with Mikayla nearly two years ago when it came to Eugene. They were told to combine the clues to figure out the gift. It didn't take long.
Michele was visibly touched, and immediately figured it out. It's always a "SCORE" when teary eyes are visible when you give a present. The girls were thrilled too, but I think they are more excited at simply the prospect of driving to California again - as well as the fact that our hotel is not too far away from the "Jelly Belly Factory" - than the actual "Wicked" performance. =)
Needless to say, this is a gift that blesses me just as much (if not more) than them....and blessedly, something to look forward to as we all too soon bid adieu my favorite time of year and embark on the darker days of the long Oregon winter.
Once again, the Christmas Day with Mom and Dad was wonderful. Though, admittedly, I felt guilty over the fact that we had to cut it short by a couple hours than years' past due to the drive to Sunriver. There was a winter storm watch for the Cascades (which we'd be driving over) in effect, so Mom and Dad were very understanding. But, still, that's hardly the day you ever want to steal time away from as it really is a priceless gift in and of itself.