Early Christmas

After years of struggling with the scheduling nightmare that is Christmas in a big family, my in-laws decided this year to rent a “cabin” (pretty massive for a cabin, as Silas pointed out) in the mountains the first weekend of December, and invite everyone to come spend a few days. It was lovely! Usually, Christmas is a hurried affair, with everyone squeezing some family time in between their other families and work and goodness knows what else. This time, we spent four days just hanging out together, playing games, enjoying each other’s company.

Highly recommend. I’m pretty sure the consensus is that this is worth doing again.

Playing with “Uncle Bonkers”

It was fun to see Silas get to spend some time with his cousin. Olivia is (so far) his only cousin, and they haven’t been around each other much. On Friday, we barely saw the two of them because they were so busily playing together! Petra likes Olivia, too, although Olivia is having a hard time learning that babies are people, too–with their own opinions! “Can I hold your baby?” Ask her.

Cousin love

Silas and Olivia, in addition to playing, watched way too much television (well, actually movies). I decided not to sweat it, and was happy to find that my letting him watch only 30 minutes a day at home (sometimes not even that) means that his attention span for it is about that long. So he’d watch half an hour and then play or color near the TV, but not be really attending to it.

Photo by Katie Smith

The kids got plenty of new Christmas toys, but I found that they were mostly obsessed with JC and his sisters’ old Fisher Price barn. They don’t make those like they used to, and that’s a pity.

Petra drives the bus.

As for those new toys–they got some dollhouse furniture (JC is making them a dollhouse, but they don’t know it yet!), and some puppets, and some books…Silas’ big hit was a Winnie the Pooh play set.

Just a fold-out map and a dozen little figures, but he’s been spending hours every day since making stories with them. His Eeyore voice is my favorite!

Petra’s was this tiara, which she kept bringing to me to put on her. It made me think that I should perhaps get her some headbands to keep the hair out of her face, since she’s totally not into barrettes.

It was in *MY* stocking!

Silas was at least as interested in checking out everyone else’s presents as in playing with his own.

What do you have?

Petra has been really into this little red rocking chair. She’s learned how to walk up to it, get herself into it, and rock back and forth. It’s such a big part of her life right now that (even though I felt kind of dumb doing it), I brought it to the cabin for her.

Rock star
Photo by Katie Smith

This was my rocking chair when I was little. Silas loved it, too, but not as much as Petra does.

Back in the day.
Silas, age 1…pretty much as big as I was at 2!

She loved the tree.


Aunt Katie made little pies for all the children. She’d better be careful, or this will become a tradition!

This pie…it’s all for me? Really?
Photo by Katie Smith
Mmmm. Pie!
Photo by Katie Smith

Someone pointed out that we haven’t had any pictures of all of us since Kassi’s wedding, two years ago. We all dressed up a bit for dinner on Saturday, and gathered around Katie’s camera with the timer. Some sweet, lovely person who doesn’t have children actually asked if we should do pictures before or after dinner. All the parents just guffawhed at that ridiculous query.

Photo by Katie Smith

Probably my favorite picture was the one we got of the kids with their grandparents. This one is definitely frame-worthy (I have nearly no framed photos in my house. Slacker!)

Marmee, Poppy, and all three little kiddies.
Photo by Katie Smith

We should have done the big group one first…by this point, the kids were kind of Done. We had to sing to keep them amused, which is why all of our mouths look silly.

Photo by Katie’s camera

I brought face paints, because Silas always cheers up when he can be someone else. This time, he said he wanted to be a witch with a star on his forehead.

Photo by Katie Smith

I’m not sure what Olivia was supposed to be. She just wanted every color on her face.

Photo by Katie Smith

Also, as if there weren’t enough sweets in the house, Silas and Olivia decided to bake cookies with Marmee. It’s not about having the sweets, I guess, so much as making the sweets. Sweet.

Wild things in the kitchen.
All together, now.

It wasn’t all sunlight and carols, of course. Petra was pretty clingy and would only rarely let anyone but me (even JC) hold her. This was disappointing for many of us.

Silas got a bit overwhelmed at having someone present all the time that he could play with, and he wasn’t particularly gracious about asking for alone time.

He also fell during some rough housing and scraped his back, causing a chain reaction of crying right at dinner time.

He asked for Shelley to put on his back to make it feel better. Aunt Konni later substituted an ice pack. More effective, less adorable.

This is going to sound sort of weird…I always think of Petra as my clone baby, down to even looking like me. But after spending several days with JC’s family, I think she looks just like them. Maybe she’s mimicking particular family expressions?

Tell me this isn’t a Kassi face.

My children are so blessed to have SIX grandparents. I’m blessed to have all the grandparents, this year, agree to space Christmas out. Last year, by the end of the three-day orgy of unwrapping, Silas was completely…undone.

Grandparent love!


Aili Written by:


  1. Phyllis P.
    December 16, 2013

    Looks like so much fun and the beginning of a new tradition!

  2. December 16, 2013

    I agree with Phyllis. It looks like a good time was had by all!

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