Roll Tide!

This one is going to be long. I’m just warning you up front.

My dad’s sister, my Aunt Kate, and her daughter Sara, along with Sara’s husband Mike, and their adorable children, Hunter (4) and Hadley (2.5) visited us for the holidays. They arrived on 12/26 and left on 1/3.

It was really an amazing visit. We don’t get to see them that often, usually every couple of years and it always feels way too short. This time, we felt like we had all the time in the world. It was really a great way to end 2010.

The day they arrived, everyone converged on my parents’ house. It was madness and chaos, all in one tiny package. Hugs, kisses, stories, laughter, getting to know the kids (who were TINY when we last saw them and don’t remember us), eating, and fun.

The kids really wanted to play out in the snow (well, obviously, that was the whole point!) and Simon was there that day, so we all got dressed in our snow clothes and went outside–sledding.

I haven’t been sledding in AGES. I honestly can’t tell you the last time. I think we did some sledding with Simon a couple years ago, but he isn’t that into it and I can’t even remember if I went, or just my mom. This time, with three kids, ages 2,3,4, sledding was so much fun. Also, Mike and Sara were out there with me and the kids and watching Mike repeatedly lift Sara and throw her into snowbanks was fun. Especially when she got stuck. Literally. It was so deep she could not move. Mike had to go back over and lift her OUT of the snowbank. I wish I had pictures of her stuck…..

We played out there for much longer than anyone expected. Sara was worried they’d only play for 5 minutes after she spent 20 getting them into snowsuits. We were out there for more than a half hour. (And it was NOT warm that day. If I remember right, the high was 15.)

We also did presents later in the day. And craziness ensued…

I helped the kids makes places for everyone…and that was the last time I think anyone knew what was happening. Paper was flying, people were asking “is this for me?”, kids were running everywhere, there was screaming, there was laughter, it was fun. I received a beautiful, wool, houndstooth scarf, to help me represent. (Alabama for those of you who have no idea what the hell I’m talking about.)

The next day, we had planned a lunch for the extended family. My uncle Ralph and Aunt Nancy were down from Perham, Judy came, and all the rest of us–and Grandma. We all met at Sgt. Pepper’s in Oakdale. I think my favorite part was that my Aunt Kate saved a chair for Zack, mistakenly believing there was a chance he’d wake up and get out in public by noon. She’s so cute!

photo

That’s our group. The only member you can’t see is Simon. He fell sound asleep at the table and his little head is in my dad’s arms. (Look close, you can see him!)

Simon actually ordered his food, then he started slumping against my mom, and the next thing they knew…out like a light. He slept on the table through the entire lunch, just like this:

photo

(I sure do love that picture!)

Monday night, I took Mike and Sara to downtown Stillwater to play Bags and hang out with their cousins. It was fun to be out and kid free. I was driving so they took full advantage.

photo

That’s them, debating Alabama football.

photo

And then one of them trying really hard NOT to look drunk….

Most of the rest time we just ate lots of food, drank tons of beer, and hung out in the garage.

Take a look.

photo

Me with the kids

photo

Junior Mint Smile

photo

Aunt Kate and “Zacky” (she calls him that so often that her grandkids refer to him as Zacky)

photo

Mike shotgunning a beer…we made him go outside and he got a kick of doing a shotgun in the snow.

photo

Hunter.

photo

Hadley

photo

Visiting my house.

photo

Hunter

photo

Hadley

photo

Michael Jordan (see the tongue?)  playing Bags with the grownups.

photo

Me and Miss Hadley. She was my little buddy during this trip.

photo

It finally snowed one night, we let the kids go out in their jammies to see actual snow falling. It kept going down Hunter’s shirt, but otherwise, they loved it!

photo

Playing Candyland with Aunt Kaye (I’m playing, too, but I had to take the picture!)

photo

We played an adult game and the kids were supposed to be napping. I got to draw on Mike’s face with makeup during the game and one of the kids saw me. That was the end of the nap as they kept asking “why is Olivia coloring on Daddy?” so when I was done, we got a picture!

photo

This picture of Hunter was taken by Simon. Hunter had just said “I don’t want you to take my picture.”

photo

Simon also took this picture of the “old” people hanging out. None of “kids” were present, which is weird.

photo

One night we took them down to Phalen to see the lights display, which was fun…but would have been more so if we weren’t in two cars!

photo

We went to Em and Chad’s so they could see their house.

photo

Hunter and Hadley sitting with their Grandma…watching Uncle John and Daddy throw bags.

***Their daddy, by the way, owes me! He promised me, in front of witnesses, that if Alabama beat Michigan State (they did) he’d get naked and roll around in the snow. Nice people we are, we even agreed to let him keep his boxers on. As of right now, he has NOT PAID.***

And, after that whole time, playing games, laughing, talking, playing more games, eating food, drinking beer, playing more games, playing with the kids, and just being together, being family, what could possibly be left to say?

photo