The boys and I drove to Missouri on New Year’s day. We met Mike at his dad’s house as he had flown to Minnesota for a wedding on New Year’s Eve. Again, our travels were smooth and we enjoyed some audiobooks (Matilda and the second book in the Wilderking Series that we loved so much). We loved spending time with Grandpa Russ (and his two dogs) for a few days before heading home. Some highlights included shooting BB guns for the first time, taking the dogs on recons with Grandpa Russ and playing lots of games. The boys also started their January challenge of reading out loud every day for 10 minutes – it’s been a huge success and lots of fun!
We loved our annual tour of the Midwest. It was wonderful to spend time with our family and friends. What a gift to vacation/mostly-vacation for 20 days over the holidays! Hopefully it’s not something we take for granted!! Thanks for celebrating with us, all you Midwesterners. =)
We had lots of fun in Wisconsin. One day we painted pottery all together. Another day was spent mostly opening gifts and playing games. I think the pictures tell the tale better than I ever can, so I’ll just go with those:
There was a whole lotta books and pajamas happening:
We were back in Wisconsin for Christmas Eve. That night we pretended to be shepherds on the night that the angels came to tell them about the birth of Jesus. We had a bonfire, roasted hotdogs/brats and ate meats, cheeses and figs. Then we made s’mores! =). It was so much fun to imagine what that night might have been like.
The rest of that week was quite relaxing. At first it was just the Cleve Crew and my parents, but by the following weekend, my siblings and their families were back in town. We enjoyed “Narnia” at their church, ate lots of yummy food, and played lots of games.
Mike and I snuck away for our annual date with Cass and Adam, but we didn’t get a picture that evening. The following day we got everyone together at the botanical gardens (that might not be the right name…) in Milwaukee. Between the two of us, we snagged way too many cute pictures of Ethan and Hana together. Their friendship is especially sweet! It was great to be with them again!
I’m going to have to split this post into two. There are just too many cute pictures. Next up – my siblings and their families are back in town!
The next stop on our tour was Michigan, where we met up with the extended family (even from as far away as New Zealand!). This was our first year staying at cabins on Lake Michigan and I think we all loved it! It was wonderful to see everyone and spend time hiking, eating, playing games and opening gifts together. Lots of fun memories were made, as usual.
My Dad took some lovely family portraits:
Hiking the sand dunes by Lake Michigan:
General Michigan merriment:
Photo cred for all of the nicest shots goes to my Dad, as usual. =)
The boys and I spent a couple days in Wisconsin before heading to the next destination of Michigan for the extended family gathering. We enjoyed lots of time with family – baking, building block creations, teaching drawing lessons, building creations out of wood, bird-watching, reading books, playing piano…and probably plenty of other things that we didn’t capture in pictures. =)
Also, Micah really enjoyed feeding Salina her bottle and did so at most opportunities. They have a special connection. After we left, Jennie told me that Salina was looking at her book with family pictures in it and she saw Micah’s picture and kissed it!
Among the very top of our highlights was meeting Eddie for the first time!
We drove to Minnesota in two days, stopping over night in Nebraska. You know it’s not a road trip without mentioning our audiobooks! We enjoyed listening to “The Last Battle” all together on that drive and also finished a Magic Tree House book. We started a fantastic series called, “The Wilderking Series” – in fact, it was probably my favorite read of the year!
The boys and I spent only a couple days there before continuing on to Wisconsin and then to Michigan on our own. Mike stayed in Minnesota for work until Friday when he met us in Michigan. We spent our time exploring the “tubes”, coloring at Mike’s office, playing games and working out at the hotel.
We did our family gift exchange a night or two before heading out on our Midwestern tour. And, honestly, the giving was so much better than the receiving for our crew this year. It was lovely to see the generosity of the boys – they both made and bought gifts for everyone in the family with mostly their own money. I had always heard about others doing this and that the kids enjoyed watching people open their gifts, but this was the first year it felt really, really true for our own family. They enjoyed opening their gifts, but I think they were more excited about watching each person open the gift they had purchased and picked.
Ethan bought me a necklace and charm (from my sister’s company), a Colorado shirt for Mike (from the Global Bazaar) and a heart for Micah (from my sister’s company).
Micah got me soap (from the Global Bazaar), a couple used books and coupons for Mike, and various crafts/pictures for Ethan.
We got the boys each a game, a yo-yo, and some art supplies. Later, we gave them each a book and book pajamas (more on that in another post).
That evening we also had some time to Skype with Grandma Cleve and Great Granny A. The boys gave them a little show, too! =)