I am not really a fan of driving long distances but J is a pro at it and since we figured we'd need a car to get around while there, driving was the best option for us. The trip was supposed to take a little under 5-hours but due to traffic, rainy weather and a stop, it took us almost exactly 6-hours. Not too bad huh?
We were so happy to see EVERYONE! Here's a picture of my sister with my niece (from my brother) and JOE. JOE was tired but she was so happy to see everyone and played so much! She is going through withdrawals even as I type :-).
Here I am. Tired from the drive but happy to be there.
'Twas the night before Christmas. The presents were all wrapped and placed around the tree. This was just for the 7-grandkids. The adults didn't exchange gifts this year.
Early the next morning, here is JOE drinking her milk and watching the iPAD. Her favorite passtime activity.
Why was my daughter up early at the crack of dawn looking out the window and say "hellooooo...I see you!!!" My brother lives in a new development and apparently, the workers were coming in to work on some of the unfinished homes.
The next morning before the chaos ensued...
My absolutely gorgeous diva niece. LOVE her!!!
And let the unwrapping begin.
The adults sat around or helped the kids while presents were distributed and put together.
Then it was time for FOOD FOOD FOOD!!! My sister in law really went all out. She made 2 types of quiche and a DELICIOUS bread pudding. To say we were STUFFED would be an understatement.
And here is the newest couple amongst us. My sister and her hubby who came all the way from the Netherlands. They are so cute together!
And another member of our family. Sparky! He is such a good dog and everyone quickly took to him. Even JOE enjoyed telling him "Sparky, NO!" or "Sparky, stop!" or "Sparky sit!" Maybe one day in the future, we will get a hypoallergenic dog. This momma has allergies and even this dog who is hypoallergenic still had my nose itchy. Oy!
And here are the cousins doing God knows what?
One of the best things about spending time with my family was watching how my youngest niece and my daughter just loved hanging out with my dad. They couldn't get enough of "grandpa". He barely had any breathing room because they wanted to be around him ALL THE TIME!
How cute is this girl? My youngest niece. Love love love her!
And the matriarch of the family...my mom. She really enjoyed having her kids and grandkids around.
And here is my brother from another mother (my brother in law). He's been a member of our family for over 15-years! And he is the dad to 3 of my awesome nieces/nephew.
Not even sure of what JOE is doing here. But clearly, it was fun for her.
My parents and their youngest grandchild.
2 of my 3 sisters. Love them!!!
My dad and the diva. She really is a diva but the cutest one!
Me and my sister taking pictures on Christmas morning.
My youngest brother (front), my older brother (behind him) and my dad. The kids all had a fabulous time with my youngest brother. He loves his nieces and nephews and was very attentive.
And there she is. America's next top model.
Sisters and my dad.
From the left, my gorgeous niece, my awesome sister in law, my beautiful mom and my gorgeous sister.
And my other sister...I love this picture of her.
My nephew was always so busy, it was hard to capture a picture of him. He really is one cool kid.
The day after Christmas, here are the cousins "racing".
Yup. Our own biker chic.
My niece really bonded with Sparky.
My nephew. Told you how cool he is :-).
My nephews. They were always playing one game or another. Kids...
The festivities were over and it was time for dinner. Another delicious meal by my sister in law, my sister and their neighbor.
The day after, JOE was clearly in a mood.
But she quickly recovered and played nice.
Before folks started leaving, we decided to take family pictures. I love that we were all able to fit this in. We are definitely The United Nations! :-). I love diversity...tis the spice of life afterall.
Don't let JOE's reaction fool you. She LOVES her cousin and she walked over there to sit with him.
And what better way to end this post than with my favorite picture to date. I love this group and am VERY THANKFUL to God for the blessings of family. These people truly have my heart.