In case you weren’t keeping track (how dare you), it has been nearly five years since I’d last seen my family.
My side of the family are the worst travelers, and between regular life activities and so forth, we’d only made our way back to California once since we moved and they hadn’t yet come out to the Great State (kidding, California is the great state, but I know how much Texans love Texas). We honestly might win the award for Worst at Keeping in Touch, but we love each other all the same!
So, in honor of the fact our fourth nephew was born this year (their first, and the first on my side, though we are aunt and uncle to a total of six now!), we conned them into finally visiting for five days in early December. Being that this year is William’s first Thanksgiving and Christmas, we decided to do a “Faux Christmas” in the middle of the two so that he could spend the actual events with her hubby’s family. I also got to meet my dad’s girlfriend, Vicky, who was such a sweetie pie. Considering my dad has not had much past a date in the seventeen years between when my mother passed away and he met Vicky, it was sort of A Big Deal.
We mostly stayed local and just enjoyed each others’ company, though we did have a BBQ with some of our most favorite people (who just so happen to all also be neighbors), and my dad decided he had so much fun that he couldn’t fathom letting it go another five years. My dad fears travel, ya’ll. FEARS it. So that comment alone made me giddy! Everyone came over with their little ones – ranging from 8 months to 13 years, with the largest chunk in the 2-5 group – and we had a blast. Sean even looked a little gooey at all the family gathering goodness of it all.
We also decided to check out the Gaylord Texan ICE event. They fly in 40 ice sculptors from China, who then carve two million pounds of ice into a holiday theme each year. Narrowed down? You pay too much money, are given a GIANT parka, and are hustled along a pathway too narrow to take decent photos while viewing all the sculptures that are kept at a sweet nine degree temperature. Actually, it was pretty cute and the hotel itself offered tons of picture opportunities and holiday-themed things for kids who were older than William, and it would have helped if anyone in my family had actually seen Madagascar (this year’s theme). Oops. Maybe next year. Yet I could see going down there just to view all the lights and decor annually once we’ve got little ones of our own. Hello, baby fever!
William and me playing Patty Cake or Little Bunny Foo-Foo for the 900th time:
William learning that if you share with one dog, you’ll get stuck sharing with the rest:
Lookin’ sweet in our loan parkas – Sean’s so excited about the nine degree temperature
that he gave himself several chins:
Marty! I didn’t know that, but there was a well-informed toddler in front of me who helped out:
Gloria, Alex, and Melman (thanks again, random toddler!):
Look, some other ice-versions of characters I don’t know:
The Gorton’s Fisherman was there. Oh, no, that’s just my dad (and his super sweet girlfriend, Vicky):
My sister and a conked out William. He fell asleep in one outfit and woke up wearing a new one (with a hat) —
surrounded by giant zoo characters. Didn’t phase him at all.
Bailey quickly realized that he could reach the high chair – and that William was easily swayed into handing him food (he’s now totally on board with this baby concept):