Merrick dinner out at Sakura Steakhouse Luck was on our side as far as snow and roads go this Christmas. We had an easy drive to Twin Falls the Wednesday night before Christmas and arrived just in time for dinner. Lucky for us, Cole and Aubrey and Connor and Whitney were available to join us and we had our semi-annual dinner out at Outback together. We couldn't believe how much little Owen had grown in just a month! From there we headed out to Murtaugh where we spent the next four nights staying at Grandma and Grandpa Steiner's. We loved seeing their new place, spending time with them and being close to Bryce, Elaine and the kids. It worked out really well!
Group cookie decorating Thursday was a work day. We/Lee had gifted to Karlette for her birthday and Christmas, Lee's time and skills on anything she wanted done on her new house. The request this trip was for Lee to help with electrical: switches, lights and outlets. It kept him busy all day Thursday and most of Saturday. BUT by the time we gathered on Christmas Eve for dinner, there had been enormous progress made! While Lee worked on the house that Thursday, I braved the beautifully cold and sunny day to go for a run, hit the grocery store and make sugar cookies for the kids to decorate the next day. I also got in a good visit with Grandma Steiner. The highlight of the day was that for the first time probably ever, ALL adult siblings and their wives, Karlette and the Steiners went out to dinner together. We went to a Japanese steakhouse where they cook your meal in front of you -- it was delicious! Beats Outback any day! We had a really nice evening out together.
Kate's big present! Friday was a family day. Zach and Rochelle drove over with the kids and we all met up in Burley for a family photo session. The last professional Merrick family photo was taken nearly seven years ago and it was time! The experience was pretty painless, the eight kiddos cooperated fairly well and we were done in 90 minutes and off to a family lunch together. At that point we had to say goodbye to Connor and Whitney who were headed off to spend Christmas with Whitney's family. But the rest of us had a great afternoon and evening celebrating Christmas a couple of days early. The kids decorated sugar cookies, Elaine cooked for the crew and we exchanged gifts. One of my favorite aspects of Christmas is the gift giving and I think the kids were all very pleased. The gift that was the most fun to give was a ticket to Kate to fly out by herself to California to visit for 3 days! She will be turning 12 in February and has yet to come out here so we thought this would become a new tradition! We can't wait for President's Day weekend when we get to spend an entire weekend with her introducing her to the Bay Area. So fun!
Gingerbread Houses! Saturday was a pretty chill day for me. Bryce made biscuits and gravy for his family and us before Lee went back to work on the house. I then hung out with the kids the entire day. Eli and I spent a few hours with his new Legos, I took the kids into town to get everything needed to make and decorate gingerbread houses and then we decorated! Cole and Aubrey joined us for the decorating of the houses and then the working crew wrapped up in time for a family dinner together. When we were with the Merrick family at Thanksgiving one of the highlights was going through the old negatives Lee had scanned. Well, in the month between visits Lee had scanned a few dozen more rolls and we went through those together. I love hearing all the stories that Cole pulls out of his elephant memory!
cUTE cORD Sunday was Christmas. We got up and went to church for an hour. As a kid Christmas on Sunday was always really hard, but I loved it this year. I loved starting the day out with a focus on the true meaning and reason of Christmas. Bryce and Elaine invited us back to their house to be with them while their family opened presents. We loved it. We then had a late breakfast and lingered a bit before packing up the pickup and saying goodbye. On our way out of town we stopped in at Cole and Aubrey's for a couple of hours and watch cute Cord in his home environment. He was super chatty and very cute. He's really at a fun age! Then around 4pm, we hit the road and made the drive to La Grande. We had a really great visit!
Pictures are here.