La Grande had a very white Christmas this year! We arrived Christmas evening which happened to be one of just two days in a seven day period that the roads into La Grande were open. Again, we were fortunate! We drove straight to Lani and Kyle's to drop off the workbench Lee gave to Kyle. I was a little sad to see it go. Lee made it in high school but with Lee's plan for the garage it no longer fit. Fortunately Kyle was interested in becoming the new owner and it still has a home within the family. The Pfaffs had just gotten back from two weeks in Ohio and Jackers was really confused to see us walk in. We didn't stay long as they had had a very long and miserable travel day, but long enough to make ski plans for the next day! We then had a lovely and low-key evening with mom and dad before turning in.
Ski Day! Patrick had the entire week off between Christmas and New Year's and they drove over on the 26th. So while they drove, Lani, Kyle, Dad and I went skiing up at Anthony Lakes. Lee was beat and opted to stay home. He and Amma had some quality time with Jackers and Gus. I hadn't been up to Anthony since high school and it really hasn't change that much in 25 years. It's still a one chair resort and super laid back. The snow was great though and we had a great time getting out and about. Once you're 70 you ski for free so it's my dad's new favorite way to spend time in the winter and he took advantage of a ski day with Kyle to get some tips. I did too! It was an absolutely beautiful (although FREEZING cold) day. Dead and Alive Tahoe doesn't have anything on Anthony! We got home around 4:30pm and weren't home long before the Archie family arrived. Too many months had past since we had all last been together and I really got a kick out of watching Jack and Owen interact with each other. They invented a new game called "dead and alive" where they lie on the ground tangled up in each other (being dead) and then just pop up again and then they are alive. They alternated between this game and the game of "I'm going to get you" where I chased Owen, Jack, Stella and Gus through the house. I was always grateful when it was time for "dead and alive" so I could take a break. :)
The toolbench was a hit all around! During our week in La Grande we had some killer snow days. It's been a long time since we've been in that much snow and had it snow for that many days in a row. It was actually kind of awesome. On Tuesday, December 27 we had Christmas #2. We had to approach it a little differently given nap times, two houses and varied interest among the kids. Owen proudly announced that he and Stella "are really into presents rights now" and thoroughly enjoyed opening every present with his name on it. His enthusiasm was really cute. Jack, on the other hand, was very interested in enjoying each of his presents and couldn't be bothered to open another presents when he was so happily enjoying the one he just opened. That too was very cute. Owen really didn't know how to handle that though. He sweetly asked Jack multiple times, "do you want to open this present"? "Why don't you want to open your presents Jack?" It was pretty adorable. All told the gifts were a hit. Jack is obsessed with timers that count down right now and Abbie's gifts of a stop watch and a timer were all Jack needed. But throughout the day we peppered in the other gifts and he loved his barista set and his tool bench. Actually, all the kids loved the tool bench. They were all so much fun to watch.
Making Star Wars Cookies! Later that afternoon all the kids went down for naps and Lee and I went over to Lani and Kyle's to babysit so they could go out for a quick ski. Both Gus and Jack took killer naps, even longer than Owen's (which is a first). And I had promised Owen that we would make his Star Wars sugar cookies that afternoon. When Owen woke up and I wasn't there, he called me and expressed just how much he wanted to make cookies. The cutest comment was when he said "I just don't understand why you're not here." He is such my little buddy.
Our Christmas Stockings!! After everyone woke up we put Owen and Jack on skis out in the snow-filled street. Jack's got some natural skills and it was Owen's first time! They both did great. And little Gussy just can't get enough of the snow. He loves everything about it. He was a treat to spend time with this week. He's really developed his personality and has gotten to be quite chatty with new words every day. Such a cutie! It finally got too cold and dark for the kids and we all headed back over to my parents house. We ate, the kids took baths and then we eventually had the adult Christmas. I just love Christmas at home, with my family and all the traditions. It's one of my favorite days (whether it's Dec 25 or a week on either side) of the year. These opportunities are rare going forward, so I will cherish them when they come around.
Wednesday was a chill day around the house. The kids played with their new toys, Owen and I made Star Wars sugar cookies, Lee and Jack and Owen made volcanoes, and they got back out on the street slopes. I would probably feel differently if I lived where it snowed everyday, but I really enjoyed the cold and the snow this trip. Especially the sunny days. We even managed to take the whole crew (Patrick, Stella, Gus and Amma stayed home) to the slopes on the Thursday. Owen and Jack tried out their skis and the magic carpet and when they had had enough, Kyle, Dad and the little boys headed home and Lee and us Kalemba sisters got an afternoon ski in. I don't know the last time that has happened. It really was perfect! I found myself being a bit surprised (and a little proud of myself) that for the first time since Owen and Jack entered my life, I actually didn't spend every one of their waking minutes with them. I certainly missed them but it was fun for us to get out and do some grown up things .
Seriously Cute Gus! Friday was our last day with the Archies. We did a little hokey-pokey, Owen and I made "snow-dogs" that Owen named Snowy and Real Bill, decorated sugar cookies , and even squeezed in a trip to the pool. It was Gussy's first time and he loved it. That boy doesn't seem to be afraid of anything! We were sorry to see the day come to an end. We had such a great few days together. The kids are at a really fun age and it's hard to think about them growing up. I'm grateful we got the time together. We said goodbye to the Montana crew Saturday morning and I spent the day up at Lani's house hanging out with the boys. Jack's favorite past time was playing "red to yellow". We would stand in his dark bedroom with the spinning, musical star lights playing and wait the three minutes for his clock to countdown. When it hit 0 seconds the clock face changed from red to yellow and we would then have a jumping party shouting "yah, yah, yah, yah, yah". Even Gussy loved it. Saturday was also New Year's Eve, but we were all so beat that we didn't even make it until midnight.
Hokey Pokey! Our original plan was to drive to Boise on New Year's Day and spend a couple of nights with Lee's sister and her family. Unfortunately, the weather forecast thwarted those plans and in the end we ended up staying an extra day in La Grande and then going the LONG way home on Monday. But, but our staying Sunday we were able to attend church at my home ward and I was able to get in a visit with one of my best friends from high school. And as always, it was hard to depart on Monday. It was such an awesome week! In addition to quality family time, the other perk of coming to La Grande was how well we ate! There may not be any amazing restaurants but Monk's kitchen is pretty impressive. Dad made us amazing food throughout the week (we had a killer turkey dinner, pomegranate lamb, garlic and spinach breakfast tart...) and Abbie and Patrick spoiled us with some pretty amazing tapas. I needed to have done far more running than I did during our two weeks away from home!
Great week. Lots of pictures here.