christmas in the north country!

For Christmas, my sister and I, and our families, headed east to our hometown to celebrate together with our parents in our childhood home. The opportunity to do that hasn't arisen many times in our adult life, and we're not sure if it will happen again, so we were extremely excited to make it happen this year. (So excited, in fact, that we got t-shirts! Well, Dan did. Thanks, Dan!)

My parents were the most gracious hosts; welcoming our chaos into their house with open arms, and providing abundant food, drinks, and hot tub access. It's always good to be home, and it is extra special to take my kids back to where I come from. The special place that shaped who I am. That's what home is, right?

^^the day after we arrived, my mom surprised alison and i with massages. i've said many times that i'm not that into massages, but i really need to stop saying that, because it's just not true. it was such a nice treat, and it was even more delightful to experience it on a rural sheep farm.^^

^^our first day home, we decorated the tree. with our family tradition of spinach balls. the one time my kids will eat spinach.^^

^^cam awoke from his nap on christmas eve to find us decorating cookies. he wasted no time jumping in on decorating too. errr, eating his fair share!^^

^^this was the best we could do for a sibling picture. she's tickling him to make him smile...i think?^^

^^christmas eve dinner. fish and spicy noodles.^^

^^this year we enjoyed my brother-in-law's family tradition of rice pudding with a hidden almond in one bowl. the "winner" with the almond got a prize. and it was me! chocolate truffles galore. thanks, jakob!^^

^^excited littles on christmas eve!^^

^^christmas morning! both santa and my family were kindly generous, but not overly so. i worry about the kids getting "spoiled" with gifts, and i really appreciated the thoughtful gifts they received this year. a beautiful sweater knit by my mom, a light bright from auntie al and uncle jakob, a SLU sweatshirt, a "frozen" microphone, a miniature mermaid, a blue truck...^^

^^two sisters on a christmas day walk with our dad and dog. in the freezing cold.^^

^^family shot! we tried.^^

^^my dear friend cat and her husband sean made the trip down from ottawa to visit and meet the kids. cat lives in south africa, so i don't get to see her as often as i would like (although i was lucky enough to see her another time, earlier this year!). it was so fun to visit and watch her and sean play with the kids. they were delighted to meet them and willa thought it was super cool to see where south africa was on a map.^^

^^a trip home is not complete without a stop at the bagelry, in the center of town. the original bagelry was founded in 1982, just before my parents moved to northern new york (and i was born!) and their delicious bagels were a mainstay of our childhood. the canton location came and went over the years, but newest location opened a few years ago with newfound trendiness. cam approved.^^ 

^^the kids were obsessed with going in my mom's hot tub. i told willa she could go in anytime she wanted as long as an adult was willing to join her. she succeeded at getting herself in there at least twice a day.^^

^^we knew traveling to northern new york at the holidays would be exhausting. we flew in and out of montréal, and on the way home a snow storm got us. our 1.5 hour light to newark ended up being over 4 hours, and by the time we boarded our 4.5 hour flight from newark to denver i wasn't sure how we were going to make it. thankfully, both kids fell asleep during take-off, and the rest of the flight was smooth sailing. it was totally worth it for the fantastic week we had.^^