This year we were lucky enough to celebrate Christmas three times. Since we are never at our own home for Christmas, Bo and I always exchange gifts and have our own Christmas with each other before we head out of town. Bo got sent out to Wyoming for work the week before Christmas, so we had our first Christmas a week early at home in Atlanta.
|enjoying her candy cane bone|
|she likes toys as big as her|
Lucky for Bo, he got to fly directly into West Palm Beach - meaning that I had to make the 9 hour drive with just me and Molly. Leslie and Paul were already home from college, so we spent most of the next day watching all of our pets play with each other - it was pretty entertaining zoo!
|Leslie's cat, Hank|
|Paul's/my parent's lab, Jessie|
|Molly's latest BFF|
Bo flew in later that afternoon and we went straight to the Yacht Club for a family dinner with the Paty's - they are basically our soulmate family. Megan was in Leslie's grade in high school and soon became my unofficial little sister, our moms became best friends and our dads are practically attached at the hip. We all had a blast together at dinner.
Friday we had a family lunch at our house, with some of our extended family branches. We played a fun game called "how are we related?" to try and figure out who each person was to the other - first cousin, second cousin, once removed, twice removed, great aunt/uncle....one way or another we are all related somehow :)
|the whole gang|
|all the second cousins|
|Me, Ashley & Leslie|
|My dad with his cousins Robbie, Marianne, and Donna, and his brother Blane (my godfather)|
Our second Christmas celebration was our traditional family gathering with my dad's side of the family. After church we all head to Grandma's house on Christmas Eve night. My dad has eight siblings so we usually have a really large crowd - this year was the smallest in my memorable life, since there were only 17 of us. After a big dinner and lots of desserts, we wait for the little ones to start demanding that we open presents (which always leads to a massive wrapping paper ball fight!). I am the second-oldest of the 18 grandchildren, so every year there are young kids who still believe in Santa which keeps the magic alive.
|my favorite siblings :)|
|mom & dad|
|Katie & Kevin|
|death glare - ready. aim. fire.|
|Grandma patiently waiting for the craziness to end|
|Grandma and the grandkids|
|Jamie finally crashed and burned on Katie's lap :)|
|my parents' enormous tree!|
Our third and final Christmas was on Christmas morning at home with my family. We still get stocking stuffers and gifts from Santa, and then open all our gifts from each other. Followed by another wrapping paper ball fight. We must have made the "nice" list this year, Santa was good to us!
My big gift this year was a DSLR camera! And a really cute camera strap from Broward Patch. I'm having so much fun with it already. (And for you camera lovers...my birthday is next month, what accessories do I have to have??)
We spent most of the day in our pajamas watching movies, playing games, eating Christmas cookies, and playing with camera settings (actually, that last one was just me...). Mom always makes a really nice dinner - this year we had a delicious rib roast.
|coozies from Santa!|
In addition to all the family members in town, we also had several friends from middle school, high school, and college to see on our trip. I forgot to get pictures with everyone since we were too busy catching up most of the time :)
|Downtown West Palm - Clematis|
|I will post pictures whether he looks normal or not...|
We managed to get some sun in between all of our friends and family gatherings. We even introduced Molly to the pool...she was not a fan. At least we didn't have to worry about her jumping in the intracoastal.
|Jessie jumped right in!|
|Bo literally had to drag her into the pool|
|get me outta here...|
|love the view from the top deck|
We broke up the drive on our way back to Atlanta by stopping in Orlando for two nights. Sarah's parents graciously let us stay with them and watched Molly all day long while we had a mini college reunion at Islands of Adventure all day! I hadn't been to this park in a long time, and am really not a big fan of roller coasters, but we were dying to go to Harry Potter World. It was a good central meeting place for those of us from West Palm, Orlando, and Tampa, and we figured the weather would be great that time of year. Well, apparently we weren't the only people with that idea. It was literally THE busiest day of the entire year at the park, as they hit capacity, stopped letting people in, and stayed open for an extra two hours. We got there around 10am, and headed straight for Harry Potter World - which they had closed off and there were separate tickets just to get in that section of the park. We picked ours up and the next entrance time was 4:20 PM. What?!
|we stared longingly from afar....|
At least it forced us to check out the rest of the park, stand in hour-long lines to ride the roller coasters, and enjoy a few beers and churros.
|we never really figured out who these characters were?|
When we finally got into HPW, it did not disappoint. It was really awesome. Surprisingly, the "Dragon Challenge" ride (the old "dueling dragons" ride) only had a 15 minute wait. Good thing too, because the new "Forbidden Journey" ride that we really wanted to go on had a two and a half hour wait - which we skipped by going in the "single rider" line thankfully. It was definitely not worth that much of a wait, but we couldn't leave without going on it. Honestly we thought it was pretty disappointing. But the actual castle and the rest of the world really were incredible.
|we made it!|
|butter beer...really good, and one was more than enough to share|
|the bar in Hog's Head|
The next morning we finally headed back to Atlanta, and got here just in time to pick up visitors from the airport. We spent the past few days with my girlfriends from college and we've been on the go non-stop ever since. Up next....New Years Eve weekend!
So much for Christmas "break" ;)