Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Ohio Christmas 2016

My little family headed to Cincinnati, Ohio the week between Christmas and New Year's to celebrate in the heartland with my mom, my sister, and my mom's extended family. I haven't been back to Ohio over the Christmas holiday since 2008; every year since then I've been on vacation with Victor's family (to Portugal in 2009; on cruises 2010-2012) or celebrating at home as a pregnant lady/with Max. My mom's siblings and their families always have a big extended-family Christmas celebration, complete with a fun and thoughtful white elephant gift exchange. Last year's looked like so much fun (the most coveted--and stolen--gift was 3 boxes of delicious sugary cereal, and they played Ellen's Heads Up game) that I developed some serious FOMO and decided that this year we'd definitely be in attendance.

Here are some photos and anecdotes from our trip. I lugged my fancy camera out there and then never even used it!!! I had every intention to take it to the family Christmas and then forgot it! So please bear with my iPhone photos!

I was so excited about their "big bro/little sister" outfits. Unfortunately, this was the best photo I could get of them together.

Love this beauty! Her moccasins are from Sweet N Swag. She also has a matching bow headband (not pictured).

They love spending time with Auntie Holly!

We headed to Carol Ann's Carousel downtown on Wednesday evening. Max went on his first carousel shortly after he turned 1. He was pretty scared of it then, but I figured he'd come around to it now, at 2.5 years old. I was mistaken, however; he was not a fan of the up-and-down movement of the horse he was on. He only lasted long enough to take this photo before making me get him down.

We all rode the carousel twice, and then Max and my mom went on it two more times. Max preferred the stationary car over the moving animals.

I love the Roebling Suspension Bridge, especially at night. It reminds me of beautiful bridges in London.

We headed to the Cincinnati Zoo to enjoy the Zoo Lights after the carousel. We didn't last too long as it was windy and started to rain while we were there, but Max sure did love all the colorful lights!

On Thursday afternoon, we headed to the home of our friends, Becky and Tyler (I went to college with them; go Redhawks!) so Max and their son Ryan could play together and we adults could catch up. The boys are just 3 weeks apart in age and have only seen one another a handful of times, but they get along so well together!

We left Becky and Tyler's and headed straight to my aunt's house, where my cousin had arranged a private concert of live music, performed by her friends from college, Wes and Aaron of Brother Smith. We were so excited and thought that Max would be elated to see instruments being played in such an intimate setting, but he surprised us all by being a tad grumpy and not very into the entire experience. Everyone else loved it, though. Those boys were lots of fun and incredibly talented! We enjoyed performances of some of their original songs, as well as some Christmas tunes, James Taylor, and Van Morrison covers, among others!

I ran home to my mom's to get pajamas for the kids at one point, and I grabbed Max's ukulele that my sister gave him for Christmas, thinking that it would help him come around to the whole thing. It worked a little, especially when Wes gave Max a pick to play with!

On Friday we did some errand running and lunch eating, and then we headed to my uncle's house for our big family Christmas!

Here's Louisa at lunch, in a restaurant high chair for the first time.

Louisa's fancy dress for the party, which was a tad too small for her so she didn't wear it for too long!

We completed the white elephant gift exchange after dinner and a game of trivia. There were a few steals, but overall it was pretty tame for our family. When we first started the gift exchange years ago, there was a requirement that each gift had to be hand-made, but lately the main rule is that you have to give a gift you would like to receive yourself, a.k.a. no gag-gifts! This year, I gave a coffee-themed gift, complete with a travel mug, a witty coffee mug that said "This coffee is making me awesome!", a bag of Starbucks Christmas blend, and some K-cups. I received a vintage edition of Sorry! with some vintage candy (candy cigarettes, Sugar Babies, Sugar Daddies, etc.). No complaints here!

After the exchanging of gifts, we took our group photos. Here are the original siblings, minus my Uncle Mike in Florida and my late Uncle Willie.

Here are the original siblings and their spouses/significant others (and Louisa!)

The lady-cousins wore Target Christmas pjs to the soiree:

And this is my favorite photo of my little fam:

I'm so glad we made the trip out. These memories are what life is all about! Hopefully next time I can remember to preserve these memories on the fancy camera!

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