Sunday, December 30, 2012

St. Louis Christmas

I have to be the first to admit that I was totally defeated by the dreaded 12 hour drive to St. Louis before we had even driven one mile. I was very worried about how my toddlers would handle that long in a car during the day. I pushed to drive overnight...with no success...I begged for plane tickets...with no success...I spoke of all the what ifs about what could go wrong and how miserable it could be...and Ben called me out on my worry before we had even sat in the car.
But, I will also be the first to admit that the drive was great. Both kids did spectacular. Even Kinley who woke up with fever and having to restrict some liquids so as not to have too frequent bathroom breaks, was such a trooper.
  IMG_3216 IMG_3223 They slept a little, I just kept feeding Ty all day long, they watched movies and we read books and before we knew it, we were there!
IMG_3226 IMG_3234 IMG_3238
The whole week was a great time of family bonding and just spending time together.
  IMG_2499 IMG_2497 IMG_2494 IMG_3246 IMG_3260 IMG_3290
I really cannot say enough how wonderful all Ben's cousins were with my kids. It's not too often that 20-something college and post college adults really, genuinely want to spend time with kids. These guys are truly exceptional. They take a real interest in Kinley and Ty and almost fight over who can get a hug, kiss, smile or laugh first.
My kids were never bored for one instant and being the only great-grandkids, I admit, I was a little worried about that too.
 They played dress up, dolls, pretend, peek-a-boo, kick the ball, solve the mystery games, painted, colored, puzzles, made jewelry, decorated jewelry boxes, you name it, with my kids. They were amazing. It was almost like a break for me. A total blessing. Such a testimony to their amazing parents and families.
IMG_3257 IMG_3240 IMG_2504 IMG_3267 IMG_3281 IMG_2491 IMG_3256 IMG_3258 IMG_3283 IMG_3286
One night we celebrated Grandma's 90th birthday, which is actually in February, because we were all together.
IMG_2442 IMG_2446 IMG_2481 IMG_2489
Kinley loved helping blow out the candles and hand out presents. Grandma's gift was an amazing bracelet that I wish I had a picture of. It has all the birthstones of her, Grandpa, their kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids.
It's beautiful.
IMG_2488 IMG_2477 IMG_2452 IMG_2475

We all went to church Christmas Eve and then took lots of family pics afterward.
IMG_2511 IMG_2514 IMG_3251 IMG_3263 IMG_3255
Love all the girls!
IMG_3282 IMG_3266 IMG_3262 IMG_3265 IMG_3253

One thing we do a LOT of in this family is play Pinochle.
There is definitely at least one game going at any moment of any day. We even played a little in Alex & Mendy's room Christmas Eve after the kids were asleep.
Alex had much more fun than he is representing in this pic.
I really could not have done the week without these guys. They were so sweet, patient, and so much help with Kinley and Ty.

Santa even came to St. Louis for Kinley and Ty in our hotel. He set up their stockings in a rolling chair outside our hotel room for when they woke up in the morning. Kinley wanted to be sure Santa didn't have a "card" (i.e. keycard) to get in our room.
That would have been a little scary.
IMG_3270 IMG_2517 IMG_2526 IMG_2519 IMG_2529 Unfortunately, we ended up in the hotel room Christmas night because Kinley was screaming with an ear infection. Thank goodness the family is filled with doctors and nurses who could help her feel better.
The trip home was just as smooth and we cannot wait to see all the extended Lamke family again soon.
Thank you all for all your love, support, and patience while we were with you.
We love you to pieces.

A little more Christmas

This is a little late but, I had to document a few more Christmas events before we close out December.
  One of my favorite things this month was getting to go to Kinley's class Christmas party at school.
I always love seeing her in her school environment and around her teachers and friends. IMG_2398 IMG_2397
For teacher gifts this year, we ended up just grabbing some snowmen mugs and hot chocolate and for all her friends we did Christmas colored gumballs and candy canes. IMG_3162 IMG_2404 The party was mainly just decorating gingerbread houses and eating cookies. It was fun to sit with her and her friends and see their creativity and interaction. IMG_2401 IMG_2402 IMG_2405 IMG_2407 IMG_2408 IMG_3168

Skip forward a couple days....we had to write a letter to Santa to ask him to come a little early before we left town for St. Louis.
So, thankfully, he heeded our request and a few days before Christmas we had our very own Christmas morning.
We woke the kids up super early because Ben had to go to work that day and wanted to be part of it. Ty was a little groggy but Kinley jumped out of bed right away. IMG_3171 Kinley's big gift was a new dollhouse and Ty got a small, camo motorized car. IMG_2413 IMG_2415 Both were a hit! IMG_2418 IMG_2433 IMG_2423 One of Kinley's other gifts was a new robe. She immediately stripped down and put it on and started playing with her dollhouse.
IMG_2428 IMG_3177
It was a long morning but, one I will not ever forget. It was so much fun seeing them excited for each other.
 Santa even left them a note that Kinley talked about over and over. IMG_2439 They ended the morning watching Ty's new Praise Baby DVD. IMG_2436 The perfect start to CHRISTmas.