The weather this year was unseasonably warm - very similar to last Christmas. We were able to spend some time outside over the three days we were there:
|Out by the horses|
Another highlight of the weekend - for the guys- was a little target practice down by the barn. My nephew Landon placed first in the state 4H last year in air rifles, so he is accustomed to shooting guns. In addition, he and Payton went deer hunting with their dad this year. Jace has been anxiously asking for the last several months to do the same - learn how to shoot, and perhaps go hunting with them next year. Brian is in law enforcement, and has spent most of his career in SWAT before moving into more of an administrative role; so he is teaching Jace how to shoot a BB gun and air soft gun, and all about the safety components of using weapons. He brought one of his big guns to St. Clair, and let the guys all try it out - both the big guys, as well as Jace and Landon.
|Jace taking aim|
The little guys enjoyed some time outside as well, exploring in Grandpa Nick's barn and sitting up high on the tractors:
We decided to let the kids open presents on Saturday afternoon this year, rather than waiting until after family dinner on Saturday night. It was a smart move - not only did we put a halt to the questions about when we'd be opening gifts, but it also gave the kids extra time to play with all of their new tthings. And in Eva's case, it gave her more time to put on ALL of the Hello Kitty clothes that she received from her doting aunts!
The kids played with their toys most of the day, until we gathered to eat dinner that evening.
|Me & one of my many handsome BILs, Luke|
|Mom and Grandpa|
|Gathering to say grace |
(some of us more serious than others)
(Susan had to get her photo taken by Matt during dinner, since she has decided he looks just like STL Cards' pitcher, Chris Carpenter!)
We enjoyed our traditional holiday dinner, with 20+ people around the two tables, and plenty of yummy food. This year Mom decided that it was too much work to drag out all the china like she usually does. We all thought that was just fine, and enjoyed our meal just as much on the Chinet plates - plus the clean-up was much quicker. After dinner the adults enjoyed some dessert and coffee, sitting around the table and talking. On the other hand, Jace, Landon and Payton finished their meals as quickly as possible so they could hurry up and get back to playing X-box.
After dinner was finished and cleaned up, I headed to the music room to play some on the piano, and all of the little ones quickly joined me. One of our favorite things to do each holiday is gather around the piano and sing (yes, we are the Cleaver family, what of it!?) and often times Rob will get out his guitar and join me.
A little later the adults finished opening our presents, and then we all headed out to the family room to get some family pics... we have decided that my next class will have to be Photoshop, so I can figure out how to get Thomas in a photo with all the siblings, since we can't get him home with us! (Love you, Thom!)
|The Zartman boys|
It was a pretty quiet New Year's Eve, with only Susan, Ron, me, Brian and the big boys (Jace and cousins) up to ring the new year in and watch the ball drop in Times Square - although Luke and Tara headed over to go to bed about 11:45PM, and made sure we knew that they were awake when the clock struck midnight - were just climbing into bed after brushing their teeth, etc!
Looking forward to a wonderful 2012, and can't wait unitil we're all together again for Easter in a few short months!