We celebrated Christmas Eve by staying home alone together. Steve steamed his wonderful snow crab legs outside in the portable gas burner. That keeps the cooking smell outdoors instead of doing them on the stove top in the house.
After dinner, we curled up on the couch together and watched "It's a Wonderful Life".
Christmas morning came peacefully, and our presents to each other are basically things for the house. Steve wanted a better wider shower head with a detachable flexible hose for spraying down the walls, and himself, in the shower. He had it installed in minutes.
I wanted a better vent over the kitchen stove when I am cooking. The over the stove vent on the bottom surface of our microwave is really insufficient. Steve bought the new unit that actually has to be drilled and inserted through the wall. It's not done yet but it's on our list of projects, and has already been purchased in sitting in the garage waiting for installation.
Christmas Day morning Steve's dad Paul stopped in to visit for a while. We shared a cup of coffee and some stories and enjoyed showing him our decorations on the house. Of course his dog Millie was along and she got to visit and play with Finney and Binney.
About 11 a.m. we took off together and drove down to Belgium Wisconsin with Paul. We went to Steve sister's house where some of his siblings gathered for Christmas Day dinner. We had a nice time and it was a good visit before we headed on back home. Pops still had to drive the rest of the way by himself all the way up to Sister Bay in Door County. That's a long day for a guy who is 86 years old. Got to admire him for being able to drive, take care of himself, take care of his own house and yard, and his dog Millie too.
The rest of the week went by in a blur until Saturday. That is our special weekend with all of our kids and grandkids. We load up the car to the brim with everything we need to take along to head on up, over the river and through the woods to Oconto.
It's about 80 miles from here and we celebrate with all of our kids and grandkids at our oldest daughter Erin's house. We checked into the nearby hotel first and unloaded our things into our room.
Then we start collecting grandkids!
They all get to come and swim for a couple hours in the pool while the parents get the food and presents all ready back at the house. What fun!
We have done this hotel/swimming thing the last couple years at the hotel nearby. Erin has lots of room at her house but everybody else also stays over so nobody is really drinking and driving back to their homes far away. I am usually in pretty good shape, so I drive from her house the few blocks over to the hotel.
After all of the swimming was done, all the children opened up their first present from us in our hotel room.
They all got new jammies for Christmas. (as usual)
But they surprised Steve and I by giving US jammies too!!!
Yes, these are one piece jammies, complete with a drop flap back door behind!!!! How totally hilarious. I had to wear them or they would be sorely disappointed.
Even Grandpa put his on to try them out. But he did not want to wear them out of the hotel room in public and drive us over to the daughter's house while wearing them. Chicken!
His comes complete with a little rod attached to the hood. At the end of the rod is a little piece of mistletoe and a jingle bell. What a good sport! He even approved that I could put these pictures here on the blog and also on Facebook.
With the help of our younger daughter Heather, we got all of the kids into their jammies, bundled up their wet swimsuits and other clothes, and headed over to Erin and Waylen's house.
The kids all gathered around the dining room table to have a pizza party. We toasted in the New Year with our beverages. It's so much fun to see all seven of the grandchildren around the old dining room table that I used to own many years ago.
We talked about what they got from Santa Claus, giggled over silly nonsense, and just had a fun time being together. I know we are making memories that will last a lifetime. I'm so glad that Erin opens up her house that we can all fit in and be together and make a huge mess.
We took some turns reading some of the stories, but the kids were getting anxious to go open up their presents under the tree.
Daughter Heather was able to get all seven kids lined up, facing forward, and smiling! This one is a keeper. I will print this out to put on my coffee mug photo sleeve that I change every year.
(L to R: Chelsea, Claire, Allegra, Clayton, Mason, Jameson, and Whitney)
Our daughter Erin is in charge of the family stocking collection. She has added to the stocking collection every year that someone comes along. What a haul! With that many stockings it may pull the banister right off the staircase???
Speaking of stockings, this year I knit up matching socks for the entire family. That is13 pairs, all sized for each person's foot from Dan with his large size 14 foot all the way down to little two-year-old Claire!
After all of the present opening mess was cleared away, it was time to play some games at the dining table. We started out with some card games and all the little kids were running around playing with their toys in the background.
Dogs, kids, toys, noise, and a bunch of cards. What a lot of fun!!
And of course a few beverages are imbibed as well....
The kids get to stay up as late as they can manage to prop their eyelids open.
Some don't make it.
About midnight, Steve and I slipped out the door with the dogs and headed back to the hotel. I think we should have just stayed at Erin's house after all. The hotel was very noisy, with people coming in as late as 2:30 banging and talking loudly in the hallway right outside of our door. The people above us were banging around and I swear somebody was flushing their toilet every 15 minutes all night long. The pipes came down the wall right next to the bed in our room and you could hear the swoosh and swirl each time they flushed. The bed in our room was firm and uncomfortable, we are used to a soft memory foam mattress at home.
The dogs were uneasy, listening to all of the noises that they are not used to. Finney was on guard duty and giving low warning rumbles in his chest every time he heard strange noises. He only barked once, a single bark, and we shushed him down. Someone else had a dog a few doors down that barked quite a bit. So I don't think Finnegan's single bark bothered anyone.
By 6 a.m. people were up and about around us packing up going in and out the doors with suitcases. It was a Packer Game Day and this hotel, being only 38 miles north of the Packer stadium, was full to the hilt with game day attendees. So we got up as well and decided to pack our things and check out and head back over to Erin's house.
We have started a tradition where the kids get to help make breakfast. It's a breakfast casserole called a "breakfast bake". It's a great way to make breakfast for a large group of people that is done all at the same time.
Chelsea and Clayton were the grandkids who were helping this year. They are getting so tall they can stand right at the countertop to work on things. I recall the days when they were so little they had to stand up on step stools to reach the edge of the counter to help.
It was fun to see them use their baking skills that they have learned over the years. After washing their hands, they know they can help prepare the meal. And then have to wash their hands again when they are all done. Little Clayton even gave us a lecture on how we must wash our hands! So sometimes the things we teach them actually DO stick in their little brains....
We cover the pan with tin foil and bake it in the oven for about 25 minutes then uncover it for the last 10 or so.
This year there weren't as many left at the house who wanted breakfast so we only made one pan. Our son Dan and Heather and kids had to leave early. Son in law Jesse was heading down to Green Bay to attend the Packer game. Other years we have made three pans to be sure to have enough to go around.
Here is the recipe. But take note, we don't add the milk anymore. It seems to bake better without the milk and is less runny.
The breakfast bake was delicious and the biscuits puffed up beautifully and were flakey and crunchy on top. Steve made Bloody Marys for everyone with his super duper Bloody Mary mix from Hilde's deli and bakery in Chilton.
That Bloody Mary mix is a tad bit too spicy for me.
I brought along Tom n Jerry mix. It's a thick eggnog-like batter that is added to mugs of hot water with a sprinkle of cinnamon or nutmeg on top. For the adults, you add a shot of brandy or rum. Of course for the kids, it's non-alcoholic. They loved it so much they said it was like drinking a marshmallow!
Here is our YouTube video clip of our weekend. The first part has a lot of the swimming and the rest of it is fun at the house with all of the kids and playing cards, and it finishes up with little Claire walking our dogs to the door on leashes so we can go home:
(the Packers lost the game)
Not sure what the New Year will bring for us in the way of travels yet. We first have to get past the property taxes and income taxes with our meager budget. Then we can decide what we are going to do as far as traveling somewhere in the motorhome.
We wish everyone a wonderful, healthy, and prosperous New Year!