I’m having a hard time believing that Christmas has come and gone – I’m resisting Shane’s request that we take down the tree and I still have the Charlie Brown Christmas album on repeat.  I’m so thankful for the time with family and friends, for the special holiday moments we shared with Juliette.

We headed down to Portland on Saturday, just in time to wish Morgan a happy third birthday.  This sweet girl was a little overwhelmed by all the attention lavished upon her – she bashfully smiled as we belted out “Happy Birthday”, not entirely sure what to make of the singing and the candles and the cameras.

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But all sense of reserve was lost once she was told she could dig into her cupcake!  Was it really just three years ago that I was holding a newborn Morgan in my arms?  She’s such a strong-willed, fun-loving little person now.

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Since my parents, Shane and I would be heading home on Christmas Eve, we opened gifts on Sunday morning.  Morgan and Elise excitedly tore into their pile of presents, while Juliette needed a little help from dad.  The sound of wrapping paper being torn was her favorite part of the whole ordeal – next year, I’m giving her a bunch of wrapped empty boxes!

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Shane, on the other hand, understands the joy of a perfect gift – check out that whiskey grin!

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The rest of Sunday was wonderfully low-key – we ate, we painted, we played Candyland, we napped, and as the day drew to a close, we cracked open Shane’s Christmas gift.

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We set out for Alberta Street on Monday to show Jules one of our favorite Portland neighborhoods.  First stop: coffee at Barista!

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Kathryn bought Mitch a ukelele from his favorite music store for Christmas, and Shane gave it a little test drive out on the sidewalk, serenading Juliette as she dozed in her stroller.

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Shane, Kathryn, and I grabbed delicious Indian food from Bollywood Theatre for lunch.  Morgan and Elise were not so interested in samosas or dal or pork vindaloo, but they were quick to take us up on an offer of ice cream from Salt and Straw next door.

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We capped off the day with a special pizza dinner to celebrate my mom and dad’s 43rd (!) wedding anniversary.  I loved being in a house full of family, crowding around the table at mealtimes, watching Morgan and Elise dote on their new cousin.  There were times when the hub-bub was loud and crazy and tiring (you can see below that it tuckered Jules out), but the hub-bub was also full of joy and great care for one another.  There was never any shortage of volunteers to hold the baby or clean up the kitchen or read a book to the kids.

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My parents left early the next morning for La Pine, and Shane, Jules, and I strategically hit the road at morning naptime.  But first, the requisite photo of cousins on the couch:

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Christmas day was quiet – we lounged around in our PJs, did some cooking, and opened our gifts from Shane’s family.  Jules can’t believe how well she made out:

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It seems impossible that a year ago, this little girl was the size of a poppyseed, making a home for herself in my belly unbeknownst to Shane and I.  Best gift ever.

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The Rust clan flew in from their week in Colorado on Christmas afternoon, so Shane, Juliette, and I headed over to their place that evening, bearing ham and mashed potatoes and apple pie.  It was a treat to share Christmas dinner with our Seattle family, to be back in the midst of hub-bub after such a mellow day at home.

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And with that, a holly, jolly Christmas 2013 is in the books!