We’ve been to Portland, we’ve opened gifts, Juliette has mastered the first two verses of Away in a Manger, and now I’m making my peace with the fact that it’s time to take down our increasingly droopy Christmas tree and call it a wrap.  But Christmastime 2015 sure was good while it lasted…

We headed down to Portland on Christmas Eve with a trunk full of gifts and baked goodies.  Juliette was a champ in the car – I didn’t have to resort to pulling out the candy canes until we were just a few miles from the Oregon border.

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We spent the afternoon lounging around the house, snacking and doing puzzles and testing the waters of Mitch and Kathryn’s new hot tub.

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All three girls were completely mesmerized when we turned on The Polar Express after dinner.  I told Juliette to sit back and relax, but the excitement was just too much!

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Christmas morning was a gift-opening bonanza, as the kids tore into present after present.

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And then…that magic blanket of quiet that falls over the house as the kids play with their new toys and the grown-ups pour themselves another round of coffee.

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Interrupted only by a brief-but-hilarious puppet show, courtesy of Auntie Kathryn.

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By late morning we were all ready for some fresh air, so we donned our hats and jackets and headed outdoors for a few laps around the front yard and a trip to the park.

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Juliette falls a little more in love with Elise with each visit.  “Elise, sit by me?  Elise, hold my hand?  Where Elise go?  Eliiiiiiise?”

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I made sure Morgan knew that if she ever felt the least bit left out, I was ready and willing to hug it out!

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Mitch pulled off a killer Christmas meal, complete with country ham and smoked brisket and roasted veggies.  There was much to toast to at dinner that night.

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We spent Saturday morning at Westmoreland Park, braving the cold for the sake of letting the kids get their wiggles out.

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This is my dad doing his best Mary Tyler Moore.  Nailed it.

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The afternoon was quiet – naps and Magna Tiles and books.

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And then Jules woke up!

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Shane and I decided to beat the Sunday traffic and hit the road back to Seattle Saturday night, hopeful that Juliette would snooze in the car.  And what better way to tucker out a toddler pre-drive than a living room dance party?!

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Things got crazy.

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My brother is the best.

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We said our farewells and tucked Juliette into her car seat for the long ride home.  I felt those first twinges of the post-Christmas blues while we were on the road – sad that the anticipation was over, disappointed that Shane and my poor mom had been laid up with colds for much of our time in Portland, a little nostalgic for years gone by as I reminisced about Christmases past when Elise and then Morgan and then Juliette were wee little babies.  Gosh, how time flies.

I didn’t wallow for long, though – Sunday was a perfect, cozy day at home and I reveled in seeing Juliette enjoy her gifts (those Magna Tiles are money!) and then tidying up, doing an end-of-the-year closet purge so that we start 2016 off on an organized note.

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And it turned out there was still merriment to be had!  We took Juliette to see the lights at Gene Coulon last night to put one last check mark on our list of holiday traditions.

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It was a crisp, clear gorgeous night.

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Blues, shmoos – this kid has been all joy this past week.

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And with that, I think I’m ready for the New Year.  Praise be to God for a blessed Christmas season.