Cherishing Christmas Memories with Family

We made our annual trip to Baton Rouge for Christmas to spend time with both families.  It is a blessing that Stuart and I have families in the same town so we only have to travel to one place and not trade off which year we go to which family.  It makes it easier for the kids to see both sets of grandparents a couple of times a year.  It's a long drive though that takes a full day on the road.  We are always delighted to cross the Mississippi River bridge though because that is the landmark that lets us know that we have finally arrived.  I'm pretty sure I take a picture from the bridge every time we go to Baton Rouge.

It was nice to spend a lot of one-on-one time with mom.  

And of course Uncle Steve!

Before we left Texas, we bought a tiny little Christmas tree and a few ornaments so we could have a tree set up in the hotel room for Christmas morning.  Even though we are away from home, we still like to have Christmas morning just for our family.  Stuart and I usually have a gift to exchange with each other and we give the children their gifts from us.  And Santa always leaves a few unwrapped gifts under the tree as well.  Yes, he even finds us in the hotel.

Then we head over to my brother's house for Christmas lunch and a gift exchange.  Steve and Nicholas played guitar together while we waited for my parents to arrive.  I love watching these two on guitar!

You can just see Stuart shaking his head as Rachel opened a slime making kit!  

But she did get some new figure skates as well.  She still loves hockey and figure skating.  I hope that she will soon choose a favorite to pursue 100% because buying gear for both sports gets expensive!

Nicholas was excited about several upgrades he got for his drone.  I was most excited for the laptop he got because he will use that a lot for school.

I don't get pictures of my family nearly enough so I'm excited to have this picture of us all together on Christmas day.

After lunch we eventually waddle our full bellies out the door and head over the Stuart's family where the kids get to spend time with their cousin Jessica.  Jessica pulled out her ukulele for Rachel and taught her a few tips.

Then there were more presents to open!  Lots of excitement!

After dinner, we all gathered in the living room to play the Saran Wrap Ball party game.  It's easy to prepare and surprisingly fun.  I bought trinket toys, playing cards, candy, lottery scratch off tickets, etc plus a roll of Saran Wrap.  I started wrapping each thing up in the Saran Wrap, one at a time.  You start with just one thing then wrap Saran Wrap all around it.  Then you add one more item to the ball and wrap it all up while making sure it is all stuck together in the Saran Wrap.   Just keep going and watch the ball grow!

To play the game:  The youngest player goes first and starts unwrapping the ball.  They get to keep anything that falls out.  In the mean time, the person to the left of them starts rolling a pair of dice as quickly as they can.  As soon as they roll doubles, the ball gets passed to them and they can start unwrapping.  To make an easy version, wrap everything without ever tearing the Saran Wrap so it is one long strip.  This makes it easier for the players to just shake it and unroll it all.  To make it more challenging and make the game take longer (which I did), tear the Saran Wrap every now and then and start a new strip.  Players now have to spend a little extra time finding the beginning of the Saran Wrap.  It seems like a silly idea but you watch the video below and see how much fun we had.  

The kids had fun on their day trip to New Orleans to go to the Insectarium!  They found a giant earthworm!

This is a picture of Rachel sticking her hand into a blind box to see what she feels inside.  I love how Nicholas looks like he is going to jump up and protect her if she gets scared but look at the excitement on her face!

A tour of the Insectarium can leave a kid hungry so they stopped by for a bite at the Bug Buffet!  Salsa with mealworms, anyone?

How about a Chocolate Chirp cookie made with crickets?  Yes, both of my kids ate bugs!

And they posed as beetles as they learned about their hard exoskeletons.

The Insectarium has a wonderful room where the butterflies will just fly over and land on you.  There are beautiful exhibits of moths and butterflies but also plenty of creepy crawly exhibits that aren't so beautiful.  There are also some non-insect exhibits like this tarantula!

The kids also spent some time together at the roller rink.  It is one of the usual activities we do when we come to town.

Look at this picture.  I love these three!

More good food and fun times with family....

This cute couple is tying the knot in a matter of months.  I'm so excited that I'm going to have a sister!

Of course, the trip wouldn't be complete without a few games of One Night Ultimate Werewolf.  It is a bit hard to explain but essentially you have to try to guess who at the table has the werewolf card and lying is encouraged.  It is a sneaky fun game and some people have figured out how to hide their "tells" by simply covering their entire face!
We had a wonderful visit in Baton Rouge and made some sweet memories with our families whom we love and miss so much.

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