I knew as I typed it into our Christmas card letter that we probably wouldn't be well rested after time with family, but I hoped for the best while I prepped for the worst. If you want the skinny version, here's how our Christmases went by the numerical breakdown:

Number of flight legs: 4 (DSM-->DEN; DEN-->SLC; SNA-->DEN; DEN-->DSM)

Number of children 3yrs old and under for the 10 hour roadtrip from Salt Lake City to SoCal: 3

Number of times we dined at In N' Out: just 1 :(

Number of children who puked sometime within our 4 days in California: 3 (2 gagged on food, one had a tummy ache)

Number of children who can fit in Santa's lap: 2

Number of children that can fit in my parents'


kitchen sink: 3

Number of naps I thought I'd get: countless

Number of naps I actually got: 2

Number of great grandchildren present: 5

Number of the 6C's (the club we used to call ourselves when all 6 girl cousins were together) present: 3

Number of in depth conversations I got with my sister amongst the chaos of children: 1

Number of uninterrupted conversations I got with my mom amongst the chaos of children and meal prep: 1

Years it'd been since I was home on Christmas day: 7

(Christmas morning-12:30am we arrived from Salt Lake roadtrip!)

Number of meals eaten outside: at least 2 (#nofilter)

Number of birthdays celebrated: 1

Number of gifts the resident 3year old opened: countless-she really helped everyone :)

Number of days I was sick out of the 4 days we were there: 4

Number of sweet moments: countless

Number of Monopoly games started: 2

Number of Monopoly games finished: 1 (first time I've ever won!)

Number of new people Laidy met: 23 (not counting all the charming she did to strangers in airports)

Number of hours in the car: 16 (Salt Lake to SoCal and roundtrip to the QC)

Number of days we got as just our family of 3: 2 (including our bonus


cold day!)


December 22nd, we flew from Des Moines to Salt Lake City and stayed with my sister, Katie for a few days. We watched her two kiddos while she was at work the 23rd and half the day the 24th, then loaded up the "Black Beastie" suburban and trucked to SoCal, arriving just after midnight Christmas morning. Taking care of 3 kiddos 3yrs and under makes taking care of just one seem like a breeze! We did Christmas breakfast, photos, and presents throughout the day. The 26th, Gerard was on hand to help my dad with a pretty hefty project, so I was on kiddo duty while Katie rested also. The 27th, my cousin and her family came down to see everyone and have photos taken with Grandma Mardette in Christmas pj's (the photo of 5 great grand kids above). They stayed through the 28th as well, while Katie's kids got hair cuts and then my mom treated us to pedicures. :) We packed up and headed back to Des Moines the 29th.

We arrived home 4:30pm on the 29th and repacked a few things so that within 90 minutes of being home, we were back on the road to the Quad Cities to see Gerard's family. We surprised them by coming a night sooner than originally planned  (go hard or go home right?). We visited with Gerard's Aunt, Uncle and cousins the next morning and on the 31st, we got together with Gerard's step siblings and their families too (the last photo above). I believe the adult-to-child ratio was 1:1 in that room and it was like each kiddo took their turn with a diaper change (if they weren't already potty trained) or a feeding within the 2 hours we were there. We had planned to return home the 1st, but were snowed in by 5 inches and unsafe road conditions. So, finally, we headed home the 2nd and Gerard went to school to prep for his two days of show choir rehearsal the 3rd and 4th.

Again, whew! Thank God for an extra, unexpected, day off!