We had a wonderful visit from Mamie and Papa Kaden. They were so gracious to make the trip to our house this year, it was a treat having them even if the visit was short. They acted as Santa's helpers shuffling presents between all the Kaden households and we were very appreciative. Peanut started off the Christmas holiday with a bang learning how to tear open her gifts. Too bad all her excitement came in the form of eating the wrapping paper rather than enjoying the actual presents. Still, she got some great gifts, including her very own electronic PDA from Mamie and Papa. She'll be a tech savvy kid in NO time! Uncle Terry and Natasha had the best present of all though, a book of nursery rhymes. Mom and Dad spent an hour going through all the old nursery rhymes. After peanut went to sleep!
After Mamie and Papa left, we all piled into the car (and I mean piled! There wasn't one iota of space left in our car as we headed out the driveway.) and headed up to Richmond for a visit with Grandma and PawPaw Cotton. It was a beautiful six day vacation being at their house. Ian was thoroughly welcoming the break from his long hours at work. There was a lot of football to watch, great food to eat and so many people to visit. On Tuesday night (12/23) we had dinner with the Walker clan (Grandma's family) of whom almost none had yet met our little Peanut. She was on center stage and had everyone's attention. It was touch and go for the first couple of hours as we fought to get her to sleep. It was, afterall, hours past her usual bedtime.
Finally, we gave up and brought her into the crowd to stay. Lo and behold, Riley just wanted to be at the party. She perked right up and babbled and smiled her way into everyone's heart. All the girls were completely enthralled.
Christmas Eve Pappy came for a visit and brought his gifts over. It had been several months since he'd seen Peanut last, so it came as a little shock just how much she'd grown!
Christmas morning Sonny and Lexi were all too eager to see what Santa brought everyone. When we told them they had to wait for Aunt Ashely, I thought there might actually be a coup. If they'd had it their way, there would have been a free for all with all those beautifully wrapped presents. As it was, we settled them into a rushed and hectic round robin of opening gifts.
Riley ran out of energy about an hour into it and had to break for a nap while everyone else enjoyed Mom McMuffins and cinnamon bread for breakfast. Sonny and Lexi were thrilled to have their cousin Riley and Uncle Ian visiting. At one point, Lexi crawled up into Ian's lap as he read her a book she'd received for Christmas. Sonny had Ian outside later on setting up targets with which to practice his new NERF gun. There were lots of kisses and hugs from Sonny to Riley. They really are great buddies. He watches out for her and she just lights up whenever he comes into the room. You'd almost think they spent every day together rather than the once a month visits.
The day after Christmas we went to visit Pappy at his house and enjoyed a table full of King crab legs with Pappy and cousin Evan. It was a nice visit, but was cut short by Riley's need for a nap. And we all know how important her naps are. Seriously, you don't want to miss one of those!
Riley came away from the whole week with a ton of presents. But none match the "My First Christmas" rattle that Sonny and Lexi made sure to give Riley. It belonged to each them first and they both wanted it to be a special gift to their cousin. Apparently, this was weeks in the planning. They are too sweet.
Riley has really enjoyed all of her gifts and we have thoroughly appreciated all of the warm wishes and time spent with family this year. Had we not received anything, it still would have been an amazing Christmas. We cherish the moments we got to spend with everyone and have come to realize how very important our family is to us. Having Riley in our lives drives home to us the value of a loving home and the support of our wonderful family and friends. It is because of them that we find ourselves so blessed and rich in love. Nothing at all compares to it.
To everyone we wish you a wonderful new year. We hope to see you all soon in 2009!
P.S. Instead of posting several pictures here, I have made an album of pictures from the holiday season. You can find it by clicking below: