27 December 2009

We Wish You a Merry Christmas!

Though we are having a hard time believing that Christmas actually happened, the 25th of December has come and gone and we did enjoy our share of yuletide merrymaking!

Erika's cousin Sarah and her husband Phil recently relocated to Toulon, a large city in the Provence/Cote D'Azur region. They generously opened up their home to us so we could have some family fun for Christmas.

They're home was a jolly place to spend the holiday. Sarah and Phil have two children -- Lily (4 years old) and little Zachary (14 months). Phil's parents are also here for a visit, so we had a full house!

Never a quiet moment....

Especially when the whole English speaking neighborhood stopped by for a Christmas-Eve party! Three couples and seven kids came over for drinks, appetizers, and treats. We were all treated to a sing-a-long Christmas concert, led by the older kids.

The party was also a fabulous time for ogling at all the adorable babies dressed up for the big event. Here are twins, Camille and Celeste and Sarah's son Zach. Zach was quite the ladies man that night.

So cute, right!?

Zach was proudly sporting a gift from Grandma: a white cotton button-up and a tweed blazer. The clip on tie made its debut the next day. He also discovered how fun it is to race around the house with Lily's stroller. He had the crowd enthralled the entire night!

There were so many kids around, the adults volunteered to let us keep some. Naturally, we picked out the cutest!

We've been accused by a friend of being "clucky" which apparently is an adjective used to describe women who go "awwwwwwww!!!!!" at the sight of babies or women who are feeling broody. Maybe she had a point....

Grandma's girl and Mama's boy.

Though the party started at 4, by the end of the evening we all felt like it was 2am (except for Lily who doesn't really get the whole "tired" thing). Turns out making sure 9 kids stay out of trouble for a few hours is exhausting. Huh, who knew?

What seemed like a very few hours later, Christmas morning arrived!!!! We awoke to Lily's excited chant, "DADDY! TIME TO GET UP!!! DADDY! TIME TO GET UP!!! DADDY TIME TO GET UP!!!!"

There is nothing quite like sharing this morning with little kids. Even at 7a.m., the excitement was contagious.

After a marathon present session -- highlights including an outdoors playhouse, an indoors school house, a rocking-moose, a play-dough kitchen set, and a tool bench -- we were treated to a chocolate chip pancake breakfast, courtesy of Phil.

After breakfast, we honored the established Christmas tradition of breaking in all the new toys. Sarah read on her kindle, Hannah finally figured out which direction is north thanks to the compass function on her iphone, and Lily made green beans and hamburgers out of play-dough.

Zach, in between laps around the house with the stroller, also managed to take a peak at play-dough action. Being too small must be very frustrating when you're so curious.

All dressed up for the big dinner.

The biggest Christmas treat was this first sight of the beach. Our first days in Toulon
were rainy and grey, so when the sky cleared up on Christmas, (A Real Christmas Miracle?!)
we were thrilled to explore the Mediterranean coast.

Nothing in the world can compare to the feeling of walking on a beautiful shore. There is just something so incredibly soothing about the rhythm of the waves, the slight give of the sand underfoot, the rays of sunshine, and the reflection of light off the water.

The French here in Provence seem to share our passion for the sun, sand, and the good life.
The coast is always packed with people, young and old, out relaxing, exercising,
and generally enjoying their time together.

Wouldn't you feel the same way if these were the views you were treated to every day?
This must be a key part of the reason why Mediterranean people live so long.

To all of our family and friends all over the world,
we hope you had a Joyeux Noel and Bonne Annee 2010