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After hiking and before we drove into the town, we stopped at Two Jack Lake to ice skate. (Maeve stayed in the warm car with grandparents!) My girls were in heaven! They love ice skating, they love their cousins. It was a win-win scenario! And even though it was icy cold and very windy there was absolutely no complaining from my happy kiddos. It was such a great day!

When my Mom was a little girl and playing hooky from school with her Mom, she remembers coming here. Her big Bernese-Border Collie dog, Popsy and her were playing on the ice. Popsy would pounce on the places she heard bubbles and then my Mom would jump on the ice. Well, one time the ice broke and she fell in. She only got wet up to the hip on one leg fortunately (Popsy got out of there quick and didn't help). My Granny warmed Mom up by the fire, but then they had to head into town to warm up in the hot springs. My Mom says she remembers wearing my Granny's rubber boots, which were huge on her, as she walked into the hot springs. 

Isnt' it fun to have shared experiences? But I'm so glad the ice was super thick for us!

This was a really fun day planned by the Larsens! We drove out the Banff, all the Muirheads that were in town, and we hiked around Minnewonka Lake. I always want to make a stop at Banff when we are in Alberta, but it doesn't always pan out. It was very cold and very windy, and so beautiful! So long as we were moving, we stayed warm. When we stopped for lunch everyone got pretty dang cold. Poor Maeve, her hands got really cold. She cried a lot towards the end of the hike, but I'm so grateful she hung in there and I'm so glad we got to do this! Definitely want to do more of this. My big girls hike so well with cousins. They don't complain at all!

We spent Christmas day with Catherine and Jim, Conor's parents. Man, I love my kids! They are so good and grateful and it's so fun to spend Christmas with them. I love watching them exchange gifts with each other. They get so excited to pick something out and even more excited when it's time for their sister to open the gift. It was so sweet and so pure. I love being able to take my time on Christmas morning and let the kids enjoy everything and that's exactly what we got! It was extra special to share the time with Catherine and Jim. It's a huge blessing to have two sets of Grandparents who love my kids!

On Boxing Day, we did a big Christmas celebration with Conor's sisters and their families too. The last picture is of Maeve in her fleece pajamas that Nana made for her. Maeve picked up the phrase, "open it," over Christmas and was very eager to help pass out presents and assist her family members in opening them. She'll take care of it for you! She caught on pretty quick that the bow and the tag are the first things to get removed. So then she was pulling those off before she passed them to the recipient. It's so fun to have a little one around!

We couldn't have had a better Christmas Eve! We spent the day and evening at my parents' house with my sisters. My Mom is the best at keeping things simple and easy and not stressful. It's so lovely! Mom bought a bunch of presents so that we could play white elephant and she wrapped up a gift for pass the parcel. The kids had so much fun and some hearts were laid on the line during the white elephant game! But I think at the very least, the kids all left with something they would enjoy! 

I think the cherry on top was listening to my Dad read, "Twas The Night Before Christmas," which he read to us every Christmas Eve when I was a kid. Five of the seven grandchildren (we missed you Hudson and Quinn!) were piled on the couch around him and it was the sweetest sight. So many times over Christmas, I experienced pure joy and this was one of those times!

This was a pretty special thing that we participated in over Christmas. Conor's sisters had a great idea to surprise Conor's parents with a nativity performed by the cousins. My mother-in-law has collected a lot of costumes over the years. Liz borrowed them in advance and the surprise worked! Holly was thrilled to be Mary and Greta was an angel with her cousin, Cora. In the dress rehearsal, Maeve was baby Jesus, but wouldn't do it in the final performance. It was so fun and so special to see the nativity acted out by these sweet children. This was one of my Christmas wishes, but I wasn't comfortable organizing it myself. We had a lovely time all together afterwards. 

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