For a while now, we have been celebrating Christmas early in December with my family. My younger brother lives up in New Jersey and we find that's easier for him (especially now that he has a daughter) to travel during non-holiday weekends, and plus it allows him to spend the holidays with his wife's family, who live near them.
This year it happened really early- the very first weekend of December, which meant that only a week after Thanksgiving, Christmas was happening. This caused a little bit of panic in me since everyone was coming to my house this year (we did it at my parent's house last year), and I had a week to get our tree up, clean the house, and make some Christmas cookies before their arrival. Greg got crazy with house projects too- like working on our kitchen grout, installing under cabinet lighting, putting a child proof thingie on our chemical cabinet (my niece is now mobile), and putting the icicle lights on the front porch. It all ended up going off with out a hitch though, and the visit was really fun.
The other good news was that we are way more equipped than ever before to host guests with a baby. My niece, Avery, was able to sleep in our crib, use our crib, our convertible car seat (Greg's sister gave us one), toys that we have, our stroller, and all sorts of baby stuff.
Everyone arrived in Charlotte around lunchtime on Friday. After briefly regrouping at the house, we decided to head to lunch. Our weekend plan was to have lunches out and dinners at the house because it worked better with Avery's schedule. Greg and I had recently tried out a restaurant that I actually heard about via Twitter. It's called Local Dish. I actually didn't take any pictures on this visit, because I was too busy chatting it up with my family, but last time we got the pimento cheese fondue, which was amazing, so we had to get an order for the table this time too.
Like many Southerners (in our case transplanted Southerners), we've become addicted to pimento cheese, and we have a hard time not ordering it when we see it on a menu. Local Dish's is really yummy. We think there's some garlic or something in there. It was a hit with the table. My mom and I split a spinach salad with chicken and the sweet potato gnocchi and both were really good. I will say that the burger I had on my last visit, topped with MORE pimento cheese, bacon, and spinach, was also really amazing.
My brother got chicken and waffles, and the chicken was crazy delicious. I might have to get that next time I go. Anyway, Local Dish is on our radar as a great eatery now. We'll definitely be back.
After lunch we headed back to the house for a bit, before venturing out again for a little holiday tree lighting happening in the area.
We heard there were pictures with Santa, and my sister-in-law really wanted to get one of Avery with Santa. We were among the first in line and she did great- no crying or freaking out, which is more than I can say for the kids after her!
Avery liked the band music playing, so we hung out for a few minutes so she could dance around, but didn't stay for much of the festivities beyond that. We headed home to have dinner instead.
My mom made her shrimp with pasta with Hilton Head shrimp for us shellfish eaters, and my dad and Greg split a frozen pizza. Mom also made these cute festive little Santa hats for dessert. You just take those round brownies you can buy at the grocery store, top with white icing, a strawberry, then a little blob of white icing on top. So cute :)
By the end of the day we all pretty much looked like this...
Saturday morning we got up and decided to do our Christmas morning then. My mom made waffles and I made a huge bowl of fruit. Yum!
We all gathered in the living room and the present frenzy began.
The best part was watching Avery open presents. I think it's true when they say Christmas is more magical around children.
I got Avery a couple outfits, a book, and these mini Ugg-like boots, which were a huge hit with my brother and sister-in-law.
My mom gave her this super cute purple fleece hat.
I got so many great things- new Asics, baby outfits, diaper bag, and our Ergo carrier. I decided to try it out with Clyde. He actually seemed to like it!
We all went to Cowfish for lunch. My mom has seen me feature it on the blog a bunch of times and wanted to try it. After my last visit, I'm hooked on the Neon Dion Roll. I like that everything in it is cooked so I can have it while pregnant. The tempura coconut shrimp is crazy good.
After lunch we quickly headed to meet my friend Lindsay, who is awesome and agreed to take some family pictures of all of us. My mom really wanted some good family pictures. We don't have a lot of all of us other than at weddings. Check out her work...
They came out so great! Lindsay is really talented. My mom is planning to use one for a Christmas card this year.
Saturday night we kept it low key and order pizza for dinner- a veggies and a pepperoni.
Sunday, unfortunately, Greg, my mom, and my Dad all got kind of sick with some kind of stomach bug or something. Luckily, Mark, Ashley, Avery, and I didn't get it, but it was still a major downer in our weekend. I can't figure out how they got it, because I pretty much ate all the same things they at the day before, so I don't think it was food poisoning. It must of been some germ they picked up somewhere.
The non-sick kids stayed close to home, but went on a lot of walks and checked out the local playground.
We also went to lunch at a local pub to get out of the house a little.
Clyde provided Avery with a good deal of entertainment in the afternoon. They played fetch for a while, and she laughed hysterically.
Around dinner time, the crew decided they felt a lot better and were up for cooking up a holiday feast. We made a filet of beef, green beans, mac and cheese, and butternut squash/leek/apple gratin.
It was a delicious end to a great weekend with my family. Next year should be even more exciting with our little girl in the mix!