Catch up – December

So next came December.  This was going to be a veeeeeeeeery busy month!  You might want to go and get a cup of tea because this is a loooooooooooong update.  It’s ok, I’ll wait ……………. ok, ready?

We started off with Mum’s birthday.  Not quite the hoopla that we had last year but we can’t do that every year!! 

And then came the main event – no, not Christmas, even more exciting than that!!  My brother and sister in law arrived for a visit!!  I was beyond excited!  I love them both and always have a great time with them – unfortunately the time we have spent together in the last ten years has been somewhat limited by the fact that we have lived on different continents!  David and Carol live in Minnesota, USA, a beautiful, fun but veeeeery chilly place (at least for six months of the year) and while we did go to visit them in 2004 and they have been over to Scotland a couple of times, escaping that harsh winter to the sunny skies of Australia was too much temptation!!  They were here for three weeks and it was great fun!

David is the King of Barbeques (USA) so he did a lot of this …

Nice of us to put him to work on his holiday, don’t you think?!

We all enjoyed it …

Dad was particularly happy …

Then we went to visit the Stewarts and did it all again there with Hughie who is King of the Barbeque (Australia)

Look at them all lined up there being manly round the barbi!

We sat round Linda’s pool eating, drinking and enjoying the sunshine …

… while the kids played in the pool.

And the big kids too!

We decorated the Christmas tree – it still feels very weird to do this in shorts and t-shirts!

They even let Uncle David put the fairy on top of the tree because he is the tallest!

This was the first time we have managed to get a reasonable photo of them in front of the tree within twenty minutes without needing bribery and without anyone crying or having a tantrum (usually me, is it really that hard to look in the same direction at the same time with your eyes open and something that resembles a smile or even a peaceful expression?!!!) 

On Christmas Eve we had all the family round for the kids to open their family presents.  There were twenty four people here which really blew my noodle!  I’m not used to having so many family members in the same place at the same time!  It was lovely though!!  As well as us Parks, my folks and David and Carol, we had Mum’s Auntie Evelyn and cousins Linda, Christine and Mark. 

And then of course all their families …

When everyone had gone we started a new tradition.  Our next door neighbour had given us a ‘Reindeer Runway’ set to set up in the front garden.  It is basically paper bags and candles and you put the candles in the paper bags and light them so that the reindeer can see where to land. 

This would never work in Scotland, either the wind would blow the candles out/over or the snow/rain/sleet would make the bags all soggy and put the candles out.  Either way, the Reindeer could be circling for hours none the wiser about where to put down hooves!

Alexander got all safety conscious and wouldn’t take part in case we started a bush fire so we got our ‘can barely stand beside each other’ Christmas picture after all.

Christmas day was lovely!  Santa brought bikes …

We gave the kids a trampoline …

I love this pic of David and Ruby on it!

We had Bucks Fizz and Apfelpfannkuchen for breakfast – because we’re just that fancy!

In the afternoon we went to Linda’s for Christmas Lunch.  Last year the weather was gorgeous and we all sat round the pool after lunch – this year, not so much …

The hail stones were about the size of ping pong balls and couldn’t have come down much harder!  Just two streets away, where a girl I work with lives, all but two cars in the street were very badly damaged, some to the point of being written off.  Luckily my wee dodgem was ok though 🙂

By late afternoon the skies had cleared and the kids got a swim in the pool after all but it certainly wasn’t as scorchio as last year.  I can’t really complain though, can I?!

While David and Carol were here we also had some great days out.  We took them to Sovereign Hill (of course!  It’s obligatory for anyone who visits!)

Three visits so far and we still haven’t found gold!!

Almost as rare as gold though, a picture of my brother and I together!!  Unlike Alexander and Ruby, it’s not because we can’t stand next to each other without fighting, we are usually the photographers for our little families so are rarely both in the picture!!

In the foundry we discovered a very handy thing for David – a beard washing bowl!!  We managed to avoid the temptation and instead he went for a paella pan like the one I bought last time (and if his facebook updates are anything to go by it has been seeing lots of active service since he got home!)

We took some time to cool down with ice lollies

Seems silly not to when it’s so blooming hot out!

We also spent a great day at the zoo.  Where the kids pretended to be meerkats

and gorillas

The peacock put on a fabulous display for us

We watched the elephant family lolling about in the sunshine

And Ruby and I visited our favourite animals – the giraffes.

Last time we were here was 2009 when we looked like this 🙂

We showed David and Carol the cool Aussie sculpture at the native animals area

And here we saw the highlight of the day – the ‘extreme sleeping wombat’.  He was just loving his nap time!!!  This picture makes me giggle so much!!!

We all had a good laugh at Ruby trying to work the water fountain – she just can’t get the hang of these at all and it’s HILARIOUS!!!

By the end of the day, Ruby was ready for a piggy back and thankfully Uncle David was on hand 🙂

As well as our fun days out we had some good times just hanging out closer to home.  Carol gave Mum a great haircut. 

We were laughing because David was firing up the BBQ in the background and both Mum and Carol were on the G&T – maybe not the usual hairdressers ambiance but it did the job!

Carol tried Kangaroo fillet for the first time.  I am not sure she was entirely sold on it but Larry was close by if she should throw it to the floor in disgust!

David and Alexander went out fishing a few times.  David enjoys fishing in the beautiful lake up at the cabin Carol’s family own in the Minnesota woods and it was great for Alexander to get some tips from him.

Surprisingly, Alexander LOVES fishing!  While he rarely sits still for a minute at a time, with a fishing rod in his hand he just settles down and enjoys the serenity 🙂

Carol and David also introduced us to a new game – Guillotine – it is a bit complicated to explain here, but it’s lots of fun, especially if played with a few bottles of wine and some dodgy French accents.  (Apologies for the less than flattering picture, there had been gin …)

It was a busy, busy time but it flew by too quickly and all too soon we were driving them back to the airport to go back to the snow and ice of Minneapolis 😦 I have high hopes that they’ll be back again as soon as they can.

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3 Responses to Catch up – December

  1. Tracey Hand says:

    WOW!
    You sure know how to come back in style!
    What an awesome, photo filled post!
    I love that moving halfway across the world has actually brought your diverse family closer together!

    Big thanks to Jacq for giving our Laura a nudge 😉

  2. David Smith says:

    Jings, I’m tired just remembering all that. Definitely a holiday with a lot of highlights!

    Who knows, by the next time I’m over Alexander should be an expert fisherman and Ruby will be tall enough to use water fountains…

  3. sarah says:

    I had wondered what had happened to you, but you are back on form! love the photos you all look well. I cant believe you eat kangaroo fillets! I’m a celebrity get me out of here lol 😉 hope to hear more soon. xx

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