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After literally risking our lives driving through 10+ hours of freezing rain and blizzard we finally made it to Grandma & Grandpa's house in Detroit.

I told the kids around hour 7 that "this better be the best Christmas ever because we are never coming back to Michigan again."


Soon after she arrives Sasha draws up a game plan for making Gingerbread cookies.

 Anika, still freaked out from the perilous drive, can't stop nervously chewing on her keys.

The next day we head down the the Belle Isle Conservatory in Downtown Detroit.


As soon as we walk in Holly plucks the rare kurinji flower that typically blooms only once every 12-15 years.

The conservatory seems so much smaller than it did when I was a kid.  Sasha probably saw it more like I remember it.

The search for the banana tree draws Sasha and Grandma's eyes ever skyward.


Sasha tosses a few pennies in the wishing well.


In the poinsettia room, Sasha shows off an orange she snatched from the rare Citrus sinensis tree.


 Grandma & Grandpa pose for a few happy pics before someone sees Sasha with the orange and calls for security.

A few more shots as we make a break for the back door of the conservatory.

Just to make sure we all go to jail together, I take a huge bite of the South African Climbing Onion.

Unable to tolerate the "Do Not Touch" signs all over the conservatory, Sasha tears off a few more buds and Grandma gets a hand full of cactus spines.

Finally, with guard dogs and the security in pursuit, we make a hasty exit from the Belle Isle Conservatory.


Sasha decorates the cupcakes.


 She's really got a talent for pouring sugar on frosting.

Holly and Anya stay home and look cute, while Grandma, Grandpa, Alan and Sasha go to the symphony to see the Nutcracker.

This was the only picture as we were leaving.  Santa let us take a pic, but the snooty ballet and orchestra people wouldn't.


After the performance we picked up Holly, Anika, Uncle Beans and Aunt Dawn and went out to eat.

The restaurant was great this year.  

Sasha gets passed around the table for hugs and cuddles.


Anika, like a little vampire, just watches as everyone enjoys the meal.


Back at Grandma & Grandpa's house it's present time!

Dawn opens the present from Sasha and Anika.  Grandpa opens his Smallville collection that he got for his birthday.


Sasha poses with her confectionary masterpieces.


Uncle Beans likes posing for pictures with Anika.


The whole family gets presents and Anya gets to eat her next bow of the season.


Alan gets a combination of cool Christmas and birthday presents.

 Sasha finally gets the Hungry Hungry Hippos game that she has been asking for "her whole life".

Anika gets a new dangly car chair toy that comes in handy for the rest of the trip.

More presents for Sasha and Anika.

Uncle Beans gets that tambourine he's always wanted, now he can finally go tour with Jethro Tull.

Aunt Dawn gets her Pumpkins DVD.

Everbody has fun playing with their new toys.

Sasha enthusiastically starts training for the 2012 Summer Olympics, we are assuming, for now, that Hungry Hungry Hippos will be an event.

Everybody gets in a few more cuddles with Anya, then dances the traditional Festivus dervish. 

Bye Bye Grandma & Grandpa.  We had a fun visit!


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