Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Christmas Vacation Part Two

Ok, when so after our visit with the Wiles side of the family was over, we climbed back into our beloved Expedition (stuffed so far past the gills that we had to buy a hitch carrier to get it all home) and hit the road or the second Saturday in a row. Just like our last trip home, we enjoyed the scenery as we drove down I-25 toward Las Cruces to spend a week with the Reynolds half of the family.

Stacey, Adam, Acey (our newest niece and Cameron's buddy) and Courtney came over that evening to open gifts with us. The only person missing was Eric but he showed up with his girlfriend on New Year's Day.

The next day we ate lunch and spent the afternoon with our old Life Group. It was great to see everyone again.

The whole family.

In addition to remote control cars, Kevin and Cameron got an R/C flying thingamajigger. I think it's called a Switchblade. It takes off like a helicopter then transforms and flies like a plane. Those required a trip to the park to play with. Acey also got an R/C car just like the boys so they played with those in the house seemingly non-stop.

A few days later, we got our second snow of our vacation!!! This picture isn't what you picture when you think of Las Cruces, is it?

Believe it or not, the boys didn't want to go play in the snow at first until I put the guilt trip on them. I finally got them outside with me and it's a good thing because the snow was PERFECT for snowballs and snowmen.

Cameron is pondering the consequences of targeting the camera with his next snowball.

We made our biggest snowman yet!

Can't have snow without dragging heads through it.

Kevin threw some snowballs at the tree and it looked a little like eyes and a nose so I did a little rearranging and added a mouth. I like it.

Of course, the next day the weather was back to normal and you'd never know it snowed. Well, the snow did hang around in the shade for a couple of days.

Taking advantage of the mostly nice weather by playing at the park.

The boys took the scooters and had a great time.

I like this side shot of Cade.

No idea what Kevin's doing.

Told you they were buddies.

On New Year's Eve, we drove off into the sunset, literally, to meet our friends in Deming for dinner and some glow golf. Beautiful sunset, beautiful full moon rising over the Organs (and a blue moon at that!), super clear sky. Nice drive but too bad we were driving.

The Hughes' have 3 kids about the same age as the boys. Despite rarely seeing each other they all get along great.

Dana probably would have done better if she had tried putting the right way and not backwards. That's Rick in the background. My best friend since 2nd grade!

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end and our vacation flew by.

I believe this was taken on our last night. Pa and his little buddy playing trouble.

And then we somehow crammed everything, which was quite a bit more than we left AL with, into and on the back of the Expedition, pointed it East and stepped on the gas to begin our 3rd Saturday in a row on the road. Dana let us sleep in the day we left so we didn't leave until right at 5 am.

And dang Texas! We drove 12 hours, re-read that, 12 hours(!) and made it to Texarkana which is still in Texas! It's reason to celebrate when you get to a new state. Fortunately, just like our trip out, we had good weather on the way back and no problems to speak of. Well, except for Dana getting pulled over and almost arrested for suspected drunk driving. When I explained to the cop that's how she always drives and promised to drive the rest of the way myself, he let us go. Or maybe she got pulled over because the hitch carrier was blocking the license plate (just like the hundreds of other vehicles that had one). I can't remember which it was. Either way, she got off with just a warning.

It was a little harder to leave NM this time because we don't know when we'll be back. So I guess that means it's everyone else's turn to come visit us!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Christmas Vacation Part 1

As usual, we have a truckload of pictures we'd like to share from our Christmas vacation so I'll break it up into more than one post. We'll cover the first week for now.

The day before we left for NM was a fun day for all of us. I left work before lunch (yay!) so I could watch Cameron's class perform their Christmas play. I think what happened was that a group of reality TV producing penguins invaded Santa's place and insisted they would take over for the elves and reindeer. They quickly learned the work was a lot harder than they expected so they gave the jobs back and Santa and everyone lived happily ever after. Cameron was a penguin and had a few speaking parts. He wowed and dazzled the audience with his stunning performance!

Here's my little penguin buddy. Cute costumes, huh?

After the show we went back to his classroom for a Christmas party. NOT a "holiday" party because that's stupid. That was it for school so we brought Cam home and we both started our Christmas vacations a little early.

Here are our decorations for the year. With only ONE dumb plug on the entire front side of the house, I had to get creative with the cords so we weren't able to put up too many lights. I also gave up on putting lights on the house mostly because of the ridiculously steep pitch of the roof. Regardless, the lights you see here probably outnumber the rest of our entire neighborhood combined. That's too bad. By the way, remind me not to bother with the tree next year. I was hating myself when I was trying to get those darn lights unwrapped from all the branches - and we were in the middle of the cold spell so the temperature was, like, 20 below or something. Felt like it anyway.

Dana said we were leaving the house at 4 am on Saturday to get started on our trip to NM. I laughed because that's pretty cute. But I wasn't laughing when I backed the Expedition out of the driveway at 4:01 am with my eyes out of focus and a serious case of bedhead (not really but that's how we all felt). She's a drill sergeant, that Dana. So then we drove and drove and drove and all the while we were packed in like sardines. Have you ever tried to pack for 5 for 2 weeks with Christmas gifts and still allow enough room for the kids not to be touching each other? Not easy. Finally, 14-1/2 hours later we arrived in Amarillo where we spent the night with Dana's aunt Pat. (Thanks!) Dana's cousins came over while we were there too so we had a great time visiting with everyone. Then the next day we got in the Expedition and drove again. (You'll start seeing a recurring theme here.) After a quick 5 hour jaunt we arrived at Inlow. Shoot, we were just getting the car warmed up at that point.

As usual, we had a great time visiting with everyone while we were there. I'm always amazed at how well all the kids really do get along when we're all together. They pick up right where they left off like they saw each other just a day earlier.

It snowed a couple of days before Christmas so the kids had to break out the sleds. This is Kevin collapsing from exhaustion after pulling the sled about 20 feet up the hill. Poor kid has acclimated to the Alabama elevation and can't breathe in the mountains anymore.

Cameron and Jeremy riding double.

I love this shot of Cameron!

Cade still didn't want anything to do with the sled. Maybe I can get him on one next year.

If you ever want to go 4-wheeling with Ron, my advice to you is this: Don't. Dana and I followed him in the Suburban (with chains) and Ronney in the Tacoma (with chains) in our Expedition (w/o chains) just to see where they were headed. About the time we were ready to turn around, Ron tells us if I can make it up the first hill it will be easy from there. Dana says, "Let's try it." So we tried and we chugged and churned our way right up. Cool! We continued on back down the other side and across this meadow and then we got to another hill. It's longer and steeper and narrower and we didn't make it. The rear end stepped out right next to a tree and we were done. They came back around and pulled us back on track but the damage was done. My ego deflated, we backed down and headed back to the house with our tail between our legs. Not really, it was fun and more importantly nothing was damaged.

And then it was Christmas!!!

As the presents kept piling up (and I mean PILING up), the kids had carefully placed them all around the tree and behind the tree. I don't think they thought about someone having to get them. Look closely and you'll see Kevin back there trying to get those in the back corner.

Santa gave Kevin the Halo 3 ODST game he's been wanting.

He also got a robe in hopes that he'll quit dragging his comforter around with him when he gets up in the mornings.

Cameron got a camera from Santa Claus. He loves taking pictures and making videos of himself goofing off and of his action figures.

Cameron's robe. Same comment about Kevin applies here.

Cade got a Leapster game from Santa. He loves it so far.

And another robe.

No idea what Ryan is doing here but he sure did like his footie PJs.

I told you there were a lot of presents.
Tyler, Galena and Papa.
Unfortunately, we never did take a family photo. But we do appreciate everyone taking the time and making the trip to Inlow to see us (and Ron & Sandy for having us).

A couple more pictures of Cade before I call it good.

We're cleaning up all the magnets Cade stuck on the refrigerator. Funny how he was able to reach high enough to put them there but had to climb on me to get them down.

What's a trip to Inlow w/o playing in the gym. The pictures of Cameron and Kevin were too blurry so here's a decent one of Cade near the top of the climbing wall.

Anticipation, excitement, a little of everything as he awaits the "go" to start opening those presents.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Pre-Christmas Pictures

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas too. We sure did. But we'll discuss that later. Right now we're way behind on pictures and obviously have a lot of new ones to share from the Reynolds' Christmas Vacation but I haven't even downloaded those from the camera yet.

These first few were taken the weekend after Thanksgiving when we drove out to a tree farm to get our Christmas tree (NOT holiday tree!).

It isn't quite the same as driving up in the mountains and gasping for air as we hike up and down the hillsides. Instead, we could have driven a Civic out to this place. When I refused their offer to cut the tree for me, we were given a saw and a measuring stick and told to have at it. This is the tree we picked.

After cutting the tree, Cade wanted to help me drag it back to the truck. Apparently, this behavior is exceedingly rare around here as they all acted surprised that I didn't have them get it for me. They even insisted on helping me load it! Sheesh. You'd think we picked out Griswold-size tree. Anyway, the people were super friendly, they offered free hot apple cider and Santa Claus was even on hand to talk to the kids. Cade like Santa because he kept his distance and didn't invade Cade's personal space.

On the way home, we stopped at a city park that advertised a huge light display and a train ride around the park. Well, it sounded really cool. It was actually pretty neat but half of the lights weren't turned on and the train wasn't running. In this shot, we're waiting for the sun to set so the kids passed time by quacking at the ducks and playing on the playground.

I know this blurry but I was trying to get a quick picture of Cameron and Cade holding hands.

We hung around after dark because the city also advertised a light show with the water fountains. We waited and waited and when it did start we were more than a little disappointed. It wasn't much of a show at all and was hard to distinguish from the normal operation of the fountains. Oh well. We had a nice evening together.

Dana and the boys decorating our tree the following evening. Cameron may be shirtless but at least he's not running around in his underwear.

They're all smiling and not making funny faces!!! If you look at our tree, you'll notice the top half is heavy on ornaments because all 3 boys wanted to use the step stool as much as possible. Quite the change from a few years ago when they were short and all the ornaments were within 3 feet of the bottom.

Christmas cookies!!!

I like this picture of me and my littlest buddy.

And finally, we had a snow day here in Athens! Not much snow and it wouldn't pack but it was still fun to play in.


And Cade. No pictures of Kevin because he took off to play with some friends that live near here.
Marshall Space Flight Center had a tree lighting ceremony in early December so I took Dana and the boys to see it (and to get free cookies and hot chocolate). Santa showed up on a (Kawasaki) mule instead of a reindeer and the kids from the on-site daycare were on hand to sing some Christmas songs. Cameron and Cade even got their pictures with Santa for free! That's what I'm talking about! Kevin thought he was too old to get a picture with ol' St. Nick.
We took the boys to see Santa at the mall too. After waiting in a relatively short line, Cameron got up on Santa's lap and turned into Ralphie from "A Christmas Story". He went completely blank and couldn't remember what to tell Santa to bring him for Christmas. Cade sat on Santa's lap too. He later told us that he didn't think that was the real Santa because his hair was too short (it was real) and the Santa we saw where I work was also not the real one but he thought the one at the tree farm was the real deal because he was nice and didn't bother Cade.

And finally, I'll leave with this shot we took on the way back from the tree farm. Safety is obviously very important to this guy. Notice he took the extra precaution of tying the front end to the tree in case it falls off the 2x4s. Alabama engineering at its best!