Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Happy New Year!

Well I'm always behind on blogging, but at least now I'm in the right year! Ha! After our busy week of traveling we spent New Year's Day quietly, just the four of us. We started off at IHOP!

Our sweet-tooth boy got a chocolate pancake with chocolate chips, because he needs more sugar/energy. Right...

Case in point.

My adorable eldest.

After brunch we went to the Lake Lynn Community Center to try out the scooters and play! Henry had been asking (throughout our whole trip) when he could scooter, so he was super excited for this opportunity.

My little buddy. Walking with purpose!

Charlie loves to climb and investigate things, always observing, figuring out, and thinking.

"Cheese!!"

It doesn't get much cuter than a hat with a poof on the top!

The boys on the climbing wall.

Playing tag with Daddy.

Riding his scooter. None of these pictures show it, but he is a speed demon on his scooter now! We had to get him a helmet because he goes too fast.

Charlie did a good job too but was not very interested.



He would rather run and climb on logs!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Christmas Tour Post II (Tennessee!)

We were kind of slow starting out to TN and only made it to Asheville by dinner, so we arrived really late on the 26th. We took it easy on the 27th until it was time to head to Memphis for the afternoon/evening. We always love going downtown when we're in town, and The Peabody is usually the first place we go! It was beautifully decorated for Christmas, and in a moment of amnesia I thought my children would be quiet angels as we took in all the decorations. Well... not so much. But they had tons of fun, and after I remembered that they're little I did too.

They wanted to take a picture in front of the elephant! They were requesting all sorts of pictures...

...like with these deer!

The gorgeous fountain from the second floor balcony. This is where the ducks come down everyday to swim and do their tricks!

The two-story Christmas tree!

A brief moment of stillness.

Apparently every Christmas The Peabody *bakes* their own Candy Land to display. It was phenomenal! And so yummy looking!

It is enormous, spread out over a long table, with all the little places on the Candy Land board game.

The ingredients used to make it! (Click on the picture to enlarge and read it.)

After adventures at The Peabody, we picked up Billy and all went out for some delicious BBQ. Now, I grew up on the vinegar-y barbeque of NC, but I will definitely concede that Memphis is the top dog when it comes to this dish. 

The boys wanted a picture with this big red dog, who looks like Clifford. 

The next day we went to church with Bettra, and the boys got to stay in the nursery with one of the ladies who kept Jimmy in there when he was little! I've really enjoyed Charleston Baptist when we've been in Covington. After church we had lunch with some family and then got ready for Allie's birthday party that night.

The little ones chowing down on mac and cheese that night- Jocelyn and Paisley (Kyle's daughters), Charlie and Henry, Allie and Oliver.

Stephanie made a really cute cake, and here is Allie blowing out her candles! Melissa, Stephanie, and I were all pregnant at the same time Christmas four years prior. Bettra got three new grandkids in about 6 weeks! Allie's birthday was Dec. 28th, Charlie's on Jan. 19th, and Miley's on Feb. 2nd.

There is no shortage of toys at Mam-maw's! I love watching the cousins play together when we're there.

Hugs for a fun Christmas present! She gave the boys some cool army trucks that they love playing with (among other things).

Reading with Mam-maw the next morning!

For lunch on that Monday we met up with Sarah and Todd, Tina, and Cindy at the mall in Germantown. We all ate at Chick-Fil-A in the food court, let the kids play on the indoor playground while we visited, and finished up near the carousel.

Can you tell Charlie was excited?!

Henry cheesing on the bench.

Daddy and his boys.

I rode with Sarah and adorable, squishy, precious little Shelby. She was only about a month old here!

Sweet little ones

The gang (minus me)

The gang, take two, since we never know what the boys' faces will look like...

The Byrds! I like the picture of Jimmy and me, and it would be awesome if the boys were looking.

That evening the Parhams came over since we hadn't been able to see them the night before. The kids had a wonderful time playing together!
Charlie and Micah

Busy with Legos, trucks, etc., etc.

Busy, busy!

Reading with Aunt Melissa.

Mexican Dominoes! (Or Mexican Train, can't remember) I played several games with Billy, Bettra, and Mark, and we had a blast. Everyone was in an extra laughable mood, and Mark and Jimmy were especially goofy. :) Fun times.

Mam-maw has the perfect hall for running up and down!

Playing pirates- Micah has the map, Henry has the telescope, and Miley has an important book!

4 of the cousins! Aren't they cute?!

Take two, because... kids.

The next morning we were going to see the Parhams again so the kids could make the reindeer cupcakes Charlie got for Christmas, but I woke up feeling wretched. My stomach was allllll out of sorts, so instead of leaving later in the afternoon we went ahead and packed up. Bettra had friends coming into town and I for sure was too embarrassed to be sick in front of people I don't know, and we didn't want to risk anyone else getting sick on the road. Plus, if Charlie had gotten the bug while potty training that would have been a MESS. Fortunately, we were able to stop outside of Pigeon Forge that night, and then we made it the rest of the way the next day. We were thankful I was feeling better and that no one else was sick. We were glad for the chance to see family at Christmas, but we were also very happy to get back home!!

Monday, January 5, 2015

The Christmas Tour 2014

Growing up both my family and Jimmy's family lived close enough to either cross town or take a short day trip to celebrate Christmas with each other. We never traveled overnight to visit family over the holidays, so I never knew firsthand what it was like to do major traveling to reach people at Christmas. Until this year. Going to 3 states and spending the night in 4 different places over 8 days, with a potty-training preschooler and all our Christmas presents in the van (plus cold weather, threat of sickness, etc., etc., etc.)... made for QUITE the week. It was the most eventful Christmas I think I've ever had. We left on the evening of the 23rd after Jimmy and I both got off work. Despite his cold and the crazy pouring rain, Jimmy loaded (er, stuffed...) the van. We got to VA in time to go to bed and wake up for a full day of Christmas Eve festivities.

The first celebration of the day was with Grandma and Gene. Mom cooked a delicious lunch and then we all had a good time giving gifts, visiting, and relaxing afterwards.

Santa/Snowman Checkers (they just like to organize the characters...)

Everyone with a red shirt climb in this chair! I love how much fun they have with Gammer.

Gammer lets the boys do things like.... tie him up with Christmas yarn and wear safety goggles! You're a good sport, Dad!

The "cheese!!!" face and Henry's resistance. What we go through any time we want to take a picture with them looking at the camera (never mind smiling).

Charlie enjoyed hugging Gene. For some reason Charlie called him Aunt Gene most of the afternoon, despite repeated attempts to correct him.

After Grandma and Gene were headed back to Lynchburg, I headed out to jog on North Main. It has been a LONG time since I've been jogging in my hometown! When I got back, we all fixed ourselves snack-y dinners and got ready for the Christmas Eve service. The boys looked dapper in their little Christmas sweater vests and did remarkably well in the service. Henry actually slept through it since he had played so hard all day, and Charlie sat with Granana, quietly discussing all the shapes he could mold the candle into and eating animal crackers. After that we went to the annual dessert Christmas Eve party that I haven't been to since 2010. It was great to see everyone there and visit with people I don't get to see often.

Then back to my parents house to set up this!
The wrapped gifts are a Lego castle set, a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse movie, and a set of Disney's Planes the boys could shoot off a runway.

Henry's pile: A set of monster trucks based on "Mater's Tall Tales" which he loves to watch (and earlier in the fall would watch it daily during his nebulizer treatments) and a motorcycle. In the boys' stockings we gave them several pieces of dessert/candy and a Jake and the Neverland Pirates cannonball shooter.

Charlie's pile: His "Rudolph that makes sound" (the only thing he asked for), a new leash for his dog Roscoe, and things to bake some reindeer cupcakes (since he still talks about being a cupcake baker).

Surveying the landscape! (We had to wake them up, which was fine with me.)

See that cool Lego set?! They LOVE it!!!

"Look at our stuff!"

We let the kids open those gifts from us right after they got up, and then we had the nicest breakfast with the Bowens. Mom cooked her delicious brunch, and we all got to visit a while. After we cleaned up we exchanged gifts with each other.

The Byrds got Dad a certified National Lampoon's Uncle Eddie Moose Eggnog glass. He laughed as hard as we'd hoped he would!

We're really glad Dad likes to wear button-up shirts and sweaters (no dickies for him, thank you very much!)...

Having the last of his eggnog in his glass. :)

Charlie's Jack and the Neverland Pirates set from Uncle D

Thank you Uncle D!

Opening scooters from Granana and Gammer!

Mom's surprise silhouettes of the boys!

We got these done in October and I nearly couldn't contain myself I was so excited about it! I don't have a particular affinity for silhouettes (although I did get myself copies from the artist), but one Sunday afternoon when I was 7ish and Daniel was 2ish she got silhouettes of us done. They have always hung in her house, and I thought she would love these too. I was thrilled to give these to her.

We headed to Jane's for Christmas dinner in the afternoon.
Here are the little boys and not-so-little Shayna at the kids' table.

Singing "Happy Birthday to Jesus." Everyone had a cupcake for him and a candle to blow out. So precious!

Blowing the candles out!

Yum!

Afterward we had gift time: LOTS of gifts for the little ones, and a rowdy game of Dirty Santa for the adults! We spent the night with Aunt Jane and Uncle Frank since her house is loosely "on the way" to TN (we didn't need to go back to VA or back to our apartment in NC before heading to Bettra's). We enjoyed that extra time to relax in Eden with family, and after a yummy breakfast the next day we hit the road and headed west!