Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Christmas 2016 MO Road Trip!

January 31st is here.  I have successfully done one blog post a day this month.  If this one gets published on time it will be a bit of a miracle.  I saved a long one for the end.  It took me over two hours to get the photos in order.  T, bless her heart, wears SO MANY sets of clothes each day.  Cousins A and A wear the same clothes during multiple days.  Presents were opened little by little each day.  The photos were complied from many cameras and phones.  Anyway, they are all in order for your viewing pleasure.  

Day One: Monday, December 26th

The kids were pretty sure we were going to Missouri, so they woke up excited.  T slept in quite well and M was willing to help so we got a lot of packing done before T woke up.  Prepping all the food stuff the night before REALLY paid off.  We eat lunch in the van while we drive.  We have learned it is the least stressful option for everyone.  Getting all the food stuff ready takes a long time and it finally occurred to me to prepare it early. 

M and T:  YAHOO we are going to Grandma and Grandpa's house!
T thought she would help with the packing.  Here are some of her essentials!

T: I just needed a "couple" of Barbies
In the end she packed a box of her favorite JUNK treasures and wrote "box" on it.  She sang "B*O*X box" over and over again for probably an hour as we packed.  It was slightly annoying precious to hear her sing repeatedly!

The car ride was quite uneventful.  One of the kids chose Curious George for their movie and the kids watched the episodes for a long time.  Morale was good and the driver was happy, and well fed!  We feasted on leftovers from Christmas AND had our favorite salt and pepper chips.  Yum! T wanted some fun hair styles along the way and Brandon was willing to give it a try.

T: First Daddy gave me a bun. 
T: Then Daddy gave me a pony tail.  I loved it. 
We arrived in Missouri around 3:00 (if I remember correctly).  Long car rides often trigger migraines for me so I went to lay down for a bit.  Brandon and the kids headed down to Adrienne and Chris' home and I walked down once the meds kicked in.  After a couple hours of playing and visiting we came home for dinner and bedtime. 

T: Aunt Mel and I were matching. 
Day Two: Tuesday, December 27th

M was up early and made a quick trip to the Y with Grandpa Tom.  We all got ready and headed to the farm for a fun day with Grandma Judy's family.  First up was the annual Christmas brunch.  A meal tradition that is very dear to Brandon.  After eating we took some large group family photos before Chris headed to work. 

Six genuine smiles.  I love this!
The whole gang! 
A little silly reward for the end of the photo shoot!

After the photos it was time to open presents.  Brandon's aunts and uncles are so generous with their gifts for the kids.  The children are very thankful for their generosity.  Each child opened many gifts.  They were very excited about them and put them to use right away.

Brandon with his Aunt Mel
Aunt Mel was very popular!
Finally time to open presents!!!!!  You might note that T is wearing a different outfit.  She had just opened it one present earlier and decided she needed to wear it immediately. 

T: I love it, I love it, I love it!
M got an eight pack of I Survived books.  We just finished reading the last one.  They are so exciting and fun to read for M and for us.

M: Whoa, cool books. 
M and T:  We REALLY love books!
T: I love hanging out with the girls and playing with my new magnet girl. 

T scored a lot of fun makeup and was very eager to put it to use right away!

T: Oh Jeanette, your nails are looking lovely. 

M: T, A, and I are all painting nails at the same time.

T: Great holding still Uncle BJ.

T: Wake up Uncle Curtis.  What to try some candy from our candy necklaces? 
M: Hey, both these cars are on the same frequency. 
M: Balderdash is pretty fun, but sort of hard for a 7 year old. 
Grandpa Tom and his not so mini me. 
T: I just love it when Daddy "whooshes" me wherever I need to go. 
This whooshing technique has calmed many a storm in our family.  Daddy is often T's personal sensory OT!
T: I sure love my buddy T.  I hope he comes to visit me soon!
After goodbyes Tom and I took T home for a nap. M and Brandon stayed at the farm.  I heard they had a great time, but M was getting pretty tired by the end of the afternoon.

Brandon and his sister Adrienne.
M: Holding lots of card in my hand is so hard, the pillow made it easier. 
M: I could cuddle with my buddy T all day. 
A is so much like T.   She really loves being with Brandon.
A: Uncle Brandon is so much fun. 
These two are not super alike, but they really enjoy playing with each other whenever we are together. 
M: I know it is time to go, but I need one virtual reality experience before I leave.

That night the kids got to open a few of their presents from Tom and Judy.  They really spread out the gifts this year.  It was an interesting idea to try, but I think we learned that opening all the gifts together is the best option in future years.  T got a new personalized book. 

T: This book is all about my name! 
Day 3: Wednesday, December 28th

Tom and M went to the Y and then to play at A and A's house.  Brandon and T eventually joined them.  I went for a walk and joined them as well. A and A have many fun things to play with. It is so special to see the kids playing together and makes me wish we lived closer.  Don't worry, none of us have plans to move, but it would be sweet if they could play together more often.

I am going to keep a T wardrobe change tally for today's post because it is funny and shows how confusing it was to get the pictures in order.

While at A and A's house T is sporting just one outfit.  She is wearing a jacket in the first photo, but it wouldn't be fair to could that as an official outfit.

T: A and I love all the same things. 
T: We had this candy cereal and we put milk on it and it was amazing!
T: A and I LOVE to make faces at the camera!
M: I love holding A's pet and wearing my new jersey!
T: I was a little scared of A's pet, but I got used to him eventually. 
M: It is so fun to play with A and T!
Grandpa Tom's family was planning to come down for lunch.  We got a call that they all had the stomach flu and wouldn't be able to make it.  We had so much food, so we decided to invite all of Judy's family still in town to join us.  We also celebrated Jesus' Birthday with a Birthday cake.  The four color frosting continued.  The "twin cousins" had to choose two shades of pick so their parts would look different. 

T: We both love pink frosting. 
T: Frosting a cake is messy business.  We even wash our hands together. 

Time for a wardrobe change.  This is T's second outfit of the day.  The girls made a make-up fort under the piano.  Much make-up was applied.  Many giggles were heard from everyone.
T: We love our new fort. 
After lunch it was time to sing Happy Birthday to Jesus and allow each kid to blow out the candle on their part of the cake.  A fun tradition. 

T: I love blowing out the candle. 
T: I wish I could do it again. 
M: I like blowing out the candle.  I love eating the cake. 
After lunch the kids opened more presents.

M: I thought I had to give some of my soccer balls away, but this card actually meant that Grandpa and Grandma already gave the gift for me.  Cool. 

After lunch T needed to change clothes again.  This time she decided to put on one of the outfits she wore for a few hours the day before.  Three outfits for the day.  Let's see if she can top it tomorrow!  Spoiler alert... she can!

Four kids all curious about something. 
After presents Grandpa Tom took the boys on several adventures in town.  The girls stayed and played at home.  T skipped a nap because we thought family was going to be coming and and told her earlier that she could skip it.  Of course when the family didn't come she was sure she still needed to skip the nap!

The girls did MANY fun things during the afternoon.
T: We loved reading our new books. 
T: Then we played with play-doh. 
T: Then we had a tea party.  
That night we had hamburgers on the stove and oven fries with rosemary.  A yummy taste of summer in the middle of the winter.

Day 4:  Thursday, December 29th

The day started with some clothing optional (for the preschooler) reading.  I am not going to count that as an outfit. 

T: I sure do love a good Disney story in the morning. 

A and A came up to play.  Big A loves Legos.  Brandon loved them as a kid.  I think A was impressed with Brandon's Lego knowledge!  T is sporting her first outfit of day!
Two focused guys, and two dancers in the background!

My memory is blanking on the schedule of our time in Missouri, but I think Grandpa Tom might have taken all four kids to the Y to swim for a couple of hours.  I know they had fun.  I know all the kids really liked the hot tub!

I did some laundry.  It is so nice to come home with suitcases of clean clothes rather than dirty clothes!

After lunch Judy took A and A to their house while T napped.  Tom and Brandon went to town for his dentist visit.  M and I began reading our first I Survived book.  We were hooked instantly and didn't want to put it down.  When Brandon got back to the house I brought M to A and A's and then went for my appointment.  T woke up shortly after and they went to A's too.  

After a short time there Uncle Chris came home and my family came back up to the house and were home we Tom and I arrived.  M LOVES playing Judy's keyboard.  It has many many sounds.  It is a therapeutic happy place for him.

M: I could do this all day!
Here comes T's second outfit of the day.  The kids love to be read to and they added many books to their collection while we were in MO.  

M and T: We love all our new books. 
While I was prepping dinner both kids were really in need of some mama loving.  Isn't that always how it is?  Things started to spiral down hill very fast for T and Grandma Judy had the idea to show T some dancing clothes.  She was so proud to come down wearing one of Adrienne's old dance costumes.  This would be outfit 3 for the day!

T: I feel just like a dancer.  

T: See, there is Aunt Adrienne wearing THIS tutu!

A little while later there was more melting down, but T was distracted by the opportunity to have dancer hair and borrow a jewel filled headband. Adrienne arrived and loved seeing T in the tutu.  Since it is too small for her A she said that T could take it home.  What a thrill for T!!!

T: I sure do love my dancing Aunt!
We had our family Christmas that night, but it was sort of a unique affair.  I made a simple pasta all in one pot entree and a second batch of rosemary potatoes.  Nothing fancy, but it was tasty.  After dinner it was time to open presents, but the kids had been opening all week so there was not so much for them to open.  Tom and Judy were the main gift recipients.  The kids all wear matching (or two sets of matching) Christmas jammies. Yes, this means outfit number four for T. 

The before shot.  M not excited to only have one gift to open. 
M: I wonder what could be in it. 
M: I love this magic set that A got.  Can I please have one too?  
I am not sure what is going on here, but these two are very interested in touching Adrienne. 

We got Grandpa Tom some Kettle Corn from a local shop.  Our kids all became like seagulls waiting for a handout.

T: I sure am glad we got him a big bag. 

We are not sure if M was tired, ate something he should not have, was feeling some trauma related feelings or all of the above, but when it was time to take photos he was not interested. He wanted mommy cuddles big time.

M: No mom, I am not doing it.  I will only do it if I can sit on your lap. 

Well, necessity is the mother of invention, right?  I came up with the perfect plan.  M would sit on my lap, but I would lay down behind him and cover up my legs.  The photo below hasn't been edited and I think we pulled it off very well! The grey pants are Grandpa Tom's.  I am hiding under the red sheet.

What a great picture!
The scene from above.  It was a real tree so get in and out was a bit tricky.
After the photos it was time for the dance party.  T was not feeling like a dancer with the Pj's on... so needed to change clothes... again!  Her final (documented, there could be more) outfit of the day!

T: First we did a little dancing!
T: Then we did a little gymnastics. 
T: Then we were cheerleaders!

T: Then I did some jumping.  

Everyone was melting and we knew it was bedtime.  M wanted me to read a bit of a second I Survived book.  Then he tried to sleep and couldn't, so I ended up reading the entire book that night.  We read two books in one day.  I am so thankful that M loves to read and be read to.  Some of my most treasured memories with him involve books and cuddles.

Day 5: Friday, December 30th

The morning went pretty smoothly.  Judy played with T while Tom and M went to the Y.  This allowed Brandon and I to do some very efficient packing.  We really wanted to be on the road by 9:00ish because our great friends Nikky and Jake (one of my college besties and her super fun hubby) were going to come for a visit and arrive around 3:00!  The kids didn't know about this surprise, but it motivated us to pack quickly.

During M and Tom's early breakfasts M asked lots of questions about Grandpa Tom's Bible and concordances etc. It was very sweet for him to learn from Tom.

M: This book was very cool and very big!

Our trip home started out pretty uneventful, but morale started to wane about 2 hours into the journey.  By lunchtime we had a very grumpy preschooler.  Our bathroom/fueling break was one of our hardest ever.  Raging in the van and in the convenience store were stressful on everyone.  We got back on the road, but the raging continued.  Things were being thrown and safety became a big concern.  We took the next exit and did everything we could to calm down our sweet girl.  Eventually she calmed and then flipped emotions to happy.  The rest of the journey was quite uneventful, unless you count the many potty stops.  I think M's ability to "hold it" on car trips might have disappeared.  Well, it was good while it lasted.  The stops set us back in time and we learned that Nikky and Jake were already in town waiting for us.  They went to a coffee shop and were parked in front of our house when we arrived home.  Tomorrow's post will be all about their miraculous timing and the joys of our time together. 

We are so blessed with such wonderful family.  I am so thankful for the large extended family we see in MO.  The kids just love their time with everyone.  They are separated as much as possible and given a lot of attention.  They are much more regulated as a result.  

I am so thankful for this month of blogging.  I still have several posts in the works.  I am not sure if I can keep up with the one post a day routine, but it has been a fun goal to accomplish.  If you don't check the blog too often, scroll back to previous posts to check out any you might have missed!