Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas 2013!

Christmas morning didn't dawn too early, despite our predictions.  Brant, up around 7, actually settled and watched a little TV.  Now I'm not saying he was overly patient, but it gave us a chance to wake up a bit more slowly.  We started opening gifts around 7:45.  Grandma came up to join us and we got to opening gifts! 

Brantley decided that we needed to open presents in age order, starting with youngest.  Declaring "Henry first!" he proceeded to pass out the gifts from Santa.  

Henry was a bit timid opening his gifts, not quite sure he was allowed to tear the paper. 

Brother enjoyed checking out all of Henry's gifts as well, showing him how to use the magnadoodle

Henry makes an adorable "ooooh" sound.  He's making it here

Santa left Henry the magnadoodle, Cheeky Charlie, and two Thomas playsets

FINALLY, it was Brant's turn!

Santa came through with the Bop-It, along with the new Skylanders Swap Force game and figures.  He also left the Dolorian Lego kit. 

Grandma had her turn, with some new tops and jeans from us!

Daddy had his turn, with a fleece lined L.L. Bean sweatshirt and a Calphalon immersion blender.
Henry had great fun delivering the gifts!
 About this point, the photos got old.  Henry enjoyed opening each of his gifts and would get hung up.  As a matter of fact, even now, Christmas night, there is one unwrapped gift under the tree.   I unwrapped several gifts from Daddy and the boys, comprising new jammies and slippers!  Apparently, since I got 3 or 4 new sets, Daddy is tired of my ratty PJ bottoms!

We had a Mountain man breakfast and then settled for some quiet time.  Henry and I were on the couch, where I fell asleep, he did not.  Thankfully Mom was here and played with the boys.  Big B caught a snooze too.

Getting up, we went for a family walk, ending up at the playground for a bit.   The boys enjoyed the bright sunshine, though it was cold.   Leftovers for "linner" we are all back on the couch.  Henry crashed out and Brant is flitting between new toys.  It's been a quiet, slow paced day, just what we all needed.

Merry Christmas to one and all!  We pray that you have a blessed time with family and remember the REAL reason for the season!

Christmas eve: crafts. cookies and cuddles

We've decided, as years have passed, that we would have our Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve, then eat leftovers on Christmas afternoon. So Daddy busied himself with the smoking of the turkey (the most delicious turkey EVER!) and I got the boys busy doing some sticker art.  Good thing I had stuff stashed, for the wiggles and crazies come out waiting for Christmas morning. 

Henry had some John Deere stickers and Brant had a military uniforms throughout history stickers

And then, they crashed...
 While they crashed I worked on getting cookie dough made.  While it was chilling the boys got a second wind and played outside for a bit.  Then it was time to get our cookies done!  We had to get those cookies for Santa made!

Before we knew it, it was time to eat dinner.  While I have visions of Walton Family holidays, we tend to be more National Lampoon.  True to form, the witching hour set in, so it was time for baths and very soon bed.  But a few things needed to be done first.
Obligatory photos in jammies, but brother WOULD NOT cooperate

So I snapped this one

Holy cow.  And Santa hasn't even come yet!

We always let the boys open their gifts from Aunt Carol and Uncle Jim on Christmas Eve, else they get lost in the shuffle.

The only together brother picture of the night

Reading his new book

Don't know how they do it, but Jim and Carol always find the coolest games that the boys don't have!

Thought it was interesting where Brant placed Santa's cookies

Twas the night before Christmas....

Christmas morning was bound to dawn early!

Running errands: A surprise trip to Wilmington and the U.S.S. North Carolina

Awhile ago Big Brant and I decided that we'd try and get down to Wilmington for an overnight during Christmas break.  It all came together and Sunday afternoon, after we had secretly packed the van, we loaded up to run some last minute Christmas errands, or so we told Brant.  He caught on to something when we drove past Target and Alamance Crossing.  Getting on the Interstate, he questioned us.  It wasn't til we were past Mebane that he knew something was up.  So we told him!  Needless to say, he was quite excited!

Arriving later in the evening, we checked into our hotel on the river, with a great view!

The Battleship, lit up for Christmas
 The next morning, after breakfast, we cleared out of the hotel and headed across the drawbridge.

Two very excited boys in tow, we boarded the ship.  I used to go to the Battleship several times a year, growing up near there.  Dad loved all things military, so that wasn't an issue with him! It was like a double trip back in time, to my childhood and World War II.  I loved seeing Brant explore every inch, and having the inside scoop on what 

One of the best things is that you can still go in and try things out, like all the guns

Atta boy!

By far the most different and fun thing for Brant this time was that he could go inside the 16 inch guns.  The Yorktown held a whole different experience, so we are very glad we took the boys to both.

One of my favorite memories from the ship is the galley, and all the giant sized appliances for feeding the men.  It proved to be a fascination to us all, once again.  Daddy could identify all the proofing ovens, mixers and steam kettles.  Daddy had been there before, but it's different when you take your kids. Your eyes are opened to a whole different set of things.

Brant found an enormous switch in the engine room

Let's just talk a minute about the grates in the engine room.  I don't walk over sewer grates.  But in the engine room there's only one way to get out!   I also didn't want the boys to get that random weird fear from me!

Now to the main galley

Henry was interested in it ALL

I think we will institute this at home!

Dropping pennies down the wishing well, into a bucket 4 decks below.  Daddy got it after a few tries

Brant's bounced off the side of the bucket

Moving a 90 lb. power thing down the conveyor belt. 

There's a monkey on board!

Henry had a few tight squeezes, but Daddy was careful, no knocked noggins

Rain chased us off, but we'd seen enough.  We'll be back another day!

Seeing as we were so close to where I had grown up, I really wanted to show Brantley where I used to live.  Big Brant had been down a few times for the weddings of my best friends, but it had been a while for all of us.
Beautiful Lake Waccamaw

When Mom and Dad got married in Fair Bluff, they spent a few nights here for their honeymoon.  We used to love to eat here.  It was a big deal to go out to eat.  Cheryl and I would get peppermint patties at the register, put them on a toothpick, lollypop style, and nibble them while we walked out on the dock.  Grandma and Grandpa Unger even ate here when they visited us.  Good memories!

The best part was the my best friends were at their mom and dad's house, which was a second home to me, and a second set of parents.  We got to visit for a bit and rekindle a friendship that will never die, despite the fact that we don't see each other often.  More sisters than friends, it was a blessing.  I didn't take any photos, we were too busy trying to cram in as much talk as we could!

Soon it was time to hit the road.  Along the way we stopped by Hallsboro and our old house and church.  It's so funny how small things really seem, and how short roads are, when they seemed huge and long as a child.   This was the place that I learned to scan the yard for snakes, and play with the neighborhood boys.

It was a trip down memory lane and a great little trip for our little family.  But there was Christmas to prepare for and it was time to head home.