Sunday, December 31, 2017

Happy New Year!

We rang in the new year with friends at the Brittain's home.  It was COLD but we all huddled together outside to shoot off fireworks and then warmed up inside by playing a very rousing game of Girls vs. Boys Pictionary.  :)  A few of us made it all the way to midnight (real midnight, not even New York midnight!  I know be impressed.  Very impressed.)  and we celebrated with cheering and kisses for our loved ones.

A few silly pictures from our evening...

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Bear is very grateful that Santa brought him comfy new sleep spots.  He just can't figure out why he got him two of the exact same thing.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Christmas in Keller

On our way back to TX from Ruisdoso we stopped in Keller for a few nights to celebrate Christmas with the Drennons and Brewtons.  The Brewtons hosted this year and it was nice and laid back.  The big surprise was that the kids were going to receive a Spring Break trip to Disney World for Christmas.  Since this was such a big ticket item there weren't going to be the mounds of presents under that tree like in years past.  To make it special, Mike and Cheri came up with a wonderful scavenger hunt game that started in the very tiny stockings...
(Kennedy's face was hilarious when she first saw them!)

and led the cousins all round the house discovering envelopes and clues...

That all led to this...

Everyone, including us parents even though we knew it was coming, were ecstatic with the gift of a trip.  It was been several years since we have all been able to go to Disney together and the memories we make on those trips are wonderful.  Another part of the surprise is that we will be staying in the Grand Floridians new Grand Villa.  The tip top of luxury!  So exciting!
There were still a few gifts to be passed around and opened before eating Jason's yummy cinnamon rolls.  

Later that afternoon the kids all painted and decorated nutcracker dolls, while the adults rested up to work on a puzzle and play games like New York 1901 and Code Names. 

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Ruidoso, NM

This post is a hard one for me to write because there were alot of up and down emotions surrounding this trip.  Let's start from the beginning...
Hannah and I thought it would be special to try and do a trip with jut the 4 of us siblings and our significant others around Christmas time.  Ever since Mom and Dad died we have been absorbed lovingly into the Snider/Stewart Xmas gathering but we haven't had any family time that is just the "Core 4."  As we started the planning process the lack of commitment from Wesley really placed a strain on me and my relationship with him.  The result was him choosing not to go which broke my heart and really changed the feeling of the getaway.  Marib had been struggling with substance abuse for sometime and Hannah and I still thought the trip would be a nice diversion for her.  We hoped it would give her something positive to look forward to, and I think we succeeded in that.  What we couldn't have planned for was she and Gene getting into a big fight the week before the trip and him deciding not to go.  C'est la vie... and we were down to 7.  

We left early morning on a Saturday and drove all day to Ruidoso.  Hannah took her new car with Marib, Violet and Kate and we took our car with our family of 4 and Bear.  

The drive went smoothly and we pulled into Ruidoso not long after sun down.  We stayed in a 3 bedroom, 2 bath split level condo that backed up to a golf course.  The accommodations were wonderful and really worked well for our group.  Well, except for maybe Hannah, Kate and the 4 of us all having to share a very tiny bathroom, but we made it work.  When we awoke that next morning we were amazed to see a heard of elk? grazing just off of our back patio.  It was incredible!  They hung around for a couple of mornings before moving on down the path. 
We had hoped to ski while in New Mexico but the weather had different plans.  There was very little snow at Ski Apache and only a couple of runs were open.  Weighing the expense of putting the kids in ski school and the logistics of making skiing happen resulted in us choosing to forgo it this vacation.  Tim was very disappointed but I hope we can get him out skiing soon.  Not skiing really opened up our schedule.  We spent it throwing rocks trying to break the thin ice on top of the pond near our condo...

Wandering the streets of Ruidoso shopping, eating and looking for photo ops...  We also met Santa that day working in his Christmas shop.  He was delightful and put you in the holiday spirit.  He also kindly told us about tubing which we took him up on the next day.

Playing games, doing a puzzle, watching movies, reading doing nails, cooking and playing Tim's new Super Nintendo and buying Bear and Violet matching pj's...

We also spent an afternoon going on a beautiful hike around Grindstone Lake.  Marib's health and endurance didn't last very far so Hannah went back with her and Kate and the 4 of us continued on.  Towards the end we took a wrong turn and ended up turning it into a 7.5 miles hike with a steep hill at the end.  We were pretty tired by the time we got to the top but so glad we did it.  At least the 3 adults were.  I'm afraid it just cemented Kennedy's already negative feelings towards hiking.

On our hike I had everyone keep an eye out for something they found really interesting.  Once they decided I took their picture with it.  This was meant as a way to help keep the littles interested in the hike.  I'm really not sure how well it worked, but we got some fun pictures none the less.

Tim with his fallen down tree...

Kennedy and I both found these trees with the smooth and bumpy bark fascinating...

Lleyton chose the lake itself which was very beautiful.

Water Break!  Look how excited we all are to only be half way through.  :)

Something we found when we got off route...

We spent another afternoon all going tubing.  The snow was man made but they had alot of it and 9 different runs open for tubing.  We rode the Jetson style elevators to the top of the mountain and then tubed down... over and over and over.  We tubed linked to eachother, alone. on our tummies, on our bottoms. etc... It was a blast!

One of my favorite things we did was attend a live radio play of "It's a Wonderful Life" at a local coffee shop.  None of us had ever been to something like that and it was so neat!  We saw how they made all of the background sounds on radio shows from the past and really enjoyed the performance.  Tim saw the flyer for this on a bulletin board on the outside of the local grocery store and said let's go!  I love this about him and loved our afternoon sipping coffee and hearing such a great story.  It made my heart hurt just a little because I know it was something my Mother would have loved to go to as well as Marib who was back at the condo sadly missing out on life once again. 

Our last night in Ruidoso, Nana treated us all to a very fancy dinner for our Christmas present.  It was such a thoughtful gift and allowed us to wrap up our vacation with great memories and full bellies.

On the road again.  One car headed back to Austin, one car headed to Keller for Drennon Christmas.