Thursday, December 31, 2015

End of 2015…

This year, our Christmases were planned a little differently. One of Kelsey’s BFFs (who’s also her roomate) wedding was the weekend before Christmas. That’s usually when we do Christmas with my MIL, but Grandma was great about planning her Christmas with everyone for New Year’s, so that we could all be here for the wedding and none of us had to miss her Christmas gathering either. I made the wedding cake, so I couldn’t miss it.IMG_9879

The week between Christmas and New Year’s is the one week a year that the construciton company all takes off. We look forward to it every year because it means DW is home for an entire week! It also falls at the busiest time of the year, so it doesn’t mean much rest and relaxation for him, but it’s still a week off from work! ;)

This year, we logged hundreds of miles during that week.

On Monday, the kids and I took a little day trip with DW up to Marianna. IMG_6801He was picking up a new trailer for the company, and we’re always up for an adventure, so we tagged along. We made a little trip of it, by stopping in Quincy to see his great-aunt BJ.IMG_6813 BJ was married to DW’s Grandmother’s (my FIL’s mother) brother. We went by his great-grandpa’s old house (who was the town Sherriff for years) and then by the cemetery to see where he and many of the other family are buried. It was so sweet to get to see all of those things and introduce our kids to part of thier roots and so sweet to spend an hour visiting with their great-great Aunt BJ. IMG_6898

We drove on to Marianna and had lunch and stopped at Wal-Mart, because there wasn’t much else to do there. Ha. The girls had Christmas cash to spend, and they’d been looking for the wheel-chair and cast/cruches for their dolls that had been sold out at all the stores near us. It was a score for AB! IMG_6920

We picked up the trailer last and headed back home. It was a fun little outing, but a VERY long day!

On Tuesday, we made the trip to and from South Georgia for DW’s Grandfather’s (his mom’s Dad) funeral. His PaPa was his last living grandparent. He was a very neat person and sharp as a tack until the end. He knew how to speak German and always tried to teach us new words. After knowing him for nearly 15 years, I still never learned any. He had a fantastic memory and always had colorful stories to share. I’ll never forget the first time DW took me to his Grandparents’ house. After dinner, his PaPa came back into the living room and told the boys that he was just so proud of them that they might find him on the roof with his feathers bowed out crowing in the morning. I loved that.

On Wednesday, we rested up at home and packed up for our New Year’s plans.

A week off always goes by too fast.


Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Christmas Day

Christmas morning is so sweet with littles. IMG_6470

Annabelle came in our room just after 3:00 am, again at 4:30 and then finally at 6:30 we let her wake Maybree and Tucker up.

Santa left each of the kids’ gifts in a spot of their own and they took turns opening them and seeing what they each had gotten. DSC_4523DSC_4522DSC_4521DSC_4538IMG_6544

DSC_4562Annabelle was so excited to see that Santa had brought her a microscope and he even “turned her I-Pad into a laptop” – by adding a pink keyboard case.DSC_4546 

IMG_6569Maybree, too, was thrilled that Santa had brought exactly what she’d asked for- a doll, a bracelet and her doc mcstuffins legos. DSC_4537IMG_6543However, when she’d opened all her presents she jumped up and said, “well, where did he leave my pet-vet clinic?” Ha. Mames was at the age this year where she kept adding things she REALLY REALLY REALLY wanted to her list days before Chirstmas. She also had a hard time understanding why there was no snow outside. I told her that besides the fact that it’s Florida and doesn’t snow here,  it was hot outside (we could have worn shorts on Christmas this year) – but she just argued back, “BUT its CHRISTMAS!” Ha.

Tucker climbed up on his big gift, a Cat loader and stayed there all morning. IMG_6504It was his official spot for opening the rest of his gifts. He did get down long enough to haul some cows before we took his loader outside so he could go for a test drive. DSC_4564It’s a little big for him, but Santa got too good of a deal on it to pass. :)IMG_6589IMG_6625

We checked on our reindeer food to see if they’d dropped a bell. We found a chewed up red bow and wondered if Judson had maybe found the jingle bell before us. We searched the yard and what do you know… a jingle bell HAD fallen off one of the reindeer, but Jud had found it first. ;)IMG_6643

Breakfast is always at Pappy & Nie-Nie’s in our pajamas. There’s pancakes, bacon, sausage and peanut butter balls (aka “buckeyes”, to some). There will always be peanut butter balls served on Christmas morning. :)IMG_6736It’s always a chaotic mess in their sunroom when 16 people finish opening their gifts and it’s always fun. IMG_6737

My parents made the big move over to Williston, the weekend before Christmas. They’re renting a place for now, and the location is so great. We can leave our house and pull up at theirs 3 minutes later. Its fantastic. Momma cooked a big lunch and we opened gifts and enjoyed watching the kids play with thier new toys all afternoon. IMG_6666IMG_6683

Mames was thrilled to finally find her Pet Vet clinic at Grammy & Pop’s! It was a Christmas miracle, because that thing had been sold out online and in stores in our area.


We ended the night watching AB do a magic show, while eating peppermint ice cream. Perfect. IMG_6728

And of course, we put together Mamie’s new ice castle at 9:00 that night- becuase it was Christmas and she wanted to. :)  The ice castle was another one of those things Mamie added to her list days before Christmas, and Nie-Nie was able to get the last one on the shelf! The Christmas miracles just kept coming for Mames! ;)

IMG_6731 Another sweet Chirstmas for sure. 


Sunday, December 27, 2015

December Recap

- This year’s Do Art plateIMG_6963

- Our annual ornament date night got moved to Ocala this year, since our Hallmark store at the mall closed. :( We started this tradition with Cooper the year he was born and I know when our babies grow up and leave home, having their keepsake ornaments from each year will be so special. Of course that means I’ll have to actually give them to them, and who knows how old they’ll be before I do that. :) It’s so sweet to see their little trees in the foyer and remember each ornament and why the chose it.IMG_4477 Every year, after they choose their new ornament, I write their name on the box and sometimes a little note about why they chose it. IMG_4426This year’s choices were: Tucker – the little tikes swing (just like the one he has), Maybree- the snowman cookie plate, Annabelle – the little snowman and the girls chose the Cozy Coupe for Cooper’s tree. We’ve reached maximum capacity on their little trees, so I think next year, we may have to get a big tree and put them all together.

- We got our tree early and the girls took their time picking the perfect one. IMG_4102Tucker was only worried about the skidsteer parked on the edge of the lot. IMG_4115We got it home and decorated… IMG_7022

only have to it fall over TWICE later that month. We’ve never had that happen before. WHAT a MESS!

One of my favorite things I hang on our tree every year is this bunch of plastic bananas. IMG_6460I usually hang it near the back, because it doesn’t exaclty “match” the rest of the tree, but this year I proudly hung them in the front. My SIL was over one day and asked what was with the bananas on the tree, so I told her the story… and I was a little ashamed of myself that I’d been tucking them in the back of the tree all these years for no one to really see. They’re there as a reminder of the Christmas story my Papa used to tell every year about his own favorite Christmas memory. He grew up during the Great Depression and like everyone else during that time, was very poor. He was plowing behind a mule on Christmas morning, in the freezing cold, and his mother came out to bring him his Christmas present. She reached into her apron and pulled out the treat, which was half of a banana. Let that sink it. HALF of a banana. His hands were so cold that he ended up dropping it in the dirt, but with tear filled eyes, his mother went and washed it off for him. It’s a great reminder during the hustle and bustle of the season, that the greatest things in life aren’t things, and that the greatest gift any of us were ever given was born in the manager. I want my kids to know and to live the true meaning of Christmas and to know there’s so much more to life than ‘stuff.’ So that’s why I hang the bananas – when I get too consumed with the “Christmas stuff” that isn’t even CHRISTmas, I can see them, and refocus.

- We decked the halls and also my car this year. IMG_5674I found these little battery operated LED light sets at the Dollar Tree and bought several to put in the car. The girls LOVED it- they each had a control on their side of the car and they loved turning them on every time we were on the go in December. IMG_5661

- DW’s office tree got a few new additions this year.IMG_4895 I saw these clear plastic ornaments at Michaels and had the idea of putting crushed up R.A.P. in them. IMG_4898They turned out really cute.

- Tucker’s tree got an addition, too. A Caterpillar Train. IMG_3654IMG_3668He loved it, and spent lot of time all month long making the train go, and running it off the tracks. :)

- The girls were such big helpers this year with our Christmas cards. We had a little assembly line going on, getting them all stuffed and stamped. It’s so sweet having little girls. These two love anything to do with scissors, paper, and stickers. IMG_6015

- They also love to help in the kitchen. They always look forward to our Christmas baking day and I do, too. This year, mid-way through making one of our treats, Maybree said, “take this apron off me. I’m a princess and princesses don’t wear aprons- now, where’s that crown of mine?!?!” She helped us finish our baking with her crown on. :)IMG_6229

- The Santa Experience 2016 lived up to last year’s greatness. IMG_6977I hadn’t seen any information on the Studio we used last year doing it again, so I was worried we’d just have to hit the mall this year. Literally the Friday before the Saturday and Sunday that they were scheduled to have it, I saw it advertised on their facebook page and made our appointment for that Sunday afternoon. IMG_6972I’d been talking “Ho-Ho” up to Tucker and showing him pictures hoping he wouldn’t be scared of him, and he shocked us all and LOVED him! IMG_6974It was adorable. He calls him, “Ha-Ha,” which is cute enough on its own, but when he reached out to Santa to hold him, it blew my mind. IMG_6973Santa read them a story and then they all took turns telling him what they wanted. Annabelle’s request was a microscope and a laptop. (?) (Insert my “it ain’t happening” face here about the laptop) ha.  Mamie requested a bracelet and doc mcstuffins legos. When it was Tucker’s turns, Santa said, “Ok, Tucker, what can I bring you on Christmas?” Tucker looked him square in the face and said, “Bruuuummmm, bruuuummmmm”  (which translates to a tractor or other piece of heavy equipment, Santa. :)  We ended up ordering the picture collage again this year, because last year’s turned out so precious. IMG_6968When it finally arrived, we were so pleased with it. I have no doubt these will be some of my most treasured Christmas decorations forever.

- The Jingle-Bell Jog 2015 was adorable! IMG_4590All three kids got to run this year. IMG_4737Tucker started out in the Diaper Dash. He was lined up and ready to go. IMG_4601IMG_4608He ended up being the last one to cross the finish line because he took his time waving at the crowd and making his way down. Hilarious.IMG_4615IMG_4620 

Mames was up next with the Tot Trot. IMG_4628She was adorable, too, and so proud of herself and her jingle bell when she crossed the finish line. IMG_4645

AB was the next group to run and did a great job jogging the entire time this year. IMG_4650IMG_4665She was out of breath when she made it across the finish line.IMG_4677

It was such a fun morning and we loved that we got to spend it with Grammy, Nie-Nie, Nen, Parker, Parker’s Grandma Jo, Aunt Amber & Warren. (Half of our men were in Atlanta watching the Gators play in the SEC and the other ones were working).  IMG_4736IMG_4695

- That evening was the Christmas parade in town and we watched it with the same crew (minus Amber & Warren). Yep, that’s “Doc McStuffins” and Santa riding in on an elephant. IMG_4892

- The First Grade Christmas Program was a “Pete the Cat” theme. IMG_5917It was adorable. AB had a speaking part and did great. IMG_5942

- Our Elf showed up with his North Pole breakfast and kept us entertained all month long. IMG_4464

A few of the kids’ favorites:


- We went to see the lights at Stephen Foster State Park and every year, just like always, I come home wanting to wrap our big oak trees. Its definitley a retirement goal. :) I liked the way they just had strands dangling down from some of the oaks this year, too. IMG_5625The trains were a hit with the little boys and Mamie was super excited to run into her little friend, Ella. IMG_5554IMG_5589

E & M got to help one of the folk artists sing jingle bells. IMG_5629Mames couldnt have been more thrilled over the song selection- Jingle Bells tops the list of her favorite Christmas songs, along with “Grandma got runned over by a reindeer.” I’m not even kidding. She LOVES that song. I’d also like to note for memory’s sake- that Mamie is the kid who randomly bursts into song at any random time or place. I’ve gotten lots of laughs and even stares (ha) from strangers during this season when they overhear her singing in the grocery store, or in the dressing room, or even from the bathroom stall next door. Ha.

The “snow” was fun to play in and we ended the night with ice cream, because its Florida and it was a really warm December.


- Our three were such cuties in our church’s Christmas program. IMG_5871The big kids sang Christmas songs while the little ones acted out the nativity. IMG_5841Our girls were angels and Tucker-boy was a stable cow. IMG_5848He was unbearably cute and took his job very serious. IMG_5818He stood right on the little step holding on to the rail the entire time. IMG_5812It was darling. IMG_5850

- Light Looking 2015 took us to Ocala instead of Gainesville this year. We’d seen that two families from Ocala had been contestants on ABC’s the Great Light Challenge, so we decided to check them out. I’d also come across an address of a place I heard was fantastic- we went there first and it did not disappoint! IMG_6354The kids loved walking around through the lights and even down to the lake out on the dock. IMG_6391 IMG_6394IMG_6399The last two were the ones from the TV show. The amount of lights, decorations and time that went into these yards was unreal. IMG_6406 IMG_6413IMG_6429IMG_6440Our only complaint was that there’s not a Krispy Kreme in Ocala, so we couldn’t end the night with hot donuts. We substituted with Peppermint Shakes at Chick-fil-A,IMG_6438 so really we didn’t have much to complain about. :)

- This year at Devin’s extended family Christmas party, his aunt who hosted, asked the kids to sing a song for everyone. The girls were very excited to plan what they’d do. They chose Jingle Bells (Mamie’s favorite)- and Annabelle broke it down into parts for everyone. Warren sang the first verse, she sang the second, Mamie did the “Ohhhhhh” and they all sang the chorus together. We got jingle bells for Tucker and Parker and they danced and jingled while the bigger kids sang. It was also Mamie’s idea to make everyone their own jingle bell to ring while they sang. She was so cute about picking the biggest bells we could find and she insisted on helping cut the ribbon and tie them on. They handed them out to the family before thier “performance.”IMG_5021

- AB was the first one to put gifts under our tree. The Santa Shop at school is always a big deal to the kids. Its so sweet to see them go in and “shop” for the people on their list. This year I volunteered two days and it was so sweet. The kids are always so proud of their gifts and it’s just adorable.


- Grandma came down the Monday before Christmas. We had everyone over to our house for dinner and I had everyone bring a gingerbread house to decorate. IMG_6157IMG_6129IMG_6192IMG_6174

I’m not sure if the houses had more candy on them or fingerprints where the littles had been eating the candy off of them.


- The last dance class of the year is always fun, too. The classes do a Christmas dance they’ve learned for the parents and this year Santa even made an apperance! IMG_5098



- Every year the construction company does a BBQ for the employees on the last work day before Christmas. This year, we went, too. Tucker helped Pappy supervise the set up and the tea station. IMG_6332Nobody enjoyed the Whitehurst BBQ more than TDW who sat on the tailgate and devoured his plate, and never let go of his motorgrader while doing it. IMG_6337

- We had a fun play date with Carrie and her crew. We got together to decorate tacky t-shirts. Most people do a tacky sweater this time of year, but- FLORIDA.?!?!?IMG_6303Whitt requested a John Deere tractor on his tshirt, of course. So I cut one out of green felt and he decorated it. IMG_6278He told us Tuck-ter probably wanted a tractor on his shirt, too. So he decorated it for him. IMG_6274The boys had a big time watching a real tractor put out fertilizer next door while the girls bedazzled their shirts. It’s always fun to have the gang together. IMG_6325IMG_6282

- We made a trip back to the Cade’s Christmas lights with Grammy & Pop. We knew Grammy would love the lights. The kids loved getting to run through them again.

- We went to the Christmas Eve service at our church. Tucker ate dum-dums and smarties the entire service. I was subscribing to the “whatever it takes” philosophy to keep him quiet, but all the sugar finally caught up to him and we were all DONE by the time the service was over. Ha. We had eaten our traditional Christmas Eve steaks before going to church, so once we got home, the girls and I made some reindeer food to put out. AB had watched the Polar Express in school, and had told me how much she wanted a jingle bell from Santa’s sleigh. We decided MAYBE if we put out some reindeer food in the yard, the reindeer would land, have a snack and HOPEFULLY a bell would fall off. I “read online” that reindeer love oats, and wouldn’t you know, we just happen to have some in our pantry. We decided we needed something shiny and sparkly to catch the reindeers eye, and Mamie was the first to suggest, GLITTER! Perfect. We sprinkled our reindeer food in the front yard and then the got the littles all jammied and snuggled into bed.  IMG_6470

DW and I watched “Four Christmases,” snacked on buckeyes and got ready for Santa.


It was a BUSY December!