Dec 28, 2009

The Stokes's Grand Christmas Tour

Thursday the 17th, we arrived at my parents' house after about a 10 hour drive. The next day was their last day of teaching for the year so we had some time on our own. We decorated a little.

Then we headed to lunch where it took me 45 minutes to get my Popeye's chicken sandwich. They forgot to make it and then the new guy..didn't know how to make it! Next we hit the town square which is always nicely decorated for Christmas. Hannah likes trains so we took her to see the historic train they have on site.

They check out the old-fashioned phone booth...

and the old log cabin. Chloe is proud of a leaf she found.

Also in the town square is the church Dax and I were married in so we took some pictures here to show how far we've come! This one is so great of Dax and Hannah.

A broader view. My dad walked me right through those double doors!

Hannah took a picture of the happy couple.

After that, I knew my mom would love a surprise visit from her granddaughters. She showed them off to her fellow teachers and I even got to catch up with one of my old teachers who has transferred there. I had not seen her since 6th grade. She said I haven't changed a bit. I'll just take that as a compliment and not think too hard on it. That night my dad treated some of us to Avatar. I really liked it!

The next day we drove east to Knoxville. Our friend Matt let us crash at his house, which has the most beautiful view of snow covered trees from his den window in the morning. We got to catch up with him...and then I realized I forgot our camera!!!!! Dax's dad let us borrow his but I didn't know how to use it as well and we were also sharing it with him so my pictures in East Tennessee are limited. I was so disappointed!!!!! The next day we drove to Sevierville to have Christmas with Dax's family. Hudson and Hannah do some drawing while they wait for present opening.

The next day we took the opportunity to see the Ripley's Aquarium in Gatlinburg with a VIP pass! The girls and the fish had a love/hate relationship : ) I love this picture even if it's a little blurry.

They couldn't wait to get to the kiddie play area. Here they are playing with a treasure chest.

Scuba Amy.

My favorite is always the shark tunnel. Chloe and Hannah weren't so sure.

Taking a break. After a lovely time, we foolishly decided to take the girls clothes shopping in the huge outlet area in town with some of their Christmas money. We found a couple of cute things but they did not make it easy on us!

We spent another evening with Papa Hats and Granny B, opening more presents and enjoying some Survivor on tv : )

The next day, now a camera being completely out of our hands : ( , we spent some quality time with Great Granny at her home. Chloe sat in her lap the whole time and it thrilled Dax's grandmother to death! We made a short trip out to Granny B's work to say goodbye then went back to Matt's house where he hosted a great "Stokeses with the Mostest" gathering. We got to see some old college friends, and the girls got to spend some time with their godparents and their children. After everyone left, I curled up on the couch in front of the Christmas tree with a book while Dax and Matt headed to the game room for some guitar hero. Whew!

Back to Collierville! We stopped in Nashville to have lunch with some church friends who happened to be there at the same time. We had delicious pancakes at the Pancake Pantry. A few hours later we arrived at my parent's house. Play-do was the activity that kept us busy until my dad's lovely meal was ready. My mom worked on this beautiful snake long after Hannah lost interest. 1st prize in the state fair, I say.

Christmas Eve is always a big party on my dad's side of the family. We haven't seen most of this family for 3 years! We average around 35-40 people. Hannah spent her meal warning my Aunt Sharon not to touch her food.

Me and my cousin Dustin, Sharon's oldest of 5 sons.

We're all waiting to play the beloved "game." You know, the one where you get to open and steal a lot of presents. I won a juicer and Dax won a pizza slab and Slap Chop. The presents are always good ones so no one leaves dissatisfied. Well, my dad walked away with some pretty little photo albums, so I guess that's not always the case. It's always a day full of laughs and I have years and years of video of us playing this game.

My dad and Aunt Dianne, who hosted the shindig and always makes my favorite cheese potatoes!

Back home, we decide to try out my dad's Wii. I haven't had much time on it before, but I loved the boxing. My arms were sore for 2 days. My dad's trying to knock this guy out.

Chris has a turn.

On to baseball. We also loved the Wii fit. Anna got us a Wii for Christmas and my dad is giving us the Fit package so I'm really excited!!! The whole family stayed up all night trading off games.

Christmas morning, my "ugly" present from Melody was revealed. Or you can call it the disgusting presents as it was covered in what I think was cheese dip and toothpaste!

Melody made these awesome stuffed balls for the kids.

They were a hit.

It took Kayla awhile to get into the action.

It's so fun to watch your kids discover new toys.

Chloe got a huge kick out of the toy hamsters my dad gave everyone. They were the most popular present this year and the kids never tired of them. More pictures later because they are so cool.

Chloe gets a riding horse.

Hannah gets a coloring desk that plays music as you draw- the faster you draw, the faster the tempo.

We got them these matching hats and made them wear them for at least 1 picture : )
Then we headed off for Christmas on my mom's side of the family at Uncle Randy's house. It was always in the back of everyone's minds that we will be missing Granny this year.

I couldn't leave the Rotel bowl.

I think these two liked it even more.

Preston having a nice time.

Chris tried on a Snuggie.

This is the best family picture we got the whole vacation. Oh well. I love Chloe's face in this one though!! and pay no attention to that filthy shoe.

As for family pictures, this one is runner up.

These two always take great pictures.

As for the other two... : )

Since we didn't do a draw-the-name gift exchange this year, Mary Beth and I worked on a couple of games for the kids. Pin-the-nose on frosty, and the snowball throw! They all got animated stuffed animals as prizes.

Harley decided to head up the snowball game. You can see all the different nose placements on Frosty! The snowballs were made of little baggies of mini-marshmallows, so once the kids got it through the hole, they were allowed to eat the treat. I thought it was pretty fun. The adults played the dirty santa game. At the end, my uncle pulled out a bonus gift. Whoever picked the number closest to what he was thinking could trade their gift in for the secret gift. He promised it was a good one. I decided to play but didn't win. Thank goodness, because Uncle Barry was fooling us all when the lucky winner traded in their gift for what turned out to be a large gourd.

Christmas evening we celebrated Mary Beth's birthday a day early. Everyone is getting a look at the goofy calendar I made her. My mom took us to see "What Happened to the Morgans." Pretty silly movie, but we always enjoy ourselves.

The next day, we all visited Mamaw! I have no idea why I don't have any pictures of that. Later, Dax and I got to go on a date!!!!!!!!!!!!! Note the many exclamation marks. We wandered around the outdoor mall at our liesure. Looked at whatever we wanted to. We went out to eat with a gift card and I got to keep my lemon in my water without someone digging their fingers in my glass, I got to finish all of my meal, and we even ordered dessert! Then we went to another couple of stores just for fun! Whoohoo! After a late night it was time to pack up.

The next morning my mom kept Chloe warm as we said our goodbyes. The trip home was decent and we arrived just in time to put the girls to bed and relax in front of the fire.

Today I spent the day unpacking while the girls tried out their new toys. Back to the hamsters- this is their home! They have a slide, kitchen, den, and garage, each with little doorbells that ring when the hamster passes through.

The hamster then boards his car all on his own and bursts out of the garage to go for a joy ride across the room. It cracks me up every time!

Rather than make a Christmas dinner with Anna as we usually do, we went to our favorite restaurant, Texas de Brazil and enjoyed doing no dishes and lots of delicious meats and treats! We all went back to Anna's to have our Christmas with her. Here she and Chloe sort through the gifts under the tree.

Hannah lines them all neatly on the couch.

Chloe gets a new baby doll. She is the sweetest thing! She pats the baby on the back, rocks her, and gives her kisses, the whole time beaming like she has a new best friend. This makes me so happy, because I know she's copying things she's seen and that means she's seen lots of love!

Dax tries on some interesting ear muffs.

Thank you, Nana, for a wonderful Christmas and lots of goodies! Thank you EVERYONE for all you did to make our holidays so memorable.

As for our immediate family, we still haven't given the girls their gifts from us! It seemed silly to travel with them and bring them right back home. We think tomorrow night we have our very first night in in over 2 weeks. Of course the girls may be gifted out and our house is overflowing with new toys, but we'll have a nice moment to ourselves after this great holiday adventure!!!
As for traveling next year with a 3yr old, 2 yr old, and 6 month old? We'll have to see. : )