Jan 30, 2012

Final Holiday Pictures

We had a great time in Gatlinburg . Alex's best friends own a few attractions and were
able to get us into several places there. They didn't own the aquarium obviously, but we got free passes.

The girls mainly wanted to see the shark tunnel and they weren't disappointed.

Chloe the deep sea diver. That wall in the back is so realistic! Looks like that guy's about to get eaten.

They had tons of cool exhibits.

The shark room was their favorite of course. I don't remember it from last time. There was so much to learn. This shark reached up and bit the air when you pushed a button, showing the whole process of the "attack."

I caught Hannah and Hudson holding hands many times, but he caught be getting their picture here. So he let go pretty soon after that. :)

Ice cream stop while the older guys went to a shooting gallery.

The quintessential Tennessee scene.

Glow-in-the-dark circus golf. Father daughter strategy looks pretty similar.

Ringmaster Amy

Before we headed out of town, we visited Great- Granny again at her apartment. She showed the kids all of her musical toys and gave them plenty of candy for the road. Which for the most part ended up being mine and Dax's candy when the kids were asleep. We met Matt and his girlfriend for lunch before we were on our way.

We drove straight to the lake house in Dyserburg. You can tell from Hannah that it was a bit chilly : )

I can't believe we're all so grown up. I love my dad's hair in this one.

Hannah was about finished taking pictures at this point.

You can usually find Melody doing something like this wherever she goes-
taking photos of all sorts of interesting things that might otherwise be overlooked.

Almost time for another Christmas!!
But first we headed over to Mary Beth and Chris's new house they will be renting just down the road from my parents. It was huge! Lots of neat rooms, but also a lot of work to clean up.

The typical Ryan sister pose. Melody did not fully commit and therefore
looks funny. The rest of us don't right?

Reminiscent of the fake fighting pictures we took a couple of Thanksgivings
ago, my dad literally put us in this position for a picture. He moved our
hands, heads, and everything for a specific look, so here's the grand result.
Haha- we're not very normal.

The lovely walk back. Mary Beth says that the white truck
that passed us by at one point was a reality tv star they know of,
but I forget which show. He apparently lives in the area.

We unwrapped lots of presents.

Our traditional "ugly" gifts.

My mom got these glowing Christmas Disney cups last year after the holidays.

Melody got them a swing for the backyard. Something was apparently
very funny.

With some leftover gifts from another family gathering, the three of us
played that game of many names where you steal a gift.

Some folks tried their hand at fishing.

It's never just Christmas, it's Mary Beth's birthday, too!
Can you see the lovely construction paper flag announcing 27?

That night, we drove back to Collierville and spent a few days there relaxing
and not driving.

We took the kids on Grandma's favorite walk.

It was so fun watching the kids explore the woods.

Hannah and I decided to cross a little creek that turned most people back
for a little challenge of our own. I nearly landed right in the mud, but
we made it and Hannah did a great job balancing on the rocks. Grandma
took Chloe and Colin back the way we came and Hannah and I followed
the empty path to see where it lead, which was very far away. : ) We did discover
a lovely lake, though. After a few movies, hours and hours of watching "Chopped,"
and lots of playtime, we headed back to Texas.
We had a wonderful time in our travels and the kids
couldn't have behaved better! I was even less stressed out this time, I believe,
but that's up to Dax to confirm.

We arrived at Nana's house for our final Christmas. We enjoyed
a great dinner and more presents. Colin checks out his new drill.

Since the kids spend the night fairly often, Nana
gave them a neat new spot to sleep in her bedroom- based
on the little tent in the film The Holiday.

Do you see anyone new? That's Byron (Lord Byron) up on the
couch over there. The kids have previously been terrified of dogs,
but Byron here has officially cured them. (They now go up to all
sorts of dogs).

He seems to like us all.

Another gift from Nana were some wheels for the girls. Chloe
needed a lot more leg strength than I imagined. When the weather
is more consistently warm, we'll head out for more practice.
We plan on getting Hannah a bigger version for her birthday.

Colin got a basketball goal- a nice addition to his bright little room-
my favorite room in the house.

He's trying out his toddler bed occasionally. He loves to get into it at night,
but wakes up frequently knocking on the door, so he's not super comfortable yet.

Melody's gift was a set of construction straws. Hannah was thrilled to be
trapped in her rocket ship.

Chloe is beyond excited about playing in the leaves after church.

You can tell the pose I was going for, but it went all wrong- haha.

Now that we're back home, Colin is coming into his own and getting into everything he can.
He climbed up to the pass-through, reached over the sink and grabbed all the candy canes out of the vase, and began eating them through the wrappers. He's trying to hide, but his mess gives him away. He's done that with chocolate, too. And he still grabs the chance to help himself to some chips if someone leaves the pantry door open. The funny thing is he's not upset when you take the food away. It's almost as if he shrugs and says, "Well, you got me. What can I do?"

Jan 8, 2012

Christmas Stage 2

The kids did wonderfully on the drive to Grandma and Grandpa's house.
We had plenty of activities and hardly any fussing! The next day, they
had fun getting reacquainted with the house.

After a relaxing day and an outing to see Mission Impossible with my dad, we headed to East Tennessee.

We stopped in Nashville to have lunch with Aunt Melody and to finally meet Josh.
We found a neat hot dog place, which turned out to be more grease than hot dog!

We arrived in Knoxville that evening. We stayed at our friend Matt's house and caught up with college friends, including the kids' godparents. Lots of chatting and memories as always. A friend brought his 7 year old daughter so the girls had a lot of fun playing with her.

You would think after so much travel, meeting new people, and not being in their own home, they might be a little uncomfortable getting to sleep, but I guess all the activity overrode the unfamiliarity.

The next morning was Christmas Eve. Dax took the girls to his childhood church,
St. George's in Knoxville. This was where he took me when we first started dating. I was really taken aback by all the icons and the whole feel of the place back then. Now I see all the beauty!

Later that morning, Matt's gracious parents brought over a big breakfast and gifts for the kids.
Colin and Matt's mom played a bit of hid and seek.
Then we headed off to Sevierville.

I love this neighborhood where Dax's dad and stepmom live. The Tennessee hills I used to see o my Tennessee history textbooks growing up made no sense to me when I lived in Memphis. Where is that in Tennessee? I was lucky enough to go to college in this pretty setting and student teach almost directly in the hills. It was such a nice sight every day.

Getting to hang out with Papa Hats!

Christmas Eve is when Dave's side of the family gets together. For some crazy reason
I have no pictures of the extended family! There were 8 other people there!
Here is cousin Hudson, though, receiving
his choice of gifts for the season- anything related to the University of Georgia.

Dax and Colin try out the helmet.

Trading jokes with Uncle Alex.

Dax's brother with his sons, Weston and Hudson. It's hard to believe that Weston
was only 5 years old and the little ring bearer at our wedding.

The girls getting matching UT dresses. Good for football next fall. And of course
we'll have to take their picture and send it into the Vol magazine like everyone else.

Matching sleepers! I'll be sad when they're not into matching anymore. : )

Christmas morning, we visited St. Anne's church in Oak Ridge. That's where Dax and I had our Orthodox wedding almost 11 years ago. Colin wasn't too into the service, so we didn't stay for much chatting afterward. With time to spare before heading back to Papa Hats and Granny B's house, we had lunch at Ihop. Lots of tasty food for all, include Christmas sprinkled pancakes,
then we returned to the house for even more good food for two more days.

Granny B's side of the family came for Christmas Day. Weston helps Colin
open a cool toy.

Glow-in-the-dark remote control truck.

The adults were so happy to get a rare picture of all their grandkids.
With us in Texas and some others in Florida, who knows when they'll
all be together again. Gavin, Charity, Isabella, Hudson, Hannah, Colin, Chloe,
and Weston

This one was funny because Colin kept crawling back and forth across
their laps making them giggle.

I like this pose. Colin was in love with these steps
the whole time we were there. Only the last day did we
think to put a tv tray in front of them so he would
stay away.

Chloe and Hannah were very excited about this hand vacuum.
Perhaps that needs to be on my shopping list. There are a few messes
around here they could surely help out with.

All the sons- Jason, Joel, Alex, and Dax. Have I mentioned before
that in Dax's family everyone has two sons.? Including, I just realized,
Beverly. Dax is the one that had to break the mold, I guess. : )

Decked out in his Georgia gear.

Now with spouses! I will never learn to stop hunching over because
I'm tall. I always think I'm standing straight, but I'm not! Of course
nowadays I spend all day hunched over toward the kids, so that
doesn't help. Well, way to bring this picture down! ha

The girls got plenty of stuffed animals to love this year!
The funny thing is they always kept track of these two for the remainder
of the trip, but now that we're home, after the girls go to bed,
I hear the creak of the door. It's Chloe setting the cat in the hallway. ?

Again, the kids did really well meeting all sorts of new relatives and experiencing
new things.

Next we'll visit Gatlinburg!