Merry Christmas

Our family had a wonderful Christmas together. Chris only had to work until noon, which meant that we could all go to the children's Christmas Eve service at our church. The kids were a bit restless, but so were all of the kids there that evening so we didn't feel too bad.

After church we met Aunt Erin at On the Border for some Christmas Eve Mexican. :) We gave our traditional presents to strangers to our server and the girl that was cleaning the tables. It was sort of cheating this year though, because we go to On the Border all the time and none of the employees are really "strangers." Oh well...

We went back to the house and Erin exchanged presents with Cadence and Gabriel. The kids went to bed without putting up much of a fight - I was pleasantly surprised.

Santa came at some point during the night and the Elf that has been watching the children and reporting back to Santa on a daily basis was gone when we went downstairs in the morning. Cadence and Gabriel didn't wake Chris and I up until 7:30 a.m. That's a Christmas miracle if I've ever heard of one!! :D

Our families arrived around mid-morning. In addition to our immediate family, we cooked breakfast for my parents, Chris's parents, Dianne, Brandon, Andrea, Jacob, Andrea's guest, Charlie and Elizabeth. We still had food left over! :)

Andrew picked up the kids at around 1pm and Chris and I took a Christmas nap before heading over to his parents' house for dinner and more presents.

We went out on Saturday evening with Charlie, Elizabeth and Erin and then spent the remainder of the weekend working on Cadence's room. We are redecorating it as her Christmas present. It is looking really good. Pictures to come soon!

Our busy weekend before Christmas

My workday was cut short on Friday when I had to go pick up the kids early from day care. You see, all of the schools apparently close two hours early when it is very cold and raining in South Carolina... I was not amused, but took advantage of my extra two hours by packing our bags. We had a surprise in store for Cadence and Gabriel.

Christy, Mitchell and Emily came over for homemade tomato basil soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. After dinner we decorated mini gingerbread houses with the kids. They were small enough so that each kid had their own house.

The next morning we fed the kids breakfast and loaded them (and the previously mentioned bags) into the car. We stopped at the outlets in Gaffney for some Christmas shopping. Chris took Cadence to buy a present for Gabriel and a present for me. I took Gabriel to buy a present for Cadence and a present for Chris. We stopped for lunch at Denny's and the kids got to kick around some nasty parking lot slush... they thought it was great. :-/

We got back in the car and drove to Concord, NC. We told the kids that we needed to take the bags that were in our trunk into the building to give to some people. Then we led them up to the Kid Kamp Suite that we had booked at the Great Wolf Lodge. Cadence was super-excited about the bunk beds and couldn't believe that we were spending the night. Then we told them that they had a "pool." This led to more excited screaming... imagine the level of excitement when they walked into the "pool" area to find a wave pool, obstacle course and tons of water slides! We played in the water park for a few hours and then changed and went out for dinner.

After dinner we let Cadence play MagiQuest. It is a condensed version of the Myrtle Beach game. Cadence has a magic wand from Myrtle Beach and we were glad to see that it still worked (Cadence has used it as a little brother beating stick MANY times). After MagiQuest we went down to the lobby to watch it snow. Now, when they say that it "snows" in the lobby, what they really mean is that they run a foamy bubble machine thingy waaaaay up in the rafters. This, combined with fans creates a snowflake effect. The only problem is that it's not snow... it's bubble foam... and the kids don't seem to like catching bubble foam snowflakes on their tongues. However, watching them taste their first bubble foam snowflake is hilarious.

We took the kids back upstairs. One of us had to go back down to the water park to watch the Polar Bear Race. They take 420 rubber polar bears and toss them down 4 conjoined water slides. Each polar bear represents a room at the lodge and each slide represents a floor at the lodge. The first polar bear down each slide wins a free future night's stay for the occupants of the room written on the bear, but you must be present to win. I went down early and took a look around the gift shop and picked up an ornament for our tree. I went into the water park and picked out a chair off to the side of the slides. It came time for the race and I cheered by little bear on (not that you can tell which one is yours....) and guess what...? He WON! I couldn't believe it! It kinda sucked though because I was down there all by myself and had no one to really share in my excitement. The man next to me was really nice though - he gave me a high five and congratulated me again when I saw him the next day. :)

When I came back upstairs, the kids were in bed. And by "in bed" I mean that they were located in or around their sleeping area. We had quite a time getting them to go to sleep. At around 1:30 a.m. Gabriel woke up crying. He NEVER wakes up. He was mad that he was wearing a wrist band (his "ticket" into the water park) and he was coughing a LOT. So we took the wrist band off and I ventured out for cough medicine. I was not happy about this. I was even less happy to find him sleeping soundly when I returned (why did I go get the medicine?). I woke him up to give him some medicine... he spat it in my face. It is 2am and I am fuming! Chris handled Gabriel after that point.

At 8:30am I heard Gabriel get out of bed. It was dark in the room and I heard his sad little shaking voice say, "Cadence, Mommy and Daddy are gone!" All frustration that I may have still felt towards him vanished at that moment when I sat up and said, "Gabriel, we're not gone. We would never leave you!" He ran around the bed and hopped in right next to me.

We managed to get the kids out of the room by 9am - because if you check out by 9am you get $20 in Wolf Cash to use at the restaurants or gift shop. We ate breakfast and then hit the water park again until almost 2:30pm. We stopped for lunch on our way out of town.

When we got home, we had just enough time to grab some ice cream at Dairy Queen and make a quick trip out to Bethlehem Revisited. A local Methodist church puts it on every year and they do an AMAZING job. After that we took headed home and put the kids to bed. Now it's time for a little bit of quiet time and some laundry.

Thanksgiving, running and other goings on...

I was out for my 6am run on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. I had completed about 2.5 miles and was feeling fine until all of a sudden it felt like someone stabbed me in my right foot. I had to walk (and I use that term verrry loosely) back home. By Wednesday afternoon it still wasn't feeling much better. I visited my family doctor who x-rayed it. He didn't see anything in the x-ray but decided to treat it as a stress fracture since they often do not show up on x-rays because they are so fine. He told me that I was not allowed to run for two weeks. This did not sit well with me since I was supposed to run my first 8K on Thanksgiving morning. Chris and I attended the race anyway and Chris wore my number along with his when he ran. Somehow I finished 3 seconds behind him...?

We did not have the kids for Thanksgiving but we had dinner with my mom and Jerry. The next morning Dianne and I ventured out at 3:30 a.m. for some shopping fun. I brought along a folding camping stool and sat down in most of the lines. :)

Now we are in full Christmas mode. We took the kids to the Greenville Christmas Parade last night. They had a blast but it was packed! They shortened the route (stupid idea) and therefore all of the people were crammed into a smaller area. Today Chris, the kids and I had our pictures taken at Portrait Innovations. Great pictures.... CRAZY place. They were sooooooo busy. Next year, we may need to put on our Christmas gear in October and get it done early. :-/ Hopefully one day in the next week or two we'll get the chance to take the kids to Hollywild. We are a fan of Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday nights. On Fridays and Saturdays the animals have no interest in the food that the kids try to give them because they have been fed by the last 1,324,234,865,205 kids that fed them that evening. Ok... so that's a bit of an exageration.