Happy New Year! We are excited to be in Twenty-Eleven. I have a feeling that it's going to be a very good year for us, and I hope good things are in store for you, too!
We've been busy, with plenty of blog-worthy happenings, but sadly, I haven't been feeling like sitting down to keep track lately. I will try to do better.
For now, though, I just wanted to share some of our December with you.
Chris' parents flew in from California to visit us for TWO WHOLE WEEKS. Chris took most of that time off work. It was a luxury to have him all to ourselves and we had lots to look forward to.
While the kids were still in school, Sydney and the big people took a little hike out near Lake Wylie at McDowell Nature Preserve. It was a cool area we'd been meaning to check out for a while. Sydney led the pack, too!
Grandma Hovik also had lots of pre-Christmas shopping to get done since she didn't want to fly all of her gifts out with her. We braved the week of Christmas mall traffic, but got some fabulous deals, too! All that running around kept us pretty busy between outings with the group and life support. (preparing dinner, doing dishes, grocery shopping and all of my other household chores that wouldn't go away..ahem, laundry)
Our first day trip took us to Asheville to visit The Biltmore, the Vanderbilt's 1895 Estate and the largest home in America. It was fabulously decorated....sadly, they don't allow photography inside the home (so they can sell you a $20 glossy book of them), but there must've been at least 500 Christmas trees decked out through the whole place. The views were Ah-Mazing! The photo above was taken off the rear porch. There is no questioning why the house was situated in the spot that it was. Glorious.
The gardens were obviously not at their prime, but they were still pretty cool to see. Those vines are Wisteria. Can you imagine what it will look like in the summer?
We attempted to get a family photo inside the greenhouse. (I had no clue the rock candy pops were in their mouths....lovely, eh?)
Normally we build a Gingerbread house in December, but I saw these little guys at Trader Joe's this year, and Grandma decided to treat the kids to them. Extra bonus, the Grandparents volunteered to be in charge one evening during their stay and work on this project with the kids while Chris and I went to dinner and a movie. It was so nice for us to have some kid-free time! (thanks again!!)
Christmas Eve took us to the NC Zoo in Asheboro. We had only been to the SC zoo to this point, and were excited to see this one....like the one in Columbia, it's also about a 90 minute drive from our house. It was an awesome zoo with 2 separate sections, Africa and North America, connected but also with tram transport between them. Lots of room for expansion, but it already has about 5 miles of paved trails taking you from one exhibit to the next. Nicely done! My favorite were the seals and sea lion.
It was a frigid day. We were all bundled up with hats, gloves and big jackets! This guy was just soaking up the sun though, love him! Bonus, on Christmas Eve, we were one of probably 5 family groups at the zoo during the four hours we were there! It's a nice way to do the zoo!
We hustled home for a nice ham dinner for Christmas Eve. Luckily it doesn't take too long to heat up fully cooked ham in the oven, and I had prepped our traditional Christmas Jello (recipe from Grandpa Cline's childhood) the night before. We were eating about 75 minutes after returning from the zoo. It worked out perfectly!
Can you tell what the critters were most excited about?
After dinner we had our Christmas Program, complete with poetry reading by Grandpa H., a skit with Grandma H. and the kids, and some caroling from the critters. It was a lovely evening and the anticipation of Christmas morning was palpable. Kids make everything more exciting!
We had a wonderful morning, full of blessings, hugs and thank yous.
The best part of this holiday season has been watching the kids embrace the spirit of giving. They each paid a percentage of every gift they gave this year with their allowance and it was absolutely amazing the difference that made. Such a sweet feeling accompanied the usual Christmas joy. I'm so thankful for these little people and the things they teach us as parents.
And, as if on cue, the snow started to fall Christmas Night.
This is what we woke up to December 26th!
Snow angels and snowmen and sledding, OH MY!
I hope you and yours experienced some magic this season, and may this new year bring you more blessings than you can imagine!