Highlights from Christmas 2011

Without question, the most important part of Christmas is the reason we have Christmas at all.  It's a celebration of the birth of Jesus.  What this celebration affords is nothing short of an annual miracle. It's not Christmas morning that makes Christmas magical.  I love Christmas morning, but it's all of the other things the season affords that make it truly special.  Time with family.  Special events.  A spirit of giving.  Extra smiles.

The Little Moments
  • Sarah's blatant refusal to sit on Santa's lap with accompanying frown.
My mother-in-law aptly commented that it looked like she was about to kick him in the shins.  Wouldn't surprise me a bit.
  • As I sat in the breakfast area of my mother-in-law's house, I overheard her say from the kitchen, "The nut cake fell."  She says this all the time so I scoffed at her "fallen" cake and assured her it would be fine.  Then I looked at it....
 That was no exaggeration.  We laughed and laughed about this.  It was a great way to end a very emotionally draining day.
  • Sarah happily digging into a present in which paper Christmas napkins had been subbed for tissue paper, pulling out the napkin and enthusiastically proclaiming, "I got a towel!" as if that's the thing she wanted the most in the world.  And to think, we could have just gotten her some household paper products for Christmas...
  • While the boys went outside to shoot their new official Red Ryder carbine action bb gun, I watched Abby play a round of catch with a giant Tinkerbell ball with her 84-year-old great-Grandmom & Aunt Janet.  (And why I didn't get a picture of that, I will never know.)
  • Watching Sarah "wink" at Uncle Jon across the dinner table.  We're not exactly sure what she was actually doing, but it was definitely really, really hard blinking.
  • Experiencing cold weather in Williamsburg, Virginia with the kids.  Abby declared, "It feels like winter!"  And Ben, with amazement noticed, "It's SO cold, you can see your breath!"  (We don't get too much winter cold in central Georgia.)
  • At the tail end of our whirlwind tour of the east coast, we found ourselves at Grandmom and Grandpop's house nearing midnight a few days after Christmas.  After the initial excitement wore off, and the kids finally settled down in their beds, around 3am I heard Sarah spinning in disoriented circles in the kitchen crying desperately, "I need Daddy!"  It was sweet.  Kind of. 
  • Seeing my three babies playing in Net Net's front yard with grass-stained knees, chalked-up sleeves, and indulging in bowls of ice cream with unlimited refills.
  • Sleeping in until 9:00am.  (woot woot)
  • The adventures in family picture-taking with two year olds:
(That's Grammie bribing lil' Landon with sweet tea to no avail while the rest of the cousins looked on with curiosity.)
That's Ben being charged, yet again, with subduing the most challenging subject, in this case, Jared.  His method of choice?  The headlock.
After Grandmom insisted on a photo by the tree with all the grandkids, Sarah laid there like a slug.  It was her only defense.
  • Abby's personal serenade at Busch Gardens by two handsome Festhaus crooners after which she was so shocked/startled/embarrassed that she fell out of her chair...typical.
  • Watching Abby fall out of the chair (again) at Grandmom's house using a poinsettia to break her fall.  It was so comical, I couldn't even be upset.  She grabbed the top of a the plant and slid down the thing stripping it of practically every branch.  These types of things can only be captured in one's memory.
  • Witnessing some seriously enthusiastic reindeer feeding.  In Sarah's case, if the reindeer wanted to actually eat some of the food, they'd need to come inside and pick it out of her hair. 

  • Disappearing around the pond with the new Gator in near-freezing temperatures, a slight drizzle, and nothing but matching jammies on their bodies.
"So long!!!"

"Hey!  Get back here...we haven't opened presents yet!"

While there's plenty of time to reflect on 2011, and I suspect I'll do that another day, if there's one thing I will always treasure about this Christmas season, it's that I valued my time spent with precious family.  We never do know when that might be taken away from us.  Sam's sweet 27-year-old cousin was taken Home a few days before Christmas, and while I'm sure everyone would rather have Adam here with us now, and even though he's happy and whole in Heaven, if there's one thing his death reminded me of, it's that we are not guaranteed another day.  I hope I continue to remember this.  And I hope you will too.

Hope you all had a fabulous Christmas and wishing you the most blessed 2012!


How to know you're a mom: Christmas Edition

You are considering leaving the nativity scene out all year.  It would serve as a great reminder, of course, but it's also your two year old's new favorite toy.

The fact that your eight year old son said to you, "I had to borrow your Bible because I can't find mine.  I got to Genesis chapter 8." was not prompted or out of compulsion, but simply because he wants to read through the Bible means more than words can express.

Your favorite outfit (which is, coincidentally, one of the only ones that fits well) right now is a lime green t-shirt and red yoga pants.  You justify wearing it everywhere by saying it's your Christmas outfit.  Red and green, right?

Every time you look at the Christmas tree, you are reminded that the kids decorated it 95% of the way without help.  You notice because of the solitary branches containing a dozen unique ornaments clinging on for dear life.  And the major victory is that you left them that way.  That is part of the fun of decorating a tree at Christmas.

The highlight of Christmas 2011 might indeed be watching your sweater-clad eight year old as he stood up in front of a classroom full of young married families in Sunday School and read the Christmas story to a rug-full of children.  He's just a little old man in a bigger-than-eight-year-old body.

During your most recent trip to Callaway Garden's Fantasy in Lights as you sat on the beach and watched the light shows of both the actual Christmas story and 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, your ornery two year old loudly declared, "I don't like baby Jesus.  I don't like Santa."  So, Daddy asked, "Who do you like?"  Without a moment's hesitation, she replied, "I like Big Bird."

You have no interest in correcting the inventive lyrics of your girls as they belt out, at the top of their lungs, without inhibition [non]traditional Christmas tunes:
Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle All the Way, How much fun in history to ride on open sleigh, Hey!

Frosty the snowman had a very happy soul and two eyes made out of snow and 4-top button nose!  Frosty the snowman had a very happy soul.  The children know he came to life one day!

Frosty the Snowman was a very happy snow!
While your two year old "napped", your five year old helped you decorate sugar cookies.  Long story short, in the time it took you to answer one phone call your entire supply of sprinkles was depleted.  

You attended your kids' Christmas parties wearing flip-flops...because you could.  And you were really bummed about that.  Christmas just ain't Christmas without...temperatures less than 50.  (Shoot, I'd take less than 70.)

This year's Christmas-picture-taking session went better than year's past and provided the most fantastic outtakes shots.  Though you dread the act of doing it every single year, you never regret the process when all is said and done.

There's the one where the photographer's helper (Daddy) tries to capture the subjects' attention by chucking pinecones at them:


The one where the photographers helper made "tooting" noises much to the chagrin of the man meditating quietly by the pond, but to the riotous delight of three camera subjects: 9125

The one where they all forgot to drink their V8 (remember those commercials?):

The one where the youngest child is clearly put out about something:

The contender for awkward family photo during which your two year old bounces on your five and eight year old like a bucking bronco:

At least there are always a few that are just awesome.  Those can be my Christmas present to you, dear blog followers.  And since it's not Christmas yet...you'll just have to wait.


45 and counting...

So December is no NaBloPoMo for me.  It's not that I've been overwhelmed.  It's just that I've been enjoying December to the fullest - or at least trying to.  Full disclosure requires that I inform you that I've been excessively weepy as I enter the third trimester this pregnancy go-round.  Hormones and all of that. 

I counteract the hormones by staying comfortable and trying to stay distracted.  Comforts involve drinking decaf hot tea with honey, wearing my red maternity yoga pants for days in a row (taking them off only to wash them), and taking rests on the floor because somehow my back feels better down there than even in my big comfy green chair.  Distractions involve things like cookie baking, advent activity doing, and remembering, in the back of my mind, that little 101 List.

Back on December 5th, the family and I took a trip halfway across the state of Georgia to Callaway Gardens where we, for the 3rd year in a row, ventured to their display known as the Fantasy of Lights.  In year's past, it was freezing.  That's all part of the experience.  You load up your bundled family in a row of the Jolly Trolley where you drive through a display of animated lights set to music.

Well, gee, when I put it that way it doesn't exactly sound quite so magical.  Just take my word for it.  It's awesome. 

Sam and I must really think so especially based on the fact that for the past two years little Sarah was hysterical unless I nursed her.  So that I did.  This year, there was no nursing.  In fact, this year it was warm, not crowded, and we had three children completely captivated by the attraction.  It completely "erased" (if you will) any trauma from past years. 

The night wasn't perfect, however.  Not only did I forget the camera and the DVD of Christmas movies we had planned to watch in the van, but we forgot these....

Those would be the tickets.  We remembered them about an hour into the drive.  (Luckily it wasn't a problem.  They reprinted them for us.)

After I was bummed about the camera, I realized that I didn't take any pictures in previous years either, short of these last year...

Look at those cheeks and that gaping Samuel mouth.  CUTE!

No matter, I guess.  I've got pictures right up here (as I tap my overgrown noggin').  

The point of this post?  To let you know that the list item called, "Make Callaway Gardens an annual Christmas tradition" has been completed.  

Grand total:  45 out of 101

Slow and steady wins the race?

Commitment: It's not a 4-letter word.

There's not a whole lot of sticktoitiveness in my generation.  I'm not going to lie.  We're fickle.

We don't like the degree we graduated from college with so we bounce from career to career without an ounce of loyalty to the employers who took a risk on hiring us.  Turns out, they probably shouldn't have.  

We don't feel like doing something we committed to, so we make up a lie, feign illness, simply don't bother to show up.  Maybe there's a twinge of guilt, but more likely there's the feeling of "everyone does it" to rebuff that.

We back out of our friendships and even our marriages in pursuit of self.  We forget that no one is perfect, yet we demand it from others and expect forgiveness when we ourselves fall short.  We leave the escape hatch open at all times.

We make demands, cry out against countless injustices, preach from our pulpits (and blog posts) but we sit on our duff and complain when nothing changes. 

We say one thing, and we do another. 

We think one thing, and we say another.

Catch the drift?

If only there were some place we could look to for guidance on how to act.  Some sort of infallible resource that would teach us right from wrong on these matters.

Oh wait...
It is better to say nothing than to make a promise and not keep it. ~Ecclesiastes 5:5
That verse really stuck out to me when I was reading the Bible through this year.  There are a couple few a lot of important lessons that I think have been completely lost on my peers (myself included).  Maybe it's just simple courtesy, etiquette, common decency, but we're lacking it.  I don't claim to be perfect.  I don't claim to be high and mighty.  I know that I am dead-wrong, off-base, and completely fallible on a daily basis.  The good news it that I don't have to count on myself to get it right.  I just have to believe that Jesus already did it.  It's done.  He took care of it.  For all of us, forever.  But that doesn't mean I shouldn't strive to do the right thing.  Even if it's as simple as following through on a commitment.  If people can't trust our word, what can they trust?

In the matter of making commitments, the Bible is clear.  If you can't or don't intend to follow through, don't even say it out loud.  Don't make a promise you can't keep.  It's that simple. 
Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one. ~ Matthew 5:37
This passage is referenced a lot in Christian parenting how-to books.  But I think it's applicable on the point of commitments as well, if only for the fact that in a Suess-like way, it simply says- say what you mean and mean what you say - concisely.    

That's easy enough, right?

At least, it sure should be.  I guess I'll make it start with me.


Here we come an'adventing...

70. Make an advent calendar at Christmas. (3/3)

It is finished.

I feel a bit like I cheated this year, but that's all my mother-in-law's fault.  She gave me a beautiful wooden advent calendar last year for Christmas.  Honestly, I couldn't wait to use it.  Besides, my homemade goodies were a labor of love - and more of labor than of love.  After all, I consider myself to be less than craftsy.

So technically Advent begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas.  But, in our house, and for the past three Christmases, we have done the December 1st-25th thing.

The first year I made a paper house with windows and doors cut out from magazines.

The second year I crafted tiny envelopes and hung them from a string.

This year, I used the one that was given to me, but it still involved a little work...

If you didn't read the Mom Things in my last post, you might have missed that Sarah ripped off one of the doorknobs before I even stuffed the activities inside.  It got sucked up into the vacuum so I had to dig through a mess of undesirable, unmentionable things that collectively resembled owl pellets.  Not pretty.  But I found it!  So it was worth it...I guess...

Then came the activity-stuffing.  To name a few:

~Donate a gift from the Samaritan's Purse Christmas catalog  (They chose to provide meals for a week, a blanket, and money towards helping to send a missionary doctor where needed.  It was so awesome - especially hearing them wish we could do so much more.)
~Read Luke 2 - The Birth of Jesus
~Buy gifts at the school Holiday Store
~Make cinnamon ornaments

That was today's -

It's a somewhat retro craft.  After all, I'm no pinterest guru.  In fact, I don't really even know how to navigate the beast.  But it's basically equal parts cinnamon & applesauce plus a little bit of glue...to help them dry faster.  They smell amazing.

So much so, I guess, that two little girls found them irresistible.  They just had  to taste them.  Check out the perfect bite mark I discovered on this Christmas tree. 

Good thing Elmer's is non-toxic.

Tomorrow's activity promises to help us complete another list item.

But I'll talk about that after it happens.  In the meantime, #70, you have been checked!

Random Mom Things - Aren't They All?

For some reason your five year old randomly telling your eight year old, "Ben, you are up for the challenge!" is enough to send him into a fit of rage (because "That doesn't make any sense!!!").  Of course, this is now one of her favorite things to say to him...repeatedly.

Halfway through dinner your youngest daughter stands up and sings a top-of-the-lungs medley of "Jesus Loves Me", "Mary Had a Little Lamb", and other un-discernible lyrics all mixed together.  It was enough to entice big sister to join in the singing festivities.  Who would have guessed that steak sub night would turn into "Showtime at the Kitchen Table"?

You now know that shopping online for pre-Black Friday deals for your son whilst baking is not the best idea.  After an emergency trip to Publix for more eggs, your pumpkin roll is 100% better, or at least, less burnt this go round.

The likelihood of a poop catastrophe is inversely proportional to how late you are running to get somewhere.

Your two year old calls it "Mitch".  Your five year old calls it "The Griddle".  You and the rest of the world know it as "The Grinch"...and even though it's only November 30th, you've watched it at least two dozen times already.  During one viewing, your five year old quipped, "I don't think he likes Halloween or Thanksgiving either."

That loud boom you heard in the foyer was your two year old's forehead hitting the corner of a column.  If they ever remake Scarface, you're totally going to make her audition for the role.

Your "favorite" part is the perfect outline of a bandaid rash that showed up overnight while you were trying to control the bleeding.  Apparently she's allergic to those.  Like her mother.

Last year for Christmas your mother-in-law gave you a super cool advent calendar.  When you unpacked it this year, your two year old ripped two doorknobs off the tiny doors before you even had a chance to fill it with activities.  Maybe she thinks they're actual doorknobs and need to be twisted.

To make the story even better, she left one of these tiny doorknobs on your floor, which you immediately vacuumed up without knowing.  This provided you with 30 minutes of fun digging through vaccum cleaner waste products which all-too-closely resembled  those owl pellets you dissected in middle school.

Good news though - you found it.  Plus a Box Top for the school collection which starts tomorrow.  Hello 10cents for the elementary school.  (I bet they'll really appreciate that one.  At least you got all of the hair off of it...)

This concludes 30 days of National Blog Posting Month.  I'm guessing my posts will be fewer and farther between in the month of December (you're welcome).  But then again, maybe not.  I'm becoming spontaneous in my old age.


A Humble Brag (if there is such a thing)

It's no secret Sam and I are frugal.  I mentioned it briefly on my Black Friday post, but I am beyond excited about our most recent savings on gas.

I realize prices here in central Georgia are pretty good compared to lots of places around the country, but I have to say, I haven't paid this price since the early 2000's.  It's been nearly a decade.

We got this discounted price thanks to ciphering and calculating, and an ingenious plan of Sam's.  I made the shopping lists for Black Friday complete with price lists.  Just before we left, Sam said, "Let's stop at Kroger and buy gift cards."

That was the ingenious part.  We prepaid for our shopping spree with giftcards purchased at Kroger for 4x the fuel points, a promo that they started just before Black Friday.  The normal deal is that for each dollar spent in Kroger, you get 1 point towards discounted gas.  When you accumulate 100 points, you get 10 cents off per gallon.  Right now, for every $1 spent on giftcards, you get four points towards discounted fuel.  That means a $25 giftcard earns you 10cents off per gallon.  Every $250 in giftcards earns $1 off per gallon (this is the max discount).  We managed to get an additional 10cents on top of the $1 because of another promotion for having and using a Kroger credit card to pay for gas.

We took both vehicles and two gas cans, and walked away with every drop of the 35 gallon maximum they would allow us for the amazing price of $1.98/gallon.  We saved $38.50 in gas on that $250 giftcard purchase, which works out to an additional 15% savings on top of our mad Black Friday shopping skills.

I'm not sure if you can tell how exciting this was for me.  Apparently, saving money is my drug.

I think you should try it.

Writer's Block & Time Management

Somewhere between writer's block and poor time management, I've found myself in crunch time for my annual Christmas newsletter.  For some reason, it's very important to me to include some sort of creative, original newsletter in our Christmas cards.  A regular, boring letter simply will not do.  The problem is by the ninth one, I'm kind of running out of creative, original ideas.  I had a couple of fleeting thoughts that didn't pass the brainstorming test earlier today.  And I'm pretty sure this is the latest I've ever thought about it.  If only I were back at work so I'd have time to do stuff like this (wink, wink). 

Anyway, while I sat at the computer googling "creative Christmas newsletters", I looked up to see this...

I think we have our Christmas picture at least. 

They're watching The Grinch (the original cartoon).  Sarah particularly loves Max (of course, she's a puppy fanatic).  The sound of half of the ornaments falling off of the very tips of each of the tree branches hung with "care" by my girls is drowned out by Sam's traditional performance of "Welcome Christmas" complete with "Fahoo fores dahoo dores" and what nots.  That is undoubtedly one of my favorite parts of this season.  (I'm pretty simple.)

And with that little bloggy break, I'm going back to brainstorming...

"Welcome Christmas!"

Scatterbrained Sunday

I don't even know if that counts as alliteration because the beginning sounds are different, but let's just go with it anyway.  I'm on day 27 of 30, and I'm just doing what I can to finish!  (That's quitter-talk, isn't it?)

We had a great Black Friday experience, a less than great Saturday experience thanks to, most likely, messed up sleeping & eating habits and a combination of hormonal reactions on my part.  That's life.  Sunday has been a mixture of all of those things wrapped up together.  After church and lunch, we've spent the better part of the day decorating for Christmas.  Without sounding too grumpy, it's just kind of hard to get in the mood when it's in the 70's and we're wearing shorts and t-shirts.  On the other hand, it was a beautiful day!

A focal passage from our Sunday School lesson this morning has been playing over and over in my head throughout the day:

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. ~Philippians 4:11-13

I'm going tell you, folks, I'm in a season of plenty.  And I can tell you this, too, contentment is not always easy!

Here comes the scatterbrained part:

For those of you long-distance friends who've been asking - here's a belly picture at 25.5 weeks.  Maybe those cashiers were justified in their horror.  Either way, I show you this not because I want to show off my hot pregnancy bod (HAHAHAH!) or because I want you to notice that my belly looks like it is giving birth to my belly button or because I am succumbing to peer pressure (okay, it's that one slightly), it's because at this point with Sarah and the others I'd taken lots of belly shots for posterity.  This time, notta one.  Poor 4th child!

And to the random man in the hallways at church this morning who told me I looked great and I was beautiful - thank you.  I ordinarily don't take compliments well, but today I needed one.

The rest of the night we'll be decorating this tree - which has remained lit, but naked all day waiting for little girls to wake up from their naps and kids to return home from choir.

Plus there's this stuff just begging to be littered throughout the house with Christmas cheer...

Don't you just LOVE this season!!!??  It's truly the most wonderful time of the year!

(And just for a giggle, I got a huge chuckle as I hummed this tune to myself over the Thanksgiving break.  I finally understand the part of the song where it says, "And Mom and Dad can hardly wait for school to start again!"  wink, wink)

Happy Sunday, all!

Tales from Black Friday

I'm not going to lie.  I'm one of those Black Friday shoppers, and I'm not ashamed to admit it.  Although, I have certain restrictions.  I won't step foot inside of Walmart.  I will not "camp out" in front of a store for a certain item, of which they probably only have 2 or 3.  And I don't get emotionally involved in my purchases...if it's out when I get there, well, "bummer", and life goes on.

I do it because I love to save money.  I do it because I'm not reliant on having to do it.  I do it, now, because it's a tradition that Sam and I have started and kept going for years, even if last year we weren't able to go together - we still went, separately.  It's fun.  And I don't particularly like crowds.  I just really enjoy checking things off my list at maximum savings.

This year, we started our escapades at Toys-R-Us.  I continue to be impressed with how they run their operation.  You have to wait in line outside because they only allow 100 shoppers in the store at once.  Then, once they've checked a good many of those folks out, they let more in.  You spend all of your waiting time in the cool, refreshing outdoor air watching the folks who just made purchases try to fit gigantic Power Wheels boxes into the trunk of their Honda Accord (they don't fit).  I applaud this method.

Because after Toys-R-Us (where we got everything on our list, including one pink Leapster for Abby at $25 that I was positive would be sold out by the time we got there), we crossed the parking lot to get to Kohls.  I know all of these store are ginormous and can hold every single person waiting in line to get in without violating fire codes, but they really don't need to do it that way.  The throttle-back method would work well here as well.  You can walk straight in, grab your items, and then spend your time waiting in line to check out.  Apparently, Kohls felt that they needed to crank the heat to 100 as well, so it makes waiting in the sweltering heat (and shopping for sweaters) completely intolerable.  Our major score here was a bedding set (paid $39.99, priced at $119.99 - plus an additional 15% off) for the top bunk to match the one I bought last year for the will-be bottom bunk. 

Target has the same, let-'em-in-and-let-'em-wait-in-line philosophy.  At least it wasn't 1000 degrees in there.  They do not seem to have a large amount of "doorbusters" available.  So if you don't go there first, you likely won't get the $7 jammie sets (for example), but Target is Target.  It beats Walmart on its worst day.  (Am I right?)

After these stores we went home - to grab a nap for an hour or so before we got up and went to Staples, where we'd have the most success of our shopping adventures.  The major scores there were a color laser printer (50% off) and a shredder ($19.99 down from $99.99).  Both of these items (a printer and a shredder) were things that we've lived without for the past several months with anticipation of scoring one for cheap on Black Friday.  I'm glad we waited!

The rest of our day's escapades took us to Kmart, Sears, Lowes, Dollar General, Sam's Club, and Bass Pro Shops.  And Chili's for lunch (yum).  We arrived home around 1:45pm, exhausted but happy. 

A couple of other random tidbits:  Having made lists of items-to-shop-for before we left, we stopped at Kroger to purchase giftcards for each of the stores we shopped at before we went, allowing us to earn 4x the gas points for discounts on future gas purchases.

The only thing we paid full price for the whole day was a mattress that we bought for the top bunk at Sam's Club.  It was half the price of any other mattress we could find elsewhere, so I still consider that to be a bargain.

People are crazy on Black Friday.  For instance, a random man came up and offered Sam and me $20 when we were at the front of the line to get into Toys-R-Us to go in and buy him some sort of Thomas the Train toy (that wasn't even on sale) so that he wouldn't have to wait in the line.  We passed on the opportunity. 

During a drop-off at home before we went to lunch, we set up the printer so we could print a coupon for Chili's.  That is why I have completely and totally missed having a printer for months!  Printable coupons are my friend.

I'm thrilled to report that we could have Christmas tomorrow if we were so inclined and I think that we'd have more than enough for everyone.  In a few words, shopping is just about complete!  I'm still working on the tabulations for percentages and total amount of money saved.  I will be sure to post when I finalize.  I don't know how you're going to sleep until I do from the sheer excitement!

Black Friday 2011 = Success for Jennie & Sam


Tradition, tradition!

There are lots of "turkey day" traditions.  You know, the usual - overeating the delicious menu items from turkey & dressing to veggies and pumpkin-themed desserts, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, football, taking the time to voice our blessings out loud to the Giver of all blessings.

In our family, Thanksgiving typically involves a Wednesday night meal with one side of the family at my in-law's house, only to wake up on Thursday morning and go do the very same with the other side of the family at Sam's grandparents' house.  Some things never change.  Some things really shouldn't.  It's one of those treasures that makes it my home away from home.

What does change each year is how the great-grandkids choose to spend their time after the meal.  One thing is for sure, whether it's...

...pausing on the swing for a group photo...

 ...playing in the leaves...

...riding around like maniacs on toys brought over from Grammie's house...

 ...loving on (or headlocking) some puppies...

...climbing trees...

 ...or even climbing trees with one hand and still having your finger in your belly button with the other...

...we have much to be thankful for.
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