Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Another Year Over And a New One Just Begun

On the weekend before Christmas, Chris, Kelsey and the children came to our house to spend one night before we all headed west to Nanny's (my mom's) house, in Carlsbad. Because transporting the dollhouse to Carlsbad was not feasible, we decided to let Clara see her Christmas present early. I tried to get some pictures of her first reaction, but I didn't do a very good job. Most of the pictures came out blurry. Maybe I was shaking a bit with excitement! Anyway, here are a few.

Walking in the door . . . Clara's eyes go directly to the house (Robert's eyes, too!)

A little confused . . . is this for me?

First time to open the front door of her new house

Soon after the kids arrived and a very quick lunch, Dan and I took the kids to see Sesame Street Live, which was playing at the Expo Center. It gave Chris and Kelsey a rare chance for a kids-free movie date. I chose to leave my camera behind, thinking I'd get good enough shots with my iPhone, but, sadly, somehow the iPhone setting got set to "Fade" mode, and I didn't get even ONE good photo. But here are a few, anyway, to prove that Robert and Clara got to meet Elmo and Bert. The show was fun -- lots of music and dancing, with encouragement from the stage for the kids to join in. Lots of character interaction with the audience. We had second row seats, but Clara made her way into a front row seat, thanks to a family whose son wanted to sit on Mommy's lap.

Clara has "scary eyes" in this one, but it was the best I could do with those poor photos.

The next morning we all hit the road, in two very tightly packed vehicles. Besides the six of us, there were Christmas presents, luggage and food for most of our up-coming meals at Nanny's. It's about an 8-hour drive to Carlsbad from Temple. We made good time, and the kids were wonderful travelers.

On Monday Tim arrived. His new job at UNM gives him a long holiday break at Christmas time, for which he was very grateful. He hadn't seen the kids in over a year, so there were lots of changes.

Despite not being together in a while, it didn't take much time at all for the kids to warm up to Uncle Tim.
On Tuesday, Christmas Eve, Chris, Kelsey and the kids drove down to Pecos, TX, where Kelsey's parents live, to spend the day with them, her aunt and uncle, and her brother and sister and their families. Her family always does Christmas in a big way, including a piƱata party and a visit from Santa Claus. They drove back to Nanny's that evening, and we got the kids all tucked into bed before Santa's arrival.

Christmas morning was delightful. The children were so good about enjoying what everyone else was opening, as well as their own presents. Robert gave Clara a tent and camping gear for her new American Girl doll, Julie. And Clara gave Robert a wonderful, stuffed Michelangelo (he's a big Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan, especially since his birthday party of that theme).

Santa brought Clara a new bicycle, since she has outgrown her first one. This new one is a beautiful, classic style, powder blue bicycle, with a pink wicker basket. Just exactly what Clara asked of Santa! After breakfast, she hopped on it and took off with no trouble at all.

She also got roller skates. It was her first time to try skating, and she found it a little more challenging than the bicycle. But she was persistent and definitely made progress. Here's a picture of her very first fall. OUCH! But no tears! Grandpa taught her a new riddle related to skating, and she definitely understood it: "What is the hardest thing about learning to roller skate? The cement!"

The first fall :-(
By the second day, she made it through a skating session without a single fall. She and I came up with a slogan for the day, "A few close calls, but no falls!"

While we were there, we enjoyed quite a bit of outdoor time -- walks along the river, feeding the birds, and playing at the park playground.

Clara and I enjoy taking pictures on our walks together

Finally, on Friday, we all packed up and headed home. For most of the way, Chris and Kelsey led the way and we followed, so this was the view from our front window. There's a rather complicated story about the bicycle rack, on the back. It involves a trailer hitch, a missing key, and some bolt cutters. But Chris wouldn't want me to go into all of that. So I won't. ;-) In the end, Clara's gift from Santa made it home in perfect shape.

When we all arrived in Temple, the plan was to spend the night at our house, and, then, for us to go with them the next morning, to deliver the dollhouse, because their vehicle was packed too full. But the plans changed, and Chris, Kelsey and Robert ended up driving home, while Clara stayed with us a few days. Yesterday, New Year's Eve, we drove her and her dollhouse home. We celebrated New Year's Eve with them, watching several animated movies and snacking on all sorts of wonderful goodies. This morning we all went out to breakfast together, after which Dan and I returned home.

It was all wonderful, but we are happy to be home and getting back to some sort of a routine. I ended up with a cold, which I am hoping I did not pass along to the Houston Judds.

Christmas and New Year's Day are only memories for us now - very good memories.

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