Christmas 2013

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The stockings were filled. The fat man came and went. There were balls. There were electronics. There was even a little fire. Not to mention so…many…cookies. As usual, I endlessly documented it all and will now try to find a way to show a reasonable slice of the 200+ photos that turned out. Consider yourself warned, this is going to be a long one.


We begin with presents.

Every year we find ourselves in the same conundrum. We spend Christmas Eve in Sherman. We spend (much of) Christmas day in Houston. With all that running around, it’s hard to imagine the boys getting a fair shake at actually playing with their toys. This wouldn’t be much of a problem for Santa’s gifts (more on that later) but everything else has to be opened a little earlier. So we get started two days before Christmas.


No one seems upset by this.

That’s Max’s first rainbow loom book, which is a clever way to get him to stop asking us to watch rainbow loom videos. Because everything in our world is about rainbow loom bracelets right now.


Owen was quite satisfied with his book as well.

A few weeks ago the boys hid themselves away in Max’s room for a little while and spent a bunch of time working on a gift for Christy. She finally had the chance to open it.


Turns out they’d colored a bunch of pictures for her.


They had a little something for me as well.

At Mommy’s urging, Owen ran around saying, “Luke, I am your father.” Which he doesn’t understand and is a MAJOR SPOILER but apparently mommy doesn’t care about these things. All is well, though, because she got me a gift certificate to our local indoor skydiving place. I’m sure we’ll have much more to share on that in the coming months.

The rest of Christmas Eve Eve was spent in our usual mix of crazy preparation and attempts at relaxation.


The boys got more of the former than the latter.


Though we did put them to work making sugar cookies.


They were both quite happy to help with this.


They also got to go crazy with the sugar.


And the icing pens.

Then, after we’d baked all the cookies we could possibly stand, we tried to get some sleep so we’d be ready for the days to come.


It started the next morning in Sherman.


The house was a bit crowded, so the kids (and Christy) spilled out for some basketball.


Max made lots of crazy faces (but not many baskets).


Mimi came out and joined us for a bit.


Owen got a little help, since he’s not quite tall enough yet.


Then, before we knew it, it was time for more presents.


So many, many presents.


I still haven’t inflated these…in fact, I don’t even know where they are…


It’s just you, buddy.


Max chose to put together his 3D-enhanced paper airplanes first. Boy knows how to pose for a picture.


The adults also had the opportunity to open some gifts. Someone has to do it every year.


Faces were licked.


Toys were played with. (This wasn’t even one of his Christmas presents)


Artsy photos were staged.


Mimi’s were recruited for complex construction tasks.


Family photos were attempted.


With varying levels of success.


Pajamas were shown off.

Somewhere in there, as well, food was eaten. Lots and lots of delicious food. When the pajamas come out that can only mean one thing. It was time to make the trip home in the dark and let the boys lose their minds looking for blinking red lights in the sky. Then the morning finally arrived.


I took this while the boys very impatiently waited upstairs.

It’s a tradition in my family to force the children to wait an uncomfortably long time to come down and actually open their presents, you see. Before we move on, I should probably explain something. Max has spent the last several months going on and on about how he wants a Nintendo 3DS for Christmas. It’s been a little over the top, so we eventually took to explain to him that if he wasn’t good Santa would just make a mistake and get him 3 Dirty Socks instead. This became a running gag. He’s going to get you 3 Dapper Squirrels. He’s going to get you 3 Disappointed Scorpions. He’s going to get you 3 Disoriented Sloths.


So, just to mess with him. 3 Dirty Socks.


They look so calm and patient.


Ta daaa! A new tablet for Owen and a 3DS for Max.


Owen was quite happy to find that Santa had loaded up his tablet with all kinds of games already.


Max was happy that he didn’t just get the socks.


We also put in some time with the Santa gift Owen actually asked for (a game called Pop the Pig).

Yes, while Max had spent months demanding expensive electronics, his brother couldn’t manage to expand his list beyond a $15 pig game. Maybe that’s why Santa spoiled him a little.

The boys were only able to play with their new toys for a little while before we loaded everything up in the car to head down to Nan and Papa’s. Of course, said toys were perfectly suited to use in the car. It was quite possibly the most quiet car ride we’ve ever had with them. Of course, they weren’t done with them even after we arrived.


This was a pretty common sight all week.


It wasn’t long before we had some company to join us.


So it was time for EVEN MORE PRESENTS.



It is impossible to overstate just how ridiculously over-presented these children were this Christmas. It’s been weeks now and we still haven’t even managed to play with all of them.


Though admittedly much of that is because of the single-minded focus on a few key gifts.

It was also an embarrassment of riches for the grown ups, and not just thanks to the generosity of our parents when it came to gifts.


Told you there’d be fire.

Bananas foster? Don’t mind if I do.


I’d say it was a pretty good Christmas day for everyone.


The day after…well, was pretty much more of the same.


The cousins came by to play.


Then, later, we went out to find some more.

There was a little gap in between there without a ton of photos. Christy was kind enough to let me take Papa out for some movie time. We watched an engaging documentary about the cable news broadcasting industry (starring Will Ferrell). We returned just in time for me to head out some more so Christy and I could enjoy a nice dinner together. We were back just in time to pick up the boys and get them into bed.

The next morning, the fun began again in earnest.


This time, it started with donuts.


This apparently pleased RyanPaul greatly.


This morning would consist of our usual trip to the park.


Swings were swung.


So many swings.


So many, many swings.


Max was a little less sure of himself than Barrett was with this activity.


When he was done with that, his goal was to touch this branch with his foot.


I don’t go in for such daredevil antics, myself.


It took twenty minutes to get this totally natural, unstaged photo.


Everyone enjoyed joining in the fun.

It was a crazy morning. I’m not sure how long we were there, but it seemed like quite a while. There was a game of hide and seek that seemed to go on forever.


Though that might be because Owen insisted on continuing with me after everyone else had moved on.


Of course, before we left we had to get the see-saw photo. With bonus Papa photobomb.

Later in the day we had some time set aside for Max and Barrett to get some one on one time together.


These two get very excited about seeing each other whenever we’re in town.


Owen made his own fun while the big kids played with their Lego stuff.


Max came in to draw and August seemed very interested in getting involved.

The boys had a great time together, but we weren’t quite done yet. I didn’t manage to get any pictures from the evening, but they all spent it hanging out at Emma’s place, taking advantage of Uncle Ryan’s new media room.

As you can see, it was an incredibly eventful Christmas week. The rest of the weekend was spent on driving home and trying to recover in whatever way we could. Of course, we had almost another full week of vacation time to figure out how to manage. We’ll get to that next time.

You’d think by now I’d be done. All those pictures and all this storytelling, what more could I possibly have to share?

A Brief Montage

Once I started editing, this seemed to make the most sense to me.

The Ride Home

We couldn’t get him to stop doing this. Mario fans might recognize the song.

And that’s it. Seriously. I couldn’t possibly share any more unless you want your usual link to the rest of the photos. Aside from that, though, all we have is wishes that everyone else had as happy a holiday as we did. See you next time!

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