Cousins

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and the family is gathering at the home of my 97-year-old grandfather, affectionately known as “Pa”. In about an hour, this old turn-of-the-20th-century house will be filled to the brim with people, all family…

Pa's House

Something like this…and this isn’t everyone! Six generations are represented here tonight.

Crowd

Of course, the highlight of the evening is the kids sitting at Pa’s feet and opening their presents . When I was a kid (and the family was quite a bit smaller) we all used to draw names and each would buy a present for the person he or she chose. Now, it’s become a bit unwieldy, so parents bring modest presents for their kids and Pa presents his gifts, and everyone brings something for Pa. This year, Pa’s gifts included a Florida Gator hat (I wonder who got him that 😉 )

Kids opening presents Pa with his Gator hat

After the Christmas Eve activities at Pa’s, we returned to Mom and Dad’s cabin on the hill to get ready for Santa’s visit. So, after a couple quick photo’s with the selfie-stick…

Family Selfie Cindy Selfie

the stockings were hung by the chimney with care…

Stockings

in hopes that Saint Nicholas soon would be there…

Santa

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Cindy lost her mom about three years ago. It was a pretty rough time for everyone, especially for her stepdad, Junior. We’re so very happy that he has found a new someone special (and his Linda is a great lady). So, Adam and Alex get to attend their second wedding this year. In March, it was their brother, Nick, this time, it’s their “Poppy” in Sarasota, Florida.

We arrive and take our seat in the pew. Adam, of course, is impatient, and asks “Where’s Poppy” every 30-seconds or so…

Adam is impatient

Finally, the flower girl, Linda’s granddaughter, Lily (who is just a little older than the boys), comes down the isle. Then, the music starts and the boys new “Grammy” is escorted down the isle by her daughters, Denise and Vicki.

Flower Linda and Daughters

Linda was pretty nervous and Junior kept cracking jokes to lighten the mood. Finally, they said their vows and shared a first kiss as husband and wife.

Wedding Wedding Kiss

Then the couple made their exit and headed for the reception at Denise’s house…

Wedding Exit

Where Alex and Adam had a blast playing with their new cousin, Lily…

Wedding Swings

And Cindy’s niece, Sheree, was dressed like a whore

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The Fourth of July weekend is winding down and what better way to bring it to a close than to take the kids for a cruise up the St John’s River?

I slow the boat as we approach the Buckman Bridge. It’s always fun watching the cars and trucks speeding across and listening to the hum of their wheels as we travel under the bridge. Of course, if Adam had his way, it’d all be a blur as we flew under the bridge at top-speed!

Buckman Bridge

Once we crossed into the Jacksonville Landing area, we docked the boat and spent some time at Friendship Park. I really love this city!

Friendship Park

One the way back to the marina, Katy got to take a turn at the wheel! Kam opted-out, as she prefers being ferried across the river than being the person actually doing the ferrying.

Captain Katy

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The tradition of hauling visiting family members to the “Old Fort” in St Augustine is still going strong. Cousin Katy is following in her dad’s footprints, as he made several of these trips in the 70s. For Kam and the boys, the fun is just beginning!

Old Fort

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The summer is in full-swing…

We have family from out-of-town, and a couple from WAY out-of-town (like across the Atlantic), as my brother- and sister-in-law are here from the UK. Of course, our “Independence Day” is to them more likely “We Lost America Day”

Here’s a portion of the party-goers demonstrating their patriotism with little American flags and funny glasses…

Happy Fourth of July

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This weekend is the boy’s cousin Colin’s birthday bash in South Florida. This is a combined birthday and Halloween party…nothing like killing 2 birds with 1 stone! Anyway, it’s a beautiful day, as we check-in to our hotel…

Boca Hotel

After we drop-off our bags and pick-up some beer, we head over to my brother’s house for the party. The boys are the M&M Twins, naturally…

M&M Twins

While Mom becomes the Grinch’s Cindy Lou Who, and Dad, well, doesn’t dress up. Ever.

Cindy Lou Who Dad does not dress up

While Dad doesn’t dress-up, Dad’s brother, David, does! It’s a great costume, except he scared all the kids…

Mad Hatter

Anyway, the boys had a great time with their cousins, and enjoyed playing all the games, like the cupcake decorating contest…

Cousins Dad helps Alex

And fell promptly asleep back at the hotel…

Adam Sleeps

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Jess and Kam came to visit for Spring Break. It’s always great to have them here and thought we’d make the visit even more special by spending a couple of days in Orlando at Sea World and the Magic Kingdom.

We took-off this morning and will head to the parks tomorrow. This afternoon we hit the Walt Disney World Village to hook-up with my brother, Dave, and his family, who are are their way back home.

At the T-Rex restaurant, the boys and their cousins got to play archaeologist by digging for fossils in the sand.

Digging-up Bones

Kam posed for pictures with her Mom and May-May.

Jess and Kam Kam and May May

Me and my brother talked about stuff.

Me and Dave

After “the dig”, we bid farewell to the South Florida Hanks’ and pay a visit to the Lego Store. The boys, Alex especially, is immediately drawn to the Hulk! Kameran is then compelled to pose in front of whoever this Lego person is.

Hulk Kam and Lego Person

While we were in the Lego Store, the rain started coming down HARD! So, we hung around for about a half-hour looking at Legos, playing with Legos, chasing after kids, telling kids to stop fighting, stop running, stop throwing Legos…

Then the rain let-up and we retired to our hotel for the evening.

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It’s a family tradition to spend Christmas Eve at Pa’s house. It’s hard to believe that we can fit this many people in this relatively small house. The boys really enjoy playing with their Cousins, Aunts and Uncles.

Adam and his favorite cousin, Katy…

Adam and Katy

Alex takes a break from the fun to talk to daddy and play with Mommy’s phone…

Alex and Daddy

Back at Nana’s house, the boys get ready for bed where visions of sugarplums will, well, you know…

Mommy and the Boys

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Pa's House

There’s no better place to be for the Holidays than my grandfathers old farm house. This house was built at the turn-of-the-century (last century!), and it’s packed full of memories of my childhood. The creaks and groans generated by the wind outside, the dim lighting and uneven floors, the musty smells, the warmth of the wood-burning stove, and the conversation and laughter of a family at Christmas.

Pa's Kitchen

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Getting ready for the big feast today with friends and family. First, we’re converting the Big Green Egg into a blast furnace to superheat the coals for the Thanksgiving turkey! (don’t tell Cindy, but I needed to use her blow-dryer)…

Big Green Egg Blast Furnace

Dinner is about done, and as with all large family gatherings, the kids enjoy each others company at their very own table…

Thanksgiving Kids

I’m the last to fix his plate…

Fixing My Plate

We almost didn’t have enough room at the dining room table…actually, we didn’t have enough room, which is why the kids had their own table!

The Gang

Dig in!

Dig In!

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