Grandparents

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Another reason for the family trip to SW Florida was so we could present this shadowbox to my father-in-law for his birthday. He served 20-years in the US Air Force, but he didn’t have ANY reminders of his service, they being lost to the passage of time. All he had were some papers in a briefcase he kept in his closet. Fortunately, one of those papers was his DD214, which contained most of the of the information needed to construct the shadowbox, and short conversation provided the rest.

Happy Birthday, “Poppy”…and thanks for your service!

Shadowbox

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Well, the boys were up at 5:00 a.m. and a few minutes later they were at the side of the bed informing me that Santa had indeed visited them while they slept. This was a great relief for Adam because he was almost certain he was on the naughty list. Anyway, everyone else was still snoozing, so I started some coffee and the boys brought their stockings to the front of the tree…

Boys with their stockings

Fortunately, Santa had left the boys enough in their stockings to keep them occupied until the coffee was done and everyone was up. Then, we passed-out the presents and they went to town…

Opening presents

Opening presents

My favorite presents every year are the one’s the boys’ buy at their school’s Christmas shop…

Opening presents Opening presents

After the gifts were opened and the wrapping paper, boxes, and other packaging were cleared-out, we retired to the kitchen for breakfast, which included Cindy’s specialty, reindeer pancakes, for the boys…

Reindeer Pancakes

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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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Nana and Pop wanted to wait until the boys arrived to put-up the Christmas tree. But first, we have to cut down the tree, which means a visit to the tree farm. Once there, the boys are given a mission: Locate the Christmas tree…

Christmas Tree

Finally, among the hundreds of trees lining these hills, we find the perfect tree…

Christmas Tree

And with the pull of the cord and a quick swipe with the chainsaw, Pop cuts down our Christmas tree. The boys are pretty proud of themselves

Christmas Tree

Now, we’re gonna meet Mom and Nana for breakfast! Then Mom and Nana can decorate the tree 😉

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It’s always a GREAT day when the boys get to visit their GREAT grandfather (a.k.a. “Pa”). Pa was a sharecropper and a respected man among the other farmers in the area…around town they still refer to him as “Mr. Lee”

Mr Lee

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After a great 4th of July weekend with the grandkids, the boys and I are taking a road trip to Virginia to visit the grandparents (and great grandpa!). We arrived yesterday and after a good night’s sleep, headed-up the Blue Ridge Parkway for some breakfast at Mabrey Mill. We come here often when we’re visiting the family. It’s a great drive up the mountain and the scenery is breathtaking…

Mabry Mill

and the obligatory family-in-front-of-the-old-mill picture is…

Family

They used to make molasses, apple butter, and cornmeal using the old farm methods, but in recent years, the health department said they couldn’t do it any more because it wasn’t “safe”. Of course, it had been done this way for more than 100-years…well, anyway.

You can still see inside the working mill…

Inside the Wheel House

and learn about moonshine, blacksmithing, weaving cotton, and playing checkers with little corncob checkers…

Checkers Checkers

and best of all, to stroll down memory lane remembering the boys first visit to Mabry Mill…(then and now)

Adam and Alex in the Wagon Adam and Alex in the Wagon

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Congratulations Jess and Emilo on the birth of Carter John! Here’s a picture of May-May holding precious grandbaby #3…

May-May and Baby Carter

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Today, the boys took Nana to Fernandina Beach for a little wave-romping and boogie-boarding. While Adam did most of the wave work…

Fernandina Beach Fernandina Beach

Alex explored the beach for shells, as evidenced by the sand half-dollar he’s holding…

Fernandina Beach

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Today, we’re heading back to Jax, but first, we stop by Poppy and Grammy’s house to say, “good-bye”. While there, the boys enjoy the homemade swings on Poppy’s magnolia tree.

Swings at Poppys House

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Cindy’s dad and the boy’s “Granddad Tom” has traveled from the UK for a visit. He had a nice visit with the boys…

Granddad Tom with the boys

who think he’s a nut! 😉

Granddad Tom with the boys

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