Holiday Stories

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Happy New Year

“Each new day is a blank page in the diary of your life. The secret of success is in turning that diary into the best story you possibly can. I wish you Happy New Year and a diary full of the best stories ever written in your life.”
– Laozi

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Needless to say, the boys woke up to find Santa did indeed visit our house…

Presents

and he brought them SKATEBOARDS!

Skateboards

and an Xbox…

Xbox

and some Xbox games…

Xbox

including what is evidently the best Xbox game ever, Star Wars Battlefront

Xbox

And then it was over…

Aftermath

and Mom made the boys their traditional reindeer pancakes! Mmmm.

Pancakes Pancakes

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Wise

10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. 11 And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. (Matthew 2:10-11, NKJV)

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ALL ABOARD! With gold tickets in hand and the boys dressed in their pajamas, we boarded The Polar Express in Tavares, Florida, for our trip to the North Pole…

Polar Express Tickets

Today’s experience was our Christmas gift from the boys’ Godparents, Chris and Sherrie, and is based on the more-than-30-year-old Christmas classic, The Polar Express, by Chris Van Allsberg, and the 2004 animated movie directed by Robert Zemeckis.

Prairie Dogs

Each car in the train had it’s own steward (ours was named “Hannah”), who directed all of the show’s activities, including the conductor visit, the hobo, the reading of the story by the author, singing Christmas carols, and the hot chocolate song complete with dancing waiters in the isle. She also punched the tickets, of course…

Steward Hannah Tickets Punched

When we reached the North Pole, Santa joined us and presented all the kids on the train with “the first gift of Christmas,” a silver bell…

Santa

The whole experience lasted just over an hour and was well worth the two-hour drive to Tavares! Although Adam questioned: 1) why the trip to the North Pole only took 30-minutes (“because the movie was two-hours”); 2) why, upon reaching the North Pole, there was no snow; 3) why Santa’s gray mustache wasn’t white like his beard; and 4) why he couldn’t have more hot chocolate.

( sigh )

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We’re a little late getting our Christmas pictures done (what else is new, right? ;-P ). Anyway, here’s what we’re going with this year…

Christmas Tree

Just the boys and their dog…

Boys and their dog

And something to embarrass them when they’re older and dating…

Boys and their dog

Moo-ha-ha.

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The trees are up! We have the regular Christmas tree upstairs and Cindy’s special “Elf Tree” downstairs…

Christmas tree Elf tree

and the house…

Christmas Decorations

Christmas Decorations

Christmas Decorations

I’ve said you always know what time of year it is by looking at our house! And the tradition continues 🙂

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So, how do you top a great Thanksgiving dinner at Disney? How about snow tubbing and ice sculptures in sunny Florida? This afternoon we visited the Gaylord Palms Resort for ICE! Featuring Christmas from Around the World. It was a great afternoon, but first, we had to pick-up some caps and gloves for the boys…

Christmas Tree

Naturally, I was wearing shorts, which in the end was really short-sighted…

Christmas Tree

Then, we were outfitted with parkas for what was to be an 9°F winter wonderland experience (and underneath the parka, I was still wearing shorts!)

ICE!

It was fun at first…

ICE!

but, it got colder…

ICE!

and colder…

ICE!

and we didn’t even WORK there!

ICE!

Still, it was pretty amazing and the ice sculptures were beautiful…

ICE! ICE!

especially, the Nativity scene!

ICE!

After the ICE! display, we took a minute or two to warm-up, then visited the Ginger Bread Room…

ICE!

where we built a ginger bread house…

ICE! ICE!
ICE! ICE!

TA-DA! (although I’m not quite sure how much candy went on the house and how much went into Adam’s mouth!)

ICE!

And to cap-off the afternoon, there was snow balls…

ICE!

and some ice sledding!

ICE!

What a blast! (an icy blast, but still a blast!)

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So, this year we’re changing things up a bit and will enjoy our Thanksgiving dinner at my personal favorite Disney park: Disney Hollywood Studios!

Tram Ride DHS Statue

There was so much to do. We had our Fast Passes which made it pretty easy to get to the other activities we wanted to do…mainly just enjoying the Christmas music and awesome decorations,

Christmas Tree Christmas Tree

and…

SANTA!

Santa

Santa

Who also was seen doing a little breaking-and-entering…

Santa

Anyway, we scheduled an early dinner at Hollywood & Vine, where we got to mingle with the Disney characters…

to start, Goofy and I shot the breeze for a bit…

Dad and Goofy

then, we brought the family in…

Family and Goofy

And while we waited on Mickey and the gang, we helped ourselves to Thanksgiving dinner!

Thanksgiving Dinner Thanksgiving Dinner

And in-between going back for second helpings, we hung-out with some Disney VIPs…

Mickey Donald
Minnie Daisey

After dinner, it was just starting to get dark and the Christmas lights we all coming on. Mom and Alex toured the Pixar Studio area, while Adam and I made our way over to the Rockin’ Rollercoaster…and whoooosh!

Rocking Rollercoaster

And that about wrapped-up our day. We watched the light show on the Tower of Terror…

Lights

and stopped for one last picture…

Family

And best of all? NO DISHES TO WASH!!

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The boys were out of school today, so we got on the road a little early to start our Thanksgiving vacation and in the penthouse, no less! What a great view…

View of the Pool

After dinner, Mom and Alex hit the pool…

Alex Floats

and the hot tub!

Hot Tub

This is living!!

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It’s here…it’s finally here! The boys have been going on about Halloween for a couple of weeks now and counting down the days. Soon their coffers will be filled with CANDY!

This year, Adam was a S.W.A.T. officer, and Alex was the Red Power Ranger. Long gone are the days they would dress in similar costumes, as each year they become more and more diverse in their interests. But hey, they’re both crime fighters this year, right?

SWAT and Power Ranger

This year Charlie even got into the act, as a Rocker with his jean jacket and guitar…

Charlie Rocker

Meanwhile, in Alabama, grandkids Oliver and Carter John look AWESOME as Woody and Buzz…

Woody and Buzz

and Kameran was Barb from Stranger Things. I think she did a great job!

Kam and Barb

As expected, the boys cleaned-up on Candy…enough to last them into December. And Charlie absolutely loved the walk (and the attention).

Happy Halloween

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