Traditions

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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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Today was the Second Annual Mom and Son Nerf War. One of Cindy’s friends first put this together last year after her son commented that his sister got to go to the Daddy-Daughter dance, but there was nothing for him to do. And the rest is history!

As the event gets underway, Alex is packed and ready to go with his Nerf vest full of ‘bullets’ and Adam is talking strategy with his crew…

Alex is ready Adam is ready

They had a great time this afternoon, although Cindy says she feels a little sore after all the running around. Adam naturally says the kids won the war, but it really doesn’t matter. After all, the great memory of this day will overshadow any perceived victory.

Mom and the Boys

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Boogity Boogity Boogity, as Darrell Waltrip would say! Today was the Cub Scout North Florida Council District Pinewood Derby Race! If you’ll remember, Alex was among the scouts that placed in the Pack 280 Race, so he moved on to the district competition with another 24 Tiger Scouts. So, after we checked-in, Alex sat down and put his game face on…

Game Face

Each car ran in 3 ‘heats’, so it had the opportunity to travel down each lane, then the finish times were averaged to determine the overall winner. Trophies were awarded for the top 3 finishers. Alex was a little disappointed he didn’t win a trophy this time around and I tried to explain that it meant something just to be racing today. After all, there were many Tiger Scouts in the district that didn’t even advance to this race (his brother included), but alas, there’s just something about that trophy. Anyway, we all had a great time watching the races and cheering on the scouts.

Here’s one of Alex’s races (his car is the one on the left)…

Alex’s car was competitive, taking 2nd in this race by a hair…

Finish

So, with the Pinewood Derby over for this year, we’ll place the “Little Green Dragon Machine” on the shelf to remember the fun we had.

Dragon Car

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Happy

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…wherein we delay the traditional Holiday meal until the day after Christmas.

Dinner Selfie

In addition to the ham and other staples, we have our traditional Christmas crackers…

Dinner plates

which despite the boys’ impatience we enjoyed AFTER dinner.

Christmas Crackers Christmas Crackers

The Christmas Cracker King…

Christmas Crackers

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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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Merry Christmas

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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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Last night, we took Alex and Adam to their first LIVE concert! Trans-Siberian Orchestra was in town for their 2016 Winter Tour; Cindy and I have gone to see them several times, so it was a time for the boys’ introduction…

TSO Tour

I wish I could say the evening went smoothly, but alas, I can’t. Sure, we left in plenty of time to get to the arena, but we didn’t consider the Main Street bridge construction, which detoured traffic through town, causing a HUGE back-up and inchworm-like progress. Anyway, after cutting through a few side streets we were within a stone’s throw of the venue when everything came to a grinding halt! Traffic was merging onto a 1-lane road from three different directions. WOW! So, naturally, Dad took one for the team, while Mom and the boys exited the van and headed for the entrance. Thankfully, they made it for the start of the show and I wasn’t too far behind. And Cindy had a beer waiting for me, which made it all good. I actually think TSO delayed the start due to the traffic issues, which worked-out great for us (and many others).

As expected, TSO didn’t disappoint! It was a great show and the boys had a BLAST! When it was over and we were walking out, Adam asked me to upload this music to his iPod (he also said he couldn’t hear, which means we got our $$$ worth ;-)) So, there you have it…TSO has two more fans-for-life! Here’s a clip from last night’s show…the song is called, “Christmas Jam”…

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Like the song goes,

♬ ♬ It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas ♬ ♬

and the lights and decorations are up, both outside…

Christmas Lights

Christmas Lights Christmas Lights

Christmas Lights

and inside…

Christmas Stockings

We even have a special Elf tree…

Christmas Stockings

Remember when I said, our house always has a theme? Well, here’s why…at least this explains the Christmas season 😉

Christmas Lights

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