Monday, January 11, 2016

Christmas and New Year's Recap...

You have the joy of reading another post from David (with captions by Kristi because she likes to add her warm and fuzzy flare to pictures)!  Kristi has been wanting to update the blog, but just has too many extracurricular responsibilities at this time, so I am trying to help her out a little.

We hope that everyone had a wonderful Christmas break!  We had a busy, but rather enjoyable two weeks.  We celebrated Christmas with Kristi's dad and step-mom (Karen) the Sunday before Christmas, as they flew out to California to be with Karen's sister and her family.

The next day, Kristi's mom arrived from California to spend Christmas with us.  We had a great visit with her, enjoyed some great weather at the Houston Zoo and played games, before she flew back home on Christmas day.

This was Grace's favorite game...  she loved playing charades!!!And she was so good at it!!!

In between Christmas and New Year's, Kristi and I had made reservations to go to San Antonio with the kids (primarily because Abigail finally hit 48" and could ride a big roller coaster there); however, after joking around with our good friend, who recently moved to Knoxville, TN with their family, he stated that we should just drive there instead, after all Dollywood had about 5 roller coasters that Abigail was tall enough to ride.  After considering it for a few minutes, I realized that would be an awesome surprise present for the kids, since that is Abigail and Andrew's closest friends and they have really missed them a lot since they moved to TN. The only thing left to do was convince Kristi that driving 14 hours to TN, instead of 3 to San Antonio was a marvelous idea.  Amazingly, it did not take much convincing and with less than two weeks until Christmas, we planned our drive to TN and surprised the kids with the news on Christmas morning as a present.  Both of the kids are still talking about that being the best Christmas present they have ever received (second to spending Christmas in Boston two years ago when Grace was just released from the hospital, it's almost impossible to top that).
They had to take letters and put them together to reveal their gift and this was the end result.

Here are some more random Christmas pics...

This little elf loved passing out gifts and giving kisses with each gift she delivered!

Grace is so easily amused... she was super excited about her new Princess panties!

This face says it all...  she is most certainly a Daddy's Girl!!!

Abigail, our kid that never asks for anything (the only thing on her Christmas list was a new marker/drawing set that cost about $20), was super excited to get ripped jeans like her mommy has!

New walkie talkies that go up to 2 miles have been a huge hit (in addition to a big lego set :-)!

The big kids picked out and bought this puppy dog for Grace from school with their own money.  Grace has named him Doggie.

After surprising the kids with the trip to TN on Christmas day, we spent the rest of Christmas packing our suitcases.  The day after Christmas, we went to my parents house in The Woodlands and enjoyed celebrating with my parents, sisters and their families.

Snuggles with Papa Toot...

Fancy french braid complements of Aunt Becca...

The crazy cousins...

I love this family picture because our original babies are represented... Tucker and Twinkie!  Since we had Abigail they haven't appeared in many pictures.

A little karaoke...  I love Aunt Becca's face in this picture!

Then, on Sunday the 27th, we headed out on our drive to TN.  Kristi talked me into splitting the drive into two 7 hour days, instead of going straight there in 14 hours.  I was really impressed with how well the kids did (the big kids did such a great job serving and entertaining Grace), both driving to TN and back home to TX.  Abigail and Andrew both agreed that they enjoyed the long car drive over flying, and we sure enjoyed the price savings compared to flying.  Most of all, we enjoyed the memories made spending almost 30 hours in the car together.

The big kids loved on and served Grace (with joy) for most of the ride.

For some reason this kid didn't want to nap much, so getting to hold Abigail's "Lamby" always seemed to help.

Once we arrived in TN, the kids were overjoyed to see their friends and we were grateful to see Bryan and Kristin as well.  We went to Dollywood and Abigail and Andrew rode their first upside down roller coaster.  Abigail was tall enough to ride 5 roller coasters, which was exciting since she would have only been able to ride one rollercoaster in San Antonio, where we had originally planned to go.  The rest of the time was spent just hanging out at the Glass' house and we really enjoyed the opportunity to just all spend time together.

Ross and Glass Reunion!

One of my favorite memories was listening to the kids pretending to be firefighters...  so cute!

Headed to Dollywood with 30,000 other people :-)

Grace loves the carousel, but literally holds on for dear life...

One of Grace's favorite rides!

Andrew chose to ride some baby rides with Grace for a bit instead of doing more roller coasters.

Grace wanted to check out the Children's Hospital in Knoxville, so she got to go and get a chest x-ray to make sure that she didn't have pneumonia.  Can you see her special valve in the x-ray?  Pretty cool, huh?

Some of my favorite pictures of our dear friends with Grace...

Don't mess with these cuties...

We got to meet some families from our friend's church and one of the families had a little guy with Down Syndrome who was about a year younger than Grace.  Such a treat!

A little Bubba and Gracie love...

Beautiful, but cold New Year's Eve!

Grace loves her buddy, Noah, who is 10 days younger than her!  They opted to stay warm inside.

Then it was time to say good bye :-(.  The tears lasted for the first 2 hours of our drive...

But, Grace, the great comforter, went to work!

After having such an incredible Christmas break, it has not been the easiest to jump back into the normal work and school routine.  A sweet conversation we had the opportunity to have with the kids this week happened when we were doing a devotional with them.  After finishing the devotional, the conversation continued and out of nowhere Andrew broke down crying because he was worried that Grace might not be able to go to heaven because he was worried that she might not understand enough to believe that Jesus was willing to die on the cross for her sins.  It provided an opportunity for us to reassure him and have a great conversation about the goodness of God and His perfect wisdom and plan.  Just because Grace won't have the same capacity to comprehend as we might, does not mean that she will not be able to grasp what Christ has done for her.  We reminded him that just as the Holy Spirit does the work in us to help us believe, He can also work in Grace to help her believe.  I am thankful that our little 7 year old loves and cares for Grace so much!  Praise God!

Abigail and Andrew had their first basketball game of the season on Saturday. We got to meet with our Life Group (full of precious families), teach Children's Ministry, Kristi led a 3rd grade girls Bible study, Andrew picked up trash at a local park with his Cub Scout den, and Abigail got to do some yoga and listen to a girl athletes nutrition talk.  It's been a busy, but blessed weekend to say the least.

 Notice Grace in the backpack on David's back while picking up trash...

We hope that your New Year is off to a great start!!!

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