The gingerbread house didn't survive for very long.
Early winter life trundles along. Evenings are a routine of dinner, homework, bath time, feeding the animals, and squeezing these adorable little ones until they squeal.
The day of the Christmas Parade Annaliese was in Memphis for a birthday party at the trampoline place. Alexe was working along shift at the BTC. Which left the boys alone, to attend the parade. Caspian decided the parade was going to be a candy bonanza, and spent the 30 minutes before the parade, (so he wouldn't be late,) preparing his 4 bags to hold all his candy. It was a windy day, and they kept getting blown over.
I was elected the watcher of his bags, and he went to hang out with a friend and talk about how much candy he was going to collect.
He may not have filled up four bags, but he worked his butt off, cutting in front of teenage girls, jockeying for position with kids in his age group, never losing his serious-focused face. And yet he would hand pieces of candy to other kids without prompting, as long as he had won the race to pick it up.
We couldn't resist, and bought a trampoline for Christmas. It was kiiind of for the children. And when it arrived, in the middle of December, we couldn't wait, and set it up on a Sunday afternoon.
Followed by hours and hours of family jumping fun, and surprising amounts of sore leg muscles in the evenings. A late night solo bouncing session, in the dark, looking up at the stars, on a crisp winter night, will do wonders for your mental health, let alone your body.
Caspian helping out at the Blu Buck buildings, in the warehouse out back, keeping the scrap wood under control.
I think Alexe was at her book club, and dinner was up to me. I don't know why I didn't think of this before. It was a big hit.
Followed by some apple-saucing. A regular fall activity in our kitchen.
Annaliese wasn;t feeling well enough to go to school, so she came to work with me, and hung out in one of the hotel rooms. There's cable in these rooms. It makes it difficult to tell if the kids are really sick.
At 6, almost 7, Annaliese decided she was going to ride her bike without training wheels, and with her mother's help, she did. Happened so quickly I missed it.
Sharing the trampolining fun with their friends.
The piglets are growing up nicely. We ended up keeping 4 gilts and selling the rest.
A day of helping me at the buildings. This is in the garage out back, where we started on the clean-out process. With the job wrapping up, there are large quantities of tools and surplus building materials that are clogging up an otherwise very useful 2 door double depth garage.
Both kids have received the sweeping gene from their mother.
The more times I trip over something, the closer I get to forgoing the money I might get if I found a buyer, and simply hauling it out to the curb. This was a day when many things were moved for the last time, one way or another, and Annaliese made this sign and showed it to me before putting it on the pile. It may have confused some folks, but it made me smile all day.
An amazing Christmas package arrived from u.Nicholas and a.Emily, the founders, and now retired alumni of the I Heart Pies company in LA. It was a hard decision to close their business after five years of working their butts off and making the best pies, cookies, and marketing materials we have ever seen.
We did a little cookie making of our own on Christmas Eve while Alexe was at work. This has turned into a family tradition.
We spend the day baking, and when Alexe gets home, we suit up and head out to deliver bags of cookies all over town. Alexe spends the night before decorating bags with the kids.
This is an annual reminder of why we love living in a small and close knit community. The kids merrily ring doorbells, run inside to give hugs and cookies, and come out often carrying personal presents that have been waiting for them. Not generic children presents, mind you, but things specific to each of them, because all these folks know them, and love them.
Sometimes we linger to play with other people's presents.
A candle lit evening church service, and its home for jammies, a Christmas Eve present, and the first Lord of the Rings movie.
This year we were a bit cash poor, what with being focused on building our projects and not so much on taking earnings out. However, when you're spending large amounts on building materials every month, it pays to funnel them through a credit card with a decent rewards system. After a long hard year, we decided to spend every point on frivolous toys. It. Was. Awesome. (This should further explain the trampoline.)
It's tough as a kid buying your parents presents.
The kids know Alexe loves to read.
I think they did well. Annaliese gave me a shiny new tape measure, easily my 20th of the year, but this one will not get broken or lost. Capsian gave me a double headed axe, with a bright red handle. We have a date to go chop a tree down with it.
Someone may possibly be tired of looking for his flashlight.
Survival seeds. In need of organization. What could be better.
Grandfather van Beuren spoiled Caspian and me with drones. Caspian's needed some rewiring and the propellors to be switched around, and then it rocketed into the air. With a little practice he learned how to control it, but the first flight took it way into the sky, and onto the shop roof.
I have no grounds to judge. Mine, a very nice machine that was easy to learn how to use, went merrily around the yard 45 ft up, and then managed to fly into the top of a tree. Out came the tree climbing gear, and I found myself on a Sunny Christmas day, in my pajamas, high in a tree with a pruning pole carefully cutting off a limb above my head.
It all worked out.
After some ham and pie, (we did not cook a meal for Christmas, it was along year and we were tired, we cooked pies and a ham and snacked all day,) we settled in for another family tradition, watching the Lord of the Rings movies. This year we had six, with the last one in the theater. Unlike previous years we did not watch them all on Christmas day.
They buy at least an hour of quiet focus. And result in proud parents and children.
The holidays are the time of year when Alexe gets antsy, and wants to change things around. This year was a full rework of the BTC layout, it required taking down this wall, which I put up 3 years ago.
The diner is headed up here.
a.Natalie and u.William sent nerf guns for Christmas. We have mixed feelings about this.
My present from Alexe, from Cowgirl Creamery in California, my favorite cheese.
We headed to Memphis to shop for BTC materials, and go out for breakfast. Alexe loves going out for breakfast.
We all do. Especially when coupled with exploring new places. We had taken a 16 ft trailer with us, in case we found the new diner chairs the BTC needed. This resulted in several fun being-stuck situations on small neighborhood roads around Memphis. The trailer ended up coming home empty.
a.Eliza and Charlie were in Memphis visiting Charlie's father before coming to Mississippi for a short visit. We met up in a neighborhood park for a sunny, and brisk, walk.
I offered Caspian a quarter if he could catch a duck. It was a bad idea. He would not do anything else,.(Have I mentioned he loves quarters? In a world filled with machines that are full of treasures and all they want is a quarter to give you one, who can blame him?) Eventually I renegotiated to touching a duck instead of catching it, and he managed it without getting wet.
I'm putting these pictures here so I don't forget Monkey Man! This lasted for longer than you would believe.