Now, for the second time in history, the boys will share another blog post. Enjoy!
Last time we posted, the boys were deep in their Advent activities, preparing for Jesus' birthday. This year we headed to Colorado to celebrate Christmas with Jevon's extended family. The idea of tackling a 19.5 hour roadtrip with the boys scared me to death. Little did I know, God had an amazing journey planned for us and my worrying was just wasted time. Our adventure started at 5 a.m. on Thursday. We packed up Mama B's van and set off for the open road. Jevon stopped the car in the driveway, remembering that he had forgotten his glasses. He took my keys and went for the door. After several unsuccessful tries, he came back to the car to say he was locked out of our house. It turns out that when we got married he only half meant his vows and didn't give me a working key to our front door. Just teasing! Our front door had two locks and one of my keys must have been to the old lock. All this to say that we had no way into our house. I'll spare all the details but suffice it to say that we had to break into our own house. Thankfully, God heard Dottie, Ryker and Deklan's prayers to help us get back in the house because crafty criminals we were not. Jevon went inside and got his glasses, only to discover that he had also left his wallet. The terrible start to our morning was a blessing in disguise. Had he not found his wallet we would have been without his i.d. for driving purposes (i.e. Mommy drives the whole way?) and no credit cards for the hotels we had already booked and paid for. Oh boy. So, at 5:34, our van pulled back out of the driveway, ready for whatever the trip held next.
The trip was fantastic! The boys were content to sleep, play, talk, sing, and watch DVDs (far fewer t.v. hours than we even thought they would) the entire time. The very minimal fussing only occurred from D when it was well past time to eat. We drove 14 hours to North Platte, NE, stopping only twice. That evening we ate with family and the kids burned off some much needed energy with their cousins. Day 1 was a success!
Day 2 was much of the same. We only had 5+ hours to go to get to Estes Park. The boys were great. We stopped at Sam's for some much needed supplies for the weekend. The boys ate lots of free samples (I may have had quite a few, too). Then we arrived at the cabin. If you have never been to Colorado, you should go to the mountains. Estes is positioned in the Rockies. It is beautiful! The ascent is breathtaking. We spotted big horned sheep and elk on our way up. Being completely surrounded by God's creation makes you stop and appreciate just how little we are and just how ginormous He is. Every time we go, I comment that I could live there. Trees as far as you can see; snow capped mountain tops; rocks that are carved out by the Maker's Hands. It really is incredible. It snowed a foot before our arrival (though all of our road time was blue skies and zero precipitation), so we had a white Christmas. Our time at the cabin was wonderful; a smaller crowd this year but no shortage of fun. The boys loved every minute with their cousins. Ryker is still talking about how he wants to go visit Austin and Alex sometime soon. I love going to Estes because it is all about family time. We eat and talk; we play games; we listen to stories and we laugh (and laugh and laugh). We're not distracted by things like work or chores or even email and television. It is just a time of reconnecting. Ryker and Deklan hit the slopes with the rest of the kids and had a blast snow tubing. They played with Uncle Ike. Ryker enjoyed taking a bite out of summer sausage and then offering the rest to Uncle Ike, over and over again. Deklan couldn't get enough of the stairs that he was able to climb by himself. He also loved the ample supply of food...he would climb up on the chairs at the dining tables and whatever someone had left unattended was claimed by D. One night he ate an entire piece of Aunt Carol's delicious pumpkin pie because someone had left it on the table for a minute. Ryker tried roller skating for the first time. He wasn't a big fan, but he says he will try again next time. Both boys loved running around the gym, chasing Uncle Ken and Uncle Ike as they "exercised". Ryker was so pleased to bake Jesus a birthday cake on Christmas morning. I pre-measured the ingredients and he dumped them in. Then he held the mixer by himself to get it all mixed up. He helped pour it in the special star pan and then we baked it. That night we ate dinner. Ryker gathered everyone up to sing happy birthday to Jesus. I was so proud of him. He is normally very reserved and doesn't like to go up to people he isn't familiar with without Jevon or I. This time he was bold. Everyone gathered around the cake and sang. Our whole family, focused completely on the reason that we celebrate in the first place. It was priceless.
The boys had a blast with family. Ryker rode a skateboard down the hallway, played cars with Brayson, chased kids all around the house, played hide and seek, and did a lot of pretending. He threw footballs around at the gym. He loved being with older boys like Brayson, Alex, and Austin. What fun to see them all bonding! Deklan seemed to pick up dozens of words over the holiday. He, like his older brother, discovered that Mommy's name is Abby. He learned to sing "A newborn king to see, pa rum pum pum pum" from Little Drummer Boy. (Sidenote, Jevon has this awful 80s hairband version of the Little Drummer Boy on a compilation disc. He loves to "rock out" to it with the boys in the car. It quickly became their fav carol this year. Deklan said "again" each time it ended. Ryker drummed on his lap to the solos. Both boys got a kick out of saying, during the pauses of the tune, "Oh yeah!" Hilarious!) Deklan literally came away with a vocabulary that was doubled from the beginning of the trip; he continues to add new words every single day. His most recent is "Robert" upon seeing Mr. Robert next door a few days ago. One of my personal favorites is he tells me, "I love you banana!" when he goes to bed. He has such a cute sense of humor! Anyway, the boys are learning, growing, and changing every single day, which is why we go to Colorado each time we have the opportunity. We just have to soak up all the moments we're given with those we love, while we can. We want the boys to see how important family is, even when you live so far away from each other, and also to see Dottie and her siblings interact. They all have such a great time together, as do Jevon and all of his cousins and aunt and uncles. The Schroeders are a great family and I feel so blessed to be a part of it. You just feel the love in the cabin when you are there and the laughter never seems to end. It really is something to treasure!
Our time was too short in Estes. The next morning the boys gathered around as Uncle John played Christmas songs on the guitar, while the parents loaded up the cars again. The adults said their goodbyes; we really enjoyed the hours spent chatting and playing games until the wee hours of the morning. The kids gave hugs and kisses and we headed on our way. The drive to Omaha didn't seem too bad. It was 9.5 hours and the boys once again were champs. We were blessed with some free pizza that evening and lots of jumping from bed to bed at the hotel. The next day was more of the same. We had excellent driving conditions back, too. The boys played with their flash lights from Aunt Mary Ann to keep them busy in the van and were excited to be home when we pulled in the driveway.
Our Christmas was wonderful. So was our New Year's. We didn't do anything, and that is exactly what we needed. We spent time together as a family and just relaxed. The boys went to bed at 11. We watched a movie and paused it while we tuned in to watch Dick Clark count it down to midnight, and then resumed our flick. We had a football fest on Monday. The boys loved all the extra Daddy time. Deklan kept saying things like, "Buck Denver, hmmmmm?" and pretending to take pictures with a camera and then turn it around and show us the picture saying, "See it?" We laughed and laughed. Ryker liked playing with Mommy's new toy and watching Bob the Builder on it (and singing the whole theme song for it over and over again). One other giant blessing over the holiday was Jevon being recognized at his job. He is such a great leader of our family and he really is one of the most diligent workers I've ever seen, at anything he does. We were all so proud of him for his promotion and that his boss and co-workers appreciate all he does. Ryker told Jevon several times that he was proud of him. Adorable!
January started off like a typical April. We had temps in the 40s and 50s and very sunny days. The boys loved it. We didn't make it outside a ton, but just having the bright sunshine makes things more cheerful. It took weeks to get back on some kind of a schedule here, but we managed. The boys were excited to wake up this morning and see SNOW! Winter is officially here and we are loving every second of our 2012. We'll be back soon with more pictures and updates. For now, enjoy our most recent family pics that I am just now getting posted, plus some other pics from Christmas and a video or two. Stay warm!