Recent Dotzour family photos

Here’s a slideshow of the most recent photos on my photo stream. To see a full set of albums, visit http://www.flickr.com/photos/adotzour/sets/

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Blogging hiatus

Dotzourfamily.com has been live for seven years.  My blog dashboard says I’ve written 1,241 posts and have received 2,143 comments (oh, how I have loved getting comments over the years).  When Mom was sick, this blog was such an important tool for sharing news of hear health journey.  It was where we shared news of both babies being born, major family milestones, holidays, sickness and injury.  This blog was one of my main tools for maintaining sanity after Sylvia was born and I was home full time.  I am SO thankful that I could take the rough, long, or hard days and spin them into stories that would make people laugh.  I used this blog as a plantform for reflecting on life.  It helped me live more intentionally as I relived moments by writing them down.  Now I have a record of my early parenting years.  It feels good to know it’s there for posterity.

Sometime in 2010, I started blogging less about what I was thinking and more about what we were doing.  Then in 2011, I found myself switching gears in my blog writing.  I no longer felt the compulsive need to write.  I wasn’t composing posts in my head.  I didn’t have that itchy, “Must write blog post before going to bed” feeling that had been my close companion over the previous years.  In the second half of 2011, nearly all my blog posts were annotated photos.  They were more a record of our days.  I just wasn’t feeling need.

So after finishing up our Christmas trip blog posts, I decided to take a break.  I thought about posting an “I’m taking a break” note, but I wasn’t sure that I would actually stick to it, so I just left things hanging.  and in the following six months, I haven’t even contemplated blogging.  So I guess it was time for a break!

While I’m not posting at the moment, I am uploading new photos to my Flickr photostream on a very regular basis.  I’ve maintained my compulsion to edit and upload family photos before the sun sets on the day.  So if you want to see what the Dotzour family is up to, that’s the place to look.

To see my photos, you’ve got a few options.

  1. Bookmark http://www.flickr.com/photos/adotzour/sets/  This is the home page for my photo albums.
  2. Subscribe to the rss feed for http://www.flickr.com/photos/adotzour/  This will have every photo I upload shoot into your rss reader.
  3. Visit the photo page of DotzourFamily.com http://dotzourfamily.com/pictures/ This just pulls all the photos from Flickr into my website.
And if you’re interested in my photography work, you can see my site at http://www.altheaphotos.com/

For the time being, these are the best ways to see pictures of the kids and to see what’s up in our lives.  And until further notice, this blog is on hiatus.  I imagine that at some point, I’ll be back:)

Cheers!

~Althea

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Lorraine Davis, rest in peace

It feels like a subtle era has shifted in my life.  How did the dinosaurs know when things had transitioned from the Palaeozoic to the Mesozoic era?  Maybe it was some similarly quiet passing.

My maternal grandma, Lorraine Davis, passed away yesterday at the age of 93.  She’s was my last living grandparent (although Bryan’s Grandma Jo is still with us and is doing well!).  I’ve been thinking about it, and it feels really odd to not have my grandparents around.  They’ve been such a constant my whole life.  So many memories from my growing-up years included them.  And now, one by one, they are all gone.

My grandma’s husband, Grandpa Joe, passed away four years before I was born.  Mum (which is what I called my grandma) missed him every day, as far as I could tell.  The last thing she said was that she would get to see her husband soon.  Mum had so valued being married, and she didn’t like being a widow.  I asked my mom about that once, and she said that sometimes bad things happen and people adapt and move on; but that sometimes bad things happen, and for that person, life isn’t really ever OK in the same way again.

Mum had elegant, refined taste.  She loved interior design, beautiful furniture, well-crated items.  My mom grew up amidst fabric samples and paint swatches.  Mum’s interior design busines, The Eloquent Touch, allowed her to share her lovely sense of style with others.  Mum was proper and liked things just so.  She grew up in the Milwaukee during the depression, and she spent much of her adult life looking toward a level of comfort that she keenly missed during her childhood.  Butter had been hard to come by… margarine was more affordable, and as an adult she wouldn’t consider using margarine.  I think that was only in part because butter tastes so much better:)

Mum made her way in the world for decades after losing her husband.  She was 54 when Grandpa Joe died, and she worked hard, with lots of courage, to support herself through the years.  She tutored a wide array of students, sometimes working with prisoners at the local jail.  I don’t think it was easy, but she did it well.

I grew up an hour from Mum, and I spent a number of weekends visiting her as a child.  These last days, memories of some of those visits have come trickling back.

  • I loved Mum’s dogs.  Her black poodle, Mutzi, and her white poodle, Carrie were good playmates.  When Mum would tell Mutzi that they were going to visit Margot (my mom), Mutzi would leap high into the air.
  • Mum would come to Madison to visit us, and as a newly speaking toddler, I would look at her and say, “shop-ping?”   Mum loved to shop.  My mom loved to shop.  My sister and I love to shop.  It’s hereditary.  Shoes, coats, and handbags are particular obsessions.  One day in high school, I noted that I thought I might have maxx’d out my storage space for shoes.  I said that I thought I’d work on my coat collection next.  Mom laughed and asked if I’d ever noticed the closets of coats that Mum had.
    I imagine that in prehistoric times, grandmothers, daughters, and granddaughters would get together to pass along wisdom about the powers of medicinal herbs or the best way to fillet a mastodon.  My grandmother and mother taught me how to find stellar purchases at Marshall Fields or TJ Maxx for 75% off.
  • Mum showed me how to polish her silver.  She loved her silver flatware and desk set and took pride in taking good care of it.
  • I learned about quality fabric from Mum and my mom.  Natural fibers (especially wool) were esteemed.  Good tailoring was inspected.  The fit, the drape, the details were examined with a thoughtful touch.  In later years when stokes and age had clouded her mind, she would come back into sharp focus as she remarked on my flower-embroidered winter jacket or the leatherwork on Sylvia’s baby shoes.
  • When I spent the night at Mum’s, I would fall asleep in the deep dark (no night lights!).  It was a bit unsettling.  So was the sound of the whippoorwill singing into the night.  In time, I came to love that song, and the stillness of her home in the woods.
  • Mum’s home was near a cold spring, and on several occasions, the two of us would walk down to the stream, roll up our pants, and wade into the icy water.  We’d pull up watercress by the fist-full and take it back home to wash off the dirt and critters and make it into a very sharp-tasting salad.  I liked the picking part much more than the eating part:)
  • The paths near Mum’s house were sprinkled with walnuts, chestnuts, and acorns.  I remember her encouraging me to taste them, and the bitter taste still comes to mind when I smell fallen nuts.
  • Sometimes Mum would take me out on a nighttime walk.  I remember walking along the twisting roads in the woods near her home, petrified contemplating all the creatures lurking the the woods.  I didn’t want her to know I was afraid, so I decided to put all of my fear into one side of my body and to keep the hand that was holding her hand calm and relaxed.  When she asked me what was wrong, I realized I’d gotten it backwards, and the hand that was gripping hers was tense with my unspoken fears.

Mum wasn’t what I’d call an easy person.  She had a strong will, a strong sense of what was right, and she in my experience, she didn’t hesitate in sharing her convictions.  Over the years, there were times when Mum and I clashed and there were times when we got along famously.  Not an easy person.  I think, though, that in some ways, I always sought her approval.  I was just remembering an intense term in college when I had taken physics with calculus without the prerequisite courses (dumb, dumb, dumb).  Having just failed another quiz, I called my mom from the phone in the computer lab.  Choking back sobs, I asked her just not to tell Mum or my grandparents (like that would have been her first inclination!).  I wanted them to be proud of me.

Mum was very conservative.  Her Lutheran faith was one of her defining characteristics.  Until her generation, there had been a Lutheran pastor in the family for many generations into the past.  Things relating to church and to piety appealed to her soul.

****

I miss my mom in some way every day.  With the passing of my grandma, I feel like the earth has lost an important person who knew my mom.  I also feel like the conveyor belt of time has notably moved forward.  I’m now an adult with kids of my own.  Grandparents are moving on, and everyone I know is moving inexorably away from birth to death.  It’s odd to contemplate.

My mom worked extensively on our family genealogy.  Here’s my entry (somewhat dated…it’s missing Sylvia!).  Mom created our genealogy heading back in several branches to the 1400s.  Thinking of our family as a tree, I feel like I watched my grandparents go through the autumn and winter of their lives.  At the time, I was a new spring branch.  Now I’m in my summer, and my own kids are growing their own spring branches.  The seasons change, the eras shift.  Time goes by.

For a slideshow of pictures of my grandma, visit this link.  A gallery with the option to download images is here.

Finally, here’s Mum’s obituary.  Rest in peace, my grandma.

Lorraine C. Davis, age 93, of Waukesha and formerly of Janesville and Beloit, died on Monday, Feb. 20, 2012, at Virginia Health & Rehabilitation Center, Waukesha, WI. She was born in Milwaukee on Jan. 24, 1919, the daughter of Henry and Tekla (Loeber) Bergmann. She graduated from South Division High School and UW Whitewater in 1940. She married Joseph L. Davis in Texas in September of 1942. He preceded her in death in 1973. Lorraine taught classes in High School, Vocational School, and tutored Math students throughout her life. She was also the sole proprietor of “The Eloquent Touch”, an interior decorating service in Janesville. Lorraine is survived by 3 children: Peter (Marci) Davis of Port St. Lucie FL, Kate (Greg) Brand of Lynnwood WA, and Kirk (Susan) Davis of Plano TX; 7 grandchildren; 2 great grandchildren; and 3 siblings: John (Lois) Bergmann of Milwaukee, Edgar (Helmi) Bergmann of Germany and Carol (William) Lamm of Oconomowoc. She was preceded in death by her parents; husband; daughter, Margot (Kim) Babler; brother, Robert Bergmann; and sister, Mildred Klumb. A Funeral Service will be held at 1:00 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 23, 2012, at OUR SAVIOR’S LUTHERAN CHURCH, Beloit with Rev. Erik Jelinek officiating. A visitation will be held on Thursday from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. at the church. Interment will be in Eastlawn Cemetery, Beloit. In lieu of other expressions of sympathy please send memorials to the Heart Association or The Time of Grace Ministry. SCHNEIDER APFEL SCHNEIDER & SCHNEIDER FUNERAL HOME & CREMATORY is assisting the family.

New Year’s Eve on the Riverwalk

On New Year’s Eve, Bryan made us reservations for dinner at Acenar on the Riverwalk.

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I was so excited when our server led us outside, through the crowds, and to a little secluded table on the balcony overlooking the Riverwalk.  So cool!

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Just look at those pretty lights!

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It was a delicious meal, and a great way to celebrate the end of a terrific year.

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After dinner, we wandered amidst the Riverwalk crowds until we came out at the Alamo.

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Last time we visited during the day, so it was neat to see it at night.  While you couldn’t get inside, they had the facade all light up and glowing.

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Exciting people that we are, we headed home early.  At midnight, Bryan was asleep, but as I lay in bed reading, I heard the fireworks for quite some time.  Sounded like fun…but maybe not as much fun as being cozy in bed.

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On January 1, we headed home.  We drove from San Antonio to College Station, stopping for lunch at this great restaurant in Bastrop.

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I don’t know if you heard last summer about some of the big fires in Texas.  Bastrop contained an area known as the “Lost Pines,” a beautiful pine forest.  During last summer’s drought, fire took out 34,000 acres and burned over 1,600 homes.

Bryan and I drove through Bastrop State Park, and we were awed at the extent and thoroughness of the fire damage.  Really impressive, sobering destruction.

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We drove the rest of the way to College Station, then flew to Dallas and finally to Madison, where the weather was in the teens.  Burr!  Bryan had off work on January second, so we sat around the house and enjoyed pretending like we were slugs.  It was so nice to have a little down-time at home before Granny flew the kids up on the 4th.  Thanks oodles to Granny and Grandad for giving us this lovely time together:)

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Kicking back in San Antonio

We arrived in San Antonio late in the day on Friday, December 30.  Our hotel was a few blocks off the River Walk, and we set out to see the sights.

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We hadn’t anticipated how heavily crowded the River Walk would be.  Apparently it’s a pretty popular place to visit around New Years.  In the restaurant district, we shuffled along through the thick crowd.  The trees sure were lovely, all lit up and magical!  After a few failed attempts at finding a restaurant, we left the River Walk and got ourselves dinner at Texas de Brazil.  The drinks were good, and the salad bar (and the cheese bread!!!) was so good that I filled up before the meat course.  We were entertained by a crazy aerial “wine angel” who flipped and spun and retrieved wine bottles for lucky patrons (see here for a video I found on YouTube).

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On New Year’s Eve morning, we had breakfast at a wonderful place called The Gunther House.  So glad that Bryan’s mom suggested it for us!

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Our wait for a table was really pleasant as we sipped our coffee in the sunny courtyard and then browsed the restored home and the cute gift shop, full of Texas cookbooks and baking goods.

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I seriously could not get enough of these trees.  They are so beautiful it makes my heart ache.

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After breakfast, we wound our way through the King William Historic District.  So many pretty homes!

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The Riverwalk extends through most of San Antonio, and it seems like it’s become a wonderful way to connect the city and to help people get outdoors.

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One of my main goals for our time in San Antonio was to eat at a restaurant where we’d have guacamole made at our table.  We did this when we visited San Antonio back in 2001 (photos here!), and it made quite an impression.  After a little walking, we stopped at Boudros for some drinks and guac with chips.

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There’s our waiter making me happy with avocados!

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Oh, what a day!

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We wandered down the Riverwalk until we came to a little park where we sat and read for a couple hours.

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Ahh, a day spent walking and eating and reading.  Pretty fun stuff!  Now back to the hotel to change for New Year’s Eve!

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Exploring the Hill Country – by horseback and stream

On Friday, December 30, we woke up early, packed our bags, said farewell to Barron’s Creekside, and drove down to Bandera, Texas for a horseback ride at Dixie Dude Ranch.

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I’d called around, and our trail ride was actually arranged by Marci and Russell Tiner from Cross T Ranch.  They bring their horses to Dixie Dude Ranch and offer rides on their land.

I felt like a kid, I was so excited to see the horses when they pulled up.  I sold Cold Snap back in 2002, and I don’t think I’ve ridden a horse since then.  Made me oh, so happy to be near them!

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I was on a steady, smart thoroughbred named Earl, and Bryan was on a half-Percheron, half-quarter horse named Archie.  They were both sweeties and needed almost nothing from us as riders:)

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We rode for around an hour through scrubby woods and rocky gullies.

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It was windy but sunny and very pleasant.  I’d love to come back and do an overnight ride someday!

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Signs of the longhorns.

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There’s me and Earl!

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After our ride, we drove down toward San Antonio.  On the way, we took a scenic road (thanks to a book we got for Christmas) and stopped at a nice little nature park.

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We wandered down to the stream and saw some beautiful Cypress trees.

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Prickly Pear Cactus grows everyone here in the hill country.  As we drove along, it was as common as thistle is up here in Wisconsin.  So cool!

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During this walk, Bryan and I spied a Scarlet Tanager.  I don’t think I’d ever seen one before, so that was a bit of high for me.  I used some of my iTunes gift money to buy iBird for my phone so I can more quickly ID birds.  Fun fun!

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Hill Country, Texas romantic get-away

On Wednesday, December 28, Bryan and I packed our bags, said goodbye to the family, and drove west for a week of vacationing together.  After a stop in Austin for a delicious lunch at Z Tejas, we drove on to Fredricksburg, TX, a beautiful German town in the heart of the Hill Country.

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We stayed in a cabin at a beautiful little resort called Barron’s Creekside.

First thing we did was to stroll around the grounds.

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I love this shadow picture of the two of us!

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The cabins are made of timber from a tabacco barn and the windows and doors and some furnishings are from a home in Switzerland.  The owner, Daniel, is Swiss and splits his time between here and there.

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There’s my handsome sweetie.

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And there’s me, feeling quite relaxed and happy.

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Our cabin was named Wasserfall.  What a wonderful place!

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Our first morning there, Bryan brought me breakfast in bed and then we lazed around and read for half the day.

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We enjoyed some delicious dining in Fredricksburg (the Navajo Grill was super yummy), but my favorite meal was the steaks and mushrooms and asparagus that Bryan made on the grill.  We moved our table out to the porch to eat by white Christmas lights.

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Ahh, and the fire in the fireplace!  So cozy!

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This was one of the best trips we’ve taken together.  We visited Becker Vineyards (bought some port and lavender honey), went to Wild Seed Farms, drove past the very crowded Enchanted Rock State Park, and wandered up and down the adorable shopping street in Fredericksburg.   I loved it here, and highly recommend both the location and also the solo vacationing sans kids!

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Hanging out in Texas

After Christmas, Bryan and I spent a couple days hanging out with the family before venturing out on our own vacation.  I thought I’d share some pics from our fun times.  There’s a video at the end of Sylvia playing with an electric car that’s pretty cute.

This is actually on our flight to Texas on the 23rd, but I had to share these pictures because the kids were looking so silly.

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Andrew had a “blue raspberry” lemonade.  He was so proud of his blue tongue!

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After Christmas, Melanie gave us all some new holiday beer toppers.  Reindeer and santa hats:)

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A perfect poker combo.

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Bryan got sick on Christmas Day and he was out of commission most of the 26th, but by the evening of the 27th, he was back in the game…the poker game.

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I don’t know if I can count the number of “tubbies” that Sylvia took while at Granny and Gradad’s.  I’m guessing it’s around 4 per day.

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Bryan and Mark went golfing in the balmy Texas weather.

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Here’s a cute video of Andrew and Sylvia playing with a motorized car.  I like how she gently pats it when it stops and then runs gleefully away.  So cute.

Christmas day

LuAnn played the piano at the Christmas Day church service this year.  It was so fun to watch and listen to her!  Great carols and hymns:)

When we got home, Sylvia dressed up (outfit #15) into Granny’s Belle costume.  I thought she looked so sweet playing on the piano!

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Our Christmas Dinner was in the evening.  Granny made a beautiful crown pork roast with an amazing cranberry pecan stuffing.  I’ve got to get this recipe.  That stuffing is the stuff that dreams are made of.

Here’s the main course, coming out of the oven…

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What a beauty!

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Oh, yummy, yum, yum.

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And fresh rolls!

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Mark and LuAnn’s friends BJ and David joined us for Christmas Dinner.  They were both a lot of fun!  Note, they are sporting the necklaces Sylvia made:)

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Here’s David and Mark carving the roast.

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Sitting down at the beautiful Christmas table.

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On the outside, looking in…

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Christmas lights from the street.  Sylvia was a bit concerned to know where I was going.  You can just see her head peeking around the open front door.

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“Come in, Mommy!”  She’s jumping up and down:)

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After dinner, Sylvia got to eat some of her gingerbread house for dessert.  Note, it’s become heavily more decorated!

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Thanks, all for a wonderful Christmas feast.

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Christmas morning

On Christmas morning, I woke up around 7 and came out to the living room.  Mark and LuAnn were sipping their coffees, the fireplace candles were lit, and it was all peaceful.  No kids up yet!  So we sat in cozy contentment together, gazing at the now-stuffed stockings, and waited for the young ones to awake.  Andrew came out with salutations of “Feliz Navidad, Granny, Feliz Navidad, Grandad, Feliz Navidad, Mommy!”  Then he snuggled up in my lap and we hung out together for a while.  I mentioned something about Sylvia waking up at some point, and Andrew disappeared.  A sleepy, Sylvie groan came from the bedroom, followed by a more lively waking-up sound.  In a moment, two kids were gazing up at the stockings.

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After we gave the OK for them to go wake up Melanie and Dad, the unwrapping of presents began.  Usually we go around taking turns unwrapping.  This year, the pace was a bit more, uh, frenetic:)

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Sylvia got a Vidia and Rosetta fairy!

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Ooo, new dresses from Aunt Mellie!

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Here’s a video of some of our present-opening:)

Andrew has been requesting a toy called BeyBlade.  I’d never heard of it before…but his friends at school love them.  After doing a bit of searching, I found out that they are battling tops.  Actually, they’re really fun!  I got Andrew a couple, and we all had fun battling them in their special arena.

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Each top is a little different (these two are called Galaxy Pegasus and the Meteo L-Drago).  I think the object of the game is that the last top spinning is the winner.

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Fun to spend Christmas Day together, playing with toys and eating lots (and lots) of fudge:)

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