Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Christmas Celebrations

Christmas presents

Following Nicolas’ Graduation ceremony, we all changed clothes, picked up Casey and Nicolas’ car that had been packed the night before, dropped off our Jeep at the Wildlife Refuge, and hit the road for Michigan

Our plan was to go the entire distance in one day, and we had some potential winter weather moving into Ohio and Michigan, so we were anxious to get going.  We pulled out of the Refuge at 12:30, with an estimated arrival at my Mom’s house around midnight – we had our fingers crossed that all would go well!

I took the first shift, and got us through South Carolina, then Nick took over to get us through the mountains.  We were doing really well and making great time, and enjoyed a beautiful sunset in Tennessee.

Tennessee Sunset

Tom took over the driver’s seat in northern Tennessee and got us into Ohio, and at that point our midnight arrival was still looking pretty good.  Nicolas was sleeping, so Tom kept driving until we got north of Dayton.  We stopped to top off the gas tank so we wouldn’t arrive on empty or have to worry if the weather turned bad – that turned out to be an omen!  Nicolas took over the drive for the last leg, and the weather took a bad turn!

Drizzle quickly turned to freezing rain, and in no time the roads had turned into a sheet of ice!  Nicolas slowed WAY down!  The last 140 miles should have only taken just over 2 hours, but in those conditions it took us over 4-1/2 hours!

We watched semis jack-knife right in front of us, cars and trucks spin out on overpasses, and we had to stop every 15-20 miles to clear ice off the windshield and wipers.  It was not fun . . . although Nicolas thought it was!

A thick layer of ice

Clearing the windshield


WE all had to take our coats and sweatshirts off in the car because we had the heat turned up so high to try to keep the windshield clear, we were burning up!

I must say, Nicolas did a great job – he stayed calm and in complete control of the vehicle at all times.




At 3am, we finally pulled into my Mom’s driveway!

We arrived!

Whew – I’ve never been so relieved to arrive somewhere!

Baking cookies


The next several days were spent on appointments, shopping, baking, wrapping, and visiting with family.








Evenings with Grandma

Casey waiting for Santa












Visiting with their buddy, Tom!


Nicolas and Bryce added some new ornaments to Grandma’s tree.




The holiday weekend arrived, and as is tradition, we celebrated on Christmas Eve with my family and Christmas Day with Tom’s.

But first, Bryce decided we needed to open our presents to each other on Christmas Eve . . . he just couldn’t wait!

They got each other shirts that represent their own teams,

Each sporting the other's team

and Tom got an MSU “ugly” Christmas sweatshirt!

Tom's MSU sweatshirt

Christmas Eve at my Mom’s house is definitely the louder, more animated celebration.  There’s a new generation of great-grandkids, including the newest family member, Emma.

Newest family member - Emma

Soon enough, she’ll be running around with her cousins, Jaxon and Graysen, but for now she sticks with Mom, or Grandma & Grandpa.

Emma with Grandma and Grandpa


It was a wonderful evening of presents, food, and fun.

Bryce, Diane and Tom

Donnie, Tina and Alex










Danny wasn't feeling too good


Graysen is ready to open presents!

Graysen decided to attack Sandi

Time for some cards











Almost too much fun . . . by 2am, it was time to break the party up!

Almost done!

After breakfast with Grandma on Christmas morning, and a few more small presents, we headed up to Tom’s brother’s house for the next celebration.

The kids exchanged gifts,

Bryce's new hat




and Grandpa gave them all lessons on the fine art of Yo-Yo-ing.

Grandpa schooling the kids


Showing his stuff

Bryce getting lessons

After a delicious prime rib dinner and vintage game on Monopoly, we said our good-byes and headed back to my Mom’s to get the car packed up.

Nicolas needed to report to ELT school at 7am on the 27th, so it would be another marathon day of driving for us on the 26th.  Bryce would be sticking around for a while yet (his classes don’t start up until January 9th), though, but our visit was over.

We got an early start on Monday morning, and enjoyed a much nicer driving day,

Blue skies and mountains ahead!

Through the Smoky Mountains


although it was still almost 9pm by the time we arrived at the Refuge.

It was a quick trip to Michigan and back, but it was nice to see all the family, and we enjoyed our visit!

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas 2016!


  1. Sure glad you arrived without incident...sure looked horrible all across the north...way to go Nicolas!!!

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of you!!!

  2. Any time spent with Family is worth the hassle needed to make it happen.
    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of you.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.


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