Friday, December 15, 2017

tree hunting 2017

The day after Thanksgiving, as is tradition, we headed out into the Black Hills to hunt for our Christmas tree. 



It took a little longer than usual because we had to go the opposite direction to the Forest Service  office to get this card for our fourth grader, Evie, which gives her (and her family!) free entrance into any US park. But also, as was the point, we could get a free Christmas tree permit. Hey, it saved us $10! And now we'll be able to go back to the Badlands for free again too. 



Forty five minutes later we finally arrived at our hunting grounds. We had coordinated to meet Nathan and Ana up there, but since we had to go so far out of our way and because their kids are so little, they were already past done and had to leave ASAP. Ana, I won't post your talk-to-the-hand picture. Ha!



Ana marched to their van to feed the cranky kids and Nathan hung back, unsure of what to do. He made the right call and went and helped Ana. They were long gone by the time we started loading up. 



Crossing the highway first for a change of pace.



Perhaps this one? Garn...Noah!



Hiking through the trees. This is my favorite part of the day! I just love it out there.



No snow this year, or even ice, and pretty warm out.  



Evie sat on every rock she came to.



The other kids joined her on the decent sized boulder.



A little closer. 



Walking through the beautiful sun!




Yet another rock.



There's Samuel. 



The older kids wandered up onto the Rock Maze rocks



Ezzie liked to sit in the grass near us. 



These are the rocks that you park by at the Rock Mazes. Just enough for our four kids.



We crossed the road and walked over to the Steamboat Rock picnic area and found more rocks and what looked like an old road beyond them.



Terry was drawn to a tree just the steep creek bank.



This one?



Evie and the littles were creeping along behind me in the tall grass. 



We were right next to the highway. 



Further down the hill he went... 



Ezra went back to roll in the grass with his saw. Ha! 



We found it! It was growing out of a rock right near the edge of the creek. We had to climb down the steep bank and then through a thick bramble of bushes but it was worth it. It was a very healthy tree (I always feel bad cutting them down) with a thick trunk, the thickest we've ever had, and pretty full! We seem to think that every year we've found the best one yet.



Chopping her down. 



Helping Samuel is saw. 



Ezra climbed back up the bank with Terry and the tree while me and the others followed the creek down to that green bridge in the distance.



Hop scotching across the rocks to join daddy on the road. 



You can see Noah, Ezra, and Terry with the tree through the sun beams on the right.



Me, Evie, and Samuel struggled to find our way to the bridge on the opposite side of the creek. Zooming in you can see Ezra's red coat on the bridge and Terry at the street sign. 



We had to climb up another steep bank but we finally made it back to the Envoy. Oh and I just realized that this was Luna's first year tree hunting! Last year was Snap's last time out because he died just before Christmas came. 



I always make the kids turn around. Luna is so cute! 



The kids threw rocks while Terry tied the tree down to the roof of the Envoy and then I lined the kids up for another picture. Ezra was crying because his eye hurt. See him pointing at it? Awww. And then look at Evie's funny hair. She had taken a shower before we left and put her hat on pretty soon afterwards thereby making her bangs all fuzzy. Ha!



Kids and a tree. 



Mommy and daddy and a tree.



And the annual kiss! Terry thought he'd change it up a bit while picking me up.  



Very tall tree. 



Make room!



Lighting it up! 



Beautiful tree and cute kids. It was a great day. 

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Thanksgiving 2017 w Nathan and Ana

Nathan and Ana, Theo, Elin, and Thorin, came to stay with us for six days over the Thanksgiving holiday. They hadn't been here since the previous Christmas, but we had been to Kerkhoven twice due to my uncle and grandpa's funerals last spring and summer. They arrived on Tuesday afternoon in time for dinner and Thanksgiving was Thursday. It was 70 degrees that day and we were all in shorts and t-shirts!



Rewind to Wednesday when mom came over just to hang out with her long distance son...though it looks like she came to hang out with Thorin here. Ha! I took this picture because Thorin had been so afraid of the cat since they arrived the day before. He'd been naughty and sat on the couch and then Trouncer joined him to share in his body heat, but Thorin just looked so freaked out, like he was on eggshells. Trouncer had been parading around in a show of typical cat pride, pouncing on and scaring Thorin at every opportunity. He was understandably scared, the big baby. Of course he had just been shaved the day before due to fleas so he was actually naked and therefore vulnerable to claws.



Evie rescued Thorin shortly thereafter. 



While Ana was out getting her haircut we took the dogs and boys for a walk. 



Pretty pretty! Now we have practically the same haircut. :) Oh, and notice the 20 week baby belly! 



The following day, Thanksgiving, mom came over early to get the turkey in my oven, because we were hosting dinner here for the first time. She brought absolutely every dish and ingredient we'd need though which made it easier (on me, not her, but at least I have a dishwasher). 



The weather was out of control that day, like I said, over 70 degrees. We spent most of the day outside. Ana is not trying to look annoyed with me, ha ha, no, she just happened to look that way when I took her picture.



I love love love this photo of Nathan and Luna. Makes me smile every time.



It was the perfect day to hang up lights. I love this picture, so fun. 



I don't know what the heck Nathan is doing but it's hilarious. I didn't even notice him showing his belly at the time. I think I was just trying to capture Terry and them at the same time. Win.



I stole that baby shortly after. 



Trouncer explored the front yard for the first time that day. 



We kept a close eye on him. 



Trouncer inflated in fear when Thorin went by, not even noticing the cat there. I snapped the camera at the perfect time for another win. 



Everybody outside enjoying the weather. 




These little boys played with darts the entire weekend...and also fought about darts all weekend. :)



Nathan likes to disappear while he's visiting, driving around town to discover what's changed in the last year since he was here. On that day's outing he came back with a bunch of wood for projects. He's organizing it here. Noah is yelling at Luna to come back.



I collected all the children, except Elin I guess, for a cousin photo. This behind the scenes prep photo cracks me up. Evie was a grump for some reason, though she was the only one looking at the camera (she was sick for one thing - everyone but me got sick). Theo is going after a booger, the dogs are in disarray, mom is trying to organize them. Ha ha ha.



That's better, though they're mostly looking to my right.



I think mom moved behind me to get them to look at me. Pretty good! 



Meow. 



Terry and Nathan avoided boredom by working on a dresser his dad wanted him to fix but Ezra needed some help finding a dart he had shot under the dirty deck. He never did find it but got quite dirty. You couldn't pay me to go under there.



Nathan is a good wood worker so it was handy for Terry to have him there for an extra set of hands.



Next activity, rolling down the driveway. 



We went inside eventually, maybe because dad arrived. He and Thorin had to get reacquainted. I guess he always does this with dogs (Snap and Thorin and Thorin here).



Chilling out.



Finally time to eat! Terry's face cracks me up. And then Nathan behind him with his eyes closed. Theo is cheesin.



Getting all loaded up.



Kids table! Who remembers sitting at one of those?! This girl! Ha ha.



We were just about to dig in when we realized we hadn't done the customary annual turkey leg picture (beginning when we moved back in 2012, 2013, 2014, not 2015 because my folks were in MN, and 2016)



We prayed and then I made them all wait even longer before eating so I could take their picture. Had to send one to Steph since she wasn't there. :(



Shari sent us a picture from their house. Aw, how nice.



While we were cleaning up Elin wandered around outside with a bucket on her head... HA HA!



I noticed the light outside going pretty pink so naturally I got ready to go snap some photos. While getting my shoes on I overheard Terry telling Nathan at the kitchen sink in front of the sunset to not tell me about the sky or else they'd "lose her." HA! And they did. I went up the hill to enjoy it for several minutes.



Selfie smelfie!



When I got back I finished packing up all the leftovers. Man, we had lots. Nom nom nom.



Once the cleaning up was done we went outside to see the lights Terry had hung up. Not bad! We've never done so many before. Had to add some to go with the antique bike though!



I guess I forgot to mention the bike. Yes, so we went to a nearby estate auction a few weeks ago and when the bike that I was interested in went for more than I wanted to spend, Jerry got it for me! How sweet. I wanted it to be a lawn ornament and to put blinking lights on it at Christmas to make it look like the wheels were spinning. A few days before, Terry hung it up on the deck (way cooler than I had in mind) and got it looking awesome!



Boom baby!



Oh, and that night I had my best game of Bananagrams ever. "Exasperation?!" Oh yeah!