Christmas in Tennessee

Our last Christmas event was with my mom's side of the family in Tennessee.  We alternate houses each year and since they came our way last year, it was our turn to jump in the cars and travel.  We arrived at my aunt's house mid-afternoon and almost immediately loaded back up in the car to head to my cousin's horse arena.  We wanted to get in some good horseback riding before it got too dark!

By the time we got out of the car, it was a bit colder than it was when we left our house.  Thank goodness for Mimi letting Katie Wynn borrow a warm headband and gloves.  The gloves were a wee bit big, though.  

Ok, the head band was kinda big too.  Katie Wynn was not the most fashionable cowgirl of the day.  (That's not a sad, teary eye...it's watering from the cold wind!)

My cousin was actually sick with the stomach bug so she kept her germs inside and away from us.  That left her husband all alone to saddle up some horses for us to ride.  He was so nice to go to so much trouble for us city folks.  The kids all waited patiently while he readied the horses.

Finally, they were saddled and ready for riders!  Enjoy this collection of People-On-Horses pictures.  Don't we all look like naturals?!  :)

 Parker riding by himself.

Parker riding by himself.

 Barn cat!  Every time we visit, there's a new kitty to see!

Barn cat!  Every time we visit, there's a new kitty to see!

 Brennie riding the pony by herself.

Brennie riding the pony by herself.

 Jett riding by himself.

Jett riding by himself.

 Neely helped Roger with leading the horses around.

Neely helped Roger with leading the horses around.

 Yes, even I got on a horse!  I was terrified.  No one would lead me; they made me take the reins myself!

Yes, even I got on a horse!  I was terrified.  No one would lead me; they made me take the reins myself!

 Going fast!

Going fast!

 Ramer was the first kid up - he rode with cousin Joel.

Ramer was the first kid up - he rode with cousin Joel.

 Bond salesman or cowboy?  You decide.

Bond salesman or cowboy?  You decide.

 Katie Wynn riding with Daddy.

Katie Wynn riding with Daddy.

 Roany and Bren racing through the arena!

Roany and Bren racing through the arena!

 Ramer even rode by himself!

Ramer even rode by himself!

 Roger and Raines.

Roger and Raines.

 Even Poppy managed to climb up on a horse...

Even Poppy managed to climb up on a horse...

 Making sure there is plenty of photographic evidence.

Making sure there is plenty of photographic evidence.

 These girls - Roany and Gracie - are like pros compared to us.  Roany isn't even on the saddle!

These girls - Roany and Gracie - are like pros compared to us.  Roany isn't even on the saddle!

 Bren's turn again.

Bren's turn again.

 Roany helped Ramer go for one last ride.

Roany helped Ramer go for one last ride.

We really talked up the horseback riding to Katie Wynn in hopes that she would at least sit on a horse for a picture.  I was completely blown away when she got up there with no problems at all.  Every time she got off she wanted it to be her turn again!  She rode several times with her Daddy, once with her Poppy, and once with me.  Towards the end of our time there, she was ready to go fast!  Matt let the horse run (trot? gallop?) a few laps with her on it and she loved it!!

When it was time to go, we told her the horses (neigh-neighs) had to go night-night.  Roger told Katie Wynn that the horses don't need beds and sometimes they even sleep standing up!  As soon as we got back to my aunt's house, she excitedly told my mom about the horses going night-night standing up and not even needing a bed!

We had a relaxed evening hanging out at my aunt's house.  Once everyone made it over there we had a yummy dinner of different kinds of chili and all kinds of side items.  The bigger kids stayed upstairs playing and the babies played downstairs with the adults.  

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 Jentri is the newest addition to the family.  She was just 6 weeks old when we were there!

Jentri is the newest addition to the family.  She was just 6 weeks old when we were there!

 When I dressed Katie Wynn that morning, I told her she had to wear her vest because we were gonna ride horses.  Now every time she wears it she asks if she gets to ride a horse that day!

When I dressed Katie Wynn that morning, I told her she had to wear her vest because we were gonna ride horses.  Now every time she wears it she asks if she gets to ride a horse that day!

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I think we were the first to leave that evening so that we could get our babies into bed.  We had a king bed in a hotel room calling our name and since Thomas was in our only pack-n-play, Katie Wynn was getting to sleep with us.  When we got to our room, she jumped on the bed and lined up the four pillows across the headboard.  "This one's Daddy's, this one's Mommy's, this one's Katie Wynn's, and this one is for Thomas!"  I replied, "Well Thomas isn't going to need a pillow because he has his own bed."  "Ok!  This one's for Katie Wynn's feet!"  Of course it is.  I should've known...

It was quite an adventure trying to get Thomas to sleep with Miss Chatterbox laying in the bed talking her head off.  She talked and talked and talked until she literally fell asleep mid-sentence.  Matt and I didn't think she'd ever fall asleep! 

We were back over at my aunt's for brunch pretty early and the house was already bouncing with awake kids.

Jett and Neely took turns reading from Luke before we opened gifts.  

We couldn't wrap up the celebration without an attempt at an all-grandkids picture.  Here's the one I took at my Mom's house last Christmas.  There were 12 kids - 6 boys and 6 girls - and I was just a week away from finding whether Thomas was a boy or girl.  I think I commented that the genders would be uneven next year after he arrived.

Well, I was wrong!  Thomas did arrive and add to the boys' count, but then Jentri came in November to even it back out.  Now the little girl Erin is having in March will turn the tables again! 

Fourteen kids on one couch...there's no way I could get smiles from everyone!  I'm calling this a success because at least all faces are somewhat turned towards the camera.

After all the food, gifts, and excitement of the morning, both kids crashed hard and slept the whole way home.  Matt and I were very glad!!

That wraps up all of our Christmas festivities for 2014.  Now we're in the middle of playing the super fun game of "Where do we put all this stuff?!?!"