(warning - this post is long )
VFC 2006 is in the books!! What a fun year it was minus having Randy, Kelly and their family there in person. But some were able to join by phone (more on that later) so that made it fun for us all. Here's a quick recap...
My family arrived late Friday night in Littlefield where Nana, Papa, Gary, Toni, Laura, Hailey and Garyn were all waiting for us. Once we got the kids to bed, we were treated to our first surprise of the weekend. My mom and dad (Nana and Papa) had re-done their master bedroom secretly and revealed it to us that night. For those who had not seen the BEFORE picture, you may not have been able to appreciate the "reveal" like the rest of us. It was just like one of those TV shows in terms of what had transformed. My parents (and a friend) did a GREAT job and it looks so good. There is actually room to have a grandkid sleepover in that room now!! (hint, hint!!)
After waking up from a long night with Brady (he was up for some reason from around midnight to 2AM which meant Kendra and I were awake then as well b/c we were staying all in the same room!!), the morning began with a short run to the Littlefield Field House/Stadium to be a part of the send off for the Wildcat football team. They were on the way to play in the state championship game for only the 3rd time in school history. It was great to be a part of it. (Later that night, they lost though!) Later that morning, I got some help from my 2 nieces, Laura and Hailey, to make my carrot cake for my brother Gary's 40th birthday.
The first big VFC tradition event was watching the kids do their "chinese christmas" gift game. That's the one we all play where you draw names, pick a gift, steal a gift, etc. You know the drill. We started doing this with the little kids a few years back and they enjoyed it. They don't quite understand the fun of "stealing gifts" although Colby did steal one this year!! I think he was the only one though. We decided that Laura gets to move up to the adult's gift exchange next year because she will turn 16 by then. (we just made that rule up this year Randy and Kelly so make note for the VFC Rulebook!! HA)
After the kids got done, we decided to buck the schedule (and yes there was a written schedule to keep us in line!! HA) and have the adults "chinese" exchange. Several years ago, we made this more exciting by buying shoeboxes that all matched. So we put these 6 black boxes out on the floor and then we draw names. Part of the reason for doing this is there is one gift that you DON'T want that passes from year to year. It's the Rappin' Santa! By having the shoeboxes look the same, it's really fun to see who gets the Rappin' Santa each year. Before the shoeboxes, someone might wrap a small CD or a jewelry box and it was obvious that it wasn't the Rappin' Santa. So this makes it really fun unless you get it !! Well, guess who got it!! .... NOOOO, not me. Sweet Kendra was the "big winner". Kinda ironic since we brought it this year!! Guess it stays in the family. This part of VFC is always alot of fun. The stealing and picking out nominal gifts is alot of fun for me.
After lunch came the next big tradition of VFC... the annual reading of the 'Twas the night before Christmas reading that Randy would do from Africa via speakerphone. This year we used Hailey's cell phone (you have to look closely in the picture to see it with the screen flipped up so we all could hear!!)
My mom always makes up paper sacks with red ribbons on it for each participant. Then we all sit in a circle around the phone. While the reading goes along, every time we hear the word "THE", we pass the sack to the person on the left. Then when we hear the word "AND", we pass the sack to our right. It gets kinda crazy at times and really funny. What made it especially special this year was having a "guest reader". My niece Tori got to join her Daddy for the reading and they took turns reading parts of the story. The kids on the other end sure enjoyed hearing Tori's voice which I think made it very special and fun for them. At least I can speak for Tyler and Colby. Great job Randy and Tori!!! After it's over, we all open up our sacks to see what "prize" we've won. Most of us won $1 while someone won $2 and $3. Then we'd have a $5, 10 and the big winner of $20. Kendra was the big winner again although this was more fun then getting the Rappin Santa! (and no, I don't get to spend any of it!! HA).
Then it was onto nap times and relaxation for a while. Several played games (although no Nertz this year - sorry Garyn!! I missed that too - definitely next year!!), feeding and playing with Brady, and others watched some sap-fest of a movie !! HA (sorry girls) Tyler is SO into Christmas that he found a way to play the role of Santa. There's a reason his name means "resourceful"!!! Later on, Uncle Gary and Aunt Toni brought in a large cardboard box so Tyler could have a chimney to crawl in and out of like Santa. He was in heaven!! Tyler and Colby both loved it but I think Tyler Claus could have stayed playing with that box all night long. Great thinking G&T!! Then later, our Granny arrived. Granny is my grandmother and my Dad's mother. She lives outside of town and we love it when she joins our VFC gatherings or any time our family is together. She had an accident last year where she broke her pelvic bone but you couldn't tell by the way she was moving around even with her walker. Very resilient lady to say the least. She stayed with us through dinner.
Then it was another Nana & Papa surprise!! This time, Ol' St. Nick himself made a special visit to Cherry Blossom drive!! When Santa arrived, Tyler and Colby helped let him in the house (sorry, the chimney was all tarnished with ashes and soot and Nana couldn't bear the thought!!!) and that was a fun moment to watch. Both were very excited. Santa had some fun gifts for all the kids.
After Santa got into his sleigh
and to his team gave a whistle, it was on to our big gift exchange and gift opening event. We let the kids go first so the little ones can have something to play with while the adults open their gifts later. The boys ended up with some great gifts. I haven't got pics of all of them yet but here are a couple. Tyler and Colby both loved playing with the Lincoln Logs once we got home today that they received from Gary and Toni. The 3 of us built a cool cabin together which was fun. Colby also loved his new Power Ranger PJ shorts from Randy and Kelly and he couldn't wait to get into them. Here are both angles in case you need them!! (HA - the last one was Colby's idea... I promise!!) And Nana, even though it wasn't a formal gift, here's a pic of Tyler and his Santa sack. We filled it with some empty boxes right before bed and he LOVES it!! Our kids were truly blessed with some great gifts. Oh, and Nana and Papa should know that Colby is STILL saying that the race track is "something I've always wanted"!! That will be fun to break it out in the playroom this week.
The adults draw names and buy for one person. Hailey, you did a great job this year organizing things but I never heard the story you were going to tell us. If you can, either post a comment on here about it or email it to the family. One of the best gifts I received was a hand-written note from my parents. Now, before you think I went and got sentimental on ya (don't count on it!!), it was the content of the note that made this gift the best. Several months ago, I asked my parents for a big present! The present was for them to take some time to get their financial and personal affairs in order so that in the event of something happening to one of them, the kids (myself, my brothers and our wives) would not be left without a clue where to begin to sort all of that out. And honestly, that's how we feel now. Now, I know that most of the world lives like that so that's not meant to sound like I have awful parents!!! It's just lately our family has been hit with some recent events that make all of us ask alot of questions like "what if that happens to us or my parents?" "Will they know what to do?" So I asked them to simply organize everything so that all of us would know where to begin. I don't have to know all the ins and outs of the financial matters because that is still a personal matter that I'm not saying I'm owed access to. However, I would only like to know that things are in order (literally) and organized so that if something happened to both of them, we'd know what to do and who to contact and who to pay bills to. I just wanted them to put it all somewhere and tell us where it is in the event we ever need it. And I got my wish!!! Thank you Santa !!! I'm so proud of my parents for both seeing the need for this. My handwritten note indicated that they had promised to produce this as our New Years Gift! Wow - that's great!! Thank you Mom and Dad in advance for committing to this. I know it's no fun to think about these things and get it all organized. But the work now, will be worth it to all of us later on when we need it. Again, I appreciate you understanding the need and for giving us all this gift!!
Oh, and then I got an awesome cooler on wheels, a pedometer, a cool DVD and a framed print too !!! (HA) It was a fun night for sure.
After the gift exchange, it was one our favorite new VFC traditions... Pizza Hut and Sonic drinks for everyone!!! I made a fun run with Laura and Hailey to Sonic to get the drinks while Gary and Garyn made the pizza run. I think every year, we enjoy this tradition more and more!!! HA
We then broke out the carrot cake to celebrate Gary's 40th BD which was on Thursday of last week. Then we finished our day just all fat and happy!!! Nothing like VFC to bring that out in ya!! HA
It was a great time to be together this year after a couple of years of not being able to get everyone's schedules to match. We are all looking forward to next year when we can have Randy and his crew to celebrate with us again in person. We sure missed you guys!! This post is alot for you so you'll know what all took place.
That's a wrap (or should I say Jingle Rap for Kendra!!!)
for VFC 2006. God bless you all,