Thursday, December 24, 2009

Cutting Down the Christmas Tree

One of my favorite traditions is cutting down the Christmas tree. Since the first Christmas Darren and I were married we have picked out, cut down and decorated a live tree. We visit a tree farm in Terell every year with our family. Of course it wouldn't be right to go get our tree without picking the coldest, and usually rainiest day, of the whole year to be outside. But we Hughes' brave the conditions in search of the perfect tree. What a cute bunch of cousins! It's fun to see Autumn and Elic discover the fun of the holiday season. The kids visited Santa inside the holiday store and Preston got the biggest kick out of Elic's conversation with the man in red. It went something like this:
Santa: "What would you like for Christmas?"
Elic: "Hi!"
And that was it. Preston has retold that story to all our family and he just laughs. Although he has expressed concern that Santa won't know what to bring Elic since he didn't tell him anything.
A few pictures with the card board cut outs.
Loading up on the hayride. It's fun to see our families growing. We laughed that in a few years we won't remember which baby Kim is holding (since she's due in just a few months). But that is precious Holden trying to stay warm.
I love that Elic and Autumn hold hands- just adorable!
Holden's first Christmas tree adventure.
One of the boys favorite things about making this trip each year is running wild through all the trees.
Shawn and Kim found their perfect tree.
Darren sought out a beautiful tree and yes, we let Preston and Elic use a REAL saw and help cut it down. They have to learn sometime, right?
There's just something extra manly about cutting down your own tree.
What is it about boys and sticks? I couldn't get Preston to not have one in his hand- especially as he was running all around. Just glad we were accident free on this trip.
Holden was such a trooper.
Gram with her grandkids waiting for the tractor to come pick us up.
One last picture before we all headed for our warm cars and started the drive back home. I haven't even taken a picture of the tree all decorated, but it is one of my favorite trees that we've ever had. What a great start to our holiday season!

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Polar Express

For Elic's birthday my mom got tickets for us to ride the Polar Express. Our original plan was to drive to the farm and spend the night with Grandmother then ride the train from Palestine to Rusk the next day. When we called to reserve tickets they were completely booked every Friday and Saturday until the end of the year. So we opted for a Sunday ride and the Sunday that worked best for us was Thanksgiving weekend when Grandmother was in San Antonio. So plan B became going to church then eating a quick lunch at Papaw's before making the drive to Palestine. My mom had bought the boys their matching pajamas for the train ride, gloves, slippers and these cute Buzz Lightyear blankets complete with a Buzz doll.
Preston insisted on wearing his gloves that Nana got him the ENTIRE time we were on this trip. He also wanted to be covered with his blanket. Now that we were loaded in the car it was time to head out.
When we pulled up to the station we could hear the train's whistle blowing. We were lucky that a gentleman saw all the kids and gear we had and offered us a ride on the golf cart. We had to run to get on the train before it left the station.
The engine was all decorated. We had the first ride of the day and it was just beginning to get dark outside but you could still see all the lights on the train.
Just like in the book and on the movie, they served hot chocolate and cookies.
They played a recording of the book over the PA system, but the train was so old and it was so loud from the excitement of all the kids that you really couldn't hear anything. The servers did walk around with the book and showed the pictures.
We had not watched the movie before this ride and so I had no clue why the conductor took so long to punch our ticket or why he made a "B"on it. But the weekend after this trip we rented the movie (which I HIGHLY recommend) and now it all makes sense! You'll have to watch it for yourself to find out what the B stands for.
Here's Nana ready to go to the North Pole with her angels.
Holden even enjoyed the train ride and all the craziness. . . I mean excitement.
It took about 30 minutes to reach the North Pole (who knew it was so close) and this is the village all lit up. It was hard to get a good picture while the train was moving.
See, it really is the North Pole! And who's that wearing red in the background?
Both Elic and Preston couldn't believe that Santa was outside the train.
And then all the kids started going crazy yelling "He's getting on the train!" and just screaming. Really I wish I had video recorded this part because it reminded Darren and I of the movie Elf when Santa comes to the department store and Buddy screams and says "I know him!" "SANTA". It was just like that!
We had the BEST seats because we were at the front of the car and right there when Santa came onto the train!
He handed every child (including Holden) a beautiful silver bell on a leather strap. You know all these bells are from his reindeer and they only ring for those who truly believe.
Preston was shy about having his picture taken with one of Santa's elves.
Elic and the famous "cheesey" smile.
The train started back for the station and Santa continued on through all the cars handing out the bells.
SANTA!!! The boys couldn't believe what had just happened.
Even Holden got his picture made with Rudolph.
The servers led us in singing many familiar Christmas carols as we rode back to the station. This was by far one of the best activities that we have done as a family. I would love to do it again. Thank you Nana for treating us all to a great beginning of our Christmas holidays!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Thanksgiving

What a great Thanksgiving Day! We missed our first Turkey Trot since Darren and I married, but we didn't want to risk little Holden getting sick. So instead of getting up extra early and fighting large crowds we all slept in (a RARE treat at the Hughes house) and enjoyed a relaxing breakfast TOGETHER (another rare treat to have Darren home in the morning). Preston and Elic decided to re-try some of their baby toys and this is what Darren found them doing while I was getting ready:
The morning was spent watching the Macy's parade and playing. Around noon we headed over to my mom and Papaw's house. I was glad that the weather was nice enough for us to be outside most of the afternoon. Check out this great shot of Preston catching some air.
All three boys were very cooperative and let us take numerous family photos. Elic has gotten into the "cheesy" smile stage but it's still awfully cute.
My niece, Sammie, is growing up too fast! I can't believe she'll be a senior in high school next year. Seems like only yesterday I was 16 and meeting her at the hospital for the very first time. My how time flies . . .
Don't let the sweet smiles and brotherly hug fool you!
Notice all the males match in my family. I can easily find them clothes to wear for special days like Thanksgiving, but as for me, not so easy. Maybe next year I'll be in a coordinating outfit. Although by then I'm sure they'll be telling me they're too old to wear matching clothes.
Nana and her angels- wait I'm not in the picture so she's missing one angel :)
We wore Papaw out, as we do every time we visit him. He is asked to play "bear" and growls and chases the boys all over. He plays football and baseball. Then he has to swing each boy and tell them one of his famous "stories". I tell you the truth, story telling is a lost art that our generation is missing. If you ever want to hear about the mean boys "Jack and Fred" or all the crazy adventures that Scooby Doo goes on or countless other made up stories you should stop by Papaw's and sit and listen for awhile. It's really amazing the tale he can spin.
After a wonderful meal where everyone ate too much, we enjoyed watching the Cowboys play. The only thing that could have made this day any more perfect than it already was would have been if the Aggies beat tu like they should have. Preston and Elic have been practicing their whoops and gig'ems- they do a great job and that's because they come by it honest.
Holden ended his day being rocked in Papaw's lap. I would say that he really enjoyed his first Thanksgiving.
This year we have much to be thankful for including precious Holden, our new home, a safe surgery for Elic (post about that to come soon), Crystal's engagement, all our supportive and loving family and good health. I hope that we are thankful everyday for our blessings and not just in November. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving Program

Last Thursday was Sunshine School's Thanksgiving Program and Open House. Darren and I were very excited this year because both Preston and Elic would be part of the program. Since I teach at the school and need to be with my class, it's hard for me to see the boys perform. But Darren did a super job documenting the event.

Here are the handsome duo being silly before we left the house.

The stage was all decorated.

The 2s are the first to "perform". I say that very loosely because not many of them actually sing the words due to stage fright. Elic loved his Pilgrim hat and belt. Isn't he just adorable?!

I was so proud that he stayed in his spot for both the songs.

Cutest little pilgrim boy!

video
Here's a clip from one of his songs. You can see at the end he tried to mouth one word.

Next up were the 3s and then it was time for Preston and the 4s. They were turkeys this year. It's fun to see this picture because not only is Preston in it but the children on either side of him are in my class!

Can you see the excitement in his face when he found all his family in the audience?

The entire school gathered on the stage for one final song and a reciting of some scripture verses. We were happy to see that Elic and Preston were near each other for the finale.

Holden tagged along for all the fun. Here he is with his Aunt Crystal.

After the program we went to each of the boy's classrooms and looked at special projects and journals that they had been working on. Preston had said he was thankful for Tigger and Jesus. Elic was thankful for Mom, Dad, and cheese.

The fan club!

Here's one of Preston's very best buddies Trenton.

I know I'll say this on a lot of posts this year, but it's hard for me to believe that this is Preston's last year at Sunshine School. I'll certainly miss seeing him at chapel and recess and all the transitions in the hall where his face lights up when he sees me, as he yells, "Mommy" and runs over to give me a big hug.

This Thanksgiving I am SO thankful for all 3 of my little turkeys.