Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas in Pennsylvania

2011 Christmas we planned to gather in the snowy Pennsylvania mountains with the entire Wallace crew at the Torrey Home in Montrose, Pennsylvania.  It's been since 2005, when Lydia was a wee infant, when we last had Christmas in PA. The kids have been looking forward to this trip for quite some time. They so enjoy spending time with their cousins and this was good enough to even give up all other gifts, just to make the trip. We talked about giving up gifts, but we managed to find a few things for them to enjoy as well as the trip.
We were very fortunate to manage all the time away from work that enables us to make such a long trip. At the hospital, it's actually a HUGE deal to take time off during the holidays. It's also the only time the kids have away from school long enough make the trip. So we took full advantage of getting the time off and planned our getaway! 
We left early Sunday - Christmas morning, packed in with toys, movies, dolls, and snacks. Our goal was to get to the hotel in Virginia at a decent hour so the kids could swim a little and get some rest before engaging with the family of 25! We made good time. Stopped for gas and potty. Made sandwiches and passed them back while on the road. Nobody complained or asked to stop. Nobody asked the dreaded "how much longer?". The kids watched a couple movies, which seems to pass the time rather quickly.  We got in about 6pm and met up with Grandpa and Grandma. They had arrived an hour or so ahead of us and had time to take a quick nap. Grandpa also was trying to find some place to eat supper that was actually open on Christmas night. We finally found a Chinese buffet that was open "just little longer" and headed up the road. It was the ONLY place with lights on in the entire strip mall. Bennett commented how it reminded him of the Christmas Story when they also ate Chinese for Christmas dinner.  We suffered through some less-than-fresh buffet and went back to swim.  Grandpa entertained the girls for a while and taught Ruth how to do the back stroke.  I'm not so sure it will stay in her head until the next time we swim. Maybe.
Grandpa and the kids in Winchester, VA

Maggie - floating in the hot tub

Bennett - floating in the hot tub

Lydia and Mommy practicing our whistles

Grandpa was teaching the kids to whistle with their hands.

and he got tickled with Maggie when she made a noise and surprised herself.

Enjoying their time in the "hot pool".  It's the reason we go to hotels!
Monday morning we enjoyed a warm breakfast all together at the hotel and loaded back in for the last little leg.  Since we started at the northern end of Virginia, we crossed quickly into West Virginia, then Maryland, and finally into Pennsylvania... across the Mason Dixon line.  Curtis mentioned to the kids that we were in Yankee territory. They had no idea what that meant.

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Somehow, we managed to make only 1 pit stop before stopping for lunch in Scranton... just 30 minutes from the destination. But everyone was hungry and ready to stop. We enjoyed some Red Robin burgers - served by Micah, a local student at a Bible College and student minister at a nearby church. We swapped Daddy for Grandma and headed on to the Torrey Home while the men stopped at a store or two. Being the day after Christmas, stores and malls were not the best place to be (in my opinion!).

Maggie wanted to capture the huge windmills that we saw along the PA countryside
The Torrey Home
Pennsylvania normally has snow. Lots of beautiful snow. But this year we just had a mere dusting. Not enough to sled or make snowballs... but enough to stomp through and make footprints. Ice to scoot across. And cold. Very cold! In fact, Dan says it was the coldest day of the season so far.  Temps in the teens at night and didn't get above freezing during the day. The kids don't seem to notice once they're running around, but preparing to run around (shoes, hats, gloves, scarves, coats) takes way too long. 

Grandma bought all 15 grandkids a tee shirt that has ILYMOAT & ILYBOAT printed on them. She wanted a picture of all the matching kids together. It might not happen again since Emily, Marci and Zack are almost ready to go off to college and start their own lives - away from all of us.  Well, Zack may be a while - but the girls will be gone soon. I do know that the family has greatly changed in the 6 years since our last stay at Torrey. When they were 6 months to 11 years it was much easier to contain and entertain and feed and keep them happy. This time, they want to run off together and go play in other areas. Do you trust them? We managed a couple hours of playtime down at the Gym and Rec Hall where there are other games of entertainment. It is a short distance from Torrey Home so the kids can't just go there whenever they want. That would be nice as the boys really wanted to go back. Maybe next time. We did have a smaller Game Room the kids could play in at any time. They had pool, ping-pong, carpet ball, and general running around area.  The Torrey Home is large enough to accommodate all of us, even at this age. 6 rooms and a very large living area give all the adults beds and 10 of the kids. We can all eat together in their dining room too. The kitchen, however, is teeee tiny! But we managed to feed all of us without too much turmoil from the cookers. We took turns with the meals - but Grandma managed to be a helper for almost all of them. She just can't stay away! We appreciate that too. She also supplied us with the pots and pans and utensils and all those little things none of us thought about. 

all the cousins ready to exchange their gifts
 The cousins all drew names and exchanged gifts with each other.  Bennett gave Micah a Jellyfish! (a poster) and a survival bracelet, knife, water bottle... general boy survival type things.  Maggie gave Briella a watch and a game.  Ruth gave Emily a necklace - one of a kind, handmade creation from a glass bottle.  Lydia gave Tyler a game too.  Bennett got a knife, shirt and the best gift of all... camo cargo climber pants!!  Maggie    Ruth got a ton of school supplies for when she's teacher to her siblings. Lesson plans. Art supplies. Good stuff!  Lydia got dolls, paperoni crafts and her favorite... Shocking Gum!  It was what she asked for.  :)
Ruth - reading her section on the Nativity story

Briella and Maggie - reading the Nativity story

Esther was quick with her section and gave me a smile.

AnnaGrace reads her page with her baby

Micah's turn to read.

Adam reads while Bennett listens intently

Bennett reads under the close watch of Zack, Adam and Tyler.

Bennett opens his gifts from a Rose cousin... a knife.

Climber pants.... cargo (extra pockets) his favorite gift of all!

Lydia opened her box of goodies... dolls, crafts and SHOCKING GUM!

Grandpa's special gift from Seth

Grandpa's Potty mug.... again, from Seth.
Singing carols with Aunt Stacy... Lydia loves her Aunts
Emily G. Rose... always hiding behind a lens.  She's good at it.

Grandma and ... who IS that?  (cousin Zack!)
Game time with the girls
The boys played DS games together too
 Lara arranged for the kids (and adults) to tour the local radio station, WPEL 96.5 FM. It was just 2 houses down from the Torrey Home. It took us longer to bundle up than it did to walk there. It is a small station, but the man who was working was very patient and generous and kind. A lady was actually on the air to DJ but we got to go in the studio and see all the controls, ask questions, and hear what was playing at that moment. He took all the kids into another studio room and recorded them talking, showed them how to edit and play it back. Zack actually got to do a bit for that evening's Odyssey episode. After all, he does have a terrific narrator voice (he told us several times).  When we left everybody got a mug with all kinds of little WPEL items. The kids were very pleased with their treasures!
Ruth, still bundled after our walk to WPEL

Bennett and Micah enjoy Jared's motorized creations

The 8 Kids... 

Grandpa and Grandma with their kids... hard to open eyes in the bright sun.

Grandma and Marci just before Grandma headed home to Georgia.

We had a young photographer come to the house and take family photos so Grandma could get a good shot for her Christmas card. While we were all "fixed up".... we shot a couple of the kids as well.

Uncle Seth snuck into Maggie's shot... as well as the ghost of Torrey Home

It was VERY cold this day... the kids were great sports to smile and shiver!

Thursday morning we all packed up and left the Torrey Home. Everyone headed back south except our family... we stayed an extra day with the Roses. It was a quick drive to the Rose Homestead just a few miles north. We have not visited PA in 3 years and the kids were very excited to be back. Lydia didn't remember it at all.... the other kids were remembering together what it looked like and what they did. 3 years is too long! It was cold, but they didn't have any snow more than just dusting and flurries. The ponds were frozen, but not enough to really play on.  Briella is much more courageous and was willing to scoot out pretty far away from the safety of shore.   We took a hike, all 13 of us, to the top of the mountain... The Summit, where the kids swung on swings high in the trees. We found traps in the leaves and Jared activated one with a stick. Very exciting things, those traps! I was more concerned about one of them activating it with their foot!
Lydia - hiking in the woods

Bennett and Maggie - checking out the cousins' playhouse

Dogpile of cousins

Emily working on beads with Ruth and Lydia.  Em was a great sport to help with the younger kids.

Jared and Bennett - still working on motorized building projects

Ruth shoots Uncle Dan's potato gun!

Posing afterwards to get a face shot. That thing was heavy!

Ruth on a swing

Swinging high

Marci and Lydia.. keeping warm while the others swing.

The Rose and Davidson cousins.... 

Emily satisfied Lydia by carrying her down much of the mountain while the 3 girls walked ahead of them.

Maggie - working on finding a Scrabble word

Ruth and Aunt Lara share warm beverages over Scrabble

Lydia made Emily the multi-colored horse from one of her bead projects.

Titus and Lydia snuggle a bit

Sad faces when we packed up to leave PA

We stopped briefly in Gettyburg for a little history lesson with Daddy

Ole Abe and the kids

A Confederate soldier's uniform

The band

more weapons

Maryland... which means leaving Pennsylvania. Sad.

Bennett is collecting every state map that we drive through.

We left Pennsylvania and headed toward North Carolina on New Year's Eve... Maggie's birthday.  She was a little bothered that all we were doing for her birthday was being stuck in a car.  We made our stops for Bennett's maps, potty, gas, and an unplanned stop in Gettysburg.  It added about 2 hours to our trip but the kids enjoyed getting to see all the stuff.  We want to go back when it's warm and we can tour on the bike paths!  We planned to be at the Hartman's new home just after dark... but it kept getting darker and darker and ended up being 9 or so.
We did stop for Chick-fil-A just before they closed at 6 for some special birthday dinner and milkshake. Maggie was kind enough to share a few sips with her brother too.
Maggie's birthday milkshake.
We were able to shoot 2 small fireworks in the Hartman's road... they were supposed to be noiseless and not go higher than about 10 feet... but the man who sold us the items must have underestimated the height because we ended up having several go well into the trees. It was fun. The kids enjoyed the show. Then we had sparklers for everyone to wave around and pretend it was already the New Year.  The kids actually all stayed up to the midnight hour and watched the ball drop in NYC. Woo Hoo.

Maggie's birthday celebration with the Hartmans

Maggie - blowing out candles... one... at... a... time.

Andrew just wanted to help so he could eat the brownie sundae!

Alex and Ruth... Bella and Bennett.

Alex, Ruth, Maggie, Lydia, Andrew, Bennett

Alex enjoys her sparkler



Official fire starter - Bobby

Andrew and Bennett work on lighting sparklers

Sunday we took a trip to Duke University's Gardens.  Michelle is now teaching at Duke in their nursing program... so she has the inside scoop to all things Duke! At least she's still ACC.  The day was a bit odd... sunny --> cloudy --> sunny --> windy but it was warm. January 1st and we're running around in t-shirts. They have a field to run and play, trees to climb, gardens to explore, birds to watch... just a nice place to be outside and enjoy all that God created for us!
Duke Chapel 

Monkeys in the Asiatic gardens

Bennett - Maggie - Andrew - Ruth - Alex - Lydia
11 - 10 - 9 - 8 - 7 - 6

Karate Kid!

Maggie is pointing out the Red Tailed Hawk

climbing the BIG magnolia trees

Maggie climbed the highest

One of the trees the kids climbed

Baseball practice

After Duke, we went home and let the kids play in a local park... a little running around, a little ball practice. The kids really enjoy playing with each other. We had a few stray kids also join us. Junior was my favorite. He was about 2, spoke very little and was very dark. His smile lit his whole face. He just wanted to throw the ball with us. I wanted to steal him. I don't have a picture - and it's probably a good thing.  :)
The girls on a boat!

Maggie's birthday dinner at Copper River
We had a great visit with the Hartmans, as always. Monday morning we got up and headed out for the last leg of our trip. Not a bad day's drive.  We stopped for a late lunch to once again celebrate Maggie's birthday. She only asks for a ribeye! :)
This is the only time she can order one and get to eat the whole thing without other forks stealing bites. Somehow, that little bitty belly manages to house the entire ribeye.  She did share her salad and sweet potato.  AND when the server brought out the ice cream - she was generous to her siblings.  It was a good day.  We watched a little football as Georgia lost in triple overtime to Michigan State.

watching the chef cook

Ribeye and sweet potato - pre attack!

Posing for Daddy.... all full

Really how she feels... LOVE that steak!

Happy Birthday Maggie Moo!

after the ice cream was all gone
We made it home. Picked up Russell from his sitter (the Taltons) and warmed the house up with our stories, laughter and love for family.

Russell brushed his teeth when we got home.
What a blessed Christmas indeed!

1 comment:

Corie said...

Whew, that was a long one! Nice job! You and your family will always be glad you took the time to do this. Wouldn't it be cool if our grandparents had blogs when our parents were kids? I would love to have seen that.

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