Tour De Southeast 2016

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img_4056At 5:30 AM eastern on December 26th, we loaded the 3 kids, the dog and all the remaining Christmas presents in the Highlander and hit the road for Alabama. We stopped in Knoxville for lunch with friends that graciously agreed to keep Manning (our dog) for us during our week of traveling. We dropped off Noah outside of Chattanooga for a week with his dad and made it to Meema’s house about 4pm central. I took my real camera for our Christmas travels because I wanted to make sure to get pictures of the kids with relatives that we do not see nearly enough.

My parents and siblings also came down to visit our Alabama family at the same time. We all stayed at Meema’s house together. On Tuesday, Uncle Ted stopped by Meema’s house to see us. It was great to see him. I wish we had gotten a chance to visit with him longer.

Tuesday morning, we had our Christmas celebration with the Sutton family. At (Great) Granddaddy Paul’s, we had lunch together and opened more Christmas presents. Eli got a fireman’s outfit with a working megaphone (fun, loud siren!) and Emry Jane got a nurse’s outfit, among other toys. Tommy and I spent some time helping Granddaddy Paul with a very hard Sudoku puzzle during our visit. (Not that he needed our help– he did 15 other very hard ones between our visit on Tuesday and our visit on Thursday!) Granddaddy Ronnie and Alyssa came to visit with us as well. Unfortunately, my stepmom Janice was not able to take the day off of work.

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My favorite picture 🙂

This is Granddaddy Paul’s first Christmas since Granny’s passing last January. He was in good spirits while we were there. He told me that it helped him to have the children running, laughing and playing around him. I wish that we did not live so far away from him, so that we could visit more regularly.

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We take family photos with the best of ’em, huh? Haha. Emry Jane and Granddaddy Paul are not looking. Eli has his finger in his nose. Tommy’s eyes are half-closed. We’ll try again next Christmas for a better one 🙂

On Tuesday night, the Adams/Kennemer side of our Alabama family got together for Whitt’s barbecue (yum!) and card games. (Of course, I forgot to get my camera out. UGH.) We got to play lots of cards while in Alabama. I sat out the card games on Tuesday night, so that I could spend some quality time with my cousin Kristi and her daughter Ava Grace. AG is about a  year younger than Noah and she is a hoot! I had the best time hanging out with her. She told me that I was the “coolest family member,” so now I have achieved the ultimate goal! My cousin Brittany and her two kids also came to visit at dinner, but the other Adams cousins couldn’t make it. We were not able to attend Meema’s big family Christmas on the 23rd because of Tommy’s work/vacation schedule, so we are glad that many of our relatives came back to Meema’s on Tuesday night to see us. Maybe they came to see Nana/Papa/Savannah/Dalton/Christopher too… nah, we all know that everyone just came to see the twins!

On Wednesday, we went to visit my (Great) Aunt Gen and Uncle B with Nana, Papa and my siblings. Aunt Gen and Uncle B have had some health issues recently and we really wanted to make sure that we got to spend quality time with them while we were in town. The pictures above are from their backyard. I have so many memories of playing in this yard. Aunt Gen still watches my cousin’s daughter a few days a week, so this little playhouse is for Brynn to play in. The twins loved all the backyard toys! Side note: Aunt Gen has watched generations of children in this house, including my mom and her brothers, me and my brother Christopher, my cousins and their children.

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On Thursday, we visited with Granddaddy Paul for a couple hours before heading to Murfreesboro for the Tennessee part of our Christmas travels. We got to Murfreesboro around lunch time. When Tenley got there a few minutes after we did, she was all smiles to see her LeeLee (that’s me!) and reached for me right away. I was so glad that she hadn’t forgotten her favorite aunt in the almost three months since I have seen her! Those FaceTime visits definitely help us stay connected! Isn’t she the cutest?!

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Eli and Emry Jane were so excited to see their Baby Tenley. Emry Jane immediately wanted to hold her on the couch. Tenley was not so excited about the holding. I think it was because I set her down vs. continuing to walk around with her. They also enjoyed helping her bounce and jumped with her in the doorway (above.)

Once Uncle Britt and Granddaddy Jer were there, it was present time again (because everyone needs round after round of Christmas presents with each set of family!) Emry Jane got a great twin baby doll stroller that she LOVES. Eli got lots of great things, including a pop-up Paw Patrol fire truck (which goes great with his new fire gear!) We bought Tenley a soft monogrammed baby doll for Christmas (middle picture.) I would say that she loved it.

I bought Tenley some matching Christmas pajamas (that my own children got from our elf.) MaMarsh bought all the adults matching pajamas too, so we had quite the Christmas pajama photoshoot that night. Pictures below 🙂

My children preferred the “deer in headlights” look to actually smiling but I think we got a few good ones 🙂 It was definitely a little bit of a circus to get everyone to look and smile at the same camera.

On Friday, the girls minus Emry Jane went to get pedicures together. Tenley was admired by everyone in the nail parlor while she sit in her Mama’s lap. Afterwards, we had Camino for lunch (a middle Tennessee staple and a must-have every time we go visit) before heading back to Marsh’s house to watch the Tennessee Volunteers play Nebraska in their bowl game. Tennessee won solidly– woohoo! I didn’t really take any pictures on Friday (shocking!) but these two pictures that I got of Emry Jane holding (with help) Tenley is worth all the heart-melting.

On Saturday, New Years Eve, we all went to Toot’s for lunch. It’s Tommy’s must-have every time we visit. More football time after lunch, watching Alabama play Washington in the semifinal. Alabama also won — it was a good weekend for our football teams! We went to church with Amy and Britt at 7pm. The twins stayed home with Granddaddy Jer and MaMarsh because we did not think they would do well at church when it was past their bedtime. By the time, we made it back to Marsh’s after church, Tommy and I were both exhausted. At 10:19pm, we decided that we were not going to make it to midnight on New Year’s Eve. We watched London’s ball drop on YouTube from my phone and cheered with our champagne (really, mimosas) and went to bed! Are we officially old?!

On Sunday, we all went to church together at MaMarsh and Granddaddy Jer’s church. It was a special moment, especially for MaMarsh, to have the twins and Tenley sitting near the altar with her for the children’s message. At church, Noah came to Marsh’s house! We celebrated Christmas with him at MaMarsh’s, where he got to open all of his presents from the several celebrations that he missed while at his dad’s. Then, sadly, it was time to  head back to NC.

Tommy had quite a challenge packing our car with all the gifts that our children received, plus two suitcases, two pack n plays, a potty seat, a high chair booster seat AND while saving space in the back for the dog and his bed. We were packed to the brim! The only person that really had leg room in the car was Tommy because he was driving. We stopped in Knoxville to pick up Manning (and to give Dani and Larson their presents and a big hug,) but the kids did not even get out of the car! We had to stop right outside Knoxville so that Emry Jane could go potty then it was on to NC! We made it home right after midnight. What a whirlwind trip! Tommy calculated it and we drove 1500 miles traveling to visit our family. It might not have been the most-relaxing week off work for Tommy but we are so glad to have taken to trip to visit with everyone. It will probably be next Christmas before we are all able to get back there to visit again! I vote for everyone coming to NC for Christmas next year!!

The only sad part was the Emry Jane lost her white baby blanket on our way home. We have searched our house and car and MaMarsh has searched hers too, but we have yet to find it. We think that Noah accidentally kicked it out of the car when he was climbing over her at a gas station and we did not notice before we drove away. I tried to call the gas station where we think it fell out, but their line was busy… and then life happened and I forgot to call again. I’m sure they have thrown it away by now if someone brought it in from the gas pump. It was her monogrammed baby blanket that she came home with from the hospital, so that makes me the saddest about it. She has been totally fine without it. She has another white blanket that she has replaced it with since we’ve been back home.

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