From left: Charis, Mom, Dad, Steve, and Katie enjoy a meal together.
This is, believe it or not, the best picture we could get of all three kids. Levi is easy to photograph. Charis and Judah are a little but more challenging; while Levi mostly lays still for pictures, my kids tend to, you know, run and jump and such. So this picture of my kids, diaper-clad and greasy, next to pristinely clean Levi, is one for the ages. Oh, well.
Okay, we're a bit out of sequence here, but this is Abe and Charis at that cool waterfall park. There's just something about a daddy giving his little girl a piggyback ride, isn't there?
Here's another park photo--it's the four of us inside one of those playground bubbles. Not a great picture in terms of clarity--the plastic distortion takes care of that--but it is a great one for the memories.
It's a good thing I was holding tight to my son in this picture; he was riding peacefully on my shoulders when he decided it would be fun to flip his whole self backward. At first, we thought he just fell over, but when he did it again after having been righted, we suspected it wasn't an accidental flip.
Of course, Charis had to get a piece of the action, too.
I'd be remiss if I didn't include a photo of Steve and Abe bonding, presumably over Call of Duty. Boys. In this particular picture, Steve is trying to teach his nephew the finer points of digital gaming warfare.
Charis absconded a integral part of the napkin holder and began playing with it, and Steve told her it was a scepter, like a king would have. She kept saying, "You be King!" and handing Steve the scepter/napkin holder. She's a loyal subject if ever I saw one.
And here's one last shot of Levi. It's out of sequence, but he's so cute, I just had to include it.
It was a fun trip--beside visiting the neat-o waterfall park and Steve's ambulance, we also played a lot of Catch Phrase ("Okay, who is Samwise Gamee?" asked dad), visited Katie's college Alma Mater for a no-holds-barred buffet lunch and a campus tour, went for a hike in a nearby park with trails, ate at Sonic (a lifelong ambition for Abe), had some yummy pizza at a restaurant called The Mellow Mushroom, toured the historical sites downtown, and spent a day up in Charlotte, NC, visiting Calvary Church, some of our beloved former pastors, and one of my dear friends, Amy. Whew. Long and busy, but good.
The trip home, after all of the fun had concluded, was . . . awful. Where our trip down had taken 14 hours (and that only because of a lengthy stop at Cracker Barrel) and had been smooth as silk, our return trip was 17 hours and smooth as a serrated knife edge, and every bit as painful. We traveled at night, as we had on the trip down, but this time, the kids were miserable, and Abe and I were exhausted. We stopped three times in various parking lots in an attempt to sleep. All three attempts were largely unsuccessful, and by the time we pulled into our driveway,we were toast. The kids napped for 5 hours that day and slept 14 hours that night, and Abe and I have no recollection of how we slept, probably because we were partially in a coma for the next few days.
We have since recuperated.
But then came Christmas...