Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Day 2008

After opening up presents with Travis' mom and dad we headed back to Galesburg to pick up Buddy. I-74 was not much better than the day before....
We picked up Buddy and headed to my dad's in Monmouth at around 1PM.

Man, having a "little" kid around sure makes the presents grow!
One tradition we have is to take a yearly photo around the tree. I knew times would be "tight" with a youngster around and I wouldn't have a lot of opportunity to figure out dad's camera, so I practiced on Travis and I.
Not the most flattering of either of us, but a tradition is a tradition.
Good thing we got a picture of us though, because I forgot to get a "whole family" shot.
Mom, Dad, Travis and I spent the early afternoon playing "Are you smarter than a 5th Grader" on the TV. Travis and I were black balled by Jeff Foxworthy because we asked for help on a 2nd grade music question. Mom and Dad thought that was funnier than anything. Dad was actually wiping tears from his eyes. It was good to see my mom and dad laugh like that!
Justin, Stormie, and Rhylee came a little after 4. Rhylee had already had 3 Christmas' that day and was tuckered out, so Buddy, Rhylee and I watched Cars in Justin's room (hoping for a nap)

I think Buddy and I were the ones who dozed off!
Before dinner, a "Vancil" tradition is to open up our stockings. This is a result of always opening 1 gift on Christmas eve. Now that we are all grown up and out of the house, we aren't there on Christmas eve, so to compensate, we drawl the Christmas presents out as long as we can. Thus, opening stockings first gives us some presents and we save the "tree" gifts until after dinner.
We always eat dinner in the dining room, and this year I think we may have started a new tradition (Travis says, "he's hoping so") This year dad fixed a prime rib for Christmas dinner. No one in the family had ever cooked one from scratch. This is a bit odd seeing how Justin was a chef, mom loves to cook, and dad loves meat, but no one had prepared a prime rib. Let me just say, I'm not a huge meat eater anymore, but WOW! That meat was WONDERFUL!

This is my dad, carving the prime rib, YUM!
After eating Prime Rib, Texas Road House baked potatoes, asparagus (me not Travis, Travis doesn't eat green vegetables), and a Swiss vegetable medley it was finally time to attack the tree presents.
Rhylee "sorting" the presents!
We quickly found that Rhylee likes to open presents. He isn't so much interested in what's in the gift, but the actual ripping of paper and throwing it aside is what he likes best. I think next year, I'm going to buy 5 rolls of paper, and just wrap empty boxes for him to rip open and play with :)
Justin is the traditional present sorter. I think he has a new apprentice.
After presents we helped clean up, played a little Mad Gab, and then headed home. It was a great day with laughter, good food, and a happy family! We were spoiled with presents again, and had a safe trip back to Galesburg.
We just want to thank everyone, Stechers, Chervenka's, and Vancil's for such a great holiday filled with traditions and love!
Merry Christmas!

Christmas Eve 2008

Tradition is huge for Travis and I. Especially Christmas Traditions. It is a tradition that we have Christmas eve with his side of the family and mine on Christmas Day (more on that later).

Unfortunately this year with Travis' sister's family moving to Des Moines we weren't sure if we were going to be able to make that Christmas Eve tradition happen. However, Heather/Kirk and the kids graciously invited us to come join them in Des Moines for Christmas Eve in order to keep the tradition going.

The weather decided it would try to interfere...

This is Interstate 74 on the way to Ben/Kay's house on Christmas Eve morning.
What should have been a 40 minute drive took an hour and a half. We were thankful to arrive safely and with out any trouble.
It is also a Stecher family tradition to have Oyster stew on Christmas Eve. Because we didn't think oyster's would keep for the drive to Des Moines we decided to have oyster stew at Travis' parents before we left. Travis, Ben, and Kay enjoyed yummy stew, and I got an exemption this year!!! However, I did feast on ham sandwiches and a relish tray!

Because of what Travis and I encountered on 74 we weren't sure what we would find on I-80 so we decided to leave early. We were pleasantly surprised! The roads were clear, and the sun was out. We were able to make the 2 hour 45 minute drive in just over 3 hours! Not bad for Christmas Eve.

Once gathered at the Chervenka's house we were able to play with the 3 nieces and nephews, eat lots of food, and catch up with everyone!
This is all 9 of the "Stecher" family shortly after we got there!
(we decided to do pictures before the frenzy of presents)
(ingenious idea!)
Somehow Tyler, the youngest, continued to get chocolate from Chocolate animal crackers all over his face :)
Can you guess who the "supplier" was?
Look at all those big boy teeth in the picture on the left!

Uncle Travis and Tyler play peek a boo in the new Cars tent

Aunt Misty and Annica make jewelry with Annica's new jewelry maker
Uncle Travis and Caleb play with the new farm toy.
We decided to head home around 6:30PM in order to get home before 10 and to let the Chervenka's start getting ready for bed. Again, the drive home was wonderful, clear roads, stars in the sky...I think I might have seen Santa's sleigh....
Then we got to Williamsburg (where Tanger Outlet mall is). In between Willamsburg and Iowa City we came over a hill and saw flashing lights. As we got closer it appeared there was an accident up ahead. We slowed to a stop and we waited...and waited....and waited....AND WAITED!
This is the view when I got out of the car.
Two semi's in the west bound lane crossed their lanes, the middle grassy area, and the two westbound lanes (ours) and then crashed in the westbound far ditch. (my source is the truck driver who sat next to us during the wait.)
We pulled to a stop at a little before 8:30PM and didn't move again until 11:35PM. We sat for 3 hours. Well, Kay and I sat for 3 hours, Ben and Travis got out of the car multiple times to stretch, ironically enough it happened when Kay and I started a game of Name that Show tune....
I think it was the diesel fumes leaking from our friendly trucker next door...
Once we got moving again, we had smooth sailing er....driving...back to the Stecher Chateau in Rock Island.
We were thankful to be home safe, warm, and with lots of fun memories of Christmas Eve 2008!