Friday, December 30, 2016

Christmas 2016

Oh boy am I ever ready to see the end of 2016! Now that we made it through the holidays the end is in sight. After the recent deaths in the family I was curious if Christmas was going to be sad or have more of a grateful tone, luckily it was totally the latter. The holiday really started with the performance of a cantata in the church choir on the 18th. I didn't particularly like this cantata - it was another contemporary rendition (rock band) of classics and some new annoying songs. I'm glad it's over.

I wrapped up all of the work stuff I needed to finish by Thursday afternoon. With Christmas falling on a Sunday this year, the office was closed for the Monday after. There wasn't much to do the Friday before, so they closed the office early then. I opted to take off the next 2 days as well, so I wrapped up work on a Thursday and go back in the following Thursday for a 2 day week! Nice when it works out like that.

Monday before was Kelley's birthday! We had kid stuff to do that night so it wasn't a big deal then but we did stuff throughout the week to celebrate. Tuesday night we took Ella to see Rogue One and she loved it. Quite the fantastic Star Wars Story indeed. Wednesday night I got Kelley four tickets to go see our favorite comic (Andy Woodhull) at a local comedy club. Andy swims on my RAM team and is nationally known. I bought 4 tickets so we could take another couple and then couldn't find anybody else who was available to go with us. One of those couples hosted a Christmas party Thursday night, which was a blast. So it was an eventful week to start things off!

The Birthday Girl on monday night

Wednesday night in Goodnight's Comedy Club

Being all sweet with our Mr and Mrs mugs
Saturday night we had the Maness family Christmas, which is always in Biscoe on Christmas Eve. We had a much larger turnout this year than last year which was fantastic! Given the two recent deaths in that side of the family I wasn't sure who would be avoiding. Meri was there, we got to spend a lot of time with her. And our niece came down to our house for a few great days.

Ella getting presents

Such a large group. The kids make it fun

 This year we ended up finishing the festivities pretty early! This worked out well for the kids. Instead of them getting home at 11:30 and trying to go to sleep while all riled up, we got back at 9 pm and had an easy time going to sleep peacefully.

Santa Claus paid a visit to the children, and once again that fat bastard didn't leave me anything. The kids racked up Sunday morning though.

the haul

Happy with her funny calendar

Neena playing with the kids

Kelley setting up toys

Matt and Kaileigh

Kelley's sister Meri

the mermaid tail snuggie? loved it.

The whale tail snuggie was a big hit too
We had Kelley's mom and sister stay with us, as well as our niece Kaileigh and her boyfriend Matt. Then Kelley's dad and stepmom came over as well so we had a full 10 people stacked up in our living room that only seats 4 at the moment! crazy times with a large family setting is what makes the holiday special for us.

After breakfast and all of those gifts, we packed up the 4 of us and headed to Greenville to see my parents. It was an easy drive, but we had a tough time finding a lunch spot that was open on Christmas day (no surprise). Michael beat us there, it was great to see everybody again! Then on Monday we did our traditional Flynn Christmas breakfast.

Martha, Morgan, Michael and Summer - my brothers and sisters-in-law

Mom handing out presents with my kids

My sweet young niece in a Chewbacca mask

Then later we had the entire clan on Mom's side of the family over later that afternoon. It's such a large group, we even had my cousin Anna (complete with husband and new baby) in from DC! This time there were multiple babies, lots of cousins, and tons of food. Lots of really good southern food.

All of the babies loved hanging with my bigger kids

Our couch

Terrible picture of that side of the room! why is everyone staring at the gifts?

After that ended it was too late to go anywhere. We waited until Tuesday to drive back to Raleigh, giving the kids and cousins another morning to play. Everyone had a good time, and we had light traffic getting home. Really nice, I also had Wednesday off of work to unwind a bit from all of that holiday-ing. Unfortunately, I also brought back a sinus infection (just like after Thanksgiving but not as severe) so most of my day off was spent being sick.

Overall this was a wonderful holiday season. The kids got everything they wanted and then some, and it was filled with joy, family, and love. I wouldn't have it any other way. This year's family portraits:

Christmas eve at our house, normal

and typical. Man those kids are getting big!

Our tree was loaded down with all those gifts!

In Greenville SC

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Rest of November

There was a lot of other shit that went down in November that I didn't mention earlier. Some of it was good, most of it was not good. I had a few pictures from the election

I voted

and watched the election results in these cool Rocky pajamas
That turned out incredibly horrible. I try not to really talk politics on social platforms aside from the occasional joke - which just got a lot easier. For the record, I was a Bernie guy, getting universal health care is really the only issue that affected me personally because I was paying about $1000 a month for Obamacare for most of the election season. Hillary was the lesser of two terrible candidates and the entire corrupt system needs to be reformed. Don't get me started. The eventual result left me very depressed.

Hiking in Boone with my Love!

eating at Our Daily Bread

Amazing hot sauce store

This year for our 18th wedding anniversary Kelley and I got away for a romantic weekend in Boone! We left the kids in Raleigh and didn't tell anything else what we were up to. It was awesome. We had a fancy dinner at the restaurant where we met 20 years ago. The entire weekend was amazing and romantic and wonderful.

We got a roadside selfie

at Twigs - you can actually see us reflected in the mirror

Such a fancy dinner. So delish

everyone loves a forced pose

That was definitely a good thing for the month.

This thing is becoming a pain in the ass
The rabbit is getting to be a pain in the ass. Still adorable, just pooping everywhere and bit through a phone cable.

I covered Thanksgiving in the last post, but didn't mention what happened afterwards. There was good and really really bad.

Christmas tree is up!

Ella got to hang the topper this year

After this we had a series of tragedies in the family. The Sunday after Thanksgiving the entire large Maness family got together at Tammie's like we usually do. It was wonderful to get to see everybody, we had a huge crew this year.

Can you find us?
The Tuesday after that was Kelley's Mom's birthday. We were all together at our house preparing a birthday dinner when we got the call that Kelley's sisters' husband had passed away. Marcus was only 37 and was very healthy aside from smoking. This was a complete shock to all of us.

We still had stuff going on. Kelley and Neena went down to Meri's to comfort her and start making the arrangements so I stayed here with the kids.

Ella finished her science fair project! Eventually she will have to give a presentation as well. It turned out really good and I think she's going to end up with a nice grade. But finishing under these circumstances made it difficult to focus.

So Marcus is gone. We decided to home base out of my parents' house in Greenville because it would be easier to get up to Meri's and the would be able to watch the kids. Saturday we were cleaning Meri's house because we knew there would be people coming by after the funeral. In the afternoon, she got a call from one of the other cousins that Donnie had passed away.

Donnie Maness was one of Kelley's cousins who was very close in age with her dad. They actually grew up in the same house and were incredibly close. Donnie's oldest daughter is Kelley's best friend, she has been very distraught since losing her father. We are all very close with these people, and losing two members of the family so close together is leaving us numb.

Marcus' funeral was first, on Sunday. We got to see a lot more of his friends and family than we knew about previously. I led a prayer since I couldn't sing. My voice was still gone from being sick with a cold all the previous week. The funeral was very sad. Afterwards, we went back to the house with the rest of our family.

The following Wednesday was Donnie's funeral in Biscoe NC. It still doesn't seem like he's gone, we were just hanging out the Sunday before and he seemed perfectly healthy. We saw Kendall and more of the family than made it to the first funeral. I did a scripture reading and a prayer. It was different, but very familiar. Very sad again.

So that's how the year is wrapping up. Ella isn't used to seeing Kelley and myself this distraught, so she's taking it pretty hard. All of us are operating at an emotional high ground; the kind where country music makes me cry. The Christmas holidays are going to be very interesting.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Fake News

I'm sick of all of this fake news popping up everywhere. Today it's all people claiming that it's December already. We had a record high 77* in Raleigh yesterday! I know September when I see it. You can't believe everything you read on facebook people. It's called fact-checking.

On the other hand, this year has been the incredibly terrible-no-good-really-bad year so only having one month left isn't necessarily a bad thing. I know the calendar turning over won't magically make Bernie the President or anything, I'll just be glad when I can put this collection of events into a bag and stuff it away somewhere deep in a hole.

There was a lot that happened in November, and not all of it was crap.

Swim: 12,700, 5 swims
Bike: nothing
Run: 41.2 miles, 4 runs, 1 race
Strength: twice
Yoga: 8 times

Wow, hitting the yoga mat was the thing I did most often in November. The one race I had was the City of Oaks Marathon, and it was fantastic. But after that I was fighting some knee and foot pain in my right leg so I took about 2.5 weeks off. Then we did Thanksgiving in SC where I picked up a cold that has kept everything on the sidelines since then. I was getting some solid pool time too before all of that cold stuff. Those number are about a third of what I was hoping they would be.

Topless Year
After swim practice on 11/4

Styling with an Evil Genius after the car wash on 11/6

some nice driving time on 11/16
There was some nice weather in the south for November. Sunny and warm that I wasn't expecting.

Other stuff that happened, good and bad
I was pulling for the Indians to win the world series! (bad, that didn't happen)

We found a new German restaurant in Cary that's REALLY good.

Even EG loved it

our loaf of bread felt more at home

EG almost stood up on that balance beam!

We got to see Santa

Family portrait with the fat man

more fun during a magic show
 Every year they do this Holiday event in Cameron Village, a local shopping center nearby. We love to go and let the kids play on the games they setup, but they didn't want to play on anything this year. We did get the annual picture with Santa and see their favorite magic show. Ella and I both got picked to participate this year!

At the lake for Thanksgiving

The Little House in Saluda SC for Turkey Day #1, that's Kelley and her mom on the porch

This is really in the country

Girls feeding goats

For Thanksgiving this year we went down to Neena's lakehouse on Wednesday night, then over to the Little House at Aunt Kathy's on Thursday. We did get to hike out (about 30 minutes, they have 200 acres) to a new cabin that Uncle Roxy just finished building. Really cool place. Then we made it to Greenville in time for another Turkey Day meal that was so good I didn't get any pictures.

So this was some of the good and some of the bad, but there's always more.