First Things First

Before we get into too much detail regarding our Christmas week, there are some details that I missed in my last post.

First, I have a couple of pictures of our evening at the Nights of Lights. Malin had her new PDA phone with her that evening, and she snapped a few shots:

Will, in a carnival ride
Me driving a bumber car. Will can just barely be seen, sitting to my right

Also, Will was accepted into a pre-school. It is actually a normal school that teaches students all the way through high school age. The name of the school is Counterpane, and they are a Montessori school. We took Will there, and he interacted with one of the instructors in “primary school” (the area of the school for children up to 6 years of age). The instructor indicated that he was ready to start school. While there, we saw the rest of the school, too. The environment is very different from a typical public school. But it looks like they are teaching children many valuable things with these methods – not least of which are an interest in education/exploration and a strong sense of self-discipline. The whole objective of the school is to prepare the children for continuing education, and one of the teachers stated that 100% of their students go on to college (much higher than in public school systems, obviously). His first day is this upcoming Monday, January 14th.


The evening of Christmas Eve, we went driving around various neighborhoods in the area to see people’s Christmas decorations and lights. We let Will stay up a little, and after he went to bed we began preparing for Santa’s big night. This mainly involved assembly of his big gift from Mr. C:

Train Track Treasure
Bird's Eye View of the Train Tracks
Will, admiring his new train tracks (and, yes, he is missing pants)

Will has really been into Thomas the Train lately, and he absolutely loves playing with the trains that are setup at the local Books a Million store and the local, family-owned toy store. So he got a train table with a bunch of tracks. The night of Christmas Eve, we assembled the table, all of the buildings and “destinations” for the train tracks, and then put all the track pieces together on the table. We did not, however, nail or glue down the tracks. I didn’t like the idea of that first design being permanent (especially since we have so many left-over track pieces that we could use to design a different track later).

Santa did not bring him any new trains (that is what grandparents are for). So the first thing Will said on Tuesday morning when he saw what Santa had brought was, “That’s not James!” (James is a friend of Thomas, he’s the only red engine on Sodor, and he’s Will’s favorite)

Malin’s mom came over on Christmas day. She told us that Will came by his ungrateful comments honestly as, apparently, Malin behaved the same way as a child. Despite his disappointment that Santa had not brought James, Will enjoyed playing with the new toys. Because we failed to secure the tracks to the table, Will has taken to playing the Godzilla of train town. He also received various other toys from Santa, Annie (that’s what he calls Malin’s mom), and his parents – including Lego Star Wars for our X-Box.

Later that day, Malin went about cooking dinner for the day: roast duckling, bacon-wrapped asparagus, and potato croquettes.

After Christmas

The day after Christmas, we packed up and drove to Greenville (where my parents reside). We celebrated Christmas again, eating dinner with my parents, my brother, my uncle Scott, and his wife Sharon. Before dinner, Will came down suddenly with a bad stomach ache. He sat in the bathroom for a bit, in a bit of pain and very upset. After that episode, he didn’t feel too good, so I hung out with him, laying in bed watching cartoons on TV until his stomach felt better. Luckily it wasn’t long before Will and I were able to join everyone else for dinner. For the meal, my mom prepared the classics: ham, turkey, stuffing, potatoes, and macaroni & cheese. All of it was delicious. After dinner, we exchanged gifts.

Will happily received numerous toy trains to go along with his new tracks – including James. He also received some cool little cars (he didn’t receive all of these, but a couple of the new ones do make an appearance in this photo):

His interest in cars is largely due to my influence. For several weeks, I would periodically pick him up a new Hot Wheels or Matchbox car while at the grocery store – hence his impressive collection of classic muscle cars. In addition to trains and cars, Will also received a few new games for his V.Smile.

While in Greenville, Malin and I visited with a few friends of ours: Audra (one of Malin’s bridesmaids), Jason (a friend of mine from high school and Audra’s older brother), and Donna (Jason’s wife). We all grew up in Greenville (except Malin), so we were all around for the holidays. We were thrilled that we got to see them all again. Unfortunately, we only had a couple of days in Greenville (we only had a dog-sitter for two days because all of the kennels were packed from the holiday week). So we didn’t get a chance to visit with other friends of ours. My old next-door neighbor from grade school, Keith Groover, and his family live in Greenville. And a college buddy of mine, Desmond Raymond, and his wife Jessica live in Charlotte (less than a 90 minute drive from Greenville). Desmond and Jessica just had their first child in November, so Malin and I were hoping to go see them and their new baby girl.

We did manage to have a good time in Greenville during the time we were there, though. On Thursday, Malin, Will, my mom, and I all went to an interesting attraction that was not too far of a drive: Hollywild Animal Park. It was open only at night because of the huge number of lights and decorations that they had put up. Much of it was reminiscent of the lights at Lanier – until you get to the animals.

There was a huge swarm of deer – old and young; bucks, does, and fawns. They also had a couple of friendly zebras. Malin managed to snag a few pictures on her PDA phone:

On Friday, we had to pack up and return home to Georgia. The weekend was uneventful. Malin, Will, and I played a lot of Lego Star Wars. Lazy, relaxed, and fun – exactly what we all needed from our vacation.