Monday, January 4, 2010

Branson...where country music stars go to die

We were enjoying our time in Branson so much that we decided Saturday morning to go to Springfield. (It didn't help that it rained all day on Saturday.) Knowing the largest Bass Pro on the planet was in Springfield, we loaded the car, excited for Henry to see lots of animals. Bass Pro did not disappoint...we saw elephants, every bear, antelope, and deer species you can imagine, reindeer, live alligators, and Henry even got a second chance to view the funny looking bearded man up close and personal.

Checking out Santa's reindeer

Playing with other kiddies on the slide, while mom waited in line for Santa.

After the second time on Santa's knee, Henry decided he wasn't a fan.

Exhausted after looking at dead animals all day.

On the way home...well, not exactly on the way...we stopped in Blackwell so that Henry could stretch his legs.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Polar Express

Papa Bo (my grandpa) generously gave us his timeshare in Branson, MO, which we took advantage of in mid-December. We had never been before and weren't sure what to expect. Our parents, and all of their pals, gave us high hopes. When our 20 and 30 something friends heard we were going to Branson for three days, they all cried "BUT WHY?!" We were torn...not sure what Branson would bring.

I did a bit of research before departure (remember, I'm a geography nerd), and booked tickets for our first adventure Friday night. Polar Express here we come! We had never read the book, but my kindergarten teaching sister reads it to her class every year and has said that it's a favorite. And, on the Polar Express, Henry would get to wear his pj's, meet Santa for the first time, and be treated with hot chocolate and cookies. What more could you ask for?

Anxiously awaiting to board.

The train that had been converted into the Polar Express was a train used for scenic tours of Branson during tourist season. Henry and Wade were about to embark on their first train ride...or so we thought. Little did we know that the Polar Express never ventured more than two miles from the train depot. We'd go down the track a couple of miles, then back to the depot, and then up the track two miles...back and forth, back and forth...for 1 hour. We visited the North Pole three times before we stopped to pick up Santa.

Mom, I think I'm having Déjà vu...haven't we passed this parking lot before?

Finally warm and hopeful that we'll pick up Santa the next time we pass the North Pole.

Santa or no Santa, Henry enjoyed riding in a moving vehicle without being strapped to a car seat.

Finally, we stopped to let Santa board.

Henry, perplexed with the funny looking bearded man.

Thanks for the jingle bell, Santa. Henry shook it all the way home.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Tackle the Reindeer

One of Henry's favorite games since we pulled out the Christmas decorations has been Tackle the Reindeer...or better yet, Kill the Reindeer. Henry wrestles the poor animals to death. Wade is so proud.

And Grandpa Reindeer is down for the count.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Feliz Navidad - Part 2

Christmas Day started with a bang. Henry woke at 6 AM wearing his red Santa pj's and ready to see what the elves had left him at Grandma and Grandpa's in Blackwell. We left the house at 7:30 and made it to B-well by 9:15...not bad. In fact we made it all the way to Grandpa's drive before we got stuck. We tried plowing through the mammoth drift, but nothing we did worked...nothing but the shovels Wade and Grandpa finally resorted to later that afternoon.

Ann's fiance, Omar, arrived soon after we did and the Christmas festivities began. Grandma's breakfast casserole and famous poppy seed bread, stockings, gifts, Chevy Chase and Christmas Vacation, Henry trudging through the snow with Pa Pa (this is as close as Henry gets to actually saying "Grandpa"...he latches on to the last syllable) to feed the dogs, a game of spoons, Apples to Apples, and dodge ball with Henry. Henry was having so much fun, he tried his darndest not to nap, but finally fell fast asleep on his Aunt Ann's lap late that afternoon.

Aunt Ann and her sweet fiance, who we all adore.

Henry's favorite part of opening gifts was his stocking. Treasure after Hot Wheel treasure. We have discovered that Henry absolutely LOVES cars. Had Santa known $0.99 Hot Wheels would be such a hit, every package under the tree would have had been filled with metal.

Pistol in its holster, and cars lined up on the coffee table. Ah, to be one again...

What else did Santa leave?

Oh boy! I think I know what it is, Daddy!

Let me see...shake, shake, shake...yep, definitely a wooden block w/ beads.

I must have been such a good boy!

Thank you Santa, and Baby Jesus...for giving us the greatest gift of all.

Every morning this month while I was getting Henry dressed we talked about Baby Jesus, the Christmas story, and how Christmas was a time to celebrate Jesus' birth. Happy Birthday, Jesus, we would say.

Henry helping Grandma ice the cinnamon rolls.

Saturday the entire Riseling family gathered at Grandmother Happy and Papa Bo's. Madison was there, guitar in hand, to sing her lyrics to The Riseling's House.

The Riseling’s House

You’ve got kings in the corner,
And ice cream in the fridge.
Papa’s smokin’ cigars,
And Happy’s playin’ bridge.
You’ve got Mitsy up in Papa Bo’s lap,
People are always hollerin’
When Henry’s tryin’ to nap.

Christmas is always whiter at the Riseling’s house,
Spaghetti-O's taste better at the Riseling’s house,
See a man about a cow at the Riseling’s house,
At the Riseling’s house.

You’ve got Clark Griswold always on the television,
Teeth in, Teeth out, it’s a big decision.
Brown colored ketchup,
And out-of-date food.
Papa’s golf swing puts me in a good mood.
Pick up some hang yangs in the red Chevy nova,
Papa’s giving Mitsy the leftovers.


You’ve got Linda, Lesa, Creyton, Carol, and Larry.
Grandkids, Great-Grandkids, Had Snitsy and Mitsy.
They met years ago on New Year’s Eve,
Made a beautiful family with all these memories.


After singing and reliving Riseling memories, a sinful game of Dirty Santa ensued...Wade and I walked away with a broken candle and book about how to make the world's greatest cupcakes. Other gifts included a Chia-Obama, blender, board games, snuggies, and much, much more. Laughter became more intense with ever gift opened.

After Dirty Santa, we packed our bags yet again to begin our journey home. We met the Shaw family for dinner at Texas Roadhouse to bid our final farewell to Uncle Garland, Tia Carolina, and Cousin Ricky. We hope to see you sometime this summer!