Sleighbell weekend

For the past 3 years we have started our Christmas season with a trip to our church camp for Sleighbell Weekend, see our first one here, and our second one here.

This year, we met Aunt Kim again for lunch and a museum visit about 1/2 way there, she bought them head lamps – they thought they were great and wore them all weekend!

Here is Tobin checking out how this mechanical car works

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Then, we hit another state park for a short hike, it was pretty small and not very rustic but we enjoyed it anyway.

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And, then we made it to camp in time for some tree decorating

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And, a game of Connect 4 with Wayne-he swears Tobin beat him fair & square!

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We have driven past this bird sanctuary dozens of times, because of the Sleighbell weekend, they were giving away tours.  There was no success seeing any birds from the indoor viewing spot,

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so, we decided to head out on one of their trails, a guide wanted to come along-he had some serious nature knowledge, here he’s telling the kids about the woodpecker that is responsible for this missing bark

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We really saw nothing!

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I really always want to see an owl, I’m fascinated with them BUT they are basically nocturnal so never have much hope of seeing one.  As we’re walking, he tells us he brought us this way because there was a bobcat sited recently-well I forgot all about the owl and was looking for a bobcat, how cool would that be, realize I am the girl who always wanted to see a bear on a hike;)

Well, we finish our hike and really have seen nothing, some squirrels and a few birds in the distance, when all of the sudden, they spot this!

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A snowy owl-I was SOOOO excited, the guide has never seen one here and there it sits on the barn right across the road from the sanctuary:)

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A kept trying to get closer because I didn’t have my zoom lens, and he got annoyed and flew off-but LOVE this shot too.  We were all (including the guide) very excited, just made my whole weekend!

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Off to town after that, I bought a pair of boots from my favorite shoe store (surprised I don’t have a picture).

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The kids made some cookies

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And, we waited for the parade, it was cold

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There are no motor vehicles in this Victorian inspired parade, so these giant horses pull this huge tree on a sled-which this year came close to taking us out!  We had to get out of the street quick as it was skidding towards us

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Back at camp, Kris & I worked on a puzzle

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And, we left early in the next morning to get Mari back for her Christmas concert

Camp looks pretty desolate & lonely this time of year . . .

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We LOVE this weekend, it’s such a great way to start Christmas, spending time together, getting out of the materialistic bustle that consumes so many during December.  It gets our heads straight and prepares our hearts to celebrate the amazing birth of Jesus.

 

Christmas decorating

Well, we’ve taken everything down at this point but here we are putting everything up!  The biggest decision of the morning-where to put the tree, I wanted good lighting and backdrop for present opening later. Marian thought that it should go right in the middle of the room so it could be admired from all sides, not real practical.  She also just couldn’t bear to have it across from the window because we always have it in front of the window – this girl is a creature of habit and doesn’t like her memories messed with.  The truth of the matter is that we seem to pick a different spot every year (I guess I’m still try to find the perfect “picture” spot.    Ezra wanted it in front of the window (I think).  We ended up putting the choices in a hat and drawing out a winner (the middle was not one of the options).  It ended up by the window in the corner-not my first choice but they thought it was fun to have a voice in the matter.

The tradition of hats, scarves & mittens on the tree (Marian started this one on her own because she was too impatient for us to get going many years ago)

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Tobin was documenting the morning as well

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He took this one:)

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Tobin hung the stockings all by himself, and put himself in the middle

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Mari & Ez made paper chains from Trader Joe bags and hung most of the ornaments while Kelly did the lights

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And, we took our annual picture in front of the tree early this year!

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(And, no, I don’t really count this one as card worthy either, and yes, I know I’m being too picky!)

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