Thursday, November 12, 2009


I have a couple of stories to share about Hallie that I just have to write down. Chad was off work yesterday with the kids and he called to tell me that he made a CD for Hallie of her favorite songs. She asked him to write her name on it. Once he did, Hallie said
#1 done- my name on a CD.
#2- they are going to name a state after me.
#3 - my face will be on Mount Rushmore.
#4- my face will be on money.

She has some big dreams and I have no doubt she can achieve them all. When I asked her later what she was going to do to get her face on Mt. Rushmore she said she was going to be president. I told her not all presidents get their face on Mt. Rushmore and she would have to do something really good to have her face on Mt. Rushmore, she thought for a minute and said "I think I'll make sure all of the hungry people have food." Such a sweet girl.
Last week I had to go out of town on business and when I got home Hallie had left a note on the counter. Here it is...

She is really challenging me about sharing my faith, I wish I could have told her that I did share Jesus with people on the trip.

Then yesterday when I got home, Hallie wrote the papers below about God while Chad was helping Blake with homework.

She is such a precious child and I love the fact that she loves Jesus!!
Translated below for those who can't read her writing....
God loves me for who I am and I am special in His way and everyone arond us plus our moms and dads are specital to. For God so loved the world he gave his onle Son whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16 There is onlee one God that can bulid ocean. You are the onlee one that deserves my life. You shoud not bend your knee to eneybody but God. God is the onlee persion who is Holy because He made the world. All have sind and come shourt of the glory of God. Depart from evil and do good. Read the Bible for it is Gods word. Serve God by reading the Bible and doing his comands for for it is rite and God likes it.
Love the Lord your God with all heart and with all soul with all your mind and with all your stiath. Got to church for God loves it. Be a Christchin for God likes it.
(I tried to keep her way of spelling!)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


I don't even know how to begin to blog about our trip to Kaua'i, none of the words I could use would do it justice. It was amazing, beautiful, fun, relaxing and so much more. We were gone long enough that I truly got to relax, most of our vacations they are too short to ever get relaxed, this was perfect. The flight was not fun at all, but all of that faded away as soon as we landed in Kaua'i. We were met by our friend with Leis for both of us and we went straight to a fabulous dinner at Duke's, with a table that overlooked the ocean.

The next day we decided to stay at Heath and Amanda's house and hang at the beach all day to recover from the previous day of travel. After walking only about 200 yards, we were at a beautiful beach. Because of where they live, the beach was basically private! On a given day, we maybe saw 3 people in any direction, some days no one! It was a beach with no chairs, umbrellas or anything, so all you saw was the beautiful beach and ocean. Here are some pictures from the first day at the beach:

Day 2 we went to a wonderful church in Lihue where we met some fantastic people. Then off to Puka Dog, this was the resturant I heard the most about when Chad got home from Hawaii last year, and Chad couldn't wait. After eating a smoked sausage dog with Pineapple relish and Lemon garlic sauce (which was great) we saw some of the island. I was amazed at the beauty. Almost everywhere you go there are mountains on one side and beach and ocean on the other.

Chad and Heath doing a great job surfing:

The rest of the week was spent sight seeing the island, relaxing on the beach, going to a Luau, going on a dinner cruise of the Napali coast and just having a great time. Here are some pictures of Waimea canyon and other beautful spots all over the island.

On the last day we went zip-lining through Princeville plantation. It was so much fun. The first jump off of the 1st platform was a little scary, but other than that it was great. We zip lined into the plantation and to a spring with a little waterfall. While the guides fixed lunch, we were able to swim and jump in this private spring. So much fun!

We had a fabulous time visiting wonderful friends and just being together. I discovered how much I like my "vacation" self and my goal is to strive to not get stressed out so much now that I am home and just enjoy being with Chad and the kids...

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Camping Trip When . . .

This past weekend we went camping, or camper-ing, with some friends at Rickwood Caverns State Park. We were all excited and couldn't wait to get there and enjoy the weekend.

We arrived on Friday and were anxious to get the fun underway. The kids ran, played, and rode bicycles. We ate dinner, sat around, and were enjoying the evening. Then it got dark and the raccoons came out and as you guessed it, the kids and their moms went crazy. Those sneaky rascals were on us before we knew it. There were probably only 2 or 3 of them, but they would creep so quietly that it surprised us when they would pop out from under the camper, picnic table, and bushes. After hours of hitting the raccoons with rocks every time they showed their beady little eyes, the kids and the moms decided to call it a night and stay inside of the camper.

The next morning the sun came out, the raccoons were gone, and the fun began. We had a big and delicious breakfast. The kids played some on the playground, rode their bicycles, and roamed around the campground. When it was time for the pool to open, we went swimming. I must say that this pool was awesome. It was a really big pool and although there were a lot of people there, it didn't feel crowded. The coolest thing about the pool was that it had a high dive. Blake just had to jump off of it.

He even talked Jaime into jumping off of it. We played and played and had the absolute best time.

After lunch, things got out of control again. We heard thunder off in the distance and the pool was closed. This trip then became the camping trip when the kids got bored.

We all decided to take them on a nature hike. As we were heading down the trail, it began to sprinkle just a bit. When we got about 1/4 - 1/2 a mile down the trail, the lightning started popping around us and the bottom fell out. Being soaked and out in a very bad thunderstorm made us decide to head back to the camper. We walked as fast as we could to get out and finally made it back to the park office. No one complained even though we were all soaked to the bone.

A few minutes later, it was discovered that our campsite had flooded, everything was drenched, and the awning on the camper had ripped. It took a while, but we managed to get the awning put away, the campsite cleaned up, and the kids dried off. We then checked the radar and noticed that another line of storms was coming. With the prospect of having 10 people confined to one camper for the remaining evening, we decided to pack it in and head to the house.

As we were packing up, we commented that this will always be "the camping trip when. . ." The one when we fought off raccoons. The one when we got caught out in a thunderstorm. The one when we were the wettest that we have ever been in our life. The one when the awning on the camper broke. And the one whe we had a great time through it all. We can't wait to do it again.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Stepford Kids

When I got home from work last night, I was greeted by Hallie at the top of the stairs. She said, "Hello Daddy. How was your day today?" I noticed that she was in her pajamas. She told me that she had already taken her bath and put on her pajamas. Blake then said that he had taken his bath too, but hadn't yet put on his pajamas. He then added that he would go and do it now so I wouldn't have to ask him later. Then they exited the room to play with Andrew and Daniel.

Jaime pulled me aside and told me that the Blake and Hallie had been great ever since she got home. She went on to say that both of them unloaded and loaded the dishwasher and had been playing great together without any arguing. They jumped at every chance to do something to help her cook dinner and had cleaned up the downstairs of the house.

A few minutes later they came downstairs and asked if there was anything else that they could do to help with dinner. Jaime asked them to set the table and they replied, "We would love to." Then they worked together and got it done, complete with knives, spoons, forks and drinks for everyone. Once dinner was ready, we sat down to eat. The kids went on and on about how wonderful everything tasted. All through dinner, we heard, "yes sir" this and "yes ma'am" that, "please may I have some more of these wonderful beans", "this is the best chicken that I have ever eaten", "mommy, you are the best cook in the whole world", etc, etc, etc. After a while, I looked at Jaime and asked if it said Echols on the mailbox or Stepford. Who were the robot kids and where were mine?

After dinner, they brought us cards that they had made. On one side was our name. On the other was something they had written about us. Jaime's card said "Mommy, your cooking skills are awesome." My card said, "Daddy, your baseball skills are great and remind me of Chipper Jones." It was hard not to laugh at all of their thoughtfulness, but we managed to do it.

Throughout the whole night, they were the most polite, well-mannered, kind, sweet kids you have ever seen. We thanked them for being so great that night and wondered how long it would last. Today, they were back to normal. I wonder how long I need to charge the batteries to get a few extra days of that behavior.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

10 years old

Today is Blake's birthday and he is 10 years old! It is hard to believe he is 10 already.
This morning when he woke up we fixed his favorite breakfast, pigs in a blanket. He then had a great morning with Hal and their summer babysitter. They made some fantastic sugar cookies and I know they had a great time doing it. After Blake's 10 year old well child visit to the Doctor, Blake thought we were headed to Chuck E Cheese for dinner. But, much to his surprise, he came home to a surprise birthday party. He was very surprised and very excited. We ate some pizza, opened some presents and then we sang Happy Birthday. Watch to the end of the clip below and you will see his biggest surprise!

Blake said this was his best birthday ever (he says that every year) but I do think it was one of the best.

Blake, we love you so much. We are so blessed that we get to be your parents and watch you grow. You have grown up so much this past year. I love that you love to eat what I cook and you try everything! You are enjoying school so much and are learning more every day. You are such a good artist and you amaze me every day with your pictures and drawings. Our lives changed 10 years ago today when you were born and I can't wait to see how you grow in the next ten years!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day

With Jaime out of town, she turned over the celebration Father's Day to Blake and Hallie. Since Blake and Hallie were organizing, my Father's Day started at about 5:45 with 4 pairs of eyes staring at me as I woke up this morning.

Apparently, Blake and Hallie woke up bright and early this morning and then woke up Andrew and Daniel. They all gathered in Blake's room to sign their Father's Day cards. Then, they gathered all of their gifts that they had made and piled it all, cards and gifts, next to me in my bed. After that, they just stood on the side of my bed, staring at me, until I woke up. Knowing my kids as I do, I don't think they were standing there long because if they had been, I am sure that I would have gotten poked by something. As I opened my eyes, they all said, "Happy Father's Day Daddy. Can we open your presents for you?"

Andrew and Daniel had framed something that they had made at school. It was a poem with their hand prints on it. Hallie had cross-stitched the word "Dad" with a baseball beside it. Blake had written a book about me and him and included pictures of us in it. They were all great.

After church, we all went to Alabama Adventures for a little fun in the sun. We floated down the lazy river, rode down some water slides, and played in the water all afternoon. Everyone had a great time and it was a great day.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Going out for pizza

Around 3:30 or 4:00 everyday, Jaime and I have the same conversation. It is the "what is for dinner" conversation. I am sure that everyone is familiar with that one. Well, we had a gift card to the California Pizza Kitchen, so tonight I suggested that we take the kids out for pizza. We told the kids and they were excited.

After getting to the restaurant and looking at the menu, I realized that California Pizza Kitchen is not known for a normal variety of pizza. (It had been a while since I had eaten there.) The whole menu is specialty pizzas and our family is like most in that we all like different kinds. We decided to opt for the BBQ chicken pizza, which was great and then we took a chance on a new pizza. It was the cheeseburger pizza. Seeing that it comes complete with lettuce and tomato, we ordered with with the meat and cheese topping only, but with the addition of tomato on half. Then the waitress mentioned that the sauce was a blend of ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard and pickles. This should have been our first clue to abort this decision, but we said that would be okay. In my defense, I honestly thought it would be more of a ketchup/tomato flavor in the sauce, not more mayonnaise/mustard flavor. They brought out the pizza and we gave a slice to the kids and they began to eat and here is where everything went downhill.

Blake took a bite and made a face like he was about to vomit. He sat there with his mouth open making a "get this out of my mouth" sound, but he eventually swallowed it. Hallie took a bite and immediately screamed "yuck" and then spit her piece out onto the table. We got on to Hallie for doing that. While that was going on, Daniel had taken a bite and immediately started to cry because he didn't like it either. He just sat there with his mouth wide open, showing the whole restaurant the pizza in his mouth, while he was crying as hard as he could. Jaime allowed him to spit the bite out of his mouth, which he did, and then continued to cry. Andrew ate a couple of bites, but seeing the commotion that the others were making, he declared that he didn't like it and wouldn't eat anymore.

Thinking that it could not be that bad, I took a bite. I did not spit it out, cry, or announce to the restaurant that it tasted horrible, but it did not taste like pizza at all. When they say "cheeseburger pizza", they mean "cheeseburger shaped like a pizza". It tasted exactly like a cheeseburger. You tasted the cheese and meat, but you mainly tasted the mayonnaise and mustard in the sauce. Jaime took a bite and did not like it either.

After we assured the kids we would order them another pizza, they stopped crying and settled down. Seeing that our whole family did not like the pizza, the waitress offered to remove the pizza from our table and to have the manager remove it from our check. We replaced it with a ham and pineapple pizza, which the kids all ate.

As we were waiting for the check, I heard our waitress tell another table that the cheeseburger pizza was their newest pizza and had only been on the menu for one day. I wanted to tell them not to order it and that the cheeseburger pizza was the whole reason my kids were crying, but why should we get to have all of the fun.

Saturday, April 18, 2009


Our Easter morning started off early, around 5:15, so that we could all make it to the 7:00 church service. There were no Easter baskets filled with candy when the kids woke up. They were told that the baskets would most likely show up after church, which they did. After a great service and Sunday school lesson, we headed home to get ready for the afternoon fun. We stood outside for a couple minutes and took some pictures of the kids in their Sunday best.

We headed over to a friend's house for an Easter Extravaganza and lunch. There, we ate and ate and ate some more. Our kids didn't seem to eat much and were content to play in the backyard. Later in the afternoon, they did manage to eat some brownies, cake, and cupcakes.
After lunch, it was time for the egg hunt. The kids went inside while the adults hid the eggs. As you know, you can't have anyone get an advantage by seeing where you are hiding the eggs, but when you are hiding possibly more than 100 eggs, they are all hidden in the open so you can't help but to see them. The kids ran through the yard picking up plastic eggs like they were gold coins. It was a blast.

After every egg was gathered, all of the kids sat on the lawn and sorted out their loot. After seeing what their friends had found in their eggs, the trading began. They traded jelly beans for M&Ms, toys for other toys, candy for toys, etc. Daniel did find an egg with a quarter in it, but that was the only money that I noticed. Eventually, everyone was satisfied with what they had and ate a little of the candy and played with their toys.

When it was time to leave, we only had to drive about 2 minutes down the road, which was a good thing. After we got home and took baths, our kids crashed. They were so worn out that they even slept through the storm that rolled in that night. It was a great day.
Here are some pictures of dying easter eggs the night before.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

April Fools!!!! (plus 3 days)

This morning I got in the shower to get ready for the day. As I looked down to pick up the shampoo, I noticed that it was not there. Also, the soap was gone too. When I noticed that it was not in the shower, I got out to look around the bathroom, but couldn't find it. Jaime came in at that point and asked what was wrong. I told her that I could not find the shampoo or the soap. She looked and didn't see it either.

The kids spent the night with my mother last night, so we thought that maybe Blake had packed it. (It seemed like something that he would do.) Jaime called and Hallie answered the phone. She asked Hallie if Blake had packed the shampoo and soap and Hallie said no. She said " It's hidden". Then Jaime asked where. Hallie added, in a matter of fact tone, that it was behind the toilet. Jaime looked and sure enough, there was the shampoo, the conditioner, and the soap. Jaime laughed and asked Hallie why she put it behind the toilet and Hallie replied, "April Fools".

There was nothing to do other than laugh and tell her that she had pulled a good one. It was hilarious. She later said that she got the idea from a show on the Disney Channel. Regardless where it came from, it was a good one.

Hopefully, she knows that April fools is only for one day in April, not all 30.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Learning to Ride

A week or so ago, Hallie went to visit her friend, Mason. (He is the one who sent her the love letter in the previous blog story.) Mason learned to ride his bike and wanted Hallie to bring hers over when she came. Seeing Mason ride without training wheels made Hallie want to learn. For all who know Hallie, you know that she can't let someone know how to do something that she can't do.

This past weekend, Hallie insisted that I take the training wheels off of her bicycle. I didn't really want to because I didn't want to spend the day holding the back of a bicycle and watching her fall down repeatedly, but since she really wanted to try, I removed the training wheels.

We made a couple of trips across our driveway while I was holding onto the back of her seat. I walked away for a second to take a drink of my water and when I turned back around, Hallie was riding her bike. She made about 5-6 revolutions with the pedals and screamed, "Did you see that?" From that point on, she just started riding. We ran out of room in the driveway, so we went down to the cul de sac. She rode and rode and rode. She did fall twice, but only cried once because she saw blood. Once the bandaid was on, she was back on the bicycle.

I would say that it was the easiest bike riding lesson ever, only there was no lesson. She just did it. I guess there is no substitute for no fear and extreme determination.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Snow Day

We have snow. Yes we do. We have snow. How 'bout you?

This morning we all woke up to snow on the ground. Jaime saw it first and we waited for Andrew and Daniel to wake up. Blake and Hallie were at Bidee's house. Andrew woke up and without even coming downstairs, we heard him yell, "Daniel, it is snowing outside of our window". I don't know what made him decide to look out his window, but he did and was very excited.

We immediately got dressed and ran outside to play. We caught some snowflakes on our tongues, threw some snowballs, and made a little snowman. The snowman didn't last long because Daniel decided to kick it over.

Here is some video of Andrew and Daniel enjoying the snow.

When the snow slacked up a little and before it got really bad, I drove out to Bidee's to get Blake and Hallie. They had made a snowman and were making snow ice cream when I got there. We rushed out the door to make it back home.

Once we got home, we all suited up again and played some more. Hallie wanted to make a big snowman, so we did. Blake wanted a snowball fight, so we did that too. Hallie and Daniel wanted to make an even bigger second snowman, so we did that too. After everyone talked of being cold and wet, we scooped some snow in a big bowl, went inside, and made some snow ice cream. It was a blast.

A few hours later the snow was gone and one of our snowmen had fallen to the ground. We went out again and Hallie and Daniel smashed the other snowman to the ground with a baseball bat.

In a year or two or ten, maybe we will get to do it all again.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Name Game

Andrew and Daniel have started a new, for lack of a better word, game when we are going places in the car. The game is they think of everyone that they know and ask Jaime and I that person's whole name. Normally, it is us, them, Blake, Hallie, grandparents, uncles, aunts, etc.

The other morning, on the way to school, they started the game. After going through the usual suspects, Daniel thought of someone that he has never asked before. "Daddy, what is Santa's whole name?" I chuckled and then told him that it was Santa Claus. Then he really threw me a curve.

"Daddy, what is God's whole name?" The first thing that popped in my head was the many sermons Pastor Buddy had preached using God's name. I told Daniel that God's whole name was Yahweh (I am). He told me that I was wrong and God's whole name was Yahweh God.

Then he asked, "what is Jesus' whole name?" I completely drew a blank for some reason. (Jaime later told me this one was easy, Jesus Christ.) I couldn't think so I just told him Jesus' whole name was Jesus. He again told me that I was wrong and said that Jesus' whole name was Jesus Is Strong. Then he started to sing, "they are weak, but he is strong". Then he said, "See Daddy, Jesus Is Strong". How do you disagree with that?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Talent that every boy should have

A few nights back, the kids decided that they wanted pancakes for dinner. Blake and Andrew seemed to be in an eating contest to find out who could eat the most. Blake ended up eating 6, slightly edging out Andrew, who ate 5.

After dinner, it was bath time. We finished bathing Andrew and Daniel and then laid them on the floor while we got their pajamas. They started playing and rolling around on the floor. Then Andrew broke large, cut the cheese, stepped on a frog, or just plain farted. (However you want to say it.)

Being a normal 3-99 year old boy, he thought it was hilarious and so did Daniel. Because he got such a great response, he fired another shot. They both laughed again. Of course, I thought it was hilarious too. Then he did it again and again and again and again. He ripped off about 15-20 in a row. Even Jaime couldn't help but laugh.

As a father, it was a glorious moment. One of my sons has the gift or maybe it was just the pancakes. You know what they say, "Pancakes, pancakes, good for the heart . . . "

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Love Letter

When Hallie was 3 years old, she met a boy named Mason at school and they became great friends. At school, they were inseparable. Many of you, I am sure, have heard Hallie talk about Mason. Hallie has always had a crush on Mason and Mason has always had a crush on Hallie. They have talked of being married for about 3 years now.

Since both of them live in different school systems, they have been separated for their first year in Kindergarten. Hallie still talks about him and they have managed to stay in touch. They have been to each other's birthday parties. Jaime and Mason's mom even got them together for their first official date to take them to the movies.

The other day, Hallie got a letter from Mason in the mail and she was extremely excited. She opened it up and read it fairly easily, even though it was written by a kindergarten boy who was learning to read and write phonetically. I guess in the language of love, there are no misspellings. I had to share this letter.

Translation: "Dear Hallie. I love you because you are so beautiful."

Thursday, January 22, 2009

After school

We have been fortunate enough to find a baby-sitter to watch Blake and Hallie after school instead of them having to go to after-school care. Long story short, we were put in touch with a girl from the youth group of our church, who was looking for a job to sit with kids after school. The opportunity sounded great to us, so Shaye started last week.

Shaye meets the kids at the bus stop and takes care of them until we get home from work. She gets them started on their homework and spends time doing fun things with them. Hallie and Blake say that the have played games and "done all kinds of fun things". She also helps us out tremendously by driving them to their after school activities such as Blake's drama class and Hallie's gymnastics. I can't tell you how much easier this has made things on us.

The first week, she gave them a bible verse to memorize with the promise of doing something special at the end of the week if they were able to do it. Hallie the overachiever, of course, had the verse memorized the first day. Both had it memorized by the end of the week and have repeated it several times since.

Blake and Hallie love having Shaye around. In their own words, "she is great". It has also been great for us.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


As anyone with kids knows, bedtime is a process. Our kids are no different. None of them like to go to bed and none of them go to bed the same way. Here is what I am talking about.

Blake always has to listen to music. Hallie always asks for a story, a kiss, a hug, to be tucked in, a second kiss, a second hug, something to drink, and music. Andrew and Daniel always want books to read in bed with them. Of course they have to read them by night light because we are smart enough to know not to leave on their bedroom light.

Blake and Hallie always go to sleep easily. They stay in their bed and we don't hear from them until morning. Daniel is usually asleep really fast and rarely gets out of his bed to come downstairs. Daniel does have a peculiar habit of taking all of his clothes off before he falls asleep. There have been many mornings that we find him waiting for us in his room naked as a jaybird. On the days that he does keep on his pajamas, he usually takes off his pull-up. Except for that, he is no problem.

The problem is Andrew. We think that he just doesn't need as much sleep as the others. He seems to need a minimum of three trips downstairs and a minimum of three trips back upstairs before he will close his eyes. The funny thing about him coming downstairs is that he changes clothes for each trip. The first trip is normally in the pajamas that he wore to bed. The next trip usually consists of a shirt change. In the trip after that, he is wearing clothes that he would normally wear to school, sometimes complete with jacket and shoes. At least it makes it easier to get him dressed in the morning.

When morning does come, Hallie is always the first one up and some mornings comes downstairs completely dressed. Here recently, her back seems to be hurting every morning. I am starting to think that it is a ploy. She comes downstairs, climbs in our bed and announces that her back is hurting and she needs a massage. Then she lays their with a huge smile on her while she gets her back massaged. Like mother, like daughter

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Back to School

Growing up as a kid, the worst days of the year were the first day back to school after the summer break and Christmas holidays. I never could get excited about going back to school. Seeing my friends again would have been the thing to look forward to, except for the fact that they lived up the street from me and I saw them every day during the break. I would have just rather stay home from school and play with my friends. This is not really the case with my kids.

Both Blake and Hallie were excited to get back to school. Blake was excited mainly to see his friends and teacher. Hallie was excited to see her friends, teacher, but was also ready to get back to school work. For all who know Hallie, she would tell you that is how she rolls. Word!

Tuesday was the first day back to school for them. Hallie was awake just minutes after Jaime and I had gotten out of bed. She was dressed before anyone. Then she brushed her teeth, brushed her hair, ate breakfast, packed her backpack, and went to sit in the car. She sat in the car for probably 15-20 minutes before Jaime and Blake were ready to go.

At work today, someone was telling me of a news story that they had seen. In that story, a 6 year old boy had wrecked a car while attempting to drive himself to school. According to the story, this boy's deadbeat mom wouldn't get out of bed to take him to school, so he took the matter into his own hands.

After hearing that, I immediately thought of Hallie, especially since she is 6 years old. Thankfully she knew that her mommy was going to take her to school so she just stayed put. Although, now that I think of it, I believe that Hallie could safely drive herself to school. She has more determination than most everyone that I know, so I don't put much past her. Just as a precaution, maybe I should teach her to drive.

Thursday, January 1, 2009


Another Christmas has come and gone. This year at the Echols house was busy, as always, but it was great fun.

We started off by going to the Christmas Eve service at our church. We have been doing this the last few years and always enjoy it. We put the kids in their pajamas, since the service doesn't start until 8:00, and head to the church. The kids get to go to the sanctuary, which they love. One thing that I really enjoy about the Christmas Eve service is taking the Lord's Supper. Since Christmas is about the hope of a Savior who came to die for our sins, so that we may spend eternity in Heaven, it is always cool to celebrate the reason that Jesus Christ came on the day we celebrate his birth. Since Blake had accepted Christ as his savior and has been baptized, he was able to participate in the Lord's Supper also. Before the service, we were talking with a friend who asked the kids if they were ready for the night (meaning Santa coming to town). Blake said, "I really can't wait until the Lord's Supper." It wasn't exactly the answer that I was expecting him to say, but it did bring a smile to my face.

On Christmas morning, I always look for the kids to be up really early. The normal Christmas wake up time is around 4:00-5:00 AM. Even though we had a late night, I did not expect it to change. I woke up to see the clock read 5:02 AM. I listened and didn't hear any noise. Knowing that Jaime would most likely take me out of this world if I woke the kids up, I laid in bed and waited and waited and waited and, yes, I waited. Finally about 6:45, Blake came into our room asking if it was Christmas morning and if he could look to see if Santa came. Seeing this as my chance, I jumped up and said go wake everyone up, which he did. All six of us ran into the family room and saw that Santa had definitely been there. Blake, Hallie, and Andrew immediately went to full speed. Daniel needed a few minutes to warm up, I guess, but he was fired up when he did get going.

Later that morning and throughout the day, family began to show up. We opened presents, ate food, hung out, and played with toys. It was a blast and the kids racked up, as always.

Blake got some Legos, several Muppet movies, some games, some Indiana Jones action figures, some books, and a couple of articles of clothing. Blake has not really locked into one gift, but has loved and enjoyed them all.

Hallie got a razor scooter, a triangle, some games, some books, some Pixos, and some clothes. Hal's favorite gift might have been a pogo-stick. She is always asking to go outside to play with it and is determined to master it. I have seen her get 7 consecutive jumps on it and she was excited that she was getting better. With her determination, she will have it down in no time.

Andrew got a Mickey Mouse racetrack, some trucks and cars, some books, some games, and a baseball glove (which is standard issue to a Echols kid, although Santa brought a left-handed one. He really should pay more attention.) Andrew's favorite gift is one that was actually given to him and Daniel. It was a motorized green truck. He is always talking about his truck, wanting to see his truck, and wanting to ride in his truck. He is getting better at driving it. The day after Christmas, with a clear driveway, he done a lot better in not running into things. Of course, after a while of doing circles and riding down the street, we had to start using it as a monster truck. Daniel would set up small kid-sized patio chairs in the driveway and Andrew would drive over them. He has broken one of them.

Daniel got some Pooh and Tigger action figures, some books, some games, a ball, some puzzles and a baseball glove. He hasn't really locked into anything really hard, although he can be seen playing with a Little Einstein puzzle game during the day.

Later in the day, Hallie checked the mail and noticed that there was a letter from Bennett the Elf. Bennett is the elf that lives with us for a few days before Christmas Day. Bennett sent the kids a letter thanking them for letting him stay at our house again this year. Included with the letter was a picture that the elf had apparently taken. It was a picture of Santa Claus in our living room prior to putting out the kids gifts. Since very few people ever see Santa in their house on Christmas Eve, I wanted to share this with everyone.

Here are a few more pictures from Christmas at the Echols house. We hope that everyone had a Merry Christmas and will have a Happy New Year.