Planes, Trains, Automobiles… and headlights…that’s the Phelps Christmas theme for 2010!

It seems that we don’t have a single story about this year that doesn’t involve some form of transportation.

Let’s start with the planes. Yes, the usual story for Chr’s, still traveling, but the Chicago airport drives him crazy, so now he opts to drive weekly to Chicago to avoid the lines and waits (and he made this decision before he had one of the friendly TSA pat-downs!) Hannah had her own airport delays this year on a school trip to Italy. Leave it to Hannah to find a way to do her favorite activity, even when in transit, so we have some lovely photos of her sound asleep on airport floors in various countries. She returned to America in time to jump into fall cheerleading where she ‘flies’ in some amazing stunts, thankfully landing safely each time. (Thanks Emmy, Emily, Kaity, and Coach Heidi!) Nearly gave us heart attacks a few times as they got better and better at throwing her, making her go higher and higher! Now, we hope Shan holds on to her flier, Kenzie!

Shan, Liz, and I couldn’t stand to say we hadn’t had a vacation, so we did a little traveling of our own and found ourselves on a cruise with mostly perfect weather, a little random rain, and some awesome traveling companions. No plane issues on our trip! But the island traveling we did was a little frightening (well, for Julie) including a ski lift up a mountain so we could drag race down, the weirdest boat ride to see some stingrays, and we climbed a waterfall with a girl with the reddest sunburn we have ever seen, and the slowest southern drawl we have ever heard. Maybe her drawl slowed her down and she couldn’t get out of the sun?

We don’t have many train stories. More like we were disappointed not to see more than a few seconds of our favorite train, the Hogwart’s Express, in Harry Potter 7. We can’t wait for 7.5!! Woo-Hoo! Midnight! Hannah was on a real train on her travels, and Chr’s and Julie plan to do some actual train travel when they run off to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary in June. Other than that, sorry, the train stories are over.
It turns out it was everything else on wheels that contributed to our real stories of the year. Our car situation was just not cutting it this year with Hannah driving, followed by Shannon, and Liz close on her heels. We started to think about our vehicle situation because we were running a cab service.

Then, our lawn mower became possessed by some evil spirts and some mice, had a perpetually flat tire, and general bad karma… and then we met Luke Langdon and our problems were over. Luke is now a third grader, and he will someday be the world’s greatest used car salesman. Luke not only assessed our lawn mower, he also directed us to repairs, gave us a phone number of a place we could buy a better mower from (convincing us we would get the best deal there,) and then talked us into hiring him for all our lawn duties when he is old enough to run the mower by himself. When he was over here helping with anything and everything, he politely ordered everyone around and every one of us followed his directions without question. He also loaned us his dad’s mower, and put the trailer hitch on the truck so we could get it to our house. Luke and his brother also got in on picking the new car. “Hey, want to go to a movie, you can drive, Julie,” and so of course we did, and he and Cam sat in the back seat looking at the lists of potential cars and making their recommendations. I’m quite sure he will soon have us talked into giving him the car when everyone has gone to college.

We did end up doing a little rearranging in the driveway and have a kid truck now to go with the other vehicles, and that blasted lawn mower. We’ve had a lot of dumpsters and delivery trucks in the driveway again this year, too. Yes, we still continue to work on house projects, the latest being a total redo of the bathroom that was just finished. This was in September after we had record rains and frogs were swimming in our window wells with the water flowing down the walls. The siding also got replaced, and we are working on some experiments involving new deck rails.

We do have a senior this year, so that should have meant college visit after college visit. But not this one. She’s too busy, so she mostly just throws darts at the college mail and picks that way. If they call, she asks if they have all-you-can-eat food, and she Google maps the campus to see if she’d get cold walking from building to building. Our poor mailperson will never get a break, because the college mail stops for her, but comes on full force in double for Liz and Shan who are sophomores this year.
Frank is getting old, he still herds the cars on the driveway, freaking out people who don’t know his trick, but he more content with just sleeping. We felt for him this year and he has a decadent new dog house with elevated floors, a porch, and now it’s even decorated with a holiday wreath. He still doesn’t do a thing to help control the mole problem and if there are deer in the yard, he either barks from the house, or hides silently.
We hope that your New Year starts with your headlights pointed in the right direction, illuminating the path you need to take. May your tires stay inflated, and if mice get into your engine, we’ll send Luke over to check it out and tell you what to do! Happy Holiday from the Phelps and their lawn mower… Drive Safely

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