Tuesday, December 25, 2007


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Thanksgiving Trip

Here I am, finally blogging about our once-in-a-lifetime Thanksgiving trip. Who knows when I'll catch up on all that has happened since then.

All nine of us left in the wee hours of the morning for the airport the Monday before Thanksgiving. We took two cars and had nine bags plus three car seats to check. The skycap guy EARNED his tip. Each of us had carry-on bags with books, toys, art supplies, games, work to do, and snacks, snacks, snacks. It was pretty exciting to go on the airplane. So exciting, that Michael was satisfied with the fun he'd had and asked at the end of the first leg of our trip out, as we were deplaning, "Are we back?"

I took this picture of Michael in one of the three airports we were in because I liked how his shirt matched the grey and yellow of the escalator. Notice his half on/half off suspenders. Michael's suspenders made their mark forever in the history of our family when they set off the metal detector at the security checkpoint.

We flew into Dulles, picked up the 12 passenger van we were renting, and drove to the Washington D.C. Temple. We met Aunt Sara at the Visitor's Center, took a couple of pictures, decided it was too cold for our thin-blooded selves and headed to our hotel.

I had written our congressman months before to get tickets to the White House, so Stan, the kids and I took off. I had grand plans about driving all the way around D.C., taking the Metro in and having a head start on our trip south, but rush hour traffic was not part of them. I don't know why I was so sure we could make it. I should have remembered from when we lived there, but we never would have attempted this trip if I wasn't an optimist, so we were lucky that Sara was back at the hotel, using the WiFi to do homework on her laptop. She found a Metro station online, got us to it and saved the day. We parked the van, bought some tickets, hopped on the train and made it just in time for our tour.

Our extended family reunion theme was "Concentrated Insanity", but our specific family sub-theme may have been "Security Checkpoint Mishaps." Summer set off the metal detector at the White House with her braces (as confirmed by the Secret Service guy using the wand on her after she made the walk-through alarm sound).

The White House was neat. I think my favorite parts of being there were the feeling of walking where so many admirable people have walked and also the paintings.

After the White House, we walked to the Smithsonian's Natural History Museum and met Sara there. Stan took a picture of the rest of us in front of the elephant in the rotunda.

One of the funnest parts of our day in D.C. was riding the Metro. I regaled the kids with stories of the times I rode the Subway in N.Y. in high school. They all learned why there are lots of things to hold onto while you stand.

We got back in the van, drove down the George Washington Memorial Parkway and stopped to see the house we rented while we lived in Alexandria. This is the house Heather came home from the hospital to, so we took her picture in front of it.

We headed to North Carolina Tuesday afternoon and stayed the night in Fayetteville so that we could spend the next morning with my sister Abby and her family. She made German pancakes and French toast for us for breakfast - very international and very yummy.

We drove from North to South Carolina Wednesday and got lost. We waited in a Baptist church's parking lot, overlooking the graveyard for my brother Tim to come rescue us and that is where we first met up with all the grandparents -- my mom, my dad and my Grandma Blanche -- who flew out for the reunion.

We finally made it to the condos on Lake Moultrie we were staying in, ate something, got the kids off to bed and made plans to play jokes on the aged father for his 65th birthday. Sara, Summer, Rachel and I got up at two and, trying to keep the giggling down, made a pyramid of plastic cups in front of his bedroom door and wrote a message with toothpaste and mini-mini marshmallows. His nickname is Mean Old Ugly Ogre, in case you are wondering.

Here are Summer, Rachel, and Heather playing football with their cousins and some kids that were staying next door Thanksgiving Day. They had a blast.

Everyone loves the Mean Old Ugly Ogre. He almost constantly had some admiring grandchild or another in his footsteps. Here he is on the Lake Moultrie beach with Adele.

We really enjoyed spending time on the beach. We never made it to the Atlantic, but the beach on the lake was nice, too. There were lots of shells...

...and Naomi discovered that sand tastes good salty or not.

Gwen enjoyed the sand too, even though she didn't eat any.

Summer, Rachel and various aunts cut cardboard mustaches out for us all to wear for the family pictures. Here is Kelly looking adorable with fake facial hair.

We ate all kinds of interesting things. Tim deep fried a couple of turkeys for Thanksgiving dinner -- they were delicious. We also ate fried okra, Moon Pie, Grandpa's donuts, Krispy Kreme donuts, shakes from Cookout's, and oysters on the half shell. One thing I love about Stan is his willingness to try new things. Here he is getting ready to swallow his first oyster, it's heart probably still beating.

After having a Thanksgiving, Grandpa's birthday and an all around blast with the family, we headed back north in the van on Saturday. It was fun to take a road trip together in one vehicle, which we haven't done since Mo was born.

We enjoyed seeing the scenery, especially the fall leaves, which, while not as spectacular as New England, were still impressive to us south westerners.

Our trip back to Virginia Saturday included the low point of the trip when I locked the van's keys inside...oops! Poor Stan waited outside near the van, so that we didn't miss the locksmith in weather colder than we usually see all year. Every cloud has a silver lining, though. He bought himself a jar of pickled pig's feet at the gas station we were stuck at. He's been trying to get the kids to try them for months and is planning on having these for his birthday dinner.

We went to church Sunday morning and headed to the airport. I ended up volunteering my seat and taking a different flight than Stan and the six older kids, but we still all made it home within an hour of each other. Stan and I looked at each other and said, "Whew, I can't believe we made it!"