Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Meanwhile, Back in the South

Last week, well, most of the last 2 weeks, our family took a trip back home to OK. Jim was part of a wedding and we figured that as long as we were flying across the country, we ought to turn it into a vacation. And did we ever do that.

It was a 10 day trip that turned into 11 due to weather and it was truly balm for a couple of homesick souls. So busy and fun filled that Jarrett told us he did not want to come back to Jersey. (I'm not sure, but that may have been a commentary on the good times I supply around here on a day to day basis)

One of the first things we did there was head to Fairfax to see Jim's folks and all the cousins. We were so blessed that this happened to be one of the weekends that all 5 of them were there and that it was also James' 7th birthday party. We had a great time watching the kids just jump into life with a heap of cousins and to tell the truth, it made us both a bit sad about living so far away from everyone.

Jarrett the Reindeer

Cara right in the middle of all the big kids.

Barney and Donna's new place required them to clear off several lots. Jarrett thought this was an adventure park. We could hardly get him to come inside the house for birthday cake.

There was a whole lot of wrestling going on and Cara was often right in the middle of it.

Do you think she loves birthday cake?

Jim and his folks. Would you believe that Hazel was thrilled to have everyone together?
Who doesn't love a tire swing?

Giving thanks for the cheeseburgers to come.
I think her Grandpa might be smitten.
She's a giggle box.

All 7 (!) grandkids. I think Grandma and Grandpa's hearts just expanded with each one.

This is exactly how Cara likes to start the morning...and I think it was fine with Grandma too.

Jarrett and Greendad have a lot in common; a passion for soft serve ice cream is tops among them.

Another special thing we did while in OK was to get together with a couple of families whose kids lived with Cara both in the SWI in Zhangjiang and also in TCH in Dongguan. It was a gorgeous day in the park and then we went to dinner at a great restaurant that had a large private room. There were 6 kids and 6 adults, so that room was probably a good thing for our group and the rest of the customers in that day.

Little daredevil.

Action shot.

Surprise bonus! Ran into some wonderful old friends while in the park. We spent a lot of time with this family when we lived in Tulsa and though we have kept in touch through the odd email and Christmas cards, it was nice to actually get to do a bit of catching up.

The kids all enjoyed petting this dog, Wheezy. Very sweet and well mannered 18 month old boxer. I don't know how much longer we are going to make it without a dog...it's like some sort of gravitational pull.

Cara spent a lot of time during dinner that night making sure her "old friend" was doing okay. She would straighten his bib, hold his sippy cup, hand him something to eat. It was so sweet and kind of shocking since most of the time she is a little imp.
3 TCH Buddies

Shriner in the making?
We decided to make this a true vacation and tried to plan a fun activity for each day. On this day Jim, J and Greendad went fishing. I think it was cold but J said it was a lot of fun. Cara and I went with Mimi and Ethel to check something out at a cemetery. Now, that may not sound like a "fun activity" for Cara but it was during nap time, which she took full advantage of, and napping is definitely one of her favorite activities. Takes after her Momma. On a separate note...did you know that Bob Wills and Sam Kinneson are buried in Tulsa?

I don't know why J loves fishing so much...he doesn't actually do much of it.

I hate to encourage any OU inclinations...but I know this photo will make the kids' Uncle Robert smile.
The next day's fun activity was a trip Mohawk Park and the zoo. It was a gorgeous day, bordering on hot...in February!
If you are taking a pic of J...you are likely to be taking an "action shot".

Keely spent a lot of time corralling J and C. They are strangely fast on the take-off.

Jarrett took a brief pause for a pic with Mimi.

I love these ladies! They are still raising me, at 40+, and never complain.

Look at what Greendad found loose at the zoo!

The zoo was a workout.

Jarrett loved looking at the elephants.
Ethel and Mime stayed in the hotel room across the hall and the kids had a great time running over there to play...they even brought a toybox!

Another fun activity...Greendad and Nanita (Mimama) took us to the Tulsa Aquarium. I think it was Anita's idea and it was a great one! The kids loved it and so did the adults. I would actually like to go back someday and just sit under the sharks and daydream. Very relaxaxing.

They fed the turtles,
Posed with Nanita,
Pet sharks and stingrays,

And fed their new toys to the gator.
That evening, we ordered a bunch of pizzas and had friends and family over to the hotel to eat and visit in the "continental breakfast" room. It was hilarious watching all those kids sit and eat calmly together, and then roll around on the floor together. One friend that was there compared them to puppies...pretty good way to put it.

The next morning, we loaded up the car and headed to Branson for the wedding. Auntie and Uncle went with us to play and also watch the kids during the evening while we did wedding stuff. The kids had a great time with them and they all had big adventures in the hotel...great stories! Unfortunately...no photos. The one below we took as they were leaving us at the airport.

The trip to the airport was kind of a bust because when we got there we found out the first leg of our trip was cancelled due to weather. So, we loaded the car back up and headed to Jim's Uncle's house. It wasn't exactly welcome news to us and added a bit of stress since we weren't even sure we would be able to fly home the next day due to the snow in Newark...but still we loved getting to spend some time with his sweet uncle and Greendad came over for another visit, so no complaints from me.