We've been home now for a week and I'm just now sitting down to write up a post about our Thanksgiving travels. I often say you need a few days off after returning from a vacation just to relax and settle back into the swing of things. If only that were possible! Both Jon and I have been super swamped at work - it's a combination of having too many projects on our plates, coming back after the holidays with everyone refreshed and ready to hit the ground running, and everyone knowing that the Christmas/New Years' season is coming up, which in our industry also means "network freezes" (i.e. no work can get done). So, the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is usually jam packed with every co-worker, manager and client trying to cram in as much as humanly possible into your workload before the end of the year. Wheeee!
That is my long winded way of saying a post about our Thanksgiving trip had to wait until this weekend when I had a breather! ;-)
We took off for New Mexico first, to visit my grandparents. We flew into El Paso, TX which is the closest large airport to my grandparent's town. Logan was a trooper the whole way and did a great job on the flight. Once we landed, we grabbed a bite to eat before hitting the road. The drive to my grandparent's house is about 2.5 hours from El Paso and practically a straight shot the entire way. The land in Western Texas and Southern New Mexico is very flat, dry, barren and wide open. I've actually grown to like the scenery over the years, but I would guess most people thing the terrain is pretty ugly. Logan was most shocked by the lack of cars on the road - there were maybe 60 cars an hour? Hard to say but not too many and we'd have long stretches of just us and the highway. He fell asleep asking where all the cars were. ;-)
We got into my grandparent's house that Friday evening, said our hellos and pretty much settled in. Staying at my grandparent's house with a rambunctious toddler was quite an experience - it was probably most jostling for my grandmother, who is in her mid 80's and recovering from heart surgery she had just a couple of weeks prior, and who isn't used to a lot of action and noise in the house to begin with. Heh. So, I tried to get us out of the house at least once or twice per day, and with the long naps in the middle of the afternoon, I think that helped space things out.
On Saturday, Jon and I took Logan to the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens State Park. They have a lot of natural wildlife available to see from the area which we don't normally see in a typical zoo here. Logan was particularly interested in the mountain lions and bobcats, probably because they just look like bigger version of his cats at home - and anything BIG is good by him. ;-)
On Sunday, Logan and I visited the massive playground along the river while Jon watched football with Clock (who, though he can't see the tv because of his poor eyesight, enjoyed Jon's constant football jabber and score updates throughout the games - it was a match made in heaven). My grandfather Clock was actually probably the most interesting person to Logan on our entire trip - I think because my grandfather would eat with a bib and spill half of his food on his lap - just like Logan! I caught him staring at my grandfather several times when we were at the dinner table together. I can't imagine what was going on in his little head, trying to figure out why an adult was needing just as much help with his food as he did. :)
Over the weekend, we actually sent the nursing help home early one night, because she had some extremely terrible flu-like sickness. And frankly, I was concerned about her exposing any of us at the house (luckily, none of us seemed to catch whatever she had)!! However, that meant that Jon and I (mostly Jon) had to help dress and put my grandfather down to bed for the night (he is paralyzed on the left side of his body since his stroke many years ago). We aren't sure exactly why, but Logan was absolutely TERRIFIED when Jon picked my grandfather up to transition him from the bed, to the wheelchair, and back to the bed again later that night. He screamed and cried, visibly upset and screaming for his Daddy while running to be held by me. We weren't sure if he was just scared and upset, or perhaps jealous.... we saw a little unhappiness from him later in the trip when I was holding baby Stella for a little bit, but it wasn't as extreme as this time with my grandfather. It will be interesting to see how he reacts once the baby arrives in a few months.
Monday, we returned to the playground on the river, this time with Daddy (and a camera for me!). We had an excellent time, as to be expected. Logan was partial to the twisty tunnel slides and took his Daddy on several rides over and over again. We then walked to "The Beach" where we found some ducks (and apparently some geese too, my father tells me) and fed them pieces of bread which Logan was absolutely thrilled about.
Tuesday we had to take off, back on the 2.5 hour long drive to El Paso, to catch a flight over to Austin, TX. We had a wonderful time with my grandparents and I'm really glad we took the opportunity to make our way out to visit them this year.
From Austin, we drove another 1.5 hours before reaching Bryan, TX - where Jon was born and where we'd be spending Thanksgiving with his parents and several siblings and cousins.
The next few days were a whirlwind of activity. We were the first to show up which was actually quite nice since it allowed us and mainly Logan, to settle in and remind himself of the house's layout once more (the last time we visited was last Thanksgiving!). We pulled out the toys we had bought last year and lo and behold, they were still perfectly fine for him to play with. That's the good thing about "new" toys that he hasn't seen in awhile.
On Wednesday, a couple of Jon's brothers and sisters starting arriving into town: Mark (Jon's brother) and Renee flew in from VA, Curtis (Jon's brother), Renee, Luke and Stella flew in from LA, and Kate (Jon's sister) drove in from Houston. Anne (Jon's sister) and her daughter Sydney showed up for the festivities as well (they both live in town). It was wonderful to see everyone after so long! It was especially fun for Logan to spend time with so many of his aunts, uncles and cousins (a couple for the first time!). He was especially taken by his cousin Luke, who is only a couple of months younger. They immediately became fast friends and the two of them ran around the house after each other, or looking after each other. You'd often times hear Logan yelling out: "Wuke? [Where'd] Wuke go? Wuke, [where] are you?"
Thanksgiving day was an even bigger ordeal with MORE family piling in to visit! It's incredible how far reaching Jon's family is and I don't think I'll ever get completely used to it. :) We had an amazing feast with football blaring in the background on every TV in the house. When eating was done, people broke into smaller groups to play cards, watch TV or sit around and catch up on family gossip. Logan would wander from group to group asking anyone (usually an uncle or grandpa) to play cars with him. He loved the attention and the amount of people to choose from, all at his fingertips. ;-)
On Friday, Doy arranged for a Girl's Day Out at the Spa. It was absolutely wonderful! We all had some combination of a pedicure, facial or massage and then gathered around to chat and drink wine (sparkling grape juice for me) and munch on fruit and cheese. Afterward, Kate took a few of us to a fantastic little chocolate shop, around the corner from Nolan and Doy's house, where she went to school with the owner. Each truffle looked like a piece of art and I was mesmerized. I bought the largest box they had with one of each flavor that I could fit in it! :) (We just had a family dinner with my parents and Zane the other night, so I brought the truffles over for dessert. We polished off EVERY LAST ONE OF THEM in one sitting! It was excellent!! Logan was a fan too ;-) I will have to put in an order or two for Kate or Doy to pick up some more the next time they think of it!)
Of course Saturday was then the Boy's Day Out while we women-folk stayed home with the kiddos. The guys took off with a truckload (no joke) of guns and went to a large piece of land owned by a friend of Nolan's where they could shoot targets and whatnot for fun. Jon had a wonderful time with his dad and brothers of course. ;-) Meanwhile, the women lazed around and continued to cook, eat and visit with relatives. It was joyous and relaxing and so much fun.
Sunday was a tough day to leave - we had such a pleasant visit and enjoyed seeing all of our family that it was really sad to say goodbye. On the other hand, we also missed home, missed our own dogs and cats and were looking forward to sleeping in our own beds. We drove the 1.5 hours back to Austin to catch our flight home - the "Nerd Bird" via Alaska Airlines (Jon got a kick out of the nickname). :) We rented one of those DVD players on the plane so that Logan could watch a movie or two - but he seemed to be more content playing with his cowboys and horses and cars, so it was Jon who ended up watching the movie while Logan kept me entertained. It was a bit of a cramped flight home, especially now that Logan has grown so big and my belly is starting to pop. It was particularly annoying anytime he insisted on folding the tray-table down and then get upset that it wouldn't go down all the way. :) This was our last flight with Logan as a lap-child and though we'll be sad to see the free flights go, it will be good to finally get Logan used to his own seat!
The lady next to me happened to be a mother, grandmother, and 2nd grade teacher from the Bay Area, and was particularly patient and forgiving of our son throughout the entire flight. Once we landed, she turned to thank me for how involved and interactive we had been with Logan the entire time. She recognized how much work it was to keep him entertained and said our involvement really showed - he's a bright beautiful smart little boy who was wonderful the entire flight. She said she hoped we continued to do what we were doing - because we seemed to be absolute wonderful parents to Logan and it really showed (she also commented we are the type of parents that teachers dream of - ha! little does she know...).
We are always very proud at how great our little traveler is, coping with our constant trips around the globe in good spirits, but hearing those words from a complete stranger - especially with how sincere and friendly as they were - really warmed my heart. We couldn't have received a nicer compliment nor perfect ending to a great trip! Hope everyone else had as wonderful a Thanksgiving holiday as we did!
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