I’m writing this as we have just reached 10,000 feet (approved portable electronic devices are now able to be used) on our first of two flights to get home from a wonderful weekend at GG and Granpa’s house.
Though we couldn’t make it until the day after Thanksgiving, they had plenty of leftover turkey, ham, stuffing, cranberry sauce and all of the other fixins we’ve come to enjoy.
The whole family was there; GG and Granpa (of course), the four Stephens kids, each with their respective spouse, and all of the grandchildren. That’s 16 people in one house for four straight days!
It’s also the last time we’ll all be together for the foreseeable future. That’s because my brother, Tim, and his wife, Crystal, and their two boys, Samuel (3) and Joshua (16 months), are moving to China in just two months. They will be there for two years before being able to come back. Not to worry though, as Samuel pointed out, “I’ll see you on Skyke (Skype)!” The technology today really does make separation much less difficult. Earlier this year, my Dad and I used FaceTime to connect with Karie and my Mum from both Australia and Papua New Guinea as we embarked on a journey through the jungles of the Kokoda Track. (Read more about our journey here).
I can’t imagine what it’s like to grow up having known no other circumstance than that of having iPhones, Skype, FaceTime and immediate responses to any question via Google, amongst other things.
Anyway, we packed several activities into our short time together. On Saturday, we visited the Magic House (click here to visit their site). It’s a children’s museum that will keep any child, or adult for that matter, busy for hours. It was harder for me to keep track of Karie than the boys as she kept sneaking off to try one of the hands-on exhibits for herself without those pesky kids taking away time from her turn.
As I expected, Mikey and Mason were most excited by the Lego exhibit. They found the Lego sculptures to be very interesting, but couldn’t wait to get upstairs for a chance to build their own masterpieces. I managed to pry them away from the Legos and then we tried fingerprinting, finding a secret passage way through a moving bookshelf and finally made our way down to the construction site. The boys donned their hard hats and orange working vests and got right to work shoveling gravel and “driving” the bobcat. The construction site was an outdoor exhibit and we got a real taste of what working construction in the winters of St. Louis would be like. FRIGID!! It took some convincing, but we managed to get the boys back inside. After checking out a few more exhibits we were off to lunch and then back to GG and Granpa’s for a rest, at least for the adults.
The grandkids, ranging in age from 3 months to 6 years old, played with all of Uncle Tim’s Legos in the basement for hours while various parents and babies took much needed naps. Before we knew it, it was dinner time and we put a serious dent in the rest of the leftovers from thanksgiving. Once all of the kids were in bed, the grown ups played Bananagrams, blogged, watched movies and enjoyed lots of laughs together. Tim also showed us photos and a presentation about the Medical clinic where he will be working in China.
Sunday was another fun filled day. Granpa took the kids out to the backyard, where they played with the autumn leaves, frisbees, footballs, tennis balls and a baseball bat, and even a small fire truck and wheelbarrow ride. We have been planning a fall photo shoot with the autumn leaves for the Seasons of Family series. So it was great to get Mikey and Mason interested in throwing the leaves on mommy and daddy. Stay tuned for that post as the fall shoot is scheduled in two more days.
After the backyard, Granpa took us out to the ice skating rink. The boys had talked about ice skating with Granpa for about a month and were really excited to go. After only a couple minutes on the ice, Mikey was skating on his own and got really mad at me for holding on to him when Karie was taking a picture. He didn’t want the pictures to show him holding on to anything. Mason zoomed around on one foot with Granpa holding him up. Just outside the skating rink there’s a wood fire that the staff keep burning so chaperones and skaters can keep warm while listening to Christmas music. It made me think of how California would never allow such a practice due to all of the “spare the air” days. I love where we live, but it sure would be nice to have a wood fire every now and again. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the fire for a few moments and then we were back off to GG and Granpa’s for the dreaded family picture time.
Trying to get ten adults and six children (remember they’re all under 6 years old) to cooperate all at the same moment as my the shutter of my camera opens, while being activated by a wireless remote so the kids don’t even have a person to look at is nearly impossible. We managed to get a couple of reasonably good photos out of about 35 that I took. We also took a photo of GG and Granpa with all of the grandkids and a few of the individual families to adorn GG’s wall.
Aunty Meli and Uncle Bryan had to leave after family pictures and we all said our goodbyes. The rest of us enjoyed our last night together just relaxing in the living room (sort of… Crystal and Tim were finishing sorting through items to take to China or leave behind, Janet was putting in orders for her small business (Thirty-One), and I was editing photos while convincing Karie to write my blog post about Mason’s birthday party). I’m sure you’re all upset to find out that I occasionally outsource my labor to my wife. She’s a much better writer than I am.
Tim, Crystal and their boys had to leave for the airport at 4:30 the next morning so we said goodnight and goodbye and wished them well in their move to China. Then we all went to bed. The next morning was mostly spent gathering all of our things from various locations in the house and each of the cars in preparation for the trip home.
Little did we know, Aunty Janet and Uncle Brandon, and of course their two little girls, Addy (2) and Hannah (3 months), would be on the same first flight as us.
That brings us to now. We’re cruising high in the air somewhere between St. Louis and Las Vegas. Mikey is watching Monsters, Inc. Mason is playing some type of game on Karie’s phone, while Karie reads a book about Adele for her current history of rock class. Janet, Brandon, Addy, and Hannah are sitting in front of me and I occasionally see Addy peek through the seats at Mikey or me.
It was a great visit, but it will be good to be home. At least until I get there and decide I’d rather go away again.
I hope everyone had as good a Thanksgiving as we did.