Been on a blog hiatus this last week. Previous Christmases I would have had an excuse, as Mom and Dad did not have high speed internet in Owensville. But they've moved to Jefferson City full-time now, and have moved into the world of technology, as well. Not only do they have high speed, but they also have WIRELESS. You rock, Mom and Dad.
We had a wonderful visit to Missouri! I'll give you some of the highlights now, and when I get home and get through the 217 pictures that we've taken so far on our trip, I'll do a post with solely Christmas pics. But for now, the highlights in words...
Runge Conservation Nature Center: Nina (my mom) took us to Runge one morning. It's a small, but very cool, nature center with several live reptiles (snakes, lizards, large snapping turtles), as well as several stuffed birds, etc. Once Ivie was sure that they were all safely behind the glass, she had a wonderful time getting close up to their cages to check them out. She left happy, with the visit made complete by the plastic butterflies that Nina purchased for her and Macie.
Jefferson City Mall: You wouldn't think that a mall would be a highlight of a trip. But when you put together 8 adults and 7 children, a mall with a play area and several food options is a wonderful place. We visited Jeff City's twice! The kids loved the Sbarro's pizza and running around the playplace, and the adults especially enjoyed the stop at Mr. Bulky's candy shop at the conclusion of visit #2.
Scott's Media Room: For those of you that don't know, my brother owns a custom home building company. Signature Homes, for those of you in the Jeff City area that are thinking about building a new home! He recently completed work on his own family's home, and Dale and I were able to see it for the first time on this trip. What a wonderful house! The ceilings are amazing with their eye-catching detail. But I think Dale's vote for the best room in the house would be the media room, in which they have a 100-inch high definition projection television screen. Absolutely amazing. It was here that we watched the Carolina vs. Evansville basketball game. I think Dale is pricing these things as I type, and trying to figure out where to put one in our house. Going to be hard to go back to our "tiny" (in comparison) television!
Granny and Papa's House: The Schaeperkoetter clan had their traditional Christmas get-together on Sunday. Several years ago, we started a tradition in which Granny gives each of us money for Christmas, and we each go out and purchase our own gifts to bring to the celebration. This way, we each get what we want/need, and Granny and Papa get the fun of seeing what we all chose. Everyone's happy! This year, in case you're wondering, Ivie got a matching game and a doll with a carrier that converts into 5 different seats (front pack, feeding chair, rocking chair, etc.). She carries it everywhere and loves to feed her baby with the included bottle, just like she watches Mommy do with Macie. Macie got a "Dunk and Cheer Basketball Game" that was too big for us to bring back on the plane. So Mom and Dad will ship it out to us. She's got a couple of months before the 6M age on the toy, anyway! Dale and I put our money together to get new sheets for our bed. Not very exciting, but certainly very necessary!
Nina and Papa's House: This is where "it all happened". Even though Mom and Dad have downgraded in the size of their home, it was still plenty of room for us all to congregate over the trip. Scott's clan, who live in Jeff City, too, were able to come over pretty much every evening. And Sarah's clan arrived on Saturday and were still there when we left yesterday. There was enough amazing food to feed our small army for the week (thanks for all your hard work cooking, Mom!), and plenty of toys for the kids to work on "sharing". We enjoyed an evening visit from Gary, Chris, Molly, Abby, and Betsy Alfermann. And we had a very chaotic, yet very fun, present-opening session on Sunday evening. When we left the house for the last time Tuesday morning, Ivie was VERY sad to be leaving her "cuzins".
West Gate Lanes: The Entertainment-of-the-Trip Award definitely has to go to the bowling alley on Monday night. There were 5 adults and 5 kids bowling, with 3 moms (Nina, Bobbie, and me) and 2 too-little kids (Gavin and Macie) just observing. The first 30 minutes or so was pretty much standard bowling (as standard as bowling with kids and bumpers can be!). But when night-time hit the bowling alley, that all changed. The main lights were cut off, and the dance music and strobe lights kicked in. It was ... hilarious. The kids all started break-dancing on an adjacent lane (we pretty much had half the bowling alley to ourselves). I've got some video of this that I will try to post later, as well. It was, quite simply, the absolute best place for our family of 15 to spend our last evening together.
So those were the highlights of our trip. Wonderful times spent with family over the holidays. Quite a blessing.