"I'll be home for Christmas" is Michelle's favorite Christmas song, and for the first time in several years, it wasn't just "in her dreams". Last week we travelled to Missouri to visit her side of the family.
Over the last year, Michelle has racked up about 3 million or so frequent flyer miles with her job (give or take a few miles), and we were able to use the miles for free tickets to Missouri. We flew out of here on Tuesday and landed in Chicago where as soon as Michelle turned on her phone she was informed that our connecting flight had been canceled. This set off a whirlwind of a few days for us. Michelle finagled a connecting flight for us despite most flights being canceled due to weather. So the three of us made it to Missouri late on Tuesday night, but our luggage didn't make it until Friday. You may notice in the pictures that we are wearing the same things most of the time! We washed our clothes every night, so it wasn't too bad and we managed to turn it into a big joke all week. Our friends, the Duda's, who live in Chicago generously offered to help us locate our bags back in Chi-town, but they eventually arrived just in time to make the return trip back to VA with us.
Anyway, onto the actual visit! We stayed at Grandpa Tony's house all week, and Jack enjoyed Grandpa Tony's cows, horses, dogs, 4-wheelers, chiming clocks, the huge hot-tub like bath, and of course, Grandpa Tony himself.
The first day we were there, we went to Michelle's brothers' house and had Christmas Meal #1 of the week. Grandma Sherri, Michelle's Mom, was there and she spoiled Jack with some great Christmas presents! Mark, Michelle's brother, and his wife Petia smoked a turkey and a ham and had all the fixings to go along with the meal. Everything was great, but the best part of that visit was meeting our new Niece, Sofia! Sofia is a little angel and we were happy to finally meet her. Jack was really good with her too, patting her when she cried and just being very gentle around her. He did however, decide at one point that he wanted his Mommy back when Michelle was holding her, so he said "baby off" and pointed for Sofia to get off Michelle's lap. That was good for us to see as Jack felt he had shared his Mommy long enough and wanted her back.
The 2nd day of our visit, we bounced from house to house, visiting both sets of Michelle's Grandparents, then heading back to Grandpa Tony's house because the proud Grandpa wanted to show Jack around his farm. Another one of Michelle's brothers, McCoy, took us out on 4-wheelers and Jack rode with Grandpa Tony on a Mule (the 4-wheel cart, not an actual animal) and we met Pepsi the horse and saw some cows up close. Jack loves animals and this was certainly one of the highlights of the trip. I had never been on a 4-wheeler before, so I had a blast as well. I half expected myself to flip the thing over or drive it into a tree, but I didn't so I am proud of that. After we were done with the 4-wheelers, we went back to Uncle Mark's house to hang out with Sofia some more.
The 3rd day we were there, we started the day visiting Michelle's Grandparents on her Mom's side before going to Grandma Louise's house for another huge Christmas meal. Michelle's older brother Matthew was there and it was good to see him as well as several of Michelle's cousins. Jack played with Conner, the two year old son of her cousin Angie, all day long. They had met once before, but they buddied around like they had known each other for years. They had a great time and wore each other out. Jack, Michelle and I made out like bandits in the gift department during the family gift exchange too.
After all the fun, visiting, and food, it was time for us to pack up and leave Missouri on Christmas day. In somewhat of a Christmas Miracle, our flights home were on time and uneventful so we got home and put Jack to bed in his own bed. He had to get some good shut-eye because Santa agreed to visit our house on Christmas Night rather than Christmas Eve (wasn't that nice of him?). We will post more about our Christmas at home in the next day or so....