FLORIDA!

I am SO sorry I haven’t published anything on this blog for a while. I guess some times we all just need to take a break from everything and just relax. That is exactly what we’ve been doing: relaxing and resting.

We have been in Florida for about eleven weeks now. We haven’t done a lot of “exploring” per se because we have visited and vacationed in the state numerous times. We have explored the city of Ocala, taken walks around the RV park, and generally just spent some time relaxing. Also, we have spent some time with our oldest son, Jeff, who lives about 45 minutes from where we are staying, as well as visiting with some Missouri friends that moved to Florida about the same time we started RVing.

We spent Thanksgiving weekend with Jeff and had a traditional Thanksgiving meal. Don’t get too excited…he didn’t cook; I did! ūüėā That’s OK; I enjoyed fixing the small feast for the three of us. We also attended a truly wonderful benefit concert, “Stop Children’s Cancer – Holiday Traditions: A Musical Celebration,” that our son co-emceed. The concert featured the Alachua County Youth Orchestra, several area high school choirs and ensembles, and featured soloists who were childhood cancer survivors. It was truly a blessing to all who attended and raised a lot of money for children’s cancer research.

That is our son, Jeff, on the far right next to the Christmas tree.

After the concert we went with Jeff to his work Christmas Party. It was nice to meet his coworkers and the students/future weather casters he is mentoring.

Around the middle of December we visited our Missouri friends, Bill and Connie, who had moved to Deland, FL. We attended Bill and Connie’s community choir Christmas Concert, their church’s Christmas Cantata where they were in the handbell choir, and numerous neighbors’ “block” parties. Their neighborhood likes to get together and have parties! What fun!! It was a wonderful weekend filled with meeting new friends, listening to beautiful Christmas music, delicious food, and A LOT of laughter.

The Vee Gees’ (stands for Victoria Gardens, the name of their community) Christmas performance.

Bill and Connie (on the end of each row; right side of picture) ringing their bells at their church’s Christmas program.

Their church choir performing their cantata.

December 22nd we headed out in the car to what I affectionately call our “Christmas Tour.” We drove two long days to get to Edmond, OK, for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with our youngest son, Mike, and his family. As always, we attended Christmas Eve church service and had a wonderful Christmas Day with the grandkids and family.

Jackson has discovered the photo ‚Äúeffects‚ÄĚ button! ūüėā

The day after Christmas we headed to Missouri. We stopped in Springfield to visit with Jack’s mom and his sister and her husband.

Then it was on to St. Louis to see my folks and wait for the rest of the family to come in the next weekend so we could have our Christmas with them. After a busy, hectic, but fun weekend, we all met Sunday morning at McDonald’s for breakfast and our final goodbyes. It is always bittersweet lining up at McDonald’s and hugging every one, saying good bye, and watching them all depart for their homes in Indiana, Oklahoma, and Florida.

I‚Äôm not too sure these two are enjoying each other‚Äôs company. ūüėā

After shopping and spending all our Christmas money, it’s time for a nap!

Grandpa Gary and all his grandkids with spouses and great-grandkids!

Jeff flew home to Florida the day everyone else headed home because Jack and I were staying for a few more days in STL before driving back to Florida. I visited mom at Sunrise of Des Peres several times, helped dad get out his “Holiday” photo card, and even squeezed in some “girl time” with my younger sister, Lisa.

We headed back to Florida January 4th with a planned stop in Dexter, MO. We took our cute little Shih Tzu, Zoey, to her former groomer while we visited with some close friends for a couple of hours. Then we made a stop at the veterinarian’s office for Zoey’s annual shots. Needless to say, she was not happy with us after that. Then we really got “on the road” back to Florida. Our goal was to make it to the other side of Chattanooga before stopping for the night.

We made it, but it was a very long, exhausting day and evening of driving in a slow drizzle of rain and mist. We got up the next morning for the final leg of our 2700+ mile “Christmas Tour.” By the time we made it back to the RV at Silver Springs, FL, we were tired and so happy to be home. Yes, the RV truly feels like home by now!

So, for now ….. “On the Road Again!”

Betty

I’m Dreaming of a White ELEPHANT — Ummm — Christmas! aka: CHRISTMAS CHAOS Round #1

Our Christmases are always pretty crazy.¬† My husband and I live in southeast Missouri, our oldest son lives in Florida, and our youngest son and his family¬†live in Oklahoma.¬† Most of my husband’s family live in southwest and central¬†Missouri, and I have family in St. Louis and Indiana.¬† Therefore, you can logically conclude that we spend a lot of time during the holidays traveling to see family, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Our first Christmas gathering was the weekend before Christmas Day¬†with my husband’s family in southwest Missouri.¬† We all gathered at my husband’s sister’s house just outside of Springfield.¬† Words cannot express how thankful we are for her and her husband’s¬†willingness to have us all over.¬† We¬†stuffed ourselves on all the wonderful food everyone brought and exchanged gifts.¬† This year we decided to exchange WHITE ELEPHANT gifts instead of purchasing gifts, and, of course, we played the “stealing Santa” game thing.¬† For those of you¬†who don’t know what a white elephant gift is, it is an item you already have around the house that you either don’t want any more, never used, or simply just didn’t like/want (YES! Legal re-gifting!).¬† There were some pretty interesting white elephants in the room that day along with much laughter!

Later the guys went downstairs to play some¬†pool and watch the Mizzou basketball game.¬†¬†The ladies stayed upstairs,¬†entertained Owen (the newest member of our family) with funny faces and “baby talk” (which I’m positive he understood every single word!),¬†visited, and played Catch Phrase.¬† Of course, we all went back to the¬†kitchen and dining room¬†numerous time to do some more munching¬†on all that delicious food!

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This last picture is my favorite picture of them all!  (L to R: my husband, his sister, mom, and brother)

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We really had a wonderful time that weekend,¬†and we all truly missed those family members who couldn’t be there.¬† Hopefully we will all be able to get together for a visit very soon.

NEXT:  On to Round #2 of Christmas Chaos! 

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