Brrrrr…….It’s Getting Cold Outside!

Our basic plan of travel is to go North in the summer and South in the winter.  Neither one of us likes the cold much anymore, and I totally despise the summer mega heat and humidity I have lived in all my life.  When your home is on wheels, you can follow the nice, moderate weather all over the country.

We have been making our “south for the winter” plans these last few months. Because we wanted to stay within a reasonable driving distance so we could spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with family, we looked at some RV parks in the northern part of Texas.  We found several places on the internet that looked really nice that were around the Dallas/Fort Worth area.  We wanted to arrive around Nov. 15-16 and leave around January 10-11.  However, when we started calling around, we were having trouble finding a place that had any class A motor coach RV sites available (next year we will have to call earlier).

A little over a month ago we finally lucked into a place called Wagon Master RV Resort in Sanger, Texas. THIS IS WHERE we are right now! Sanger is a little northwest of Dallas (approx. 50 miles). This location is about a two hour drive from Moore, OK, and the grandkids (and Mike and Jennifer, too!). We drove up to Moore, OK, in the car for Thanksgiving.

Jennifer is a great cook, and we had a wonderful Thanksgiving meal with all the trimmings. At the end of the summer, Mike got a smoker, and he wanted to try cooking a turkey in it. Jennifer decided to cook one turkey the regular way in the oven, and Mike would smoke one outside. BOTH were absolutely delicious! I didn’t get any pictures of the full meal, but here are a couple of the turkeys.

The smoked turkey BEFORE and AFTER:

When we arrived Wednesday afternoon, the grandkids had started working on a 1,000 piece Christmas puzzle. It was a pretty hard one in my opinion. We all worked on it at one time or another. Some of us were better at finding pieces that fit; others of us were frustrated at times and had to leave the table. We finally finished the puzzle about an hour before dinner was ready. Here’s a couple of pictures:

We are not big on Black Friday shopping, so we stayed at Mike’s house and watched a “traditional” movie then helped decorate their Christmas tree. Can you guess the movie? Actually, we watched Christmas movies all day long while decorating!

Yes, that’s the Griswald family in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation!

Yes, that is the movie The Elf on the television!

Last Christmas while we were at my parents’ house, Mike found an old train in mom and dad’s mega collection of Christmas decorations. Mike told my dad (unknown to me) that he had always wanted a train set to go around the Christmas tree. My dad said they had not used it in years, so he gave it to Mike. Mike was like a little kid when he got the box out to set up the train around the tree! Here it is in all it’s glory (click the picture to watch):

I think the video was turned when I uploaded it. Hmmmmm? 🤔 I have ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA why that video turned sideways. Maybe some day I will actually figure it out. Oh, well…..

We will drive up to Moore, OK, in the car again for Christmas, and our oldest son, who lives in FL, will fly to OKC to join us. After Christmas Day we will all drive on to Springfield, MO, to have Christmas with Jack’s family, and then on to STL to have Christmas with my family.  Jeff will fly home to FL after the New Year, the grandkids and family will drive to OKC, and we will drive back to Texas.  It will be a long drive back to Sanger, TX, but it will be worth it to see all our family at Christmastime.

Back in June (while we were still living in our house in Dexter) we discovered that some friends of ours who had just purchased an Airstream trailer were going to spend two months in the Phoenix, AZ, area this winter.  They asked us what our plans for the winter were, and when we said we weren’t sure, they asked us to join them there.  So we called the same RV Resort where they had their reservations and made our reservations. Therefore, we will be in Buckeye, AZ, from Jan. 15 – Mar. 15. Starting Mar. 15, we plan to spend about four weeks exploring New Mexico.  Then we will be coming back to the STL area some time mid-to-late April to stay another month.

St. Louis is kind of going to be “home base” for us.  I can help with my parents, and Jack can run down to Springfield to spend time with his mom.   Then, some time in late May, we will be heading north for the summer.  Exactly where we will go up north hasn’t been decided yet. We are thinking Michigan or the Wisconsin Dells.  We will need to get busy, make our plans, and get reservations real SOON! I’ll let you know where we decision in the near future.

So, for now …. “On the Road Again!”

Betty

CHRISTMAS CHAOS: Round #3

Our final Christmas celebration was this past weekend.  After spending Christmas Eve and Day in Oklahoma with our youngest son and his family, and our oldest son who flew in from Florida for the holidays, we returned home the day after Christmas for a couple of days accompanied by our oldest son.  The husband had to work Thursday and Friday, so I did laundry, repacked some clothes, and loaded up the last batch of Christmas gifts and food for the trip to St. Louis on the 28th.

That Friday evening we got together with my side of the family (my parents and two sisters, their families, nieces, nephews, and all the great-nieces).  Also joining us that evening were all of my cousins (who are like brothers and sisters to my sisters and I) and their spouses and families if they were able to make the trip.  Each year one or two cousins can’t make the trip, and we miss them so much.  As you can tell we have quite a large group Friday evening.

At first we just visit and eat, then visit and eat some more.

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Some will play foosball while others…

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…will play with the littler kids.

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Later in the evening, those who want to participate, brought an ornament, and we play that “Stealing Santa” game as an ornament exchange.  Some ornaments never get “stolen” and some ornaments are very popular and get stolen with great regularity.  We always have a blast with all the different styles of ornaments!

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Believe it or not, he is holding an ornament of an angel that is actually is quite pretty.  We all do some pretty silly things at our Christmas get-togethers!

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Then my husband “stole” the angel!!

One of our family traditions is playing Bingo at our Friday night gathering.  The adults bring a variety of “White Elephant” gifts as prizes for those lucky enough to “BINGO!” (see previous post titled “I’m Dreaming of a White Elephant — Ummm CHRISTMAS!” if you don’t know what a white elephant gift is).  It’s always a lot of fun because our Bingo Caller “Pro” is SO funny!!  And all the kids (old and young) enjoy the fun.

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Even the littlest ones take Bingo seriously.

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We look pretty intense here, studying our Bingo cards, don’t we?

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Now, I’m really not sure what Josh is doing…but it looks like he is praying over his Bingo card!

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The twins, Abi and Emma, and Jade are taking a little break while everyone resets their Bingo cards and the caller prepares for the next game.

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Saturday morning we have our traditional Christmas breakfast then exchange gifts with our parents and the smaller children.

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That’s the photo calendar of all our birthdays and anniversarys that I made my parents on Shutterfly.  I also made them a photo album.

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Oh, my!  That’s my dad and his crazy, dancing Santa hat!  Several people had to take turns wearing it.

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Hmmm….I guess we had more than one Santa hat!

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When the little ones start opening gifts, it becomes quite chaotic!

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Years ago my sisters and I and our spouses decided we would stop exchanging gifts.  We all have been VERY blessed through the years.  Instead we take the money we would have spent on one another and put it together (and my parents also contribute).  My sisters and I all live in different towns/cities, so we take turns finding a needy family to buy gifts for or a worthy organization to donate the money to.  Over the years we have helped single parents, parents with extreme health problems, Operation Food Search, flood victims, the Joplin tornado victims, families with very sick children, and families just going through some financially tough times.  We have all agreed numerous times, that our Christmases have become more meaningful as a result.

As my parents got older and our family expanded, shopping for such a large group became quite a burden for them.  They decided to give us and their grandchildren and older great-grandchildren cash instead of gifts.  They REQUIRED ONE thing from us:  We HAD to go shopping that Saturday and spend the money!  After supper that night, we gathered together and would all bring our “gifts” so we could show my parents (and each other) what they got us for Christmas.  Since it is usually after Christmas when we get together, we always see who can get the most/best bargains for our money!  This year we started “The Showing of the Gifts” with the youngest going to the oldest.

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Just a few more pictures of our Christmas Chaos:

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OH!  The silly things Papas and daddys will do for their grandchildren/children!

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Here we are with our two sons, daughter-in-love, and three grandchildren.  My! My!  God has truly blessed us!

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We have had three wonderful, chaotic Christmases this year (as we do most years!).  As the years go by, I have learned to try to savor every single chaotic moment.  I certainly hope you have enjoyed this holiday season with your family and friends.  I also hope and pray that you celebrated the true reason for the season:  the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who came to earth to pay the debt for our sins so we could enjoy eternal life with Him in heaven!  May God bless you throughout the coming new year!

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