We spent Thanksgiving in Virginia. We drove over 3000 miles in the rental mini van and it was crazy! Anna loved that there was a “flippy TV” just for her and we don’t really buy DVDs but we picked up a few for her to enjoy for the drive. Isaac and Anna did a great job on the drive. Our stops on our way north included a the Fire Museum of Texas in Beaumont and the grounds of the capitol in Baton Rogue. We had fun in Beaumont, there was a cab of a fire truck to sit in, and so many artifacts from the history of fighting fires: old pumps, sprinklers, switchboards, and even a cross-section of the some early attempts at city-wide plumbing made of wood.
The kids were excited to arrive at the Mikulas farm in Virginia, almost as excited as the grandparents were to see them. We had a fun, laid back holiday week in town. The weather fluctuated from t-shirt wonderful to inches of snow all in the 5 days we were there and it was a blast.
Anna and I made some snowmen after she and Jacob pummeled me with snowballs. Anna was astute enough to notice when the precipitation changed from snow to rain and wanted to go in. We warmed up with lunch and crafts and MeMe had put some presents under the tree for an early Christmas. Isaac opened his by himself but barely noticed when Anna took it. He kept himself busy with the wrappings. But they did fight over the toy once Isaac understood that the monkey/jack-in-the-box was a fun toy, not just a box.
Aunty Rachel and MeMe bought a craft-store worth of activities for my craft-loving girl. We spent two whole mornings making ornaments for the tree that Rachel and Pop Pop got for the dining room. The tree smelled wonderful. The ornaments were foam creations, paint chip trees, and some special ones MeMe and Auntie sewed that had Rainbow Dash and cute sheep and a nativity scene. They worked so hard to decorate that tree.
Anna loves to play house in MeMe’s kitchen where she rolls out playdough pancakes and serves them up hot. Isaac fell right back into the groove of enjoying some football watching. And my father and husband had a tendency to talk shop whether it was about guns or videos and photography. Anna recently started making youtube videos with Jacob and my dad’s most recent hobby is making videos about his tractors. Isaac stayed busy this trip by scooting around in his walker and figuring out how to crawl up the one step that divides the living room from the kitchen.
My mom constantly was making desserts for us. Anna’s half-birthday fell on the Monday we were there so, with candles and all, we had a little celebration. There were also pumpkin pies and cheesecakes and it isn’t a holiday in Troutville if Rachel doesn’t make chex mix.
Jacob and I practiced shooting on Thanksgiving day while the turkey was roasting. It was fun, even if our fingers were cold, to get a break from the kids and take out some targets. Jacob has more practice with the handguns and gave me some pointers.
Uncle Jonny even got some time off to hang out with us, which is a rare treat we are super grateful for. He and Anna played bunker with her cannon and binoculars forever, attacking the enemy. The kids love him so much. After a fun play time together one morning we told Anna that Aunty and Uncle would be back soon. I think Rachel returned without Jonny and Anna’s immediate question was where is Uncle Jonny. We love you too Aunty, I promise!
In my baby book are some sentences and cartoons my big sister had written for me. I told Rachel that Anna is learning to read so she should make some for Anna too. They spent an evening talking about alligators and bears. Anna helped Rachel illustrate her sentences. Then next day, Anna had written the (important) letters of the sentence out from memory and drawn another picture with it. I always love seeing things click for my little girl. Anna’s sentence: the AlliGator SwaM Down the RiVer.
The drive back home was an adventure. We stopped at a fossil dig site with a neat museum on the first day and arrived in Huntsville the first night after driving through the back roads of Tennessee all day.
We visited the space center before getting on the road the second day and we had a blast. Anna didn’t want to leave the museum, we had to coax her into enjoying the outdoor attractions (missiles, the space shuttle!, a replica of the moon lander, among other awesome military vehicles) since she was so entertained by the space center’s awesome museum set up. We landed virtual space shuttles, we were blown away by simulations of boosters, and flipped a pile of switches while laying on our backs in a capsule just like astronauts. Isaac loved touching everything, seeing the divers training for space, and the space-themed crawling area made just for his age group.
In Tuscaloosa, we found the ruins of the old capitol of Alabama and Anna shot a little video with some facts about it. You should go watch it. The weather was beautifully warm. Our last day of driving Isaac didn’t feel very well so we made a lone stop at the Houston IKEA for some refueling and a couple picture frames and soon we were home sweet home and getting out seminary lessons ready for the following week. It is so much fun spending the holidays with family. I’m so glad we could spend so much time with my family this fall!