So, the last few times we've been to visit The Wife's family in the midwest it's been for Christmastime, and Julie had been thinking how much she missed seeing her home in the bloom of summer, or at least the leafy colors of fall, so we decided to take our visit a little earlier this year. We were so excited to get away from work for an entire week and spend time with Mom, Dad, Marci, William, Marissa and even Tyler for a day or two. It was an awesome vacation, fun and full of family activities, but also really relaxing. (I mean, we do love our Disney vacations, but seriously, you're going non-stop on a trip like that, and you need a vacation from the vacation. With this one, though we came home grudgingly, we at least came home feeling relaxed and refreshed.) It was so great spending time with the kids and playing games with the family (favorites were Donkey Kong Country Returns on the Wii and Settlers of Catan, of course), shopping at Osage Beach, going to the kids' piano lessons, watching good movies and eating great food, and getting to know the puppy, temporarily named Puppy. (Puppyyyyy!) We spent the days:
- ... Hanging out around the house. Sometimes there wasn't much to do, and there is nothing wrong with that!
|Hee hee hee... I caught her clandestinely. I love it when my wife plays the piano.|
|William just refused to stop losing his teeth. This was the second one in a week!|
|Here is Julie patronizing Marissa's shredded carrot stand, which she started when Mom bought a new little kitchen tool.|
- ... Watching the kids play soccer! William and Marissa both play for local teams, so we were able to see both of them play, either in a game or at practice.
|The gals are hip in their shades.|
|This is me holding a Marissa burrito.|
|Julie looks great in Marissa's sweater. She held onto it as we watched her practice.|
- ... Going to an cool international fair at the college. They had booths for many many international locations, live entertainment, exotic foods to purchase, and passports for the kids to run around to fill with stamps from various countries. They even had a little petting zoo.
Then we did a little walking around, stopped at the used bookstore, and the kids took turns having piggy-back/shoulder rides.
And then we had our own little international feast of sticky rice and Hmong egg rolls. They turned out great, if I do say so myself.
|Yes, we actually did pack our very own sticky rice pot and basket, just for this very purpose.|
|It was worth it. I even made kua txob!|
- ... Attending a ceremony where Tyler was inducted into the local college's hall of fame for his performance as a swimmer during his glory days. They were even honored at the Homecoming football game, with fireworks and everything! William was really excited to go to a real football game, though we only stayed there for a few minutes.
|You totally love football, don't you Wife?|
|I really liked the marching band, who did a medley of Michael Jackson songs. During Thriller they all put down their instruments and did the dance and everything.|
- ... Visiting nearby Onandaga cave! Unlike Timpanogos Cave, there was no hike involved whatsoever, but like Timpanogos Cave, it was really cold inside. It was so cool, and Julie took dozens of photos of pretty neat things (some of which turned out), but I'll just include a very few here.
|Those are some humongous stalagmites. (See Marissa and Dad in the foreground for scale)|
|Can you see the stairway on the left? That is one huge flowstone formation!|
|The lily pad room!|
- ... Running not one, but TWO 5Ks with the family. Our first Saturday (24 September) we ran on for JDRF's Run to Cure Diabetes at the local Lions' Club Park. Everyone participated, and Tyler and I both placed in our age group! (He took 1st, I took 2nd, 21:25, about 6:30/mile, 3rd overall, 2nd in age group.) It was slightly less than a full 5K, but it was a really nice course on paved paths away from busy roads, and the weather was awesome.
|I think this might have been the day William learned that orange peel smile trick.|
|Marci is hardcore. I don't think Tyler realized that was the idea for this picture.|
|Mom says she didn't mean to cover my face, but I just don't know! I was probably making a ridiculous expression anyway. Also, Puppyyyyy!|
|There we go.|
|I am a champion!|
|But srsly, I know how to take a normal picture.|
|Tyler DID get the hardcore memo for this one.|
|Sisters do as sisters should! Matching-matching purple-squared.|
|Puppyyyyy! We were pushing for the name Jude, but the kids weren't entirely sold on it for whatever reason.|
|Julie loves the puppy too. (Did I already say "Puppyyyyy!"?)|
|Why yes, I'm secure enough in my masculinity to wear this shirt. I wore it all the way home.|
- ... Snuggling with the kitty. This is Owen, Julie's Kitty Boyfriend.
- ... And then, finally, finally, seeing the Gateway Arch on the way to the airport on our last day. I've been wanting to see this every time we've been through St. Louis (just because, I mean, well, it's a major national landmark, right??), and we had just enough time. It was huge! And very shiny. And super tall. Like 600+ feet tall. Marci didn't do so well with that bit, but I really liked it, especially going up in those space-age elevator pods.
|I know this one is blurry, but it's so cute I decided to include it anyway.|
|It was really windy, if I recall.|
And then, alas, it was time to come home. We were in a huge rush though, so at least it wasn't such a painful and drawn-out goodbye. We can't wait to come back and visit again! Thanks for everything, Rolla Crew!
|This is Julie's "Phew, we barely made it to our flight, hopefully we get to sit together." (We didn't.)|
|This is my "We made it to Vegas, this is a really expensive sandwich, hopefully we get to sit together for the last leg of the trip." (We did.)|