Well since my parents moved from Las Vegas to Columbus, Ohio in the fall (yes, they were only in Vegas for a year and yes it's a long story), we were able to make our third road trip and see our thrid new place of the year!! (Hope, Arkansas and Vegas in spring and summer -- it's been a busy traveling year for us!) Columbus is about 15 hours away and I was completely bonkers and decided that we could do it all in one day. Especially since we decided to stop in Kentucky and see Chopper's sister Jeri and her family. That would make it only 13 hours which is totally doable.
Our first day of driving we stopped about 3 hours from Jeri's and got a hotel. Our second day was 3 hours to Jeri's and then we spent the day and night there. Then our third day was about 4 hours to Grandma and Grandpa's house. Needless to say, we were glad to be out of the car for a while! It was particularly good to see Jeri and Billy because we don't ever really see any of Chopper's family -- hopefully that changes this summer and they all come to the family reunion! We also met her daughter Lindsay and her boyfriend and son. We had really good visiting time. No pictures. Sorry. I wasn't thinking.
Of course getting to Grandma's house meant "new" toys so that was nice. But kind've weird to hear myself say, "William we don't hit with the guns, we shoot with the guns." Nerf guns. Still.
Our road trips this year have really made me want to move. Mainly because we don't have any great places that are a day trip away in Texas. Or tall trees. Or hills. I like Texas, I really do, but I want to be more outdoorsy and it's hard to do that here I think.
We took a day trip in Ohio to Hocking Hills state park and it was beautiful! Although we had planned and hoped for snow in Ohio, we had warmer weather and lots of rain. But our day at Cedar Falls and Ash Cave was pretty much perfect. Misty but not rainy, overcast but not cold. And each of the sites that we visited was about a 1/2 mile walk in and gorgeous. I really want to go back this summer and explore some more of what's up there.
Old hand pump -- fun for the kids to try and hard to do!
There was a sign at the beginning of each trail that hikers needed to stay on marked paths because of the cliff faces and closely supervise children. Good warning considering that William just likes to run and nearly fell off a cliff when we were hiking in Vegas last summer! My running is really coming in handy as I try to keep up with him!
The whole area was so beautiful. The kids were amazed at how tall the trees were (they tend to be stumpy in Texas) and the moisture in the area coated a lot of the rocks with moss. It felt in a lot of ways that we were in the Pacific Northwest -- although I've never been to the Pacific Northwest and have to take my brother's word for it.
In front of Cedar Falls after William walked through a huge puddle and soaked his feet!
Mom and Dad and my brothers Jeff and James went with us and also had a great time (even if it doesn't look like it).
I have a lot of pictures that show the perspective of height. Although I guess the elevation technically makes them hills, not mountains.
One view of Ash Cave
That's William on the left and that's how tall this wall of rock is!
Megan and Abby running to me from across the sand.
A really good day trip!! Incidentally. Once of the hiking trails is the Grandma Gatewood trail. I just read a book called Grandma Gatewood's Walk in the beginning of December. She was the first woman to through-hike the Appalachian trail and she was in her 60s or 70s when she did it. She wore Keds, carried her spare clothes and food in a burlap sack, and relied heavily on the hospitality of strangers to finish her trek. The book isn't an amazing read but it's pretty good and it was then fun to end up on a trail that she helped create after her Appalachian treks.
We finally did our gingerbread houses!! I've decided that this is a tradition that's pretty much a complete waste but we're keeping it because they love it so much. And this year I bought house cookie cutters that made it so much easier!
William got a wonky graham cracker house but ate all his candy anyway.
Megan's very neat and detailed house.
William's candy-less house (he didn't like the licorice)
Abby's cover-everything-in-candy house
Christmas Eve we opened presents from family. This year we had the kids buy each other presents (that we paid for). I liked them thinking about each other but I think next year I'll come up with a way for them to earn the money and work for it more.
In my family we rotate family names and I had my brother Mark and his family. I found an online tutorial for a cloth doll and made that with a quilt and pillow for their 10-month old daughter. It turned out absolutely adorable and I want to make more!! Bonus -- even at just 10 months, she loves it and plays with it and it doesn't have any parts that she can chew off!! I have a picture of the whole set on my phone I think so I'll have to find it and post it.
Christmas Eve after Santa came and pre-discovery.
The girls were up around 6. Fortunately they were kept busy by the contents of their stockings because it wasn't until nearly 8 that everyone was up and ready to go! We let the kids open presents first and then the adults took turns and had a lot of fun laughing and talking while the kids played with their toys.
William got all the Paw Patrol vehicles which was his favorite thing. The girls got a lot of animals this year that are digitized and can sing, do tricks, etc. Who needs a real pet??
Uncle Jeff (above) and Uncle James got lots of car emergency stuff from Grandma.
It was a good Christmas for us all!
The day after we went to the Columbus Zoo. They have a lot of lights throughout the grounds. We started in the afternoon and had a great time seeing the animals, riding the train, and were there when the lights were turned on even though it wasn't fully dark. We did get rained on though and left pretty cold and wet but it was worth it. Afterwards, we ate dinner at City Barbeque -- and we highly HIGHLY recommend it!
If there's a train, we have a to ride it!
Being prairie dogs
Or climbing over the display.
Abby's favorite thing to do was pose with the animal sculptures. When they were carnivorous, she especially liked to pose as if they were eating her.
This cracked me up. We didn't take a stroller because I didn't think it was necessary. Then we get there and William has a complete and total meltdown so we rented a stroller and strapped him in. After about 10 minutes of screaming, he realized we were at a zoo and there were cool things to look at and his coat wasn't killing him (because that's what started it, putting on his coat) and he didn't want to ride in the stroller anymore. But towards the end of the trip I had his blankets tucked in a pocket in the back. The designated spot for comfort from his rees (blankets) is against his mouth and nose. So instead of taking them out and holding them, he sticks his head in and walks like this. I thought it was pretty funny actually -- hence the pictures!
Once the rain started, it didn't stop and we spent most of our time inside playing with new toys before driving back (2 days of about 9 hours each, much better) and arriving home on New Year's Eve where we went to bed and didn't ring in the New Year. Now the decorations are down, I've begun to purge and organize, and the kids go back to school tomorrow.
I'm glad we went. I'm grateful we were able to spend time with family and that we didn't have any horrible bad weather or problems along the way. I'm excited for this new year and grateful for the blessings we've had in the old!