Happy New Year!

Okay I realize this post is waaaaay overdue but I have a good excuse.... I lost my momentum to post when a virus took over my laptop. We've been bug free for a couple of weeks now so it's time I finally shared the details of our trip north.
Of course you know we squeezed in a ton of activity, visiting family and friends and enjoying the winter weather. True to form we also overdid it again, taking over 500 pictures, (many of them are of the scenery on the road.) Follow this link to view some of our favorite moments.
Let me start by saying it was a very special Christmas, a cold and snowy one. The one thing the kids all wanted for Christmas was a day of play in the snow. They were so thrilled to find snow already waiting for us when we arrived. Most of the drive up was uneventful, long but fairly easy. When we finally came to the snow just north of Salem, Oregon time began to stand still along with the traffic. It took 10hrs to drive the final 240 miles. By the grace of God we finally arrived at 2am Christmas Eve morning. Thank the Lord for good friends, the Potter's graciously allowed us to block off their driveway and crash all over their house. The humans were very tired and ready to sleep, unfortunately the dogs were not, (yes we brought all 3, and they have 2.) Needless to say we all got very little rest and by 7:30am I was outside shoveling snow to move the trailer and detach the truck. Lucky for Rob he missed all this excitement and flew up from San Antonio.
After retrieving Rob from the airport I put him straight to work shoveling more snow and moving the trailer again. (My parking job was not gonna last.) Once we finally felt satisfied the trailer was in a safe place, we bundled the kids up and took them to church for the Candle Light Christmas Eve service. It was great to be back at NLC and it really did a lot to lift our spirits. After church we met up with family for dinner.
Exhausted from the drive and day of shoveling we settled down for a long winters' nap in our trailer and awoke on Christmas morning to even more snow! Hot chocolate and a devotion started our morning, then the kids opened their stockings. It seemed extra special to spend Christmas morning in our trailer, (almost like camping.) After the kids had their fill of candy we loaded them up in the car to make the rounds. First to Grandma Judi's for pancakes, then off to Aunt Sherry's to open gifts with Rob's parents and playtime with cousins. The kids were dying to play in the snow so after we opened gifts we bundled them up as best as we could with our TX wardrobe and sent them out. It was great and the dogs loved it too. It only took a couple of hours before they all were ready to be done and come back in from the cold.
With only a few days left to visit we did our best to catch up with as many friends as possible. First we hopped on the ferry for a sleepover with the Taylor's on Whidbey Island. It was nice to slow down for a bit and just relax and catch up. Rob and Bob played chess, the girls all hung out, talking and giggling for hours. The boys tested the limits of a house built for girls and I had to squeeze in some laundry of course. (A mothers' work is never done, lol!) After our sleepover the dads' took the kids to a movie so that we moms could get some shopping in. Boy do I miss Trader Joe's!
When shopping was done we finally took a break to visit with our host family the Potter's. Kari treated us all to a delicious meal and after, the kids treated us all to a show. When we weren't fussing with the sound or video on the TV, we all had a good laugh watching them sing along to guitar praise and dance dance revolution. Between our 2 families we make a pretty great worship team.
Little by little the snow continued to melt and re-freeze over night, creating a slushy mess. Getting around became better and worse all at once. We braved the roads again and headed out to church. It was really fun to see old friends, immediately we made plans to hook up for a lunch date with the Smith's and the Antinelli's. Buffet food is the way to go when you've got 14 mouths to feed. Everyone was happily fed but sad to have to say goodbye so soon. Plans for camping together next summer will have to hold us over for now.
Of course visiting that day wasn't over yet, we managed to squeeze in a stop over to see Maria, Doug and the boys and then a visit with the Geiszler's before catching up with family for a turkey dinner. My mom hosted us one final time and unexpectedly my cousin proposed to his girlfriend at the dinner!
For our final day in the area we drove back out to Rob's sisters for more visits with his parents and the kids. Sherry had been sick with the flu on Christmas day, fortunately she was all better and could actually sit and visit with us. As much as we wanted to just hang out, we had to get packed to head back south. I was able to organize and load everything back into the trailer fairly easily and I even finished up in time for dinner and a visit with Debby!
Departing from Lynnwood was bittersweet, we miss it so much but honestly everyone was tired and eager for some sunshine to re-energize. Of course heading south required a few detours, first a stop over in Longview to visit with extended family, the Gregg's. They have been a great support for us and it was nice to share in the season with them. We didn't make it very far before parking the trailer for a sleepover with yet more family, the Schroeder's in east Portland.
The bonus to stopping over in Portland included a night out with my cousin, Tami. I was able to join her for a special event downtown, opening night for the musical adaptation of The Color Purple! It was fun and really special to spend some quality time with Tami, something we haven't done in years. We already preplanned to play it safe and stay over and spend an extra night, New Years Eve in Gresham. Lori made a feast for us, Richard tried to keep up with the boys, Angela kept the girls entertained with pictionary and the rest of us just goofed off.
We got a late start on the 1st, another day without sunshine and driving through the mucky weather was a good reminder of why we moved to San Antonio. On the 2nd day we had a bit of wake-up call when I narrowly escaped an attack from a pitbull at a gas station in northern California. Thanks be to God and everyone's prayers, He was watching out for us all the way. Ask me sometime and I'll share with you what happened. After 2 more days of driving we finally made it back to San Antonio around dinner time on the 4th.
We wasted no time unloading the truck and trailer and filled our family room with piles and piles of gifts, laundry and bedding. Fortunately Rob had a couple of extra vacation days to rest up before returning to work. The kids spent 3 days in their pj's while I washed load after load after load of laundry.
Looking back on it all now, for all the driving and running around, there's no question it was an amazing adventure full of life long priceless memories.