Monday, January 13, 2020

Happiest of Holidays

December 20, 2019 - January 9, 2020
Tombstone, Arizona - Desert Center and Valencia, California

There's really only three things I miss on the road - our kids and grands, a house for Christmas, and a bathtub. Having taken advantage of the tub over the last couple months, I was looking forward to enjoying the other two the end of last month!

Decorating for Christmas during major remodeling is challenging but not un-doable. With our crew getting done on schedule I'm able to put the finishing touches on the dining room before we head to the airport on the 20th.

Warning: lots of family photos!

Brian (my oldest, our number one) and Shalise and Ezra are flying into Phoenix from Burbank, and Jeff (my youngest and our number four) is due in from Seattle a half hour later. Flights are direct and cheaper compared to Tucson, although it means a three hour drive after they arrive. Jeff's flight is delayed, but we eventually get everyone loaded up and on our way to Tombstone by 4:00. I'm so excited to have them all here!! We rented a large SUV (free upgrade from a mini van which they didn't have although I'd reserved six weeks earlier) so everyone, including Tessa, has plenty of room. 

It's dark long before we exit the freeway for the last 30 minutes on the two-lane highway. Ezra has been traveling for most of the day, and as we identify the few lights of Tombstone ahead, he gives us the best quote of the week: "Daddy? Are we still on Earth?"

The best Christmas present!
Ezra and parents stay in the motorhome, with Jeff in the guestroom. It's nice to have lots of space - and more than one bathroom! Having the living and dining rooms opened up we enjoy being together without being on top of each other. Ezra especially likes the through-doors on the half bath that enable him to run laps around the house :-)))

With cold outdoor temps we mostly play indoors with trips to "the wild west" of Tombstone, and the natural beauty of Chiricahua National Monument. It's a nice balance for spending precious time together.

Daddy and Ezra time.

Mommy and Ezra time.

Family time - Ezra beats them all in Go Fish!

At Cochise Head Overlook in the Chiricahuas. The boys and I were here when Jeff was Ezra's age.
Ezra points out his best friend, Uncle Jeff.

Ezra comes by it naturally......

Love and laughter.

Getting it right - Cochise Mountain in the background.

Mommy and the kid overlooking the hoodoos.
Our desert looking very wintery.
Mommy and Ezra spin hoops during a short break on a drive near the house.

It isn't Tombstone without a stagecoach ride!

Beautiful daughter-in-law Shalise at one of our many saloons.

I saved a lot of the packing materials from our recent purchases which make for great imagination time for Ezra and I.

Visiting with the locals
Making sure Nawma doesn't see what he's up to.
Reflective son.

Reflective grand son.
Having the time and space to be with family for the holidays is the best - and makes the work we've gotten done worth every effort. We've loved our Christmases on the road as well, may have more in our future, but this was such a special time. We're grateful the kids could make the time and cover the miles to be with us. Is there anything more wonderful on Christmas morning than seeing it through the eyes of a child?

He's excited about his Christmas Eve present - a new book!

On Christmas Eve, anticipating Santa's face when he sees his cookies.

Yay! Santa liked the cookies!

Christmas at our new place!

Everybody's comfy and enjoying watching the little boy.

So happy to have time with Uncle Jeff.

Just so happy!

The flying robot is a big hit.
Such a ham :-)

His smiles light up the room.

Tuckered out and happy to be together.

Holiday tradition - the popcorn tin!
We have Christmas dinner of ham and turkey and all the trimmings around the dining room table - what a treat. Can't believe I didn't get a photo of that!

It isn't Christmas these days without matching PJs - what a perfect holiday we had!!
The next morning we return the rental car and pack up the motorhome for the return drive to the airport. 

Still asleep when we head out. I'm definitely not ready for this visit to be over, even though we'll see him again in a week :-)
Since Bill and I will be in Desert Center for New Years, we decide that it's smarter to continue west from Phoenix than making another six hour round trip. Plenty of room at the cell phone lot where we unhook the already loaded Jeep. I deliver passengers and luggage and am back in five minutes. It worked even better than we hoped! 

The next three nights we're at White Tank Regional Park, one of our favorite campgrounds. The weather is cold and calm, and we spend the first day resting and missing the kiddos.

A very different desert from both Tombstone and Desert Center.
I continue to fail at getting a photo of Dawn and Darryl, doing so again when they come to visit us on Saturday. The last couple visits have been way too short so it's especially nice to have several hours to get caught up. The blessing of new friends from our travels combined with time with family is not lost on us. Life is so good.

Darryl and Dawn, shamelessly borrowed from Facebook.
Some gatherings are quieter than others, and this New Years is one of those. It's wonderful to see good friends, even though it's a much smaller group than in years past. It's also colder so we spend most of our time around a big fire!

Eucalyptus tree glowing beside the fire.

When you break a chair......toss it in!

Everyone backs off quickly while the blaze grows to over ten feet - note Tessa not on her blanket!
You're never too old for sparklers :-)
Our fifth grand child arrived on the last day of 2019. Henry Miles Bannerman is the son of my borrowed daughter Megan and husband Chris. We can't wait to meet him in a couple days!

Welcome to the family Henry!

New Years Day we're all back in our circle.

Good friends and family who shared this community over 40 years ago. Note the "chair" and skull that was a very large, very dead Eucalyptus tree. 
That tree keeps us warm for several days!
Thursday morning we say our goodbyes-for-now and make the long trek to Valencia. My least favorite drive, but the reward is worth it. More visits with the family, including Bill's mom in Fresno, fill up the week. 

It seems like just weeks ago that he was too little to come down this slide on his own.

Now he flies!
Saturday morning we're back on the road, but in the Jeep, for the drive to Fresno. The weather is nice, but it's not a pretty drive once you're over the Grapevine. We enjoy a couple visits with Bill's mom, Anne. She's 94 and is so delighted to see her son. Staying at Bill's cousin's house is always fun, and we have a nice visit.

The family matriarch, Anne.
Everybody's busy with life so we squeeze in visits where and when we can. Our newest daughter-in-law, Christie, isn't feeling well, but we see everybody else. 

Little Mason with Uncle Richie.

Maximus and I have great fun with a simple orange tube.

Hey! Don't forget this cuteness!

Grand-daughter Reese sleeps through our visit. She's beyond adorable :-)

And here's newborn Henry Miles with momma Megan! 
Our last night we have dinner with Ezra and his parents. It's always a delight to spend time with this sweet boy, and when he expresses his sadness that we're leaving it tears us up! 

Hard to believe we had one daughter-in-law, one son-in-law, and zero grands when we went on the road four-and-a-half years ago. Our family has grown by three DILs and five grandchildren! Our hearts are so full :-))

It's also even harder to leave when we know it will be several months before we return. For now, it's back to Tombstone and more house-fun!


  1. How cool to have room for the family to visit at Christmas! And yes, your family has certainly grown. Loved the photo of Bill with Tessa sacked out in his lap.

  2. Love seeing these family photos. We feel like we know them all so it's wonderful seeing them (aka Ezra!) grow up before our eyes! All being in the same house during the holidays is absolutely the best!

    1. Having the space and several days was wonderful!

  3. Great Christmas with the family in your new-to-you home. And another out of control bonfire with friends.
    Happy New Year.

    1. OMG that fire was nuts for a few minutes. The rest of the time it was "normal" :-), and special with good friends.

  4. What a wonderful holiday Jodee! And so special that Ezra and his mom, dad and uncles were able to visit in your new home. Oh my, the memories! Congrats on two new grand babies...enjoy!

    1. Still hard to believe it's all behind us already :-(

  5. How special to have your boys come home for Christmas. Having the MH as a separate bedroom is such a bonus. It gives the family space while being right there. Having Ezra for Christmas morning was awesome. Love your matching pj's!! Sure looks like a wonderful first Christmas in the new home. Thanks for sharing your family holiday.

    1. I don't think I really realized how much I missed a family Christmas and the space to enjoy it. And a real tree again!!

  6. Such sweet family time in your new home! How wonderful that you got your three wishes for Christmas, especially celebrating with the kids and grandkids. Love the photo of all of you in your matching pjs! :-))

    1. It was very sweet!! Wish the weather had been a bit warmer for their visit, but so nice to have extra space to enjoy time together indoors.

  7. Such a special treat to have the house for family holidays. Cuteness overload all the way around.