We packed up the kiddos and half of everything we own to leave Boone at 1pm on Tuesday the 22nd of December. The original plan was to leave later in the evening, but Old Man Winter changed our plans. And we did miss the freezing rain by leaving early, so it was a good choice.
We arrived in Galesburg, Illinois around 6pm for dinner at McDonalds. Much to our surprise, and utter joy, there was not one peep out of the kids that whole 5 hours! After dinner we continued on another half hour to the Community of Saint John. This is where Joe's sister, Mary, is living this year, as she attend their School of Evangelization.
That night we had the pleasure of staying at the monastery. It is a beautiful place and I wish we would have had more time to spend meeting the brothers and experiencing life as they live it.
Unfortunately, though, we only had a few hours there in the morning, which were spent trying to keep the boys under control and somewhat quiet because they have their philosophy and theology classes in the morning (in the same building where we were staying). I took Roman outside for a while, but it was raining so he was pretty much soaked after 15 minutes. We finally went to mass around noon, where Roman had a complete melt down. And I am not exaggerating. He was tired from not sleeping well in a new place, and had been cooped up all morning with us telling him to be quiet, so we weren't exactly setting him up for success. It was, by far, the worst behavior he has ever displayed in church. Which was perfect timing since were attending the most reverent mass I have ever been to, with about 15 monks.
We left Princeville around 1:30, stopped for lunch, and drove about 4 hours with the boys napping. We let Roman watch a movie. Stopped for dinner. (I am a really good mom - "here honey, have some more fried chicken and french fries"). Let Roman watch a movie. Stopped to let Roman run around before bed. We stopped a couple more times in the night to feed Judah and fill up the car. Roman didn't like the night stops and would wake up crying (but, praise God, those were really the only incidents we had!) We finally arrived in SC at 4 am Thursday. We were met with welcome committee (yes! Even at 4 am!!) who cuddled our sleepy boys, made us food, and got us settled in.
Thursday morning we slept while Grandma and Grandpa played with the boys. That night we attended Christmas eve mass at Tony and Suellen's new church home, which was beautiful.
Christmas Day was, of course, filled with presents from Santa, cinnamon rolls, sweet gifts from family, playing in the wrapping paper, ham, singing Happy Birthday to baby Jesus, napping, more playing, and cuddling. So much joy.
Saturday we went shopping - and got some great after Christmas deals. Grandma, of course, spoiled the boys and got them all kinds of cute clothes. Thanks, Mom!
Sunday we went to mass and then took turns going to see the new Sherlock Holmes movie, which was very well done. The girls went to see the matinee, then Dad made us some delicious spaghetti dinner, and the guys went in the evening.
Monday was such a fun day! We went to the zoo in Greenville (which turned out to be a very nice little zoo!) Theresa invited two of her friends, so it was fun to meet them. We had lunch at Five Guys (YUM-O), and headed back home.
Tuesday we went on a mini-tour of the Clemson University campus! We got to see Dad's office and Roman was very excited to see the "Clemson tiger" at the museum on campus. Then we headed to an epic lunch at Chick-Fil-A. :) D-lish.
Wednesday we mostly just sat around and watched movies, which was fantastic. One of my new favorites is Up. In my favorite brother-in-law's words "I didn't know an animated children's film would cut to the core of my heart." :) Love that kid.
Thursday we had some very special visitors. Angela's best friend from college, Jackie, lives in Georgia with her husband and two year old daughter, Naomi. Since it's just a two hour drive they came to see us. They were also so sweet to bring Roman and Judah some little Christmas gifts! How thoughtful! Thursday we also went to church, ate Chinese food (with a waitress whom Roman charmed into taking him to get ice cream!), and had the first annual Pometto New Year's Rockin Eve (a la the FRIENDS episode The One with the Routine). Our party consisted of some glow sticks, music - much of which was veggie tales or N'Sync - snuggies, and some killer sweet dance moves. Basically it was the best day of Roman's life. So funny.
Other random highlights from the trip: Shadow (the dog - and Roman's new best friend), going on walks, having "tea" parties of water and cheerios, reading the books that Grandma picked out for us at the library - she is SO thoughtful!, Roman's new guitar coat from Grandma, playing outside with Grandpa, big breakfasts every morning, good conversation, nail painting, dessert with the "big kids", adventures with GPS systems and restaurants, and lots and lots of love.
Friday we spent our time at home, savoring the last hours of family fun. After the daunting task of "goodbyes" - I hate that part!! - we hit the road around 7, took a quicker route home, arrived back in Btown at noon on Saturday.
As we have come to say in the Pometto fam, "It was a Christmas miracle".