Friday, November 8, 2013

Fall Visit to the USA

This was a first - visiting our home country in the fall. We usually go in the summer because school is out, it's really hot here in Dubai, Ramadan has been in the summer, everyone else goes on vacation in the summer, etc. However, this year we were blessed with a new baby girl in July! So we waited for her arrival, went through all the acrobatics to get her UAE birth certificate, then her USA "born in foreign lands" birth certificate, then applied for her passport, then waited through a USA embassy shut down throughout the Middle East, then finally received her passport!

Our flight to Houston, Texas, left at 0900 on September 7, 2013 - just me and my 7 kids. Chris was supposed to go with us for a business trip, but the meeting got moved from Houston to Dubai a few weeks before we left. It was okay - I've flown 17 hours in a plane with lots of children several times now! The kids have it down (17 hours of movies and games!) - and Emirates airlines is wonderful.

We were soooo busy I'm not sure I can remember everything we did! I rented a house in The Woodlands, Texas off and a Suburban from Enterprise, and everyone came to see us this year. My mom met us at the airport and stayed with us for several days while we got through jet lag. She knew what she was getting into - she's done this before! She just laughed when I threw a box of cereal into the kids' room at 3am and told them to be quiet for awhile. It didn't work - never does!

Then Chris's mom and her husband came and stayed several days, and Chris flew over from Dubai. We went to Galveston to Moody Garden's Rainforest and to see Paxton who is studying Marine Biology at Texas AandM Galveston - Gig 'em Aggies! We took her to a seafood restaurant - she had steak, a true Midwest farmer's daughter! But she did try everyone's seafood dishes and liked them better than her over-cooked steak.  Chris worked in Houston the next week, then flew back to Dubai.

Grandma Kathie and Saige
Saige on the quilt Grandma Kathie made for her
Dad came another weekend, and we enjoyed eating at Lupe Tortillas again, and Freebirds, and shopping at Academy (running into friends!), looking at houses, reminiscing about my childhood - Dad assured the kids that I was a perfect child! They don't want to believe it!
Poppa and Jolee
Poppa and Saige
Mom came again the next week, and we showed her all the wonderful shopping areas we had found in The Woodlands. We spent the weekend visiting with friends (Bahrs, Bartz, Rosas), and had a birthday party for Katelin - 13 years old! The next week the kids made plates on a potter's wheel, visited the library, and enjoyed the splendor of Target, HEB, the Lego store, etc. And everyday we enjoyed the mild weather (under 100F) and swam in the pool.
Jolee at the Rosas
Happy 13th birthday Katelin!

Julia painting an ice cream bowl while the others work with clay

Melissa and Aleah came to visit next, and Forrie came on the weekend. We did a little shopping, but mainly visited and let the cousins play. We were hoping to Skype Mema and PaJoe but technology got in the way. We were disappointed not to see any of Chris's or my grandparents this trip.
Good morning Saige
Saige decided that pacifiers are great!
Kate teaching Aleah to blow bubbles
Julia and her new bubble machine
Meme and Saige
Matthew tossing around the football in the backyard

Melissa and Aleah
Macey and Jolee
Katelin and Julia snuggling
Jolee and Julia
 Jolee enjoying the playground
Julia going the right way down a slide for a change! 
Lunch at the park with Aunt Melissa and Aleah
Green trees, blue sky, white clouds - took this pic so we can remember what they look like!
My boys spending some energy
Melissa and Aleah
Forrest and Melissa Jinks with Aleah

The next week we did our last run to Target, the library, Kohl's, Panera's, etc. Chris's dad and his wife came to visit one day, and Chris met us for dinner (Lupe Tortilla's for the 3rd time!) - he was working in Houston that week. Robert and Lori came to see us, and the kids became fast friends again - Lori and I began where we left off! Plunketts drove over from Memphis, and we had a full house! We had a wonderful weekend of games, coffee, BBQ, and swimming between rain bouts.
Bill and Laura
Matthieu and Madeline Sutton
Max Sutton and Timothy
Julia, Jolee, Mason, Matthew, and Matthieu
Robert and Lori Sutton with Saige

Matthieu and Matthew
Katelin and Hannah
Saige charming Uncle John

We had our annual Plunkett-Uzzell birthday party at Main Event (arcade games and bowling), then went to Culver's for frozen yogurt. Then a park for playing and basketball, then Freebirds (3rd time!) cuz no one wanted to cook!

 Saige - the flash makes her eyes open even wider!
 Cade (9 months) with Katelin and Hannah
Timothy and Cade
Cole checking his score
Bella and Matthew - best buds
The boys at Culver's
Birthday ice cream
Before long, it was time to pack up and move out! We drove to Cortez's in Round Rock to stay during Georgetown convention. Katelin and Macey stayed with cousins at Mom's. It was wonderful to see so many friends and their families. Made us even more homesick. I think Jolee got it this year - the USA is a wonderful place to call home!

Kids of the Aggies 
Some of us that were at Texas AandM together
Joanna Sanders and Taylor
Darren and Colleen Quick with Travis Bahr 
Uzzell and Sander kids

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