(Dec 22nd entry)

The Post Office trip is always a happy day, an event! This had the added bonus of some gifts and expected letters back from friends. We plan a mail pick up about every 2-3 weeks, and our mail lady at home forwards the mail to us. Thank you Karin.

We rolled into Corpus (that’s local-ese for Corpus Christi) and parked right in front of the post office, arriving just after they opened, then retrieved several armloads of letters and boxes. Between Ethan’s birthday and Christmas, this was exciting!

After some wrangling, we opted to stay the night at a campground on the Naval Air Station, which allows the public to use their facilities- which run only $15/night for full hookups. After we had driven to the base, squeezed through the entry station and handed the dog wielding guard my ID, he asked for my military ID card. Not having one, he indicated that we could not pass through, but could discuss the possibility of a guest card at the office adjacent to the entry. Parked the bus on the curb and tried, but found out that: a guest card is available, which entitles you to use of the facilities here, but takes 5 days for the background check and must be applied for in advance. Good information for the campground staff to share on the phone! We had to U-turn the bus across 4 lanes of traffic that were remarkably busy. I’m very surprised what we can get away with some of the moves we make in the bus without a honk or irritated finger. I always move methodically and cautiously at the bus wheel when pulling a move like this, but sometimes it’s inevitable, as we can’t make a regular driveway or pull through and must make irregular traffic moves. Thanks America, for tolerating this driving behavior over the next several months.

One of the packages we had picked up earlier in the day included Christmas cookies that weren't decorated- and we go to decorate them! Ah the joy of the holidays... Thanks to Kelly's mom and aunt, we were busy on this project for several hours, then leisurely ate the cookies over the next week or so.

"One for the family, one for me" Simon was saying...

Not only busy with cooking, the kids have been busy decorating, as seen on the wall just past their heads. Full of Christmas cheer. Taped in all four corners to the walls. Really good, sticky tape I noticed....

Pool was cold, hot tub was restricted to guests over the age of 12 (note Ethan is now 12) and there was poop in the grass, but the staff was very friendly and we’d go back again to the Colonia Del Rey RV Park, although it ran about $42 for the night. I have always quickly admitted that I am not cheap, and may be the thriftiest man on earth. I like to save money. This day, it felt OK to spend the park fee without too much dickering. We were ready to be ON the grid for a few hours and not have to move.

Community gathering space is at a premium in the bus. Here' a birds eye view of how it works, and how tight it is. Other choices to get together: carpeted hallway, back room or outside.

This RV park visit afforded us the chance to plug in and leave the bus, and take Ethan out for a birthday dinner (Joe’s Crab Shack), then Kelly and I try to wrap up Christmas shopping the next morning.

In a strange twist, Ethan was open about it being his birthday, we opened some gifts at the table, and they put a large bib on him as shown- and Ethan escaped without any rambunctious Crab Shack singing to our relief. We would have cake at the bus after getting home.

While out together we started a discussion that will probably crop up again down the road- about a few fun things: could this really be a reality TV show? Heck yes! When we started, I thought it would be so mundane that even the desperate homebody would reject the show- but having lived it, if we offered a producer the option of footage from every minute of this trip- it would be a goldmine. Take for instance John and Kate + 8. Ho hum kids, regular family dynamics, and nutty mom- who is probably the sole force behind the show’s original success (now it’s the whole family falling apart). That’s a strange example perhaps, but when we look at the internal discussions, friction, disagreements, major successes and loving moments- our story is good stuff! Would we offer the whole perspective up for review by the country? Probably not. Too many families and young stars have fallen thanks to money, fame and notoriety. We have plenty of stressors on our own, thank you very much. What the heck?! You might say? The blog is so nice and happy? Yeah, it is, and it captures the essence of what we experience- but the negatives (although dramatic) are hard for me to recall- thanks either to old age of 41, or my tendency to overlook the bad for the good. Now, all that on the table, Kelly and I had a good laugh during our romantic lunch at how people would stare at us in stores if they recognized the brood of 7 good lookin’ kids- that had just been on their family room TV the night before. Would be strange, but good TV for this country. “See how the other side is living in a bus- down by the river” (if we can find a good spot).

It's easy decorating the bus- we only used 2 1/2 strings of lights (compared to last years 20,000 light animated spectacle on our house). These stockings arrived just in time to be the finishing touch on the garland from our Florida cousins.

From this RV park, we headed for the seashore on North Padre Island, the Malaquite Beach RV campground. There, we will spend the next 6 nights, including Christmas, isolated from the world.

I couldn't pass this one up. Simon is funny. He will find something in most situations to entertain himself, and most often anyone around him. Brushing teeth he was moving back and forth funny, looking at himself in the mirror- and I couldn't see why until I got into his perspective: the mirror sticks out about 4 inches from the wall, which gives him enough room to move his head back and forth creating a pretty funny looking Simon. Now I think I know why it takes him so long in the bathroom.