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Christmas in Chicago 2011

Christmas Ornaments 2011

It’s Christmas Day.
Or technically, the wee hours of Christmas morning.
(the night owl in me likes to wait up for Santa)
My mother, sister, and son are in town.
The house is crowded.
But there is a lot of love.
And food.

Mailing Letter to Santa

Aidan’s sent off his letter to Santa.
He trashed several drafts before mailing off the
perfect message.

Aidan and Grandmommy

My mom has always wanted to see Chicago at Christmas.
She loved seeing the windows at Macy’s.
She loved all the decorations downtown.
She enjoyed the cream of chicken rice soup we had at Maxim’s.
She wanted to get a picture with Santa
but the 1+ hour wait deterred ALL of us.

Decorations at Macy's

I have to be honest.
This past week has been a challenge.
I had a fantastic birthday. My facebook wall blew
up with nearly 200 greetings. I got really neat gifts.
But the fates thought a cold would be a good gift for me
as well, complete with coughing, sneezing, nausea, and tiredness.
I am still feeling fatigued, and the random nausea
…is quite random.

Still, it’s much better than
four years ago
When I was in month three of a four month
sore throat and sinus infection.
The pain was so bad that I could barely eat
my mom’s Christmas dinner.

It’s hard having extra guests.
Everyone has to compromise and sacrifice.
The cats are out of sorts.
Our grocery bill has probably tripled,
but it’s OK because we love to feed people.
Everyone is comfortable, well fed, and happy.

All is well.

Christmas Ornaments 2011

MERRY CHRISTMAS
dear friends, readers, commenters, and lurkers.

…psst. want a copy of my holiday newsletter pdf? get it here.

:)

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Thanksgiving 2011

As promised, here is the long-awaited (tee-hee) entry about my Thanksgiving, only 1000 years after everyone has posted theirs! :) To be fair, I did have an extended holiday, starting off Tuesday evening when Aidan arrived! He spent that night here playing and playing. Then he spent Wednesday playing and playing. Good times.

Aidan

LEGO

Thursday, we headed to our friends Jeff & Deborah for our annual Thanksgiving meal. Good food, and good times. Even when Aidan didn’t eat the yummy Yukon Gold potatoes. Hmph. After dinner, we went for a little walk, and I modeled my new coat:

New Coat

Deborah and I also looked cute for the camera.

Deborah and Me

THEN it was off to the airport. It was SO NICE to fly on Thanksgiving evening during dinner time. The airport was so quiet, and the plane MAY have had 50 passengers total on it. It was so peaceful and smooth, and we arrived in Atlanta 50 minutes ahead of schedule!

Because Adam and I flew in Thanksgiving Day, we held off until November 25 to celebrate…..

THANKSMAS
The epic holiday combining Christmas,
Thanksgiving, and Family Portrait Day.

My Mac and Cheese
This happened. You’re so jealous. Just admit it.

Rich and a Turkey
Adam’s dad doesn’t look too proud of this turkey,
but HE SHOULD because it was DA BOMB DOT COM.

Good food was consumed, along with wine. Games were played, conversations had. Then it was PICTURE TAKING TIME!

Piggy Back

Cute Lola

Family Pictures

Wheee!

Aidan

Lola Shows Stuff to Grandpa Rich

After pictures, we sat around and talked until the sun went down. Then it was time for Thanksmas to start!

Thanksmas Gifts

Thanksmas was awesome. I got some really neat things. But I had to leave them there because we flew Airtran and had our carry-on bags already packed to bursting (too cheap to pay baggage fees, ha). So Adam’s parents will ship all the big stuff to us.

World's Best Person.
His statue says “Best Person.”
It came from the Tacky Gift Exchange.
Aidan likes it.
I wanted the Justin Bieber toothbrush
but my cousin Annie got it instead.

Tree

Next day was stocking stuffers, naps, a morning of THIS cuteness:

Lola and Aidan

and a visit to see……

YAY Santa!

Woooo!

Oh, and more pictures.

We're a Family!

Snort

Gotta love that Atlanta in November is warm enough to go coatless. Back in Chicago now–we got back Tuesday afternoon. Another awesome Thanksmas!

Til next time! :)

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Autumn and Ohio (Lots of Pictures!)

Gourds Happy Autumn!

Now that it’s here, there is no good reason to keep fighting it, right? Getting out of Chicago and to Ohio to visit friends and family really helped me remember what I love about autumn. First of all, the colors. The glorious colors! We were in Ohio for six days and every day I watched the trees get more and more brilliant. Then, harvests and pumpkins and apple cider and all sorts of neat things. So, yay for autumn. Just wish winter didn’t have to happen after. But not gonna dwell on that. Instead I’m going to dwell on the fun trip to Ohio I had this past week!

I got to eat yummy Mexican food and drink a delicious margarita, I got to feed a giraffe, see a camel up close, and ride a horse. I met a friend who I’d been emailing with for years, and I saw Andy, one of my best friends. Chris and Matt brought up Aidan and we all went to Amish country, where I bought lots of pies, cookies, and cheese. My camera was on hand, and of course I got loads of photos.

We hit the Amish country in the middle of the state. First place we stopped was Hershberger, where there was lots of good desserts and breads, and animals (including a HUGE Clydesdale) to pet. Then we went to the cheese barn, and then to Berlin. Adam and I agreed that the more authentic Amish/Mennonite places were better because they weren’t mired in touristy gimmicks. Just yummy food.

Aidan and some Pumpkins Aidan and some Pumpkins Aidan and some Pumpkins
Pumpkins Galore!

I got to ride a horse for the first time ever. My friend Amy (who I’ve known for years but only through email) arranged for us to get together at the stables. There, she saddled up Jessy and let me and Adam take turns riding her. By the end of the ride, I was going a pretty good job of getting Jessy to walk and go in the direction I wanted her to go in. We also go to ride Pablo bareback. That was neat, too.

I'm on a Horse!

Horseback Riding! Horseback Riding! Horseback Riding!

We got to eat good food, have good laughs, and have good times. The Mexican restaurant, El Camino, was delicious. I had an enchilada and a tostada, and a yummy raspberry margarita. Delicious!

Mommy My Magarita Hi Aidan!

Mommy and Greg

Most of my extended family is in Cleveland. I don’t get to see them often, so a lot of us used this trip to reconnect. It was good. Some of these people I hadn’t seen since 1996. I hadn’t seen all of them for many years. That’s a long time. It was nice to see them again.

My Cousin Mazayron and Me Aunt Geneva Falandos
Good Saturday Night

So many new experiences. I got to feed a giraffe! Do you have any idea how much I love giraffes? They’re so graceful and beautiful. They’re definitely in my top five of animals. Getting so close to one was amazing. Also, I never knew how gorgeous camels were until I saw them close up. Petting zoos are cool, especially when they have animals like emus and llamas and zebras.

Aidan and his Grandmommy A Big Chair! Aidan Playing in the Corn Pit
Awesome!

UM Camel
Pumpkins!

Another really cool thing. I am an Ohio State alumna, but I had very little OSU clothing. I’ve been slowly, slowly building up a collection of tee-shirts, but I really wanted a hoodie. They’re expensive, though! Well, we went to Marcs to get snacks and groceries (and my BBQ Fritos and Snyder of Berlin chips that are not sold in IL) and they had OSU gear. CHEAP OSU gear. So, I got three sweatshirts and two tee-shirts for a grand total of $40.00. I’m wearing one of the shirts in a few photos above. I really, really, really wish we had a Marcs in Chicago. I’d go all the time. I love that place.

Anyway, I had a great time. What a wonderful way to start off autumn 2011. It’s just gonna get better! :)

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Vacation Highlights! (Pictures)

Guess where I just was (again)! :)

Cinderella Castle

I might be just a little bit obsessed.

Anyway, here are the major highlights (copied from my Disney blog):

+ Boat ride to Downtown Disney. It was beautiful.
+ Magic Kingdom Rope Drop.
+ Star Tours 3D. Holy crap is that ride awesome now!
+ Garden Grill. I think they outdid themselves this time. Everything was delicious, and as usual, the character interaction was top notch.
+ Kilimanjaro Safari. There were TONS of animals out!
+ A gorilla strutting out, squatting in front of all of us spectators, and proceeding to show us how he does #1 AND #2. Quite entertaining!
+ Festival of the Lion King. It was fantastic as always. And I was FINALLY in the giraffe section.
+ Dancing with Phineas and Ferb! The line to meet them was long and hot, but we were entertained! And when it was finally our turn? Rock on!
+ Seeing the Torch Lighting ceremony at the Polynesian. (I am determined to stay there someday. I love that place.)
+ Chocolate-covered marshmallows rolled in mini Reese’s Pieces. YUM.
+ Aidan and me finding reasons to laugh hysterically in the hotel room, probably driving poor Adam crazy.
+ Living With The Land. Always a neat ride, and we had an entire boat to ourselves.
+ PeopleMover. So relaxing. I’m always sad when it’s over.
+ The Memories castle show. OK, they could do without the pictures. Just show us the effects on the castle. So awesome!
+ Aidan falling in love with Pirates of the Caribbean.
+ Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (always awesome).
+ Surprising Aidan with a trip to the LEGO store in Downtown Disney.
+ Meeting nice people in line or on the bus.
+ Liberty Tree Tavern. Good food. Very busy, though.
+ Soarin’. Always a good time.
+ Weather. It was hot, but we had plenty of water and one of those spray fans. We were OK.
+ Watching Aidan enjoy Mission Space: Green, and Test Track.
+ I am not as obsessed with getting character photos anymore, so a little less standing in line for that. It made the characters we DID get more special.
+ Sitting in one of those little side streets off of Main Street and discovering a few secrets. :)
+ No rain!
+ Seeing Space Mountain with all the lights on. WEIRD!
+ Naps in Hall of Presidents and Carousel of Progress. I KNOW, but believe me, I needed them!

It's Us! YAY We're Here! In the Animal Kingdom

Wishes Safari!

Us With the Boss! Epcot

Aidan's Yummy Dessert Catch Ya Down in New Orleans

Rockin' Out With Phineas and Ferb

Aidan is Hula Hooping and Clapping! Pretty Birds Aidan and Duffy

There’s plenty more where that came from, right here: [LINK]

‘Til next time! :)

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