Six days into 2014 and I’m already behind on blogging… Hopefully I’ll get those half a dozen drafts finished up here soon.
Christmas marked our annual drive to Tucson to visit my family. Since it’s a good 13 hour drive to get there, Christmas is really the best time to go since that’s when Chip gets the most days off of work. While the drive itself was fairly easy, getting ready for the trip was a little complicated… Similar to last year, we would be doing a portion of the drive on Friday once Chip got off work and then getting into Tucson on Saturday. The plan had been that I would spend Thursday figuring out which luggage would best fit in my car’s trunk with Chip’s golf clubs and all the Christmas gifts and get started on packing. Well… due to some unforeseen elements, my car was at the mechanic all day Thursday. All is well, but it did throw off my planning a bit as I spent a chunk of Thursday out dealing with my car and didn’t get home from the mechanic until about 1:30 in the afternoon, and didn’t get my car back until later that night. So that meant all packing and loading of the car had to be done on Friday. It really wasn’t that bad, but the day went by much quicker than I had expected. I took Wrigley for his walk, packed up our suitcases, loaded up the car, quickly showered, realized I wasn’t happy with how the car was loaded, took everything out of the trunk, took out some clothes from our suitcases, and re-loaded the car in a much better way. Before I knew it, Chip was home from work and we were quickly out the door. It was about 4:00 by the time the three of us got in the car and after grabbing a late lunch from Chik-Fil-A, we were on I10… where I realized about 40 miles outside of San Antonio that I had forgotten my nice camera at our house. Oops. So I have minimal pictures of this trip. The downfalls of packing in a hurry.
We had decided to drive to Van Horn that night and stay at the Hampton Inn there since they’re a pet friendly hotel and our best bud Wrigs would be with us. He did really well at the hotel and after finally relaxing and going to sleep, he only barked once, and that was when they slipped our room bill under the door. I guess he hoped we were getting the room for free, right? We got up early on Saturday and finished the rest of the drive to Tucson. Overall, between Friday and Saturday, we drove through some heavy rain, light snow, and sunshine. Definitely the most random weather we’ve ever had on the drive.
We got into Tucson around lunch time on Saturday and joined my parents as well as Alex and his girlfriend Teresa at the house to catch up for a bit. We then got our family Christmas tree and decorated it after dinner, which was a minestrone soup I helped my mom make (this recipe is awesome, will definitely be posting later).
We took it easy Sunday and relaxed around the house a bit in the morning. Alex and Teresa had flown in really late Friday night (or technically early Saturday morning by the time they got to the house), so they were still tired and slept in Sunday while Chip and I went with my parents to Le Buzz for breakfast. It was pretty cold out that morning, so instead of walking there and eating outside with the dogs like we typically like to do, we drove and snagged a table inside (which is no easy feat, let me tell you, that place is usually pretty full!). Chip and I love Le Buzz and are always trying to find something similar to it here in San Antonio.
After breakfast, we wanted to watch some football at home, but my parents’ cable wasn’t working (there was some type of outage in the area or a Comcast conspiracy). So with no football to watch, I drove Chip over to the other side of town to show him our old house, which is where I grew up until we moved in 6th grade to the house my parents are still in. It was fun driving around the old neighborhood since I hadn’t seen it in years. By the time we got back home, the cable was just about back up and running, so we were able to watch football with some family friends that came by to catch up. My grandpa also stopped by so the men had to play dominoes as they usually do.
Monday morning we had breakfast at home before taking a stab at a popular holiday tradition: stockings. Now, we’ve always had stockings in our family, but they’ve just been part of our Christmas decorations. I think the only thing they’ve ever held were our Christmas lists to Santa when Alex and I were little. But this year, my mom thought it would be fun to actually “do” stockings for the first time. I have to say, I’m a fan of this tradition since it meant I got some new nail polish and super cute measuring cups from Anthropologie. We also had Teresa open up her gifts from all of us since she was flying back home to Colorado early on Tuesday morning to spend Christmas with her family.
Monday afternoon, we all went and had an early dinner at Gavi’s before driving across town for A Christmas Carol at The Great American Playhouse. To my Tucson friends, if the Gaslight Theater is too far away for you, be sure to check out this new production company in Oro Valley.
Tuesday was Christmas Eve, one of my favorite days of the year. The boys were up early, with Alex taking Teresa to the airport, and then all heading out for their traditional game of golf (I think Chip really likes this tradition). While the guys were gone, my mom and I took the dogs for a nice long walk and then got to cooking. I always appreciate this time in the kitchen with my mom working on the meal together. First up were the desserts. This year we decided to do a chocolate chunk candy cane cheesecake and a chocolate-bourbon-pecan cake. Recipes will be posted soon!
With the cheesecake chilling and the chocolate cake garnished, we spent the afternoon cooking dinner and getting ready before the guys got home. A few of the recipes were from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Foolproof book and are becoming holiday staples for my family.
Dinner was delicious and we had a great time hearing the boys’ stories about their day golfing and reflecting on the year together. We decided to wait a little bit before diving into dessert, but a certain pup couldn’t wait… While Wrigley’s behavior had been decent during the trip, he was getting jealous of the food we were eating that day. So after telling him “no” to some leftovers while we cleaned the kitchen, he snuck back into the dining room where the chocolate cake was and helped himself to some dessert… We didn’t think he had eaten that much chocolate since the cake only had cocoa powder but between that and the bourbon, we decided it was better to be safe than sorry and get him to throw up. After some quick googling, my mom saw that just a little bit of hydrogen peroxide will make a dog throw up, so we quickly squirted some in his mouth and took him outside. It worked.
With that ordeal out of the way, we sat down for some dessert and ate the untouched side of the chocolate cake. Oh, Wrigs. Santa’s still watching you.
We played a few games after having dessert and soon it was time for Midnight Mass. We’ve been going to midnight mass pretty much my entire life and it has become one of my favorite traditions. I love singing carols together, hearing a message about Christmas, and having Communion to mark the beginning of the day. With my time off of work since mid-November, I feel like I was more able to reflect on the season of advent than I have in past years. I am thankful for this time of rest, for really reflecting on how huge it is that God came as a helpless baby to a broken people, and for being reminded that I am called to wait for Christ and His second coming.
Christmas morning, just about everyone slept in (something to do with going to bed at 1:30, I guess). It doesn’t matter how old I get, I will always naturally wake up early on Christmas. Once everyone else was up, it was time to start opening gifts and have breakfast. Wrigley and Penny stole the show playing with all of their new toys and Wrigs stealing wrapping paper from us all to shred all over the living room. We spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon relaxing around the house together. Both Chip and Alex had to be back at work on the 26th, so we took them to the airport in the afternoon for their flights back to San Antonio and Denver. I was bummed they both had to leave on Christmas day, but so glad for the time we did get together around everyone’s schedules.
After taking them to the airport, I was able to spend some one-on-one time with my parents, which doesn’t happen very often. We relaxed and watched TV together before snacking on leftovers throughout the evening.
My mom and I had planned on doing half of the drive back to San Antonio on the 26th, but after realizing that our Hampton Inn in Van Horn was booked, we decided to just spend the night in El Paso, and do the majority of the drive on the 27th. This meant we had more time in Tucson the morning of the 26th, so we just had to go check out some post-Christmas sales. We spent a couple of hours over at La Encantada and got some serious deals at Anthropologie (got some suuuper cute dishes that I absolutely love). We got on the road around 2:00 with Wrigley and were in El Paso by dinner time, which was a stop at Pei Wei before going to the Holiday Inn.
Unfortunately, Wrigley didn’t do as well at this hotel as he did in Van Horn… this Holiday Inn is cabana style, so all of the units have outdoor entrances. We were also on the first floor, which meant there was a lot of foot traffic outside of our door since the hotel was pretty busy. Now Wrigley has a really strong protective instinct that I’m normally very thankful for, so as people were checking in and out and walking around at all hours of the night, he was a growling and barking machine. By about 1:00 in the morning, I was telling my mom we should just put him in the bathroom (not nice to my pup, I know, but I was so tired, and also slightly worried our neighbors would complain). My mom stayed up pretty much all night trying to keep him company so I could get some sleep since I would be doing the driving. At 5:00, we gave up on trying to get any more rest and decided to just get up and get on the road ahead of schedule. We had great weather on our drive and were back in San Antonio around 3:00. We slowly unloaded the car and by the time Chip got home from work an hour later, we were pathetically lying on the couch with minimal energy, but found a way to get up for dinner at Salata. I had a great time driving to San Antonio with my mom, it was some of the most one-on-one time we’ve had in a long time. And while we were plenty tired the second day of the drive, I would totally do it again!
Overall, this Christmas was great. I’m so grateful for all the time I was able to spend resting and reflecting during this holiday season. I’m thankful for the time spent with family and for getting to spend everyday with Chip and Wrigley. Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas!