Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Home For The Holidays

It wasn't that long ago we were packing up the family SUV to grandmas house, where our extended family would gather and Santa would stop by.  How my parents managed to haul all of "Santa's gifts" in our car without us knowing will remain a mystery.  Those giddy feelings of my sister and I wide eyed in our beds into the late hours of Christmas Eve have been traded for excitement when we can all actually be together.  And lets not get hung up on the date…with growing families and distance between, we will take what we can get!  Fortunately for us, our families were more than accommodating to "recreate"the Christmas festivities.  
Fresh off the fifteen hour flight, we headed to my Gappy's house where we consumed wonderfully home cooked meals and played our usual round of dominos.  Has anyone ever heard of Mexican Pile-On? Well, its our family tradition around the holidays when there is a large group around.  You have to start small because as the name hints, by the last ingredient it sure makes for a pile up! (i.e. picture on the bottom right is my cousins fully loaded plate).
Gift giving time!  We wanted everyone to have a piece of Australia, whether that be a linen tea towel or a bottle opener made of Kangaroo balls. Yes, they actually sell those here in Sydney.
Wow, I love my family!! Self timer pics are the best.  
We missed you, Leslie!  All the cousins with their significant others (minus Leslie, plus June).  Teddy has some catching up to do with this obedient pup who can do all sorts of fun tricks!  
After too many years of intense schooling and perseverance, my cousin opened his own dental practice last month specializing in Endodontics!  We got the grand tour of the very impressive office and even a free staged consultation by the doctor himself.  So proud of him to see this dream become a reality.

Of course, the second we moved away everyone else decided to start exciting things in their lives from jobs, graduations, weddings, babies, etc.  How dare they!  Hehe obviously i'm joking, but this visit gave us a chance to catch up on things we have unfortunately missed.
Then it was off to Comanche, TX where my Aunt and Uncle live to visit with Mema and Grandad and my other cousins who drove a long way to meet us.  One of my cousins and his wife had to miss out, but for good reason as the university he works for is in the NCAA playoffs!  
My Aunt and Uncle are always so kind and giving…they served all of us lunch in their "cooking claus" aprons! Such a treat.
Speaking of big events we missed, my cousin and his wife gave birth to the sweetest baby girl just a few weeks after we moved to Sydney.  As you could guess, I couldn't wait to lay my eyes on Ms. Molly.  We finally had the chance to meet at four months old and it was worth the wait!  She is seriously the cutest little bug I have ever seen and I had so much fun watching Molly's parents and DD and Pappy in their new roles!
Lots of new things to be thankful for in this family!  Another girl cousin married into the family, a college graduate, a worship director, a soon to be PhD, and a healthy baby girl to carry on the traditions.  

In between our family visits, we crashed in Dallas for a few days and spent time with friends after R got off work.  While I enjoyed your classic southern meal of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, creamed corn, and biscuits with girlfriends, R was back into the swing of things at the Mavs game with the guys.  We sure do miss walking across the street to the stadium for all of the games!  
And the whole reason we were able to fly back for our trip..R's work holiday party!!  Have I mentioned that we feel incredibly blessed by his company to provide us with these opportunities?!  I know our family sure does appreciate them!  
Just like where we left off, we organized a dinner for friends at the same place we said "bon voyage" to them just five months ago...
…and it was as if we had never left!  So great to see everyone doing so well, although I don't know how in the heck they are surviving without us?!  Good luck to my nursing friend who is embarking on a new journey in AZ!
My visit wouldn't be complete without a stop to my beloved FW…not only to treat my sis to lunch at our usual spot for a finals pep talk, but to see my favorite growing boys.  They have so much personality and I can't wait to see how much they will change until the next time.
To reach our 1,000 mile driving mark, we headed to our hometown of Austin where we spent some quiet, quality time with R's parents.  It was nice to have them all to ourselves, although we missed everyone else around! R's dad and stepmom are great entertainers and I was able to catch them in action this time preparing a delicious meal when we arrived.
One of their gifts to us was a creative way to spend the day together, complete with massages and a lululemon shopping spree!  We couldn't resist a big slice of pizza in between either. O how we miss Austin…and these two special people!
More gifts!  My two mommies (R's mom and stepmom) coordinated and bought me fancy knives that I had been desperately wanting needing. Now the pressure is on to use them properly and with skill.  No promises there.  And a great way to end the night, chatting by the fire!  Like father, like son in their matching jackets.  We will soon be reunited when they, along with our step sister, come to visit in February!!  An easy goodbye knowing they will be in Sydney soon.  Can't wait!
Last but not least, our final stop was with R's mom and boyfriend.  All the Christmas trees and holiday decorations we saw through the week were enough to put us in the spirit.  I love seeing all the ornaments from R's childhood…so sweet!  Ours are awaiting us in storage somewhere.  Since we slept when we could between the visits, our body clocks were a little off. We took the first morning at their place to sleep in and were awakened with a great treat of breakfast tacos! Can you say spoiled much?  R is the baby of the family you know.  
We spent the day visiting, gifting, and playing games.  Later that evening, we headed to the Domain for dinner at one of our favorite Italian spots.  Charley's son and partner joined us, too!  We had a great feast and celebration of R's upcoming birthday thanks to them.  As we were getting ready to leave Austin, a special visitor stopped by to give me a hug!  I don't know what I would do without this angel in my life and am thankful she keeps me connected to my real guardian angel in Heaven.
Before we left Texas for good, R's mom took us for our BBQ fix and Rudy's.  My craving was satisfied! And then it was on the road again, back to DFW where we would fly out that night for our long journey back.  Lucky for us, my sis and bf were smart enough to realize we would be passing in opposite directions on the highway.  Why not meet at chick-fil-a for a roadside chat?!  

When you realize the plane is taxiing and no one has yet to occupy the seat next to you, it calls for a serious celebration...R and I literally high fived and hugged when this way the case with us on the way home. This meant more uninterrupted and comfortable sleep for us.  But, it was back to reality when we landed and R headed straight for the office and I was left with all the suitcases and dirty clothes.  Before messing with any of that, though, I headed straight for the vet to pick up Teddy.  The poor thing whined all the way home…probably in disbelief that I came back for him after that traumatic  experience the first time around in quarantine.  See, dogs have feelings too.  After some extra TLC today, he's right back to normal on his throne as prince of the house.  

Looking forward to settling back into the summer sun and the fun things ahead, like R's birthday tomorrow, Christmas, and my sisters arrival in less than two weeks! 

p.s.  Is it "cheesy" that I love Brad Paisley's song, Southern Comfort Zone?!  Because I do.  And it is so appropriate to our lives right now.  It started playing right as we got in our rental car when we landed coincidentally. Here are some lyric clips that I can relate with if you have never heard it...

"The first time you leave it can be strange, it can be shocking 

Not everybody drives a truck, not everybody drinks sweet tea 
Not everybody owns a gun, wears a ball cap boots and jeans 
Not everybody goes to church or watches every nascar race 
Not everybody knows the words to "Ring Of Fire" or "Amazing Grace" 

And I been away way too long 
I can't see this world unless I go 
Outside my Southern Comfort Zone 

I have walked the streets of Rome, I have been to foreign lands 
I know what it's like to talk and have nobody understand 
I have seen the Eiffel Tower lit up on a paris night 

I can see the ways that I grown 
I can't see this world unless I go 
Outside my Southern Comfort Zone 

I miss your biscuits and your gravy 
Fireflies dancing in the night 

I have since become a gypsy 
And I just can't wait to pack 
Cause I know the route I leave on 
It will always bring me back "

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