Dazzling Christmas 2014

So much has happened on the month long vacation so far and we have just left the Midwest!  We spent nearly a full week in East Lansing with the parents and Chad and enjoyed every minute of it.  We flew to Chicago last Tuesday, arriving late and enjoying Chicago deep dish pizza before making the long drive back to Michigan.  The first impression of the new homestead was festive and magical.  The parents have really done a fantastic job with the house and I love the neighborhood.  We stayed up late talking and didn’t get to bed until 4am!

We woke late on Christmas Eve morning and it was quite the rainy day.  We had a few errands to run for last minute Christmas shopping and there were a lot of presents to wrap up.  Mom made her usual and exquisite clam chowder and crab legs which was such a treat!  During dinner it majestically started snowing so we ended up walking to church.  By the time we arrived at church we were all pretty soaked.  People’s church put on a great Christmas Eve service, complete with my favorite hymns, an enthusiastic but well written sermon, and the candlelighted singing of “Silent Night”.  We headed home for grasshopper pie and Christmas Vacation in our Christmas pjs.

Bryan didn’t sleep much at all and what I assumed was just Christmas excitement was actually from something else he had up his sleeve.  He woke me up early Christmas morning and we headed down for coffee and presents.  We started with stockings per usual and then moved to gifts for each other.  I think everyone in the family did quite well this year.  I was very excited for Bryan to get his new Patagonia vest, which he already loves.  After presents Bryan was eager to go for a walk around the neighborhood. Not before doing my hair and makeup though.  We set out in the gray morning and walked and talked while I was wearing my mom’s boots and coat.  I was headed back in the house when Bryan asked me to stay and TALK…

Bryan gave a beautiful speech to me outside my parent’s home telling me how he wants to start a family with me and build a home and family together, that the past 3 1/2 years he has been the happiest he ever has and it is because of me.  It was super sweet but to be perfectly honest I didn’t take in much.  I was tearing up with joy and shock and could not think.  He pulled out the ring and got down on one knee and asked me to marry him!  Of course I SAID YES!

We were greeted inside by all three family members who where also joyous and teary-eyed.  They had poured us mimosas, we facetimed with Bryan’s family and then sat down to the breakfast that my dad made for us.  I was beaming but in shock and it took some time for my head to catch up with my heart.  After the eventful morning we packed up and headed over to Grandma’s.  Everyone already knew but we made the announcement anyways.  We had our usual circle of presents and laughs and then dove into the food.  As usual the food was great and after not having much of an appetite at breakfast I was happy to have the pulled pork, baked beans, coleslaw, cheesy potatoes, fruit and cocktail shrimp.  After dinner we broke out Taboo and played guys vs. girls which was a blast.  The girls won!  We didn’t head back home until late and Bryan was tired from stress and lack of sleep so we hit the sack pretty quickly and called each other fiance for the very first time.

That diamond ring!
That diamond ring!

The day after Christmas actually felt rather normal, despite the ring on my finger.  We slept in, Bryan and I took my ring in to be resized, we had lunch at Tabooli in Lansing, shopped for cameras at the Lansing Mall and then met the family at Court One for a little post holiday workout  It did feel normal.  That night we had arranged to meet up with a bunch of the girls from ELHS but got Topoppo salads and margaritas first with the parents and Nisa at El Azteco.  We then headed to the Black Cat Bistro to catch up with Claire, Chiara, Caroline, Colette and Nisa.  It was so great seeing them all, catching each other up to speed with life, making fun and telling Bryan my stories.  These are definitely girls whom I love very much and will always have a great bond with and many memories.  We stayed out until about midnight before saying our goodbyes.

Without the snow to go snowmobiling Saturday and Sunday were kind of free days, thus lazyish days.  But oh so nice to have with the family.  Saturday we picked up Aladdins, which always makes me happy, walked Sophie with the family while throwing the football around and then headed back to the house to make homemade spaghetti and bolognese for the whole family and Grandma and Grandpa.  It was a lot of fun to teach them but a little bit of a mishap with breaking the new machine.  Regardless we got dinner on the table, watched football, talked and then broke out the New Zealand lighthouse 1000 piece puzzle after the grandparents left.  We got quite far before all of us were too tired to concentrate any longer.

Sunday night was originally the day we were supposed to head back to Chicago but thankfully we got another day to spend at home with everyone.  We were able to finish the puzzle, finish the leftovers, head back to Court One one more time, and clean up before heading to the bar to watch the NFL games.  We all wore our Seahawks gear to cheer them on against the Rams, which they won to win the NFC title.  Unfortunately, the Lions couldn’t beat the Packers in Wisconsin.  We all watched at the new Peppino’s in town which offered great $.49 buffalo wings, zucchini fries, Michigan beers on tap and several screens.  Bryan and I at least left the bar victorious and everyone left full and happy. Sunday night I passed out pretty early watching Home Alone and sharing a banana split with the boy.

Monday morning we packed, said goodye to Dad and then grabbed a big bite at the Xiao lunch buffet.  Chad and Mom dove us to the train station in Battle Creek where we hopped on the Amtrak heading to Chicago Union Station.  The train ride was comfortable and we made it to our hotel at the Intercontenental on Michigan Avenue around 5pm.  After checking in we headed on the Red Line to Chad’s house to pick up our new camera.  It was fun and easy taking the train and we got to see Chad’s part of town and house.  By 8pm we were at the bar at Quartino’s for Italian tapas.  We ordered a 1/2 bottle of wine, the sun-dried tomato soup, caprese salad, brussel sprouts, mediocre ravioli, and calamari.  We were tired and just headed back to the room with frozen yogurt from the nicest Walgreen’s ever to finish watching the Texasbowl game against Arkansas.  Not a good day for Texas football though.

Tuesday morning we got our free Starbucks downstairs of the hotel and packed up for the airport.  Our first flight of the day was from Chicago Midway to Los Angelos, a 4.5 hour flight.  We got Potbellys for lunch before boarding and the flight was relatively smooth despite me not having much of anything to do on the plane.  We arrived in LAX, picked up our bags, took the shuttle to the International Terminal, and checked in quite early.  Our first hiccup was the surprise that we were each only allowed one checked bag so we are now stuck with paying $75 for a 3rd bag and using the small one as a carryon on each flight.  Oh well, I am already over it.  Security was a breeze and we had several hours in the airport to waste.  We first got Panda Express and sat to watch the football bowl games.  Then we bought rum and tequila in the Duty Free, made phone calls and each went a little crazy.

We are ready to go!
We are ready to go!

Next is Tahiti…


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