Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas Weekend

What a weekend. Ben and I spent the long weekend/holiday back in our hometown of the Quad Cities.

We had a nice surprise to the start of our weekend. Ben's office closes at 5:30, so our plan was our typical "going home" plan: I get off at 4pm, take public transit home, grab the car and dogs, then drive down to Ben's office to leave from downtown when he's off.

During lunch, Ben's company owner decided to close their office at 3pm. I'd worked a bit of extra time during the week so I went to ask my boss if it would be okay for me to leave at 3pm and he stuck his hand out and simply said "Merry Christmas, I will see you next week" and excused me to leave at 1:45!

We dropped Tiny Tim off at another volunteer's house on our way out of town (the parents vetoed a non-pottytrained/4th dog around), and were on our way.  Although we hit some remnants of the storm the previous day (icey roads!) we made it home by 6:30pm.  We went out with my ILs for a QC classic, calzones at Pizza and Subs.  We've searched Chicago high and low for comparisons and there's nothing even close.
Saturday morning we went to brunch with my inlaws at Symposium Cafe before picked up our dogs (their Goldendoodle Rudy and our Osc) before going to Petco.  Ben has always grown up with a dog, so their family tradition has always been to take the dogs to pick out their gifts.
I think Oscar was a bit bummed we said no to the rawhide (choking hazard for bullies!)

We ran around town to finish up a few last minute local gifts before my sister and I went to VonMaur.  It was a good day at Vonmaur! I ended up buying three pairs of boots for myself. 
Two pairs of Corso Como Mott Booties...

...and a pair of Joan of Arctic Sorels. I've spent Chicago two winters with Huntress Wellies and fleece socks and it just does not cut it walking in snow, to and from the train.
aka "Moon Boots" according to Ben and Mr. Sister

I just couldn't help myself. I have been searching all over town for black booties (kid you not, I went to 5 stores in 2 days).  The original retail cost for the three pairs would have been $486....and I paid $170. Not too shabby!  The booties are on sale for $37 (here; down from $149! Call Northpark, Davenport, IA store to have them search your search. Free shipping!) and the Sorel's were $100 (down from $150). I told you VonMaur has the best shoe sale room.

And yes, my sister and I both bought the black. 
We have quite similar tastes, as proven by this picture (from Thanksgiving)


Following the exciting shopping spree and quicken fresh up, we had dinner with my family at Bass Street Chop House. As the same alludes, it's a steak restaurant (although their ahi tuna is also amazing). It's one of the nicest restaurants in the Quad City area, but my dad had bid on a gift certificate as a fundraiser for a local college (although he ended up paying more than the value of it) and it was expiring at the end of the year, so we had a wonderfully delicious meal.
After dinner we drove by our old neighborhood to go by one of the best decorated houses in town. They even have music and a bowl of candy canes for sight seers.  How cute are the huskies?!
Of course, a trip home isn't complete with a stop at Whitey's Ice Cream.  After getting dessert (we always forgo dessert at local restaurants for Whitey's), we headed home for a round of our favorite family game, Ticket to Ride, before calling it a night.
Sunday was our "alternative Christmas" in that we typically host my mom's extended family on Christmas afternoon.  This year we agreed that because a few of us travel from out of town and had to work on Wednesday, to have "Christmas" on Sunday afternoon.  It was lovely to spend to with family.  My mom has five siblings, all with kids, so as you can imagine, I have a good size extended family.  As the years go on and children grow, grandbabies have babies and every year immediate families branch off to do their own celebrations.  The time spend with those who attended was wonderful!  In addition to an adult giftcard white elephants (and gifts for the kiddies, qty: 4), we played Apples to Apples and watched the Sound of Music.
How cute is she? My youngest cousin, age 4, is also the youngest in a family of three boys. She is a spitfire and a sweetie rolled into one.
 Christmas Eve tradition always stands true.  My dad's side of the family, who also have five siblings, comes over for Harris Pizza, although it's typically just my grandma and uncle.  We had them over for lunch and yet again wound up playing Apples to Apples.
Christmas Eve has always been a big celebration on Ben's side of the family, so since we've been married I've adopted the tradition: dinner with extended family at Ben's aunt's house followed by 10pm mass.  Although we rarely go to church, I would like to change that, I do consider myself a Christian and spiritual person.  I love love love the reminder of the true meaning of Christmas before a morning full of gifts.

Another tradition of my in-laws is to watch Christmas Vacation, which we did after church until we couldn't keep our eyes open any longer.
All ready for Santa
Without any extended family Christmas day obligations, our day was slightly more relaxed, although we had the impending three hour drive back to Chicago ahead of us.

Because it felt like we spent the majority of the weekend with my family and at my parents (although we spend two nights at the ILs and 2 nights at my parents to "be fair"), we decided to open prezzies at my parents first, eat breakfast there and then head back to Ben's house until it was time to depart. This meant driving to my parents at 7:30am.

Our now "traditional" Christmas morning shot:
Following gifts, we had a beautiful brunch.  There is nothing like Christmas morning surrounded by loved ones and the smell of my mom's homemade cinnamon rolls.

We were back at my in-laws by 11am to open more presents and for a light lunch following gifts. I'll post some of my fav's later.

By 3pm, we were on the road back to Chicago with a pit-stop to pick up Tiny Tim.  I am not going to lie, I was so happy to see my little buddy and based on the absorbent number of kisses I received at the door, I think the feeling was mutual (uh-oh).

We gave Oscar his gifts, which we required him to open, but wasn't much of an issue after he smelled what was inside (bones).
Don't mind Oscar's blanket

We ended the evening with a gift exchange between Ben and I.  When Ben had suggested we not bring our gifts to one another home, I was kind of surprised.  In the two previous Christmas' we've been married we've exchanged gifts during the exchange with our family.  However, prior to that, during our dating years, we also exchanged at the end of the night, after all of the family gatherings were over.  Exchanging with just the two of us left night gave a bit of nostalgia to the past.  It was cozy. It was intimate and it was perfect.

As I stated on Facebook before bed last night, I feel quite blessed and thankful for the love and generosity of Ben, friends, family, and Savior this holiday season.

Happy Holidays!

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