Monday, December 31, 2012

Sisters Christmas Extravaganza

Greeting from the Mall of America.....poor Jonathan!
Action shot - Margaret wishing Barnes & Noble cashier "Mele Kalikimaka"
Yes, my last post was a recap of our Thanksgiving celebration, however, during the past 5 years or so we have begun to kick off our Christmas preparations immediately following Thanksgiving.  Our good friends, Jon and Shirley (aka "Texas Grandma") were actually witness to this, as we began unearthing all of our Christmas decorations while they were still in town, visiting us for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Bloody Mary lunch at Twin Cities Grill, Mall of America
Another Bloody Mary lunch - at Jake's City Grill, Eagan MN
Lunch with cousin Judy - at Dock Cafe, Stillwater MN
With our house made festive for the season, we welcomed another set of visitors to Minnesota.  Since 2007, the beginning of December has been reserved for some special sister time.  My sisters arrived only 9 days after Jon and Shirley left from their Thanksgiving visit.  In those 9 days we had a Christmas decorating blitz, Jonathan battled a stomach bug and David left for China (temporarily leaving me a "single" mom).  Needless to say, I was more than ready for my sisters to arrive.  The usual sister antics ensued - Christmas shopping, silly girl talk, Bloody Mary lunches, spiked eggnog evenings....which led to dancing to Gangnam style in my family room. We also had a wonderful afternoon with our cousin, Judy, who lives about a half-hour away from me.  After a nice lunch we continued our afternoon shopping in the very pretty gift shops and boutiques in downtown Stillwater, MN.

"The Fun Sisters" - shopping (with photographer, cousin Judy) in Stillwater MN
One thing I must say is that after this second consecutive year here in Minnesota (in prior years we went to my sister's house, outside of Baltimore), the Mall of America will never be the same.  Once silly story to attest to this revolves around a Christmas greeting. Prior to my sisters' arrival, my sister Margaret called me on the telephone.  When I answered the phone, Margaret said to me, "Mele Kalikimaka" (you know the Christmas song that explains that this is the Hawaiian way to say Merry Christmas).  During that phone conversation, Margaret suggested that when we are shopping, instead of saying, "Happy holidays" or "Merry Christmas" to the check out cashier, we should instead say, "Mele Kalikimaka".  Of course, after our first stop inside the Mall of America, I reminded Margaret of this conversation.  We had already checked out at the mall's Barnes and Noble, however, I dared Margaret to go back and say that.  Margaret stood in line again, waited for her cashier, looked him in the eye and said, "Mele Kalikimaka" and then walked away, leaving the cashier looking mighty confused.  Adolescent??...yep, but that is the kind of silliness that we sisters do.  We revert to our childhood.....but have a good time doing so.

David came home from China while my sisters were here. All of us out to dinner at DeGidios, St. Paul MN
Marysia and Margaret were scheduled to leave Minnesota on Sunday, December 9th however we got hit with a nice little snow storm that cancelled flights.  I know that they were looking forward to getting back to their own families, however I was happy that I was able to have any extra day with my sisters.  For a 6 night visit, it definitely wen wayyyy too quickly and it is sad to think that I may not see either of my sisters again until July.  Thankfully I have a huge slew of pictures and video of our time together.  Here are a few to share.....

Photo shoot - Take # 324??

See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil

Awesome sister time!!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

Madeline and "Texas Grandma" making hand turkeys
Our blessings are endless. Amazing friends are one of our most precious blessings and so sharing our first major holiday in our new Minnesota home with close friends helped to make this Thanksgiving extra special.

Happy Thanksgiving!
Jon and David met when they worked together in Niagara Falls, NY - almost 20 years ago.  The two of them hit it off while commiserating over their fairly horrible boss.  Two single guys in their 20's grow their friendships doing "guy things".  And this is what they did - went out for beers, played on a floor hockey league, drank beer, played on a softball league, ordered pizza, drank beer, watched sports and when there was nothing else to do, they probably drank more beer.  Since David was fairly new to WNY at that time, Jon's mom, Shirley, sort of took on the role of David's "Buffalo Mom".  A couple years later, David and I started dating and I soon became part of this circle. 

David and Jon working on Christmas lights
Why is it so damn cold in Minnesota??  Ummm....maybe packing New Orleans attire (shorts) wasn't wise. (You can't tell but it was snowing when this picture was taken)
Jon and his brother, Joe, used to be roommates in an upper flat apartment in North Buffalo - upstairs from their grandma.  Joe got married that spring and in May of 1995, David moved into that apartment, making David & Jon roommates.  That summer was awesome.  A bunch of twenty-somethings (me included) hanging out.....ahhh, how carefree we were.  Jon ended up moving to New Orleans in August of 1995 and that is when I moved in with David.  Although Jon was in Louisiana, "Grandma" (or as she would like to refer to herself as, "a 1912 model") owned the house and lived downstairs from us.  We were always welcome visitors at Shirley's house (who then lived just south of Buffalo) and Shirley was always included in David & my festivities - wedding, graduation parties, baby shower, etc.. Since we have become parents, Shirley has treated our children like her own grandchildren.

The beginnings of gołąbki (cabbage rolls)....made by request
Yes, my post is a rambling of sorts.  Why am I writing about all of this when you might expect me to merely give the sequence of events during the Thanksgiving holiday?  In a nutshell - in such a short period of time David and I became part of Jon's family.  Although Jon moved out of town early in our friendship, the relationship has continued to grow.  David, Jon and I have more than one story to tell about our times together - trivia nights, baseball trips, French Quarter, Jamaica......the list goes on. Yet, the importance of this is that, I did not spend the Thanksgiving holiday with *just* friends.  I spent it with friends that are as close as family.  And as much as David and I love our own families, we all know that actual family is not a choice.  Friends like these are developed, I guess by choice - or as I like to think, by blessing.  They come, if you are lucky, once in a lifetime.

No pity....I managed to chase two kids, go to the Mall of America and make gołąbki. :-P
Working on getting the Christmas tree decorated with Madeline & Jonathan
Shirley's & Jon's visit was so completely relaxing. I am not sure that they would agree, however, as the  kids kept them on their toes.  Jonathan was his usual self - getting into everything, while Madeline kept Shirley on "craft duty". And me?...I kept Jon busy by having him help David with a few things around the house - moving furniture to make room for our Christmas tree, assembling a tree, putting up Christmas lights (which their efforts were pretty much wasted because the fuse keeps blowing on them and only one of the sets stays lit), and doing "man duty" at Best Buy for the hunt for a new TV.  Shirley and I had a nice time chatting, doing a little bit of shopping and just hanging out.  Although we put Jon to work, he also had some down time too.  We stayed up wayyyyy too late one night and had, you can say...overindulged (that'll happen when staying up until 5:30 am - whose bright idea was that??).  Over the course of their visit, we had lots of good laughs, watched a movie (okay, *they* did - I snored on the couch) and started to decorate for Christmas. We pretty much enjoyed a "family" gathering together- a little bit of everything, and plenty of nice memories were made.

Most importantly, my family and I were able to share Thanksgiving with wonderful friends, for which we are thankful.  We are blessed, and thankful for this extension of our own family and can't imagine not having them as part of our life.
Jonathan taking the ornaments back OFF of the tree.