The next day was my Dad's birthday, so we followed our tradition of going to confession and mass at St. Joseph's downtown, which was so beautifully decorated. That night Will and Jacquie threw a party for Nona (whose birthday was a few days before) and Dad in their beautiful newly remodeled historical house.
Christmas Eve came next as we celebrated mass at Blessed Sacrament with the Pattersons. Our whole family was complete--Paul came in from New York, Lauren and Mary from Dallas. We ate our traditional buffet meal accompanied with games and our annual viewing of the Muppet Christmas Carol. Readings from the Bible and The Night Before Christmas followed by singing under the tree ended the night for a long winter's sleep.
Christmas morning was so fun!! Emily (after having a hard week trying to adjust to her new world) was happy practically the whole day and was thrilled about her new pooh bear bike. Later on in the afternoon my mom's side of the family came over to visit. At the end of the night we had a Wii Fit Tournament going with about 15 people. We were all exhausted by that point and I can remember my mom saying "let's have a wii clean up tournament".
Early the next morning we drove to Austin to be with the Danzes and McConnells and had a really great day with a beautiful brunch. The weather was perfect so the kids could play outside while we sat on the porch to chat. In lieu of a present exchange, we read scripture and exchanged keys with personal reflections of how to maintain Christ's presence in our daily lives. Later on we played a traditional boys vs. girls Taboo game and watched football. The following day Eli and I met his parents out at the Rock (family ranch). Emily really enjoys feeding the donkeys and cows and Eli loves to beat Fred at darts. In the morning we went to mass in Fredricksburg after a mini fiasco with the carseat. We couldn't get the straps assembled correctly since we washed the cover because Emily and I got sick in the car. After we took the family out to breakfast, we headed back to San Antonio.
Our Christmas outing with Nona to the musical The Christmas Carol was that afternoon. The performance was at San Pedro Playhouse, and it was really well done. The costumes and set were fabulous! (as well as the actors!) We went over to Nona's for ice cream with the Brian-Fagans so Emily could play with Caroline and Natalie.
Over New Years I took a trip alone--first time in nearly 2 years not to sleep right next to Emily--to go visit my friend Karen in Chicago. We had such a great time together. On New Year's Eve we went to a really cool jazz bar in the Lincoln Park Zoo area with some friends of hers. The next day we went downtown to the Water Tower for lunch and shopping and John Hancock and saw where she works, which is next door to the Sears Tower. We of course had some Chicago-style deep dish pizza...delicious!! Wicker Park is the area where she lives--the up and coming, trendy and young part of the city with lots of cool shops, restaurants and bars. The weather was pretty chilly with snow on the ground, but no new snow while I was there. I had a short trip and came back to Eli and Emily with a bad case of the flu and just felt horrible about leaving them! (although they were just fine without me! :)
For Epiphany we started a new tradition (in case you haven't noticed, my family loves traditions!). There is an old Irish tradition which honors the women of the family on Epiphany--a mother's day of sorts. So all the females of the family (about 16 in town) were invited to Tia's house for a special dinner and blessing of her house.
Soon afterwards we said good bye to my siblings from out of town and were sad to take down the Christmas tree and decorations. Before it was all over, Eli and I had a nice date on the riverwalk to see the lights downtown.