Saturday, January 31, 2015

Wrapping up the Holidays with a Surpirse Trip to Chicago

 Well it's about time I wrap up the holidays. We spent Christmas here out west and it was actually my first time. We had fun celebrating with both sides of our Washington family. Then on a whim, my sister and I planned for me to fly into Chicago to surprise everyone (more on that later). What a blessing to unexpectedly see all of my family too.

Even around Christmastime, nature is still so accessible here. Here we are at one of our favorite parks in the area, Burfoot park. With only a ten minute hike, you end up down by one of the Puget Sound inlets.

 The moss has taken over, everywhere. There's even ferns and other plants growing through and on top of the moss.


Lucia collected some special rocks and shells to share with her Chicago cousins.

And each time we go she spends most of her time throwing rocks into the water.

There it goes

 I was there too!

And then that same night it was onto our first Christmas celebration at Matt's parents' house.

I didn't get a picture of it, but Lucia lined up all her presents before opening them and wanted to be sure to tell each of us, "these are all mine's". She looooved opening presents this year.

On Christmas Eve at grandma Marilyn's before heading to church.

Lucia loved holding her own candle during Silent Night.

Assessing her new loot on Christmas morning.

While I recreating one my family's Christmas morning traditions of Swedish pancakes.

 Then it was onto Jim and Sundra's in Redmond to celebrate with all the Andersons. Here are all of us cousins.

It was a nice sunny day which was perfect for Lucia since she could parade around sans tights all day. Taking off her tights/pants is usually the first thing she does when getting inside anywhere (in acceptable/non-public places).

Lots of lounging, catching up and hanging out all day. Oh, and of course yummy food too.

Uncle Jim and Lucia doing some quality Frozen reading.

Then I was off to Chicago...and only my sister Greta knew. We drove straight from the airport home to my parents' house where we surprised my mom first...
(She was pretty surprised)

Then we surprised the Johnson fam

Then it was off to surprise all of my Wallgren cousins, aunts and grandma at our family's traditional day after Christmas tea at the Drake in downtown Chicago. Right before we got there, they were all boo-hoo-ing about how everyone was going to be there but me. As you can see from above, Beth was the first was to notice.

Then everyone else started to catch on.

It was so fun to surprise everyone but even more fun to have time with my family at the Drake. Between all of us girls there is always much to catch up on, even more now that I live further away.

 Love me some quality mom and sister time! And then we realize, oh yeah, Dad doesn't know I'm here yet.

 So we went home to surprise him too. He was more confused than surprised though, especially since I had just seen him in Washington a few weeks earlier.

And as a lovely bonus, I got to see my grandpa Erickson who was still in town for Christmas.

And all my aunts too. It was great to have time together.

Oh my, was it great to see all my sweet little nieces! The only one missing here is Sonja. And it was a pleasant surprise for me to see how excited they were to see me!

Renee had grown up the most in the few months I had been away. She went ahead and turned into a little girl on me.

They all tried to Skype Lucia which was super cute except that Lucia acted really weird, barely talking and looking zoned out. Ah well, there's always next time.

I even got to be there for the exciting staples-in-the-head incident with Sonja. She was a brave girl!

I may have not made it home for Christmas but I made it the day after and many of the remnants of Christmas still lingered. I ate leftover egg casserole and rice pudding from the special day topped off by mom's Christmas cookies (which are always the best). I saw The Holiday Affair DVD case resting by the TV which I know my parents watched the day before Christmas Eve while wrapping presents as is their yearly tradition. I got to have a late night at my aunt Marcia's hanging out with family like usual and go to tea the Drake with my Wallgren family ladies. It wasn't exactly Christmas at home but it was just about close enough for me.

It was strange to be a visitor in my home for the first time. Sure there were all the familiar faces and places. All the things that make home feel like home. I was with my family in places that I called home just months ago. There were the little things like the predictable eye roll from my mom when I told her I'm going to the bathroom almost immediately after sitting down at church or the fact that some people at church said hi to me like I never left cause they're just used to seeing me and the rest of my family there. But it was different this time and it was okay.

I also basically lived like a teenager while in Chicago...I slept in later than I thought was possible anymore, I had to have other people drive me around, lounged around for days, went to dinner just me and my parents and ate junk food like it aint no thang (I'm pretty sure I gained some weight in those mere 5 days, especially considering I consumed my ultimate Chicago pizza trifecta of Lou Malnati's, Barnaby's and Home Run Inn, each important in their own right). The difference of living like this now after being a mom is that I really appreciated it, soaking in each moment with joy. I was fully filled up with love from family and friends plus good food only found in Chicago. Thanks to all who made it a great trip, especially the one and only Greta who made it possible.

The week after I got back my dad was in town for work so we met up with him, Anne, Pete and Sommar at his hotel for some swim time.

Lucia always loves jumping on hotel beds.

And hanging out with her cousin Sommar.

She loved seeing grandpa again! And she was really sad to say bye to him this time.

More Sommar-time at her house

With the Superbowl coming up tomorrow our life is consumed with all things Seahawks. Here was Lucia getting ready for the game a few weeks ago.

And here's how that first half against the Packers felt.

Until things started to pick up...

And then it all turned out alright in the end, barely. Now we'll just hope for that tomorrow. Lucia is the least enthusiastic of our family..she usually refuses to wear Seahawks gear, she cries whenever anyone yells during games and has said when asked whether the Patriots or Seahawks are gonna come out on top that the Patriots are gonna win the Superbowl...maybe it's good luck?

The only reason I took this one was because I was so excited that it was warm enough in January to sit outside with our coffee in Seattle! Yay, I love the warm and sunny days in the winter here. And no, it does not rain every day here but shhhhh...I'm not supposed to tell you that lest everyone move here:)

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