The thing is, because I've grown up with parents divorced and then remarried (no really, my stepmom came into my life when i was 3 years old), I've often had Christmas celebrations like Hobbits have meals: 1st Christmas, Christmas Eve, Christmas Breakfast, Christmas Day, and Post-Christmas (well, ok, not quite that many, but still). And now that I'm an adult they aren't so much about the presents as about warm holidays filled with family and love and good food and lots of hugs. We do a white elephant-esque gift exchange each year on my Dad's side of the family, and I found a horrible (but also awesome) light up pillow to exchange. It starts out white and fuzzy, but when you lean on it lights up in rainbow colors. I ended up with a clock that is powered entirely by water, but horse traded it afterwards for some old not-so-classic Sci Fi Movies (seriously, things no one has ever heard of, these things weren't even Zardoz calibre). And since this year was also the year of the !BABY! (three of my nephews became fathers this summer), we had a second dinner at my dad's and I got to check in with the happiest baby ever, Luno.
And then there was Christmas breakfast (and Eve, and Day) at my Mom's house, where the present I made her totally made her and her best friend cry. I decided this year I'd make her a kind of hand made quote book where I wrote out inspirational or amusing quotes in a book, intermixed with little letters I wrote to her meant to cheer her up, or remind her she's inspiring, or just an awesome Mom. it was a hell of a fun project to do, even if I was still glueing the day before Christmas because it took waay longer than I thought to assemble all the fiddly bits of paper.
This one is me and my three (step)sisters, one of my nephews (he's just married, not a dad yet) and the blur in the background is actually his wife jumping up into the picture.
Me and my Nephew Lyle (he is a new dad). Yes, I apparently look at the wrong place when taking selfies.
Luno!! Isn't he cute?
My mom pouring coffee at Christmas breakfast (which was raspberry pancakes with raspberry compote)
then for the New Year I was off to South Dakota!
I managed to totally survive in South Dakota in the winter, which was awesome, though I did mostly miss the extra cold stuff by leaving the day it started (of course that meant plane delays and lost luggage, but they eventually delivered me at 1 am and the luggage like two days later).
Cold!!! it was cold there! and hey, listen, as not only a bona fied Californian (born and bred, thank you), but as a current long time resident of Los Angeles (where the temperatures today were a balmy 72 degrees), I do not understand this whole water freezes in the air thing. No, really, I do, but I definitely was grateful for the gloves my stepmom loaned me, and the hat and scarves I packed. And the sweaters. And the warm socks. And the mulled wine.
We mostly did all the stuff that I'd wanted to do on my first trip that was possible to do while temperatures were around freezing.
Visit Sylvan Lake (which was frozen solid - you can see by the footprints)
Yes, that is the rock climbing boyfriend. he had better shoes than i.
We saw the Crazy Horse Monument (under construction) rather than Rushmore (because neither of us is really crazy about Rushmore... ). The sculpture in the foreground is the model for the mountain in the background that will take many many years to complete and will be like 50 times the size of Rushmore when it's done.
Inside!! This is the Journey Museum - they tell the history of South Dakota and more specifically Rapid City (well, the modern parts). It starts with rock formation and dinosaurs though, and ends with an art exhibit that was not too bad. It stands in also for the Dahl Museum and Art Center (since I forgot to take a picture of that) -- that was my real favorite of the places we went this time because they have modern art. And a dosant who was overjoyed to talk with us about all the exhibits and told me I had to come back and visit every time I returned to Rapid City.
Wild Turkeys on the boyfriend's back lawn. Ok, so this isn't *going* anywhere per se, but we also did a lot of staying in and staying warm (well, and recovering from sickness) while watching all of American Horror Story Season 1 & 2, so this stands in for the view!)
Crystal Lake - it's just a little lake on the edge of town, and we really only stopped because there were so many geese in the lake. But it was an exceptionally beautiful spot.
See, Geese!! And a whole second flock with as many birds in the sky as there are in this picture came and landed while we watched.
Look Ma, No Hands!! I dragged the boyfriend ice skating -- he really did NOT want to go, for fear of falling down. Guess who fell down? ME! but it was worth it to get out on the ice and scoot around anyway. This is pre-fall, can you tell by the joy on my face?
The boyfriend was a great deal more cautious, though he did eventually let go of the rail too and started to get the hang of the whole thing just as I fell.
These are the Spearfish Falls. However, they were the FROZEN Spearfish Falls.
The water from Spearfish Falls area. it's just pretty.
No, really, it's pretty.
Ok, and on my second to last day i had a craving for bagels. We did NOT get the Big Dicks Chili. I did, however, pause to photograph it.
There were some other things that were not memorialized in photograph - getting to finally meet the boyfriend's sister and catch up with his parents, hanging out with his kung fu teacher and cousin on New Years, playing pool and lots and lots of chess in bars and restaurants and coffee shops (and yes, I even won, ONCE), and some other stuff *wink*. Though I'm not sure if I'll go out there again when it's so cold one really can't go outside for very long, it was a good winter trip.
And now I'm back in la-la-land, getting ready to start the semester (i think).
That's what started this whole post - I got my evals from last semester! And man, I pissed off a couple of students (who rated me poor across the board, called me condescending, and were pissed I never finished class on time). The rest, however, seem to have universally agreed that the adjectives that best describe me (and this is from their comments section) were: "enthusiastic" and "energetic" or some form of the two used in combination. LOL. All that coffee is good for something!! I'm both super grumbly about the students who were critical, probably in part because their criticisms hit home, and just a little bit smug about the happy evals. It's so easy to dwell on the bad reviews and not acknowledge the good ones, but I feel like every semester I get a little bit better at both hearing criticism and remembering I did do things right. (well, fingers crossed at least)
also posted to katekat on dreamwidth | you can reply here or there