Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Christmas Marathon in Kansas (and Texas and Oklahoma)

After brunch on Sunday with my cousin's family to end the wedding weekend extravaganza, Jake's parents picked us up and we headed to Granbury, Texas.  Jake's sister's family moved from Abilene, Kansas to Granbury, Texas this summer and we headed to their new house to celebrate Christmas.

We had a great time in Granbury.  Andrew has been learning how to play the miniature tuba and he really enjoyed playing a duet with Jake.  The boys played frisbee in the backyard.  Nathan might be shy but that won't stop Jake from holding him :).
I love playing games and we always play Moon with Jake's family during Christmas.  Since the weather was so nice we headed to Granbury Lake to throw some rocks and to feed the ducks.
(From left to right) Jake, Kara, Ken, Janet, Andrew, Annie, Nathan, Stephen 

We had a great time in Texas.  Thank you for letting us stay Stephen, Annie, Andrew and Nathan!

 We headed to Wichita on Tuesday, December 17th.
We used to have Grandy's in Wichita but they closed a long time ago so whenever we drive through Oklahoma we always stop and eat at Grandy's.  They have great fried chicken and rolls.  It was really good!
I know this picture is kind of cheesy but I was excited to be back in Kansas!
We were in Wichita for less than 24 hours before heading to Olathe.  I had dinner with some friends at Old Chicago on Tuesday night right after we got back.  I woke up early on Wednesday morning and headed to get my haircut before we left town.

We had 6 busy days in Olathe before we headed back to Wichita for Christmas.  Jake went to work at the Garmin office in Olathe as soon as we got back into town and I headed to the dentist. We had dinner with some of my school friends our first night back in Olathe which was great!  Oh how I missed them!  It was great that the first day back I got to see my friends.
It was so good to hang out with these guys!
Amy and I were trying to get a good picture and Jake wasn't being very helpful so Amy decided to take one on her phone.  I think she is telling Jake how great he is and how much she missed him in that picture :).  My friend Amy won the "hanging out with me the most while I was home" award.  Before this get together she asked me to come over and hangout.  We hung out the next day and a few other times.  I think my favorite was when Amy had a bad day and she just needed me to come over so she could vent.  My love language is quality time and I had lots of it with Amy!

We had lots of lunches or dinners with friends while we were back and of course we had to eat at some of our favorite restaurants.  While we were in Olathe we had Iron Horse, Oklahoma Joe's, Mi Ranchito (technically we only went there once but thanks to a great friend and their drive through I had their salsa and espinaca three times while we were back), Noodles and Company, Chipotle, Schlotzsky's, Little Caesars, Pizza Hut, Braum's (in Emporia), and of course Dr. Pepper which I realize isn't a restaurant but I had it at almost every restaurant so that still counts :).

I was able to stop by my old school to see some friends and students.  I miss teaching. A lot.  I know I still go to a school 3.5 days a week but it isn't the same.  I don't get to see my teammates and I'm not in charge of the classroom.  I know I'll be back in the classroom someday but it most likely won't be with all the same coworkers and that makes me sad.  Our district opened a new elementary school this year and almost our entire staff moved to that school.  Literally, there were 7 of us staying I think and then I moved to Stockholm.  I also went to the new school to see other friends and a few students I knew as well.  There were lots of hugs that day and it was great!

We headed to Wichita on Christmas Eve morning.  We had lunch with some friends at Saigon, another restaurant on our list of must haves while we were back.  It was great being able to make time to see friends we hadn't seen in a while.

We always spend Christmas Eve with Jake's family.  Like I've mentioned before his mom's side of the family is from Sweden and in Sweden they celebrate Christmas on the 24th.  We headed over to his parents house for appetizers, Christmas music, dinner and presents.
We brought home some glögg, hot mulled wine, home from Sweden to share with our families.  
After opening presents we headed to Christmas Eve candlelight service with my parents.  We usually go to the church Jake used to go to when he lived in Wichita.  It was fun catching up with people before heading to my parents house for the night.

Christmas day this year was really laid back since we weren't celebrating with my family until Saturday.  We hung out at my parent's house during the day before heading to Jake's parents house for Christmas dinner.
Christmas Day dinner at Jake's parents house.  I love the place cards.
On December 26th we headed to Oklahoma to see the Knox Cousins.  Recently we've only been able to ee them once a year in May but this year we really wanted to see them while we were back.  I am SO glad it worked out.  We had a great time hanging out, eating great food and catching up.
Top: Ken and Janet with Kathy (Ken's sister) and Dick
Middle: Cousins and spouses :) - Kara, Jake, Tim, Nicole, Andy, Diana, Megan, Matt, Amy, Aaron
Bottom: The girls.  Technically I am just a cousin-in-law which might seem like I shouldn't care if I get to see these girls but I do.  I love spending time with these ladies.  I look up to them and learn so much from them about how to love God and your husband well. I just love being around them.  Thanks for making me feel included!
On December 27th I met up with a friend and his wife at Taco Shop for lunch (another restaurant on my list of places to eat while I was in Wichita).  It was great to catch up with them while they were in town.

In the afternoon of the 27th I got to see my roommates!!!  Thankfully it worked out and we were all able to get together at the same time.  We were able to hang out and talk while the little boys played and the big boys talked.  We had pizza and talked some more and then something happened that has never happened in the 10 years these girls have been lovingly referred to as my roommates.  We played a game . . . and I am not the one that suggested we play it!!!!  Seriously.  In the middle of hearing the rules I interrupted to point out that a game was about to be played and I didn't initiate it.  It was a huge moment.  We played Quelf.  Awful title, but the game was fun.  I feel like it is one of those games you have to play with really close friends or people you barely know.  If you kind of know people it could be really awkward to play this game with them.  I haven't laughed that hard in a while and it was so good!

I love that Ryan is "helping" Caleb in the background of the picture with Eli and me.
Emily (and baby boy #2), Jami, Kelli, Me - Thanks for making time to see us!  Love you girls!

We celebrated Christmas with my family on Saturday, December 28th.  We had a great time opening presents, eating delicious rolls my mom always makes and playing with the kids.

Avery had a Christmas list this year for Bunny.  She wanted Bunny to have Cinderella dress and a Belle dress and thanks for Grandma (my mom) she got both.  My Grandma (my dad's mom) used to make us clothes and dresses for our babies and I love that my mom is doing that for my niece.

For the past several years Jake's Dad has taken our family picture on the night we celebrate Christmas.  This year the weather was nice so we headed to Sedgwick County Park to take a few pictures.

Lindsay, Jocelyn, Aaron, Avery, Jake, Kara, Debbie, Larry, Maci, Missy, Robbie, Jace

Thanks Ken for taking our pictures!
After pictures we headed back to my parents house for dinner and to watch K-State play Michigan in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl and K-State WON!

On Sunday, December 29th we had my dad's side of the family over for lunch.  It was great seeing everyone and catching up.  That side of the family can be really loud and crazy and I am so thankful that we were able to get together before Jake and I headed back to Olathe.

On Monday, December 30th we went to Topeka for a funeral.  Jake's Grandpa's Brother passed away.  It was nice to be able to see that side of the family but I just wish it was under different circumstances.  I had met Gordon a few times but didn't know him very well but I do know his kids and grand-kids and they are wonderful.  We hadn't seen some of his cousins on that side of the family in a long time so it was nice to catch up before we left.

We were in Olathe for about 5 days before we flew back to Stockholm.  While we were there we hung out with some more friends, had a small get together at our house for New Year's Eve, had one more get together with my coworkers and did some last minute shopping before we packed up and headed back to Stockholm.

The day before we flew back my brother and sister in law asked me to take my nieces to school because they had different hours than usual and they couldn't do it.  It meant I had to get up super early and drive over in the snow but it was fun getting to see them one more time before heading back to Stockholm.  I sure miss my nieces and nephews when we are gone.  They change so much in such a short amount of time.
Jocelyn is getting so big and Avery and Bunny are matching :).

We spent a total of 28 hours flying home and back plus we were in the car for a total of 27 hours going to Texas, Oklahoma, Wichita, Olathe and Topeka but it was worth it to see all of our friends and family we could while we were back (and there were still lots of people we wished we could have spent time with).

It was interesting being back because we had lots of people ask us the same questions: What do you like most? What has been your favorite part about living in Stockholm?  Will you be ready to go back?  Someone suggested that next time we come home we should just set up a presentation so we don't have to keep repeating ourselves :).  But the funny thing was when we would ask what they were up to some didn't want to say much since they were just doing the "same old boring stuff" but it is nice to hear what others were up to instead of just repeating what we've been doing.  Plus, I hate to break it to some of you, we have boring days too.  Jake and I still go to work, we (I) still have to shop for groceries, make meals, clean, do laundry, all the normal boring things everyone has to do we are just doing that in a different place.

While we were back some days were a little overwhelming being surrounded by so many people and answering the same questions. After 3.5 months of only being around Jake and then 23 days of being constantly around friends and family can be a little bit much but . . . it was really great!  We spent so much more quality time with friends and family this Christmas than we ever have before.  When you aren't around people you really start to realize that relationships are what matter.  So thank you to all of you who rearranged your schedules to see us during such a busy time of the year!

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