What a treat to wake up on New Year's Day to this little grand-baby!
But we also had to say good-bye to this little cutie (and her parents) on the first day of the year. That's never fun, but we had to head home.
The beginning of the year started with our road trip, from Oregon back to Texas. We squeezed in 2 family visits, in the first 2 days of January.
We had lunch with my sis and sister-in-law, on the first day. We had dinner with our son and daughter-in-law on the second day. No complaints about that!
I soaked up all the scenery, during the 6 days of travel home.
Luckily the roads were clear of snow on our first day. The windshield was pretty filthy by the time we reached west Texas. I pretended it was snowing.
More Views from the Car
Being winter, we took the southern route. We stayed in Tucson one night and I snapped a photo of a pretty church, not far from our hotel.
In the sleepy Texas town of Van Horn, we spotted this Blue Origin mural. That was sort of amusing, so I snapped a pic from the car.
Best Stop on the Route
But the very best stop on our route was in Riverside, California. We booked one night at the historic Mission Inn Hotel.
Our trip was more about destination than exploration. We were all about getting home. But we made a last minute decision, to enjoy a night at Mission Inn.
This grand hotel was worthy of a being our destination.
The hotel complex covers an entire city block and gave us lots to explore.
Arriving on January 3rd, we had the added bonus of seeing the Festival of Lights display... without crowds.
We made it home to Texas by January 6. The next night we had a second mini Christmas, opening the gifts we left behind.
Our holiday trip to Oregon, had been a last minute change in plans. It was a treat to get home and have a little extended celebrating, a week after Christmas.
Christmas for Two
I was in no hurry for the holidays to end. We enjoyed a tiny feast for 2.
And we enjoyed some gifts for two! This wasn't the first time that Don and I gave each other the same gift.
Pitiful and Funny
After traveling in the first week, my focus was "un-decorating" during the second week of January. I wasn't too surprised to se the sea of needles under the tree.
It was a pretty hideous sight. Our fresh tree was not so fresh! It was easier to face the pitiful tree with a camera and sense of humor.
I was never so happy to get rid of a tree. There was still water in the stand, but the tree refused to drink while we were gone.
I used my new gift of work gloves, to deal with the removal task.
We started January with family and good scenery. Then we arrived home and did little with the rest of the month.
I was perfectly fine with that. There was time to catch up on some important things. Lounging and Zooms/phone chats with friends. Nice to be home.
December was a crazy month, with lots of last minute changes. We had expected to have Christmas in Texas, with the kids.
But with Omicron cases spiking, we all worried over the safety of our unvaccinated grand baby. Flights were cancelled and Don and I drove to Oregon.
I got a little manic, in the first weeks of December. I decorated every surface I could find. It's been 5 years since the "married kids" have all been in this house together.
Baby Charlie has never been to our house, so I put out silly things... that a 10-month-old is far too young to care about. I practiced the carols, that I played for our kids, when they weren't old enough to sing.
And I decorated for the adult kids. Scott likes the old ceramic tree... once corny, but now kitschy.
I pulled out all the Xmas coffee mugs and holiday glasses and silly decor for Tiki Night.
Don did as much as he could. It's not easy to help, when your fractured back is trying to heal. I did the tree hauling and decorating. He cheered me on!
We finished up our renovation projects and the upstairs rooms were ready. I made a lame attempt at outside lights. Good enough! By December 21, the house was ready to welcome the kids home.
On the 21st, the house was ready, but suddenly our eager moods changed. Don and I spent all day debating with the kids, through texts and phone calls. Advice from doctor relatives and pediatricians, had us extra worried about air travel with a baby. Our kids were concerned about their parents as well. Especially the one who had open heart surgery...
By 9 pm, we decided we all wanted to be together, with the lowest risk. Don and I said we'd drive out the next day. I gathered the boxes the kids had shipped to Texas. I bagged the wrapped gifts.
In the morning we threw some clothes in suitcases, grabbed bread and peanut butter and filled the car. We were off by 10 and hoped to make it to Portland in 5 days.
As soon as the car pulled from the drive, I stopped moping about the Christmas we weren't going to have in balmy Texas. I started focusing on being together, in wintry Oregon!
It was an odd 5 days, rushing through 5 states during the holidays. One morning I lived it up, with red Krispy Kreme donuts! On Christmas Eve I crossed my fingers for good luck as we left our hotel. We worried over winter storms and mountain passes.
We ended up taking the safer and much longer, coastal route. It landed us in the magical town of Ferndale, CA by 7 pm. For Christmas Eve dinner we had cheese and crackers in our room and felt giddy to know we'd be with the family on Christmas.
Luckily Don's back didn't bother him while driving. He drove the whole 2,700 miles!
We couldn't complain about driving on Christmas, when we studied the scenery. The rainbow seemed to be a pretty good sign! We texted Christmas greetings during the day and made it to Happy Valley just before dark!
The house couldn't have felt cozier. There was a fire and a lit tree. The kids handed us champagne and unloaded the car for us.
Baby Charlie woke up from her nap and I had to hold back my giddiness, so I didn't scare her. But after a few minutes, Charlie happily went along with the celebration! I tried my best to share, but it wasn't easy!
We were quick to shift the calendar dates. When you don't leave the house, it's easy to believe that December 26th is Christmas Eve. For the next couple days, we celebrated with food, games, music and gifts.
No captions needed. It was wonderful to be together.
There was a new layer of snow the day Scott and Chali had to head back to Sacramento.
I'm glad they had a couple days to hang out before we arrived. But it was hard saying good-bye. Luckily they made it home safely in a day.
Don and I had a quiet couple days, before we left to head home.
We got in some book reading time. Charlie loves Don's chin.
New Year's Eve
It was a quiet New Year's Eve. We didn't spend time reflecting on the year. 2021 will not be remembered as a favorite, for most. But it was the year this baby was born... during a pandemic, in the middle of an ice storm... on Valentine's Day.
We made no resolutions, but toasted with Hotel Nacional cocktails. We made interesting and funny predictions about 2022.
It was a strange year and a strange month. But the last week of December 2021, was a special one!
It didn't really matter where we were. We 7 were together for Christmas and I'm so grateful for that!