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Home for the Holidays -Merry Christmas!!

On Christmas Eve, Kayle, Mom, Dad and I went to JourneyMate Ministries to celebrate. It was a nice service, and it was wonderful to share it with family for once.

After the service, we met Kate back at the house to exchange gifts! This year everyone used Amazon for gift research, so many of us got what we'd been dreaming of :) My thoughtful and overly generous family got me many awesome gifts, I'd like to brag about it :D

From my sister Kate, a first edition autographed set of Neal Stephenson books!!

From my sister Kayle, a certificate entitling me to a rental car and hotel in ANY city!!
(She always has the greatest gift ideas)

From my parents, Russian language software!!

They also very generously gave me some money for hotels next year
(because I'll be driving my car and the train will be late).

And from my dear boyfriend, ALL of Mahler's symphonies!!

Can't wait to listen to them all :)

My parents got some nice presents as well. Check out my mom's reaction to one of her gifts!

My dad's big gift was a toolbox. We disguised it as our 'tree' this year. Haha.
(photo accidentally deleted. Sigh.)

The next morning I went over to Kate's house for a gift exchange with her, Raven and Jonah!

Bo (Kate's cat) enjoyed a catnip cigar like a boss,
then ignored all of his other presents in favor of the box they came in.

Jonah got a leather jacket, Kate got a new mixer, and I got The Night Circus, a bluetooth speaker, and a beautiful Tibetan dragon painted on rice paper to hang in my train room.
It's a bit big, but I'm going to try and make it work!

Raven got a new macbook (cue another gift reaction shot):

In addition, Kate generously got us all a bunch of candies and other stocking stuffers, and a box of Japanese candies to try! Overall it was just super nice to have all of us together in the same room, reminiscing and sharing Christmas for the first time in years. I'm very grateful that we were able to celebrate together!

After that, Kate and Raven and I went over to mom and dad's for Christmas Day dinner. Mom made walnut-encrusted honey salmon, buttered pollock, Spätzle, and chilled shrimp with broccoli and asparagus (we were trying to be healthy). We ate and played games until it was time to say goodnight.

I was so happy to get some real family time this Christmas, and that the members of our 'split' family were able to mingle more freely and comfortably than in the past. It's wonderful to see how everyone has changed and grown. I'm proud of my family!!!

The days leading up to New Years were filled with errands and visits. Our Aunt Nicole came over to play games one night, bringing some very thoughtful gifts (thanks Aunt N!). On Saturday we went to an Amish farm for dinner. I mean, REAL all-natural food prepared by two Amish sisters! Someday I will drag some friends out to the middle of nowhere to experience this, because it was delicious and an experience. We ate in the basement of their own house. They had gas lamps for heat, and all of the food was raised/grown on their farm.

We had planned to hang out with my sister Kate for her birthday, but unfortunately she was sick :( It was also raining pretty hard, so instead we just relaxed and played games. Kayle and I packed for our travels; she's going to Philly for New Year's, and I'm going to North Carolina to visit friends!

It's been a wonderful trip home. Although still on 'break', tomorrow I will hit the road again.

Other stuff:

My sister vined some of my bad juggling. I was trying to flip the apple over the oranges, but it just hit an orange midair. Circus kids under the age of ten are far better at this skill :P CLICK HERE to watch. Thanks for nothing lj for not letting me embed this.

What's at the end of the rainbow you ask? TONKA!!!

Or maybe Mabel!!!

(photos courtesy Ryan)

A recent news article on Blue Unit's Legends show. CLICK HERE

Interview with Blue Unit's ringmaster, and some BTS footage of Legends!!