Here is a small glimpse at our very first Christmas as a married couple with both friends and family!
Posts Tagged With: Family
I love the holiday season because of precious time spent with family and friends. Both Matt and I have our families in the Dallas area (for the first time in years, we all live in the same city!), which makes for days filled with celebration.
As we all spend time together, I so enjoy the Christmas music and movies, late nights enjoying a glass of wine and playing games, the fantastic food, and the excitement as presents are opened and you hope you’ve gotten everyone just what they want.
I also love that so many of our friends are here during this time – so far we’ve been able to see quite a few of them for some festive celebrations. From Christmas sweater parties to dinner out with longtime friends in downtown McKinney, it has been such a wonderful time for everyone to come together.
Matt and I have many family and friends in other states and abroad that we won’t get to see this holiday season. Therefore, we want to extend our warmest wishes in hopes that everyone has a joyous, safe and Merry Christmas, and a very happy new year!
Matt and I have integrated ourselves back into the Dallas scene lately with a couple nights out to watch the Stars, to celebrate at baby showers, and to spend time with friends and family over the holidays. There never seems to be a very dull moment, which is a nice way to start off our time back in the States.
Thanksgiving is easily my favorite holiday since it is the trifecta of festivities: food, family and football. We got to celebrate not one, not two, but three Thanksgiving bashes this year! The first kicked-off with our friends, Brittain and Aaron, when they hosted Friendsgiving in their home. This would be my first Friendsgiving and I certainly hope it is not my last. Aaron smoked the turkey on the grill and we all brought something to contribute to the potluck dinner. What a fun night!
Our other Thanksgiving celebrations occurred with our respective families, all festive and fun. There is nothing quite like a home-cooked holiday meal to put this girl into good spirits. Turkey, potatoes, stuffing…yum. And with Christmas right around the corner, the good food and time spent with family are just going to keep on coming.
Other than holiday festivities, Matt and I have attended a couple professional hockey games. Now would you believe that as much as I love sports, I’ve never been to a live, professional hockey game? When I watched hockey on TV in the past I thought it was a pretty boring sport, but after going in person, I am hooked! It is so fast-paced, there is constant action and when the Stars score a goal, mayhem! We are very thankful to our good friend who helped us gain tickets to both games we’ve gotten to see so far (thanks Dallas!).
And of course, as I mentioned earlier, I’ve gotten to attend a couple baby showers for my sweet friend Taylor. I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to be able to celebrate my friends, in person instead of from afar, when big things happen in their lives. I was lucky enough to attend her couples shower in the Dallas area with Matt, and then to tag along to Oklahoma to see her one more time at her other shower before baby Blake arrives.
There is much more to come in the month of December – a Beyoncé concert, Melissa’s company Christmas party (I’m her date!), more holiday festivities – so stay tuned!
A month has come and gone since my last post, and for that, I’m very sorry. I find that when I’m doing a hefty amount of traveling, I can’t seem to settle down long enough to post anything of worth. That being said, the obvious reason for my disappearance was that I’ve spent the better part of the last thirty days traveling. At this point, I’m sure you’re imagining me in exotic locals, like the colorful markets of Morocco or the storybook streets of Germany. Yet, I was somewhere much more special: with family and friends in the United States of America.
The first stop on my American road trip was Detroit, Michigan to visit my sister, Melissa. I’d never been to Detroit, so having this handy tour guide was a must. Melissa lives in an area called Birmingham that is so full of charm and suburban wonder that the Detroit stereotype seems much more imagined than reality. The reality is that Detroit is a struggling city, but areas like Birmingham make up for it. While I was there, my cousin Dan came in town to visit, I met Melissa’s boyfriend, and I just relaxed as much as possible. We had a great time introducing me to true Detroit culture.
While in Detroit, I made the short trip to Saline to see my Aunt Jen, Uncle Phil, and my cousins Maggie and Jack. They only live about an hour from Melissa, so she’s lucky enough to get to spend loads of time with them on a regular basis. It had been at least two years since I’d seen them, so I went out to catch Maggie and Jack’s soccer games and to hang out at their house for a visit. Melissa joined us for most of the day, during which time we spent most of the time playing Taboo outside on the deck. The next day, my Aunt Jen took me to Ann Arbor to see the University of Michigan and to have lunch. It was really special to get to spend some extra time with all of them, even if I would be seeing them again later in the week. After two days in Saline, though, it was back to Detroit to spend a couple more days with Mel before the next leg of our journey.
From Detroit, Melissa and I traveled to Arizona to see my cousin Katie get married. And we weren’t just spectators – we were bridesmaids! Katie’s immediate family lived in Dallas when we did, and all of the kids are close in age. So we spent many weekends getting into trouble with our awesome cousins. Fast forward to the present day, one of us getting married, and all of us there to take part. The wedding was held in Sedona at an amazing resort called L’Auberge. From breakfasts outside along the creek bed, to the stunning backdrop during the ceremony itself, this was a wedding not to be forgotten anytime soon. Every single detail was planned to perfection and by the time she walked down the aisle, Katie looked as stunning as any bride could get. There was a great amount of joy and love in the air, from sentimental and hilarious speeches to time well spent with family. My favorite moment during the weekend? A moment that lasted a few hours – getting ready with all of the girls. And I mean ALL of the girls. Katie invited all of the women to stop by during the day, so aunts and cousins and grandmothers and friends flooded the room, creating such wonderful memories all day.
After a whirlwind weekend, I was off to Dallas. I wanted to extend my trip to visit with my immediate family a little longer and to see my Dallas friends. I may go months without seeing some of these people, but when we do get together, it’s like nothing has changed. For instance, while playing Catch Phrase with a group of about fifteen friends at a Mexican brunch on Sunday at the end of the weekend, I was hit with a wave of nostalgia. I can’t count how many times in college that my friends and I would slowly wake on a weekend, gather together, and find food to replenish our energy, whether it be at Pei Wei or The Diner or some other greasy joint. There is also nothing like hanging around the house with my parents during the summer, swimming in our backyard pool, and popping down to the McKinney Square for a burger or bowl of pasta. That is what home should feel like: familiar and comfortable.
Alas, my time in Texas came to a close and the last leg of the journey was upon me. As excited as I was to continue my travels and see Matt after three weeks, I was overwhelmed with sadness to leave. Yet the show must go on, and the final leg of the trip was New York City. This wasn’t originally part of the plan, but when I’ll Have Another won the Kentucky Derby and then the Preakness, Matt was adamant that we travel to the Belmont to see the Triple Crown race. While Triple Crown hopes disappeared with the sudden injury of I’ll Have Another (and I must say, this made for a very upset boyfriend), we made the best of the weekend and enjoyed New York and the Belmont for what they had to offer. We saw Times Square and strolled through Central Park. I took a ride on the merry-go-round and we had a beer while watching the motorized boats on the lake. We walked down Madison Avenue and did a bit of window-shopping, ate some pretty incredible food both evenings, had lunch in Battery Park and went to the 9/11 Memorial. This last activity took my breath away and was quite sobering, especially when we came across a family mourning the loss of a victim. One cannot truly put into words the feeling of being at Ground Zero.
As for the Belmont itself, the crowd was still rather large considering it was no longer a Triple Crown race. We bet the races leading up to the big event, and Matt (the horse racing guru) won a lot. The big race was exciting nonetheless, with a last-second victory by Union Rags. The weather was perfect – just slightly overcast so that there was a continuous breeze, keeping the temperatures down and the enjoyment up. On Sunday, Matt flew back to London, followed by me on Monday, and together we finished the journey to Gibraltar on Tuesday.
While I’m happy to be back with Matt and at work again, there’s really nothing quite like going home again. When you move abroad you make new friends, create a home for yourself, and do everything possible to create a normal world in which you can feel happy living. However, new experiences and new places do not replace the friends and family back home, rather they add to your happiness. The same could be said after I left Ireland and the friends and “family” I created there. I try not to think of it as leaving behind anymore, but instead, making anew. That being said, I don’t forget where I come from or the people that have impacted my life along the way, so going home – whether it be Dublin, Dallas, Cincinnati, Norman, Indianapolis, etc. – means reconnecting with those that I love and the country I’m proud to be from.
Almost exactly a year ago, my parents came to Dublin to visit me. It was their first trip to the Emerald Isle and I was so excited to show them my home and what Dublin has to offer. Hopefully, someday we’ll all be able to go back and bring Melissa with us, but see even more of the country than we did last spring. Until then, we have some pretty great memories from the first trip, and I can’t wait to share my new home with them soon.
Me and my pops at Trinity College. This was the first day of their trip and of course Dublin welcomed them with plenty of rain. We still had a great time!
We went to the Powerscourt House and Gardens for a stroll on one of the beautiful spring days.
My handsome father at the oldest pub in Dublin, The Brazen Head. He is also sporting his new Irish cap.
We saw Christ Church Cathedral.
We went to Drogheda to see St. Oliver Plunkett’s head and shrine. Apparently, we are distantly related to him, so this was on the “must-see” list.
We went to one of my favorite restaurants in Dublin, The Port House. On a sidenote, I think this could quite possibly be the cutest picture of my parents ever!
And we celebrated St. Patrick’s Day! In fact, this will be the first year in a couple years that I’m not in Ireland for Paddy’s Day.
Dallas for Memorial Day weekend, Melissa’s birthday, North Carolina for my cousin’s wedding – how can I possibly sum up one long and fantastic vacation in a single blog post? I plan on doing it with many pictures and a whole lot of enthusiasm. I do realize I have a lot of time to make up for, but I’m ready to dive right back in!
I’ve known for awhile that I would be planning a trip to the States for my cousin, Brian’s, wedding. The location was Lake Lure in North Carolina, but I decided to add a little time to my trip and head to Dallas first. This gave me more time to see some friends back home, celebrate my sister’s birthday, and get in extra family time. I spent a lot of time by our pool in the sun, something I’ve been missing greatly. In fact, I spent almost every day of my vacation by the pool/lake at some point. I’ve now got A TON of freckles back on my face – I missed those little guys.
Melissa’s 24th birthday was Saturday, May 28, so the Friday night before we gathered with some of her closest friends and danced our way to her big day. We started at Monica Aca y Alla’s, a Mexican restaurant in Deep Ellum that serves up strong margaritas, fantastic food, live music, and an hourly conga line. Once Melissa got a hold of the tambourine the show was on! Now, everyone that knows me knows how much I love chips and queso, so choosing this spot for her birthday was just as great for me! On Saturday, we laid by the pool soaking up the sun and then went to dinner at Patrizio’s with our parents. Good food two nights in a row and I really felt like I was home.
On Wednesday I flew with my family to North Carolina to begin the wedding festivities previously mentioned. Lake Lure is one of the most beautiful places I’ve been to and I knew I was in store for a fun-filled weekend. I spent all of Thursday on the lake and learned how to waterski for the very first time! Yes, 25 years and it was my first time to try. I fell my first time, but on the second I popped right up. By the third go on the skis I felt comfortable and learned what is so enjoyable about the sport – well, minus the complete and utter soreness radiating throughout my body the next day.
What can I say about the rest of the wedding weekend? It was magical. Brian’s fiance (and now wife :-)), Maggie, looked absolutely radiant the entire weekend – from the initial gathering at her family’s home on Thursday, to the rehearsal dinner, and topping it off with the wedding itself. We had a great time getting to know Maggie’s family; they were so much fun and extremely generous all weekend. I saw the majority of my large and lovable family (my Dad has 4 brothers and a sister, so I have tons of cousins), enjoying every second we spent catching up. The wedding was beautiful, followed by a stunning reception on Lake Lure. The food was great, the speeches were incredibly sweet, and the music enticed just about everyone to the dance floor. There is nothing quite like being with all of your family celebrating a special occasion.
I am officially back in Dublin now much tanner, but quite tired. I guess I need a vacation from my vacation. 😉 Matt and I have a lot in store for our lives soon, so be sure to stay posted!
I took so many pictures on this trip, it’s just not possible to post them all! I tried to throw in some highlights. 🙂
It’s been a little while since I’ve popped on here to say hello, and that’s thanks in part to a pretty hectic life these days. You’ll find out more in the weeks to come, but I wanted to remind you that I’m still here! Today will be a short post, but I do have something on my mind: weddings. That’ll be thanks to the Royal Wedding, which, I’m embarrassed to admit, made me tear up a little while watching. There is nothing better than the modern day fairy tale – average girl falls in love with a prince, marries him, and becomes a princess. *Sigh* I watched every second of it, gushing over the Duchess of Cambridge’s perfection, the eclectic and gorgeous hats, and the traditional wedding.
It also got me thinking about the impending wedding season. In just 3 short weeks I’ll be reunited with my lovable and crazy family for my cousin’s wedding. I am so beyond excited about this, not just because it’s happening on beautiful Lake Lure in North Carolina (hello vacay!), but also because I adore my Dad’s side of the family thanks to the good time that is ALWAYS had when we all get together. I am literally counting down the days.
So, in the spirit of wedding season, here are some pictures to get you in the mood:
Well, the big day has passed and I am tired. I feel like I’ve been going non-stop since I got home; add jet-lag to the equation and whew! It’s been a good busy, though, because it means that I’ve already had the chance to see a lot of people, get in a good amount of visiting with my family, and make the most of my time at home.
After our long trip over, Wednesday was a chance to re-group and rest up. The only problem was that I hadn’t finished my Christmas shopping, and waiting any longer would mean getting stuck at the mall with all of the other last minute shoppers (you know who you are). I decided to fight the fatigue and push through the day. Besides, I have heard that forcing yourself out and about after a long journey is a great way to kick the jet-lag. So, I partnered up with my Dad and we went out to get last minute things for my Mom, sister, and Matt. It was a nice time just the two of us, catching up and cracking jokes. It was definitely better than wasting time on the couch.
The next day, Thursday, I used my time to finally relax. That night, I took the opportunity to see high school friends, since they were all home for Christmas. Matt came up and we went to dinner with Kaitlyn and Chris, who you may remember from the wedding in August; I was pumped to see the couple for the first time since the wedding. We went to Square Burger in Downtown McKinney, a trendy burger restaurant with over 60 beers on tap. Definitely a great addition to the McKinney Square. From there we met up with my high school friends Ashley, Callie, and pretty much the rest of the 2004 McKinney graduating class.
On Friday, Christmas Eve, we were supposed to go to Christmas Mass, but the rain, excessive amount of people, and lack of parking caused our decision to go Christmas morning. I left for Dallas early to spend the evening with Matt’s family at his future sister-in-law’s home. Anna’s family prepared a Mexican feast last year on Christmas Eve, which I attended, and did the same this year. The food is AMAZING, with guacamole, stuffed jalapenos, tamales, etc. I’ve really enjoyed the occasion both years, this year especially since it’s been so long since I’ve had great Mexican food! Back at his parent’s home, we watched the bowl game and played with his brother’s adorable new puppy.
Yesterday, our decision to push back Christmas Mass was rewarded, because it was comfortable and not over-crowded. Our Christmas breakfast consisted of Belgian waffels, followed by gift exchange and a nap. Matt came up to spend the evening with my family, where we played games of backgammon, Mario Kart on Wii, and watched football on t.v. My Mom made a turkey since we don’t get it often in Ireland, with cheesy potatoes, stuffing, cream spinach, rutabaga, and corn. We didn’t even touch the pie after dinner, due to the onset of a food coma! Matt had a cigar with my Dad and we all just relaxed for the rest of the evening.
Here we are now, the day after Christmas, and I’ve finally slowed down. Brunch was eaten, naps were had, Wii was played, and the house has been picked up. I only get a small chance to breathe, though, because tonight we will have Christmas dinner part 2 thanks to all of the leftovers, followed by an evening out with college girlfriends to celebrate a birthday. Ahead of me, we have the arrival of Matt’s grandparents, Matt’s birthday, New Year’s Eve, you catch my drift. But I’m loving every second of it, because it wouldn’t make any sense to come home and hide out, now would it? 😉