Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Happy New Year!

Can you believe it's already 2015???  2014 just blew by, it seemed like we were always busy (in the best way possible).  The past 2 weeks were no different.  I had to work on Christmas Eve day and wound up putting in 9 hours of overtime only to have my newly installed hardware on orbit fail when we tried to start it.  Shoot.  We spent the evening on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with S's family here in Houston and then promptly caught a flight to Florida to spend a week and a half with my family.  Normally our Florida trips are pretty low key, lots of beach and pool time, hanging out with family, etc.  This time it feels like we were super busy, though - once again in the best way possible. 

The trip started off with some rain, so we ran errands and checked in with family (I had to do some work from my cousin's house due to the afore mentioned hardware failure) and then my brother D and his girlfriend arrived on Friday night.  I was in a cooking mood and excited to make some of my favorite recipes for the fam, so I proceeded to invite my aunt, uncle, and grandparents over and then cook a meal for 10 people.  It was a bit more work than I'd anticipated, but the dinner turned out delicious (lemon roasted chicken, lemon, pistachio, and butternut squash risotto, and a kale salad) and we all had a blast!  The following morning we played a carefully orchestrated game of Yahtzee planned by my brother so he could propose to his girlfriend!!!!
That's right, B is now my future sister-in-law!  The rest of the day we make the rounds to various family members to show off B's ring and that night we ate dinner out with our grandparents to celebrate.  The weather was somewhat cruddy while we were in FL, so we didn't get in a whole lot of pool time, but we did hang out by the pool for a bit on Saturday while we ate a family favorite, Laspadas subs (salami topper all the way!) for lunch.  On Sunday the boys went golfing and the girls spent the morning tanning at the pool (finally!) and the afternoon getting manis and pedis.  That evening we helped out while my cousin C, a talented photographer, took engagement photos for D and B.  But that wasn't all, then that night I made a HUGE batch of chicken and black bean enchiladas for the family and some visiting extended family - it was a busy day!  On Monday I had a craft day with my cousin C, her two adorable girls, and B.  I had splurged on a bunch of craft supplies and we spent all day painting pottery, making our own marbled jewelry dishes, and making multi-colored Rorshach paintings and then trying to guess what they looked like.  It was so fun!  That night we played Cards Against Humanity with my parents (!!!!) and laughed our asses off!
Hearing some of those phrases/words coming out of your parents mouth and seeing what dirty senses of humor they have was entertaining to say the least!  Tuesday was our Miami day with D and B!  We started off going to Coral Castle in the morning (S had been wanting to go since last year!)

It's this amazing fortress looking museum that a tiny little 5' tall guy carved entirely out of coral by himself back at the turn of the century.  The physics of it were mind blowing!  We got some AMAZING Cuban food for lunch (S ordered the most incredible Cuban sandwich that I've ever tasted) and then headed into South Beach for the remainder of the day.  We hit up Lincoln Rd, walked along the beach, got happy hour drinks on Ocean Ave, oogled all of the gorgeous art deco architecture, and finally gorged on fresh crab legs and shrimp for dinner.  All of the classics!

On Wednesday, it was family day!  We had our big family holiday brunch at my Aunt's place in the morning - bagels, lox, blintzes, latkes and mimosas!  That afternoon my mom and I went with B for her first wedding dress shopping experience!  She found one that may be a winner, but the shop didn't have a huge selection so she wants to try on a few more dresses just to be certain.  Then we ran errands to prepare for NYE that evening.  That night we were back at my Aunt's house for copious amounts of Chinese food (bagels and Chinese food all in one day - we're so Jewish....), board games, champagne, and a LOT of sparklers and fireworks!

That last picture cracks me up!  We'd been "helping" my cousin's daughters hold the roman candles.  Well on her last one, I asked if the youngest wanted to hold the roman candle with me and she replies in the sweetest little voice "No, I want to do this one with B!"  B was a bit terrified to be responsible for the little one and after the first of the 10 blasts started frantically waving her arm in the air in a panic.  So D stepped up to grab on to her wrist and steady her, but B was still flapping her hand back and forth for the rest of the time.  So cute and funny!  The next day we slept in (naturally) and then chuckled a bit while S and D helped my dad change some high up light bulbs.
How many engineers and project managers DOES it take to change a light bulb???   The boys then went to play some golf and us girls decided to ride our bikes over to my grandparents house to say hello.  We wound up getting rained in for a while over there and eventually made our way back in the drizzle (weather was so crummy) on the bikes and arrived home chilled and soaked.  Boo! 

So at this point we'd already been in FL for a week and I'd only sat out in the sun once!  We finally remedied that on Friday with a beach day!  We chilled out on the beach for most of the afternoon and S and I took a nice, long, leisurely walk down to the inlet as well.  So relaxing!  Friday nights at sundown are the start of the Jewish sabbath.  My cousin C graciously invited us over to her place to celebrate and have Shabbos dinner with her and her family.  We had a wonderful time, observing the Shabbat customs, chatting with my cousin D and his wife S, playing with C's daughters, and eating some truly delicious food (I wound up taking two of my cousin's recipes home with me that night). 

D and B left to drive back to Mississippi early on Saturday morning.  After they left we went back to sleep for a bit and then proceeded to spend the rest of the day at the pool relaxing.  That evening my parents were going to a dinner party at the neighbor's house, so S and I took the car and hit up Big Bear Brewing Company to try out some of South Florida's local craft beer.  My cousin and her husband joined us later in the evening and together we all closed out the restaurant.

Sunday was a travel day for us, but not back to Houston quite yet.  S and I rented a car and drove up to Merritt Island, my old stomping grounds, to check up on the townhouse that I still own.  True to form, my property managers were not quite living up to their end of the deal and the property needed a lot of work.  Grrrr.  But that frustration only lasted about 2 hours, after which S and I went to Thai Thai for lunch to get some of my favorite sushi dishes!
After lunch we drove up to the KSC Visitor Complex and spent a few hours visiting with Atlantis!  It was my first time seeing a shuttle since the program ended and it was definitely a bit sad (yes, I cried a little.....).  But it was also fun reminiscing too, like pointing to the yellow stripes on the FIB and telling S about the months of counting blanket stitches, and recalling supporting Atlantis's imagery inspection during the STS-125 trip to Hubble.  The KSC Visitor Center did a great job on creating the exhibit and spiffing up the rest of their complex as well while they were at it.  I'm hoping to go back again next time we're in Florida and bring my cousin and her little girls - I can't wait to start teaching them all about rockets and space!

We drove back down to south Florida that same day.  That night we started packing, but I was EXHAUSTED from the long drive and the emotional day so we passed out fairly early.  The next day we returned the rental car, rode the bikes over to my grandparent's house to say good bye, finished packing, had a late lunch with my parents, and then headed to the airport.  It is nice to be home (the kitties were SO excited to see us, they barely leave our side when we're at home), but I miss the family already.  And since we were so busy for our entire vacation I don't really feel very well rested either.  Plus I came down with some sort of mild cold/cough right before we flew home so that's wearing me out too.  We're just pushing through this week and then planning to try to relax some this weekend.  But it's definitely been an eventful start to the year - can't wait to see what else 2015 holds for us!

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