But not too overwhelmed and busy for some snapshots (for those of you who follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you know that).
If you're new to this "leftovers" series, it's basically a dumping ground for just some of the photos I took during the month that didn't make it to my social media profiles.
So here we go...!
Greg and Charles (finally) came to visit us in New York! And it was wickedly entertaining. I can't remember the last time I laughed so much, but watching Charles accidentally spill two baskets of popcorn in one night at the bar was enough to do it. I miss these guys!
Annual Fifth Avenue walk with Clare! We did this our first year out here because we wanted to see the displays, and I remember it was pouring rain, but we still drank hot chocolate and ate candy canes and slowly made our way down the street. Last year, it also rained when we did this, but we were actually prepared with hoods and good shoes. This year, we did it in the daytime, which was a different experience, but still fun nonetheless. I'm going to miss her when she moves to California this month!
There's no place like home. Na and I went to get coffee the morning of Christmas Eve, which turned out to be a bad choice because it seemed like everyone brought their loud, small children out, so it was a bit headache-inducing...but the food and coffee was good, even if Na and I ate all of the jam that came with our bread and still didn't know what it was made of.
I forced Mom to hold off on wrapping the presents until I got home, which she kindly obliged, and then after I was done, I got to waffle around the kitchen and bother Na and Mom while they made cookies. I'd like to say I was helpful, but I think the most I did was put chopped walnuts into a cup and then place the whole cup in a bowl when Mom asked me to put the walnuts into a bowl. Because I'm that funny. Ha ha.
Dim sum with our Seattle friends! I've known Alison and Elliot since we were babies and remember the four of us (including Na, who had to work and couldn't join us for lunch) playing as kids. And now, look! All grown up. When I think about some of the people in my life who've been there the longest, I realize that we don't see each other very often, but the time apart doesn't feel too long.
I love our Christmas tree at home. It's a fake tree because the last time we got a real tree was in 1997, and it kept falling over--breaking ornaments and ruining windows and curtains with it. My dad kept cutting the trunk of the tree to try to even it out, but it kept falling and finally when it stayed standing, it was shorter than Dad. And that was the year we had everyone over for Christmas too! You can't see the tree in any of our family photos because when we all stood in front of it, we blocked the entire thing... So after that, we went to Costco and bought a fake tree.
What I love the most about the tree are the ornaments on it. They all have a story: there are two "baby's first Christmas" ornaments for Na and me; hand-painted ornaments made of wood that Dad got on a business trip to Denver; ornaments that came in sets that Mom spent years collecting; lots of piano and music-themed ornaments we got over the years at piano recitals... I love that things in my parents' house have meaning. They've lived there for decades and that's the only house I've ever known to be "home."
The funniest thing about this photo is that my dad is holding his iPad, my mom is holding her phone (Facetiming with her sister in LA), and Na is just watching them both. My parents really love technology!
Two of the little ones in the family! Jonathan and Elizabeth got to play Santa's Helpers this year (which was a role my sister and I used to play!)--here's the two of them passing a box back and forth...
Side note: I really love my family. I grew up with seven older cousins and one older sister, and if you flipped through our family photo albums, you'd think we all just rotated houses we lived in year-round. There are so many photos of us celebrating birthdays and holidays together, and photos of swim parties and mini-outings. Even though I've always been the youngest, I never felt like the youngest. They didn't pick on me or exclude me from things. Nathanie and Mel used to do arts and crafts with my sister and me, and I remember watching Star Wars: Episode V one holiday after dinner with everyone, and when it got to the scene where Han Solo gets encased in carbonite, I started trying to hide behind my stuffed bunny because Darth Vader scared the crap out of me and my cousin Chris covered my eyes and told me not to look until the scene was over. And even now, as grown ups, we still enjoy spending time together--whether it's playing board games or baking or spending two hours walking in the cold and talking. I still look up to all of them so much.
And here's what was inside that box, by the way...a truck! It made sounds and everything.
Let's talk about that Hello Kitty apron for a minute: I would wear that in my kitchen as an adult.
Next on my Sacramento agenda: I bought a set of Wreck This Journal books for Cortney and me, because when I saw it in Barnes & Noble and learned of the concept, she was one of the first people to come to mind. If you don't know what a Wreck This Journal is, it's basically a book with crazy instructions on every page of things to do, like rip out the page and try to sell it to someone, or splatter coffee or tea on a page, or draw something ugly. The idea is to get creative and then unleash that creativity toward something else in life too.
So there's me, in the photo above, wearing the book, as instructed. It's a hat.
We stopped at a Rite Aid near the end of our day to buy pencils (to poke holes in a page) and colorful candy (to eat and then lick a page), and we sat in Cortney's car and did that for awhile. It was really really entertaining. I love that Cortney and I hadn't seen each other in person in over a year, and yet our short reunion was comprised of us throwing our books around a park and eating Skittles and Air Heads in her car to turn our tongues different colors.
On my last night at home, Mom and I made a chocolate chip cookie in a skillet. It's a mini skillet, so it wasn't like it was a giant pizza-sized cookie...
...and then we watched White Christmas, a holiday tradition! I love this film and I love watching it with my mom even more.