We had a great time in Kentucky. First we went to my dad and bonus mom's house, where we saw both of my sisters, Rachel and Laura, as well as Scott and Byron (Rachel's husband and son), and Anne (Laura's girlfriend). A good time was had by all. Highlights (from my point of view) included
*Sisters' night out, in which we did girly things like go bra shopping, get free makeovers, get pedicures, and go out for dinner and dessert. Okay that last one was not intrinsically girly, but since it was an all-girl activity, it counts. The pedicures were fun, except that it was slightly uncomfortable to have Asian immigrant women bowing at your feet. (The woman who did mine spoke no English.) But it was nice to get such luxurious treatment, and I think I'll probably do it again sometime.
*Byron, my incredibly cute, two-and-a-half-year-old nephew. Aside from the early morning yowling, he was cute as a button and a joy to be around. He was not terrified by his Aunt Becca and Uncle Jeff. One day when Byron was wearing an orange shirt, Uncle Jeff even got him to say "Go Tennessee!"
*Dad and Marvis, the impeccable host and hostess of the visit. We are always made to feel very welcome by them. I never cease to be amazed by Marvis' big heart, because she spoils Byron just as much as she spoils her own grandbaby, Maya, and she treats me and my sisters as if we were her own children. I know where to go whenever I need to feel taken care of: chez Papa et Marvis.
*Giving gifts (and getting some, too!). I enjoy the giving almost more than I enjoy the receiving. Despite the fact that in May, when I was buying gifts in Sweden, I didn't even know of the existence of Anne, I bought one extra t-shirt and that was what I ended up giving to her. It was a surprisingly big hit because, as it turns out, she is interested in Sweden and hopes to visit there someday. And for Scott I got a book on the Stockholm City Hall, which I thought he needed in order to prepare for the day that he receives the Nobel Prize in Physics. He was glad that I was willing to help him out like that. The gifts I received were wonderful, too. From my fearless younger sister I not only received last year's promised gift of leg warmers, but also a handmade bag made from a denim mini-skirt and an old pillowcase. It is really something to behold! And from Rachel, Scott, and Byron, I got some beautiful pillow covers for square decorative pillows. Now I just need to find some pillows for them, and a place for them to go. Dad and Marvis also showered me with gifts, including an ergonomic mouse pad with wrist support, a Kentucky t-shirt, and a South American wall hanging.
On Saturday, we traveled over to Louisville, to visit the in-laws. Highlights of that portion of the trip included
*Seeing Alice, my former babysitter. As in, she used to babysit me when I was a kid, and (amazingly!) she still likes me. I saw her on New Year's Eve, and she commented that she had spent more New Year's Eves with me than with anyone else. That is a distinction of which I am quite proud! We went over to her mother-in-law's and spent the evening playing games. But I was pretty tired so I returned to the in-laws' before 11 and welcomed the new year by sawing some logs.
*Cooking dinner for mom- and dad-in-law, who complimented me on the chicken dish that I made. Can I just say that matzo meal is the best invention ever? For those of you who are fans of chicken with a lemon flavor to it, pick yourself up a container of matzo meal (by the Manschweiz company, maybe? something like that) and make the lemon chicken in the recipe on the side of it. It is sooooooo goood and super easy to make.
*Seeing the mom- and dad-in-law and the brother-in-law and sister-in-law-in-law, who obviously like me and are proud of me. I gave them each a copy of the magazine that I was in (nothing too amazing, just the NCSA's publicity magazine, Access) and they were quite proud. Dad-in-law even took the magazine to work to show it off to his co-workers.
But I think that the biggest highlight of the whole trip was actually coming home. I am, by nature, a homebody, so it was good to get back to my turf, even if I don't completely feel like it's home yet. It's home enough that it felt good to once again sleep in my own bed and shower in my own bathroom. Still, it was a fun trip and I'm glad we went.