After saying a sad 'goodbye' to my sister who visited from Indiana for a long weekend, we packed up the car, Romeo included, and made our way up to northern Virginia. We were headed to Justin's brother, Levi's, one-bedroom apartment (which was going through renovations), located above a golf-cart shop/building. We didn't really know what to expect, but Levi had told us some pretty crazy things he had found upon moving in - from the previous tenants, who were apparently some hefty druggie/hippies.
[Romeo seeing snow for the first time - He hated it!]
We finally arrived at Levi's and I was sorely mistaken about the snow. Apparently, they were "dumped on" the day before we got there and it was some phenomenon, because I guess I was right about Virginia usually not getting that much snow. Well, gosh dangy! Did I prepare for these events? Of course not!! I get out of the car, wearing my favorite suede, grey flats.. One of 2 pairs of shoes I brought, the other being a pair of flats made out of flippin' t-shirt material/canvas. Again. What's wrong with me?? I stepped out of the Element, nearly wiping out, trying not to complain.. I step in huge snowbank. Lovely. I guess I have forgotten about how much I hate being out in the cold/snow, despite spending 22 years of my life fighting it. To get inside Levi's apartment was more challenging than I thought, but quite comical. Since he didn't own a shovel yet (why would he need one, with the little snow they get?) the path we had to shimmy down, and us attempting to do so, was something I wish I had recorded on video. It was a kind-of "hold-onto-the-person-in-front-of-you-and-pray-you-don't-wipe-out" challenge. As we're attempting these maneuvers - steping into eachothers footprints - and carrying luggage (and wearing suede, grey flats), Levi tells us he named the path: The Gauntlet. Ha! Once we make it through The Gauntlet, we have to go through a few doors, climb a flight of stairs, past his 1 neighbor (a McSmoker, Catlady) and we reach his apartment. Home-sweet-home for the next 6 days!
[We met up with Justin's family, who drove down from Wisconsin - Sister, Mom & Me]
The next day, Christmas Eve, we spent relaxing and shopping for last-minute things needed for our gift exchange/"yankee swap" game. We headed over to our the Tucker's (cousins) for dinner and it was nice to finally meet an aunt and uncle of Justin's I haven't been able to yet! It was fun hanging out and catching up with cousins we haven't seen since our wedding. With permission, we brought Romeo along and had to keep prying him off the Tucker's female pup! He's such a friendly, little dude but when meeting new people and other dogs, his energy is never-ending. Afterwards, we headed to pick up some groceries for the week, and had some good laughs trying to organize all of Justin's many brothers.
[The Brothers, minus one!]
We made it back to Levi's apartment, and now that Justin's family from Wisconsin had arrived, his brothers (minus one until Christmas Day) would also be staying at the apartment. Fun Fact: Justin has 5 brothers (and one sister). 7 siblings. Real, live siblings. One family. It's awesome. I LOVE my in-laws. I think in any other situation, someone might think, "Whaa??!! 8 people in a 1-bedroom/ 1-bathroom apartment, for 5 nights?!" It was a blast!!! It wasn't so bad, as it wasn't all 8 of us there every, single night, but a few nights it was. After making it back from the grocery store, we had to bring all of the brother's luggage up, plus purchases from shopping, plus new groceries we had just bought. We begin our journey down "The Gauntlet", Justin and Lukus ahead of me, Jason behind me. And yes, I'm still wearing those sweet, little, grey, suede flats. I felt it only proper to snap a photo of this crazy experience of Gauntlet-walking, so I did. While laughing and feeling all confident (the path had been packed down a little more and wasn't quite so deep), since I should be a pro by now, I'm marching along and hello! I biffed it. Hard. Groceries go flying and I think my flats did too! Luckily, I was fine.. Just a little scraped up. Thanks a lot, Gaunty.
[Justin & Lukus, taking on "The Gauntlet"]
Christmas Day, we headed back to the Tucker's for some snacks and more hanging out. Caleb (who also drove up from Greenville) finally met us up there after work. Back at Levi's, Justin and I taught everyone how to play a game we like to call "What the Flip??" It's pretty much like "telephone" and "pictionary's" illegitimate lovechild. We played it back in Greenville with our friends and it's been a huge hit ever since.
[Playing "What the Flip?"]
[Levi was so sweet to give us his room, the rest of them sprawled out in the living room and in Levi's closet - Haha!]
The next day, we headed back to Tucker's for more interesting snacks and hanging out with relatives. The night before, I had found some sweet instrumental hip-hop tracks from Levi's computer and burned them to disc so we could rock out in the car. Little did I know, my freestyle skills were not so sharp.. I never realized how difficult "hip-hopping" was! All I could think to rap about was "When I was FOUR, I went to the PARK.." It was pretty bad. Had some pretty good laughs about it though! After visiting at Tucker's, we headed back, relaxed some more, shopped and enjoyed a gigantic buffet that left us all so painfully full (what buffet doesn't do that to you??)! After dinner, we head back to Levi's. Getting out of the Element that night was a rough experience. I somehow managed to lose my suede flat (yup, still wearing them), which magically flew off my foot and landed upside-down in a puddle of mud. Wow. This really wasn't the week to wear flats. After accepting the inevitable, I marched down that Gauntlet and up to his apartment to enjoy our final night in Virginia. We exchanged presents for the names everyone drew and also did our gift exchange/"yankee swap" game, which always gets pretty interesting! Justin came out with an actual, lemon meringue pie and I won Candyland! We stayed up pretty late, playing "What the Flip??" some more and laughing so hard, we were breathless. Levi had to even get his inhaler! It was really fun to just hang out with all the guys!
[Romeo, tuckered out from all the attention...]
[Micah, Jason, Caleb, Levi, Lukus & Justin]
The next morning/afternoon, we (Caleb, too) said our 'goodbyes' and hit the road, back to South Carolina. What should have been 6.5 hours, ended up being 9+ hours, thanks to nasty traffic.
[With my little sister, Alyssa - My "Eskimo Friend"!]
[Our little co-pilot, helping us navigate our way back home]
Christmas was really nice. I've learned every family has different traditions and routines - especially mine! I definitely missed not opening stockings in our pajamas and eating our Christmas morning Egg Breakfast at my grandma's.. I missed my dad falling asleep and us kid's (even at 25 years old) stuffing things in his mouth and up his nose and taking pictures of him, while laughing our heads off.. I missed old traditions. I really loved something about this Christmas though. New traditions! Slumber parties in the living room.. Strawberry slush/ginger ale was everyone's favorite thing to drink.. Exchanging yummy recipes with my mom (in law).. It was good. It was really nice to relax and play the same, hilarious game over and over. Ah, what a trip.. Can't wait to see my families again soon.
Wanna see pictures from the whole trip?
Virginia Christmas 2009