Pin It This Christmas was a different for us. My brother and his wife, Brian and Ashley, invited our family to Denver for Christmas last year. I was excited for this since it would be the first major holiday (Thanksgiving or Christmas) that I had spent with my brother since 2006. This spring, they told us there would be an extra person present! (See a brief synopsis of Gabriel Benjamin's birthday in the previous post.) Since the baby arrived for Christmas, my sister-in-law's family also flew out for Christmas; her mother with her husband and her brother with his wife. Her family stayed at another house and our family stayed at another house.
Since we were flying out of Philly on the 22nd, we decided to do presents early at home and just do gifts among our family in Denver. We just woke up on the 22nd and pretended that it was Christmas. We finished our Advent calendar, had cinnamon buns, and opened all the presents. Our gifts this year were centered around things we would need or wanted to have for our movie to Germany and not acquiring extra stuff that would just be in storage. My big gift was an iPod touch. I've already got it set up with a conversion app to quickly conver Euros to dollars, Celsius to Fahrenheit, MPH to KPH, etc. and Google Translate and lots of other apps that will make living in Germany easier. Isn't technology great?
Our flight was supposed to be that afternoon around 4 PM, but a snowstorm in Denver kept causing our flight to be delayed a few times. We finally arrived in Denver around 11 PM. My brother and my mom picked us up and we went to meet our new nephew for the first time. He's absolutely adorable and such a good baby. He did, however, poop in my arms within the first fifteen minutes of me holding him. (He continued this practice until the last night we were there getting a 75% return rate on a poop within fifteen minutes every time I held him.) We only stayed a little while since it was late and then headed over to the house where Brice and I were staying with my parents.
The next morning all of the men went to a shooting range while the women hung out at my brother's house with my sister-in-law and the baby where we planned Christmas dinner. All of the women except Ashley met up with the men at a gourmet hotdog shop for lunch. It was pretty impressive with all the options--I got a buffalo dog. Next we all went to the REI flagship store nearby and enjoyed looking at gear in the huge store. We split up at that point and Brice and I went with my parents to the grocery store to shop for Christmas dinner.
The next day Brice, Brian, Mom, Dad, and I took the lightrail to the 16th Street Mall. This is an outdoor shopping area along what would be 16th street, but no traffic is on it, just shoppers. We spent some time ice skating. This was our first time on hockey skates so we were pretty unsteady despite having done a bit of skating this winter. It's really different trying to skate with hockey skates. We had a fun lunch at Noodles & Co., a restaurant that serves all kinds of specialty mac & cheese dishes (Italian, Asian, Mexican).
Since it was Christmas Eve, the whole gang watched Miracle on 34th Street at Brian and Ashley's while Brian and I put together a meal of ribs, macaroni and cheese, and green beans. Brian was helping lead the Christmas Eve service that night (he's a minister, did I mention?) so Brice and I were sure to attend with my parents. The church's choir does a period of music prior to the service that was beautiful--one of the best Christmas Eve services I've ever attended.
Still somewhat jet-lagged, Brice and I skipped church on Christmas morning and were picked up later by my parents. We decided it would be easiest to prepare all of our food and eat at the church (it's across the street from Brian and Ashley's) so we headed over there. I was in charge of making mashed potatoes and crescent rolls. We had some hiccups in our cooking with only having a working convection oven that needed to be at 400 degrees (can't remember why) so I had a challenge in figuring out how to bake my rolls. I finally figured it out with the last batch, but forgot that it was still in there because the shelf it was on was not visible through the door. Oh, well. The inside was still good and the potatoes were great. We had a huge feast of turkey, stuffing, ham, sweet potato casserole, asparagus and more with desserts, too. It was great.
We decided to wait on eating dessert and packed and cleaned things up to go back over to Brian and Ashley's to do presents. We exchanged amongst our family and also received a stocking from Ashley's mother with lots of candy and some other gifts. Brice's parents had been sure to also send us elf hats full of small gifts that was shipping-worthy. We were even able to have a Facetime chat with Brice's whole family with my new iPod.
The next day Brice, Brian, Mom, Dad, and I went to a meadery in Colorado Springs. I had been there during my visit in May and decided I really like mead. We got a tour this time and sampled. I would have bought some if I didn't have to get it back home somehow. Brian had a burger place in mind that wasn't too far away so we ventured over there. We had some amazing french fries cooked in truffle oil with parsley and parmesan on top--yum!
My birthday was the next day, but we were flying out in the afternoon so we went out for my birthday dinner that night. I had seen Beau Jo's during my last visit, but hadn't been there yet, so that was my pick for dinner. Before we went out, I got to hold Gabriel for over an hour with no poop! Ashley's mom and her husband volunteered to babysit him so that Ashley could go out of the first time sans baby. I felt honored it was for my birthday :-) This place says they have "Colorado style pizza"--it was some pretty good pizza with a practice of dipping the crust in honey. Not sure that I thought the honey thing was great, but I enjoyed the pizza. Since it was my birthday I got a free drink :-) There was also a guy there balloon creations (his name was Bryce!) and he came over and made a fantastic balloon hat for me:
The next morning the five of us drove out to Red Rocks, the outdoor concert hall built into the side of a hill. Awesome place. Everybody who's anybody has performed there. We had a quick lunch of Christmas dinner leftovers at the church before we were dropped off for our flight.
It was a nice visit with plenty of snow and cold, but sad to leave Gabriel. Not sure when we'll see him again, but I hope to get plenty of Skype calls from him :-)