The Big Holiday Catch-up

I'm really behind in posting these photos from this past holiday season, but in case you don't mind jumping back in time to 2014 for a moment, I will share a few highlights!

It's crazy how quickly Thanksgiving celebrations start to run into Christmas parties and then before you know it, you are ringing in a New Year!

This year we enjoyed a few holiday parties with work, church, and local friends. We got to introduce some of our family and friends to our favorite kitschy Austin tradition of coffee and the light show at Mozart's on the Lake. We indulged in a swanky movie night at our neighborhood iPic, and we had great chances to visit with our Baur family in town (even though we had our official celebrations at Woodhaven in November). When I wasn't suffering from seasonal allergies, I met with my girlfriend group for a holiday lunch, ran errands to collect gifts, and enjoyed festive walks in our neighborhood.

We spent a weekend in Houston, packing all sorts of parties into one weekend. We celebrated Mom & Dad's Silver Anniversary, cut birthday cake for both Dad & Konrad, and then enjoyed our annual tradition of opening gifts and getting commemorative ornaments and over-flowing stockings from Mom & Dad. A uniquely Southern holiday tradition of picking citrus from the backyard to take home is one of my favorite Texan Christmas treats. As always, there was incredible food the whole weekend, and several plays of the Carpenter's Christmas album. I also said goodbye to my Rendevous (aka Ron)- a good friend and trusty car for almost 10 years! It was a big milestone for me to say goodbye, but he belongs with a more capable caretaker in his older age. 

After finishing up a few more days of work, we took off for a winter road trip to Kansas. We spent a few days with Grammy and Papa, driving around to see the lights, playing games, and eating seasonal goodies. Uncle Chuck & Aunt Karen's family all drove in to celebrate with us on Christmas Day and we had a great day of catching up while Grammy and Papa showered us with gifts and lots and lots of food. I love watching our family grow, and enjoyed looking through wedding pictures with Steven & Kristen and hearing the exciting news that Gary & Jessica have another little one on the way. We cherished our time with my special grandparents in Kansas (although sadly I know I wasn't great company as I battled an awful sinus infection).

After a few days in Hutchinson, we said our goodbyes and hit the road back to Texas. I had just been sighing to Matt about missing winter weather and wondering when we had last seen snow, when big, gorgeous flakes started falling on us just north of Oklahoma City. We enjoyed the pretty flakes but they quickly caused a wild, snow-packed drive as we trudged on to Wichita Falls to meet our Heyen side of the family. Mr. Minnesota did an expert job of navigating the messy roads and we made it just in time to catch an epic bowling tournament (this year's version of the annual family athletic competition).

We chowed down on delicious burgers, enjoyed preparing dinner with Aunt Wynn in their festive home, and then put together a big holiday party at Great Aunt Rita's retirement home community room. Someone thought of a clever idea to have a dirty Santa Book exchange (this year's most popular read seemed to be the Book Thief). We listened to year-in-review presentations from each family group, watched heirloom family videos, and shared a great taco dinner.  After all- Heyen's do love a good meal! After opening stockings brimming with generous gifts (thank you Aunt's & Uncles who all have great taste! - The re-purposed costume jewelry pieces from my great-grandmother were a highlight), a surprise trolley car pulled up to drive us on a light-tour. After more singing, food, a family church outing and lunch, Matt and I appreciated a quiet trip down the back-roads of Texas and back into Austin.

Whew! Big families make for lots of busy but great, holiday fun!

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