Wednesday, February 12, 2014

9 great things about my winter break in Texas

Last month, I took a long break from Korea. I've been back for a few weeks now and I've been processing and relaxing and thinking and just plum enjoying this welcome low-stress winter break! There's been a lot going on and I'm sure I'll be talking about that soon, but for now I want to share a quick update on my trip back home! 

9 is my favorite number, so here are 9 great things about this year’s winter break back home in Texas:

1. CHRISTMAS! I got back to Texas just in time for Christmas. I spent a couple of days spending tons of time with my family, partaking in excitement, watching the kids be kids, and eating all the good Christmas food I missed last year, like our traditional Christmas dinner and this pesto cheese block that my grandma always has. It's funny the things you get excited about when you return from overseas. I didn't know I missed that block but - no kidding - I got so excited that I took a picture of it. Speaking of pictures, we took a family portrait on Christmas Day and no one got mad or cried any angry tears, not even one! How's that for holiday spirit, huh? And Duck Dynasty was only mentioned a few times, hehe. It was so so so so lovely to spend the holiday with my family, especially after missing them last Christmas

PS. Hammy Ham got into Santa's cookies on Christmas eve. It was pretty much the cutest thing ever. Oh, Ham. You're so stinkin' hamsome! 

2. ZZZ Ranch. After Christmas (and a quick bout of a stomach bug), most of the family went out to the ZZZ Ranch in the west Texas brush country for some hunting and stuff. Lots of folks got deer and normal hunted-animal-types. And then my niece shot a skunk. I pretty much have the coolest family ever. I gave my nephew a Korean card game for Christmas, which he and my cousins and niece played a lot! #auntwin! (The ZZZ Ranch, pronounced "three zee ranch," is my family's property near San Angelo. My brothers and I all have Z names, so we've been called the 3 Z's our whole lives, so the ranch is named for us. Don't you international peeps try to say "three zed ranch," cause that's just weird.)

3. Cake. My little nephew's b-day falls right before New Year's Eve, so we had a little b-day party for him and I got to bake his cake! Fun story. I misplaced the recipe and overreacted a little (read: a lot). I'd made a big deal about wanting to bake the cake from scratch (rather than a box. Box cakes don’t belong in my life anymore.) and I’d already bought all the ingredients, so I panicked when I couldn't find my recipe the day of the party, and we don't have much internet at the ranch so I couldn't just look it up again at will. I got really irritated and snappy with, um, everyone. Sorry. (For the record, it was THIS recipe. Yum. You’d be upset with yourself too.) I also realized that I'd left his b-day gift at my parents' house and I was mad at myself for that #auntfail moment too. Can I blame jet lag for my overreaction? Perhaps. I have a tendency to overreact anyway... ugh emotions... I'm still growing in that area ;) The recipe turned out to be in my apron pocket. DUH. Also, it was DELICIOUS, so all's well that ends well.

4. FOOD. Can I just say that food is my favoritest material thing about America? Going to a grocery store and basking in the variety - AND BEING ABLE TO READ ALL THE LABELS! It's almost enough to make a girl want to move home. Baking supplies as far as the eye can see! Being able to buy a giant box of washed, organic spinach, rather than a bushel of spinach with roots and dirt still attached and having to process it before it makes it into your pan or plate. (I mostly enjoy cooking from scratch a lot a lot, but that is a pain.) 

I ate as much Mexican food as I could, and dove breast wrapped in bacon, and venison sausage, and cheese!

I also got caught up on food trends that I have missed, so that was really great. Coconut water, where have you been on my life??? Honestly, I spend most of my monthly budget on food while I'm in Korea, since I still try to eat like an American all the time. Kind of a problem... but it was nice being back in the west where western food isn't overpriced. I also made 'n bietjie South African food while I was home, so that was nice :)

What else, what else?

5. Friends and the stuff we did together. I was home for about 5 weeks and met up with friends and family ALL OVER the place. What a blessing! I saw as many people as possible and did as many things as I could. I walked a half marathon and ran a 5k. I went to all of my favorite restaurants, plus a few new good ones. I went to a lot of movies. I got to go to not one but TWO Fightin' Texas Aggie basketball games, AND I got to saw 'em off during the War Hymn with Dr. Loftin on his last night as Aggie Prez (Dad said "that's better than a t-shirt," and it's true!) I enjoyed an afternoon at St. Arnold's Brewing Co. with my cousin. I love me some microbrews! Nomnomnom. I helped my other cousin paint the ceilings at her new house. I went to see Beth Moore live at her new Tuesday night Bible Study series. It was increeeeeedible! 

I visited Dallas a few times, ironically went to the wedding of some friends from my church in South Korea, and I visited the Village Church. I love that community of believers and the way they have a heart for church planting. Dallas impressed me a LOT this trip home!

I saw Frozen 3 times. IT IS SO GOOD! I downloaded the soundtrack before you could say “Do you want to build a snowman?” and totally memorized all the songs, then had a sing-a-long jam with my niece and nephews around the dinner table. It was something else! (And seriously, Korea is as obsessed with Frozen as I am! Every shop is playing the soundtrack non-stop. IT IS WONDERFUL.)

What else?

6. Learning about changing relationship dynamics. I realized that being an adult visiting your parents' home can lead to a lot more tension than being a student living at home with your parents. I realized that I'm incredibly selfish and brash and that doesn't sit well when you are an adult visiting your parents' home for a month. We worked on this. It started out pretty rough but got much better as time went by. Redefining boundaries and such. I also learned *not* to mess with the settings on Mom and Dad's TV. 

7. Getting rid of all the crap. Since I honestly don't know when I'll live in the USA again, I went through and organized a ton of my old stuff from collage and donated as much as I could. I’m not using it, someone might as well benefit from it. My room at my parents' house finally looks more like a guest room than a storage unit. Hooray!!!

8. Family. We took a lot of family portraits this trip home. It's pretty handy having a photographer in the family! Keep it up, Jessica ;):) 

I know I say it all the time, but my family is truly amazing. I love my life and community overseas, but I miss my family a ton when I'm not around. I got to spend time with my mom doing special mama-daughter things, and spend a bit of time just with my dad. They're special. I love them so much! 

Out at the ranch, I was sleeping in the same room as my niece and nephew, the two older ones who I've taken on adventures and spoiled as much as a good aunt should... just being there for the small moments of our trip meant so much to me! I love them so dearly. It's very hard to miss big events in their young lives. I made the most of my time at home, especially with the older 3 kiddos. I took A to see Frozen (!!!!!), I took E for a study sesh at Starbucks and spent extra time with him doing day-to-day stuff, I took Big Z to the children's museum... We had a blast. It's such a blessing that they all live close(ish) together now, so I can spend that extra time with all of them when I visit! 

I'm blessed beyond measure to have a family that loves each other so well. I also want to send a special shout-out to my seester, my love, my best friend! I don't know what I would do without Stephanie in my life. She's my sister in my heart. I'm so glad Zane picked her all those years ago, and even more glad she picked him! I look up to them in their marriage and in their life so much. 

Well that got mushy real fast... moving on... *wipes away a sneaky tear*

 9. Winter weather, and not winter weather. In true Texan fashion, temperatures were all over the place this trip home! We would get well into freezing temperatures, only to finish the week out with sunny days that were so warm we could wear shorts, followed by ice storms, followed by jogging weather, followed by more ice storms. TEXAS YOU SO CRAZY. And I love you. Never change. My flight from Houston to Dallas even got cancelled due to ice on the day I was supposed to fly out (but that's ok. My parents drove me to Dallas so I could catch my flight. Extra quality time, yay!). The next weekend the high was in the 70's. Because yes. 

And that's my trip home! 

And here are pictures. 


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