Saturday, December 31, 2016

Holidays 2016 with the Riggotts

This year Emily and I headed home for Christmas to spend time with her family and my mom.  We were on top of Kilimanjaro on Christmas last year so it was only fair to spend this year with family again, especially since I hadn’t met my new nephew Landon Riggott yet, and after Keith’s rough surgery recovery it was more appropriate than ever this year to be with family rather than a world apart.  Despite some hectic last minute travel alterations and me getting a cold near the end of the trip we had a really great, relaxing time just hanging out with family for over a week and playing with our nieces and nephews.  Read on:
On Thursday I got a call that Danielle and Scott had broken down in Portland so after picking them up and Emily getting home early from work we let them take the Prius.  Emily had forgotten she had an eye doctor appointment in the morning so I had to get up at 7am to drive her to Vancouver for her visit.  Leo and I had a nice walk in the Salmon Creek preserve before heading home.  We packed up during the afternoon on Friday but then got a text alert that our very late 11:30pm United flight was delayed 20 minutes.  Ok… not too bad, until an hour passed and we got another 20 min delay, then another, then another, which then left us exactly 0 minutes to run across the massive O’Hare airport to make our connecting flight to Hartford in the morning.  

In a panic Emily called United and the only option was to have a layover in Chicago until a 3pm United flight that would get us to Hartford at 9:30pm on Christmas Eve!  No friggin’ way.  Having dealt with this shit before without getting anywhere I kind of gave up and tried to adjust my mind to sitting 12 hours in an airport on Christmas Eve but Em pushed on and at my casual urging decided to call American Airlines, the partner to United… After some haggling on the phone and a looooong time on hold the agent said that if we could get to PDX by a 10:30pm flight we could re-route through Charlottesville, NC instead and still get to Hartford in the morning.  As soon as I heard this I was on my phone hailing and Uber and we were off to the airport. 

We were still on the phone and wrapping up the details of the switch when we reached the American checkin line.  After some brief confusion everything was switched accordingly and we were on our way.  We made it through security and jogged through pdx to make it just in time for the 10:30 flight.  From there the travel was easy and the flight from Charlottesville to Hartford was even half empty which allowed both of us to stretch out across the seats in the early morning.  We even made it to CT 15 minutes earlier than our original plan!  Definitely a Christmas miracle!

Having gotten in early on Saturday we had the morning and early afternoon to hang out with the family and spend time meeting our new nephew Landon who was simply adorable with big smiles for everyone.  I honestly don’t think I heard him cry once the entire visit but that may have been to a slight cold that he and Hadley brought with them to share with the family!  ha!  

We had just enough time to make cookie dough for Santa before my mom showed up and we headed over to Nick and Jen’s for a Christmas Eve Dinner roast complete with huge shrimp appetizers as usual!  Jim and Sally were there but not Babs this year as she was in a home at this point and is prone to being too confused nowadays.  Sophie had taken over the basement of the house which was now converted into a full-on play area for her which she and Hadley had a blast playing in.

Before we sat down for dinner we all headed out to a Christmas Eve sermon at a local church the family sometimes attends.  They knew the pastor and I think with Keith’s surgery perhaps the family was re-finding religion.  Not sure but Emily and I certainly didn’t put up a fuss and were happy to go with the family.  I think Hadley and Sophie got a kick out of my mom’s very loud singing voice standing behind them as they both kept turning around to look at her!  It seemed like a nice ceremony but I wasn’t really paying attention.  I was in a zombie like trance having had only an hour of sleep the night before whereas Emily had slept through much of the flights.  When we got back to the house Keith looked at me with a smile and said “hey, you made it” jokingly… hehe…

Dinner was fantastic!  Jim and Sally had stayed at the house and cooked while we all went to church and they did a great job cooking the meat perfectly!  My mom was afraid of the traditionally Riggott holiday “gift popper” they always provide as two years ago she had knocked over and broken a wine glass doing it.  This time Sally was the one to do it but didn’t break the glass this time!  ha!  Jim had brought a really yummy apple cider booze concoction with him for the evening and Nick had some choice bourbon as well.  I had my fill as come New Years I will be doing the whole 30 days alcohol free (with the Holm Wedding as an exception of course).  

On Christmas Emily and slept straight through Hadley and Landon opening their presents at 6am in the morning!  We didn’t come down until around 8:30am after some much needed sleep.  The rest of the day we just relaxed around the house drinking mamosa’s and watching football and occasionally opening presents.  Carl and Barbara stopped by for a visit as well as some of Emily’s cousins she rarely sees.  Jason and Stacy came by and Jessica drove her new car over with Julia as well.  Patti did a great job surprising Keith with his new Apple Watch and I shocked Emily with hers as she hadn’t gotten me anything for Christmas.  My mom also seemed happy with her new iPad as well.  

I set up my new 360Fly camera in the living room to film everyone opening the gift swap that the Riggott’s now do every year to keep gift costs down.   I ended up with a melted down wine bottle  cheese holder and Emily ended up with a double-walled coffee travel mug which she loved.  Nick ended up with the nerf guns Em had picked up!  The kids got more presents than I could describe and it was hilarious to see their faces when they opened up clothes and instantly started to look for other presents with toys instead!  

We had a great Christmas dinner of Patti’s amazing homemade lasagna as well as spiral ham and smoked turkey my mom had brought as well.  We all ate so much that many of us didn’t have room for desert!  Keith kept making us manhattan’s and there was plenty of wine to go around.   Eventually, everyone went their separate ways leaving the core Riggott Family and my mom and I at the house to relax watching tv for the evening.  The kids were all super stoked about all their gifts and the adults were worn out from all the festivities and drinking!  A perfect Christmas!

On Monday we spent the morning helping Hadley make Christmas cookies from the batter we had forgotten about in the garage and I even went for a run which was super tough in the cold weather of New England I am no longer used to.  We got some pics from Tom over text of Leo down by the Columbia River having a great time.  They are so kind to watch him over the holidays for us!  In the late morning my mom took off to head back north before weather moved in and Chris and Julia packed up the kids and also headed out.  I really enjoy seeing them and wish we could do it more often but the East Coast Portland is so far from our West Coast Portland home.  

On Tuesday we headed to Plan B, a bar in Hartford, to meet up with Sarah and Danny to catch up.  They live in Cleveland now, and without kids they were the only soccer friends of Emily’s that we could reasonably see over the holidays.  They both seem to be doing great and Danny seems to have even more muscles.  He loves the sports medicine he is working in and honestly, if a person had a choice between a doctor of his physic and one out of shape for their sports medicine needs… well come on… easy choice.  We had a nice lunch with them before heading north to Upstate NY to spend time with my mom.

We spent a couple hours at my childhood home with my mom before heading out to meet up with Logan, Jacquie, Damon and Kenny at the Garrison in Lake George.  We had surprised her when we showed up early so the house wasn’t as picked up as she wanted it to be.  She clearly has begun to collect things again but thankfully, it wasn’t quite as bad as we had expected it to be.  Nonetheless we are pretty sure that every piece of paper that had come to the house since we were there last was still in the living room.  Oh well.  As long as she is happy that is all I can hope for but the amount of flammable material everywhere, especially in the kitchen where there isn’t a place to put anything down does worry me.

It was fantastic to see Logan and the others at the Garrison which apparently is now owned by Brian King who has done a fantastic job with the place!  Kenny caught up with us after we all eaten dinner and we even ran into Joel Lemay, Aaron Friedman, Sarah Mones and Allison Gillette while there.  It’s LG, of course we’d bump into people.  After several rounds and a lot of laughter we headed over to the Tap Room for some rounds before Damon and the Joneses took off to pick up their kids from their parents up the road around 11pm.  Kenny stuck around with Emily and I till the bar appeared to be closing around midnight.  He’s a great guy and although he has a very different political view than us, it was great to hear his perspective on things!

We had a pretty chill days on Wed and Thursday with my mom.  We drove to Saratoga and got her a new flat screen TV and I gave her my iPad case to protect her new toy.  We went out for dinner at the Outback Steakhouse, watched movies and I got her help identifying a bunch of really old family members in the photos I had scanned.  We did nothing to pick up the house beyond moving a few heavy boxes for her.  While she was gone on Thursday I was able to locate a bunch of stuff from my father’s workshop to take home and scan as well as some new photos I discovered in the Den.  Not too much but was happy to get them out of the house to a safe spot where they would stay organized and not get lost in the paperwork.  

On Friday morning I got up early to shovel the driveway from the 3” of new snow that had fallen the previous day and then meet Elayne and her friend for brunch at the Queensbury Hotel.  It was really great to see Elayne again and I can’t thank her enough for being such a good friend to my mom.  It was a great breakfast and her friend visiting from New Jersey was a riot.  From there Emily and I said goodbye to my mom and Elayne and headed back southeast in her dad’s truck back to Connecticut.  

We spent New Years Eve with Emily’s parents going out to see the new Fantastic Beasts movie and getting Chinese food for dinner.  We then headed over to Nick and Jen’s for a while and got to see Sophie briefly before she was put down for bed.  Emily read her a couple stories for her to fall asleep too but she had a hard time sleeping due to their neighbors who were having a party all night.  We stuck around having drinks with them until about 10pm when we headed home to let them crash.  Sophie had been a handful for the past few days and nights and they seemed exhausted.  So, Em and I ended up going back to her parents and watching Netflix for the evening, completely ignoring the ball drop and apparently the Mariah Carey embarrassment that happened in Times Square!

On Sunday I kicked off my health plans despite a wicked cold I had picked up somewhere on the trip.  This included running, a workout plan and starting my sit-up, push-up, pull-up challenge.  I could hardly breath out my nose which made things much more difficult!  The last couple days we basically just hung out at the house and occasionally met up with Nick and Jen as we found time.  Emily exchanged some clothes at Target for the girls and we were dropped off at the airport for our late night flight home which was uneventful.  

It was a great, very relaxing, very low-key Christmas and New Years which is exactly what Emily and I needed to unwind after a truly crazy 2016.  Hopefully, 2017 will be much better!

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