I know, it's been two and a half months since I last posted, and, while there had been some down times in those months, for the most part they had been rather full and somewhat adventurous.
Where to begin? Why not with the beginning?
I left off with my last post being on Halloween, awaiting the impending unknown that is NaNoWriMo. So, I shall start there.
NaNo went fairly well, in spite of my worries of no definite plot. I was successful in reaching the 50k goal, but only just. In fact, I finished the whole book with a grand total of 52,753 words (50,219 actual NaNo count), which is vastly different from my previous book which took two successful attempts of NaNo plus some to finish. I'd say it is a very rought start of Naji's Story, definitely needs editing out and building up in places, but I think it's workable. And not only did I meet the word goal, but I finished it in two and a half weeks- just in time to pack for our trip to Texas.
As some of you may recall me mentioning, my parents and I headed down to Texas to spend Thanksgiving with my brother and his wife. We drove down to Chicago on the Friday before Thanksgiving and stayed overnight at a hotel near the airport. I love staying at hotels. I don't care if it's a Days Inn or a Crown Plaza, there's just something about staying at a hotel that's fun! The one we stayed at was quite nice. Not expensive, just nice. But the beds! Oh my! Those beds were so high the top of the mattress came nearly to my waiste! It was quite an interesting endevour for my mom and myself to get up and down from the to/from the floor. We ended up having to use her wheelchair as a sort of half way point. :-P
We flew out of Chicago-O'Hare on Saturday, and it was my first time flying out of there not as a layover. Therefore, it was my first time checking in and going through security at that airport. It actually wasn't too bad. I expected it to be busier. We got through security rather quickly, and, since I wasn't feeling to well that morning, I went through those new scanners in spite of my normal protestations of them. I just wanted to get through, sit down, and get some food in my stomache. I just tried not to think about it all. :-S
The flight itself wasn't eventful. We got into DFW International on time- or slightly early, I can't quite recall. But that's where my mom had some issues. The people who came to help her get off the plane with an aisle chair had no idea what they were doing, and she almost fell out of the chair...she got very mad. After she reported the incident and got some Starbucks, she was placated.
My brother and sister-in-law were rather late meeting us, but we soon all made it over to the rental car terminal and my mom and I packed into their car with Courtney, and my dad and Nick took the rental car. We were supposed to all meet together at a Wendy's in a specific town for dinner, but, admittedly, we took the wrong way, so we girls went to a different Wendy's and met the boys at the house. :-P
Nick and Courtney's house is really quite nice. It's not very decorated yet, except for the main living area, because they don't have a lot of extra money to be able to do so, but what they have done is very nice. Courtney is a good decorator. I must say- their master bathroom is huge! I'm glad they have three bedrooms, because I got to stay in a room of my own while there and not sleep on the couch. I kind of got to make the room my own, even though there was still some storage stuff in it and all I had was an air mattress. But the window had quite a large sill to it, and I set out some of my things quite nicely. It's the little touches that matter most, after all. ;-)
Sunday we went to church at Gateway where my brother and sister-in-law regularly attend. I love that church (and it is in close relationship with our church), but I was severely distracted from listening well due to a headache and some other general icky-ness still hanging on from the day before. After church we went over to Southlake Mall, which is this big, gorgeous outdoor mall- especially pretty decorated for the holidays- and got some Starbucks. Next we went to this great gormet grocery store! I forget what it was called, but I wish we had one here! We then went back to the house...and I ended up snacking too much and wasn't hungry for dinner later, which was a very nice ham dinner my sister-in-law made. :-(
Monday we went to Ikea! And it was my first time ever at one! It was big, but not as big as I expected it to be by all accounts from my brother's descriptions. It was really cool seeing the various room displays, and we even found one that would work perfectly for our livingroom! If only we had the money to get the stuff from that room display. In general, my opinion on Ikea is as follows: It's a really great store for getting ideas for your home, and if you have the money to spend. Otherwise...a bit overrated? *runs from the Ikea fans of the world*
After Ikea, the rest of the family got burgers from In and Out (I had something at the Ikea cafeteria), and then we took a drive down into Dallas proper. It was so wonderful to see it again! I miss seeing that skyline nearly every day. We got a little lost in Highland Park, but that's ok. If you have to get lost somewhere, that's the place to do it, and look at all the gorgeous houses in the meantime. ;-)
Eventually, we made our way south of the city and onto the campus of CFNI. We needed a place to make a pit stop, so that was the main reason for heading there. We only stopped at the Christian Center, but even there it was amazing some of the changes since I had last been there- but, then, it had been a few years.
On our drive back to the house, we drove past Arlington, and I was surprised how much more had popped up there, as well! My, how things change and grow!
Tuesday we headed out to Grapevine Mills. As seemed the trend of the trip, some things had changed there, too. There's now an aquarium and a LEGOland in the mall! Most of the things were still familiar, but it was fun going around and seeing what was and what wasn't. And this time, I actually made it around the whole thing! We made it a fairly short day out so we could get back home in time for my dad to make his spaghetti. That's a meal you don't want to miss!
Wednesday we went into Fort Worth, specifically to the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History to see Polar Express on their OmniMax theater. It was quite an experience, and I, admittedly, had to close my eyes on more than one occasion so I didn't become too disoriented. I really wanted to explore the museum itself, but we neither had the time nor the money for admission. Lunch was fair consolation, however. We went to Chuy's. If you're ever in Texas anywhere near a Chuy's location, you need to go. It's Tex-Mex happiness in your tummy! We finished the night with a rousing game of Phase10 (seriously...we take that game very seriously) during a thunderstorm. And the spread! I can't forget this awesome cracker spread Courtney made! It was awesomeness on a cracker! Addicting.
The next day was, of course, Thanksgiving. I got up early enough to see the Macy's Parade thinking it would be shown live, instead of on delayed broadcast. Well, now I know.
The day was spent with Courtney's family all over, and was quite different from what I'm used to. The meal consisted of smoked turkey, brisket, stuffing not cooked in the turkey (in fact, they never usually have stuffing! sacrelige in our family!), garlic mashed potatoes, corn, pea salad, a sweet potato dish with a ton of brown sugar on top, and I can't remember everything else; but, while it resembled what I was used to, it was definitely different. Not bad, just different.
Friday we stayed in during the day, doing laundry and getting most of our things packed as we were flying out very early the next morning. Later in the day we went to Sundance Square in downtown Fort Worth to see the annual lights parade. We ended up staking our claim right in front of the Barnes&Noble, so of course we had to go in. You can't take me and my mom in the vacinity of B&N and not let us go in. So, after we browsed there for a while, I got a hot chocolate from the cafe and went back to our seats outside while the rest of them went down the street to a cupcake bakery. The most interesting cupcake any of them got was my brother's- a banana cupcake with peanut butter frosting and sprinkled with bacon bits. It was some sort of Elvis homage.
For all the hype it was given, I expected the lights parade to be much more spectacular than it was. Big city and all, I thought it would have had much better floats. I didn't expect Macy's standard, of course, but most of them were quite amateur. A lot were even just trucks or cars with Christmas lights all over them. There were a few well done ones, and those were lovely. There was even a troupe of bagpippers! And some horse club dressed in Medieval dresses! Can you tell those were some of my favorites? ;-)
On the way back to the parking garage, I got a great shot of Bass Performance Hall with my phone's camera, and I hope to get it on my computer some time soon.
That night I slept in my prostetics out on the couch, as we had to get up at 2:30am to get out and to the airport on time. Since the others decided to stay up later than me, and other circumstances, I got no sleep that night and fealt horribly sick most of the trip back. After nibbling on some pretzels while sitting at the airport, and then catching a nap on the flight back to Chicago, I actually started to feel much better. That showed me how much sleep really does affect my health.
When we landed at O'Hare I couldn't believe how long a walk it was from the luggage claim to the hotel shuttel terminal! I honestly thought we were lost or taking the wrong way for a while, but we were right on track and eventually made it there...in time to wait forever for our shuttle to actually arrive. :-P
Finally, the shuttle came and we made our way back to the hotel, where we left our van during the trip, and piled back in. It was nice to not be crowded into a vehical again, as we had only used the rental car the whole time but one in Texas- meaning Nick and Courtney and I were all squished into the back seat every time we went anywhere. But now I had the back of the our own van to myself again, and began to relax and feel better enough for a burger and Frosty on the way home. ;-)
We made it home around six that evening. Our house seemed so strange after a week in another one.
It was nice to be home again, though. And, truth be told, I'm still not completely unpacked. I'm quick to pack for a trip, but rather slow to unpack from one.
And we got home just in time to really start into the Christmas season and all its time traps! But that I shall put into the next post. Good night for now! I promise December will be discussed tomorrow. ;-)