Surprises, Spending Time Together, & Skiing

December 2020

It was interesting to wrap a bow around what has been one of the most challenging and interesting years of my life. The last month of the year, December, really did a great job of that because of how much we were surrounded by, and spent time with, family and friends. A great friend, Alison, who I met back in college and is moving from California to Georgia, stopped by on her way to visit her mom in Virginia. I hadn’t seen her in about two years, so we had her over for dinner and the Dunlaps joined us as well. It was so awesome catching up and laughing as if no time had passed since I had last seen her. Pickles and cucumber paid their annual visit to our house on December 1st, complete with the letter of activity of what they’ve been up to since we saw them last year. As you can imagine, this year many of their antics and mischief related to the pandemic, as they donned their masks and acted silly. Trent and I had a great date night at Ilios Noche and Brayden started practicing with her select field hockey team twice a week in preparation for games.

After realizing that it had been over a year since seeing Joe and Leslie, coupled with the fact that Trent had extra vacation days that he needed to use, we booked a trip to Naples, Florida (sans kids). The front end of the trip (two-and-a-half days) was really romantic and we got to spend a lot of awesome time together. Even though the weather was cooler than normal, we spent a lot of time outside running and walking, etc. We stayed at the Naples Beach Club and were able to spend time relaxing by the pool and dined at some amazing restaurants such as Hobnob and Campiello. The second half of the trip (three-and-a-half days) was equally awesome, but in a different way: Leslie had no clue that we were coming in town! Joe was our partner in crime in helping to organize the surprise. He picked us up from our hotel and we rang the doorbell at their house, upon which time Leslie opened it and saw us standing there. She was utterly and completely shocked. It was so awesome and we needed a Mazzola fix! The four of us went on morning runs, ate delicious meals on their lanai, spent an amazing afternoon on their beautiful boat going to the Gulf of Mexico and gawking at all the beautiful homes, enjoyed delicious food at Hampton Social, attended a Christmas boat parade, and the most exciting thing of all was riding our bikes through gator-infested swamps! Joe & Les had been on this trail before and didn’t see gators up close, but that was not the case for us that day! Our goal was to ride about 12 miles, but that plan was intercepted about three or four miles into our ride by a huge gator who was parked right on the edge of the trail. We did a U-turn there and made our way back to the car. We were joking about how at least the gator wasn’t completely blocking the trail and what would we do if that were the case. Well, I spoke too soon. We were about a half mile away from the parking lot and there was a humongous gator just sunbathing on the very edge of the trail with his jaws facing it. We stopped, collected our thoughts, talked to a man who rides that trail often to gain some confidence, took some deep breaths, said a few prayers, and rode past the gator. This was our only way out and we had a flight to catch in a couple hours. It was completely crazy, exhilarating and scary, and I swear I was on some sort of adrenaline high for the next hour or so. We talked about whether we would go back again and maybe I would, but I also I’m happy this one turned out okay with all four of us remaining! The trip was absolutely amazing on all fronts and we can’t wait to see them again as well as for Trent and I to take another trip together somewhere.

I had an awesome dinner at 131 Main with my fabulous friend Tonya, the girls had their annual physicals and are growing like weeds (Brayden is in the 53% for weight at 111 lbs. and 54% for height at 5′ 3″; Hanleigh is in the 28% for weight at 67 lbs. and 74% for height at 4′ 8″), Brayden received her official high school assignment letter (which makes me want time to just stop and slow down, please!) and the holiday happy hour zoom calls began. Since the pandemic numbers are escalating again, Hanleigh is now back home in virtual school until things get better. Hanleigh received an award from school that acknowledged her willingness to help others and participate actively in class. Her guidance counselor came by to personally deliver it to her at the house. We are so proud of how she is a model student and really engages with her teachers and classmates. Brayden is also continuing her excellence in school with straight As! 

The holiday season of indulgence kicked off officially with lots of delicious food and wine over the course of the last two to three weeks of December. We had dinner at Mom’s house with the Joneses and Kyle/Cooper, and met up with Mom, Kyle, Erin, and Cooper at Brewers at 4001 Yancey for a delicious lunch and some games. I had a cookie bake which left us with way too many delicious treats that didn’t last long enough, and checked out the annual gingerbread house display. We finally got Brayden and Hanleigh set up with their own checking and savings accounts, respectively. We are hoping this helps teach them more about spending and saving money. We enjoyed a holiday dinner at Mom’s house, and I had a happy hour call with the Triple B’s!

We stayed at our house Christmas morning and enjoyed our traditional routines of opening stockings, making breakfast, and then opening gifts. I like the intimacy of keeping that morning to just the four of us. That evening, we made a Chinese dinner and invited over Terry, Fran, and Mom. I’m all about doing something non-traditional that evening and just relaxing. We had an awesome lunch at Dad and Christel’s and got to see Lori, Kennedy, Sydney, Kyle, and Cooper. It was a great spending that afternoon with them! Trent and I continued to research kitchen design ideas and hope to select our materials relatively soon so we can get the project underway.

We wrapped the year up with a short ski trip to Beech Mountain, where we rented an Airbnb that was adorable and very close to the slopes. We had the perfect weather for our first day of skiing and the girls tackled their first black diamond like the little bosses they are! We are so proud of them! Their skiing improves each year! After skiing, we came back to the house to play a few games and then headed out to get dinner at the local pizza place. Unfortunately, the weather was not very cooperative and was extremely nasty the next day…lots of wind and rain and very cold temperatures. We were very happy and thankful that we had that amazing first day of skiing, so we packed our stuff up and left early, but made up for it by coming home and going bowling and then having dinner at one of our favorite sushi restaurants! It was an awesome holiday season and now we are all just ready to get back into the regular swing of things in terms of eating and indulging. I am so incredibly grateful for all the time we have been able to spend with friends and family during this crazy year, especially when that is what we needed the most and is the most important thing in life. I love you, my family!

Hanleigh-isms:

  • We were having chicken fajitas and we call them “fah-jiy-tas” and she said, “Are we really eating chicken vaginas?”
  • “This is the season of giving and receiving…and it’s better to give rather than receive. So, I hope I am able to give out a LOT of thank-you cards.”
  • We were talking about personality tests to her and said, “When we get home, we should give you a personality test.” to which she responded, “Does a personality test hurt?”

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