In the meanwhile, my new guy, RC, and I survived, and dare I say, pretty much thrived through two weeks straight together. We spent a few days together before leaving to drive up to Oregon, and also spent three days here together at the end, over New Years, before he left. Highlights of our time prior to Christmas in Oregon included:
- Shopping together is so much more fun than doing all the shopping alone.
- Help with wrapping presents!
- I tried a healthy gluten-free zucchini bread recipe, and it was gratifying because he gobbled it up. He doesn't eat much bread, so I felt like I really gave him a treat.
- My birthday celebration! We went out to a yummy surf and turf and shrimp and grits dinner with some great Pinot to go with it. My favorite thing, as you know. I also got my hair foiled with lots of blonde which has been fun and made me feel pampered.
The next day, after a slightly hungover breakfast at the nearby pancake house, we unpacked and organized our room and went shopping at the mall for some last Christmas items. Other trip adventures and highlights included:
- Making the sugar cookie dough with my little nieces at my brother's house Friday night, while RC and my brother got to know one another. I'm glad they seemed to connect and get along well! Then, we finished the cookies and frosted them with all the nieces and my nephew there Christmas Eve. RC was super helpful and made and colored all the frosting bowls. I will say that my second to youngest niece has matured in her attention span and, most surprising, my nephew was actually helpful and fairly calm during the process. Quite a difference! The littlest one kept wanting to lick the frosting off the cookies. lol
- RC driving me, my oldest niece and nephew around to look at Christmas lights and sing some carols after we all got hot chocolate and cookies at Starbucks. It was super sweet of RC to drive - though I could tell it was stressful at times since he doesn't know the area - so that I could interact and talk more with J and E.
- Christmas at my sister's house, formerly my mom and dad's house. We opened presents and it was really nice having RC there. He was able to be supportive and engage where appropriate but also fall back a bit when appropriate in a way that S never was able to do. I got some really nice earrings from both Rich and my dad and M, as well as a pretty dress (my first item of clothing with shoulder cut-outs) and cool short leather boots I love. Everyone seemed to like my gifts: my niece V loved the breathing dog I got her, which was awesome because she's learning how not to be afraid of dogs; and RC loved the leather bag I got him and immediately put his computer, notebook, books, etc. in it when we returned to the hotel later. :) My sister's family all received bathrobes, which they tried on, and I did the honor of catching that funny cuteness on camera. Breakfast frittata and fruit was yummy! And a bonus was that, after others had left, RC and I went to my oldest nieces room and my nephew's room to see the changes they had made and just chat a little more. I wish I could have had more time with them but we made the most of it.
- Since my sister's family was leaving the next morning and needed to pack, and my brother left with his family to head up to Portland to spend time with his wife's family, RC and I had no where to go for Christmas dinner. We hadn't really thought it through and of course nothing was open - except for Chinese restaurants which had an hour or two wait times. So, hilariously, we went to 7-11 and loaded up on stuff we could eat from there and made a dent in our Christmas wine gifts, while watching a movie.
- Visiting my Aunt and Uncle's house and giving the little cousin's gifts and zucchini bread to the grown-ups, introducing RC, and spending time talking, eating cookies, and just enjoying ourselves and laughing. As I get older, I really value my Aunt and Uncle and their kids... having the love and connection with my birth mom's side of the family. It's definitely a feeling of warmth and acceptance. At one point, my Aunt pulled me to the side and said, "I really like him!" Yay!
- Sharing a lunch and nice dinner with my Dad and his partner, M. On his own, versus with the whole family, my Dad can seem to connect and have more meaningful conversation with us. We talked a little about politics at dinner, and I was shocked to realize that my Dad and I have a very similar view of Trump! (he's a Republican). M was nice and made an effort to get to know Rich, which I appreciated.
- We went to my older cousin on my dad's side's house, as I often do, but she talked even more than usual, it seemed. This cousin of mine can talk a blue streak, especially when she's been drinking. It was good to see her son, though, who she adopted from China and give him a little gift I brought.
- The night before we left, we went to the athletic club restaurant (my family developed and runs an athletic club in downtown Eugene) to have drinks with a few friends and acquantances of mine from high school. It was pretty fun but somewhat exhausting at that point, especially for this introvert. RC hung in like a champ.