Avenue Café

We always eat a lot on work trips. Here are a few more pictures of food.

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Avenue Café on Urbanspoon

You’ll never go hungry when you stay at the MGM Grand. The casino resort is like a small city with dozens of dining options.

Avenue Café is just one of several restaurants on site. The best part about Avenue Café, besides the great food, is that breakfast is served all day (note that they close at 2 PM).

If I had one complaint, it would be the price. $5 for a hot chocolate is a bit much. Then again, it is Vegas, so I guess that should be expected. I have no complaints about the food. I had breakfast there a couple of times and I liked what I had both times. They had several gluten free items and I even liked them.

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We all cracked up when I ordered the gluten free corned beef hash with white toast. LOL. Ginger had to explain to me that even though it’s listed as gluten free, I don’t have to order it that way. Anything that is gluten free can be made the regular way so I could have just ordered corned beef hash, period. I was like, “That’s good to know. I was just reading it straight from the menu.”

Also, it’s never too early to drink in Vegas. Even though Avenue Café is a breakfast place, they had a good cocktail selection — most notably the “manmosa” which is the manly version of a mimosa. It’s the exact same thing, except they serve it in a beer mug rather than a champagne flute.

The champagne flutes are small and skinny so you don’t get much for $8. The $20 carafe is a better value because you get several champagne flutes worth. I only know because we had some on departure day. As tempting as it was, we didn’t have any the first time we were at Avenue Café because we don’t partake on work days.

If you don’t mind paying a little bit more for breakfast, Avenue Café is a good, convenient option. It’s a straight shot from the MGM Grand lobby.

Gonzalez Y Gonzalez

Gonzalez Y Gonzalez on Urbanspoon

I’d never been inside New York New York before. It’s actually pretty cool in there. They have the fake skies that make you feel like you’re outside though you’re inside the casino. The restaurant facades are made to look like you’re walking along a city street.

We ended up at New York New York because that’s where the Mexican restaurant Gonzalez Y Gonzalez is located. Gonzalez Y Gonzalez is the restaurant they picked for our first group dinner. The food is pretty good and the prices are reasonable. Here are some pictures.

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I had carnitas (above) while Isaac had fajitas (below).

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Dinner was good. I’m not sure what everyone else did after dinner. I was exhausted from the trip so it was an early night for me.

The Grand Wok and Sushi Bar

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Ended up eating at the Grand Work and Sushi Bar a couple of times last week because (a) it was conveniently located inside the MGM Grand where we stayed a couple of nights and (b) the food wasn’t bad.

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Here are a couple of pictures… The photo above is of Amy’s crunchy. It’s like a California roll with crumbs on top. The one right below is their shrimp tempura roll. It’s a little different than the same roll at Wasabi because Grand Wok adds carrots to theirs. The roll was good but I prefer it the other way, without the carrots.

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Grand Wok & Sushi Bar on Urbanspoon

I ate there the first time with Marsha, Amy, Isaac, and Josh. Everyone decided to do their own thing the second time around, so Tammie and I ended up having dinner together at Grand Wok after our walk along the Vegas strip.

One of the best things about Grand Wok, besides sushi, is that they offer lots of vegetarian options. They also have lots of other items on the menu for those who don’t really feel like eating sushi. The only downside is that it’s a little pricy, but everything in Vegas is so that should come as no surprise.

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If you’re staying at MGM, the Grand Wok and Sushi Bar is a good option.

Three Time Zones in Three Days

I recently arrived back home from a work trip that spanned three different time zones in three days. I love traveling and wouldn’t mind it one bit if my work wanted me to travel 80% of the time, but this is the kind of traveling that make people who love to travel hate traveling. LOL. We moved to a different hotel every day so, in the three days I was away from home, I slept in three different hotel rooms. We made the best of it, though. Despite this being a work trip, we managed to have a ton of fun.

We stayed at the MGM Grand on our first night. I’d been to Las Vegas a few times but this was my first time staying at MGM. There were several conventions going on in the area so the hotel was completely booked. I know. It’s amazing considering the MGM has over 5,000 rooms. The conventions going on must have been seriously massive conventions.

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I got a room with two double beds because it was what they had available at the time. I’m not fond of having two beds in my hotel room but we were only going to be there one night. On the up side, I had a great view of New York New York and Excalibur.

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Mel and Isaac came up to admire my view and take pictures.

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We all drove to Saint George (Utah) the next morning. The drive was breathtaking.

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I found a video of the exact route we took on YouTube. Check it out.

Pictures do not do the sights justice. It just has to be experienced.

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Here’s a picture of my coworker Josh, taking a video.

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We spent the second night in Saint George. My hotel room at the Hilton Garden Inn had two double beds again. However, there was a mixup with our hotel reservation and they had it for the previous night instead of the correct night so I was just relieved that there were rooms available for us.

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This is the view from my hotel room in Saint George.

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We drove back to Las Vegas the next day. We returned to the MGM for our final night. I had a room with a king bed this time. Hurrah!

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Most people don’t mind having the two beds in their hotel room because they use the other bed to lay out all of their stuff. I just don’t like how much floor space the second bed takes up. Look at all the room I had in my king bed room. I could have had a Zumba class! King rooms are so much more conducive to in-room workouts for times when you don’t feel like going to the hotel’s gym or when the hotel doesn’t have one or when you didn’t pack workout clothes. You can workout in your underwear in the privacy of your room. Rooms with double beds do not allow for this. Not that I worked out at all during this business trip, but it’s nice to have that option. LOL.

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My room was at the other side of the hotel this time around so I had a different view. Not as good as the other night, but still good. I could see the Stratosphere from my room.

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This trip is by far the most exhausting work trip I’ve ever taken, but the experience was great. I met some of the most amazing people in Saint George and I couldn’t have asked for better travel companions. Work trips aren’t typically fun but somehow we always manage to make the best of it. I have such awesome coworkers!

P.S. In case some of you were wondering about the title of this blog post, we went from Central Time (Wichita) to Pacific Time (Las Vegas) to Mountain Time (Saint George) and then back again.

Cars for Charities

My little sister and I had the opportunity to do volunteer work together the other day at the Starbird-Devlin Rod & Customs Charities Car Show. It’s an annual car show held at the Century II Convention Center. I’m not sure if it benefits the same charities every year but this year all the proceeds from the event are going to the Arc of Sedgwick County, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and Starkey.

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I find volunteer work not only rewarding but I really enjoy it. I always have fun, but most specially if the volunteer work entails working at an event. Besides the satisfaction you feel for helping, there are perks such as being able to participate in the event’s activities. Having experienced some really amazing volunteer opportunities has made me prefer doing volunteer work to going to the movies or hanging out at the mall. Well, I’ve never really enjoyed hanging out at the mall. I usually limit my trips to twice a year to get my ring cleaned and inspected at the store where it was purchased.

But I digress, Brian didn’t share my passion for volunteer work at first but I’m slowly turning him around. It used to be that you couldn’t get him to volunteer to do anything. Now he’s more open to it. I had to start with the really fun stuff like Zoobilee. After he realized how much fun you can have volunteering for things, he’s starting to warm up to the idea. I’m hoping that my little sister will begin to see the value of volunteer work and that you can have fun while feeding your soul. She has many years ahead of her and can really make a difference in this world.

We were assigned to the Kids’ Zone on Friday night so our volunteer work was really less work and more play. Our shift didn’t start until six o’clock but I picked Kira up an hour early so that we would arrive at the even early and have a few minutes to look around. I wish Brian could have been there with us. I know nothing about cars and couldn’t tell a Corvette from a Camaro (okay, I’m exaggerating) but Brian would have been able to name them all off as we walked past. They all look cool to me.

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People did some really creative things with their display. Kira asked to pose with several.

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It should be no surprise that she wanted a picture with the pink car because pink is her favorite color. I couldn’t tell you what kind of car that is, though.

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She wanted a picture with this big truck also.

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The Corvettes are always well represented at these events.

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We also ran into the Holder family. Andrew had his station wagon in the show. We had to get a picture with his car. LOL.

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Speaking of Andrew, he started an auto detailing business a couple of years back. He detailed several cars for the show and I’m sure his own. I hadn’t seen his work in person until now. It’s amazing. If you guys need your cars thoroughly cleaned, Andrew Holder is your man. You can get more info on his Facebook page: Holder’s Auto Detailing.

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This isn’t even half of the cars in the show but I wanted to show you guys the variety of entries. Today is the last day to of the car show so if you haven’t been, I highly recommend checking it out.

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They have plenty of activities for the kids also so you won’t even need to leave them at home. There are characters working around to take photos with and entertain the kids.

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We caught up with a few of them.

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Other activities for the kids included a coloring station (that was our assignment), face painting, bracelet making, model car making, bounce house, car racing, shooting baskets for prizes, and various other games. They also have some scheduled entertainment throughout the day like magic shows and such. We didn’t get to see one while we were there on Friday but they had a stage area set up for it. I was thinking that must have been for Saturday or Sunday. There’s also a bicycle exhibit and a car model exhibit next to the Kids’ Zone. It’s really cool.

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I forgot to mention the photo station where they had cutouts of several cars and kids can take photos with them like they’re inside. We only took a photo with one but there were several of these that you could choose from.

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Even if you’re not into cars, it would be fun to go to the Kids’ Zone and hang out. It’s something different than the usual weekend activity with the kiddos. There’s so many cool things to do at the Kids’ Zone that the coloring station was pretty slow. That’s actually why we got to play.

We had so much fun that we stayed 30 minutes past the end of our volunteer shift. Kira really wanted to build a model car so toward the end of the evening I told her she could go to the model car make and take station while I manned the coloring station. It had slowed down enough so I was able to pack up the coloring station and join her at the model car making station.

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There were three different cars you could choose to build and, wouldn’t you know it, this little girl picked the most challenging one. Five minutes before the closing time (Kids’ Zone closed at eight o’clock on Friday night) and she was no where near done. The man said we could take it and finish it at home but he didn’t mind staying to help because he’s there until ten. I felt guilty because I’m sure he had other tasks. It sure was nice of him to offer, though.

Kira wanted two more cars so she wanted me to start building some too. I told her we wouldn’t finish in time. I think she just wanted me to start some so we could take a couple of extra cars home. They weren’t giving away model car kits. They’re there to make on site and then you could take the finished car with you. Of course, if you didn’t finish then you could choose to finish it at home. In Kira’s case, we were able to assemble the car but we didn’t get to put the stickers on. She gets to do that later.

Anyway, I had to explain to her that they couldn’t give all the cars away because they needed some for kids to do the next day and the day after. She is so thoughtful, though. She is always thinking of her brothers and her cousins. Any time we go somewhere we can take stuff, she always wants to take extra so she can share it. I knew she wanted the two extra cars for her brothers.

This clever little girl who charmed the man at the car model make and take station into practically building her car for her almost talked him into giving us a couple of car kits to take home. Seriously. Had I gone along with her scheme we probably would have had three cars instead of one. I’m not much of a rule breaker, though. And, the man said he wasn’t supposed to give out the kits so I didn’t want him to do anything he wasn’t supposed to do. Plus, it wouldn’t be fair to the other kids.

I wish that I would have gotten his name so I could send him a thank you note. He was the nicest, most patient person ever. And, he practically built Kira’s car while still let her participate in the easier parts of the build so she had a sense of accomplishment.

We had so much fun that Kira didn’t want to leave. If she had her way, we would still be there today. If you have no plans today, I highly recommend checking out the Starbird-Devlin car show.

Feeling Lucky

I would have made it to work by 9 AM this morning after my annual exam. I ended up just a few minutes late because of sudden car trouble. Minor trouble, but it freaked me out nonetheless. And, today was the worst day for it because it was freezing outside. I forgot my earmuffs and didn’t have a hat or scarf on. I felt like my ears were going to fall off.

When I left the doctor’s office, I headed North on Webb Road to catch K96. I could tell there was something wrong with my car immediately. The steering wheel felt shaky and there was this exclamation point alert that I hadn’t seen before displayed on the dash. I called Brian to ask him, but he wasn’t sure either. I ended up finding a first parking lot I could find, which was on the corner of 29th and Webb. I took a picture of my dash and sent it to Brian. He said it was just the tire pressure. Brian said that taking the car on the highway might warm up the tires and help normalize the pressure but the steering wheel felt really shaky and I wasn’t comfortable driving on the highway. I remembered that the car dealership is just one block over so I had the brilliant idea to drive there and ask them to help me. It was the best idea ever.

The car dealership figured out which tires needed more air and they took care of it for me. It took a few minutes so I took advantage of a chocolate croissant while I waited inside. I was on my way back to work in no time.

I’m so glad that I thought to take the car to the dealership. First of all, I didn’t have a tire pressure gauge on me so I would have had to borrow one from someone. Secondly, I would have had to find a gas station and then would have had to air up the tires myself in the freezing cold. It would have taken me at least twice as long.

Munching on a chocolate croissant while my tires were checked and filled was a far more pleasant option. Thank you to the wonderful people at the Wichita Luxury Collection for saving my behind today.

Things are Getting Serious

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I just ordered a new ball. I haven’t bought a bowling ball in 20 years. Things must be getting serious. The next thing you know I’ll be sporting a wrist brace and everything.

Speaking of, we debuted our new team uniforms at bowling on Sunday. You can’t see them very well in this photo but this is what the outfits look like.

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Brian and I already had the sweatpants. We got them at the last Zumba Convention. Brian actually found the sweatpants when he was shopping at the store while I was in one of my training workshops. When I got back to the hotel room and saw them, I sent him back to the store to get me a pair also. They are so comfortable that we’ve been wearing them to bowling every Sunday. Rather than buying a whole new set of uniforms for everyone, I ended up just ordering the same sweatpants for mom and dad. So then I just had to buy us all some black shirts to wear with them. Voila! Bowling uniforms.

Mom and dad really love the new bowling outfits. I shouldn’t have been so surprised, though. How can you go wrong with comfy sweats? I joked today that if we start doing really well, I will spring for “real” bowling uniforms. Like legit bowling polos (complete with our embroidered team name and logo) and maybe khaki pants for the guys and khaki skirts for mom and me. But then, after getting used to wearing sweats to bowing it’s going to be hard to go back to wearing regular clothes. Our current bowling uniforms are super comfy.

Anyway, I saw some videos of the jet black Hammer Taboo bowling ball and it really made me want to buy one. However, dad said that drilling will run me around $60 and it might not even be the right ball for me. He suggested that I talk to someone from the local pro-shop about a suitable ball and if I buy the ball from them then the price of the ball usually includes the cost of drilling.

I still really like the jet black Taboo but after talking to both dad and Kevin Andes at Wichita Bowling Supply I realized that the Taboo may be too much ball for me. I ended up just ordering a Blur Pearl because it’s going to give me more predictable results and will suit my style of bowling better. I’m really optimistic that the new ball will improve my game. Anything is better than my ancient Columbia 300 Quantum, which is at least 20 years old. Surely.

Incidentally, the Blur Pearl is also manufactured by Columbia 300. And, this entire time I thought I was using a 12-pound ball but my current ball actually weighs 13 pounds. I wanted to go up to 13 pounds anyway so I get my wish. LOL. Eventually I’m thinking of going up another pound but it may be a couple of years before I’m ready to throw a 14-pound ball. I need to get stronger first.

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Speaking of strong, I’m off to a great start this year. I bowled a 500-series last night. It felt great. I was the only one on our team who consistently bowled above my average every game. I earned my new bowling ball, I’d say!

When I bowl a 600-series I’m totally getting that jet black Taboo! I don’t care if it’s too much bowling ball for me. It will serve as a trophy to commemorate my achievement. LOL.

2014 End of Year Recap

Time to catch you guys up before our annual end of year recap…

Here are the highlights of 2014…

I’m grateful for all of the wonderful experiences of 2014 and for lessons learned. Looking forward to a happy, healthy 2015!

Donate to the YMCA

Please help us to raise money to support the YMCA.

Thank you.

Brian Saves Christmas

I thought I was completely ready for Christmas. Things were going so well. All of the presents that we’d sent to friends and family around the world made it to their destinations on time. Christmas cards were mailed. We were just relaxing while waiting for the day itself to finally arrive. And then I got sick the weekend before Christmas. I had no idea how much still needed to be done. When I was no longer feverish and returned to consciousness I started to panic. I didn’t feel ready. Brian had everything under control though. I calmed down once I reminded myself that I completely trust Brian and that’s if he says that everything is under control then it is. It just sucks to be completely sidelined during crunch time.

I was still feeling alright last Thursday. I had felt a little achy the preceding days but I’d just attributed that to probably sleeping crooked or something like that. Anyway, no major issues on Thursday. Brian’s parents were in town so we used the evening for them to drop off their presents for us in Wichita and to give them their presents from the two of us. Thursday nights are also usually the nights I hang out with my little sister Nickira.

I had taken her to make a craft project for her mom at Color Me Mine a few weeks prior. She wanted to make something for her Aunt also but after she realized how much each piece cost, she suggested that we go to the dollar store instead. We were starting to run out of days before Christmas so we decided to do that on Thursday on the way home to have dinner and do homework.

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My in-laws were still at the house when we arrived so Nickira got to meet them. They also had a present for her, which she got to open right then.

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She also got to open a present from me.

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She got to wear the necklace and earrings that day.

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We were in presents-opening mode so while we were waiting for dinner to be ready, Kira helped us open the present from the Orbases that arrived in the mail that day.

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They got us an awesome chess set where the pieces consist of Chinese soldiers.

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Here’s a video Kira reading the Christmas card that came with it.

After dinner Brian left to take grandma to see Christmas lights. It was one of her requests this year. Kira and I stayed home to do homework, wrap her presents, and write messages for the recipients.

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It was then that I remembered that Kira’s mom wanted me to help her with her penmanship. So I ordered a couple of learn to write tablets. They should be coming in a few days so we can start on this project at the beginning of the year. I also need to help her with her spelling. She keeps spelling aunt as ant. LOL.

After we completed our tasks, Kira got to play with Molly for a while before I had to take her back home. Nickira and I didn’t go to see Christmas lights with Brian and grandma that night because my original plan was to take her to Illuminations at Botanica on Sunday. It was Westar night and I could get four people in free with my work badge.

Sadly it was not to be. I came down with the flu on Friday. I was hoping to be well enough by Sunday but I still had a fever. There was no way I could go. I missed so much that weekend. I missed dinner with friends on Friday night, missed my Zumba classes (I was so glad Hideki and Alexa were able to teach in my place so the classes didn’t have to be canceled), missed my waxing appointment, missed a friend’s birthday party, and on and on. I spent all weekend in bed, feeling completely helpless and out of it.

In the meantime, Brian did laundry (my job every weekend) and everything else. In my delirium I was like, “What are we going to do about Christmas Day? What are we going to make for grandma?” Brian came up with a plan and went to the grocery store on Sunday. All this happened while I was out.

Went back to work on Monday but took a few hours of vacation in the afternoon before my Monday night Zumba class. My fever was gone, but breathing was still kind of a problem. I tried to convince myself I was well enough though. Tuesday I worked the full day and taught two Zumba classes afterward. In hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have gone back to work so soon and I definitely should not have taught those Zumba classes. While I don’t have a fever, I’m still miserable and now I feel like I ought to go see the doctor before I kill myself completely.

It seemed like I was better on Christmas Eve but I was probably just happy that Brian didn’t have to work that day. In my elation I completely forgot that I was supposed to teach Zumba that morning in Alexa’s place (she’s celebrating the holidays with family out of town). The ironic part is that I had just received my review the night before and had gotten excellent ratings for being willing to sub other classes and for being dependable. So much for that record.

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I may have missed my grooming but Molly didn’t miss hers. She looked so adorable in her Christmas sweater, with her fresh haircut. I was so glad that mom and dad let us bring her with us so she would have to be at home alone on Christmas Eve.

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Kevin, Kasey, Andy, and Kyndra celebrated Christmas Eve with us. It worked out well because we were able to exchange gifts at mom and dad’s that night.

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The kids just wanted gift cards. GameStop for Andy and Gordmans for Kyndra.

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Kevin and Kasey wanted their own Cards Against Humanity set so we got them that and the first two expansions. We also got them X-Men: Days of Future Past and Wolverine Collection, which they didn’t ask for but we knew they would like.

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The movie collection comes with X-Men, X-Men 2: X-Men United, X-Men 3: The Last Stand (Widescreen Edition), X-Men Origins: Wolverine, X-Men: First Class, The Wolverine, and X-Men: Days of Future Past.

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Grandma received a pullover from Kevin and Kasey but was most thrilled to see her great grandchildren. I think that was the greatest present of all.

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Jen and Armando also joined us this year. It’s their first time meeting grandma.

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Grandma also got to meet the Cannadys and our other nephews on that side.

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We had wonderful food and wonderful company. We were out later than we wanted but it worked out great because grandma didn’t seem to mind and she had the opportunity to meet the Cannadys.

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The next morning grandma got to explore the contents of her Christmas stocking at breakfast: a new wallet, jumbo print playing cards, and Lindor truffles.

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Brian and I don’t really buy each other presents to open on Christmas Day. We mostly just buy the things we want, say that we got them for Christmas, but immediately start enjoying them (much like our new Xorbee). The wrapped presents you see under our tree are all the presents that that we’ve bought to give to others.

We have so many generous people in our lives, though that there’s usually not a shortage of presents to open on Christmas Day. This year we got to watch grandma open the presents that we got for her and the presents that she got from David and Donna.

We also got several presents from Brian’s mom and dad, a Kurt Adler Christmas ornament from Aunt Sandy, cutting boards from Cousin Tracy and Jeff, and a personalized Christmas ornament from our neighbors Jim and Karen who were nice enough to stop by on Christmas Day. Grandma finally got to meet our awesome neighbors we’d been telling her about. And they got to meet her.

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Molly got presents too — from me and Brian (new beds and toys) and also from Karen and Jim (outfit and treats). Karen and Jim got her a cute little Wichita State shockers dress that she wore all day. She looked like a little cheerleader!

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After lunch we got to video chat with Brian’s parents and thank them for all the wonderful presents they gave us. It was a wonderful Christmas despite my not feeling 100%. Brian really saved Christmas from becoming a complete and total disaster this year. After he took grandma home we both took a very long nap. It had been a busy two days and we were completely and utterly exhausted.

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Hope your Christmas was filled with just as much joy and happiness!

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