On Tuesday, we came home after an always-too-short visit up north to see my family in Minnesota. It was a lovely visit: cold and a bit snowy and very low-key.

We woke up at 3:30AM(!) on Saturday in order to pack up and make it to the airport for our 6:15AM flight. We only brought personal items on the plane, and checked a bag, since we forget how much space winter clothes take up! I always feel less frantic when I'm not trying to juggle a personal item and a carry-on item. We found our seats and the plane took off early, and I slept, like I usually do, on any type of vehicle. Car rides, planes, etc., they lull me to sleep, unless I'm solo traveling. Little did Nicholas know that when he married me, he signed up to be a pillow for life. ;)

Landing at 8:45AM, we got our bag, and my mom picked us up in 13 degree Minneapolis and a small amount of snow on the ground. This is why I knit, even though I currently live in Texas, folks. We drove back to the house, for breakfast and coffee, since eating PB oatmeal at 3:30AM doesn't sit particularly well and we were starving. We scrambled eggs and ate hash browns and fruit and had french press coffee with my mom and my Grandma Donna, and then my dad joined us, having returned from an errand.

Nicholas went with my brother to his house to start preparing food for our big early Thanksgiving meal. I took a short nap, because that early morning was catching up to me in a big way, and then woke up to a house smelling like my mom's potato corn chowder (yum!!) and I made some cornbread for supper later on. My dad and I went to go get my Grandma Marcie from the memory care unit where she lives. I wasn't sure if she would remember me, but she did, which meant a lot to me.

We stopped by my parents house to help load up all the other food and then went to my brother's for my Thanksgiving dinner prep. The turkey was in the oven, and I helped a bit with setting the IP settings for the mashed potatoes.

While dinner was in the oven, my brother narrated a slide show of photographs from his recent trips to the Dolomites in Northern Italy and Iceland. And between slides, we'd check to see if the turkey was done, or if we needed to release pressure in the IP for the potatoes.

We sat down for a Thanksgiving meal, my brother said grace, I think. There were brown-sugary sweet potatoes, and gf cornbread, stuffing, mashed potatoes, black olives (of which I ate far too many), and the beautiful turkey. My Grandma Marcie made her gravy, and she ate seconds. I drank ginger ale for the first time in a long time!

Later that night, me Matt and Nicholas played a few rounds of Majesty, I took my parent's sweet dog, Gingersnaps, out for a snowy walk, which was one of my favorite moments of the trip.* and then went to bed after showers and outfitting the air mattress with several blankets and one of my mom's handmade quilts.

On Sunday, we bundled up for church, heard a sermon about Moses and his shining face (in Exodus 34, super fascinating), and sang hymns. I got to give my friend Lauren a hug, and talk with her for awhile and marvel at how wonderful it is to see people you love in person. Then we drove back to my parents' house, had a delicious brunch of egg bake and more gf cornbread, fruit, glasses of whole milk (the best thing ever when I'm home), and a little bit more coffee. I walked my brother through prep of French press vs aeropress coffee, to see which he preferred (method and outcome).

That night, we had my brother's "famous" meat sauce and pasta combo and roasted brussels sprouts. Nicholas and I helped Matt make dinner. And in the evening, we watched Meru which was astonishing and terrifying, and so well-done.

On Monday, my brother and my dad had to work, and we stayed at my brother's house for a bit in the morning, awaiting the internet repair man, and making a breakfast of bacon, eggs, and toast. Then we drove to my parents, had coffee with my Grandma and my mom, and talked about Christmas gifts for my brother and plans for that day. Ultimately, we decided to head into NE Minneapolis to have my favorite pizza of all time, Punch, and their gf neopliotian style crust. My favorite type of pizza, made gf, with the best texture? So yummy. And we ordered a salad too, because I knew I needed some veggies. Then we went back home, to prep ribs and oven-baked potatoes and roasted squash for dinner. I took another nap, because it's so easy to want a nap with all the cozy quilts in every room.

We had dinner together and then my Grandma's neighbor picked her up to drive her back to Duluth from the Twin Cities. Then we sat in the living room, looking at yarn my family bought for me in Iceland, talking colors and contrast for colorwork sweaters. That night, we played a round of Dominion (also such a fun game) with my brother, back at his house, and went to bed pretty late.

On Tuesday, we woke up early enough to make breakfast to share with my brother, finalized our packing, headed to my parent's house, and had coffee and talked away the morning about enneagram types and the effect of "stuff" (material goods, etc.) on mood and life stress with my mom. Then we made gf pancakes, and headed to the airport. I loved seeing shiny, partially frozen lakes beneath us as the plane gained elevation. I think winter is so beautiful. On the plane ride, I sipped on ginger ale and knit and listened to music, and Nicholas watched the newest Mission Impossible.

The trip was incredibly restful, with lots of good family time. We didn't have any set plans, and the extra cold weather (down to 7 degrees one night) made it a little bit more complicated to do extended adventures outside, but we got a few dog walks in, and stayed cozy inside.

Other highlights from the trip:

  • my grandma wore her Andrea-knit socks
  • spending time with both grandmas
  • wild turkey tracks on my parents' deck
  • borrowing slippers from my mom to keep my feet toasty
  • bundling up in handknit hats and shawls
  • talks and laughing with my mom
  • blurry pictures with Nicholas
  • playing games with Nicholas and my brother
  • my dad sharing about biblical archeological history with us
  • driving past snowy houses on routes I've known my whole life
  • cozying up under so many quilts made by my mom (the coziest nap setup!)
  • lots of puppy snuggles
  • watching snowflakes fall, never failing to be mesmerized by it

Since we've been back in Austin (I'll spare you the stories of a dead car battery and Austin traffic, etc.) here's what I've been up:

  • "catching up" on sleep, even though I know you can't really do that
  • working a tired shift at the hospital
  • hearing the wonderful news that our friends had their baby girl! We should get to meet her today!
  • finishing all our Christmas shopping in one last push
  • running Christmas-related errands, picking up a few things for what will be our own small, belated-thanksgiving dinner with just the two of us
  • ordering stocking stuffers for Nicholas for our advent/December tradition of a shared stocking with little surprises/treats every day or two
  • reading library books
  • sorting mail/paying bills
  • wearing my blanket sweater
  • and wearing my swoncho
  • drinking peppermint coffee
  • snuggling in flannel sheets
  • unpacking from the trip
  • catching up on laundry
  • texting my mom
  • texting my sister-in-law
  • thinking about the trip home, always feeling a little bit "stuck" after being away
  • doing a slow, meaningful word search
  • adding twinkly Christmas lights here and there (Christmas decor, stage one: the Nicholas approved pre-Thanksgiving round)
  • trimming candle wicks
  • buying peppermint gf candy cane jojo's and a new (very green!) boxwood wreath from TJ's
  • thinking about using this tutorial with some fabric I bought last year
  • believing the promises of 2 Chronicles 20:17

And a word about snow. I feel like there are all these hidden promises from God that are brought fresh to mind every time it snows. I've never been sad about snow of any kind—inconvenienced, yes, since I grew up in MN, and went to school in IN—but never upset. I feel like the Lord gives me little snippets of snow here and there, reminding me of His goodness, His provision. Whether it's three-snowfalls-in-a-season here in Texas last year (unprecedented for many years before), or tiny snowflakes on a gown at the doctor's office, or swirling, icy flakes like fake snow in my brother's neighborhood as I walk in the dog in the silence that only accompanies falling snow. Each and every time I encounter it in recent years, I feel a reassurance of yes, He is good. Yes, He sees me.Yes, He knows my heart, even in the little things. He knows all it desires, small and big, and He knows the plans He has for me. It's my stone of remembrance. And this trip up north reminded me of that once again.

And thus, it feels like the apt time of year. Anticipation and waiting: two heart attitudes that overlap, but are not the same. This is the time of year when everyone joins together in that anticipation, and I feel a little less like an island in what has felt like years of anticipation. I love that advent comes once a year—every year—a built-in season of anticipation, because I think that's when God does the most heart work, in those seasons of anticipation. So whether it's just an annual thing, or if your season of anticipation is much more long-term, know that there is a purpose to it. This is a working season, a life-giving season, much more-so than seasons of abundance can offer.

So look for the joy in snowfalls, or Christmas decorations, or the practice of cozying up inside, preparing our hearts for a season of preparation.

P.S.— I dare you to try and be sad when listening to/watching this video (I don't think it's possible)

P.P.S.— I got my hair cut before our trip and I absolutely love it.