Christmas in Arizona

It wasn’t going to be hard for this Christmas to top last Christmas when my grandmother died and my mom, my nieces, and myself were all sick. This year no one died and no one was sick so it was definitely an improvement. We spent most of the week just hanging out playing with our nieces and playing cards. Despite his disinterest in playing cards Paul won the two games I forced him to play. Thus we both came home a few dollars richer this trip. Not quite enough to make up for the price of the plane tickets though. As usual Paul also got put to work as usual on fixing my parents’ tech problems.

My eldest niece is big into Barbies right now, so she was always wanting me to play Barbies. I can’t say I was super excited about that. My tolerance for playing pretend as an adult is not that great. I much preferred when we played games or colored together.

My youngest niece was super cute when she wasn’t whining or throwing a tantrum, which was pretty much any time she didn’t get her way. She has an early case of the terrible twos apparently. It’s a good thing she’s so stinking cute.

Cookie monster!
Cookie monster!
I stole all these pipe cleaners.
I stole all these pipe cleaners.
Christmas dresses
Christmas dresses
Tickle time with Uncle Paul
Tickle time with Uncle Paul
Playing hide and seek
Playing hide and seek
Just relaxing
Just relaxing
This goober climbed up on that spot and took my iPad from me to play with.
This goober climbed up on that spot and took my iPad from me to play with.
Cheese face!
Cheese face!

 

Silly elf hiding in the broken down gingerbread house. Engineering and architecture are not my strong suit.
Silly elf hiding in the broken down gingerbread house. Engineering and architecture are not my strong suit.
Nomar and Paul make friends
Nomar and Paul make friends

I’m pretty sure the kids got an entire toy store’s worth of stuff for Christmas. We told Katelyn she wasn’t allowed to leave her room until 7am. Turns out the joke was on us because we all got up and assembled ourselves by 7 and we finally had to go wake her up at 7:15.

Waiting on the kids to wake up and open their presents.
Waiting on the kids to wake up and open their presents.
The best part of this drum toy was pulling the drumstick out of its hole and putting it back in again.
The best part of this drum toy was pulling the drumstick out of its hole and putting it back in again.
Presents
Presents
Woah a 3 foot tall Barbie Dreamhouse. YouTube helped "Santa" put it together.
Woah a 3 foot tall Barbie Dreamhouse. YouTube helped “Santa” put it together.
Opening presents
Opening presents

 

The aftermath
The aftermath

I finally had a Sonoran hot dog during this trip as well. I kept hearing about them from friends who also have relatives in the Tucson area, but had never had one the other times I had been out there. We went for lunch one day. A Sonoran hot dog is a hot dog wrapped in bacon and topped with  pinto beans, chopped tomatoes, onions, jalapeno sauce, cheese, mayonnaise, ketchup and mustard inside of a soft roll slightly different than a regular hot dog bun. It was ok, but nothing super special in my opinion. I would eat another one if I happened to be someplace serving them, but I would definitely not go out of my way to eat one again. Now I can say I’ve had one though.

Sonoran hotdog
Sonoran hotdog

The other food new my uncle made pork tenderloin sandwiches for us. If you are unfamiliar with the pork tenderloin let me let the fine folks from Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me’s Sandwich Mondays enlighten you. Ours are coming from Illinois and not Indiana. Also we traditionally eat ours with pickles and ketchup not mayo. They are delicious, but a lot of work to make. My grandparents used to make them, but in recent years I’ve only had them when my uncle is around and makes them. He was going to make them for some euchre tournament my parents are hosting while he is still in town, but after I was going to be gone. I said hey what about me, so he kindly made them earlier in his stay so I could have some too.

Pork tenderloins
Pork tenderloins

My last day there my mom, sister, and I took my niece to see Frozen for the second time. They had seen it together before and I had seen it in Baltimore. My sister had suggested the possibility of seeing it again while I was there at the beginning of my visit, but as the week progressed I didn’t figure we would be able to fit it in. Our flight wasn’t until the evening though so we wound up going to see it on the morning we left. Apparently it is still really popular even after being out for over a month. The first theater we tried to see it at was sold out for a 10 am showing. Who would have guessed. My niece was super disappointed as was I that we weren’t going to see it, but we managed to find another showing at another theater that worked for our timeframe. It was still great the second time. It’s definitely my favorite Disney movie (I’m talking strictly Disney here, not Pixar) since Aladdin. Sorry Lion King people I was never super in love with that movie like I was The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin.

My sister and brother-in-law drove us back to Phoenix to catch our flight on Saturday night. Luckily we managed to make it despite events conspiring to try and make us miss our plane. First there was an accident on I-10 outside of Phoenix. We were stopped almost dead for awhile, but it didn’t take too horribly long to get through and we had left with plenty of time to get there. Apparently a semi truck had overturned going the opposite direction. That side of the interstate was completely shut down. Our traffic was just from the rubbernecking. Thankfully the accident wasn’t on our side or we would definitely have missed our flight. When we got to the airport the wait just to check our bags in at Southwest was 45 minutes. We hadn’t printed out our boarding passes so we couldn’t even do curbside check in. Luckily we were there an hour and 45 minutes before our flight was scheduled to leave otherwise we too would have been getting rebooked onto another flight when we reached the front of the line like we saw many other people having to do. That was ridiculous and no way to run an airline. It doesn’t seem efficient in any way whatsoever to have so many people missing flights and having to be rebooked just because they couldn’t check in on time. Luckily our flight was going out of the D concourse where there are only 8 gates so security was a breeze for us and we pretty much walked right through.

All in all it was an enjoyable visit, and I look forward to the next time I get to see my family whenever that might be.

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