So, plenty of new toys for me to play with. I'm really excited to dive in and start learning how to use some of the advanced features of my camera, as I've taken a real interest in photography over the past several months. As for the TV, our cable service won't be upgraded to HD until January 12 (which is after the BCS National Championship game, but prior to the Super Bowl), but it's already awesome for DVDs and video games. I have a feeling that it and Final Fantasy XII (which I started playing last night and is absolutely gorgeous) are going to be a dangerously time-consuming combination for a while. At any rate, even without the big-ticket items (which are ridiculously awesome), I'm really happy with what I got.
The holiday weekend was a good one, if not particularly relaxing due to travel and other issues. It started on Friday after I got home from work--Brandi and I had designated that evening as "our Christmas," since we were going to be on the road for the rest of the weekend. Brandi made some snacks which we ate while watching the BGSU men's basketball team play at Marshall via an Internet video feed. We did our gift exchange at halftime, then finished off the game (which BG held on to win). Afterwards we went out for a few drinks. We didn't stay out very late, but it was nice to go out for a little bit, at least. It was a good evening.
We got up relatively early on Saturday and headed out of town to spend part of the day with Brandi's mom. We hung out at her place for a while and did our gift exchange, then went out for a late lunch/early dinner. We originally tried to go to Outback Steakhouse in Sandusky, but they hadn't yet opened for the day when we got there and we were too hungry to wait, so we ended up at Olive Garden instead. That turned out to be a good decision. The food was awesome, and we had a good time. From there, we went back to Brandi's mom's place to hang out for a little while longer, and then she and I headed out to spend the rest of the evening with her dad and stepmom. Their Christmas celebration always takes place on Christmas Eve, and since we were in town to visit Brandi's mom, we decided just to spend the night instead of driving back to Bowling Green and then back again the next day. Instead, Brandi wrapped presents for her stepmom while I watched basketball, and then we took their family dog Buster for a walk around the neighborhood. We also watched National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation before turning in for the night.
Sunday was a pretty tame day. Brandi wrapped more presents, made a pie, and helped out in the kitchen while I watched football with her dad. We did our gift exchange early in the afternoon, before the rest of the family arrived, and it was nice to be able to do it without the hustle and bustle of having a million people around. Then her stepmom opened a bottle of champagne that we bought them when we got married, and it was fantastic. Shortly thereafter, the rest of the family arrived for dinner and the rest of the gift exchange. Brandi and I stuck around for a little while after that--long enough to catch the end of the Bengals game, unfortunately--and then we got on the road for Troy where we would spend Christmas with my parents.
As we had at Brandi's parents' house, we did our gift exchange with my parents early on Monday, before everyone arrived for lunch. Again, that was nice, because once everyone else got there, things got pretty crazy. There were twenty people (if I'm remembering correctly) and a one-year-old labrador puppy there, so it got a little hectic. Surprisingly, the chaos did not revolve around the puppy, who is a real sweetheart and more well behaved than she has any right to be. No, a good deal with it was due to one of my nephews, who is probably 19 or 20, bringing along his 21-year-old girlfriend and her two-year-old daughter. My nieces and nephews are mostly teenagers at this point, so it's been a long time since there's been a really little kid present for the festivities. It wouldn't have been a big deal at all if the kid's mom had bothered paying any attention at all to her instead of just letting her tear around on her own. When she started trying to tear down the house, my mom got (justifiably) a little cranked up.
They didn't stay too much longer after that happened, though, and once things calmed down, it was a pretty good day. I definitely enjoy the holidays a whole lot more now that my nieces and nephews, as I mentioned, are mostly at an age where I can value them as individuals. I actually like hanging around them now, and it's always good to be with my siblings as well. My sister Monica and I usually end up sitting together on the periphery and cracking each other up. It's a shame that we generally only get together on holidays (July 4, Thanksgiving, Christmas).
Anyway, after the house cleared out, Brandi crashed on the couch for a nap while I watched football on TV, chatted with Mom, and wrestled with the dog. She didn't sleep for terribly long, though, and when she woke up, it was time for us to get on the road back to Bowling Green. So it wasn't a particularly relaxing weekend, even though it was a long one, due to all the traveling and chaos that comes with cramming so many visits into so few days. I'm thinking this coming weekend, the New Year's weekend, will probably make up for it. Our wedding gift from our wedding party was a gift certificate for a cabin in Hocking Hills, so we decided to use it for New Year's. It'll be something different, and a nice chance for us to get away from everything and just relax for at least one night. I'm really looking forward to it.