Blue Moon and Southwest Airlines made my trip easy.
I headed out Thursday night. The flight was quick and I managed to avoid the people you tend to meet when traveling by air so I was off to a good start. I got into LAX around 6:30. Katie picked me up... or actually stopped in the middle of the loading section as I ran out and we jumped around like middle schoolers while loading my luggage in the trunk. We then fought LA rush hour traffic back to the LB. We drove around trying to figure out how to park for Chili's. No matter where I go, I must go to Chili's. After 30 minutes of circles we figured it out and saddled up to the bar where we drank tall beers and shocked our cute, hipster bartender Brent with our usual classy lady talk. After that we went to the grocery store where we grabbed some Coronas and chocolate. Because what's a party without Corona and chocolate? We sat and talked and I met her (truly magnificent) roommate. We turned in early and I was grateful. Katie had to work on Friday and I was realizing that running away from children is incredibly exhausting.
Lazy morning hanging with Stella while Lizzy makes breakfast.
The beautiful birthday Kiki!
The next day I got to see the types of magical IT stuff Katie does and meet all of her
co-workers. They threw her a birthday party with the most amazing mexican food and a cake that tasted as sinful as it looked. I like cake. Later on that night, we attended a women's event at their church. We were given tips on how to stay centered during the stressful holiday season and a message on what the real meaning of hope is. After our uplifting service, we were all given lovely red blankets and invited to the courtyard for a surprise which included cookies, hot chocolate, and a Christmas music and light show. It was unseasonably cold in So-Cal so those blankets came in handy.
Christmas light show at Cottonwood Church
Sorority house cuisine
Saturday, I got the chance to meet Lizzy's family. I was really overwhelmed by their kindness and how quick they were to include me in their holiday traditions. In the afternoon, we did the typical 3 chicks in a house thing. Ate pizza, painted our toenails, watched girl movies, and dished on who was (and was not hot). That night I was invited to attend The Annual Grinch Party -- an informal holiday soiree where the guests bring a gift for less fortunate children. The wine was great and the company was even better.
All sparkly like for the festivities
Sunday, we got up and had breakfast. Then she took me to see various things around Long Beach. I got a chance to see a beautiful Mother Mary statue and I walked along the beach. I put my toes in the water. Found a shell. Did all the stuff a person does at the beach when they aren't chasing babies. Then we hit up Ralph's, my new favorite grocery store because it has a salad bar, and grabbed the makings for sausage kale soup and brownies with chocolate ganache. Katie is quite the cook. I'm quite the watcher. We packed it all up and headed over to Lizzy's family home to have a tree trimming party. We really ate too much to be of much use, but I did make two new dachsund friends and the tree came out beautifully.
These guys are hilarious
GORGEOUS tree at the Rock house.
Monday we woke up, sipped some Peet's coffee (with a little International Delight Creamer cause I need something in mine), and lounged with the puppies. I had to be at the airport at 5 but we had a mission to complete before that. I HAD to have more King Taco before I left Long Beach. And what trip is complete without a trip to the mall?
Need I say more?
It may seem like I didn't do very much. Some people like to run about while they are on vacation. But I couldn't be more pleased with how my trip went. My gracious friends provided me with a calm environment to relax in. I got MAD puppy love. I got to meet some new people and see some new things. I was able to sit with myself and think. I was able to sit with them and be totally myself. It was all I could want in a trip and more. I feel really blessed to have people in my life who care so much for me that they look out for me like that even when I don't do it for myself. I feel really blessed to have been able to go. And I feel really blessed to be home.