We spent the first two weeks in a Chicago suburb, making merry and just relaxing. Jordan and esther were everyone's favorite people for those two weeks. Brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, and parents all literally stood in line to hold jordan. When they weren't holding him, they'd hang out with esther and get to know her. I'm old news.
Christmas itself was a crazy barrage of gifts, people, music, eating and drinking, nothing new there. For New Years Eve, on the other hand, i was in bed by about 9:30. Having a 3-month old AND getting over jetlag will shut that whole "partying" thing down real quick-like.
It was interesting seeing my hometown through esther's eyes. We were driving down the street and she saw some squirrels playing. She got excited and i pulled over so she could watch them. That just doesn't happen where she's from, and i hadn't realized the extent to which she had missed out on wildlife growing up. I tried to remedy that with a trip to Brookfield Zoo with my Dad and another trip to the field museum downtown so she could see her first real live dinosaurs. My closest friends from high school also own a pet shop, so we hung out there and played with snakes, birds and turtles. I held a tarantula.
Her other big takeaway was how spread out everything was, and yet still convenient. It meant getting in your car anytime you wanted to go anywhere, but having a car meant that we could travel as far as needed to run errands. Even in China when she had a car, you could still accomplish most of your basic errands with a 5 minute walk.
We also had our third and final wedding reception. It was great to see all my extended family, aunts, uncles and cousins, as well as friends from all over, but it felt anti-climatic. Nothing could ever have topped the uniqueness and excitement of the first one in Hangzhou, but it sure was fun trying. And it gave esther and i another chance to look great in our wedding attire. (Special thanks to my cousin Mark for all these photos!)
The best part of this reception was the timing, though. During Christmas, my immediate family usually gathers for 36 hours, maximum, before everyone has to be off to somewhere else. This year though, we were all together for 4 full days, which is the longest we've been together in probably 8 years.
In addition, Reid and Julia from Beijing came and a close college friend, Jordan, brought his family as well. Between them, Jeff Orcutt (of Autobots, Deploy! fame), and Aaron and Nick Kurasz (my pet shop friends), i had friends from the last 20 years of my life in attendance. So much love.