|At singing night with friends. They fit right in. :)|
"Family visits" can often be the antithesis of happy and harmonious. And leading up to the very hour that my parents and sister arrived in Austin, I had a lot of mixed emotions. The days previous had left me feeling run-down and irritable, and though I was happy to take the week off so I could spend more quality time with my family, it was also during one of the busiest times of the year for the restaurant. I was feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of taking time off and I was scared that perhaps my family would be treated to grumpy, moody Jonathan. But at the same time, it had been nearly a year since I had last seen them, so I was excited and even giddy with anticipation.
|The kitchen at the timeshare. Let's get cooking!|
|Grilled vegetable sandwich from GFDF brunch at Java Dive Organic Bistro.|
|My mom wanted to work out, so I taught them a cardio dance class. LMAO.|
It was amazing how the same day that my family arrived, I suddenly felt better. It wasn't a coincidence. We laughed a LOT. At any given moment, one of us was either making a fool of ourselves or each other. My Mom kept saying that when she wants to laugh, she just brings my father to the gym with her.
She wasn't kidding.
|Ethiopian food at Aster's. It may not be photogenic, but it sure is tasty!|
We also did our fair share of cooking, baking, and eating. It's always exciting to eat out with my family, because we're all foodies. The first time I heard the word, "gastronome," my Dad was using it to describe himself. I had kind of hoped that we would all eat gluten and dairy free during their visit, but that went flying out the window straight away when my parents unpacked the wheat crackers, their lowfat milk protein shakes, and Chinese pastries that they had stowed away on their flight.
|Breakfast by my sister: cumin-spiced moong daal pancakes with apples|
|Aren't they cute? Taking a walk on a cool, foggy afternoon.|
|Dinner by me: quinoa, black beans, and collards with cashew sauce|
|Fog and rain as we drove through Bastrop where the wildfires were.|
One of the reasons for their coming to Texas was to visit with cousins and college classmates in Beaumont, Pearland, and Katy. I had never driven so much in my life and in so short a time. In one day we went from Austin to Beaumont and then back up to Pearland to spend the night. Easily 7 hours of driving. Funny how looking on a map of Texas, things don't seem that far apart. At the time, however, it was definitely not funny.
|Sharing a drink with those who passed on in Beaumont.|
|'The Shane' - the sole gluten free offering at Pho Anh Bistro in Pearland.|
|Parents enjoying their anniversary cake.|
My parents were also celebrating their 40th anniversary. My Dad kept saying that when they got to 50, they'd really celebrate. Otherwise, they just wanted a quiet dinner with my sister and I. During this roadtrip, my sister and I also got a chance to learn more about how my parents met. Crazy, hilarious, and very, very romantic. Truth can definitely be stranger than fiction.
|Visiting with my Mom's best friend from college in Pearland.|
|Cheeseless GF pizza with artichoke hearts, mushroom, and garlic at BJs.|
|Amazing spread of Filipino food at our cousins' house in Katy.|
When my Mom saw her best friend from college, it was seriously like no time had passed at all. And it's like that with all her classmates - very tight-knit. After lunch with her and her husband, we drove to Katy to visit with relatives on my mom's side. They had this huge spread of food, which they were referring to as a 'snack.' Now that was funny.
|Parents dancing to Andrea Bocelli, my Dad's favorite.|
|Requirement of my sister: Eating at Veggie Heaven.|
It was great seeing so much family. I often forget that there are so many close relatives on both sides of the family that live in Texas. And speaking of family, I also wanted to make sure that my family met my 'foster family' in San Antonio. It was awesome seeing them all together and feeling so much love in one room.
|Notice the similar hand position between Sammy, the giant baby, and my Mom.|
|Vegan and GF nacho platter at Vegeria in San Antonio.|
On their final day in Austin, we went to Chinatown, had brunch, and then walked up and down SoCo before going to the airport. It was definitely bittersweet, because we had had such a wonderful time together. I don't think any of us wanted the vacation to end.
|Mom and Dad|
|Jess and Joe|
|Scrambled tofu with arepas. Brunch at Snack Bar on SoCo.|
|Loading up my car with _all_ their luggage. A make it work moment. :)|
*******I miss my family already. This past visit left me feeling closer to them than ever before. Perhaps it was our age. With both my parents already retired and my sister and I in our 30's, it felt less like 'parents and children' and more like 'friends and chums.' And with my niece and goddaughter turning 2 this weekend, I so wish I could be there with them in Michigan to celebrate.
But if there's one thing that I took away from our week together, it's that no matter the distance that may separate us or the time that may pass, my family will always be in my heart and I will always be in theirs. That was affirmed again and again. And regardless of how the world changes, that is a beautiful truth that will remain constant.
The fruit really didn't fall far from the tree, and now I can truly appreciate that.