Home for Christmas

Wednesday morning (so this is the day before Christmas Eve) I had mom open her Christmas present, a brand new cast-iron pan! I got her one since I love my cast-iron pan so much. But why did I give it to her two days before Christmas? Stick around and I'll tell you.

For lunch we went down to Au Cheval. I had tried going there with my folks last Christmas-time but there was a 2+ hour wait that night. We figured by getting there before noon on a rainy day there wouldn't be much of a wait. Wrong! There was a line out the door and it took me about 30 minutes just to put our name in. We were quoted a 45 minute to hour wait, but then two of the six "first-come/first-serve" seats opened up at the bar right. So Mom and I sat right down.

Mom had the bratwurst with mashed potatoes and onion gravy. That gravy was so good, next time I'm definitely getting mashed potatoes instead of fries.

I had their famed cheeseburger, it was great. I think I overdid it and nearly did myself in by adding bacon and egg. Next time I'll keep it simple, just order the cheeseburger as it is, plus mashed potatoes and gravy.

By the end of our meal the rain had stopped.

As we were nearby, I visited the Michael Jordan statue at the United Center.

Mom helped keep the gate open. It was real windy

Then we went to Oak Park's nice new grocery store

That night I pan-roasted Mom and Dad a chicken. And that's why I gave Mom her pan two days early!

Before going to Midway to pick up Emily, Greg and Becky I saw a big bunny in the backyard

Around Oak Park we call this house the Darth Vader House

Christmas Surprise: Wednesday night I found out Victoria was going to be stuck in Chicago overnight on her way home, so she stayed with us. Thursday morning I dropped her off at O'Hare and she got to go home to her family.

Around the garage and house stuf

I made myself breakfast some nachos

That afternoon it was off to Midway with Mom and Greg to pick up Owen

And then straight over to Los Barrilitos in Little Village, a taco place I had a real good feeling about.

And guess what? Good feeling was right! Spectacular tacos al pastor. They tasted a lot porkier than any other taco al pastor I ever remember having. I support these tacos and the establishment and I liked that the menu was just a handwritten list of the meats they had that day. It's a purely taco taco shop.

Thursday night we held our traditional singing of Christmas songs and reading of Christmas stories after the near-traditional Christmas Eve chili.

Christmas Day! Frangos well-represented

Dad and Emily matched

Personalized copies of 100 Easy Asian Recipes for Everyone

Perhaps best gift of Christmas? Handmade Tacos don Joaquin patch from Becky

At night cousin Jeff and wife Lizzie came over for lasagna with their kids. And also later on Kristen and Cory and their family arrived. There really were a lot more pictures I should have taken. But here I'm wearing Walker's backpack. It has a built in Spider-Man mask.

The day after Christmas we went down to Las Fuentes but it had turned into a Mexican seafood restaurant when we weren't looking. No biggie! We just drove to the one on Halstead in Chicago. No amount of effort is too big for this family when we want Las Fuentes. It's because we're descended of Pioneers.

Sunday I made octopus.

Niece or Cthulhu monster?

Monday morning it finally snowed. We went and saw the Good Dinosaur. It was OK. I don't regret seeing it instead of going to Star Wars again.

Then Owen and I ate at Burger Boss with Blake and Rachel. They were resistant to malt vinegar.

That night our old friends the Morrison's came over. Once all the pizza was eaten (we had pizza for dinner), they busted out that Pie Face game.

I hadn't seen Sarah in a million years, but the internet has kept us connected and kept her up to date on my interests.

Even more Christmas time to come! (photos above and below borrowed from Sarah's Instagram)