holiday homecoming thus far.


Oh man, I arrived in Houston on Saturday evening and life has been so good. Two of my best friends (with a bf in tow) picked me up from the airport with a massive Smirnoff Ice and a large bag of Flammin’ Hot Cheetos and a Michelob with lime. I was, of course, ecstatic to see them after my 22 hour travel day. My mom was eating at a Mexican restaurant so we headed immediately that way.

Events that ensued (background info here)…

But first, I gotta mention that I had the privilege of flying on United’s newest Boeing 787 Dreamliner. I nerded out a bit, especially since I had no idea I would be flying on it, but not half as much as the guy sitting next to me, who actually filmed the entire ordeal and hit the tint button on the window up and down to record it on his iPhone. The plane was incredible – more comfortable seats, higher ceilings, great entertainment system, upgraded bathrooms, bigger/fancier windows, etc. If I were tall, I probably would have been even more enthused.


I wanted to be all suave and walk by casually and see what she did. Unfortunately, I am not that cool and was way too giddy so I just walked up and said hi. The video is blurry, but you can totally get the gist and my mom could not believe it.

christmas party!

One of my friend’s family’s hosts a Christmas party yearly and it happened to fall on the night I came home. Fighting the jet lag with a couple margaritas in me, I was dropped off at the Christmas party. My friends were standing in the entrance and it was just perfect. They looked my way, looked away, and then looked again. I went up to hug them and at first, I wasn’t even hugged back due to shock and confusion. No one understood what I was doing there and we were all so happy to be reunited and just sat and talked forever.

tourist in my own city.

The day after I arrived, a German friend from Karlsruhe happened to be passing through Houston on his seven week road trip through the southern US. I have never gotten to show anyone Houston, and it was certainly a treat. We drove all over the place, tried to attend the Museum of Natural Sciences before closing, treated Lukas to some Goode Co (he LOVED it), saw the “Griswold’s” Christmas house, and had a classic Texas steak dinner.

We were fortunate enough to meet the homeowner because he was out fixing some of the lights that were damaged due to a rain storm earlier in the day. He was SO incredibly nice and was happy to tell us about the house.

Crazy Christmas Lights info:

Located in West Houston off Briar Forest on Briarbrook Dr

Over 6,000 strands of lights, so 20,000+ bulbs

30 working days to complete

a family effort

an engagement!

One of my besties, Lindsay, got engaged. We officially lived together two years of college and unofficially the other two. We’ve traveled together in 4? different countries. The Domino’s people know her and she’s always down for a trip to the lake. Lake always took precedent to our studies. Although she’s a little confused in thinking Dallas is better than Houston, she is coming down this weekend and I am looking SO forward to celebrating with her and her wonderful new fiancé, Scott. My friends are ‘dropping like flies’, as one of my friends put it.

We were all besties and college, and still remain that way. Cristen and me were best friends since we were little, and our moms are the best of friends, and Lindsay and Debs are the same duo, but from Dallas. Funny how it worked out. We like each other too much.

In other news, I’ve eating Tex-Mex, my favorite Chinese restaurant, and watched the Houston Texans clinch our division. It’s been a fabulous time already and I’m looking forward to seeing more people and spending more time with these people over the holidays. Life is oh. so. good. sometimes!

  • Ami

    I’m supes jealous of your trip on the Dreamliner… waiting for my next international trip and hoping for a ride! : ) And that video of you surprising your mom was so cute. I teared up a little because I’ve done that for my mom while I lived away. So fun to surprise those you love! #sap

  • Helene

    sooo much fun. I wanna be a stalker and ocme visit you, but I wont! haha

  • Kaity

    that’s super exciting you got to fly on the 787! my dad’s a Boeing guy, and he actually got to work on the plane back in the day (read: 2010). I’m not sure what all he was doing specifically, but it was definitely something related to the 787. we got to take a tour of the airplane factory in Everett, WA and everything. and now I can’t wait to get to fly on one myself!

    • ifs ands & butts

      oh wow I would love to tour the factory, so neat!! And ya the 787s took sooo long but they sure turned out amazing!

  • Kelly

    It looks like you have had a really great time so far and I love that video, too cute!

    Sparkles and Shoes

  • Michelle (@thetravelholic)

    That’s awesome!! Looks like you’ve had an amazing time back home! Makes me wish I was back home for the holidays! That house with the lights is crazy!!

  • Amber

    This sounds like an amazing weekend! I love that you surprised your mama! :)

  • bevchen

    That is a LOT of Christmas lights!!

    Dropping like flies… great description. I know the feeling well.

  • MySwissChocolateLife

    I am so happy to hear about all these amazing events :-))) Enjoy every single minute :))

  • Maria

    This is the sweetest thing in the entire world. I can’t even imagine how my momma would feel if I surprised her like that, she may just die of shock. I hope you have such a great time at home and get to enjoy it!

  • pinkparliament

    I just got to Germany and I am so jealous! I miss home so bad, so lucky to be there!

    • ifs ands & butts

      Christmas in Germany is so special, too! Frohe Weihnachten! I hope it’s wonderful. Let’s plan a time to meet in the new year!

      • pinkparliament

        Danke! You as well. Sounds great, just let me know when you are back! :)

        • ifs ands & butts

          I fly back tomorrow :)

  • pinkparliament

    PS. I am SO going to do this to my mom in a few months! haha

  • Lindsay

    the video with twy is so great, i love it! can’t wait to see you and celebrate! weeee

  • Julika

    I love how you surprised your mom! Such a wonderful idea!
    Enjoy your holidays at home :)

  • Alyx Garner (@adodds)

    I love everything about this. And you can ignore the comment I left on that one post asking how this went… I’m obviously a little behind on the blog reading thing.

  • Janna

    It’s about time they updated some of the planes! Very cool, I’m impressed. I love surprises so awesome!

  • Edna

    I love the surprises you gave everyone! I wouldn’t have been able to keep that a secret at all!

    • ifs ands & butts

      Oh it was near impossible! And update: I have my neighborhood post ready, just need to take some more photos once I get back in a couple days, terribly sorry!

  • Sara Louise

    I’m so happy for you that you are home Alex! Like really, really, happy! Getting home for the holidays is such a treat when you’re an expat :)
    And I’m going to admit it, I teared up a whole bunch watching the video of you surprising your mom. I bet you’re her favorite Christmas present ever!
    Happy holidays and bisous de Provence! xx

    • ifs ands & butts

      You are too sweet Sara! It’s been a wonderful trip and worth every penny on the flight – can’t believe I considered not seeing any family for the holidays now that I’m here. Merry Christmas!!

  • Katrin

    What a wonderful surprise! I love it!
    And I really hope that I can fly in a plane like that too. Most planes are so horrible!

    • ifs ands & butts

      All the plugs alone had me happy!

  • Steven

    LOL, your mom almost did a spit-take. That was great!

    Also, I am wickedly jealous that you got to fly on the Dreamliner. I didn’t know that was in use on a Lufthansa route. Neat!

    • ifs ands & butts

      no no the Airbus was on United – deceiving since I flew out of Frankfurt but I had a stopover in NYC where I got to fly on it. Did fly the Airbus A380 though but it was just so dang massive, much prefer the dreamliner!

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