Thanksgiving: Part 1

Traveling for the holidays will inevitably be rife with challenges even under the best of circumstances. But while this might have conjured hesitation, when we decided to head down to Florida with the kiddos, my brother and his family, and my parents for a week in the sunshine, we knew it was going to be an excellent time. Seeing Henry and Owen with their cousins is more magical than Disney, but going to Disney it also pretty magical.

We spent the first two days of our vacation in the “world’s amusement park capitol,” and hustled our way from fast-pass to fast-pass along with 7 billion others. Despite what you might be feeling, it was not as claustrophobic as it might seem. Jessie did an insanely amazing job pre-planning the Disney extravaganza which helped us navigate the rides and break up our day with perfectly timed meals and breaks. Epcot was our first destination and since everyone was partying it up over at the Magic Kingdom for Mickey’s 90th birthday party (which we had not idea was happening), the park was pretty quiet and we were able to ride on some of the attractions multiple times with no wait. This definitely helped when the Nemo Ride was a big smash hit for the boys. We ate and drank our way through England and Germany and left feeling blissful content, full, and ready for bed. Our second day at Hollywood Studios was a little less smooth in that the crowds were more present.  With Toy Story land opening in June, the desire to ride on the slinky dog roller coaster was outweighed by the over 2 hour long line to do so. But we had a great time on Toy Story Mania and the Alien Ride and taking in the intricate details of the Disney’s imagination for the space. Smith even got to be the “Kid Director” for the Indiana Jones Spectacular which he literally talked about for days leading up to be chosen at random to fulfill his dream. Talk about having the best day ever!! Owen force pushed Kylo Ren and we ended our night with our best meal of the trip over at the Boathouse in Disney’s Springs where we ate one slice of baked Alaska that took the restaurant 5 days to prepare and was carved into massive heaps able to fill the bellies of all 10 of us.

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From Disney we drove across the state to the beach. Eight years ago, David and I got married at the Hammock Beach Resort in Palm Coast. It was crazy driving back up to the front gate of the resort now with our kids and reflecting on how much our lives have changed and how much life has just happened in 8 years. David and I got to walk through the spots where we had our ceremony and reception and re-imagine some of the highlights together. We took our kids with our family to the beach. Henry was confined to a beach blanket in order to keep sand out of his massive cast but he was SUCH a trooper and just played in the sand and brought lego man down to build a world for them. Owen was also the sand king and sat beside Henry savoring the texture of it, while the rest of us looked for shells, put our feet in the ocean, and played silly games. My favorite part of this segment of the trip was the mornings waking up to the sunrise. For some reason, the boys slept in everyday which allowed us to wake gracefully and watch the sunrise over a cup of coffee and in jammies.

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Then we blended the families! David’s dad lives not too far away and one afternoon we packed up the troops and headed out to the woods to visit. It was so nice having the opportunity to see his Dad and step-mom, grandma, brother & his family, as well as, a cousin and his family. Then my family arrived and all the kids played together inside and outside of the house. They launched a potato cannon, toasted marshmallows, and wrestled each other. My favorite part was watching them hug goodbye because you could see the connection they made even in that short visit. Getting to grab on to my sister-in-law, Heather, and her family was such a treat after not seeing them for a long time. And it was so crazy to be able to pick up right where we all left off over some wine, laughs, and good chicken!

This was probably the first vacation where I came home and did not immediately wish for more time to decompress. It was a nice mix of Disney Mania, Beachy Breezes, and Family Bonding.  I hope you had a positive Thanksgiving too!

happy thanksgiving (from the woods)

As the title suggests, we are deep in the woods of north Florida for said holiday. It was nice to see our family and share a delicious meal. I hope your holidays were well, now it’s time to get back to the family before our flight back north.

  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  

thanksgiving eats

Thanksgiving this year at the new house has been primarily stress free. Yes, there have been a few times when the holiday has gotten the best of me: a broken glass, mud on the wood floors, getting lost on our way to Walden Pond.  But overall I declare this Thanksgiving holiday at our house to be a success.  Especially when we end the day with a hilarious game of Apples to Apples!

thankful

My parents will arrive in Boston today. They are driving in from Ohio to celebrate our first Thanksgiving with us in our new home.  On Wednesday, David’s mom and step-dad will be joining our little party.  It is very exciting to embark on our first holiday and plan and prepare not only the foods for the table but also introduce some new traditions. In light of this exciting time filled with anticipation, I want to share my thankful list.  One item for each day of November leading to Turkey Day:

1. For my husband David.  I admire him for his commitment to our family, his passion for his interests, and his playfulness that permits me to be totally myself and to know that when I let my hair down, David is there to love me completely.

2. For our home. Little did we know that we could afford a home let alone the one we found. The shelter, space, and warmth it provides is a blessing.

3. For our families. Without the constant love and support of our inner circle David and I would not be who we are today.  The lessons in respect, empathy, compassion, and love that they each shared with us continues to shape us.

4. For our health. It can often be taken for granted but we are lucky to be healthy and able-bodied and to use this gift to share with those around us.

5. For our jobs. Finding one’s passion is a life long journey and while we cannot predict the future of where we will be and what we will be doing, right now we are lucky to each be satisfied and inspired by our “jobs.”

6. For our puppies.  Friends often ask, “Do you regret having dogs?” And, yes while sometimes it is hard to wake up in the morning and trek out into the snow with them, our puppies are very much a part of our family and us. Life would not be the same without these little souls.

7. For our country. While not everyone is satisfied all of the time with the politics of the nation, in the end, we are lucky to live in a country that seeks to represent the people, that allows men and women to vote for its leaders, and that continues to evolve to fit the needs of its changing demographics.

8. For our friends. Living so far from our families is often lonely and without our friends we would be lost.  The ladies and gents of our life here in Boston continue to remind us of how lucky we are to have made a surrogate family here.

9. For our state. There is something about New England that calls to my soul. Perhaps it is the history of this space or the people or the scenery or everything! I am proud to live in a state that offers the charms of the beach and the mountains and that is open to accept the love of all people regardless of the gender of their partner.

10. For my education. My parents have instilled in me the importance of education and using this gift towards not only advancing oneself but one’s community.  I am honored that my parents invested their time and hard earned money so that I could attend my dream college and be exposed to the experiences that led me to today.

11. For creativity. Our brains are powerful, unique, and talented. When given the space and the inspiration, its creative powers can be utilized to help the community and solve world problems. When we work together our creativity does so much good.

12. For hobbies. This is a luxury and the ability to change hobbies, invest in interests, and spend time getting to know one’s inner talents  is a gift.

13. For the internet. I have more computing power in my fingertips today than people had a generation ago. The ability to connect with individuals around the world, to share experiences, news, and information across global boundaries is incredible. Freedom of information is central to the progress of humanity.

14. For our travels. Being able to take time to visit other countries from Italy to France to Canada to Costa Rica has broadened our horizons.  Experiencing new cultures and sharing in the life experiences of new communities is indescribable and I wish we could do it even more often!

15. For our nieces and nephews. Yes, I thanked our families earlier, but I wanted to make a special shout out to our littles.  It is so amazing to watch our siblings turn from brothers to fathers and the littles bring a completely new life experiences to us.

16. For standing on the top of mountains. When we hike to the top of a small summit the view is breathtaking and reminds us of how lucky we are to be alive, and how we need to continue to protect our planet and its environment.

17. For being able to laugh. They say that laughter is the best medicine and being able to take a moment to be goofy each day keeps us not only sane but reasonable =)

18. For being financially secure. This is a precarious state of being in our times. It is very important for us to be thankful that right now we have made good and sometimes just plain lucky decisions that have lead us to a stable place.

19. For Pad Thai.  Mmmm this is a little frivolous but I am so thankful for my favorite food and for sharing it during mealtimes with friends and family.

20. For science. Without science many of the medical advances that have extended the duration and quality of our lives would not be present today. Similarly, it is important to continue to invest in the sciences and in science education as we begin to confront the challenges that will face us and our planet in the future.

21. For volunteers. Taking time out of our busy lives is not easy. For those who do so, I am thankful for your work with animals, the elderly, the kids, the poor, the sick, those in need, and the many other places that need a few more hands on deck in order to raise the quality of life for someone or something greater than just oneself.

22. For our servicemen. To volunteer for combat and to possibly give one’s life for your country and for the safety of its people is the ultimate sacrifice.  Thank you to all of our troops who are serving around the global this holiday season and everyday so that we can live comfortably and securely at home.

And thank you for reading this post and encouraging me to continue at this blogging thing!

first turkey

This weekend David and I roasted our first turkey.  We invited 15 co-workers from my school over for a Pre-Thanksgiving Feast.  We have never cooked for so many people at once.  While there were definitely frantic moments, overall I think it went really well.  And, the turkey was delicious.  We were high-fiving each other for a some time after the party.  The recipe came from RealSimple Magazine: Garlic Butter Turkey. It was easy to follow, thoroughly accurate, and gave us a moist flavorful bird.  Now we are looking forward to our second round with the family on Thanksgiving Day!