It's a bold claim, but I'm pretty sure it's true and it's going to be our prototype for all future Thanksgivings going forward. As I've mentioned, my main goal was to have our house decorated for Christmas by the end and when you have 9 days to work with, an absence of a newborn or a giant ice storm, AND a kitchen that exists and a house that is not a massive construction zone full of dust and nails, there's really nothing standing in the way of victory. Luckily, I had a few other things planned as well.
The kids get all of Thanksgiving off. Cora's daycare is closed for the week. James's pool was closed too, so obviously I had to join my family in taking off all five days. This was a magical thing. Five days! Plus two weekends! It felt like forever, but in the best way possible.
The first weekend we did our usual weekend stuff- laundry, errands, exercise, etc. We leisurely prepped for our camping trip and enjoyed some down time, knowing the whole time that no one was going back to work or school when Monday would roll around. On Sunday night we went to the Fort Worth Parade of Lights, which the big kids loved and Cora was skeptical of until the horses came through and then she was totally on board.
When Monday did roll around, we piled in the car and drove 4 hours to a super awesome state park and spent 3 days and $300 climbing on all the rocks and having all the fun in our little cabin in the woods. On Wednesday, we returned to Fort Worth and just as we pulled up in the driveway we saw our neighbors on our front step with their two grandchildren, in town from California and precisely L&C's ages, coming to see if our kids wanted to come over to play. And yes!! After three days in a cabin with only each other, yes they did. I did my grocery shopping, Cora did her busy toddler thing, and when I got back, James got to swim. Perfect!
Thanksgiving day dawned with all of us cozy in our beds with no reason to get out of them. For the first time in years it was just going to be the five of us, and while it would have been nice to have family in (my dad had to work), it was quite lovely to be on our own. We went on a long walk in the morning, James made cinnamon french toast and then played soccer in the front yard with all three kids (Cora is quite the aggressive player) while I made our desserts first (priorities). It started to rain so we just lazed about, watching the parade and Elf, taking naps, prepping side dishes, researching recipes for my bone-in turkey breasts (our small meal alternative to the big bird, which was perfect since none of us like dark meat or legs and they only took 90 minutes to cook). It was such an easy, cozy, warm and cuddly day. And after being gone from Mon-Wed, even the kids were happy to just be stuck in the house for most of the day.
The meal turned out great- I got to mix up some old favorites and try some new recipes without any pressure of wanting to impress anyone (sorry James). The gravy was ridiculous and the pumpkin pie bars were almost as good. I even got to use my long skinny gas burner that I've never used before!
It was the laziest loveliest of days, made even more perfect because it was our first day home since the Sunday before.
On Friday, it was freezing and rainy and we were very glad we had my mom's visit to look forward to. Since my dad had to work, she came over to hang out and we shopped all the discount stores where no one gues because they don't have Black Friday sales and she worked her magic, finding (and getting me to wear) sparkly leg warmers and shiny tights. We braved the rain and cold for the racks at Marshalls, Ross, and more and then got back home in time for James and I to head out on a date night to a great new restaurant with 50 kinds of Moonshine and the best french fries maybe ever. We topped it off with a movie (a movie!!) and didn't have to pay the sitter when we got home.
We went out for a fabulous breakfast Saturday morning, my mom headed back to Houston with all our wrapped presents in the car (Santa is DONE!), I taught barre, and then I decorated the house just like I'd been wanting to since last Christmas when I didn't get to do much at all.
Although once I got everything out I realized I didn't have much that went with this house- it was all the reds and wrought iron of our Austin house. Our first Christmas James had just lost his job and we were very much adjusting to my cut in pay, our second Christmas I had a newborn and a bunch of ice storms and we basically never left the house, and our third Christmas we didn't have a kitchen and the rest of our house was covered in dust and kitchen items, so on Sunday I gifted myself with a few trips to Homegoods and Ross and ta da! The house is done and I LOVE it.
I just need to print a few of my favorite pictures for the frames and we're all set! Until next year, when I let myself buy a few more things and so on. But it feels cozy and festive and still very much like my house.
With that complete, we did our tree on Sunday evening! I had the kids open their Christmas pj's first- usually we wait until Christmas Eve, but I realized that didn't make for nearly enough festive flannel wearing time, and then broke out the ornaments.
James and I cuddled on the couch a few feet away and narrated the stories of the random ornaments while Landon and Claire did all the placement. This was made possible by the fact that my oldest child can now reach the tallest part of our tree, something that might upset me if I wasn't so cozy on the couch with my husband and my wine. Cora spent quite a while trying to get my high heel shoe ornaments to fit on everyone's feet. It was like Cinderella, but without the satisfying ending.
She was then distressed about the fact that all the cool little toys the big kids were showing her were stuck on a tree that was inside the house. Christmas traditions are pretty weird.
But she got over it.
Raffi's Christmas album was playing, Tex deigned to wear a Santa hat... it was the perfect end to a completely lovely and long and productive yet relaxing week.
Made even better when Cora chased Tex around the house yelling "HAT! TEX, HAT!!" and the rest of us piled on the couch to watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Poor, poor Tex.
I'm sorry, this really should have been 2-3 posts, but I've been busy re-reading the Ilona Andrews Edge series, not photo booking, and doing a random rash of Cyber Monday shopping late last night even though I didn't think I needed to buy anything but then I did (why do the kids always need pants? like always). I hope you all had a wonderful holiday and a great start to your December!
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