Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thanksgiving with Cousins

Cousins by here we wander
Cousins, a photo by here we wander on Flickr.
Call me brave. Or stupid.

The plan was that Josh and I were going to take our boys and their cousins to Thanksgiving in the western part of our state.

That was the plan until Josh got a stomach virus in the middle of Wednesday night and ended up staying home sick in bed (on the best eating day of the year, no less).

The cousins had arrived the night before for a sleepover. So I had three older kids who did not want to go to sleep until nearly midnight. And then I had five kids to wake up, get dressed and fed, and out the door by 9 o'clock.

And around 9:15, we headed out. Just me and five kids. But it turned out fine. Traffic is usually light Thanksgiving morning, and there's a lot of Interstate travel, so you move quickly. The twins were a bit noisy in their seats just behind me, but the three older cousins did well in the back of the third row seat. Austin might have complained a little as he tried to do homework on the bumpy stretch of road ever (old concrete expressway, so there were big bumps at every break).

We enjoyed our first meal with Grandma's extended family - my aunts, uncles and cousins. Aunt Mary and Aunt Cova had an amazing meal prepared for everyone.

We took the kids outside for a little energy and movement break. Nearly three hours in the car was a bit long, especially so early in the morning.

Afterwards, the three older cousins went with Grandma and Grandpa back to the lake for the rest of the weekend. The twins and I headed back the way we'd come, to stop in another city and visit with Josh's extended family for meal number two.

We broke out the iPads as soon as we hit the basement. Sawyer had fallen asleep somewhere along the drive and was less than thrilled to be woken up anywhere but our house. The boys were hungry and yet again assaulted by tables full of food they wanted but could not have.

So we headed to the basement. And iPads were brought out for the first time of the day. I opened the boys cooler for more of "their" food, and we visited with the other side of the family.

It was a good day. But a long one. And the back of the truck was filled with take home plates. One for Josh, who hopefully will feel like eating again sometime soon. And one for Uncle Brian, who was staying home to recover from surgery early this week.

We stopped at Uncle Brian's around 10 o'clock that night to drop off his plates (yes, plural). And we finally made it home and the twins into bed sometime around 11 o'clock.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Mountain Getaway

Mountain Getaway by here we wander
Mountain Getaway, a photo by here we wander on Flickr.
Every Fall, Grammy and Pappy offer to keep the boys for us for a few days so we can sneak away. Our usual spot is a cabin in the Smoky Mountains.

This year we left on a Tuesday afternoon and came back late on Friday night. Going during the week is definitely one of the perks of Josh's firefighting job. He only used one vacation day, and we avoided the massive weekend crowds.

We did some hiking (Rainbow Falls one day, Laurel Falls another). We did some outlet shopping. We walked around Gatlinburg. And we took in some of the local restaurants - the Peddler in Gatlinburg and the Old Mill in Pigeon Forge.

But mostly, we just enjoyed some downtime. Sleeping in. Soaking in the hot tub on our back deck. Watching the gas logs in the double-sided fireplace. Keeping our own hours without worrying about school or therapy or other activities. We just lived in the moment, which is incredibly rare.

Special thanks to Grammy and Pappy who took care of the boys, and did worry about all those things like school and homework and therapies. And also special thanks to the school teams, who helped the boys with some much needed routine while we were away.

Pictures from our trip start here.

Birthday Boy

Blowing Out Candles by here we wander
Blowing Out Candles, a photo by here we wander on Flickr.
Eight. It seems so hard to believe sometimes that our big boy is that old. But he is.

And this year he celebrated for days.

On his actual birthday, I took homemade cookies into school and he chose to have them distributed at lunch. So the whole cafeteria sang happy birthday to him just before the end of his lunch period. And all of his classmates were fighting for seconds, so they cookies were a big hit.

After school, it was time for dinner of his choice. This year, because Dad was working at the fire department, we opted for something a little different. He really wanted Gatti-town, which is a perfect choice for him. It's a less perfect choice for his brothers, who have to pay full price even though they can't eat anything. So we asked Grammy and Pappy to take him out for a special birthday celebration on his birthday. Aunt Kelly and some of her family also met them there. And at the end of the night, we celebrated with cupcakes (gluten-free-casein-free so that his brothers could also enjoy).

The next day, after Dad got home from work, he got to open his presents from us. He has been coveting the new Skylanders Giants game for xbox. And that's what he got. His brothers got him a cool backpack to store all of his Skylanders.

And then later that weekend, Grandma and Grandpa from the lake drove up to celebrate. We fixed his favorite meal at home, and Grandma and Grandpa picked up a cake Connor had picked out weeks before. Uncle Brian and his kids also joined us. Connor had a blast playing with Austin and Kyndal with his new toys - more Skylanders and some other things.

Multiple celebrations over multiple days. Connor says that's his idea of a great birthday.