Thursday, December 13, 2012

To Grandmother's House We Go

Now that it's only 12 days until Christmas (my daughter daily reminds me of the current countdown--LOVE her holiday excitement this year, best year yet!) I decided I should write my posts on Thanksgiving.

My sister already did a phenomenal job documenting our trip with her beautiful images and eloquent words. Maybe I was just intimidated. Sure, I'll use that excuse. If you're interested in seeing vacation through her eyes click on the links below.

Thanksgiving: A Cultural Thing

Memory Lane

Hot Dogs Roasting on an Open Fire

A Wild Time

Birthday Celebrations

Vacation Treats

Now that you've seen the gorgeous view...come check out my simple iPhone + little camera pics. =) 

Driving to Pa and Grandma's after church! So so excited to see my family! Funny story. I posted that pic on Instagram. Then my friend in Indiana recognized the sweater (we bought them together at GAP last April for like $3--I nearly got on in every color! But, I restrained myself and just bought 2) and sent me this text pic of her wearing her sweater the same day. And we did the same thing with matching scarves a few months back. Guess that's what lifelong friends do. Yes, I said lifelong. We met when I was one and she was two. That counts as lifelong.
We were oh-so-excited to have some much needed cousin time! The weather was perfect for an autumn stroll.

Ivory and Larissa. So proud to be walking.

Micah and Larissa--only a few weeks apart in age.
Larissa and Carter. These two took a piece of my heart back to Canada with them.
Getting Thanksgiving groceries with this handsome dad of mine. Pa has always been a sucker for his girls. Example: Ivory, "We could all go shopping! Just us girls. And if we need money I'll just ask Pa. He'll give me whatever I want." Exactly. We *loved* all the extra daddy time. Larissa--big sister in training. So excited that her little sister will be entering the world next month! So it's grainy--because it was dark and I wasn't dare going to disturb the peace by turning on lights, taking a picture was risky enough--but I love it. So much. Pa with 5 grand kids under the age of 5. Larissa wasn't too sure about taking self-portraits...
All this sunshine made a visit to the park a necessity. And the visit wouldn't be complete without a lion hunt led by their fearless leader, Ivory. We stole away for some girl time to celebrate this crazy girl on her sixteenth birthday--I'm so not old enough to have a 16-year-old niece. Enjoying her new headphones apparently... My sisters leading the way. My sisters have serious skills. Crazy face time! It doesn't feel that long ago since I was running to the store to get diapers for this girl and teaching her as a 3-year-old it really was okay to get her hands dirty. Now, she can run to the store for my baby and teaches my 2-year-old niece to enjoy Katy Perry. Love this girl and the memories we've made together over the years. Florida outlet malls. Palm trees and sunshine make shopping that much better.
Taking a break with my beautiful sister. Bahama Breeze! 
One night we took all 5 kids out for Mexican--yum! There was a bit of a wait. Perfect opportunity to visit the pet shop next door.
I never get tired of seeing these little girls together. Brother-sister duo. Table full of fun!


The big day arrived--Thanksgiving day. Our house filled with nearly thirty people. So fun! So busy.

Thanksgiving lovers.

My Mom taking a break to chat with her life long friend, Nancy. Two very different people, yet very loyal friends. Alex hijacked my phone and took pictures--lots of them.

My beautiful sister, Sherri, and her daughter, Alex.

Lovely girls--Larissa + Debi.
Crazy girl of mine.

Alex and my dad's sister, Nancy.
My brother-in-law, Robert.
Carter Bear!

Ivory and Micah's beloved Bella.
This girl loves posing for pictures.
The turkey fryers--Pa + his Uncle Ray.
My studly man.

My brother-in-law, Ben.

Ever the photographer. Loving her apron! Feeling the need for a knock-off...
Thankful for my sweet girl.
Loved getting this Thanksgiving picture text of Charlotte + Jude from my friend, Caroline. Thanks for thinking of us! We're thankful for you. This is how we do things in the South--the frying of the turkey is a big deal. Sherri made beautiful decorations.
By the end of Thanksgiving day I was exhausted to the point of nausea--but it was completely worth it. Between the energy required to prepare for our out of town trip, the recent launching of my new business, vacation fun, and everything Thanksgiving day entails I was just plumb worn out. But, I rallied my last bit of energy to see some dear sweet friends who stopped by to visit at the end of the day--so glad they did. Love all the time spent with family and friends.


The next day (thankfully after sleeping in--for once the kids got the memo that mom and dad were exhausted) we headed to Homasassa State Park with the kids.  Great way to spend Black Friday! Glad that Bella could join us! Sadly, I left for college right before this cutie was born so we haven't had as much time to spend together as I did with Alex. Now we just have to soak up the short visits we do have together. Entranced by their LeapPads. Craziness runs in the family. Love everything about Homosassa Park. Super friendly staff. Clean and well kept. Extremely family friendly. Reasonable prices. I highly recommend it. Alligator = exciting How tall are you compared to...
Tram ride over to the park! Love Florida woods. This long-beaked bird pecked Jason's toe right through his tennis shoes. Being the kind wife that I am I sympathetically...laughed.
Cousin girlies.

Lots and lots of Florida birds. Love Florida's flamingos. Such vibrant birds. So rare to see such vibrant colored native animals in the states.

Ivory was STOKED to see flamingos. I love that this park has only animals native to Florida at their park, well, all except the honorary hippo. Grateful for hats that cover up greasy-hair-because-I-was-entirely-too-tired-to-wash-it. Beautiful weather for our trip.
Boat ride back. More Florida foliage. Korban stayed back with Grandma + Aunt Nancy so he could nap and play. Everyone was very happy with the arrangement. And he may just have stolen Aunt Nancy's heart in the process.
Little drama queens. The next day we had family pictures (that will be a separate post). Afterwards the kids enjoyed a little movie time. Then we had an early Christmas celebration with a cousin gift exchange. Present or stick? Hard choice... Helicopter + car combo? Suweet! Us older girls snuck away for a luncheon at Olive Garden and a jewelry gift exchange. I loved seeing these two snuggled up together in bed each night. Sleeping babies always look extra beautiful. On the ride to church (fun going with all the cousins!) the kids enjoyed their new LeapPads. And Korban enjoyed his new carseat!! ...and spoon? After church resting. This girl is so loved by her cousins. Techies. Sunday was also special because it was Debi's birthday! We went on a double date to Universal Citywalk to celebrate. The now rare-to-us view of "night life." Dinner at Margaritaville with live music. Delicious hamburgers, great company, and fun music. Yes, thank you. Key lime pie to celebrate! Love this man of mine. Christmas lights make it that much more exciting. Relaxing + talking. My little ham. On our last day there Pa decided the cousins "needed" an ice cream trip. Pa's always loved ice cream trips. We don't mind so much either...
I particularly love when Ivory gets ice cream...she eats about 1/8 of her cone/cup and then I graciously finish it for her. Yes, I'm a nice mom like that.


The blur.

Sneaking cookies from Pa...lactose still doesn't agree with this one's tummy.
Treats are for big kids, too! Does she get two since baby *needs* some, too?
Ice cream lovers.

Some playground fun. Sibling squabble. One last bonfire before we say our goodbyes. Where Micah became "Aunt Sherri's boy."

While our trip was wonderful and it's always so very hard to say goodbye, we were ready when the time came to head home. We all enjoyed getting home to our beds. Though Mom didn't just love going back to cooking and chores...

Before we left, though, Pa + Aunt Nancy snuck Ivory + the boys some spending money. Spoiled, she is. We stopped at the mall on our ride home to get some food and take a walking/running break. Ivory found something to spend her money on. She is always a very careful, decisive shopper. I'm actually rather impressed. She looks at the options carefully, chooses wisely, and then never has buyers remorse.

Thankfully the ride home was relatively peaceful. The sky cried with us.

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