Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Last Picture of 2009

Here it is, folks! Hot off the presses!! The last official picture of 2009. We set the camera up with the timer and managed to get this one on the first try. We are celebrating at home exactly as we did last year...we decided to have our second annual seafood party with our little family of three. It was wonderful!! We had shrimp cocktail, filet and scallops and some wonderful brie. Tonight has been the perfect ending to an amazing and eventful year. I spent the morning in heaven; Jer gave me a day of pampering for my Christmas present and today I cashed it in. I had a pedicure, hair cut and color. The pedicure was sinful and I don't remember the last time that I have relaxed like that. Our night has been peaceful, fun and full of good food. Colin is now sound asleep and Jer and I have popped the cork on the champagne. We are sitting here in bed, watching "Steven Segal; Lawman" on the DVR and waiting for Dick Clark to start at 10:30. Yep, just another wild New Year's Eve. ;-)

2009 has been a year of blessings; new friends, new niece, and good health. I lost my uncle, but I am happy to know that he is watching over us from heaven now. My little baby has become a funny and wonderful little boy. Overall, the joys and gifts have outweighed the challenges. I am excited beyond words for 2010...the start of a new decade. When this decade started, I was a girl of 22 going to college. I had yet to leave my hometown in East Texas. I has just gotten my first job in aviation...a very low level position greeting private jets. I had yet to meet Jeremy. The 2000's ushered in the career that would be my life and livelihood. It took me to live in Pennsylvania, California, and New York...and finally back home to Texas. It brought me some of the greatest friends of my lifetime. I met my husband, married him, and had our first child. We bought a house in the suburbs and finally settled down. I gained a nephew and niece and brother-in-law that I adore. It is hard to sum up 10 years in a blog post, but suffice it to say that I was blessed beyond measure during the last ten years of my life and I cannot wait to see what the next have in store for me. Happy New Year!!!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Three Christmases

This is going by just a little too fast...

Christmas 2007

Christmas 2008

Christmas 2009

Monday, December 28, 2009

Rocking Around the Christmas Tree

I love Christmas. I am sure this comes as a major shock, what with me saying that about 300 times in the last month of posts. This year was probably the best one yet and I only say that every year. Well, not every year. Christmas 2006 was not good...I was newly pregnant with Colin and very VERY sick...but other than that small glitch, I ALWAYS LOVE CHRISTMAS. We got to my parents house in Tyler on Wednesday evening, the day before Christmas Eve. I think the moment that I walked into that house made my whole year. Everything was warm and cozy, bathed in soft lights and the glow of decorations. Nothing in the whole world beats my childhood home dressed up for Christmas. It smelled like home...cookies, fudge, apple cider and egg nog. Every corner of the house was covered in family memories; ornaments spanning decades, the stuffed reindeer that my dad adores, and my mother's Santa collection just to name a few. Her tree is always the most wonderful thing that I have ever seen and this year did not disappoint. There were presents EVERYWHERE and my sisters were in the middle of the living room floor with wrapping paper and ribbon strewn all around them. Cory was on the couch with a sleeping Pryce in his arms, my mom was helping wrap and Jackson was building with blocks on the kitchen floor. My dad arrived home at the same moment we did and his booming voice filled the air with happiness. My immediate family all under one perfectly decorated sweet smelling roof. Perfection. We spent that night eating chex mix, fudge, tea cakes, cracker cookies, and Chick-Fil-A while wrapping presents and playing with Colin, Jackson and Pryce. It was after 10:30pm when Colin got to bed, which is insanely late for him. We were just all having too much fun. The grown-ups stayed up late into the night putting together the giant Thomas trains that my mom got the boys and wrapping more presents. Christmas Eve dawned bright and COLD and we spent the day drinking hot spiced cider, eating everything we could get our hands on, watching Christmas specials from the DVR and having a blast. We were all sitting around when it happened...SNOW. IT SNOWED!!!!!! We were running around like little children, taking pictures, hugging and even jumping up and down at one point. (I should say that my sisters and I were jumping up and down while Jer shook his head in disbelief) :-) I have only witnessed one white Christmas in my whole life, the year I could not get home from PA. It was wonderful, but I was very homesick at the time. There has been no snow in Texas on Christmas in my lifetime at least. It was like magic and it made my memory of this year one of my most treasured to date. It was like every Christmas song was coming true before my eyes. That night, my sisters and I put on our annual Christmas pj's and we had a huge feast cooked by my mom...chicken spaghetti, baked beans, potato salad, seven layer salad, cornbread salad, two kinds of cheese dips with crackers, and the half ton of desserts. HEAVEN! We stayed up super late that night after Colin went to bed (getting ready for Santa) and Christmas Day was upon us in what felt like an instant. I slept with Colin in one of the extra bedrooms because we forgot to bring his bed rails and Jer slept in the living room. That morning, Colin sat straight up in bed and said, "Mommy! Big presents?!?!". It took my breath away....he got it!! I alerted Jer and we walked into the living room to see the spread from Santa. A work bench with lots of tools and equipment (including a working drill!), car sets, a battery operated train that was chugging around the track when we walked in, and a giant fire truck...not to mention the stockings and other goodies. Colin gasped and ran for everything, shouting "Look! Look at this!". He also ran over and noted that Santa ate his cookies and drank all his milk, which was insanely adorable. By the time my sister Meredith and her family arrived, I had my famous "monkey muffins" cooking in the oven and the cider and coffee were flowing. We had the most wonderful day opening presents (my parents got me TWO cast iron skillets and a deep fryer!!), eating and just loving each other. Oh, and laughing hysterically at Cory and Jer at any given moment. Those two are keepers. ;-) I know that I get long winded when talking about Christmas, so I will end this post for now, but don't be surprised if I wax poetic on the subject again. There are so many cute little individual moments that I want to remember. What a spectacular holiday!! Happy Birthday, Jesus! Here come the pictures...

Sitting with my sisters on Christmas morning in our matching pj's...may we never get too old for this. :-) My mom was so proud of herself because they have little white kittens on them that look just like Musette, which is an old childhood movie that we obsessed over. As you would imagine, they were a hit.

Colin with his awesome new work bench on Christmas morning...Aunt Alieson in the background on the laptop.

Colin and Jackson opening presents together. They were SO PRECIOUS in those pj's from my parents.

My mom and Colin opening dad is sitting there in the chair.

Colin and Jackson went absolutely INSANE over the Thomas trains from my parents. You have never seen such joy. I will never forget this moment!

Colin and his precious baby cousin, Pryce. He loves her SO MUCH. He is also rocking a pretty messy spaghetti face. :-)

Hugging my wonderful husband in the SNOW. ON CHRISTMAS EVE! Did I mention the snow? ;-)

We were such dorks...this was when the snow first started and we were running around in the driveway jumping up and down. :-)

Colin and Mommy in the snow outside my parents front door.

It would not be Christmas if I was not acting silly. Nice antlers. :-)

One view of the tree when we walked into my parents house on the 23rd. There are no words for how much I love this tree and every memory on it.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Kick-Off to Christmas!

We are spending Christmas in Tyler this year, so the night before we left, we had a little party at our house with Jer's parents. It was a wonderful night and the PERFECT way to start the festivities! Mom Mom and Pop Pop gave Colin his present from them...a TRAIN TABLE AND TRAIN SET! Colin has been wanting one for ages and it was the most wonderful gift. They surprised him with it when they arrived at our house and he was so excited that we were completely unable to get him to eat dinner! He was beside himself over it and ordered us to play with him throughout the evening. We have it set up for the time being behind the dining table, which is probably where it will stay for awhile. Our need for a bigger house just keeps growing! ;-) I decided on a whim to cook something special for dinner and I am so glad that I did! I served a sweet and spicy brie (recipe and ingredients courtesy of my wonderful friend Kim), seafood gratin and baked apples for dessert, all of which turned out far better than I could have predicted! Seafood has been my final frontier when it comes to cooking. I have been a bit fearful of cooking it myself, especially since the good stuff is expensive and I don't want to mess it up! I threw caution to the wind after stumbling upon a mouth watering recipe and ended up in Central Market stocking up on halibut, scallops, shrimp and even saffron! I think it turned out to be my favorite thing that I have ever cooked, which reminds me that I need to continue to test myself when I feel daunted. It was so great! The baked apples were the perfect ending to such a rich dinner and afterwards we stayed around the dinner table chatting and drinking coffee while Colin laughed and played. It was a cozy and really lovely evening and I could not think of a better way to kick off Christmas! Here are some of the pictures:

Colin and his awesome new train table!

Laughing with Pop Pop

Mom Mom was being so silly...look at Colin laughing!

One happy little man!

Daddy and Colin playing with the trains. It took FOREVER to get Colin in bed that night!

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly...North Pole Express!

The weekend before Christmas has come and gone and I can't believe it. Saturday night we went to a party at our good friends house, The Roberts, and had such a wonderful time. It was the perfect evening of great friends, great food and Cowboys Football! I must say for posterity's sake that the Saints were undefeated...until now. ;-) As I sat around watching all the toddlers running around together and all of my amazing new friends, I was reminded how extremely blessed I am. This year brought very special new people into my life and I don't remember what I did without them! I feel like my heart has grown with all the happiness they bring into my life and I feel like they are one of the best blessings that I have received in 2009. We got home pretty late from the party (10pm is late now) and Colin crashed FAST. I was very happy that he made it home and into his bed...perfection!

Sunday was a very interesting day, to say the least. We had originally planned to ride The North Pole Express in Grapevine with several of our friends, but almost all of us waited too long to order tickets. Once sold out online, you must wait for the "first come first serve" tickets sold the day of the event at the station. We left Colin in his Christmas pj's and headed over to attempt the 11:00am train with no luck, sold out. We purchased tickets for the 6pm train and went to have brunch. We went back for the evening ride and very strategically did not mention that we were waiting to get on a train. Colin is nervous about getting on anything he considers a ride and we decided it would be best to just get on the train without freaking him out first. The whole experience was had wonderful and not so wonderful parts. When we thought we were boarding the train, we were actually being ushered into a big tent where there was a 30 minute "show" before the train ride. Let me tell you, I was NOT happy. I read the entire website before we went to this event and nowhere did it say anything about a show; it only mentioned the train ride. How on earth they left this out is beyond me. Colin is extremely sensitive to loud noise and chaotic crowds and I would never have put him through that if I had known. The volume in that tent was insanely loud and the "show" consisted of a singing conductor and three teenage girls who wished they were Britney Spears singing songs in what can only be described as ear piercing soprano. Colin, who was in great spirits while in line, dissolved into tears while holding his ears. Lovely. Even the big kids around us were holding their ears, so you just knew that was too much for Colin. Jer and I were so disappointed, but we did everything we could to keep Colin together until the show was over so that we could get to the good part. The walk to the train was so cute; they had a ton of real Christmas trees lining the way and snow blowers overhead so it really felt like the North Pole. Colin loved that part and was so happy to be out of the tent from hell. :-) Once he saw the train and realized that we were boarding it, the meltdown started in full force. He was screaming crying, arching his back and yelling "Don't want to ride Mommy!!". It was one of the moments where you just have to laugh and realize it will make a funny memory down the road. It was too late to get off, so I had to hold Colin down and try my best to make it better. Sure enough, once the train started moving he calmed down and actually decided it was awesome. Thank GOD! Then comes the announcer talking over a very loud microphone and playing super loud music while making the crowd stomp their feet in the floor to the beat. Guess who that was too much for? Yep, Colin was again not pleased. I am really upset with myself over the whole thing...I don't know why I was picturing a quiet picturesque ride. In my head, it was a beautifully decorated train with soft music playing in the background while we all pointed out the window and drank hot chocolate. I should have known better...the volume of the whole event was that of a rock concert and pretty much the opposite of what Colin would enjoy. He was a trooper and seemed to like seeing the lights out the window, so that was nice. The best BEST part of the whole thing was when Santa came into our train car and started making his way down the row to greet all the kids. When I saw him, I started to pray that Colin would not pass out from fear. After everything that we had put Colin through that night, I thought this would be too much. I could not have been more wrong. When Santa turned to Colin, that little boy lit up like the 4th of July! His eyes turned into saucers and he grinned from ear to ear. He looked at Santa with all the wonder and awe that you see in the movies. It was priceless and the sweetest thing you have ever seen! So THAT made the whole fiasco worth every crazy moment. I will say that we will probably not attempt a train ride again for awhile though. Whew! ;-)

Here is my favorite picture of the season so far...Colin fell asleep on the couch with Enzo and I managed to get this wonderful shot. This is what joy is all about!

Colin and Mommy after the train ride...glad that we made it! :-)

Colin decides he likes the train...finally!

He was singing Jingle Bells here...very sweet!

Look, Daddy!

Colin LOVED the walk to the train with the trees and snow!

Colin doing his own performance while waiting in line.

Easily his favorite moment of the night...eating a corn dog. ;-)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas Colds and Other Updates

We have had a giant cold virus running rampant in our house for the last week or so and I am ready for it to be over! Jer got it first, then Colin got sick, and now I am a sneezing, sniffling mess. I actually think I have it worse than the two boys did, which is usually not the case! We missed three parties last weekend because of illness and a few play dates to boot...ugh! The good news is that we all three managed to get sick BEFORE Christmas instead of during, so I am looking forward to next week with my healthy family. We will be heading to a Christmas party on Saturday night at the home of our good friends, so I am thrilled with the prospect of finally feeling better and doing something fun! YEA! Sunday morning we are supposed to be going to ride The Polar Express, but in my genius move of the season, I did not try to buy tickets until guessed it, they are sold out. They apparently sell a limited number of tickets on the day of as a first come first serve thing, so we may still make it. I really hope so because I have REALLY been looking forward to it!!

Next week is shaping up to be fun and very busy! We are having Jer's parents over on Tuesday night for an early Christmas celebration. They will be presenting Colin with his present from them and I am so looking forward to it!! They got him a train table and train set, which is exactly what he has been wanting. I think he will probably die from joy. :-) On Wednesday we head over to my parents house for Christmas and I am literally giddy with excitement over it. We are almost completely done with presents; I am missing a couple of Thomas trains, which I plan to get this weekend. I cannot wait for Christmas Eve...Colin will get to leave milk and cookies and Jer and I will get to stay up by the light of my parents giant cozy fireplace and get ready for Santa. ;-) This season has been so full of joy that I am loathe to see it go, but I am chomping at the bit to see Colin's face when he sees Santa's spread!

Colin has been his usual merry self and as usual continues to change before my eyes. He loves to sing and dance more than anything and has been putting on performances several times a day. The other day, we were watching "So You Think You Can Dance" on the DVR and he took notice of a particular dance that featured a technically beautiful dancer who was doing stunning pirouettes. Colin started doing them, too!!! It was so adorable and I must say, this kid has talent. :-) He danced right along with them and when the dance was over, he clapped for them and yelled his familiar "again! again!". He turns everything in the house into a microphone and sings constantly. He speaks in full sentences that sometimes shock "Mommy, come sit on the couch with me, please" and "Mommy, we need to go see Daddy at work". It always amazes me when he talks in such perfect sentences, not to mention that he comes up with thoughts that I did not realize he had! I took him to get his hair cut today and while in the chair, he said "Excuse me, I need to get down now". I was rolling with laughter!! He was very polite about the fact that he was done with that woman cutting his hair! HAHA! Just before his nap, we were watching "Little Bear" in my bed and the cat jumped up in front of the TV. Colin said "Excuse me, kitty...I can't see the TV!". Oh my heavens, this child is too much. :-)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Gaylord

The Christmas joy continued on Sunday night as we took Colin to The Gaylord Texan to see their fantastical display of lights and fun. I am so glad we went...this continues to be one of my favorite things to do during the season. This was Colin's first trip and just as I imagined, he LOVED it. They have several model train exhibits, including one with bridges that go over your head, and Colin was thrilled beyond measure. In fact, there was one moment when Colin threatened to have a total meltdown over the prospect of having to leave. I could never have imagined how much he was going to love trains! :-) We walked all over the resort and ended up having a special dinner treat at one of the restaurants. Colin was SO good during dinner and we had such a great time. I can't seem to get enough of showing Colin all things Christmas...his reactions this year have brought me more joy than any present ever could. I am even starting to get a little nervous that we are in for major trouble when the decorations have to come down. He is loving this so much more than I ever thought possible. I am also coming to the conclusion that I may have a performer of some kind on my hands. Colin is all about dancing and singing right now and he does it ALL the time at home. He loves to hold household items, turning them into microphones, and putting on a show. He has now started doing this when we are out and about and it tends to crack everyone up that sees it. While we were at The Gaylord, we passed through the very center of the atrium that very much resembled a stage. Colin went straight for the middle of it and began singing and dancing VERY loudly. I tried repeatedly to grab him, but he was not having it. He really got into it, throwing himself all around and singing his favorite songs (that nobody but me would recognize). It was absolutely hysterical and undoubtedly what I will remember the most from the night. I was a total ham as a little girl (and still am, I suppose!) and I think Colin might be a chip off the old block. Lord help us. ;-) Here he is during his "performance".

Colin watching the trains from the best seat in the house.

He LOVED these trains SO MUCH!
Our little family!

Our first attempt at a self portrait using the would have been perfect if not for the flash bouncing off the wall!

Sunday, December 6, 2009


We are having a COLD and wonderful weekend! We took Colin to his very first tree lighting on Friday night at our city hall and it was an absolute blast...despite the frigid temps! It was 25 degrees before the wind chill, so the weather was less than ideal for an outdoor event. It started off badly...for some reason, Colin has been refusing to wear a coat. And by refusing, I mean literally losing his mind and acting like the coat is burning his skin off. Frankly, it has been rather upsetting to me all week; his problem with putting on a jacket has seemed extreme and I have been trying to figure out how to help him get past this issue since the cold snap hit. The problem came to a head when we got out of the car at the lighting; Colin went crazy when we tried to put his coat on and it was not pretty. Once we forced it on him, he stood screaming in the parking lot and pulling at the arms like it was hurting him. It was a lovely scene, let me tell you. ;-) We let him stand by the car and scream it out, determined to help him get past the problem and enjoy the night. I finally scooped him up and started walking toward the festival and he soon got sidetracked by all the lights and music. I think it helped that it was super duper did not take long for him to realize that the coat was on his side! We were SOOOO cold and Colin soon let me put his fuzzy hat on and wrap him in a blanket in his stroller, both of which are totally out of character at the moment. Jer showed him how to put his hands in his pockets, which he actually did! He walked around for a good bit like that...looking very much like a Gap model. He is just the cutest thing in the whole world!
He was mesmerized by the event...he loves nothing more than Christmas lights and once he figured out that he could get wrapped up in his warm blanket, I think he would have stayed out there all night! All the local dance teams and choirs performed on the steps of the square and surprisingly (or maybe not very surprisingly), Colin went crazy over the dancers. He stood there in the freezing cold and watched every single number (and there were LOTS) while demanding "AGAIN! AGAIN!" after each dance ended. Me being me, I got tears in my eyes over and over while we were standing there. I can't believe how much he is enjoying the season this year and it overwhelms me a bit at times. Standing there in the cold, surrounded by Christmas, watching Colin's eyes go as big as saucers when he saw the dancers...well, I truly can't explain what it feels like to see Christmas through your child's eyes for the first time. The difference between last year and this year is night and day; he really gets it this year and has begun pointing out all things Christmas related whenever he sees them. After we watched several dances and songs, we decided that we were just too cold and we ran over to Chapp's (a hamburger joint) for some dinner and much needed heat.
Once we ate, I thought Colin would be more than ready to head home, but he surprised the heck out of me by announcing "MORE DANCERS, MOMMY!". Ah, that's my boy! :-) We all bundled up and headed back to the show. Luckily for Colin, we found a performance of The Nutcracker going on and he got to watch a good bit of that. City Hall was open and we were able to warm our hands inside, as well as see some great gingerbread houses and tour the Christmas city again. Colin was more than pleased to show it all to Daddy this time. He was wearing his hat during this time and I got a funny compliment...I was taking a picture of Jer and Colin from across the table and a woman asked me if Colin was a girl or boy. I looked at her kind of funny, but realized that he was wearing his hat and nothing but his coat was visible from where we stood. I told her he was a boy and she said very sincerely, "He is probably the most beautiful boy that I have ever seen.". I thanked her profusely...even though I doubt Colin would appreciate being mistaken for a girl. ;-) He is certainly a beautiful little boy, both inside and out. Colin ended up watching more dances outside before we called it a night; he would have stayed forever, but I was finally just too cold to stand there anymore! It was the most wonderful evening in the world and I am so glad that we stayed the course at the beginning with the coat fiasco. Colin worked through it and the night is a precious memory for me. Here is the moment when I was asked about Colin being a boy and Colin's view of The Nutcracker performance. :-)

On Saturday morning, I took Colin over the the children's Christmas party at Jer's office, which is also my old office. He got to see Santa, make some crafts, do some coloring and have breakfast. We got to see lots of my old friends and their kids, which was so great. Some folks have new babies and some of the kids were so big now that I did not even recognize them. We got to hang out with our best buddies Ellen and Aubrey, which was a treat. Colin is sleeping at the moment and when he wakes up, we are taking him over to The Gaylord to see the lights and decorations. My only worry at the moment is what we are going to do after Christmas...Colin is having so much fun seeing his world bathed in lights and I don't think he will be very happy when they come down! But I just won't worry about that at the moment! :-)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Baby, It's Cold Outside!

Typical of North Texas, it got COLD completely out of the blue today...and SNOWED! I honestly don't remember the last time we saw anything white in the month of December, so we were VERY shocked! This is only the second time that Colin has seen snow and he certainly has no recollection of the first time, so this was big news! Colin woke up at 6:00am this morning, so I raced into his room and got in bed with him in hopes of getting him back to sleep. It worked, so at about 7:30 he pushed me awake to go "get juice". I stumbled after him into the kitchen to find Jer with a grin on his face and pointing to the big window. Sure enough, it was really snowing. I thought I was dreaming for several minutes...I had not heard a peep about the possibility of snow on the news. I raced to grab Colin's shoes and coat since I knew it would not last long and I wanted him to see it. I only managed to get his shoes on before he demanded to run outside...sans any outerwear. We caught the moment on video and I snapped a couple of pictures. It was so beautiful and just so Christmas! It has already melted, but it is barely 40 degrees outside with a wind chill in the 30's, so it certainly feels like winter. I think random snow in early December is a sign that we will have a very blessed Christmas. :-)

After our crazy early morning, I bundled Colin up for some errands. We went to the library to trade his books out, which has become one of our favorite things to do. Our town library is currently located at our city hall building while the new one is under construction. I frankly would be happy if they just stayed where they are now! The building is new and beautiful and they have temporarily housed the library on the second floor in a couple of rooms. It is tiny, which makes it very easy to pick out books with a two year old. Colin also gets so excited over the choice of taking the huge marble staircase or the elevator and picks a different one every time. It is so adorable. When we went a couple of weeks ago, they had the big Christmas tree up on the square, which Colin thinks is amazing. Today, however, was even better. Inside the foyer they have set up one of those huge model Christmas cities and Colin absolutely went crazy over it. He must have spent 30 minutes walking all around it slowly, pointing out each building and tree and truck. He showed me the Christmas trees, the lights, the ice skaters, and the fire trucks. He did a pretty good job of understanding that he could only look and not touch, although on our way back out of the library, he made a real effort to take one of the firetrucks. I only convinced him to leave it without a battle because I reminded him that there were puddles outside. ;-)

Here he is watching the skaters. He LOVED it!

Once upstairs in the library, we picked out three new Christmas books and we were checking out when Colin spotted their little "Letters For Santa" display. They had pencils and special paper to make a list, and a little mailbox that goes directly to the North Pole! Colin thought this was VERY cool and insisted upon sitting in one of the chairs and "make Santa list". Even the librarians were blown away by his cuteness. :-) The view turned out pretty can see the city tree out the window! What a special day my little man is having!

I think Santa will be pretty impressed with his letter. ;-)

Finally, I leave you with a picture of our very merry Christmas hound. He was feeling rather left out. :-)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


My little family was laying on the couch last night watching television. Colin and Jer were sitting on one couch and I was sitting across from them on the other. Colin climbed on Jer to hug him and demanded that I come over, too. "Mommy, come hug!" was his exact comment. So I head over and lay on top of Jer and Colin, making a Colin sandwich. Colin requests this move frequently, so this was nothing new. As I laid on top of them and we all mushed together in a hug, Colin said "I'm hugging my family!". I had tears well up in my eyes immediately and we hugged him even tighter. Just when I think he can't get any more adorable, he does. I am so blessed.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Game Recap

I made it. I hosted my very first Thanksgiving and I survived! WHEW! The holiday weekend is almost over and we have had a great time so far. I feel so blessed to have such a wonderful family...everything was smooth sailing and that is mainly because of the amazing company in my house. :-)

So let's break it down! For overall performance, I give myself a "B". The house was clean and decorated, the place settings were all out, Christmas music was playing softly and the turkey was almost done when the guests started arriving. I had set my alarm for 6am, jumped out of bed and got the turkey in the oven and then took a shower and got ready. I was dressed right as Colin woke up, which was perfect. My parents and Alieson left Tyler bright and early, so they got to my house before the parade even started! That was awesome!! Meredith, Cory and their kids were not far behind and Mert came bearing not only sausage balls, but funfetti cupcakes. She brought these because they are Alieson's favorite things on earth. It cracked me up that despite all my slaving in the kitchen, the kids and Alieson were by far the most impressed with those silly cupcakes. ;-) We had a fantastic morning hanging out, drinking coffee and eating. Jer's parents arrived at 11:00am with another round of delicious food...we were in heaven!! They also brought their two dogs, who joined Mert's dog Annie and (of course) Enzo. There were dogs running all over, two boys being loud and silly, one baby strapped to Meredith and then all the adults. It was beautiful chaos! Jer carved the turkey and lunch was served at about 12:45. Everything was done and at least warm...some dishes were hotter than others, but I forced myself not to stress out about it and have fun. All the components came together and everyone seemed to be happy and having fun! Thank GOODNESS!! After we ate, we all watched the Cowboy's play and tried to take a few family pictures. It was a wonderful afternoon and it seemed to pass by like almost reminded me of getting married; you prep for so long and then the whole thing is over in an instant!

I did learn a LOT of lessons during my very first experience hosting a large party. There is so much that you have to figure out the hard way and there is definitely a learning curve! First of all, turkey does not taste anything like chicken. Don't laugh. ;-) Let me try to explain...I have never really loved turkey. It has never been one of my favorite things in the world. I really thought that I could knock it out of the park if I cooked it my way, using the spices I wanted and etc. As it turns out, turkey is simply that...turkey! The turkey I made was good, cooked well and moist. However, it did not have that succulent taste that all of my roasted chickens have. It tasted like...well...turkey. :-) Second lesson: don't make a dish that you have not tried before! I really meant to try all of my dishes before the big day, but I ran out of time before making the green bean casserole. It sounded so yummy that I thought it would be a safe choice without a practice run. I was was not very good at all. Nobody said anything, but it was a dish that I would certainly not make again. I always modify recipes after I try them the first time, so I should have known better than to try out a new dish for a crowded Thanksgiving. Third lesson: do NOT make stuffing the day before!! UGH! I made a giant batch of stuffing with sausage and apples on Wednesday night. I was on the fence about making it in advance, but I did not want to risk it. For all the other dishes, I did everything but bake them, saving that last step for the day of. At the last minute I decided to go ahead with baking the stuffing and just reheating it the next day. BAD IDEA! When I tasted the finished product, it was one of the most delicious things ever. It was moist in the middle, crispy on top, and the flavor was out of this world. On Thanksgiving, I poured stock over it and re-heated it and it tasted nothing like the day before! DANG!!! That was such a silly mistake; I cook enough to know better than to making something like that in advance, but I was no nervous about things not being ready that I failed to use my common sense. The whole meal was fine and I am sure that my guests will tell you it was all great, but I have a high standard for myself and I know I could have done a lot better! :-) I think the biggest thing that I learned was that while making everything in advance makes for a fun and peaceful day, the food is just not as delish as it is when you serve it immediately. It takes a little bit away from it. If I make one big change going forward, it will be to serve Thanksgiving dinner instead of lunch. Lunch has always been the norm, but I think that I will switch going forward. That will give me time to make things the day of and everything will taste so much better. Next lesson: you cannot make meringue ahead of time. I made the chocolate pies the day before and on Thursday morning, I whipped up the meringue and lopped it onto the pies. Then I belatedly realized that I could not put them into the oven until the turkey was done. In the meantime, the egg whites basically turned back into fluid and ruined both pies. OOPS!! I figured that the meringue was going to look a little sad because of the delay, but I did not realize they would turn into water. Obviously, those were not served!Those pies are another thing that I will not make in advance ever again. They are just supposed to be eaten immediately! Oh, and I learned one more lesson...I will cook more dishes in my style next time, rather than trying to make the traditional meal. I have so many yummy favorites that I did not make in lieu of sticking with the old school stuff. Next time, I plan to put more of myself into the meal. I love to cook more than anything and I would love to host an event that gave folks a taste of that. But I will say that I think I did a pretty good job this year for a first effort. At least nothing was on fire or undercooked and as far as I know, nobody was poisoned. ;-)

Here are some of the pictures from our wonderful day!!

My precious boy laughing at his Aunt Alieson on Thanksgiving night. He had eaten too much and had to take off his pants. ;-)
Sitting with my sweet baby niece, Pryce. She LOVES me. (that is her silly dog Annie in the background)

Jer's mom being silly while we took pictures. I love it! :-)

My favorite picture with my sisters...we were trying to get out of the direct sun for a picture and ended up falling down. My mom took this while we were laughing. I love my sisters!

Mommy and Colin

The whole Trawick clan...we were trying to get a picture for my parents Christmas cards. It was pretty futile with three little ones. This is one of the outtakes...we are all laughing at Jer's mom!

Mommy and Colin is so hard to get him to smile for posed pictures!

My sister Mert, her husband Cory and their kids, Pryce and Jackson. It's a good thing I had the Christmas decorations up for all these pictures! :-)

A random shot taken by my mom while we were all eating appetizers.

My sweet Daddy and his only granddaughter, Pryce.

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