Tuesday, November 16, 2010

LOL/LOL: Thanksgiving!

LOL/LOL stands for Lots of Littles/Lots of Laughs. It is a blog series by moms who are overrun by small children have 3 or more little kiddos, talking about parenting, marriage, & life. After you read this post, make sure you check out Jamey's take on this same topic at Zehlahlum Family. And then please play along! Tell us what you think in the comments OR blog about it and post a link in the comments.

If you were here last Tuesday… I wasn't. I'm sorry. Jamey and I didn't have a topic until the last minute, then we were both feeling the crunch and I had a cardiologist appointment for Roo and… we just decided to give ourselves a little break.

But now we're back and better than ever! Really! Are you thankful for that? Well, funny you should mention thankfulness, because it just so happens that we are talking about Thanksgiving today!!! You are SO GOOD at helping me with my segues.

I heart the holidays. And by "the holidays" I do not mean I'm-avoiding-saying-Christmas-so-I'm-just-going-to-say-Happy-Holidays so please do not send me any hate mail. By "the holidays" I mean Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, and all the merriment that surrounds the entire season. I absolutely love decorating and getting into the spirit and family time and traditions and parties and… well, food.

Unfortunately, the last year or two I have been very bad at the first part of that—the decorating and getting into the spirit. Just for fall/Thanksgiving—my Christmas decorations always make their appearance on time and I have NO TROUBLE AT ALL getting into the spirit for that one. Last year I don't think I got out any fall decorations at all. This year, there's a hurricane vase full of gourds… and a paper pumpkin centerpiece that Monkey made a church. And that's it. We are working on one more project, though. I combined a couple of craft ideas I found in different magazines to make a different kind of thankfulness tree, which hopefully will be ready today. The kids and I made the Painted Leaves from Family Fun magazine. We are using those as the leaves for a Blessings Tree idea that I found in MomSense magazine. So far I have the leaves and the branch to be the tree… I just need to put the branch in floral foam, put it in an opaque vase/bowl, punch holes in the leaves, and find yarn or string to tie them onto the tree (after, of course, we write our "blessings" on them). So yeah, we're a little behind schedule on that one… but I'm hoping to get it done today (I'll come back and add pics if I do) so that I can at least teach my children to be thankful for a week or so. ;-) And if I really get it together, maybe I'll even take it with me to our Thanksgiving dinner so that I can share it with the whole big family!

Which brings me to our Thanksgiving dinner traditions. When Mr. Fantastic and I were first married, we were smart enough to set some ground rules for the holidays. We live close to both sides of our family, so it seemed prudent to make some decisions in advance, rather than constantly adding stress to the holiday season every year. It was important to him that we are able to spend quality time with people on Thanksgiving, not just feel like we were running from place to place, so we only do one Thanksgiving each year, and we alternate spending it with my family or his. This was hard for me, because I kind of enjoy the running around and going different places, but it really does make everything more relaxed—and now that we have kids, I am especially grateful that we set this precedent long ago so that we don't have to drag kids to 10 different places in one day.

So this year we're spending Thanksgiving with my family at my parents' house. I'm hoping both of my brothers and their families will be there as well. If everyone comes, we will have 11 adults and 9 children (ages 7 months to 11 years). It is crazy and chaotic and lots of fun. I love to cook, so although my mom is doing the bulk of the dinner, I am making baked corn and a very very cool carrot cake—I'll post pictures when I make it. You'll be impressed. More than anything, I'm looking forward to just hanging out with everyone, talking and playing games and watching my kids play with their cousins.

Oh, and this year I'm adding a whole new element to Thanksgiving, though… staying up all night for Black Friday shopping! I got into the Black Friday madness a few years ago, when Kohl's was offering Candyland and Chutes & Ladders for $2 each. I found a handful of other things I thought were good deals, too, so my mother-in-law and I headed over there bright & early… and then while we were out, we decided to check out a few other stores as well. And a tradition was born!!!! We have SO. MUCH. FUN. We make a list, shop, get some breakfast, shop some more, and just generally have fun hanging out and spoiling my children. Then I go home and crash, and she (because she has more energy than should be allowed for any one human) goes home and starts wrapping presents. So yes, Black Friday has become a fabulous tradition for me. But it does seem to get earlier and earlier every year. The first year we went, we got to Kohl's when it opened… and I'm almost certain that was 5 AM. The next year Walmart was our first stop at 4 AM, and last year we wanted to be at Sears when it opened at 3 AM. Last year I swore that I would never be crazy enough to just stay up all night and shop… but this year, friends, Toys R Us opens at 10 PM, and that is where most of the deals are that I want to get. So it looks like I'll be enjoying Thanksgiving with my family, coming home to put my kiddos to bed, then picking up my mother-in-law and heading to the stores! Thankfully I've already put Mr. Fantastic on alert that I need him home both while I am shopping AND when I get home so that I can get some sleep…!

And yes, I am aware that this post took a sudden turn from thankfulness and traditions and family time to complete consumerism. But really, half the fun of Black Friday is going with my mother-in-law and doing something fun together that no one else in our family is crazy enough to do, so it really still is about tradition and family time. And it is more about fun than any particular deal, so we don't go nuts fighting over stuff in the stores or worrying about getting done in one place in time to be at another—we just enjoy.

So that is what we are preparing for here at the zoo. What's on your plate (so to speak) for next week? Please play along and let us know—and make sure you link up in the comments if you blog about it. And don't forget to head over to Zehlahlum Family. Jamey's husband is in the military, and I loved reading about their Thanksgivings (the ones she could remember) over the past few years.

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