In early November, we headed to Milwaukee to spend a weekend with my family. My mom thought we were just visiting to give her something to do (as if she needs more stuff to keep her busy!). But! We were there for a surprise 50th birthday party for her! Sneaky!
To keep my mom oblivious to the cleaning & party preparations going on at home, Lil & I took her out shopping, followed by watching brother Trevor’s hockey game (Lil’s first — she was captivated), and dinner with dad & Trev.
She had no clue what was waiting for her at home! Many many many of her friends/family/neighbors/etc were gathered in the kitchen, and it took her a minute to take it all in when she got home.
Lilly quickly nabbed her crown. This one is TOTALLY a girly-girl. She loves putting on my necklaces & bracelets and walking around the house. We’ve been calling them her jewels, and lately she’s been saying it, too.
Lil is also CRAZY about uncle Trevor. And ice, apparently. We sat her on the floor and let her play bartender for a while. I’ll have to remember this little activity on days when we’re bored at home.
The following weekend, we hosted a friend’s Thanksgiving — all of the food, none of the family. 🙂
I pull out all of the tables, chairs, china, & crystal in the house for this event in an attempt to justify having these things around. Butter dishes & gravy boats come out. Cloth napkins. Fancy, fancy.
Because the dining table ends up being so long, I use a large piece of burlap as a table cloth. This year, the decor was simple — nuts and felt leaves scattered on the table, and large candles set in vases with nuts or on top of birch logs that Jason cut short just for the event. Simple, nature-y, fallish.
Jason made a delish turkey — he brined it and then grilled it with a beer can inside it, so it was really juicy.
Our meat fan approved.
Lilly also had a great time playing with her baby & big girl friends.
The dogs fell asleep halfway through dinner. So much excitement for them!
Lilly had her first taste of Cool Whip.
It was a really good time… and so much good food. My friend, Andrea, prepared half of the food for the meal, and her mashed potatoes & green bean salad were fantastic. I am drooling thinking about it.
Two days later, Lil and I hopped a train to Milwaukee. She LOVED the train ride. Just like our trip to Italy, I packed all sorts of books and toys to keep her entertained, and just like our trip to Italy, we used NONE of them during our 5-hour trip. She stayed busy by watching things outside (other trains, cows, horses, buildings, cars, trucks), eating lunch & snacks, and sleeping. It was a really nice trip, and she now actively listens for the choo chooing of the trains. Luckily, my parents, whom we were visiting, live near train tracks.
The week of Thanksgiving was busy! Grandpa took us to the zoo to see the gorillas. Thanks to the book Good Night, Gorilla, Lilly has been talking about gorillas a TON (thanks to a daddy-daughter day, she now asks to see gorilla videos on the computer… Koko playing with a kitty is a fave). I thought she’d be a little more excited about them, but she quietly observed the gorillas for a bit, telling us what they were doing (eating).
Milwaukee has a really great zoo, and my dad and I hadn’t been there in probably 10 years, so it was cool to see what was new. The wandering (and very brave) peafowl were NOT new, nor were they worried about a 16-month old in a stroller. They let Lilly and my dad get peck-your-eyes-out close.
The big cats were another one of Lilly’s favorites because they were moving around a whole bunch. The leopard was even rooaaaarrring.
Brother Robby was able to make an appearance for a few days, so I bossed everyone around in the name of a decent family photo. Not too bad. 🙂
We had a really nice Thanksgiving meal at my aunt & uncle’s house. We missed part of the family, but were happy to get some really cool news — that one of my adopted honorary cousins found his birth family — what makes this story remarkable is that he was severely burned as a very young child, moved to the US for surgery and adopted here. He’d recently moved back to his home country and was spotted by a member of his birth family, from whom he discovered that he’d been stolen from the hospital while undergoing treatment and his birth family hadn’t stopped looking for him for the past 30 years. We are all so happy that they are reunited! Talk about something to be truly amazed by and thankful for.
During Thanksgiving week, JT and I enjoyed a date night since we had free babysitters. We visited with my grandparents for a bit, and Lilly climbed right into and loved this little wooden sled at my grandma’s house.
She snuggled right into the assortment of santas in the sled, and enjoyed playing peek-a-boo with my grandma. So many little giggles.
We had a nice week visiting family, and then, too soon, it was over. Since then, Lil and I have been chilling. I’m off of work until January (that may explain why I’m back to blogging! free time!), so have been trying to prep for Christmas early and to involve Lil in the fun of the season.
And, with that, I’m totally caught up on what’s been going on in our lives. Phew.