Over the River and Through the Woods

First things first, I'm pretty sure I've used that exact title for at least the last 3 years of Thanksgiving posts.  It's the only thing I can ever imagine when I sit down to brainstorm and it works.  To Grammy (and Grampy's) house we go! And went.  

Here it is, the recap of all the fun...
We started out our week of vacay with a bang by making a surprise appearance at my sister's house! We told my parents we were coming on Monday sometime but we knew they'd be thrilled and shocked if we came early on Sunday night.  I was coordinating with my sister so I knew my parents were at her house and we were able to send the troops to the front door to pull off a fun surprise!  
We made the early appearance for a couple of reasons, but one of the biggest reasons was so these two messengers could share our big Thanksgiving news!  I ordered those adorable shirts and I knew the minute we got there they wouldn't be able to keep the secret anymore so we just accelerated the process.  Immediately when the kids took off their coats, Ava piped up with a "We've got a big secret for you!!"  My Dad said, "Oh yeah?  What is it???" And she said, "well I can't tell you."  Ha!!  She's been under strict orders to keep her mouth shut for weeks and she's done a pretty good job of it.  Actually, truth be told, her Daddy slipped up with the news at work long before she ever leaked it!  When we reminded her that actually she COULD tell our secret she wasted no time to say, "Mommy's got a baby in her tummy!!"  It was fun and sweet.  We surprised my parents and my sister and her husband...Two babies are now scheduled to make an appearance in our family this year!  
Lots of joy ahead!!
 As the night wore on, my chances for a photo opp were fading quickly with every passing minute.  
 Mostly because this little guy needed to go to bed and was not feeling all nostalgic like his mother :) 
But this one was! 
 The next morning brought lots of smiles and joy for all of us.  To our kids' delight, it snowed overnight and while we were all waking up!  I was immediately thrilled to be at my Mom and Dad's because I was still experiencing so much nausea and I was so thankful for all the extra help.  Trav and I got to sleep in and the kids wasted no time waking up Grammy for breakfast and cartoons.  Ava in particular was thrilled because my Dad DVR'd a special Sophia movie from the night before and she couldn't wait to watch it. 
 Ariel was making her debut in the show and our Ariel-loving girl was mesmerized and excited.  
 I'm pretty sure we watched it at least 4 times over the course of the week.
 This little guy was just happy to see the snow and be with all his peeps! 
 I love curling up on my parents couch and drinking coffee, it's one of the only times I get to finish a whole cup in peace! But I've been so sick that even the smell of coffee was upsetting to me.  I hadn't had a cup for over a month when my Mom offered me a mocha latte and I was powerless to deny it :) Thankfully, it didn't make me sick but I've ventured back into the world of coffee very slowly.  Really hoping the second trimester will deliver me of my coffee aversion.  
 But I digress, back to the kids and the freshly fallen snow!  We had no snow in Minnesota and like an idiot, I didn't bring any snow gear with us to Iowa so we had to improvise with rain boots and lots of layers, but the kids had a blast anyway!
 Carter shoveled the front yard, ha!
 And Ava just did a lot of talking and running around in my Mom's scarf!  And I happily sat inside snapping pictures from the couch with my zoom lens.  Happiness for all.  
 The story of Ava's thanksgiving break was her obsession with coloring.  The girl has markers and a coloring book and WILL travel!  
 She especially loved to sit with my Mom and Ollie and color for hours, which I love!  Thankful for some other coloring partners, I can't keep up with her at home!  She's a coloring machine!
 Don't you love her headband placement by the way???  I had no desire to change it, it's so cute!
 Carter was not doing a whole lot of sitting still however!  He is a novelty to my parents, who raised three girls!  Having a boy who never stops moving or eating is pretty funny!  
 I love these pics with my Dad!  
 Clearly Carty is just as taken with my Dad as I am! 
 We had a few days to relax and then the lists started coming out.  This is my Mom's menu list and after seeing it, I remembered that I AM my mother's daughter!  What can I say?  We love looking a handwritten list when we feel overwhelmed!  
 I turned into an old lady in my pregnancy induced time on the couch, snapping away pictures of birds on my Dad's feeder.  I was determined to give my zoom a workout while not stepping foot outside, ha ha! 
 I'm really not much of a bird watcher, but seeing them up close is really quite amazing! God is an incredible creator! 
 Snuggled up with my babies for the Macy's Parade, one of my favorite things to watch while the food is cooking! 
 Ava was particularly taken with the Rockette's (sp?) and when they were done kicking...
...she was doing some posing of her own! 
 We had family coming for dinner at 1:00pm so we got all cleaned up and I asked these two for some pics.  
 I adore this of them!  Cant' believe how old they are getting! 
 Here we are in our matching blue outfits!  Whoops!  Meant to coordinate, but not quite to that degree. Sometimes I cannot turn my designer brain off :)   
 I'm always the table setter at my Mom's, which is right up my alley.
 My Mom had the kitchen running like a well oiled machine.  She's a holiday rockstar.  I always dream of hosting my family for a holiday but then I think of all the work I"ll have to do!  I love to just help her instead :) 
 Just like the old days, I left my mark by re-arranging the living room!  I just cannot pass up  the chance for a change-up and thankfully, my parents always go for it.  They did raise me after all and they've endured 33 years of this from me! 
 My Dad and I were happy about the couch not being in front of the windows again.  They're too pretty to cover up! 
 Cute touches from my Mom everywhere...
Some seriously hard-working ovens and a couple of crockpots that ran the show!
 I'm a sucker for the mantle over the stove, so nice and beautifully decorated.  
The most handsome man on my Thanksgiving list.  
And my parents!  
Grateful for them more and more as I get older and realize all that it means to parent and to do it well.  
 11 years of giving thanks together.  
 These two were on "family spotting" duty while we waited for my Grandparents, my Aunt and my sister and brother in law to come.  
 My grandparents brought their yorkie, Gordy, which was fun for the kids. 
 My Dad was on carving duty while the rest of us were drooling over the smell! 
 You know, small children playing with knives...all part of the Thanksgiving fun, right?? 
 My Mom and my Grandpa.  Great picture of them! 
 Yes, this is my plate.  Would you like a tour?  Turkey, smoked ham, traditional stuffing, sweet potato stuffing, green been casserole, sweet potato casserole and the creme de la creme...mashed potatoes and gravy.  I've been so nauseous for weeks and the one thing I've craved more than anything is mashed potatoes and gravy.  I made up for weeks of cravings with this one plate.  It's excessive yes, but I'd be lying if I didn't tell you that I savored every bite! 
 The Daddy's got the prime seats for football viewing and also the entertainment of eating with Ava and Carter! 
 The rest of us enjoyed the grown-ups table! And I frequently stood outside because I got too hot!  Pregnancy isn't for wimps, especially the third time around.  I am high maintenance on a whole new level! 
 After the plates were cleared and the kitchen began to recover, Carter took a nap and I sat down with this.  Not a bad way to spend an afternoon! 
I love this picture of Ava and her great-Grandpa.  So sweet.  
My Mom, my grandparents and my sister Jennie. 

We had such a great day and enjoyed all the blessings of family, food, football, and of course the real source of our gratitude, the Lord.  We missed my sister Stacie and brother in law Jesse, whom we spent Thanksgiving with in South Carolina last year, but they had a fun day with friends at their house so we were thankful for that.  I can't wait to be together for Christmas, there is nothing like going home for the holidays. We haven't been in Iowa for Thanksgiving for a few years, so this was a treat to stay close to home.  We did some other fun things that I'll share in another blog post, but Thanksgiving 2013 was a success!   

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