We spent Thanksgiving this year with the Smith side of the family. That's my parents, my older sister Amy and her husband Drew, my little sister Ashley, her husband Eric and my 2 nieces Emma and Ella, and my little brother Andy.

On the way home I couldn't help but laugh at the absolute craziness that was Thanksgiving weekend. It is always loud and crazy at my parents house but it was exceptional this year. The best part was that even in the whirlwind of it all it was still fantastic. Reaction is always a choice, and always something you have control of. I'm so glad that my whole family chose to react with great attitudes to a lot of inconvenience over the weekend. It's amazing how the right reaction can make or break an experience. In fact, let me use my Thanksgiving extravaganza as an example. Let me tell you the tale from the grumpiest point of view possible, and then again with gratefulness. What a difference it makes!

Thanksgiving: Take One
Nick, the boys and I headed up to my parents house (about an hour's drive) on Wednesday afternoon, about 1pm. We had left a little earlier that day for 2 reasons: first to avoid Thanksgiving traffic later in the day, and also to use my parents as babysitters that afternoon so we could go out on a date.

Turns out we did not beat the traffic. Cooper is a great car sleeper when we are moving fast...not so much in traffic. We had the windows down and traffic noise blaring in just to distract him from crying. Then our truck died. Totally died. We made it to the side of the road, smushed between a big hill and a nonstop blur of huge semi's uncomfortably close on the other side. After a host of phone calls and help from my mom and the tow truck driver, we made it to an auto store. New alternator and battery. Estimated arrival time of 2pm had been adjusted to 5pm. Determined to still squeeze a date into the day, we blasted through a frenzied unload into the house and hurried dinner and Nick and I were out the door to catch the next movie showing at 6:30.

Got back to the house at about 9, and other family members kept trickling in for the rest of the evening. The house is now filled to the brim, so every room with a bed, a couch, or a space for a pack'n'play is being used. We 4 slept in the downstairs guest room. Jackson had a makeshift bed on the floor between the wall and our bed, and Cooper was on the other side in his pack'n'play. Cooper still wakes up during the night but Jackson is a deep sleeper so that wouldn't be a problem. Well, as anticipated, Cooper woke up during the night. As not anticipated, he STAYED up in the night. Right at midnight, as I was heading to bed, he woke up ready to talk and play. I couldn't let him cry himself back to sleep at the risk of waking up Jackson, and had literally no other room to take him to in the meantime. So Coop and I stayed awake cooing and googling in the dark until 3am. Yes yes, I know these are sweet and precious mommy moments and I am so grateful for them. 3am. Jackson woke up at 6. 

I did get a much needed nap for a couple hours later in the morning. I woke up just in time to greet our good friends who'd come to spend Thanksgiving with us. Threw on some sweats and a t-shirt to join in the annual Thanksgiving football game at the park. Great game...or at least I managed to run in the right direction most of the time. Back at the house I somehow managed to squeeze in a much needed shower in time for Thanksgiving dinner. Jackson's makeshift bed was moved to my parents room that night. 

The rest of the weekend went as planned until Friday night. We were treating Friday night as Christmas Eve, and Saturday as Christmas, since we will not be spending actual Christmas together this year. Friday evening we decided the adults would exchange gifts so the mommies and daddies in the group could enjoy it a bit more calmly. About halfway through the gift giving, Andy, who'd been feeling touch and go for the last few hours, officially lost it. Stomach flu. Bad stomach flu. Dehydration. Urgent care. Later that night-Dad, stomach flu. And later-Amy, stomach flu. And the next day-Drew, stomach flu. Saturday morning those who emerged for "Christmas morning" were 2 very excited toddlers, 2 oblivious babies, 4 germ conscious parents and 1 sleep deprived grandma. We did have fun watching the littles unwrap phenomenal treasures like castles and princesses and trains and firehouses. 

Once presents were opened the healthy few of us packed up and headed out. On the way home, we hit major traffic. Significantly more than the ride up. However, we still decided, perhaps foolishly, to stop in at Ikea on the way home to make an exchange. It was on the way. Note to self: a bad combination is Ikea, Saturday after Thanksgiving and 2 overtired little boys. We managed to make it through the 5 million Ikea shoppers, and at 5pm tumbled through our front door.

 

Thanksgiving: Take Two (the abridged version)
So we did hit traffic on the way up, and the truck died. But I am so grateful that God kept us safe on that busy travel day. AND was amazed that both boys slept through most of the time we were waiting there for help. Totally thankful for my mom, who dropped everything she was doing, called Triple A and came through the traffic to meet us on the side of the road and get us home safely. 

Next, I am totally blessed by my parents, who were willing to move at super human speed to help Nick and I get on a date, and watch our boys for us after such a hazardous and exhausting day(I know that even after reading this my mom will say "Are you kidding me? We LOVE watching those sweet boys!". They are seriously great). AND love that I got to go chill at the movie theater on a date with Nick after that whole escapade! So fun to get away on our own for just a couple hours! 

And yes, the middle of the night Cooper party did happen, but that's just what you sign up for when you have babies, so even though I was exhausted, I love the blessing of such a big family that we're bursting at the seams! Every parent, brother, sister, spouse, child, baby...a huge answer to prayer and a joy to be in a family with! I love every one of them and wouldn't want anything else! And on top of that, to be able to take a 2 hour late morning nap is a luxury I do not get everyday. Very thankful for the babysitters that completely took over that shift. 

Loved getting to see our dear friends for Thanksgiving. I look forward to it every year, and while I am not ecstatic about playing football, I am a sucker for family traditions. And that one makes the cut, so the running and laughing and asking how much longer is this game are all part of the fun.

The stomach flu. First of all, so happy little Andy is ok(he's 21, but you know, little brother always). Poor Buddy-he gave us all a scare and we are just happy he is healthy now and recovered...along with everyone else too! Loved watching those littles open their gifts. It's crazy how much joy a parent has over watching their little people get the toys of their dreams-and I got my fill of little girly excitement with my nieces(my toy experience doesn't branch out too much past hot wheels and Thomas Trains, so it was fun to constantly read Cinderella and play princess for a change).

And Ikea. Yes, it was insane. But the exchange was for dining room chairs that I now have 6 of, thanks to my husband and parents, and I love them. We made it. 

In the end, we did it together and I LOVE being together. And now we have one of those "Remember that one year...?" memories. We all have those, and they get funnier every time you reminisce.

So, a great reminder(especially as we head in to real Christmas) that expectations and reality are rarely matched perfectly, so I will dial my reactions to thankfulness, and enjoy the real stuff so much more!

And to top it off, here's a few pics from Thanksgiving:

The view from my seat at the table, Our family, Coopy with his feast

Emma and Jackson reading books with Grandma, Jackson napping with Aunt Amy

Grandparents with the grandkids(looks like 1962 cuz this filter offered the least blurry result-4 kids do not sit still at the same time)

J ready to open presents, Coop not caring about presents at all but loving the string, J and some new trains

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