best thanksgiving in memory. so glad we got the chance to celebrate with loved ones because we havent had a proper thanksgiving since before we left ann arbor in 2008.
back in august or so, daves sister megan wondered if we would be willing to travel to their place for thanksgiving. heck yes! gracious hosts, serious culinary skills, family time (and by extension, friend time...since good friends amy and tony live nearby), and a change of scenery from our regular ho-hum halifax life? sign me up. we were lucky enough to be able to pretty much nail the travel end of things this time, and the visiting with friends and family was most welcome and relatively easy to manage.
*warning - few photos were taken on this trip. :( mary ann posted a few more on her blog here. *
wednesday (11/23): got up 4a. made it through all airport lines easily (for once!). experienced a "X gem": while waiting to board, X looked at a gate number and said "28". i didnt even know she knew numbers that high and we werent talking about gates or numbers at all. also, we got out ahead of halifaxs first winter storm of the season, so that was good. arrived at JFK (an hour) early. scooped up our baggage and hit some traffic during our taxi ride. no matter though, X napped through the traffic (did you know that in NY kids dont need to be in a car seat in taxis? eeps). we arrived at our gas station/repair shop/rental car pick-up location (no joke). our car wasnt there yet so we had to sit outside for 20 minutes waiting (X was still napping thankfully).
in the mean time, dave got bagels (holy hell halifax needs a decent bagel place). these were just generic NY bagels but to us...awesomeness. then we were fueled up for an easy drive to nyack (home of the lovely celini family). X got to meet their puppies (not before shrieking in fear of the gate in their fence). and then baby sam woke up. sweet baby boy! this was our first time meeting him (though we patted him through his mommas belly in march, and i dreamt he was a boy even before he was conceived...tatrice was what they had named him then). we exchanged gifties. amy is the ultimate gift giver, i marveled at the heap of things she compiled for us (for X: a sticker craft, snacks [applesauce squeezies are indeed a good idea for airplane travel], a lovely dress, a book; and a book and trader joes snacks for me). did i mention the woman (mother to a 4 month old child) also had a beer bread in the oven for dave and a specially-tailored apple cake for me (imagine that...me...eating baked goods. heaven i tell you!). then X took another nap.
amy and i enjoyed some girly chatting over a homemade chickpea/quinoa salad with tomato soup lunch (yeah, she has mad hostessing skills!) while dave napped with X. after the nap, "papa tony" (as X has been calling him) was home from work and by now my travel headache was mounting (must drink more water). ultimately i stayed behind and laid in amys bed with heat pads while everyone else went to play at the library. :( when they got back my headache was a little better. we had a big chicken/pork dinner but X was too distracted to eat well and thus we did not have the most pleasant meal around the table. i dont think she ever got the amount of sleep she required for the day. she was tired a good 2 hours before we were expecting. so, after dinner we had to pack up and bolt for the car. this actually turned out to be a good thing because, with getting up at 4a, we were just so darn tired and the two hour drive to albany was still ahead of us. X went to sleep easily in the car and we survived the drive to daves sisters house. we got there at 10:30p (11:30p to our halifax bodies), said our quick hellos and dove into bed. X was totally happy to be transported from car to bed without protesting. and we all slept in until 9a.
thursday (11/24): woke up, devoured oatmeal. then daves parents came over from their hotel and we spent the rest of the day lounging in front of the tv (in perfect thanksgiving fashion). X seemed to occasionally tune in to the NYC parade and find amusement, and football also captured her attention from time to time. we also opened the boxes we had sent to ourselves (simple shoes and football books for dave, MGoBlog t-shirts for all three of us [a surprise from dave], clothes for X), traded small gifts with family (i got a bracelet from megan, and X got sock animals and books from grandma and a shirt from grandpa) and watched X play with everyone. she seemed perfectly at ease with her surroundings. of course, it helped that her aunt megan and grandma swooped right in and showered her with love and attention. :)
at around 5p we all sat down to the most beautiful and thoughtful thanksgiving dinner ive had in a long time. megan was so sweet to have knocked herself out making several dishes dairy-free for us. i was able to float my plate in an inch of gravy and gorge on turkey. heaven! X proved to be a big fan of gravy as well and shoveled all the sweet potato glop off my plate and into her mouth. oh it was a meal!
and then we slumped on the furniture while megan went back to the kitchen again! X became fully enamored with the kitchen and aunt megan at this point...because aunt megan showed her how to make a pie. they made a cherry pie together and X was even able to eat the finished product (read: i was able to gorge on baked goods during this whole, awesome NY visit. something to be thankful for indeed!). due to the sugar that was in the pie we were up a bit late that night, but it was a small price to pay. X was loving her family so much!
(helping aunt megan with the cherry pie crust)
friday (11/25): we skipped the pepper spraying and shootings that typically accompany black fridays mega sales and stayed in for a dave-made breakfast (X-friendly pancakes and bacon). X was a happy camper! then dave took X to the park with everyone while i vegged (we didnt get the greatest sleep while on this trip, a minor price to pay). the weather was great while we were visiting; unseasonably warm temperatures were welcomed by us for sure.
back from the park, X and i napped while everyone went to "5 guys, a burger, and fries" for lunch. post-nap, we went to "little book house" for fun kid books (thanks aunt megan and grandma!) and the "toy maker" for a fun squish ball and animal play set. and then it was back home for a dinner of leftovers and lounging. i must say, with all the tv we absorbed, i have reassured myself that we arent missing much these days...although i do still enjoy it a wee bit.
saturday (11/26): got up, ate, and went swimming in grandmas hotel pool. X seemed like a natural (i havent been going to the pool when dave takes X back home). she also...seemed tired. so, we got back to the house and packed all our stuff into the car and prepared to leave. X played her last minutes with her beloved aunt megan and grandma and dave debated about how much UM v OSU game to watch before we hit the road for Xs nap. in the end he couldnt enjoy watching the beginning of the game, so we left. X napped and when she woke up, we told her we were going to stop off at amy/tonys again to visit. we made it to their house in time for dave to watch the last quarter of his football game (lucky man, NY traffic had moved 10 mph above the speed limit and the albany-nyack trip went fast!).
amy and i took the babes to the playground where we a had high quality moms-at-the-playground chit chat session. :) at sunset we went home to order pizza. this time, X was happier to sit at the table and munch munch munch on pizza with us, so we had a nice dinner together. and then we had to give our final hugs and drive to our queens hotel. considering it was a saturday night going toward/through the city, we made it to our hotel pretty easily, and it was in a decent area that felt safe and the place was nice and clean. i would stay there again. we then unloaded, reorganized our bags, bathed the filthy X, repacked, and went to bed.
sunday (11/27): up at 6a. drove our rental car back to JFK. had a long and stupid wait to get checked in at the airport. i swear they make it impossible for parents traveling with "lap children" to catch a break (why would you want to make this population more irritable than they already are on travel day? its like you are begging to have kids crying on the airplanes). then we milled around the airport until take off. the plane ride and trip home went pretty well and i would say my major travel frustrations with X (from europe travel and the MI travel) are pretty much past us (famous last words?!). im sure there will always be something at the different ages/stages that will make it challenging to travel with her, but things are getting easier and smoother. weve got a system down now and we feel comfortable and successful when we follow our "formula".
**many many thank yous to the celini, timmons, and whipp families for making this a stellar holiday trip!**
parting note: a nytimes "flying with kids" article.