Thanksgiving Break + First Week of Advent

I can't remember the last time I went over a week without writing here! Preparing for Christmas and a new baby will do that to you, I suppose. Even though we're firmly into December, I'm going ahead with a recap of our Thanksgiving trip to my parents' new home in Eastern Washington.

Over the mountains and through the desert, to grandmother's house we go!

We left Wednesday morning and stopped for lunch once we drove through the mountains - which wasn't a problem at all, by the way. There was snow on the ground in Yakima, so we stopped in an empty field to play. Claire and Maggie were so excited to throw snow balls and build a snowman!





We arrived at my parents' beautiful house in the late afternoon. They closed on it just after we visited for July 4th weekend, so we hadn't seen the new digs yet. We had dinner at Atomic Pizza when my dad finished work. My little brother, Scott, flew in from college after we put the girls to bed. It's not the easiest to get from Pittsburgh to Richland, Washington. He had to connect in Atlanta and Minneapolis!





On Thanksgiving morning, Claire and Maggie helped my dad and I make the desserts - pumpkin and pecan pie, of course, along with the Pioneer Woman's cinnamon ice cream. The rest of us took the toddlers to see The Peanuts Movie to get them out of my mom's hair as she prepared the rest of the meal. It was Maggie's first movie in theaters and an excellent choice for our sensitive children. Definitely rivals the 2011 Winnie the Pooh movie as the least scary children's movie I've ever seen.

Maggie's first trip to the movie 

We came home to a delicious feast. I can't forget to give Scott credit for the mashed potatoes! And here is my grandma's recipe for cheese sauce, with no Velveeta-like substances involved. We ended the day by Face Timing with Allison, who is quickly wrapping up language school in Guatemala and will be heading to the orphanage in Honduras in just a few short weeks.


On Black Friday, we decided bowling would be a perfect indoor activity for the whole family. The alley had bumpers for the little ones, special slides to send the balls down on, and even tiny bowling shoes. We were all quite out of practice, but Adam and Scott did pretty respectably while my dad and I most definitely did not. Claire and Maggie handily beat us! (My mom graciously sat on the sidelines because we could only have six people to a lane.)

Black Friday bowling. Somebody just got her first spare!




After lunch at Five Guys, Adam stayed with the girls while they napped. The rest of us headed to Richland's cute little downtown shopping area. My dad and Scott went to the barber shop (let's just say Scott's beard got a little out of control over the course of the semester - I don't think he would appreciate me posting a picture!) while my mom and I had a lot of fun hitting up a couple antique stores.  And, of course, the best part of Black Friday is getting to enjoy Thanksgiving leftovers for dinner. This time without any of the work.


We were worried about traffic getting back to Seattle on Saturday, so we just packed up and got some of Richland's famous Spudnuts before hitting the road. Can you believe Maggie doesn't like doughnuts? We have no easy bribe for good Mass behavior! Astonishingly, we did the whole drive in less than four hours without stopping once.



It was a really nice, relaxing trip. After two journeys to the east coast in October, I'd forgot just how much easier a four-hour road trip is than an a four-hour plane ride. Infinitely easier! We loved getting to see my parents' new house and explore more of Richland. The girls slept really well each night, giving us plenty of time to play new-to-us games (Sushi Go and Pandemic) and watch a holiday-appropriate movie (Planes, Trains, and Automobiles).

After Mass on Sunday, we put up our Advent decorations. Claire and Maggie were bursting with excitement! We've got our Little People nativity set out on the coffee table.


Our advent calendar hung next to the couch.


Our stockings, regular nativity, and framed copies of old Christmas cards on the mantel. All of our seasonal books are piled in baskets on the hearth.


We won't get our tree until very close to Christmas, but we have a little artificial tree out for use as our Jesse tree.


We have all the ornaments in numbered bags strung between the doorway to the kitchen.


And, finally, our advent wreath on the kitchen table. We light the candles at dinner each night, sing a verse of "O Come, O Come Emmanuel," and say a prayer from this book.


As long as the weather cooperates, we should get our wreath up and some lights hung outside this afternoon!

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