This Thanksgiving has to be my favorite on record. Most of my family came to California to spend the holiday with us and we had such a great time. My mom, sisters, nieces, and brother-in-law all got here Monday evening and Clara could not have been more excited. Paul had just finished painting the living, family, dining rooms and hallway the night before and we barely got things put back together before everybody arrived. My dad flew in Thursday morning because he is serving at the bishop's storehouse in Utah and the lead-up to Thanksgiving is a big one for them and they needed his help.
We have been feeling so grateful for our new house and the extra space that made this type of holiday possible for us to host because there is no way we could have fit so many people in our old place. As it was, we put Emma, Lily, Clara and Jessica in Clara's bedroom with the three little girls on an air mattress and Jessica in Clara's bed (which only sort of worked - apparently every night Jessica awoke to Clara climbing into bed with her). My parents were in the guest bedroom and Jennie & Ryan took Rose's room so that Adelaide could sleep in the crib and they could sleep on an air mattress next to her. Rose got to sleep in mom & dad's room in the pack-n-play, which honestly went better than we expected.
We spent Tuesday hanging out at the house, shopping, and taking the girls to our favorite local park (Athens Downs in San Ramon) to play. Then on Wednesday we all got ready early and headed into San Francisco to finally go see Baker Beach. It is now a new favorite spot of mine. I loved the views, the beach itself was beautiful and parking was easy. Everybody really enjoyed spending time playing in the sand and each of Jennie's girls ended up in the water, fully clothed, at some point. The beach is beautiful enough as it is but the backdrop of the Golden Gate Bridge is really something else.
We tried to get a photo of the cousins together on this piece of driftwood and this is the best we got. The girls were so, so amazingly good together all week. I was worried about fights over who got to play with toys or whining or tantrums but I don't think we saw hardly any of that at all. Instead, the older girls just played and played together and we heard giggling and make believe and singing coming from Clara's room on a constant basis. And they wore each other out enough to take good naps every day too. Rose and Adelaide seemed happy to have each other around too, and they crawled or toddled (respectively) all around the house chasing after the bigger girls or going between the grown-ups to be entertained. Clara is already missing her cousins like crazy and I am certainly glad that we will get to see them again in a few weeks at Christmas, but it was nice to have plenty of together time without other plans.
Rose had a mouth full of sand by the time we were ready to leave but she didn't complain. We had enough foresight to bring changes of clothes for each of the girls so when we got back to the car we just stripped them all down and brushed off the sand before changing them. We did lunch at Boudin Bread Factory (its our standard spot when we are down in the city with visitors - their grilled cheese is my favorite in the world) and then Paul, my mom and I headed home with Adelaide and Rose so they could take naps and Paul could do some work from home while Jennie, Ryan, and Jessica took the older girls to see the sea lions at Fisherman's Wharf (which apparently was less than impressive to the girls because they wanted to see the sea lions swimming instead of just sunning themselves on the docks).
Thanksgiving Day itself was lovely. Paul smoked a turkey and I roasted one in the oven (we wanted lots of leftovers and weren't super sure how the smoked turkey would go). I don't think we will ever be able to go back to regular turkey after having Paul's smoked one. It was amazing and easily the best turkey I have ever eaten. The girls loved watching the Macey's Thanksgiving Day Parade together and even tried dancing like the Rockettes when they performed.
Rose wasn't super interested in eating her first Thanksgiving dinner. She had a couple of yams and some roll but then was ready for her nap. The older girls got to sit at the kids' table in the living room, which worked out pretty well.
That night at around 10:00 p.m. Jennie and my mom mentioned wanting to look at some dolls at Target for Jennie's girls when they couldn't find the ones they wanted online, so we ended up doing a little black Friday shopping on Thursday evening. It didn't feel as weird as I thought it would. The store had been open for four hours already so the crowds were mostly gone. And it was nice doing a little shopping without having to stay up crazy late or get up crazy early to do it.
Other than the feast, we enjoyed playing Scattergories one night and the girls had lots and lots of stories read to them since we pulled out all of the Christmas books. Paul and I went on a double date with Jennie and Ryan to get Thai food one night, then Jennie & Ryan went shopping while Paul and I went to see "Interstellar" (it was intense and I had to leave the theater for part of it but overall it was good).
And on Friday we went to the movies to see "Penguins of Madagascar", which was hilarious and fun although Jennie's girls did not like it.
It was a great holiday that was made even more special on Saturday with Rose's sealing to us in the Oakland temple, which I will post pictures about next.