Black Weekend

It is my family’s tradition to shop on Black Friday every year since I can remember. There is a group of women in my family who, for many many years now, have scoured over the ads after Thanksgiving dinner, made lists, gone to bed early, woke up before the crack of dawn, picked up a yummy fast food breakfast and drove out to the stores as they open for a FULL day of shopping and quality girl time.

I LOVE this tradition, not even for the deals. Don’t get me wrong, the deals are awesome and I feel awesome saving money from store to store…and even more awesome toting my many bags of presenst around, but the real fun is in the details. I hate waking up early, but not on Black Friday. It is same as waking up early on Christmas morning, or the morning of a family vacation. Everyone is full of excitement and wonder.

We bundle up in the car, jam the Christmas music and eat hashbrowns and sausage biscuits in the car. We devise plans, discuss gift ideas and gossip about family news that was revealed at Thanksgiving dinner. We bond over Starbucks, take pics throughout our day and complain about our feet killing us. It simply doesn’t get better.

I LOVE it all, but, and this is a big but…I HATE Black Friday that is actually on Thursday and disguised as Black Friday. I know lots of you shop on Thursday and that’s cool…we all have our own traditions, but I just cannot get into this new trend.

For one…it’s not actually Friday…so please stop calling it that. It’s Thursday, as in Thanksgiving Day, as in most of us are still eating, or recovering from eating. I don’t want to rush through dinner, skip relaxing with the family, miss out on Thanksgiving night movies or “Just Dance” tournaments. Those traditions are precious to me too, and I can’t help but think about the people working who are missing out on their precious moments. I do not like it, so I do not do it, and if I miss out on saving 25% off something cool then so be it. We all have too much stuff anyways.

Also, since being with Husband, Black Friday traditions have changed a bit because we spend every other year with his family. Husband is amazing and will shop with me whenever and wherever I want on the years away from my family. We even call our Texas family and talk about the deals we found, the long lines and how every single store won’t stop playing “Last Christmas, I Gave You My Heart”…it’s a very good every-other-year tradition.

This year is a special case scenario. Neither I nor my sister went home for Thanksgiving…our typical shopping crew was all out-of-wack and it seemed like not one of us were going to continue our very long-standing tradition. Something had to be done. So when my Mom informed me that she was going to Dallas to see my sister for the weekend, I informed her that I would be flying down and joining them. It just isn’t right for all of us to be apart and for no one to do Black Friday.

We couldn’t actually all get to Dallas until Friday night, so we went Black Saturday and Black Sunday shopping instead. We still got up early, ate fast food, listened to Christmas music, shopped all day, complained about walking all day and carrying a million bags and had the best day together. I think it was my greatest idea ever, and I think my Grandma would be happy to see us keeping the tradition of spending an awesome day together alive.

me and sis

So happy to get some Tex Mex!
So happy to get some Tex Mex!

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This year we had the added bonus of shopping with my favorite little man, my nephew! He was such a trooper. He shopped ALL day and never threw a fit…which is better than we can say for ourselves.

mom and sis

enjoying "Black Weekend" lunch together
enjoying “Black Weekend” lunch together

I also had my first Black Friday shopping-while-7-months-pregnant experience. So, there was lots of baby clothes shopping and lots of trying on clothes that do not zip-up shopping.

so sweet
so sweet
won't quite fit over my belly
won’t quite fit over my belly

Anyone else have special Christmas shopping traditions?

Cheers!

The Bolt

Our Tennessee family Thanksgiving Day tradition is to run the 5-mile Boulevard Bolt race at the crack of dawn Thanksgiving morning. Husband has been running for a few weeks to prepare for the race and I’ve been mentally preparing while doing yoga and Pilates inside the warm house. I have not run in a very long time and I didn’t think my third trimester was a good time to start it up again. In any case, we were all going to run, walk or jog because it’s tradition.

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On Thanksgiving morning it was 16 degrees outside…as in 16 degrees below freezing! We bundled up, wiped the sleep from our eyes and stumbled into the car to meet up with our family. At our Aunt’s house, we were greeted by her many animals, including a very large turkey…

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Grandma (who also ALWAYS participates) handed out our shirts and bibs, and after everyone got together (that is the ones who didn’t weenie out because it’s “too cold”), we drove to the Boulevard, and lined up with 9,000 other crazy Tennesseans.

My favorite thing about races are the people who dress up. We had a poor attempt at dressing up (Santa hats and Christmas socks), but some runners went all out. There were all 4 Ninja Turtles, turkeys, a pumpkin pie, a guy in a tux, tons of crazy hats and tutu’s AND Santa with his eight reindeer and Rudolph. Santa and his reindeer were not only in full costume, but ran the entire race in order (Rudolph in the lead, Santa at the rear), while ringing sleigh bells and singing Christmas carols. I don’t know why I didn’t take pictures…guess I was too cold or too sleepy to even consider it an option.

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When the race began, Husband and Derek took off with the runners, while the rest of us began walking and inching along with the crowd of slower racers. I cramped up and had to walk most of the beginning, but after a while I warmed up, the cramps went away and we were able to walk/jog the rest of the race. It was such a relief to not feel competitive, but to just enjoy a good workout with thousands of other people before Thanksgiving dinner. We got to cheer on the winners, enjoy the costumes and work up a bit of a sweat.

Husband, who is awesome, ran the 5 miles in 40 minutes! I can’t believe he’s only been running for a few weeks. I wonder if this will encourage him to sign up for a Christmas race? I hope so, because I already have some family costumes in mind…

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I, on the other hand, finished in an hour and 15 min. Not exactly Speed Racer, but  better than not racing at all! Maybe next year I’ll actually get to run with Husband.

The race definitely wore me out, but it was so fun and definitely worth it. I can’t say it enough: working out and pregnancy should go hand-in-hand. So future Mama’s, keep moving! Walking is a great exercise for all fitness levels and all trimesters. I just wish I had some pregnant friends in Tennessee to walk with…anyone plan on getting knocked up anytime soon?

Great morning!
Great morning!

Cheers!

Belated Turkey Day

2013

Our first Thanksgiving in Nashville in 5 years was about as perfect as a Thanksgiving could be. First of all,  I cooked two dishes and BOTH turned out edible. In fact, one turned out to be freakin’ awesome. I cannot tell you how many times I read the recipes while cooking. I quadruple checked each step because for once I wanted to not screw up a dish. I still burnt the heck out of the top of the sweet potato casserole, but who really likes the marshmallows and pecans anyways?

I got both recipes from the Chew (spectacular mashed potatoes and candied sweet potatoes) because it’s the only cooking show I’ve ever actually watched…and if Clinton Kelly can make mashed potatoes then by golly, so can I!

We ran (walked) 5 miles in the Boulevard Bolt Thanksgiving morning (more to come on that later). Then, came home with enough time to watch the last 2 hours of the Macy’s Day parade, which is my all time favorite thing to do on Thanksgiving. Seriously, I don’ t even care for most Thanksgiving foods, but the parade is always so magical.

We had Thanksgiving lunch at our Aunt’s house with about 14 people and about 24 dishes. I ate enough for me and three babies and made sure to ask each person if my now famous mashed potatoes were the best mashed potatoes they ever had….they were, and I’m sure no one was just humoring me, right guys?

pregnant
baby or a soccer ball?

zoey

I was so tired from all the staying up late, cooking, running/walking 5 miles, being pregnant, eating and forgetting the $65 worth of ice cream for everyone (woops!) that I passed out on the couch while everyone chatted around me.

exhausted

There were sooo many deer having their own feast right outside the window!
There were sooo many deer having their own feast right outside the window!

AND because no Thanksgiving is complete without multiple dinners we had supper at our friend’s house with another amazing prepared feast and about 20 more people. This Thanksgiving dinner is more friends than family and more food then 100 people could eat. After stuffing our faces one more time, we retired to the game room for a night of “Just Dance” on the Xbox…another honored Thanksgiving tradition.

just dance me the boys

We danced until midnight, and I have to say that watching Husband and his friends dance to synchronized choreography together while competing for the highest score is one of the most hilarious and enjoyable things we EVER ever do. I think these pictures speak for themselves.

woops, who is supposed to be hugging who here?
woops, who is supposed to be hugging who here?

pandd dance line

Now that Thanksgiving is officially over I am overwhelmed as I lie in bed and think about how so so lucky we are… If I’m being completely honest, the day was not perfect…I was more tired than I’ve been since my first trimester, I burnt things, forgot things, became highly annoyed with Husband for stupid reasons, felt guilty for being so irritable this time of year, missed my family in Texas and accidentally locked my cat out all night in the freezing weather. (Yes, I cried and I feel AWFUL.) However, now that the day is over and I realize how trivial my worries are I can fully appreciate that the good far outweighs the bad in my life… and I have more to be thankful for than I could ever imagine. Oh, and before I forget it’s also the start of Hanukkah! Yay for more celebrations!

hanukah

Hope each of you had a day to be thankful for and many more to come.

Cheers

Day of Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving!

I have yet to participate in the daily “this is what I’m thankful for” trend on Facebook… and I don’t want to start now. I AM so thankful for all the things I should be thankful for, but today I am thankful for the tradition of Thanksgiving in general. The history we teach of this holiday is a little screwy if you ask me… pilgrims and Indians are best friends? Having a yearly feast together? Yeah…I don’t buy it. However, I can appreciate what the holiday is now: a time to get together with friends and family, eat some of the greatest foods and be appreciative for the many many things we are fortunate enough to have and share.

This year is the first time in 5 years that we are spending Thanksgiving with our family in Nashville. I am cooking two dishes. That’s right, you read that last sentence correctly. I am very concerned that they will turn out burnt on the outside and raw in the middle (typical of my cooking), but that’s why I’m making two. I figure I’ll have better odds that way. AND, I am thankful I have a Husband who knows to cook and will swoop in at any moment to save me from a kitchen catastrophe. My favorite is when he politely suggests I just stay out of the kitchen for a little while. “Okay…if you insist.”

We are also running/walking the 5 mile Boulevard Bolt at 8am! It’s a family tradition to run this race every year, and it’s the best idea. Running 5 miles in the morning makes stuffing your face with carbs not feel so bad. I am still working on quick last-minute costumes for the family… time to bust out the glue gun! I am thankful that I will not feel obligated to run the whole race this year. I will walk/jog my big pregnant butt along and cheer on Husband as he swooshes passed.

Thank you, each of you, for taking the time to read my blog. I hope you all have a great day with whoever you consider family. Eat all your favorite foods, it doesn’t have to be turkey…I don’t even eat meat. And, take a minute to remember how very lucky you are.

Cheers!

Turkey Day in Texas

Spending Thanksgiving in Texas went as expected….lots of food, lots of family, and lots of new memories. My family is enormous. Every family occasion involves at least 40 people.

This is only my Mother’s side, and only half of us!

Having a giant family is fun because every event is like a giant party with way too much food. The downside is that there are so many of us its impossible to stay in touch with everyone. Most people I only see once a year (if that), and when I do see them I am trying to play catch up with everyone.

Turkey, ham, and homemade chicken and dumplings are all part of our Thanksgiving tradition.

Thank God for Facebook. I can at least stay half caught up by stalking everyone’s walls. With a family this big we have a new baby, new engagement, new divorce, or some other big occasion always happening.

Some beautiful cousins
The only way to have room for everyone is to eat in the garage!
Caught! ….and I was wondering how that dog was getting so chunky…

On Thanksgiving, for example, we were also celebrating my and my Mother’s Birthday, a cousin’s recent engagement was revealed, and my sister announced that she’s having a baby boy!

Yay!!!

Of course, all of this good news is accompanied with gossip, secrets, and a little bit of awkwardness, but what’s a family affair without an ounce of drama?

and a lasso contest

Let’s not forget the family games!

We aren’t the most athletic family, but we enjoy our volleyball tournaments.

Keep in touch Texas; I’ll be back in January!

Cheers!

Counting My Blessings

Happy Thanksgiving yall! AND, HAPPY HILARIE’S BIRTHDAY!!! Texas is treating me right, and I am just so so thankful to get to spend this time with my family and friends. So, while I’m on the topic, it’s time for a Top Ten post.

Hilarie’s Top Ten Things to be Thankful For This Thanksgiving:

-Our families. My parents pretty much rock. They weren’t perfect, but they managed to raise us to be practically perfect. (Insert my Mother’s sarcastic “Ha!” here.). Seriously though, I know they will love and support me no matter what, which means the world. My in-laws are just as awesome. Husband and I are VERY lucky. We both have great relationships with our in-laws, which I hear is rare, so for that, I am extremely thankful.

-Our friends. I don’t know how to explain how great our friends are….they’re just too good. I am so thankful to have friends who make me laugh, lift me up, understand and accept all of me (even the crazy parts), aren’t afraid to tell me when I’m making a mistake, and would never allow me to leave the house looking a fool.

-My job. It is not always easy or fun, but I enjoy being there. I adore my boss. I get to spend all day with adorable children, there’s a Starbucks across the street, and it’s only a ten minute walk from my apartment. Doesn’t get much better than that. Although, a raise couldn’t hurt….(wink).

-My freedom to get online write whatever I want and post it without fear of breaking a law…just a fear of being judged by my peers. Writing about my panic and anxiety issues has been the greatest therapy. I love being honest and expressing myself through here daily. So, thank all of you for accepting me as I am, and for actually reading about my daily adventures.

-The ability to travel. Traveling is by far my most favorite thing to do. Through all my adventures I have learned to be more accepting, compassionate, and patient with everyone. I not only appreciate what other cultures have to offer, but have an even greater appreciation for my own culture. Seeing so many corners of the world has taught me a great deal about myself, and keeps me inspired to keep traveling and learning.

-Makeup. As superficial as this is, I am SO thankful to be able to cover any zits, red spots, or dark circles I may have in the morning. If I ever fail to apply eye makeup I am always asked “Do you feel well?” or “Are you exhausted?”…it never fails, which proves how necessary my makeup is. So thank you makeup, and Sephora.

-Coffee. Without you mornings would be miserable, my afternoon breaks would be lonely, and my barista would certainly miss making my soy iced lattes.

-The dogs of NYC (Belle included). My favorite part of our early morning Central Park walks are loving on the hundreds of other pooches enjoying the off-leash hours. New York is very dog friendly. It’s so fun to see dogs shopping at Bergdorf Goodmans, walking down 5th Avenue, and eating at The Barking Dog Luncheon.

-Tex Mex food. If I didn’t have tacos, beans and rice, and salsa to eat, I’d starve. Gracias!

-Husband. Everyday I am more and more thankful to have him in my laugh. I don’t know how I survived life without him. He keeps me calm, makes me life, and is always challenging me to keep my on my toes. Thank you Husband for cooking when I’m hungry, putting on Gilmore Girls when I’m sick, playing on your cell phone when I’m shopping, and for pointing out all my grammatical errors when I write. You’re the best.

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Hilarie’s Birthday to all of you! Count your blessings!

Cheers!