A Thanksgiving to remember
Like I've said before, the holidays is what we missed most while being away. Especially Thanksgiving. It was a different kind of fun and memorable when we celebrated it in NZ, sharing our traditions with friends and laughing about our $90 turkey. But my heart ached to be in a kitchen filled with family, the whir of beaters, the ding of timers,the clanking of spoons, the flour spread all over the counter, sneaking bites, sharing recipes and inhaling the smells and sounds of it all. The meal itself isn't what I look forward to the most, it's everything that surrounds it. When we visited family this summer I casually threw out the invite that everyone should come down for the holiday. I didn't realize we would end up with a house full of 32 people for almost a week. My parents and 8 out of the 10 siblings and their families all came down, it was quite the party (although we missed Jenz, Tyler and their families something fierce!)! I had moments of panic and anxiety about how we would feed, entertain and even fit that many people, but it ended up being one of the best Thanksgivings ever and I loved every single crazy minute of it! Thankfully my brother's family lives down here too. I'm so glad I had her to help plan and carry out everything, along with taking on a few house guests too. We planned for pizza and football in the park one night. It made me so happy seeing all of the cousins playing together and we had the most incredible sunset to cap it all off.
My sister and I both love to cook and are both convinced our cinnamon rolls are the best, so we had a friendly little bake off. I don't think anyone minded being the judges. Not to toot my own horn, but these cinnamon rolls have yet to find a rival. Everyone came into town at different days and this was the first meal where we were all together. There was such a happy chaos in the kitchen that morning.
Black Friday ads. It just wouldn't be Thanksgiving without them.
And there was a little bit of this
And I love seeing all these girls grow up together. They are each so incredible and I love the special bond they've always had.
And then the big day came. All my fantasies of a kitchen filled with my favorite people came true.
I forgot to take a picture of the kids table, darn it!
We carried on the tradition we started in NZ where everyone writes down three things they're thankful for on a card then we draw them out and guess who it belongs to. There were some thoughtful ones and some funny ones, but the best was when we filled one out for my sister without her knowing. It started out with, "our upcoming trip to Guatemala, our new home and friends in El Paso" so that everyone would know who it was, and then we ended with "the new baby that we are expecting in May". You should have heard the squeals of excitement and my poor niece was crushed when she found out it wasn't true. I think my sister is quite content with the SIX kids she already has :).
As we waited for the boys to come back from playing basketball so that we could go black Friday shopping, Maddox had the great idea that we should attack the husbands with whipped cream when they came home. We all laughed about it, put him to bed then sat around wondering what to do. All of the sudden his idea seemed like the best idea ever. The problem was that with the aerosol cans we would have be up high so we could spray it down. We laughed that we should just climb on the roof. All of the sudden climbing on the roof and attacking the boys with whipped cream seemed like the best idea ever. And this right here is exactly what sisters were born for. The boys saw us the minute they pulled up and knew we were up to something. We only pegged one innocent 10 year old boy with a rogue spoonful of cool whip, but I haven't laughed that hard in a long time. Best idea ever.
And just when we thought we couldn't top our roof top night, we decided to play dare Jenga. We came up with this idea last year for New Years at the beach house. It was so much fun with the kids, but this adult version made me almost pee my pants. We came up with some pretty hilarious dares and the punishment for making the tower fall was a polar bear plunge in the pool. I was the first victim.
Jessica's dare was to switch clothes with the person to her right. Lucky Kevin, he was such a good sport!
Tyson's dare led to a spontaneous strip tease and table dance before his polar bear plunge. Something one should never have to see their brother do, I mean, there are some things you just can't un-see.
Jessica had to sniff out the smelliest feet...
Kevin had to give Mady a 2 minute hair do, we were quite impressed with the results. Think Deb from Napoleon Dynamite.
I don't even remember what was going on here...
This was by far the worst. One unlucky victim had to sit under a blanket that was being fumigated by a Jolley boy's infamous fart for one minute. It got so bad he could taste it.
These new brother-in-laws were such good sports, so glad we didn't scare them off!
In the end Jason decided the new brother in laws needed to be hazed into the Jolley family with a polar bear plunge, and all the boys decided to participate. I mean you can't be THAT guy that wusses out.
Kylie auditioned for her first ballet performance in the nutcracker. We were so excited when we found out that the performance was going to be the same weekend that everyone would be in town (although the downfall was that she was gone for rehearsals a lot of the time), so we made a big deal out of the night. All the girls got dressed up and went to dinner then enjoyed a fabulous production. Kylie did such an incredible job, it really brought tears to my eye to see my baby up there dancing so gracefully and flawlessly. I only wish they would have allowed video or photography so that I could remember every detail. So proud of her, and so glad she could be showered with so much love, praise and support from her grandma, aunts and cousins.
Now that is a LOT of Jolleys!
We had to stop by the grocery store on the way home (because with feeding a crowd this size we were always running out of food!) and it was cute seeing these girls having fun in the aisles. When we couldn't get a hold of the husbands on our way home, we all had a sinking feeling they were planning their revenge for our (failed) whipped cream attack. Sure enough, we came home to a black house with the power turned off and make shift ghosts scattered through out the house. We didn't know which dark corner they were hiding behind and I think my sweet sister in law just about had a heart attack! Touche boys, touche.
After church on Sunday we made a big brunch (2 pans of french toast bake, 2 dozen eggs, 2 packages of bacon, 3 packages of crescent rolls with jam, 2 packages of hashbrowns, 30 pancakes and it was all gone within 5 minutes!) before saying our good byes. We packed so much into their time here, I was completely exhausted by the end. I didn't want to cook another meal or wash another dish for another life time, and could easily have slept through the entire following week. But I was so grateful for the memories that were made. I sure love this wild, crazy, loud, huge and hysterically fun family of mine!