Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Thanksgiving this year was a lot of fun because our family got to play host for the very first time. Marcus's mother, two sisters, and brother-in-law Josh all came here to Gainesville to spend Thanksgiving with us. At the last minute, Marcus brother, Mike, and his family also decided to drive up and join us for the day. I was excited and slightly anxious about cooking so many different dishes for 10 people in my tiny kitchen, but everyone pitched in and helped and it went as smoothly as I'd hoped. We had turkey, stuffing, sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn on the cob, green bean casserole and crescent rolls, with pumpkin pie, strawberry cheesecake, and Aunt Traci's specialty, grasshopper pie, for dessert. Marcus insisted at the last second on rearranging the furniture so all 10 of us could sit at the table (that is designed for 4 people), which provided me with a little unnecessary stress. Regardless, we were eventually seated and had a wonderful meal together. Marcus tried to make everyone say 10
original things that they were thankful for this year, but a family protest brought him down to five, and everyone participated in the little tradition. That night we played poker and spoons and laughed quite a bit for an excellent conclusion to our first Thanksgiving in our own home :).

The day after Thanksgiving, we did a little shopping, though I didn't buy anything. I have never been shopping on Black Friday before, and I don't plan to do it again anytime in the future. It was a little frightening to see our little mall so transformed into a swarm of greedy, hurried people. Some stores were so full that I couldn't even get the stroller in the door, and the check-out lines were atrocious. That night after Marcus got off work, we drove the three hours to Marc's brother's house in Melbourne Beach and spent another day with family there. Caleb had a lot of fun running around Mike & Gigi's huge house with his cousin Chase, and then later on a bike ride to the park with his dad. By the time we got home late Saturday night, I was exhausted from over a week of traveling, cleaning, cooking, and traveling some more, but I didn't regret any of it :).

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Trip to Ohio

From November 16-20, Caleb and I took advantage of some saved-up Delta Skymiles and flew up to visit my extended family in southern Ohio. Two of my mother's sisters own adjacent farms and five of my cousins live there or nearby. I had not seen these members of my family since our wedding five years ago, so it was a lot of fun for me to catch up with everyone and show off Caleb. I even got to spend a couple of hours chatting with my best friend from college, Alli Herren, who lives about an hour away from the farm. Caleb loved the farm animals! He added to his life experiences the following: hand-feeding granola bars to goats, having a very young calf suck on his hand, petting an unusually passive chicken, chasing a pet rabbit, and watching the daily antics of the four horses, six dogs and twelve cats. He also saw snow for the first time (though it didn't stick) and experienced temperatures in the 30's. He wasn't too crazy about the idea of wearing a coat either...apparantly he found it to be too bulky and hard to move in.

To add to Caleb's fun, my cousin's teenage sons were at the farm that weekend with two of their friends. Those four boys went four-wheeling, drove the tractor, played paintball at dusk, and built a huge bonfire and roasted smores. Caleb watched the"big boys" out the window with wide-eyed wonder, and he was ecstatic whenever they came in and played chase with him. All-in-all, it was one of the most fun weekends Caleb and I have had together. Everyone was comfortable and happy the whole time, and of course it warmed my mother-heart so much to have so much attention and love poured on my sweet little boy.

Saturday, November 3, 2007


Caleb was a lion this year for Halloween. Unlike the monkey costume that he barely tolerated last year, he loved this year's lion costume. Every time I got it out or he saw it in the closet, he would point and growl with a big smile on his face.

We went to three costume-clad gatherings on Halloween this year: First, at 10 am, we went to a local place called O2B Kids where one of my friends is a member, so we were able to get in and participate in their baby class and Halloween party for free. Caleb enjoyed the puppet show and singing, as well as playing in the large play area. I didn't let him have any candy at the party because it was just before his nap, but he found the other costumed kids to be pretty fascinating.

The second place we went for Halloween is a local extravaganza called "Boo at the Zoo". The local teaching zoo goes all out, decorating the entire walkway through the zoo with Halloween paraphernalia and college students dressed up as everything from zombies to Disney princesses. Caleb was actually more interested in the real animals in their habitats than all the Halloween stuff, but I was very impressed with how much work goes into this community production each year. Caleb was also fascinated with the five M&M's I gave him during "Boo at the Zoo" (which ended up being the sum total of his Halloween indulgences, since the next party was at bedtime).

Our final Halloween party was our church-sponsored "Trunk or Treat." Apparently this is a popular and rather common church endeavor during Halloween, but I'd never heard of it until this year. Church members park their highly-decorated cars in the parking lot in an enclosed rectangle. Then they plant themselves behind their cars and pass out candy to young tricker-treaters. This set-up is especially attractive to parents of toddlers because walking from car-to-car is much easier than walking from house to house; plus there are no streets involved and toddlers can roam freely from one side of the enclosure to the other. Even though it took place from 7-8 pm and was therefore past his bedtime, Caleb loved seeing all of his friends and their parents in costume. Though he would never say anything close to "Trick or Treat", he thoroughly enjoyed selecting candy from each hand-out basket and placing it decorously into his plastic pumpkin. It never occurred to him to inquire after that candy after Halloween, and Mommy and Daddy have been indulging themselves for the past few days. I'm sure we will not be so lucky next year :).