An Ode to Thanksgivings Past and Present

IMG_4575We had the loveliest Thanksgiving this year with sweet friends. It was so wonderfully low-key: two couples, two babies, and an awful lot of laughter. I brought two pies and whipped cream, and Eric made us American Trilogies. I gave mine a hearty douse of Martinelli’s because I am a lightweight, and it turned out to be delicious. Huzzah!

IMG_4566Jason made the turkey, and Carmen made stuffing, brussels sprouts, and the most addictive sweet potato casserole I have ever tasted (no marshmallows, just tons of nuts and sugar!)

IMG_4570It was so much fun to watch our sweet boys play together (entirely peaceably!) We ate in shifts and shared with Micah. He was a huge fan of everything, but most especially the stuffing.

IMG_4577Carmen and Jason have been friends with Eric since freshman year in college, long before my entry onto the scene, and I am so happy they live so close to us. They are five-star human beings, those two (three!) We took this picture with the timer on my iPhone, and, well, you can see four of six people’s faces, which is slightly more than half, except that the two missing faces are cuter than the other four of us combined.

IMG_4563I love this picture.

IMG_4550This is what our adorable baby looked like this year.

IMG_5143And this was last year (2014), at 3 months, wearing his uncle’s dressy outfit. Let’s go further down Thanksgiving memory lane!

IMG_4885-001The year before that (2013), I was 5 weeks pregnant, and as soon as we arrived at Hillary’s house, Maggie and Rosie ran out to the car and said, “We invited your baby to Thanksgiving!!” It was the sweetest thing ever.

IMG_2486The year before that (2012), Eric and I had a little Thanksgiving at home, just the two of us. Eric made quail. And I made this crazy pie!

Fall 2011 907The year before that (2011), we were newlyweds. Eric made Cornish game hens with lavender (so good!), and I appear to have made a cranberry apple crisp.

Fall 2010 337The year before that (2010), we were engaged and spent Thanksgiving with my whole family at Sea Ranch, in a house that backed up to a rotating sheep pen. It was awesome.

Thanksgiving 2009 016The year before that (2009), we were also at Sea Ranch with my family. Awesome again. Or rather, awesome for the first time.

November 2008 020The year before that (2008), we both stayed in Berkeley and hosted Thanksgiving together for our friends at my apartment. I made this crazy pumpkin stew in a pumpkin thing that required three days of work and is still a running joke. My exhaustion is evidenced by my shirt being on inside out!

November 2008 040It was our first Thanksgiving together, and we were still celebrating every month anniversary of dating. Sweet kids. Seven Thanksgivings later…I’d like to say we love each other just as much…but the truth is that we love each other even more.

What to Do When Your Mom is Both Angel and Saint

IMG_4257I believe my mom’s unsurpassable awesomeness has been well-documented here, and thus the reader can imagine what euphoria came over me when she mentioned a few months ago that she ought to come out and see me. And help me with the baby. What?! I love my precious child as boundlessly as the universe is expanding, but sometimes it is difficult not having family in town. But this visit was a double gift–not only would she come and Mary Poppins her way through our apartment and daily routines, but she would also fill them with wit and laughter. She can’t help it. She’s just contagiously fun.

AND she offered to keep the baby so Eric and I could go on a little getaway to Palm Springs! Our first one since before he was born. But first she spent a few days here with us. I wish I had taken more pictures, but sometimes it is difficult to wrangle a camera and an inquisitive toddler. I am just happy I have the ones I do.

IMG_4253This one captures the most important element of the trip: drinking coffee together while gazing adoringly at our sweet boy. (John Deere shirt courtesy of his grandparents!)

IMG_4240We went to all the thrift stores. Of course.

IMG_4277We went exploring at the San Gabriel Mission and Historic District. We cooked, we cleaned, we drank cocktails and ate enormous pastries. And we talked about everything under the sun.

IMG_4297-001And then it was time for Mommy and Daddy to hit the road so Mimi and Micah could party it up on their own. Did we worry? Not one tiny bit. Did they have a raucous good time? Yes, yes, they did!

IMG_4284When we came home, we learned that not only had my mom taken care of Micah, but she had swept and mopped our kitchen floor. And she had taken out our stovetop rings and scrubbed them. And she had scoured our sink. And she had taken Micah to TJ Maxx to get a linen basket for his train set, which was previously residing in an Amazon box on the living room floor. And she had loaded the baby up in the car and taken him to a park I’ve never even been to. And Eric and I had been away for only a little more than 24 hours. Do you see what I mean about both angel and saint?

IMG_4272The thing about my mom is that she is the most can-do person I have ever met in my life. She is endlessly giving, incomparably generous, and always willing to do just about any kindness for just about anyone. And she will also make you laugh while doing it. Do you have some annoying thing in your life that you have never even dared to consider solvable? She will roll up her sleeves and get right to it. Can’t get the baby to nap? No problem. Can’t figure out how to get your towels to stop smelling? She’s on it. Can’t keep your shoddy Ikea furniture from falling apart? She will fix it. Or buy you a new one. Before she came, I actually told her, “Mom, be on the lookout for things that can be made better, either in our apartment or in our routine.” Sometimes we assume that our little niggling annoyances can’t be overcome, but my mom? She will find a way to overcome them. It’s amazing (and horrifying!) the things we don’t really see because we see them every day. And it’s amazing and wonderful what a fresh eye and a helping hand can accomplish in just a few short days.

IMG_4283What did she do while she was here? Helped me find a Kindermusik class for Micah. Looked up YouTube videos about how to unclog my drain. Tried to do it herself with my Walgreens screwdriver (sorry, mom). Helped me figure out how to better ventilate the bathroom. Folded laundry, washed dishes, changed diapers, sang songs, chopped vegetables. All while playing with the baby. I DID NOT KNOW THIS WAS POSSIBLE. That probably sounds a little ridiculous, but there were so many things I wouldn’t have attempted to do while Micah was awake that are actually so very do-able. Now I feel so much more productive during the days when we are at home, and our home is so much nicer! It has been revelatory. Just revelatory.

IMG_4280What have I done since my mom was here? Taken apart the tub and sink drains to unclog them. Washed all our towels in vinegar (and then in detergent). Dusted the baby’s room and sorted his clothes, putting the ones that are too small (sob!) in storage. Deep cleaned the bathrooms and soaked the faucets in vinegar to remove the lime scale. Researched a bunch of toddler Montessori activities I can do with Micah. Established a family cleaning night (Tuesday!) And I am totally going to re-caulk our tub this weekend.

None of this is really about cleaning, though, or baby activities. It’s about recognizing that if something is bothering me, I can fix it. It’s about discovering the exhilarating and empowering endorphins of constantly accomplishing little things that add up to so much more. It’s about laughing a little more, enjoying life a little bit more. And none of this would have happened without my mom. Who is both angel and saint. What can you say to such a person? Only thank you, and thank you, and thank you again.

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