Turkey Day!

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What a FUN week we had for Thanksgiving! (yes, I mean LAST November)

For years in college (and beyond), I’d end up wherever my sister was in the world for a Twin+Friendsgiving, and often that meant me, Shawn, Frank (her husband) and Greg (a close friend from college) were in the same city. Greg and I were like adopted children for my sister. I think she’d 100% agree with that statement.

Every year we’d make a traditional Southern dinner for a local crowd – with a HoneyBaked Ham that we’d put a birthday candle in since Greg’s birthday fell on/around/near Thanksgiving. Years later, when we all ended up with families of our own, I’d often be with Shawn & Frank, and we’d STILL get a HoneyBaked Ham and put a candle in it, then send a picture to Greg.

One year in Denver, CO for our Thanksgiving traditional event, we all went skiing and left their two dogs (a black lab + similar sized one) in the house because it was super cold out. What could possibly go wrong?

We had ironically watched Four Rooms the night before, which, if you haven’t watched it, includes a scene where Antonio Banderas leaves his very naughty kids in a hotel room and returns to the room on fire (among other things). In the middle of the flames, Antonio’s character returns to the room to ask “Did they misbehave?” There’s a VERY NSFW clip here (skip to 1 min 35 secs if you just want to see Antonio).

Flash forward to our crew returning from a day of skiing to two dogs who had gotten into the Advent chocolate that was in the center of the table (how DID they do that?) and paper all over the floor. Some of those scraps of paper came from a chewed version of Frank’s bound graduate thesis… They DID misbehave (and no dogs were harmed in the making of this story, thank goodness).

Right about now you’re wondering what this has to do with Thanksgiving. Well, flash SUPER forward to 2019, when we haven’t seen Greg in person for over 8 years (we’ve never met his 8-year-old son…). The stars aligned, and we all ended up together at our house to celebrate Greg’s 50th birthday, since what he wanted to do was take his kids to Universal Studios Hollywood, which is very close to us.

We didn’t skip a beat. Greg’s wife, Alicia, is wonderful, and their kids + our kids was a terrific matchup! We had an action-packed 5 days, including a Southern Thanksgiving dinner with a HoneyBaked Ham and a candle for Greg. It was awesome.

Greg’s a volcanologist, so we started off the trip with a scavenger hunt Zoe made that included 10 clues, each with question about volcanoes he had to answer to get to the next one (for the record he scored 100%). The search ended with a copy of As You Wish, a book about the making of The Princess Bride written by Westley, er, Cary Elwes. See? Like no time had passed.

Below are more adventures (there were lots) from our 5 days together.

50TH BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION

Ella made Greg a lovely “volcanologist birthday card” (that’s a goatee) and the kids all together made a pull-apart cupcake volcano cake. Amazing. On Thanksgiving Day we basically ate nonstop, including delicious sausage balls Alicia made. Yum.

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CALIFORNIA SCIENCE CENTER 

We went to see the Endeavor space shuttle (up top is the kid selfie Zoe took to document) and watched a 3D movie about the wildlife right in your own backyard.

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MICELI’S RESTAURANT

We took Greg to the place Zoe loves to celebrate hers – with singing waiters!

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MACLEOD’S BREWERY

We hung out on Saturday afternoon here for pizza and darts (oh, and beer – or for me, smuggled in wine – shhhhh). Yes, the kids had fun, too.

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LA ZOO LIGHTS

Every year we love going to the zoo during Zoo Lights, where they decorate the whole zoo in lights (see? zoo. lights.), including a Twinkle Tunnel and more! Check out the amazing dance show the kids performed “just for us” at the end. And those iguanas are hugging. Or mating. Depends on which kid you ask.

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(CLICK FOR VIDEO)

UNIVERSAL STUDIOS

Ella and I sat this one out. She can’t ride most of the rides, and we took this opportunity to get a Christmas tree… seemed like a great idea at the time. Looking back, I’m not so sure. Ella picked a gorgeous 8-foot tree, which the tree farm quickly and easily put on top of the minivan. Starting to see the problem?

PICTURE THIS: Me, proudly and carefully cutting the twine and sliding an 8-foot tree to the ground. [insert manly “GRRRR!”]

Then Me (with a 5-year-old), figuring out that I cannot carry it alone. Oh, me again, deciding to give that tree a piggy back ride across our front lawn, awkwardly, as it has a large metal stand attached. Then Me, equally awkwardly trying to get the tree into the house, realizing it’s too tall to get through the doorway easily (and the stand is too wide not to have to adjust for that at the bottom, simultaneously).

Yep, Me again shedding tree needles all over the entryway (and almost breaking our 50s original came-with-the-house ceiling light) as I realize I cannot get the tree across our hardwood floors without help – and that a 5-year-old is zero help. And so finally, Me exhausted, deciding that that tree would sit in the entryway until the “big strong men” got home (the lazy, not incompetent, excuse – I DID get that tree in the house).

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The same Me took a cute little kid to Target and let her linger in the toy aisle (which we never do), feeling guilty that she was missing Universal (which she didn’t even care about). We came home with a Pictionary Air game, with which Ella drew this:

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I call it, “JOY“.

Speaking of Joy, while I didn’t live the Universal experience, I hear fun was had by all, and here’s one picture to prove it:

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PHEW, that was a long (but fun) one! Let’s just end with this: there’s a strong chance we’ll find a way to rekindle “Greg-giving” with new traditions. Stay tuned.

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