Here is a recap of all the fun we had.
First, before anything else is said, I was in charge of the turkey and so I decided to try a salt brine. I was told to use Alton Brown's method from Food Network. It turned out amazing, and it really wasn't that difficult. I highly recommend it. I got a bucket at Home Depot for $2.89 and that is what I put it in. Next time you make a turkey, try it out, it made the gravy turn out AMAZING.
Madison helped out during the cooking process that day too, she made the rolls. Kathy had seen an idea on TV using Rhodes dough and putting them together to make a turkey with almond slivers as the tail and peppercorns as the eyes. They turned out so cute and she loved helping do something fun. They made fun place settings and you could eat them too! Doesn't get much better than that. They have a tone of fun ideas on their website for all the different holidays.
One of my favorite parts of the holiday season is being able to use my china. I love china and glassware and have ended up kinda/sorta unintentionally collecting it. I just love pretty things. I don't use it that often, especially with small kids, but any time we have a holiday meal I pull it out. It makes the day that much more special to me, and my dishwasher has a china setting so I don't have to hand wash them!
The big question on everyone's mind has to be, "Where were all the boys and what were they doing?" Watching some football for sure, that is a given, especially in this family. But mostly they pulled out Guitar Hero. Collin brought his Wii, along with all the attachments. The boys had way too much fun, but they entertained Madison pretty well. They even let her play a little bit. Later in the weekend they even started teaching her golf. It was really cute! She was obsessed with playing the drums, I think she is going to really get into music when I finally get around to putting her in lessons.
I love how any holiday of any sort has become a reason to shop, you know what I am talking about, "Come on down it's National Eat Pig Day, that means lowest prices of the year!" Are you kidding me??? Just because I think it's ridiculous doesn't mean I don't take advantage of any and all sales and Black Friday is a sacred day. We definitely got some shopping in. There are two guarantees when we see the Ainge's: one, somehow we will watch a sport of some kind, and two, we will shop. I love it! Two of my favorite things together in the same trip! We tried to hit up the Premier outlets downtown at Midnight Thurs night/Friday morning, but that did not work out too great. We spent 1/2 and hour just trying to get off the freeway and once we realized we would be waiting at least another hour and both parking garages were full, we left. It wasn't too bad though, there wasn't anything we HAD to have. We went there for a few hours on Saturday and got everything we wanted. It was fun. We definitely helped stimulate the economy on "Black Friday" and the following Saturday. We were able to get everything on our lists for the kids and plenty extra for us :) We always save up so we have some spending money for all the fun deals that weekend.
Since the family was coming in to town we waited to open Hunter's birthday presents. Like he would know that difference... It was fun watching him, he is much more interested in tearing the paper and opening the gifts than Madison was. It seemed like years before we could convince her to open more than one present. Hunter totally dug it! He loved finally getting some trucks and "boy toys" to play with. He usually ended up playing with Madison's princesses before his trucks "arrived."
During the week I had tons of great help, the best part was having someone to feed the kids while I cleaned up, put stuff away, or ate while my dinner was still warm. The simple things you miss when you have kids....Anyway, Hunter likes to play around once his belly starts getting full. One of his favorite tricks is biting the spoon and not letting it go. He just giggles and gets such a kick out of teasing us that way. I think he is going to be a practical joker when he gets older....Anything that gets a laugh becomes a common occurrence in his behavior. At least he is a happy child, right?
Everyone left us on Sunday, but Craig had to stay in LV for his yearly continuing education, so Kathy stayed with him. It was fun, they stayed at the MGM but hung out with us all day. She and Madison got to make their gingerbread house. They did this last year and Madison has been so excited to do it again. She gets to wear her apron and feel like an adult, she is so patient and exact when she puts it together, but I think her favorite part is sampling all the candy. You have to do that, right? Here she is with her finished product.
At the end of the week Craig and Kathy took Madison back to Utah with them for a fun-filled week. She had the best time talking to all the BYU kids that came over for family home evening, playing with Sophie at the ward Christmas party and while Kathy worked on Wednesday, and getting to help decorate for Christmas. It was fun for her to get one-on-one attention with her grandparents. I am a huge supporter of extended families and the importance of them in our kids lives, I love that they want to spend time with our kids separate from us. Plus, we love the break! I call my 2-4 weeks a year that our families take the kids my "paid vacation." This is my full time job after all!
Hope all of you had as much fun as we did! Thanksgiving and the 4th of July are my two favorite holidays, they are the only two that are not overly commercialized. They are all about spending time with family, visiting and eating and being thankful for all we are given. I am thankful for so much this past year, I feel so blessed to have a healthy, happy family and an amazing husband that does everything he can to make me happy. We are blessed enough to live in a country that has sacrificed so much to give us the unique opportunity to become whatever we dream of. I am so grateful for that, being a citizen of the United States of America is a blessing in itself, I still tear up every time I hear our National Anthem and love the reminder of the opportunities provided us.