Our Thanksgiving weekend is just about over and soon we will be back to the normalcy of another work week.  Going back to work, however, seems much more manageable, and even a little welcomed, as it's only a few short weeks until another, even longer break to celebrate family, and friends, good food, and lots and lots of simple pleasures of home.  

It's one of the perks of being a teacher.  While I do love my job, there's always a break to look forward to.  And Thanksgiving Break is a mere prequel to the longer break of Christmas.  An opportunity for hibernation, restoration, and renewing.
And if our prequel is any preview of the show that follows, I'll buy a ticket and stand in line even longer than the line at Old Navy on Black Friday.  Because just as my (two) $29 coats were totally worth the hour and a half line at midnight last Friday, time with the family during the holidays is worth the wait.  The holidays have this wonderful way of adding a glimmer to the normal, a spark to the ordinary. 

All weekend long, I watched Cruz, tried to soak in his reactions to all the holiday fun, and thought about how much he has changed in a year.  Last year's Thanksgiving break was a vivid one for me.  It was our first holiday with a baby, just a month into parenthood, and all was new, exciting, and a little scary.  And now, just a year later, life has changed so much, yet, we still slipped into many of the same traditions as last year.  There was a fragility to last year, a newness, and preciousness to everything---we over-packed diaper bags, worried about disrupting new routines and full night's sleeps, and watched the Holiday Hoopla from the window of Soho for fear that our newborn baby would get too cold in the crisp November air.  This year, we completed the same tasks with ease, comfort, and contentment.  We savored this fun stage Cruz is in, and tried to introduce him to the traditions we love.  Of course, everything had this sticky 'toddler' feel to it, from the french toast we made Thanksgiving morning, to the heirloom ornaments that hang slightly crooked this year.  The time-stamp of the holidays is a perfect time to see the change that occurs when you raise kids.  Because just like last year, next year will be different, with many of the same traditions handled and treated in a whole new way.  

Our Thanksgiving was filled with all the fixins'---good food and family, lots of laughter, and the makings of our gingerbread house.  I took lots of pictures to document our vacation, and will let them do the talking.  

...there was a slow-moving Thanksgiving morning at home, complete with fluffy french toast, fresh berries, and lots and lots of bacon.  Cruz may not have chowed down on the Thanksgiving spread as I had hoped for, but he went to town on his breakfast.  It's true his brown eyes are from his mama, but his love of bacon is an inherited trait from his daddy!

...there was a Thanksgiving Eve tradition of a night out to eat, this year with tacos and fresh guac at Rudys.  Cruz caused quite a stir with his new fur bomber hat, and flirted with the lady in the booth next to us.  We introduced him to the frightening marionette puppets, and let him devour his very own cheese quesadilla.   

...there was a sleepy Cruz and the first Scrabble game in about a year.  Beau and I went all out.  We poured wine and bought fancy goat cheese and crackers.  And while Beau usually takes the lead in a good game of Scrabble, my blogging habit may have helped me in the words department---I walked away with two wins, Beau, none.

...there were many Thanksgiving preparations, including - handmade, hand-print turkeys from daycare, cute pilgrim hat cookies, and two pans of sweet potato casserole.  There was a clean kitchen that only lasted until the next mealtime, garland on the porch, and a new string of snowflake lights on the Christmas tree.

...there was above average temps. for Thanksgiving, a possible record breaking day of mid-sixties, long sleeves, and no coats.  We even had some time to play outside and give Cruz some experience walking through still-green grass.

...there was yummy food at Grandmas...

...and more yummy food at Gabe and Gina's,
...and the arrival of Santa from a helicopter in the sky at the Holiday Hoopla Friday night.  I think every little in the Cedar Valley was there to march down Main Street with Santa Claus.  Cruz was a little leery of the helicopter and fireworks show, and was pretty stone-faced through the festivities.  This year, Jill and Rob decided to join in on the Hoopla fun, and we met Chris, Windee, and the kiddos at our usual Hoopla destination, Soho, for some sushi and a pre-Hoopla cup of cheer (martini).  Although I was a little tired from my Black Friday shopping just ten hours before, we had fun strolling the streets and watching the fireworks light up the sky and the spirits of hundreds.  

I just love our Main Street during the holidays...

...There was a storybook Saturday of decorating our house and trimming our tree.  While we did discover that our first fire in the fireplace brought a little more stress than last year, we think Cruz understands the word, 'hot,' now, and while fascinated with all things pyro, he decided to stay away from it for the most part.  The ornaments and tree branches is another story!  Cruz's best moment during decorating, however, came when he decided it was really cool to stand on top of the Rubbermaid box that held the ornaments.  It made him tall enough to reach the end table, thus, tall enough to pull over the lamp, another little Christmas tree, and a glass candle.  Luckily, we survived our night without an accident, and were able to find some peaceful moments within our chaos!

Don't call Child Services, yet, it's childproofed ;)

What else goes in our time capsule for Thanksgiving 2011? about a warm bowl of wild rice soup, soup that even our Cruzer can't refuse.

...chicken wing dip on a Sunday afternoon, and a near Bears win with Jay Cutler on the sidelines.

...a new sermon series at church called, 'The Coming,' and an interrupted prayer to learn that Cruz had fallen off a Little Tikes picnic table in the children's ministry nursery.  

...a funny trip to Beau's office, aka, an amusement park for Cruz.  Who needs a pass to the Waterloo Youth Pavilion when you have desk chairs to spin in circles, Culligan water dispensers to drink from, and an endless supply of keyboards to work on. Christmas music, including an old friend, Jack Johnson's, 'Someday at Christmas.'  

...flannel sheets on the bed,

...a filled advent calendar patiently awaiting December 1st,

...and lots of kisses from my little turkey.  

Lots and lots to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.  As my stomach has settled after the heaping platefuls of delicious food, my heart continues to be stuffed with the good stuff.

Happy Monday.