Our First Thanksgiving


Today we hosted our first Thanksgiving as a family.

We have celebrated Thanksgiving together twice before this, but just at other family Fall in the Parklandmembers’ houses. In fact, I have never personally hosted a Thanksgiving.

We had a wedding on Saturday, out of town, so that threw off general Thanksgiving plans this year and we weren’t quite sure what we were going to do. Within the past couple of weeks wedecided, Hell, why not – let’s host on Thanksgiving Monday.

This is noteworthy not only because I’ve never hosted a Thanksgiving and because we haven’t yet hosted one as a family, but also because our families haven’t met (!). Justan’s mom couldn’t make it as she has moved out of province, but both my parents and Andi’s parents decided they would come – to our surprise. My dad hasn’t even been to this house since Justan and I moved in months ago and we weren’t sure if Andi’s parents would feel comfortable coming to meet the whole crowd.

A fall storm blows inWell, I’m happy to report it was a raging success! There was a small turkey fiasco (the roaster mysteriously shut off halfway through cooking), but Andi averted that crisis with the help of the barbecue. We all pitched in as a team with Andi and I each cooking about half of the meal (though I must say it’s worth noting that Andi rocked the turkey and stuffing), and Justan doing tons of cleaning and other prep.

All in all we served 16 people, including all eight of us from our family, Andi’s parents, my parents, and Andi’s cousin and her kids and au pair. We had turkey, stuffing, two kinds of potatoes, three kinds of salad, yams, buns, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, pie, cheesecake, coffee, ice cream and of course lots of wine.

Our dads and Andi’s cousin even talked politics and were amiable about it.

Now all our families have met except Justan’s mom & brother and Andi’s parents!

We are pretty proud and thankful tonight. That is a huge load of stress off of us. And yes, it was all delicious.

It's tough to get even a half-decent photo of this crew, but you get the idea.

It’s tough to get even a half-decent photo of this crew, but you get the idea.


Winter Festival and Dressember Day #10

Early this morning, at 7 am, my alarm rang to tell me it was time to wake up Charlotte, Neko’s friend who had slept over last night for Neko’s birthday party, to take her outside to see the lunar eclipse. I went outside to see if it was even visible, and on seeing that it was, wondered to myself what to do. If I woke up Charlotte, would it wake Neko? Would she be really overtired then? If Neko didn’t wake up, what would Charlotte do until she did? In the end I fell asleep for a bit, then woke up at 7:45 and when I went back outside to see if the eclipse was still visible, Charlotte woke up and came out to see. I’ve been a zombie today, though I guess it was cool to see the eclipse (I hate to sound like a brat… but I’ve seen about four now… and I wouldn’t normally get up at 7 am to see one).

After Charlotte had gone home, we drove up to my parents’ place in my hometown. There was a winter festival happening tonight in my hometown, and I’ve always wanted to take Neko to it. This is the first year it’s worked out. First, we had cake and gifts at my parents’ house, as it’s our niece’s birthday today.

The festival had a hay ride, craft sale, free hot dogs and hot chocolate, skating, and Santa. The local shops were also open late. I ran into a few people I knew, which was neat (a couple of them I hadn’t seen since high school).

Neko finally got to see Santa and tell him what’s on her wish list!

I wore one of my favourite winter dresses, an organic cotton piece from a Vancouver designer. With tights and long wool underwear, a hat and mitts, and my Keen boots, I stayed warm outside for quite a while! Though, it’s also only about freezing, so quite warm.

Dress: Two of Hearts // Coat: Bench // Long underwear: Hocosa // Boots: Keen // Mug: Contiga

My parents have a lovely woodstove so afterward we took to the loft and watched the Doomsday Marathon on National Geographic. (And ate oranges.)

Neko’s “Fake Birthday” and Dressember Day #9

All day today, Neko told everyone it was her birthday… her “fake birthday.” In reality, today was the day of her birthday party, which I’d be willing to bet is more like her birthday to her, than is the day of the anniversary of her birth. Ah, well. We started off with a “Chickadee Party” with Outdoors In, a local organization that teaches classes about nature and animals. Judy, the instructor, offers a lot of neat classes on seasons, survival, habitats, adaptation and so on to homeschooled kids, and given that Neko is really into nature and science, we go to a lot of these. Today’s class was on birds and different animals and how some adapt, some hibernate and some migrate during winter.

“Mice” hiding under the “snow.”

A mouse emerging from the melting snow in the spring.

The idea was that this was the “Christmas party” to end off the fall sessions of Outdoors In, so we ended with cookies and hot chocolate.

Here was today’s dress:

Dress: vintage store in Vancouver (gift) // Long underwear: Hocosa // Shirt: Old Navy

The evening was Neko’s birthday party. Neko turns six later this month, but given the proximity to Christmas, we try to have her party early. This year marks her first sleepover! We started off with Make-Your-Own-Sandwiches. The girls could choose toasted or untoasted; mayo, mustard or roasted red pepper hummus; ham or chicken; spinach, sprouts, tomatoes, pickles, onions, avocado or red pepper; herbed havarti, cheddar or emmental.

My chicken/hummus/pickle/tomato/sprout/avocado/red pepper/onion/havarti sandwich was EPIC.

Next, we had Make-Your-Own-Sundaes, featuring chocolate marshmallow swirl ice cream (Neko’s choice, but sickeningly sweet) with blueberry sauce, strawberry sauce, chocolate chips, cookie dough, coconut, cinnamon, maraschino cherries, pecans and cashews.

I made a photo treasure hunt, as most of the girls in attendance are just learning to read. This went over like gangbusters.

Going to the basement to find the treasure. Yes, I know how creepy our stairs look.

The treasure was Crazy Carpets! I couldn’t have guessed how well these would go over!!

I somehow managed to not take a photo of all of them playing Just Dance 3, which was the highlight of the night, and so cute and funny to watch. This was Neko’s early birthday gift. Two of the girls went home around 9 pm, while Charlotte stayed to sleep over. While Neko and Charlotte stayed up to read/look at books until 10:30 pm, once we turned out the lights, they were asleep in minutes.

Now, Charlotte has requested I wake her at 7 am to witness the lunar eclipse. That is about two hours earlier than I’m apt to wake up/come alive, so I’m not sure how the morning will look. I’m quite sure, though, that it won’t be pretty.

Dressember Day #3: 3 Parties in 1 Day

What a way to kick off the month of December: three parties in one day! Justan’s union had a kids’ Christmas party, then Neko had a birthday party to go to, then we had my friend Ulrike’s annual potluck Christmas party. Luckily, the timing worked out so we could make it to all three.

Here is what I chose:

Dress: Chado (yeah… ridiculously short) via a clothing swap // Sweater: American Eagle via a clothing swap // Tights: Two pairs, Joe Fresh

There’s Neko with me, in her “Christmas dress.” She got it as a hand-me-down and has been dying to wear it – it’s supposed to be her dress for Christmas day, but given that we have three parties today, we figured she could wear it today, also.

There was a snowstorm tonight, and I have my long wool underwear in tow in case I break down on the side of the road (safety!).

On a short unschooling note, the theme of the day seemed to be motor skills – gross and fine. Party #1 was at a play centre with arcade and carnival type games, things like skee ball, whack-a-mole, that sort of thing, so Neko got lots of practice with motor skills there. Then bowling at the birthday party. Then, at the second Christmas party, we played a German board game (old favourite!) called Spitz Pass Auf, where most of the players hold coloured pieces on strings, then the main person rolls a dice with colours on it, and if one of two colours is rolled, the roller brings a cup down on the pieces, while everyone else tries to pull their pieces out first. It’s tense and fast-paced. Neko played as a puller and did really well.

As an embarrassing addition…

This is the most ridiculous photo ever. Neko LOVES Ulrike’s westie, Snoopy, obviously. And how drunk do I look? Ouch.