Happy happy happy! I loved Thanksgiving this year, even with a few challenges. Great new recipes, and lots of great family time. Even a new tradition with the kids.

The challenge came from our trip to see the Macy’s balloons inflated. We skipped last year because of an impending ice storm, and I thought we’d actually gone the year before. We didn’t, I have no idea why. So Hannah’s had one trip, as a wee little baby. And maybe I’m remembering the challenges that kept us away after the fact. The crowds, the trip into the city on the busiest travel day, having the stroller.

This year we opted to skip the stroller after some protests from Hannah because she is a Big Girl. This worked for our trip in on the train, and on the subway.

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It even worked outside the natural history museum, and for the first wonderful stretch of balloons.

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But then the tireds kicked in, and so did the crowds. They’ve changed the way they do the balloon lines a bit in the 3 years since we’ve been, and I ended up carrying this munchkin all over the Upper West Side. I was tired, she was tired. The visit took longer than I’d planned, which meant we hit major rush hour on the subways and train home. We were squished in like sardines, but all things considered she was completely amazing. She was pooped by the end, and completely unglued when she lost her special red balloon (which she refused to let me tie to her).

But we had lots of talk about donuts, almost all the way back to New Jersey, and she kept it together like a champ. Mommy needed a lot of wine and a hot bath when we got home, and at the time I swore off ever going again. But this is one of my absolute favorite traditions from my own childhood, so I have a feeling we’ll be back. When we are definitely ready for a lot of crowds and walking without a stroller, because having the stroller on mass transit would’ve been a pain, and so would driving in the traffic. I think she needs to get a bit sturdier.

But it wasn’t all bad, not by a mile.

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And we did some balloon spotting this morning during the parade. Our friend Dan was one of the handlers for this lovely lady:

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So we had a fun time watching her head downtown on TV.

And then Thanksgiving Day came, and I was surprisingly unprepared. After last night we slept in, I sort of moseyed around getting food ready. But everything got made, we feasted, it was great. My appetizer game was on point this year.

Macaroni and cheese bites:

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Nachos with butternut squash and Brussels sprouts:

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And then turkey, potatoes, stuffing. Pies from Delicious Orchards, courtesy of my brother and co. Rolls and cranberry sauce from my mom. More Brussels sprouts, with bacon:

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I’ll post some recipes later, but it was pretty delicious.

The best part was really just spending the day together. Letting everyone help me cook–I’ve evolved past my kitchen dictator phase, help is grand. Watching the kids play, hearing football on TV. It was just wonderful.

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Right before our Halloween party, we had the backyard fenced in. We’ve been meaning to do this forever, and now it’s finally done. And it turned out to be such a great thing for family gatherings like this one. Because when the kids had had enough of sitting still at the table, we let them run around in the yard safely while we finished up.

And then we joined them when Hannah came to the back door and commanded, “Daddy! Nana! Bobby! Come on!” That’s Uncle Bobby, and Hannah and I are the last two people left on earth who don’t call him Rob. I’m passing on my stubborn habits.

We went outside and had impromptu races, and an impromptu dance party.

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IMG_3143It was just great. New traditions. And lots of fun. And a preschooler who was out cold for the night within half an hour of everyone going home.

I’ll deal with the rest of the dishes tomorrow.