The Thanksgiving Haul

When Roy saw how many photos I was downloading from our trip, he said, "This is going to be the longest blogpost ever!"  You've been warned.

Since returning from the zoo today, Camden has learned to do his signature growl when asked, "What does the bear say?"
"What does the cow say?"
"What does the fox say?"

Apparently everything growls.  Including his bottomless stomach, which has been absolutely ruined by Thanksgiving.  After realizing how amazing food can be, he's suddenly become a picky eater.  So let's talk about Thanksgiving, shall we?

Backing up.  A week before the holiday Kirsten flew into town, bringing Oregon rain with her to our parched desert.  We're talking a two-day downpour!  Sorry you packed shorts for nothing, Kirsten.  But for the rest of us the drop in temperature, the water running down the streets, the perpetually dark and cloudy days… ah, they were an early Thanksgiving miracle.

Kirsten introducing her nephew to this wet stuff called rain.

Our haystacks got a little soggy, but it was a small price to pay.

Camden didn't warm up to his aunt immediately.  She stood across the room and FaceTimed me, hoping that he'd realize she was the same person who makes him laugh so often on the phone.  In no time at all, these two were best buds.  I don't think there is an aunt out there who is more fun than Kirsten.

With Camden constantly entertained, I was able to do some painting.  Kirsten and I also did a lot of Christmas and Thanksgiving crafting when Jammer was sleeping.  For me, the highlight of her visit was when we went to the UofA vs Oregon game.  Expectations were set for a good stomping.  The Ducks always kill us, so I was wearing my bright yellow Oregon shirt under my rain jacket, ready to jump on the bandwagon.  And then… BOOM!  I kept that rain jacket zipped up tight and cheered for Arizona!  Sitting in the rain, watching her team lose… I'm sure Kirsten was second-guessing her decision to come to Tucson.  But we love that she came!!

Then came Camden's birthday party.  We all spent the night at my parents house after the party so we didn't have to worry about getting the little guy home for the night.  In the morning we left for Las Vegas.  Let me tell you, Camden was amazing.  Two days of traveling, and not one tear.  We could have done it in one day, easy!

But we stopped in Vegas and had dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe before heading to our room at the Hard Rock Hotel.  That place was awesome, but I felt a little out of place, pushing my baby around in his stroller.  Getting the room ready for Camden proved to be a hilarious ordeal.  Kirsten and I walked all the way down to the car before we realized neither of us had keys.  The elevators only moved if you got your room key in correctly, so we saw lots of confused people going up and down on different floors.  We may or may not have been some of those confused people at one point.

FINALLY - we got the air mattress for Kirsten and set up Camden's pack-n-play in the darkest corner of the room.  Originally we thought maybe Kirsten and I would hit the strip while Roy stayed with sleeping Camden.  Turns out the Hard Rock is not really very close to the strip.  Bummer.

--hard rock cafe pic with kiss--

So once lights were out, we three watched movies or read books on our devices, ducking under our sheets so the lights wouldn't keep Camden awake.  Roy literally fell asleep at 7:30.  It was like a dream come true for him, except for the part where he woke up refreshed at 4am.  Ha!

In the morning we hauled it up to Utah.  A stop in Cedar City gave Cam the chance to see snow for the first time.

That afternoon we arrived in American Fork at the McAffees.  Ah, the heartfelt reunion of two best friends.

These guys not only let us stay with them for the week, but they opened their home to the entire Buckmaster Thanksgiving 2013 event.  Or, as we are now calling it, the McMaster Thanksgiving 2013 event.  Yes, we have now meshed into one family.

When the rest of Roy's family arrived, Camden wasn't entirely sure about all the excitement.  Dennis' beard was a great ice-breaker, though.  Pat pat pat.  Still, I found myself wishing we all lived closer so Camden could know them better.

I'm finally Auntie Ell!  Being an aunt is something I've been looking forward to for a long time.  I got to hold and love on that little Danny Jay, who was just so small and light.  He's got such a sweet, calm demeanor.

And Camden was all like, "Let me hold him!"

But then sometimes he was like, "Excuse me… 

 "Get outta here, dude!"

Which I'm sure their friendship will be like as they grow older.  Cousins are the best!

Andrea and I were feeling the pressure for Thanksgiving dinner.  We were in charge, and we'd never made any of the stuff on the menu before.  We did the grocery shopping the day before, got up early and got to work.  When Roy's parents came to the house that morning, we already had Jell-O in the fridge, mashed potatoes done, and a turkey in the oven.  We were feeling pretty darn good about ourselves.  Until Laura asked, "Did you make sure to take out the gizzard?"

"The what?"

Oops.  So that's how Laura saved Thanksgiving.

Roy and Kenny went to play football with a bunch of friends, and the grandparents and Kelsey took care of the kids so we could get our chef on.  It was actually really fun--and that's coming from someone who is notoriously a disaster in the kitchen.  I've never enjoyed cooking like that.

Probably because I was in good company, but also because we totally nailed it!  Our Thanksgiving dinner consisted of two different kinds of mashed potatoes {mine vs. Roy & Kenny's}, green beans slathered in butter, stuffing {which we almost forgot about entirely}, sweet potato and carrot casserole - half with marshmallows, squash casserole, pico de gallo, a cheese ball, and our glorious turkey.  I heard the turkey was really quite delicious.  Dessert was Costco's fabulous cheesecake and pumpkin pie, and Jello-O.  I'd say our end result was a blissful success, considering the amount of food eaten.  And then eaten again and again over the next few days.

I have to share Camden's turkey outfit, courtesy of my mother.  He's the cutest turkey I ever did see.

Camden caught on to the Thanksgiving holiday pretty quick.  Eating.  If it was a sport, he would be a young prodigy.  But while the rest of us made camp on the living room floor, stretched out with belts undone, Camden spent the rest of the day burning off those calories.  He was just short of obsessed with Cade's pushy-car-thing.  Their cul-de-sac was his favorite thing about the trip.

This is my favorite picture of these two friends together.  Camden loved pushing Cade around.

Waving bye-bye to every car that left its driveway, or to every person who turned their back on him.

Seeing Cade walking on his own made Roy feel a bit impatient/competitive.  He hoped Camden was watching his little friend and studying up.  But Camden will get there, I'm in no hurry.


We gorged ourselves.  Can you tell?

We did an early Christmas gift exchange that afternoon.  Dennis got me the coolest antique-looking oil painting box that belonged to his mother.  Not only is she a painter, but so is Dennis!  I love how the Buckmasters pass on family treasures and keepsakes.

Roy and I are hand crafting our gifts this year.  For Jamie, Roy decorated a piggy bank with the words "Individual Retirement Account" and then Jamie's name on the other side.  It was beautifully done… but unfortunately, due to a miscommunication with Kirsten, he spelled Jamie's name wrong.  It says "Jaimie."  Somehow this made the gift all the more lovable, and Jamie said he's going to put it on his desk at work.

Later we played a game called Celebrity that Kenny and Andrea taught us.  So fun!  My favorite thing was when we played the charades portion, every time Andrea was portraying a female the first thing she did was grab her chest.  Haha-I'm laughing out loud right now just thinking about it!  It worked-she got the most points of the night.

After the game Andrea and I caught a bunch of flack for wanting to go out to do some early Black Friday shopping.  Kirsten called it "breaking Thanksgiving."  Comically enough, she ended up coming and buying herself a whole new wardrobe.

I'd never been Black Friday shopping before, and I was expecting elbowing and maybe some trampling and a lot of reverting to animal instincts to capture the best deals.  Happily, I was wrong.  Both stores we went into were tightly packed, but anyone who bumped into me said, "excuse me" like a civilized person.  Victory for humanity!

Yes, we stood in line for over an hour, but that was the most fun part.  And Kirsten won $3 off her purchase because she could display a picture of her pet faster than the other 300 people in the store!  {Surprised anyone?  No.}  Loved it!

So that was our actual Thanksgiving day.  Want to hear some other highlights?

Like they hadn't done enough for us already, Kenny and Andrea watched Camden so we could go with Roy's family to see the newest Hunger Games movie, Catching Fire in IMAX!  It was so good.  The little boys watched Baby Einstein.  They thought it was so good too.

Fall!  We loved crunching in your leaves.

Both boys had meltdowns when we took them out of the swings.  Just too much fun.

Presenting: The Buckmaster Christmas Ugly Sweater Pic 2013!  

"How big is Camden??  SO BIG!!!"  {C kind of dropped his arm in this pic, probably because he was like 'What the…'}

Bath time can be dangerous with two little boys.  I won't explain why...

Of course this little elf was the main event!

We were able to attend his beautiful blessing at Jamie's sister's house.  {Unfortunately we didn't get a pic of him in his blessing outfit, but I thought this was probably the second best thing.}  

More park time...

Cute family.

Cade was such a sweetheart.  We hoped the two boys would be able to play together, but it looks like they are still a tad too young to do more than yank toys out of each other's hands.  They WILL be best friends someday!!!

Andrea and I wasted no time in busting out the Christmas decorations.  With Thanksgiving over, Kenny gave us his blessing and we were allowed to play Christmas music and put up the tree.  Both babies loved it.  

Somehow in the throes of decorating, we ended up rearranging the furniture.  And then all of a sudden we were scouring Ikea for shelves!  The deals were just so remarkable, we were able to help Andrea complete and transform their living room as a surprise early gift to Kenny!  

Andrea tricked Kenny into going to sleep {it's true, she drugged him} and Roy stayed up late with us to help put the shelves up, the curtain rod, the mirror.  It was a fun little midnight transformation.  Love that hubby of mine.  Kenny was very surprised in the morning!

Everyone was so good at entertaining the boys.  Here Kirsten is putting on a puppet show to keep them happy while their leftover Thanksgiving food is being heated up in the microwave.

And here is Camden signing "more."  Always, always wanting more.

Dollar movie night!  Yeah, Camden lasted exactly as long as the sucker we gave him.  As soon as there wasn't anymore sugar to gnaw on, he wanted out of that theater.  So we saw about fifteen minutes of Despicable Me 2.

Okay, it's almost midnight.  At this hour the creativity section of my brain is hopelessly knotted, and I'm realizing this blog post could go on forever.  *Yawn*  Let's just lay it out:

-I'm thankful for family.  All family.  I'm blessed to be part of the awesome one I've been adopted into.

- I'm thankful for second chances.
- For freedom.
- For white chocolate.
- For the beauty in the earth and goodness in humanity.
- For modern medicine.
- For my other half.
- For old books and soft blankets.
- I'm thankful for the Gospel, and the immeasurable way my Savior has blessed my life.
- A special shout out to motherhood.  Not a day goes by where I don't thank my Heavenly Father for the most wonderful thing that's ever happened in my life.

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