Thanksgiving 2016

I thought maybe, just maybe, I had better get up my Thanksgiving 2016 post before Chanukah rolled around.  And with as fast as time is flying these days, Chanukah is going to be here any minute!  Thanksgiving break was a wonderful one, as it always is.  The days off work were nice, and the entire break actually felt like a break instead of each day zipping by.  William and I spent a lot of time with family and friends, yet enjoyed much down time together, too.

thanksgiving 2016

My little boy looked so handsome on Thanksgiving!  Many times William wears Jacob’s hand-me-downs as he was quite the stylish dude, but I’m proud to say William’s outfit was all my doing.  (Even my sister was impressed!)  I bought his shirt and bow tie as a set and got him the cutest Toms boots, all from Nordstrom Rack online.

Just check him out:

jacob audrey thanksgiving16

And Jacob and Audrey are obviously adorable, as well.  Don’t they look like siblings here?  They were just missing their other cousin Jackson!

My parents hosted Thanksgiving 2016, as they always do.  With *just* (ha!) 24 people this year, the crowd was smaller than their usual thirty-something.


However, the company was just as nice, the laughter just as loud, the love just as strong, and the food just as delicious.  Spending holidays with family and friends is the best and Thanksgiving is such a lovely reminder of just that.

My mom did a beautiful job setting the table:


There was enough food to serve an army, quite literally.  We all ate leftovers for the following week.  I’d say I was sick of it, but I don’t think I could ever get sick of my mom’s stuffing.

My family has a strong bond, one that can / will never be broken.  We genuinely enjoy spending time together, and if you’ve ever been to a “Williams” event, you’d know why.  Holidays are just another occasion that confirms the everlasting bond my parents instilled in us at such an early age, and a joyous time that celebrates everyone’s good health and happiness.  I can only hope, pray, and do my best that William grows up with that same type of closeness and love.  Right now, I’d say he is. 🙂

dana mom steph nov16

I hope you, too, had a fabulous Thanksgiving with your loved ones.

Thanksgiving 2015

As expected, Thanksgiving 2015 was awesome!  It’s 9:30 on Sunday evening and I’m hoping to get to bed relatively soon, so this is going to be more like a photo dump post with a few comments.  The long weekend was magnificent.  It was a nice break to be off of school, and it was even better to spend so much time with family and friends – the people who matter most and what the Thanksgiving holiday is all about!  Without further ado, here’s what’s been up the last five days:

My family went out to dinner at Bricktops on Wednesday evening.  All but my momma came as she was at home busily preparing to host 30+ people for Thanksgiving!

justin steph nov15

No family photo that evening, but Stephanie and I were just so happy our baby brother was in town!

There weren’t many candid snapshots taken on Thanksgiving.  I guess that’s what happens when you have so many little ones running around!  Stephanie did set up a Thanksgiving photo booth again this year, so I’ll be sure to post those fun pictures once they’re available.  We tried to take one whole family photo, but that wasn’t until 9:15 in the evening when some of the kiddos <<cough cough William>> were more than ready for bed.  Next year we’ll be sure to do that FIRST! (Right, Mom?! #notecard)

In my family’s true fashion, my siblings and I met at an Orangetheory Fitness bright and early on Friday morning to burn off some of that turkey!  The class was challenging, and we had a great time sweating together!

family orangetheory workout

We hung out at my parents’ house for a good chunk of Friday, ate leftovers at least a couple more times, and the kids cuddled up with Stephanie for story time.

steph reading

Kids always gravitate towards her and there’s always room for everyone on her lap – just how our own mom is!

linking up with katie and erin

Jacob and William’s new thing is piggyback rides.  Even when I tell them that’s enough, William literally crawls on to Jacob and demands “uppy!”  Jacob more than happily obliges and whizzes him around the house!

jacob piggyback

As if we didn’t eat enough on Thanksgiving or the days following, on Friday evening we went to Crown Candy for the first time.  Crown Candy appeared on The Food Network for their BLT (there’s seriously a pound of bacon on it!), but their milkshakes made with real ice cream is what stole the show for me!

crown candy

I really don’t give William sweets (like, at all. I just see no reason to.  He will have his whole life ahead of him to make those decisions on his own!), but very occasionally I’ll give him a bite or drink of something extra delicious.  This chocolate marshmallow milkshake was one of those times, and we both approved!

Saturday was a day to recover (holy cow was I sore from Orangetheory!) and relax, although I didn’t really relax as I got a good chunk of my holiday shopping done.  Chanukah comes early this year… like in six days to be exact, so shopping and wrapping was needed!  It was a productive day, that’s for sure!  I ended the night early by watching a movie in bed – something I haven’t done in years, literally!

Sunday was the perfect day to end the marvelous weekend.  We took William to the St. Louis Science Center for the first time ever, and it was unbelievable!  I think this is where we’re going to spend our winter weekends since there is so much to do!

human hamster wheel

Human hamster wheel?  Yeah, I had just as much fun on that thing as he did!

William loves fish, mainly because he gets to feed the fish in Yaya and Pops’ pond.  However, I think all kids are captivated by fish.  I’d get some for our home if I didn’t have to change their water and clean their tank so frequently, haha.


The weekend concluded with a big family dinner at my parents’ house to celebrate one of my grandfather’s birthdays.  We had such a good time with my family.  William was in an especially good mood.  He loves loves LOVES being with his cousins.  He even got to sit at the kid table (which worked out perfectly since most days he boycotts his high chair).

thanksgiving kidstable

Clearly they had more fun than we did.

thanksgiving kids table

I know I say it all the time, and other parents certainly know what I’m talking about, but he is growing up so fast!  He had on the cutest outfit, too, with a denim button down shirt, navy slacks, and slip on boat shoes.  Ah, can’t handle the cuteness!  Oh, and he even brought his plate to the sink when he was finished.  What?!

Naturally, Stephanie and I had to snap a sister selfie:

steph nov15

Couldn’t ask for a more unbelievable sister!

And Yaya.  Oh, Yaya.  Yaya has a way with kids.  (That’s an understatement.)  All kids ADORE her, William especially.  He asks for Yaya all the time at home.  If he’s upset, I’ll ask him if he wants to call Yaya. “YEAH!” he happily replies!  When asking him to say hi to Pops, often he will say, “Yaya?”  Last night was no different.  Yaya had William full of belly laughs multiple times.  In fact, it was so hard to capture a good photo of them because they were all blurry!  But I think I got one sweet one:

yaya nov15

Those belly laughs didn’t stop all night.  My Uncle Steve was pretending to drop a baby doll and William just thought it was the most hilarious thing EVER.

laughing nov15

What a wonderful weekend.  I hope you had a special Thanksgiving filled with delicious food, good health, and being surrounded with those you love.  I know I did.

What were some of your Thanksgiving weekend highlights?

Thanksgiving Photo Booth

As if Thanksgiving wasn’t already the most wonderful holiday ever, ours was even better this year.  Stephanie (of Stephanie Cotta Photography) set up a Thanksgiving Photo Booth!  She always has something up her sleeve during this holiday.  Growing up, she orchestrated a Chicken Little play every year with all of the cousins.  “The sky is falling!  The sky is falling!” never got old, and we still laugh about it to this day.  (And I’m quite certain my mom has the original manuscripts saved!)  Perhaps the photo booth is the start to another holiday tradition?

mom dad photobooth

While Stephanie is the one who thought of the idea, set it up, and photographed the whole ordeal, it’s my parents who made Thanksgiving, as they do every year.  This year’s crowd was on the smaller side (just twenty people – small? ha!), but the food was still plentiful, and everyone, everyone went home with leftovers!  The table was beautifully decorated, we savored every bite of food, and the hours of preparation and cooking was most enjoyed through hugs, kisses, laughter, chatter, and full bellies throughout the evening.  My parents are amazing and every second was cherished.

Check out last year’s Thanksgiving post to get an even better glimpse into my family – a short video complete with my dad and uncles in a push-up challenge, Audrey’s turkey “meow,” lighting of Chanukah candles, belly rubbing (when I was pregnant), the fire engine song/dance, an oreo turkey craft, and many more awesome shots, moments, and giggles.

So, the photo booth:

thanksgiving photobooth

Audrey being a ham with her many hilarious, adorable faces:

audrey photobooth

Literally, everyone got in on the fun:

thanksgiving photobooth1

And Audrey had to hold her baby, as always:

audrey photobooth1

“He’s getting SO big!”

A very special thank you to Stephanie for orchestrating this photo booth and capturing just some of the many memories that were made during Thanksgiving 2014 and to my parents with the biggest hearts, kindest smiles, helping hands, open home, and best food.

We love you, appreciate you, and are so thankful for you.

And for the cutest Thanksgiving bunny:

bunny thanksgiving

What are your family’s Thanksgiving traditions?

Linking up with Katie at Healthy Diva for Marvelous in my Monday and Erin at Her Heartland Soul for Weekend Snapshots – check out the parties!

a glimpse into my family

Thanksgiving is my family’s most favorite time of year because itz all about the people we love most.  I constantly write about how amazing my family is and today I get to show you a glimpse into my family.  My parents host Thanksgiving every single year and every single year itz wonderful.  Itz like it gets better and better though no one quite knows how that is even possible.

Our family, our friends, the food (oh the food!), and the memories that get made.  Close to thirty people is the norm, so there’s never a dull moment.  While my immediate family didn’t get an actual posed picture together on Thanksgiving, we did on Saturday before taking Justin and Dana to the airport.


The original six.  Pictures truly don’t do justice for the amount of time my parents put into hosting this holiday.  Luckily, my talented sister created a video of the evening that does a much better job of capturing those very special moments.  Itz just a few minutes, and I encourage you to take a glimpse into my very special family.

Created by Stephanie Cotta Photography

I hoped you watched if for no other reason than just to see my dad and his two brothers clowning around during a push-up challenge as my beastly dad is the only one who claps between his.  We are truly a FitFluential family! 😉

As most of you know, Chanukah overlapped with Thanksgiving this year which seemed odd at first being so early, but everything quickly fell into place as menorahs were lit and blessings sung.  This year I am wearing a menorah pin that my grandpa Poppy gave to me for my last birthday as it was my grandma Nanny’s.  He told me she always wore it during the holidays, and while I never met my Nanny, I felt like I had a little piece of her with me.

menorah pin

Since this post is filled with all things marvelous, I’m linking up with Healthy Diva’s Marvelous in my Monday today!  Family, friends, Thanksgiving, Chanukah = marvelous!

My younger brother Justin who lives in Arizona with his fiance Dana were in town for Thanksgiving.  We always try to soak up as much time as possible with them since we don’t get to see them nearly often enough.  Dana’s parents and younger brother also joined us this year which was a fun beginning to the union of our two families.  We always joke that Justin and Dana are the cutest couple ever (but they really are), and they proved it once again during one of their daily workouts.

justin dana

Seriously, cutest CrossFit picture ever, eh?  Jonny and I actually get to go visit them on Thursday of this week!  We’re quite excited to see them again and get to warm weather.  While we’re in Arizona we’ll also get to see Jonny’s brother Robbie and his fiance Becca again.  Itz so fun that both of our brothers are in the same city!  Now only if we could get them all to move to St. Louis…

Speaking of Jonny’s family, we got to spend time with them this weekend, as well, during a couple dinners.  Jonny and his dad and Becca and Robbie went to the Mizzou football game and brought home quite the winner!  Family is the best.

I’ll leave you with the quote my sister ended her video with as it sums up the long Thanksgiving weekend so perfectly:

Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our Thanksgiving. [W.T. Purkiser]

How was your Thanksgiving weekend?