At the moment, it is just after 9am and the house is quiet. Jess and Ben are down for naps and my visiting brother is catching a few extra winks in the guest room upstairs. Having moment to read and reflect is amazing.
Yesterday was all that I could ask for from a holiday – a fun and relaxing day with family. Low stress, lots of food, and capped off with some classic movie time with my bro.
The day kicked off with our annual turkey trot 5k. My bro and Sis-in-law made the jump to the 10k this year, but I figured I wasn’t going to mess with a good thing and set out to get a respectable time on the shorter route. Yes, the level-headed part me realizes that this is just a fun way to burn some calories and get a small hit of endorphines to ride into the day’s festivities, but there is just no denying my competitive nature. So with visions of setting new personal records fresh in my head, Jess, Ben and I strolled over to the 5k family fun run and I weaved through the pack to secure a spot up front. Once the start was signaled I was off, darting around an onslaught of teenagers and ambitious middle-aged men. The course couldn’t have been more beautiful. The fall air was crisp and the colorful leaves still intact on most branches. Mile one guided us through a residential neighborhood and into the wetlands. Mile two wrapped us around the duck pond that Ben is quite fond of on our weekend walks. And mile three sent us back toward the finish. Miles one and two were a breeze, but number three got the lungs going a little bit. Fortunately, just as the legs got a little heavier I saw the “finish” banner in the distance and gave things a final push. Victory! As I crossed the line, I carefully recorded my time. 21:42! aahh, new record and time to celebrate with some mimosas.
Important Note: Regardless of your level of competitive spirit, the only way to cap off a turkey day run is with a mimosa, a beer, or the Schulken men would tell you a shot of your favorite booze. As we didn’t have any booze on hand worth shooting (Tequila is meant to be paired with limes and salt any other time than the morning. And gin should only be served with tonic water and fresh citrus), we poured a couple of mimosas and enjoyed the thanksgiving parade and a post race visit with the Caramazzas and the Schulkens.
One interesting new element that’s come with parenthood is the gear. Though we were fortunate enough to be able to visit with all our family without traveling more than 10 minutes away, it was necessary to load up the wagon high chairs, pack n’ play’s, extra clothes, and so much more. Our plan of keeping things simple would only work if were were packed up well enough to deal with all possible contingencies. Once the wagon was amply stocked, we hit the road.
We’re only on round two of the holiday’s with our little guy but they are so much more fun. Juggling some extra gear and scheduling is well worth all the attention the little dude and getting a glimpse of things through his eyes. Last year, it was all bout cradling our sweet little mushy dude while we shoveled in the thanksgiving feast, but this year the new themes were playtime, new discoveries, and being spoiled. Ben loves his grandparents. He gets time with each grandma every week and he truly adores it. And now when we ask him if he wants to go to grandma’s house, he flips out with anticipation (much the way Bandit does about her dinner). At the grandparents are special new toys, wildlife out the back door, and another dog to admire.
What I’ll remember most from this day:
- Just how happy Ben and everyone else was. There was so much giggling, smiling, and action. He was in the sweetest mood and loved being passed around from grandma to grandpa, from uncle to aunt, and even into the arms of great grandma. The little guy is truly a binding force and his smiles are contagious.
- Feeding the ducks/geese. At the moment Ben’s favorite words are “dog” and “duck” respectively. His favorite video is the “Old MacDonald” episode of baby einstein. His favorite books revolve around the topic and I could go on but you get the idea. This year Ben got a chance to not only meet but feed these celebrity animals right in my parents’ backyard. Wide-eyed and grinning ear to ear, he let out little shreaks of laughter after getting over the initial shock of the encounter. To cap things off he even busted out the sign for duck with wild enthusiasm. Very cool.
- Sharing my mashed potatoes. When it comes to Thanksgiving food, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie are my all time favs. This year Ben tried them out for the first time and they were an instant hit. During both family dinners I spent a fair portion of my time sharing them right from my plate. A simple joy and fun way to connect.
- Goofy movies with my bro. After all the dust had settled, I Joel made his way back here to close out the night with some “UHF” and “Tropic Thunder”. UHF is a bizarre family fav…as most are and it was great to spend an evening just laughing about a silly movie. Tropic thunder was new to me and hilarious…even if I was struggling to keep my eyes open toward the end.
- The insane amount of leftovers that Joel brought over. One of the reasons that I could barely stay awake through the movies was the massive amount of food that mom sent Joel over with. A stack of 5 sandwiches, a mountain of potatoes, and a wedge of pumpkin pie. After massive helpings and a couple beers, the couch was pretty comfy.