Tag Archives: traditions

On Into Christmas Afternoon

Having both families within 15 minutes of each other is such a blessing, and I don’t ever take it for granted, but it makes for interesting holidays at times! 

I’m always so grateful that diving our holidays don’t involve airplane rides or car trips, 
and we don’t even have to pack a bag unless we just want to. 

On Christmas Day, we have the easy job of dividing up our day into two parts. 

Christmas morning was spent with my family, 
and Christmas afternoon was spent with Tim’s. 

Christmas #2
We joined the whole crew including the “new additions” for an amazing Christmas lunch before diving into the stockings and gifts. 
Papaw & NaNa with the Little Man.

Awesome Uncle Brian!

This was a new face from the Little Man I’d never seen before!
He was soo thrilled to be holding his cousin Davis.

And when he was able to hold both Davis & Adelyn, he was in Heaven!  
(I can’t wait to see what he does when the baby is actually his own brother!)

While we were enjoying our meal, we had a very welcomed and pleasant Christmas surprise. . . 
This was right as the snow was starting to fall, and I was so afraid we’d miss pictures of it, I grabbed the camera and headed outside. I wish I’d captured some photos once the snow had really covered the ground, but in Texas, you take what you can get! 

Our Christmas Family Photo!
Presents. . .Round 2!

Brian’s role as Santa has slowly been replaced (which I think he’s thrilled about).
The Little Man knew who each stocking belonged to! 
The day was long, but this was by far one of the best Christmas’s I’ve had in a LONG time! 
Although I loved it last year, turning Christmas around and having it be about the kids made it that much more enjoyable. 

I can’t wait to see how the next few Christmas’s unfold 
as we add more and more children to the mix!

How has Christmas changed for you as kids have come along? 

Twas the Morning of Christmas

My husband and I have a little bit of a different opinion of when Christmas decorations should come down.

I personally feel like decorations should come down the weekend immediately after so that I can begin the process of cleaning. It’s difficult to want to do a big cleanup after Christmas when you know the tree’s going to make more of a mess and boxes will still have to be put away. In our house, we even have to rearrange some furniture once the tree comes down. Besides, how are Christmas decorations related to New Year’s? Do we really need the decorations up to ring in 2013? 

Tim, on the other hand, thinks it’s important to wait until after the New Year. He’d prefer to take everything down sometime around January 6th or 7th once the holidays are long past. 

We decided my doctor’s appointment would settle the argument. If I was in any way dilated or showing progress of this baby coming before January 14th, we’d take it down this weekend. . . 

I lost. 
To stop my itchy fingers from running in there and tearing the tree down, I thought I’d recap our Christmas for you. That’ll keep me occupied for a little bit at least, and let you sneak a peek into someone else’s home on Christmas day!

Christmas Morning
Although we welcome anyone to come over and join us, we made the decision to always have Christmas morning in our home. Not only does this help create memories, but it helps us as parents introduce Santa and other traditions to our kids. 

So, on Christmas morning, we woke up and start the first morning ritual of popping the homemade cinnamon rolls into the oven and opening our stockings. 
Tim and I both shopped for each other, 
and I had been slowly shopping for Mark throughout the last few months.  
Christmas #1
My family arrived around 8:30am, 
and we spent some time enjoying breakfast and each other’s company. 

GrandDad & Grammy with the Little Man. 

Uncle Andrew & Aunt Helen enjoying our first Christmas together in 3 years

Then. we let the presents begin!

Our Christmas tree! 

A rare photo of me. 
(Inside was my much-wanted new GE Slow Cooker!)

One of his favorite toys from the morning. . .so classic & simple! 
After Christmas #1, we jumped in our car for a 

Deerfield Lights In Plano

Growing up in Richardson, the Spring Park neighborhood in Garland was the place to go for lights. Each street had it’s own theme, and almost every house was over the top with decorations. I haven’t been since high school, but I hear that Spring Park is still a Christmas destination. 

Now that we have a little one of our own, we thought seeing the Christmas sights might be a fun activity to do on a chilly, overcast evening. Instead of heading to our old destination of Spring Park, we decided to head north to Plano to another, more recently popular, neighborhood called Deerfield. 

If you’re looking to go see Holiday Lights this year, make the drive to Deerfield!

The History
According to the DHA, when Deerfield was being built, it was considered to be the “Celina” of Dallas with only fields and farms surrounding the neighborhood. To encourage buyers to come purchase the new homes in their neighborhoods, the builders set up a friendly Christmas light competition. 

The 1st place winner would receive $5,000, 2nd place would receive $2,500, and 3rd place won $1,000. With only a few homeowners, winning was a very real possibility, so homeowners went all out! From people & pets dressed in costume to “snow” covered lawns using cotton. 

Since everyone began owning so many Christmas Lights, the tradition continued long after the buyers discontinued the contest.

Getting There
Located between Ohio (AKA Hillcrest) and Coit, just north of Legacy, you’ll find a neighborhood that really knows how to get into the Christmas spirit! 

You can start your sightseeing on a number of streets, but my advice would be to start on Legacy and head north on either Archgate Drive or Colonade Drive. 

Deerfield is divided up into 2 main sections with cul-de-sac’s on both sides. Make sure to use the main thoroughfares but visit the side streets and cul-de-sac’s for some up-close views of some beautiful lights. 

Once you’ve reached Quincy Lane, head over to the other street and go south (either on Archgate or Colonade) to see the opposite side of the neighborhood. 

There are 2 streets where the neighborhood has made a 1 way during the holidays. Old Pond Dr. and Hallmark Dr. are only accessible from Archgate, and are westbound only. 

There are several main entrances to the lights, so your best course of action is to use your phone and pull up the Deerfield Homeowner’s Association Holiday Map.

Don’t Miss It! 
The Highland Park Carriage Rides are amazing, and it’s something you shouldn’t miss out on, but if you’re unable to get a reservation, Deerfield also offers Carriage Rides! 

Ranging in price from $145-$225 for 50-55 minutes, you can tour the best Deerfield streets via horse and carriage. Small carriages can fit 2-6 people where wagons can fit groups as large as 20. If you can get a larger group, splitting the cost makes it extremely affordable! 

At the very tip of the Deerfield neighborhood at 4665 Quincy Drive is a home you won’t want to miss! Who better to put on a Christmas Light display than the owners of Gordon Lights

Since 2007, the Gordon Family has been synchronizing their Christmas light display to music on a personal radio station frequency you can hear from your car. In exchange for being entertained, they ask that you make a small donation to Operation Homefront via a small box located near their sidewalk. So far, they’ve raised over $17,000 to date. 

Warning: The Gordon Family’s home is located close to the entrance on Ohio and Quincy which often causes a backup of cars coming into the neighborhood. It’s also located right in front of a cul-de-sac which can make parking very limited. Be prepared to be patient if you want a great view, or get out of your car and view the lights while listening to the music out of someone else’s car. Chances are others will be doing the same! 

What’s your favorite place to go look at lights? 

A Meaningful Christmas Ornament Exchange

Now that my husband and I have a growing family of our own, I’ve been thinking a lot over the last few months how I want “Christmas” to look in our home. 

My son still probably has 1 more year before he really understands what Christmas represents; which I’m thankful for because it will give me more time to think the whole thing through, but at the same time, I want to begin to develop traditions now so when he does begin to comprehend the meaning of Christmas it won’t be a total surprise! 

We do plan on having Santa in our home, but as Christians, we also want to teach him the importance of Christmas and how it relates to the birth of our Savior. I haven’t quite figured out how to blend the two together yet (if it’s possible!), but now, thanks to A Meaningful Christmas, I feel a little ahead of the game! 

A group of girls from our church decided to get together this year and participate in A Meaningful Christmas ornament exchange. If you’re not familiar with this, that’s okay! 

It’s only 2 years old, and is just now really getting around on the web! Although orders have closed for this year, I highly suggest “Pinning” as a way to remember to jump on it for 2013. 

Designed by the Poe Family, A Meaningful Christmas is a child-centered devotional that helps count down the days until Christmas using the Christmas story, passages, and ornaments; 1 for each day leading up to December 25. 

As suggested by A Meaningful Christmas, I helped organize an advent ornament exchange with 23 other moms from our church. Our planning began in October, and once we had the number we needed, we divided up the ornament responsibilities. 

I was given one of the harder ornament projects – Day 8: Mary is Chosen.

The verse that goes along with this day is from Luke 1:26-28. . . God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth . . .to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph . . .The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” 

What the verse tells us is that God selected Mary to be a part of His family and be the mother of Jesus; similar to how we were given our children by God; therefore, my ornament assignment was to collect pictures from each one of the women participating and use the family photo on my ornament. 

I am not a very crafty person, but I managed to find some Christmas themed scrapbook paper I had laying around the house and left over ribbon from the Little Man’s first birthday party. 

After a brief lesson on how to Modge Podge on Youtube, I was all set to make my 24 ornaments. Thankfully, I didn’t feel any pressure to make them perfect since emails had been going around about other people’s lack of craftiness as well! 

We selected a date for our ornament exchange, and it didn’t take long to figure out our host went above and beyond what I was expecting! Each of us had brought a cute gift bag thinking that’s what we’d be bringing our ornaments home in, but to our surprise, we had plastic storage boxes waiting with our names on them; each with A Meaningful Christmas devotional book inside. 
All we had to do was walk around and place 1 ornament in each box, and at the end of the night, we all walked away with a box ready to go on December 1st. 

To make the exchange a little more social, we all brought appetizers and desserts to share, and then took a few minutes to explain which ornament ours was and how we came up with our design idea (and any flaws we happened to discover.)
The exchange was a lot of work, and did take a few hours of my time to create all 24 ornaments. I originally thought I had the hardest job of collecting all of the pictures, but looking at how much time and effort everyone else put in, I think I actually walked away with one of the easier tasks! 

In the end, I walked away with these 24 thoughtfully handmade ornaments:  

Although there’s not a reason for me to do another A Meaningful Christmas exchange, if you plan on doing one next year, I have a few pieces of advice to make yours successful! 

  • Order supplies in advance! Almost 3,000 families participated in 2012, and supplies were running short in most craft stores. Expect to find empty hooks and competition in the aisles for the wooden craft squares needed to make your ornaments. Start looking for the tiles just after Christmas or plan on ordering them online (like we did!)
  • Be Original – Because you have to be! Since the concept is still so new, photos and ideas online are limited. I tried every Google and Pinterest combo I could think of and found the same 2 or 3 images. Another good reason to start early, you have time to plan your design! 
  • Number your ornaments. You might notice it doesn’t say in the instructions to number your the back of your ornaments or label them somehow. Have all the women in your exchange mark their day in some way on their ornaments to save you the trouble of trying to match them all up later. 
  • Make it fun for your kids! Plan some fun and creative ways of making your devotional special to your kids. My advice: wrap the ornaments and let them open one each day like a gift. Then have a separate tree to place the ornaments on so they can easily go back to previous days and discuss the verses. 
  • Modify when needed! I have an almost 2 year old, so some of the “apply” suggestions won’t work for us. For example, my son can’t draw a picture of his family, but it doesn’t mean I can’t use the ornament with our family photo to have him name his mommy and daddy! I’ll try and post the modifications I make to give you some more ideas! 
For more information on how to participate in A Meaningful Christmas, make sure to check out their link on Facebook

Ice at the Gaylord Texan 2012

This past weekend, @ChevyTexan and DrivingtheHeartland.com treated my family to a Sunday excursion to the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine. In my opinion, it’s one of the most beautiful hotels in DFW, and we love making it a part of our holiday traditions. 

I’ve been almost every year since ICE opened (with the exception of 2011), and it never disappoints! So, when @ChevyTexan offered us a chance to not only experience Lone Star Christmas for its opening weekend, but have a brunch at the Boardwalk Cantina, how could I say no?? (And the fact that they gave me transportation for the weekend in a Chevy Malibu pretty much put icing on the cake!)
Typically this resort restaurant has a family style or a la carte menu, but for Sunday Brunch at the Riverwalk Cantina they go all out with a huge buffet; including complimentary Mimosas and Bellinis by the water. 

There’s a gourmet breakfast bar with a variety of foods including an omelet station. If you’re more for the lunch in brunch, you can head to the salsa, soup, and salad bar for starters. Then enjoy freshly made tamales, tacos, and fajitas, or more premium entrees like pork tenderloin, rack of lamb, and prime rib. . . And don’t get me started on the desserts!  


Once we were sufficiently stuffed, we decided to make the long walk over to ICE and work off some of the few hundred calories we’d just consumed. 

After years of standing in lines that last for hours, this weekend, we experienced a first . . .

We handed the attendant our tickets, walked straight through all the ropes…past the movie that’s normally the holding queue, and right to the booth where they hand us our parkas. For a family with an almost 2 year old, THIS was the way to go!

There was no attempting to entertain him while we walked 10 steps per minute. We didn’t have to fight a toddler tooth and nail to prevent him from running past all the crowd and into the exhibit. We just grabbed our parkas and walked straight on in!! 


This year’s theme is Dreamworks’ Merry Madagascar. Using almost 2 million pounds of ice, sculptures from China were flown in to create this amazing display based on the holiday TV special from 2009. 

Although the Little Man didn’t know who any of the characters were, he still had a blast since 
he’s currently into learning about animals. 

He’d run from character to character shouting “Zebra,” “Lion,” “Penguin”!

  . . . And that’s right, I said run! Again, just as easy as it was to move from the entrance into the attraction, there was even more room to move around inside. 

So much room, that when we got to the giant ice slide, we were able to ride it 3 times without having to wait in line! 

I honestly don’t think ICE has ever been this memorable! Mostly because it’s a completely different experience seeing the wonder through the eyes of a child, but also because it relieved Mommy from a lot of undue stress! 
My advice if you’re planning to head to the Gaylord Texan for ICE and you’re visiting with little ones: 
  • Buy your tickets in advance! Save yourself the hassle and time by not having to stand in the ticket line. 
  • Go on a Non-Peak day if possible. Check the calendar for the “white days” when tickets are almost $5 cheaper each and lines are likely to not be as long. This might mean you have to take a day off of work or plan in advance, but it will make your experience so much more enjoyable. 
  • If you have to go during a Peak time, go early or go late! Try to be the first in line or head during a time of day when others won’t be there. For example, during lunch or dinner time. With so many great restaurants at (and near) the Gaylord, plan to eat a brunch or early dinner and head to the line while others are eating. You might even try a Sunday night while others are winding down and getting ready to head back to work! 
  • Be prepared to leave your stroller at the door. For safety, they’re not allowed past the ticket person, so don’t count on it as a way to manage your child through the lines. 
  • Snap away!  There’s so much to see and look at while inside the attraction make sure to go camera crazy to capture that perfect photo. And don’t be surprised to see your cheeks get rosy quickly from the cold! 
  • Upcharges everywhere! With ticket prices at almost $27 per person, I always hate how much more they try and sell you once inside. Before being able to enter, they’ll take a family photo that you can buy at the end starting at $20. Then once you exit, there’s a dessert and coffee bar ($3 hot chocolate anyone?) with opportunities to take photos with a Madagascar character …for a fee. And once you’re past those temptations…a toy store! Be prepared to either make a compromise or cover your child’s eyes to avoid temptation of spending extra money! 
Now that you’re prepared for this adventure, all that’s left to do is buy your tickets! 

For a limited time, you can get 50% off your ticket by using the promo code ICECG

Thirty by 30: No 8

When I was making my Thirty by 30 list, I wanted to come up with some tasks that I knew I could easily complete if I just made the time and I also wanted to add some “to do’s” that would require some extra effort. My No. 8 definitely took some effort, but I’m so happy it’s crossed off! 

 A year ago, I kept telling Tim that I wanted to go to New York City on my 30th birthday. I wasn’t sure how it was going to happen, but I wanted to make sure it did. At the time, we hadn’t been on vacation since Hawai’i almost 2 years prior, and I thought NYC would be a great way to get away and celebrate! 

Sometime around January, I then decided that I wanted to attend the BlogHer ’12 convention and it just so happen to be in New York and within a few weeks of my and Tim’s 8 year anniversary. So. . .change of plans, instead of bugging him to go to NYC on my birthday, I now wanted to go for our anniversary, and now, I actually had an excuse as to why we HAD to go! 

Flash forward 7 months later, and we found ourselves repacking our bags after only being home a week from Maui and jetsetting off to New York. It was a whirlwind “vacation” and ended up being nothing like I expected, but I am still so glad we went. 

First night in town and we were already craving John’s.
Good thing it’s the “city that never sleeps” because we didn’t arrive at the restaurant until almost 10pm. 
I’ll save my BlogHer experience for another post, and I’ll skip to the parts that mostly involved the city.

In between running around attending the conference, Tim and I tried to make time for some fun. We also padded an extra few days before and after BlogHer to get some time to do what we wanted to do. 

Oddly enough, there wasn’t much we hadn’t done, so we decided it would be new experience to be super cheesy tourists. And that’s what we did! 

One night we took a Harbor Cruise around Manhattan. We started down at the Chelsea piers and sailed to the Statue of Liberty on a 105′ schooner.  To be honest, this sounded like a terrible idea to me: sitting on a boat for 2 hours just gazing into each others eyes and the skyline? Corny! 

But it actually ended up being better than that. There actually was a lot to see, and between talking to the crew and Tim, the trip went by really fast. 

The most moving moment for me was when we sailed past 1 World Trade Center. The last time we’d visited was New Years 2007, and they were still clearing away a lot of the rubble and getting the foundation in place. It was amazing to see the building almost complete again. 

1 World Trade Center
Empire State Building lit up for the Olympics.
The weather in New York was also VERY fickle. Before we left, I’d read that the high for the weekend was going to be in the mid-80’s, and it’d be mostly raining. The whole weekend, we were sweating and miserable because we’d apparently been misinformed. It was in the 90’s and humid beyond belief! Then as we were getting ready to leave, it seemed like a huge storm was rolling in. How do you plan when every time you turn around the weather’s changing?! 

To play it safe, we decided to do some indoor tours, and headed to Rockefeller Center. We actually did the NBC Studio Tour, but unfortunately, do to copyright infringement we weren’t allowed to take pictures. But we did see behind the scenes of Rock Center, Dr. Oz, and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. I was really hoping to see the set of Saturday Night Live; however, since it’s the summer, they were using the SNL studio for Olympics media and it “wouldn’t have been recognizable.”

Afterwards, we headed up almost 70 floors to the Top of the Rock. 

If you’re ever in New York…I know the Empire State Building is the “thing to do,” but consider Top of the Rock instead! Having done both, I can say Top of the Rock was the better deal! We had ZERO lines to wait in, and were able to go straight to the top. Once we walked off the elevator, we had the option of staying at the observation deck on the 68th floor which was fully enclosed (which had it actually rained would have been a lifesaver.), or head up to the 69th floor which was open with a glass partition, or to the very top 70th floor which was literally the top of the building and completely open except for a waist high railing. 

Top of the Rock and NBC Studio Tours was probably the best part of the trip! We just had a great time wandering around the city, and taking advantage of the air conditioning. 

I also continued the tradition of taking my unborn child to New York. It just so happened that August 2010 was the last time I’d visited the City and it was while I was pregnant with my first. 

Maybe we’ll make it a tradition with the 3rd too! 

The Trains at Northpark

Christmas is almost here, and I could not be more excited! Having a little one around brings on a whole new feeling about Christmas. Last year I remember feeling beat down by everything. I was about 7 months pregnant, and Tim and I were both working full time. Gifts HAD to be purchased. The tree HAD to be put up. I really just wanted to the day to be over so we could enjoy our vacation and get everything ready for the baby. 

This year it’s be a completely different feeling! I’ve had time to relax and enjoy the season. (It’s almost not coming fast enough!) I’ve been able to carefully think about gifts, and had time to shop early and order online. The gifts are wrapped and under the tree. We’ve even been enjoying our weekends by participating in some of the fun festivities around Dallas. 

Last Saturday we took in the sights and visited The Trains at Northpark. The Little Man was memorized by the whole set up!

It was a first experience for all of us, and I’m hoping this becomes an annual tradition! 

The Little Man meets The Big Guy

I can honestly say I was more excited on Saturday than either my husband or my son. I had no idea what to expect when we got there, but I just knew there was going to be something magical about taking your child to see Santa for the first time. 

And it was so much better than I expected! 

Originally we’d planned to go visit the Santa at Northpark, but decided against it after hearing the advice of some of my fellow mommy friends: 
. . . arrive at 8:30am to pick up a ticket. 
. . . go with someone who can wait in line while you take care of the baby. 
. . . expect to wait at least 2 hours once you get in line.  
. . . don’t forget that ticket!

As amazing as this Santa sounded, I have a little boy who’s having teething trouble and wasn’t napping. I definitely didn’t have all day to stand in line hoping he was going to cooperate, and didn’t want to waste a beautiful Texas Saturday doing so. Which is why we chose to go to the Galleria Mall and see their Santa instead. 

We arrived shortly before 1pm, and found that he was going to be heading to lunch, so we decided to head downstairs and do the same. And I’d say this was the worst part of the experience. (Trying to find a table that was stroller friendly in the middle of a Saturday afternoon at the mall…ugh.) 

After eating lunch, we headed back upstairs around 1:45pm, and the line was already wrapping around the little make-shift village. We grabbed our spot in line and waited.  

At 2pm exactly, Santa arrived!

Before being seated, he walked around the line saying hello and wishing everyone a Merry Christmas. I could tell from a distance that he was tall and that the beard was real, but as he approached us, I was amazed at how authentic he was! It was as if he’d stepped right out of the poem.

His eyes — how they twinkled! His dimples: how merry,

His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry;

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,

And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow. 
-Clement Clark Moore
Once the line started to move, within 30 minutes, we were next! 

I was such a nervous mom wondering how the Little Man would react with this stranger. I can imagine to a little one how this would be a frighting; sitting in the lap of a rather large stranger. Knowing ahead of time we were going to purchase the pictures, I just kept repeating to myself “if we can get a faint smile; anything but screaming and crying, I’ll be happy.” 

As we made our way up the aisle to the Man in Red, I had Tim take him over and place him on Santa’s lap. I was too nervous and wanted to be ready to entertain with faces and dancing if needed. But as soon as he was seated comfortably, he immediately started laughing! 

Mark loved everything about Santa; from his beard to his suit! 

When the pictures were finished, Tim thanked him for being so kind, picked up Mark and that’s when he started to cry. He didn’t want to get off of his lap! 

Overall, I couldn’t have been happier with our visit to see Santa. From a parent perspective, there were some behind the scenes nonsense going on with the village workers, but it wasn’t anything the kids would have noticed. Santa, himself, was such a nice old man, and I hope that he’ll be the Santa we can see for years to come.

His only flaw in my mind is that he might be putting the wrong ideas into our children’s heads. . . 

According to Santa, 
Mark wants a Porsche. 


How was your first experience taking your kids to see Santa? 
Was it more memorable for you or for them?

The Holidays & Love

At our last MoPS meeting, we were asked to discuss some of our favorite Christmas and holiday traditions. Pondering some of my childhood memories, I remember shopping with my dad for the right gift for my mom, opening up that one gift on Christmas Eve, and waking up bright and early to open presents on Christmas morning (often having to wait until my parents were awake).  

Now that I’m a parent, I’m trying to recreate some of these same memories for my new family. Although my son isn’t old enough to understand the importance of Christmas, or even care, I feel that it’s important to start teaching him from the beginning. 

Before December had even started, I’d already packed our calendar with new Christmas “traditions” I wanted to try. I figured some would be a hit and others a miss, but I wanted to make sure and try them all just in case they did work out; visiting Santa, the trains at Northpark, light-seeing through neighborhoods, even baking a cake for Jesus. I wanted our house decorated immediately after Thanksgiving so the Little Man would have the most possible time with all the Christmas cheer. 

By December 2nd, I was starting to get slightly irritated as the outside lights hadn’t been put up, and the final decorations still weren’t up in the dinning room. As a matter of fact, our house still looks like Christmas threw up in our living room with red and green storage boxes everywhere! 

Somehow recreating and starting new traditions turned into a frenzy and chaos. Irritated by no lights…frustrated by my inability to complete a stocking…annoyed at having to give up decorating to do laundry. I was quickly turning into an Ebeneezer as my holiday spirit had flown out the window, and I was sure the Ghosts of Christmas would arrive at any moment. 

. . .which is why the handout we’d received at MoPS on Friday was perfect timing for me. I’m not sure if you’re dealing with the same holiday frustrations as I am, but I hope you’ll take the time to read this little note as a reminder as to what we’re celebrating. 

(Click to make larger if needed!)

A Peek Into A Dopps Reunion

This past weekend we celebrated Thanksgiving with my husband’s family, The Dopps. Each year, either at Christmas or Thanksgiving, the entire family gets together to celebrate the holidays, but this isn’t your typical reunion. 

My husband, Tim, has 1 living grandmother, 6 uncles, 2 aunts, and countless first and second cousins (plus all their spouses!) All in all, there’s about 100 family members, and each year they find a way to bring everyone together from across the United States for a weekend of bonding, fellowship, entertaining, and eating.

We call it Dopps Camp. 

During the last seven years that I’ve been an official member of the family, we’ve held Camp at places across the midwest; retreat centers in Kansas and Oklahoma, skiing in Colorado, and a few in the big city (Dallas). But we’d yet to have one in our neighboring city to the north – OKC. So, this year, that’s exactly what we did!

Now, if you’re not a member of the family, it can be a little hard to imagine what it might be like to have 100 family members strolling through the streets of Oklahoma City, so I thought I’d give you a little picture play-by-play. 
Welcome to Dopps Camp 2011!

Day 1: We Feast
Thanksgiving lunch was held at the Rose Briar Place;
a beautiful wedding chapel owned by Tim’s Aunt Sharon.
Where else could you have such beautiful place settings besides at a wedding chapel?
And of course, it wouldn’t be Dopps Camp without a souvenir!
A lot of prep time goes into cooking for 100 people (plus leftovers).
Each family is in charge of a meat or side dish, and this year, we were asked to fry a turkey. 
After fully stuffing ourselves, we’re ready for the entertainment. 

While the men are away, the ladies will play!
I was in charge of the ladies’ craft table. 

This year brought the return of the Talent Show.
And boy was there some amazing talent!
With that, we ended Day 1 and my Little Man’s first Thanksgiving! 
Day 2: A Tour of Bricktown
Brunch to get the day started. 
Ice Skating at the Myriad Gardens.
Bowling at Red Pin.
And of course, a Water Taxi ride to drop us off at the door of Zio’s. . .
 We took up 2 boats!
Day 3: So Long
One final breakfast with the whole family before heading our separate ways.

Can’t wait until Winter 2012!
Who’s hosting?