It was a giant party here in the desert all week leading up to Thanksgiving, and after too.
Every one of Dave’s siblings was in town.  All nine of them.
This is how [at least part of] the room looks when everyone’s together:
We had Dave’s sister and her family staying with us for the first few days so we were back and forth with cousins, cousin sleep-overs, Turkey Trot prep all wrapped up together.  Here we are feeding the kids pizza one night before the adults headed out on a date:

And here we are late, late one night, basking in the opportunity to catch up one-on-one with this family we love.

This was a week that all bedtimes were thrown to the wind.  Which made for a little tricky early-morning scripture-study-get-ready-for-school.
Another random gathering…
Through all the fun, I was kind of freaking out a little bit about getting Max’s Christmas package sent off to Taiwan.  One night I stopped everything and at least cut out his Christmas tree.

By the end of Thanksgiving break it looked like this:

We had all the cousins write little notes to him as ornaments.
Then we packed it as full as we could of some little things for he and his companion.
Claire was a big helper I tell you!
I hope with all my heart it will get to him in time!  His Thanksgiving one didn’t get there and that makes me so sad…there’s a growing hole in my heart for him this holiday season, miss him so much!
But I digress again…
We hosted Thanksgiving this year, which gave us a good excuse to try to finish a few things on our house before the big day.  We have lived here over two years after all…
We had a table made for our front entry, which I went to check on a whole bunch of times because these guys wanted to make it perfect for us.  They are the best.  Here it is one day when they wanted me to tell them which stain I liked best on those front drawers…
Here’s the spot where it was going:
…and here we are after we finally got it:

Love it so much!

We also got things framed and finally done on our walls.  I’ll have to do a whole post about some of these things some time, because there is some good meaning to some of them and I’m really particular about what we hang on our walls (see this old post HERE and a follow-up HERE), but for now I’ll just say we love this friend who insisted on coming over to help us get things hung.

So grateful for good friends.

We also finally put up some pictures in the game room.  Here they are laid out on the floor as I tried to figure out the right placing…

Here they are hung by doors in that room…one door:

Up a little closer:

The other door:

Up a little closer:

Oh how I love that middle one of Max hugging his sisters!

We also got this game room wall ready for our family wallpaper which we’ve been working on for almost a year.

It is seriously one of my favorite things ever and it will take another post to explain it, but we are in love with it.

My brother is the best and came to help us put up our piano light…

…only to find there wasn’t a light box so I had to have another guy come do that, and then I put on the crystals after midnight the night before Thanksgiving…which made quite the good mess…

Here’s the finished product which I love, but I think we need to get some extension rods to get it a little lower…any great designers out there who have advice on that let me know!
So the day before Thanksgiving the wallpaper was hung, the table was delivered, the light was installed, this couch finally came…
…all as we were working on all the other prep work…
Our beautiful napkin ironers:

(By this time Dave’s sister had left to go stay with their mom, and Dave’s cousin and family had moved on in…that’s Zoe up there, love her!)

My cousin/dear friend is so awesome at decorating and she brought all this great stuff for us to decorate the tables with:

She is the best!  We were up all night laying all that stuff out.

Amidst all this, Elle came home.

Yes, she wasn’t going to come, but Dave and I looked at each other after she left that first time and confessed that we needed to find a way to get her back.  Life is so interesting when kids leave home.  You just don’t know when you’re going to get them back, so we figure we better take advantage of every time we can get her.  A mission or study abroad may make her unable to be here for the Turkey Trot and all the hoopla next year so we were so grateful to have her, especially since we couldn’t have Max.

We loved soaking her up for the few minutes we actually got her at home.

This “quad squad” was all in town (cousins), so they sure lived it up together:

And she loved getting a chance to catch up with friends they are talking to other “Hawaiian” friends:
She loves that place so much she can hardly stand it.
Right from the airport we dropped her off with the cousins to go on a hike:

I couldn’t make it since I had so be at Brainfood, but she sure loved being with those guys, especially this one who was her roommate last summer in Provo:

Meanwhile the rest of us were at Brainfood getting all the t-shirts ready for the Turkey Trot…

…all the ones we didn’t get to the night before with all the cousins:

As we were working outside these cute girls were inside packing up food for the kids that Brainfood serves:

Dave and his “team” did a bunch of prep work too to make sure everything was ready…

Everyone helped at bib pick up/registration all afternoon and evening the night before:

Claire did an “ad” for her newspaper class getting ready for the big run:

Ha!  Love that Taylor Swift had such nice things to say!

And I spent a while trying to get our Families Fighting Blindness back into shape in between table prep:


After a few hours of sleep we headed over to the Turkey Trot and I wrote all about that yesterday.

As soon as we were done at the Turkey Trot we raced over to see my new little teeny nephew who was born just in time for Thanksgiving.  Grace had gone home with someone else so she missed out, but I wasn’t going to let one more moment pass before I held that sweetie pie.  My brother and his wife had their baby within a couple hours of this one.  How crazy is that?  Gave me a serious case of IWAN to see the little videos and pictures come through to us.

Yes, we had every one of Dave’s siblings there in town, but one made an early exit from all the hoopla to give birth to the sweetest little guy!

(Pretty good excuse not to make it for the other Thanksgiving festivities, don’t you think?)

I’ll post about Thanksgiving dinner/dessert/evening tomorrow, but I’m posting the aftermath of everything here too so I can have it all in one spot.

On Friday we got up and played some tennis.

Dave and Elle played against his cousin and his daughter…

…and got walloped I might add…

Elle and Grace also played against Zoe and Claire which was a pretty sweet match I must say.

Although Lucy was swimming with Zoe’s little brothers (in ice cold water!) she claimed she needed a tennis shot as well 🙂

We went out to dinner with Chris & Sam as well as our friends in town from Texas that night, and then Dave’s brother heated his pool the next day which the cousins were over the moon about.

They also enjoyed this human elastic on the side…

On Sunday we had two farewells of Elle’s friends, so happy she got to be here for a couple of them, and send them off.  Here’s Grace with one of Elle’s friends on the way to one of the farewells…

Oh boy, so much more to write but this is long enough and so I’ll wrap it up by saying we said goodbye to our friends on Saturday night, and dropped off Elle at the airport on Sunday afternoon (sad day!) and then we got to work on CHRISTMAS.

Our tradition is to watch Elf as we put up Christmas decorations…some were more distracted by that than others.  Ha!

That was quite a week and I don’t think I’ve ever been as exhausted in my whole life as I was when Dave and I settled in to bed that night.  We are still trying to recover a little from all that hoopla, but December feels so good so far.  Maybe it’s the #LIGHTtheWORLD thing we are loving so much!

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  1. What an amazing time for your family! I really love all the additions to your home. This is totally nosy, but would you mind sharing where you got your area rug, coffee table, round mirror and new sofa? I love them and the peaceful feeling it gives to your living room. 🙂

  2. Shawni, today's light the world challenge is to help others see as Jesus helped them see. After reading your blog for all these years the first person I thought of was Lucy. Is there somewhere we can donate today? Or is there another way to help out? Just asking because she is the cutest little light and it breaks my heart to hear of her struggles.

    1. I had the same thought! She was the first person I thought of too. Please let us know how we can help and where the best place to donate might be. We love Lucy!

    2. Thank you so much for these thoughts! I forgot these comments were here! I hope you found the directions in the other post on ways to donate but if not, go to familiesfightingblindness dot org and there is a red donate button on the right. Those funds go directly to Families Fighting Blindness. Sending love and gratitude your way for thinking about Lucy!

  3. This is so awesome! so I had a question and i know you have no idea who I am but I wanted to ask how do you decide which countries you want to visit? there are so many awesome ones its hard to narrow it down! also have you ever considered visiting Finland? They say the North Pole is there and they have a whole village and everything, just wanted to share that with you!

    1. I'd love to go to Finland! Lots of factors have gone into where we have visited…books we've read that inspire us, friends or family who live there, etc.

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