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Thanksgiving Vacation 2016

While I was gone for 17 days for Thanksgiving 2016 – honestly for a variety of reasons – it went by in a flash of fun, time spent with people I love, and way too much food.  Overall, it was amazing!

As I went to upload pictures from these past few stops, I realized that I did not take nearly as many pictures as I would have liked.  But I guess I was just living in the moment right?  So here is a quick recap, highlight style!

Thanksgiving Vacation 2016: The Highlights

Ashley and Dave’s Wedding

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Two of my dear friends, Ashley and Dave, got married over the trip, and I was incredibly honored to be a part of their special day as both a bridesmaid and reader!  (Check out my tips for how to prep here.) Their wedding was hosted at the gorgeous Intercontinental Hotel on Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago.  It was a black tie optional wedding and it was a blast to see all of our friends dresses up to the nines.  Plus, Ashley and I are part of a close group of friends that have been tight since high school, so the wedding was a small part reunion, too.  It was a beyond perfect way to start my trip!  (Love you, Ash and Dave!  Thanks for throwing an awesome party full of love and fun!)

Grandma’s 90th Birthday Party

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My gorgeous, loving, kind grandmother recently turned 90 and I was lucky enough to celebrate by her side at her birthday party.  My mother and some of her siblings came together to host a delicious luncheon at Granite City in Naperville, IL.  While the food was fantastic, the company was even better!

One of the highlights to me was a slideshow that was playing in the background that included several pictures of my grandmother, starting with her as a baby.  We were also able to view color video of her wedding day from 1948!  (My great-uncle was a photography teacher and purchased new cameras as soon as they were available – lucky for us!)

I can only pray that my 90th birthday party will include half the amount of love and happiness that surrounded my grandmother on her special day.

Dinner and a Show at Cliff Dwellers

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My mother recently joined the Cliff Dwellers in downtown Chicago, which is a private civic art organization founded in 1907.  They have a STUNNING space right in the heart of Michigan Avenue, across from Millennium Park.

I was lucky enough to be her first guest to join her there for dinner, and it ended up being a perfect night.  The cool, Fall evening started with a preview of a new show in Chicago called “Apartment 3A,” followed by a short magic show (we were both volunteers for one of the tricks, duh), and ended with casual dinner, drinks, and conversation between the two of us.  An ideal evening if you ask me!

Surprising Brittany for Her 30th Birthday

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The next day, I was jetting off to Orlando to surprise one of my best friends for her 30th birthday!  Her husband and I had been plotting for months, and I’ve honestly been avoiding talking to her to keep from spilling the surprise.

While I was in Orlando, we went to Harry Potter World (a tradition for her and her husband on her birthday), Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios – all within three days!

The parks were fun, but the best part was spending quality time with one of my favorite people.  When we’ve seen each other in recent years, it’s always been for a big event (#weddings) or only for a couple of hours.  Having a few days of time to relax and just catch up was such an amazing mid-way stop of the trip.  (Thanks, Britt and Matt, for being amazing hosts, too!)

Thanksgiving Day & Dinner

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I spent exactly one week in Naples, FL with family, but my favorite day was probably the actual holiday itself.  Our family that was in town and staying together – me, Ray, my dad, my two brothers, our sister-in-law, our four nephews, and our two nieces – all decided to stay at the house all day and do whatever interested us.  We worked out, my brother and niece made our DELICIOUS home-made dinner from scratch, my nephews played basketball in the driveway for hours (a neighbor came to join for a while, too), and we all had a simple, active day.  We had nowhere to be, but we all stayed up, active, connected, and in-the-moment.  All in all, it was a beautiful day.

Thanksgiving Dinner started when my aunt, uncle, two cousins, and one of their boyfriends popped by to start off with some drinks and appetizers.  The meal my brother and niece made was UNREAL and the leftovers are still being enjoyed at this moment.  After dinner and dessert, we played the game Speak Out, which was beyond hilarious.  It’s essentially a game where you put an apparatus in your mouth that makes you look like the dentist, then you get a phrase to say, and your team has to guess.  So, so funny!

The entire day was a perfect and I’m still incredibly grateful for the time with my family.

Fishing Galore

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This is the third year we’ve booked a deep sea fishing trip as a family and I’m SO glad that we’ve turned it into an annual thing.  It’s a perfect last day of our trip – we all get together on a boat and have a fun, family-filled activity.  Plus, we even get to use the fish we catch in our dinner meal in the evening for fish tacos.

I think my favorite part of the fishing trip is seeing the kids incredibly excited about every step in the journey.  The hour-long trek out to the reefs, catching each and every fish (even if they’re too small and have to be thrown back), and getting excited to make the fish into a meal.  We’re all able to see the payment of our hard work with a delicious dinner to end the day.


What was the highlight of your Thanksgiving holiday?  What are you most looking forward to in December?

Create a great life!

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