Family, Holidays, Travel

A Tennessee Thanksgiving

By now, you all know that my parents live in Tennessee and you also know that it is quite far away.

11 hours by car, well, 12 if you want to get there in one piece and need to go to the bathroom and eat on the way.
It is a long a@# drive, no better way to put it.
But as we get closer and closer to our destination, we realize that we are lucky to have family that lives in such a beautiful location.
Does it suck that I don’t get to see my parents but three or four times a year?
Holy balls, yes.
But at least when we do see them where they live, it is pretty and usually warmer than where we live.
It still sucks though, to be clear.
 On the way to Tennessee. Someone help me.

I complained on Instagram on the way down about my girls arguing in the car.
It would be lying and not at all real life if I didn’t share with you the truth.
This picture describes how I felt listening to them bicker.
I may have made this face all through Illinois as well.

On the road to Tennessee for Thanksgiving.

But then after some traffic snafu’s throughout the entire northern part of Tennessee, it got much better.
Tennessee was givin’ us the middle finger until we got about an hour south of Nashville.
For some reason, I want to blame this on Taylor Swift, so let’s.
Then it got really amazing, as it usually does.
Because far, far away from Taylor Swift.

Beautiful Tennessee

And then we could start to breathe…

Tennessee Highway
Tennessee Highway

In the distance, you can see little “Where’s Waldo” signs of Chattanooga.
Do you see the Rock City barn in the distance?
When we see these, we know we are getting closer.

Chattanooga Highway

When we see the Ruby Falls signs, we get giddy!


There is something so comforting about seeing Chattanooga on the highway signs.
Even though I didn’t grow up here, wherever my mom and dad are, comfort lives.

Ella watching tv at Mamie and Papa's

We introduced The Wiz (the original movie version) to my youngest daughter on Thanksgiving morning.
I was obsessed with this movie in the late seventies.
I had the album memorized, I loved the dancing, the characters, everything….dare I say, more than the original?
We only got to watch a little of it before the parade started so I bought it on DVD for myself as a little early Christmas present for five dollars on Amazon.
Dance parties to be held in my family room starting this weekend.


Watching the Macy Day parade on a horse, as you do.

Tennessee trees

It was 70 degrees on Thanksgiving Day in Chattanooga.
So we spent a lot of it outside.


It is a glorious place, that Chattanooga.

Wherever my mama goes, she makes it warm and cozy.

See where I got my knack for cool color doors?

That is my parents wedding china.
Almost 50 years old.
You would never know it.

That turkey was so damn good that we started eating it at the kitchen counter BEFORE dinner.
I kid you not.

Two of the finest people you will ever meet.

This candid shot sums up our week: joy.
These people just get us.

Screened porches are huge in the south.
If we had 70 degree Thanksgivings, they would be huge in the north as well.

We got to help my parents set up the Christmas tree while we were there which is so special because we are never together anymore to do tree trimming as a family.
This picture is Ellie.
Future rock star.
She was jamming out to her broom microphone while cleaning.
Such a multi-tasker.

This is an inside joke that I had to take a picture of.
Annie told my husband months ago that she beat a football player friend at arm wrestling once to which my husband laughed out loud.
So she immediately challenged him to an arm wrestling match and lost.
They arm wrestle on a weekly basis and she almost always loses……well, she always loses but it is always funny.

Ella had seen these turkey cupcakes in a magazine at home a month ago and wanted to make them with Mamie as soon as she saw them.
This is one of the many things I love about my mom.
She doesn’t forget about the little things.
She made sure they made these cupcakes together before we left Tennessee.

My mom is one of the few people in Ella’s world who can hold her attention.
I mean this in the best way possible for those who are close to us.
She is so engaging and patient with her and lasso’s the moon in Ella’s world.
I love these pictures because it captures a moment in time that I wish I could re-create every single day for my little girl.

We got to watch the “big game” while in Tennessee which was hilariously fun.
My sister dog got dressed up for the occasion.

As did these two characters.
They had so much fun watching the game together, mortal football enemies that they are.
By the way, the Buckeyes won and my husband pouted all evening.
Until the food came out, then it was all good.

I blame that guy for their loss.

On a serious note, the “Chad Tough” written on his helmet was in honor of little Chad Carr losing his battle with cancer days before this game.
Cancer is such an asshole, go here to find out how you can help make it go away.

Making the actual cupcakes for the turkeys.
It was a process…..see what I mean about Mamie’s patience?
I love her so much.

Ellie loves to cook with me but cooking with her Mamie is something so special.

While my mom and Ella were making turkey cupcakes, Anna and I were putting on fake eyelashes.
It’s always a party.
This is the first time in my life I have ever had these things on my eyes.
Like having two tarantulas on the ends of my eyeballs.
Then I saw this picture my mom took later and I was all, DAMN GIRL

One morning, we all went to breakfast to get Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer pancakes.
I should clarify, Ella ordered them.
We all got other things although after it came to the table, we were re-thinking our choices.
See? These are the fun things you do with grandparents!
Grandparents are so much damn fun, you should really get yourselves some.
If you don’t have any, rent some.
By the way, she was going to get a Rudolph cup but she was being kind of a salty beast that morning so nope.
I almost took one of his antlers as retribution.

I did get grits though.
OMG, they do grits so good in the south.
Even at Denny’s.

My mom does cool things like order fun foods she sees that Oprah likes.
You really need to get a mom like mine.
I know you are jealous, you can’t have her though.
She is all mine.
These are called Bruffins.
Like a biscuit and a muffin in one, I guess.
There were international inspired flavors, hence the flags.
The flags weren’t just there for fun, they were there as code to tell us what in the hell we were eating.

Lots of fun flavors.
Only it wasn’t as much fun as it sounded.
This is where my “what is the least annoying thing about Oprah” question comes into play.
See, I am sure Oprah’s Bruffin was all tasty and good…..when her chef made it for her in her Viking oven.
But even in my mom’s amazing oven, when we followed the instructions to the TEE, these still were just eh.
Bruffin my a@#.

I am right with ya, doll.

And at last, the turkey cupcakes were done!
Are they not the sweetest things you have ever seen?

Someone was very proud of her creation.

Another reason I love going to my parents home is because I get to see my teenager.
Don’t get me wrong, I see her at home.
When she isn’t at Buffalo Wild Wings with her friends or the basketball game with her other friends.
Or in her room chatting on the phone with her boyfriend or at school or at soccer practice or texting on her phone……
She is shared with everyone else at home but here?
She is all ours and I relished every moment of that week because these weeks are dwindling.
Here she is making her famous guacamole.

There is just nowhere on Earth like your Grammy and Grampy’s bed while watching a movie.

Yes, it is so hard to be far apart from these amazing people but my goodness, what we made up for in that week was just so special.
I am so lucky that I have parents like mine.
And I am so glad that my husband and girls love them just as much as I do.
Thank you for an amazing week, Mom and Dad.
I am just so thankful for you.

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