Amid Black Friday sales and stampedes happened to fall a little known holiday called Thanksgiving.  At the core of the celebration is the idea that individuals should take a step back (and maybe not spend a week camped out in front of a store for a $200 TV) to spend time with their family and reflect on the things that they are thankful for.

I can easily say that there is no way that I can do justice for all of the many gifts that I am thankful for, but in keeping with the season, I tried to wrap it all up into 3 main blessings:

First, there is health.  As a parent, you always worry about the health of your children while becoming keenly aware of your own health status.  I don’t know any different to be able to speak with authority on the subject, but as an adoptive parent health concerns were always on our mind because we didn’t have the opportunity to be present along every step of the way.  No matter what your situation is, having a child with health issues has to be one of the most difficult things to handle as  a parent.  Luckily in 18 months, I think the worst thing we have had to deal with is a very minor cold.  We didn’t even have any teething fevers that we were aware of, so either we are very blessed or we need to start paying better attention.

During this past year we have had a few health scares throughout both Jenn & I’s family, but I am happy to say that currently everyone is doing fine.  It takes these instances to remind you just how lucky you are to have good health and good family.

So moving beyond good health there is also family.  Jenn & I are lucky (and very thankful) to have the opportunity to raise an amazing son.  We are also fortunate to have the support of two very amazing families.

This year we stayed at home and had Jenn’s parents and brother along with two of his children to spend a long Thanksgiving weekend with.  We started early Thanksgiving morning (6:45 am wakeup call) with a local Turkey Trot benefitting Feeding Children Everywhere.  Although I hate running with a passion, I had to refer to blessing #1…health.  Jenn placed #1 overall for women and #15 overall (out of over 700 runners).  I also placed #1 (in my heart) which unfortunately they don’t hand out awards for.

After waiting for Jenn to receive her awards, Teresa, Jenn, Nolin and I headed back home to meet up with everyone else as they were just waking up.  We got them out of bed, and then I headed out with Jenn’s brother and two daughters to Wekiva Springs to go kayaking.

We spotted a few gators, several turtles & birds and had a few up close and personal encounters with trees (funny that even in water they don’t move).  Eventually we made our way back to the house for Thanksgiving Dinner.  For those that know me…I love Thanksgiving dinner (again, I should probably refer back to blessing #1). I am a meat and potatoes guy and it typically hits all my major food groups.  This year did not disappoint.

After dinner we headed to a nearby town center to walk around the lake (and burn some of the Thanksgiving calories off) and see their water/light show.  At around 9:00, I think we were all exhausted and headed home.

The next morning Jenn’s brother and kids woke up early to go to the outlets for a little Black Friday shopping…shoot me.  I opted out, but we met them at Seaworld around 11am.  Typically we spend about 3 hours at Seaworld (and leave exhausted), this time we spent about 8 or 9 hours and Nolin was a champ.

Seaworld is perfect for Nolin because he is enamored with animals especially marine animals.  He was completely enthralled with the Shamu show, and the Otter Show.  For the holidays they also had a Sesame Street Christmas show which blew him away, and the Polar Express show.

As the Polar Express show started and everyone quieted down, Nolin blurted out Orca Whale (which really didn’t make any sense except that we had just recently seen the Shamu Show) and then Good Night as the lights dimmed…laughter ensued  He didn’t take his eyes off the screen, but did manage to whisper Choo Choo each time they showed the train.

Again exhausted at the end, we headed home and Nolin slept for almost the entire car ride.

Saturday we slept in (for a little bit) and then headed to St. Augustine for the day.  We stopped at Fort Matanzas, but they weren’t doing boat tours at the time, so we made our way to Castillo de San Marcos. The kids loved it and Nolin was totally in his element.  Climbing from canon to canon and exploring every nook and cranny in the fort.

After dinner, we left for Daytona Beach to spend the night.  This was in preparation for an early morning fishing trip on Sunday.  We woke up, got breakfast and headed to the dock.

On the way, I took some Dramamine because I didn’t want to feed the fish quite as much as I did on our last fishing adventure.  As Jenn’s brother went to check in, I got everything ready including putting on plenty of sunscreen…again I am learning from past mistakes.

Then the news came back we needed to wait on a few more people before the boat would leave.  They never showed and we never left.  Here I was all dramamined out and lotioned up and no place to go.  So we headed back to the hotel and spent the rest of the day on the beach, playing volleyball and ice skating before eventually heading home.

Again we are very lucky to have a great family on both sides and I can’t wait for Christmas to get back home to see my family, but enjoyed every minute of this Thanksgiving Holiday.

Oh and I mentioned that there were 3 things that I was thankful for.  The last is getting back to work.  After a non stop action filled long weekend…work is seeming to be the vacation I was looking for.

Playing outside Fort Matanzas
Jenn & Nolin hanging out on Daytona Beach
Don & Nolin climbing the trees outside Fort Matanzas
Jenn's family at Castillo de San Marcos
Exploring the surf of Daytona Beach