Growing up I remember looking at maps of the United States and thinking that I would never, ever visit a place like Maine. Being 9 and from Idaho, it just seemed too far and purposeless. Why would I ever have a purpose to go all the way to Maine? Well...come to find out that I would make it there and with purpose.
Minnesota was another one of those places. Why would I ever go to this place called Minnesota? Well, I can write this and say that I am officially thankful for Minnesota. First, it is the home of Target. Second, it has the Wortleys. Third, it has the Gardners.
So we drove up from Chicago to spend Thanksgiving with friends in Rochester, MN. The Wortleys drove down from Minneapolis just to have dinner and say hi for a few hours - even though their parents were back in Minn visiting them. Now that is DEDICATION. Their baby Liam is basically adorable and makes my heart explode with love. He and Max will one day be super buds.It was great catching up with our long lost friends from Evanston. The Wortleys were a mainstay of our fun for so long that we just miss their faces to death. Oh why can't we live in the same state? Curses! So grateful they came down to see us.The next day was Thanksgiving time. Let me introduce chef and host extraordinaire - Matt Gardner. What was on the menu? Fried turkey suckas! Yes, he had a deep fryer and about 4 gallons of oil. He would be frying two turkeys that day.I was fascinated with this process and couldn't wait to try it. I mean, what could be gross that involved that much peanut oil? Nothing. I'd eat poop fried with that much peanut oil.Homies: Mark, Matt and Tyson. Let me make the connections. Mark is related to Tyson's wife and married to Kat, who is friends with my sister and lives in the Wortley's ward. Matt is friends with Tyson from their ward back in Logan Square and his wife was roommates with Caitlin at BYU. Tyson lives in our ward but we knew them before through Matt. Got it?My b****es: Kat, Kelli, Alissa and Caitlin. True ladies.Back to the turkey y'all. So, this thing had to stay at a specific temperature the entire time to end up right. I was assigned for a while to watch the thermometer and make sure it was in the correct range. I will be honest, I got distracted sometimes.The weather was unseasonably warm for Minnesota. These bare feet prove it. It made for an awesome weekend where only jackets were necessary.More food. For example - PIE! I don't think a pie could look more beautiful.Place settings adorned.Gorgeous table setting, helping us all feel like home and ready for gratitude.Back to the turkey - the unveiling! The ladies came out to see what we men had accomplished standing around in a circle chatting for an hour or two. Cameras even came out - what would this bird be?Gangsta. You might be looking at that and thinking its burnt. You'd be wrong. It was perfect.Fried turkey in all its glory.The excitement for friend turkey caused some people to get emotional and start hugging and being all tender - like Tyson and Kelli. I think her left hand is on his butt, but I can't confirm.More table as we prepared to sit down and eat and feast.The Thanksgiving crew with nearly all the kids asleep taking naps. A true Thanksgiving miracle!The hosts with the most pizzazz.Precious Alpha - the only kid who had woken up in time to watch us eat massive quantities of food.Us. Dinner was awesome and great conversation was had by all. I really wasn't expecting such an amazing meal and so chill and relaxing at that. Way to completely blow my expectations out of the water.Later when the babies got up we played and then did a mass-bathing event of crazy kid nudity and preciousness. I mean, naked babies in a tub...could you ask for more? This picture just reminds me how thankful we should be to have such great babies.Da kids.After the babies hit the hay, we stayed up for some adult fun. No, not that kind of adult fun sickos. I'm talking about the game where you have a bowl full of names and you do three rounds. One where you can describe the person, one where you have to act out the person, and lastly you get one word to describe the person. Team to get the most wins. Bad explanation, but you've probably played it. Caitlin, who is ultra competitive, started it out by trash talking.Tyson prepares the clock and gets ready to describe. When we got to the acting part things started getting awesome.Eventually the girls killed the boys at this game. How can we compete with them? They know so much more about celebrity gossip and other name driven crap. Also, they are smarter than us. And possibly more talented.