December 3, 2016

Thanksgiving with the Jolliffs

We had such a fun visit with the Jolliffs! We arrived the day before Thanksgiving and spent 4 nights. The adults and kids all had a great time together. When we arrived, Elizabeth picked us up in a nearby town and took us to Hashim's Palace, from the Umayyad era. There was a school field trip and lots of kids from a southern town were roaming around and enjoyed talking with us everywhere we turned. Many of them wanted their pictures taken!

Here it is, the original Tree of Life mosaic! It was amazing to see in person and was so well preserved. Unfortunately we could only view it from this angle, but it was all worth it!

Part of the palace and the floor is said to be the largest preserved mosaic that exists today. The palace, with all sites in the region, experienced a great earthquake in 749AD that destroyed many of the sites.

Just us and the local kids...and a small Japanese tour group.
The boys enjoyed lots of climbing.

Say cheese!


We made it to their house before the big boys got home from school and enjoyed re-acquainting with the twins. It was a really nice day and we all played outside for a bit.



These babies are so sweet together and love each other so much!
Next it was Benjamin's turn.
The big boys came home from school and were hungry. I love this picture of all 7 enjoying a big lunch.
Then back outside to play!
Sweet, sweet Jacob :).
Benjamin took a liking to the baby swing, haha.
And then discovered the rope swing.
They have a plentiful lemon tree in the yard. One day a few of the boys helped pick lemons so we could make Nathan's famous lemon with mint recipe.


Who's that wildcat...it's Caleb!
Andrew has the best expressions!


They have such a fun yard for kids to play

I was loving the signs of fall and their grape vines in the yard!

Caleb and the big boys spent a lot of time in the tree house.
Sam is such a great big brother and cousin, and is getting so mature and responsible! We enjoyed having him sleep downstairs with us each night and Andrew on most nights too.



These babies love their momma!
Footy PJs, popcorn, and a movie after a hard day of school and play!
On Thanksgiving morning, Elizabeth and I went for a nice and flat almost 9 mile turkey trot.
It was a really chilly but beautiful day and so fun to run together. Wish we could do this more often!
Afterwards, we picked up a fresh turkey from the butcher for the next day. It arguably may have been alive right before we got there...we had never seen anything like it and took the turkey in the plastic bag and cardboard box home.

Elizabeth did a wonderful job decorating for Thanksgiving and the table looked beautiful, and everyone took home fresh baked lemon bread and Jolliff branded olive oil from their own trees!

She had a really cute kids area too.
These two love to help and love to play together! 


Afternoon movie time while the adults got stuff ready for turkey day.
Then back outside...Sam and Benjamin are so goofy and we saw a lot of this silliness...these boys!

The boys and men enjoyed a fire in the backyard that night.
These two were ready to celebrate Thanksgiving!

The boys were so sweet with the babies. Benjamin looked so big next to them.




Time for the guests to arrive!


We did it, an 18 lb turkey! We had a thermometer fail and were pretty nervous about how cooked it was. The digital thermometer saved the day, and it tasted great, along with the coca cola and brown sugar marinated smoked ham.
Their team mates all brought over delicious food, everything was so tasty!
Mark and Betty - the candy corn and peanuts made it...I waited until we got there to eat it!
Afterwards, some of the men and kids played some baseball, basketball, and played outside.






And then we attempted family pictures!

Love this :).
And a cousin picture...here are a few of the best ones :).
Not sure why Benjamin scooted over...
He is such a goofball!
I love these pictures of the Jolliff ladies. I think Abigail is another mini-me in the making!

Once our bellies settled, we played some a modern day trivia game that involved putting our phone on our foreheads to answer questions, and ate some delicious pies and desserts.

Playing games with Sam.
Benjamin was done....
Other boys watched kindle...this was a common scene most nights, usually plus Sam but tonight he was playing with us.
The next day, we went to our favorite coffee shop in town to get some souvenir mugs and then visit the olive wood shop.
And I loved on the twins some more. Abigail and I bonded pretty well on this trip. Abram not as much, but I was glad to get them both smiling :).
On our way to the indoor play area! This little girl loves her little girl things.
Hap and Nathan walked down, and we all drove. Who says you can't fit 9 people in a ford focus? 
What a fun place to let the kids run wild.


I found the boys having a secret meeting in one of the corners of the play area.
Hap lost his wedding ring in the ball pit. We had quite a few helpers doing a mass search for the ring...Uncle Nathan found it, whoo hoo!!
And we thought that was a good time to call it a night. But attempted another cousin picture first. Abram was not very happy about this picture!
Who says you can't fit 11 people in a ford focus?!
We stopped off at the favorite schwerma place for dinner, and it was so delicious...
Good night to all, and to all a good night!
We were so thankful for the opportunity to visit and look forward to more fun times together!