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Back in New Jersey for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving belongs to my mother-in-law. This is the law. And, luckily, we all get along fine (mostly) -- so the holiday is pretty low-stress. It does involved a long drive from Illinois to New Jersey, because flights are too dang expensive -- especially to sit is someone's dining room for the day. I'll pay $2,000 to sit on a beach or walk wide Paris streets but for suburban New Jersey? Um, no.

So we rented a Ford Escape, loaded it up with snacks, goodies, kids and Hanukkah presents and headed out of the midwest. Because we don't like (understatement) fast food, we found a little hole-in-the-wall pizza place in Montpellier, Ohio for dinner on our first night. And for Ohio pizza, it wasn't too bad. We did the bulk of the driving in the evening, which meant the kids slept for much of the drive to our overnight in a hotel. The next morning, they swam in the pool and jumped in the car for the final leg.

Here's the things I really miss about New Jersey.

- the pizza. People, there is NO duplicating the taste of NJ/NY pizza. It's singular and delicious. That first piece is like tasting pizza again. The crust isn't supposed to taste like cardboard? The sauce is supposed to be tomoato-y and tangy? The cheese should form strings when pulled apart. DELICIOUS.

- the bagels. No lie, an Einstein bagel has nothing on the little min-mall places in New Jersey. They're lighter, fluffier, toast to a crisp and taste amazing with cream cheese and lox. Or, the BEST is my mother-in-law's egg salad. No one makes it like hers. I crave it.

- the friends. We have great friends and family in Jersey that we miss seeing often. We're missing out on big gatherings and their kids' growing.

Here's what I don't miss:

- the traffic. You can't go far without hitting traffic, even in the suburbs. It's terribly annoying, especially being in a car with

- the crowds. We tried to see a movie with the kids and it was sold out. I remember this from when we lived there. We had to really plan ahead on weekends to see movies, buying tickets in advance and arriving early. In our new place, we're 5 minutes from the theater and it's almost NEVER sold out. We're spoiled now.

- the people. Being dressed to the 9s to go the grocery store. Patten-leather pointy boots to pick up take-out? Really?! Women with high-gloss nails, teased hair and heavy make-up. It makes a girl like me feel under-dressed everywhere I go.

We were so excited to get home that the last leg of the trip felt awfully long. But, we rolled in Saturday at lunch time and spent the weekend getting settled back in and ready for another long week at work and school.

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