Thursday, January 14, 2016

New Year's amazingness

 Alternate title for this post: "Incredibly Unflatting Pictures of Myself I Stole Off Facebook" or something like that. (You guys. Seriously. I am posting these photos only because I love the other people in them so much.)

After we celebrated Christmas this year, we were able to spend the most magical week with my side of the family--my parents, my maternal grandparents, ALL FIVE of my sisters, plus husbands, plus kids, all at my parents' house for a week. It was absolutely amazing and magical and wonderful (just ignore what my face is saying in this picture and trust me IT WAS AMAZING). I seriously had so much fun and I was so sad when it was time to say goodbye!!!

Unfortunately, I was so overwhelmed by documenting this gloriousness that I kept putting it off and putting it off (mostly it was the tracking down of pictures...and I know there are tons that I'm missing but I don't know how to yank them off other people's Instagrams and the texts about Christmas are like miles and miles back of scrolling). ETA: my awesome family sent me a ton of pictures, so we are updated!

Anyway, so we're going for a greatest-hits-with-random-pictures kind of documentation here, okay?

So the plan was that Mary Beth would take the train from Chicago to my parents' on Saturday, Rosalind and Chris would drive up from North Carolina on Sunday, and my little family would arrive on Monday, as would Ruth, Jordan, Elise, and Paxton, who were flying in from Utah. Civilized, right?

Addie had a lot of fun photo-bombing the first night!!

Except then on Saturday I got a call from Rosalind: "We're almost to Mom and Dad's. I couldn't wait. Why aren't you already on the road? Come now!"

So we put some stuff in gear and lined up our ducks and left Sunday right from church. Turns out everyone in our family is TERRIBLE at waiting to see each other--the Utah contingent spent hours on the tarmac waiting to find out if they would get snowed in or not (the storms were SO bad), got into Chicago super late, and instead of staying in a hotel like some people might do, they drove late into the night and got to my parents' and all of us other crazy people were awake waiting for them and rejoicing at the togetherness!!! It was so wonderful. So so so so so wonderful. Gosh I love my family so much!

Mary Beth and Rosalind--so happy to be reunited!

The next day everyone was pretty tired and I don't remember much of what we did--I know at one point all 20 of us tromped downtown to Schawarma King, which is our favorite place and we love it dearly and we took up the majority of the restaurant with our awesomeness. It was great. Here's the happening end of the table with Unicorn Aunt and Grandpa (you know that's where the party is just by looking at Evelyn!). 

Down at the other end of the table little Caleb was getting his first taste of schawarma. I admit, we all laughed pitilessly at the babies' faces--Pierce tried hummus for the first time and he was very disillusioned about the world of solid food (hahahah!). Meanwhile Nathan was cramming himself with every french fry in sight because their french fries are sooooo good there.

Then we went over to the church and we had So. Much. Fun. My dad had ordered a whole bunch of balsa planes for the kids, and they played with those for hours (well, played/smashed/brought them to Grandpa for repair). Jordan divided all the adults and older kids up into four teams and we played a few really intense tournament rounds of two-on-two kickball/soccer/thing. I was not supposed to be running at this point but I ran a LOT because competitive urges, man! This was one of my very favorite parts of the weekend--it was nonstop laughing and just so great. I loved seeing everyone get SO into it (like my mom--she will take you down!!) and we had such a fabulous time. Then we shifted into volleyball, and Jordan did his standard make-a-bet thing...I don't remember the exact terms but I know he had to buy Neil a soda on the way home.

By the end of the morning the kids started just tromping through the middle of the game in great abandon. Love those clasped hands!!

Mary Beth was such a good sport--we were all being loud and crazy while she was working away in her mobile office!

One of my very favorite photos from the whole week right here!

Here's Mary Beth and Pierce chilling by the volleyball net, with Neil in the background making a face. 

The next day--I think--we had family photos taken. To be honest, none of us were very pleased by the photos or the photographer's editing, but they are what they are and it's nice to have photos of all of us together. (Mostly I love the ones that don't have me in them.)

This one is one of my absolute favorites--Mary Beth with all of her little nieces and nephews, or "niblings" as she calls them collectively! L-R Juliet holding Nathan, Evelyn, Pierce, Caleb, Abigail holding Addie, Luke, Isaac.

By the way, Addie was a pretty constant fixture in Abigail's life that week--Abigail had a big fuzzy blanket that Addie just LOVED and if we needed to find Addie, we just had to look for someone rolled up in Abigail's blanket (and half the time in Abigail's lap!). Abs was so sweet about it and was so tender with Addie. 

Another cousin relationship that I loved seeing--Evelyn and Luke, who are holding hands together in this photo! They got along so well and it was just darling watching them together. Ev was so sad when it was time to say goodbye, and Isaac drew her a really sweet picture of the Florida beach where we will all reunite in a few months!

 Love the cousin bonding!!

Another one of our photos--my mom with all of her daughters. Some of my favorite women on the planet. When I was a teenager I never would have believed anyone who told me that my mom & sisters would be some of my very best friends as an adult, but I am SO grateful for their love, support, and friendship in my life. They are the first ones I turn to and I treasure them so much. (L-R Mary Beth, Ruth, Mom, Rosalind, Elise, me)

 And my dad and his sons-in-law (L-R Chris [Rosalind], Neil, Dad, Jordan [Ruth], Paxton [Elise]).
My dad has always been the absolute best at making us girls feel like we are the pinnacle of happiness in his life as a parent, but I must say that I love being able to see him with his sons-in-law--it's just so neat to see their relationship with each other. He's such an amazing man and I think they are pretty darn lucky to have his influence and love in their life. He gave Neil a very tender, loving, and specific blessing a few weeks ago and I was thinking during the blessing about how grateful I am that the love he has for his daughters has extended so completely to envelop our husbands.

One of just us girls. My best friends. Love them all so much.

And my mom and her parents, Colleen and Ed (for whom my Nathan Edward is named).

After the marathon photo session we ate the super-delicious pastries that my mom had the foresight to bring, and then Neil took our kiddies home and fed them lunch while I went to lunch with my sisters & their husbands at an Indian place. It was so fun to talk with them--and funny because a lot of the time we ended up talking about public schools. Just funny to me that we are becoming adults now and talking about things like this, especially as I'm the oldest and I've seen everyone grow up and turn from gawky little kids to these delightful adults (here's something crazy: Abigail is older than Rosalind was when Neil & I were married. That's how long he has been a part of my sisters' lives!).
Meanwhile back at the ranch, there was some good Pierce/Amma/Addie snuggling going on.

One of my favorite bits of this trip was taking walks with my sisters. Rosalind and I took a really long walk together on Monday; on Wednesday she and Mary Beth were shopping so Ruth, Elise, and I went out to the lake together. (On Friday the boys came with us and that wasn't quite as much fun because they spent the whole time daring each other to do stuff and kicking big chunks of snow and ice around and we couldn't just talk quietly. Silly boys. And by boys I mean husbands, not my sons.)

I also love this photo because it shows our standard practice when coming to my parents' house: leave half the stuff you need at home, and then just search for it in random closets. Every single one of us is wearing a hat/earwarmer from the coat closet. Pretty sure we're all wearing gloves and maybe even coats and boots from the same source. Actually, looking more closely I remember that Elise borrowed Neil's coat...hahaha! (My favorite was the time when none of us brought clothes for one trip because we all planned on borrowing everyone else's. We all ended up wearing Rosalind's clothes, who was in high school at the time and fortunately still living at home.)

On Thursday we gave my grandparents their Christmas gift--all of us 2nd-generation folks, plus Isaac (the girls stayed behind to help with the little kids but I don't know how helpful they were) went over to spend the morning cleaning my grandparents' apartment and clearing out their 2nd garage. They were super patient with us and all our cleaners and our music and carting away of things to dumpsters--it was a fun morning and I'm so glad we were able to give a gift that didn't require being stored or dusted or whatnot! And the guys were able to completely clear out one of the garages, so they no longer had to rent it (and Isaac seriously had the time of his life hanging out with the uncles and Daddy and throwing things into dumpsters. He still gets stars in his eyes when he talks about it!). Then I went home to take over with the kids, and everyone else headed out to lunch (Isaac was also SUPER excited to be the only kid having lunch with all the adults and that beloved Daddy of his!).

We had a great time hanging out at my grandparents' apartment and chatting when we were done with the work!

I can't remember which night it was, but one of the nights the guys sent us out for a little girls' night. SO MUCH FUN. We wandered around and did a lot of shopping/window-shopping (I stocked up on my beloved Fustini's vinegars; SO happy that they are now sold in my parents' town and not just in Petoskey where I can only buy them when we ski!). Then we headed downtown to this insanely good place for dinner. I can't remember what it was called, but it was SO good. It was like this little tapas place and we ordered a ton of food and everything was delicious--I remember the grilled broccoli as being a particular standout. It was just such a fun night and I hated to see it end...but when we went back home the guys had made cookies and and were played Star Wars video games, so we ended up hanging out eating cookies and eating Mary Beth's browned butter rice krispie treats while we girls worked on our family cookbook update (HEY REMEMBER THAT IT'S NOT DONE!) and stayed up ridiculously late until my mom appeared looking tragically pathetic clutching her pillow and we took pity on her and let her have her couch-bed back (my parents nobly gave up their room to Ruth & Jordan & their kids and then slept on couches the whole week--THAT is parental love!).

On Friday we went to the Air Zoo, which is really awesome. It's a huge museum with all kinds of fighter jets and planes--basically Neil's dream come true. And they also have a ton of rides for the kids, and flight simulators, so it's basically the kids' dream come true too. And it is my nightmare because I could not turn sweet Evelyn down when she asked me to ride the swingy balloons with her for the gazillionth time (that made me really nauseated) or turn down sweet Jules when she asked me to go in the flight simulator with her and THEN flip it upside down a million times (that made me really, really, really, really nauseated). True love, I tell you.

The little boys LOVED these helicopters!

Here's Rosalind and Chris getting ready to go in the flight simulators. Chris was the only one who actually knew what he was doing, since he's an Air Force veteran...but I think Rosalind still flipped them a few times! ;-)

Lots of baby-swapping while we waited in line...Ruth has all three of the youngest kids here!
Look at those muscles!

And here's Dad, Isaac, and Luke sporting their fancy 3-D glasses before the Air Zoo movie!

 I don't know what night this photo is from, but I'm 100% sure it's not from New Year's Eve (I think actually it might be Sunday night when we very first got there) because that's when we go all-out on our appetizer extravaganza! And I definitely know it wasn't that night because I was mostly in the kitchen. :-) We had lots of goodies this year and Abigail was in shrimp heaven.

I think these photos are from our "Christmas" night--we all waited to exchange presents until we were together. We've been doing a favorite things exchange for a couple of years that is totally my favorite!! And the kids were in heaven with new toys--Isaac is showing off the awesome K'nex set that Mary Beth gave him!

And some cute babies because there's never enough of those:

In fact, I'm going to let Abigail tell the rest of the New Year's Eve story since she wrote all about it! And I'll let this take us out, since I am now winning the prize for Longest Post Ever. (Oh but you was so much fun! Mary Beth reminded me of another awesome laugh-like-crazy moment...we spent the morning running around town trying frantically to get all our groceries for New Year's Eve, whereas normally we plan way ahead, but we had been so busy! Anyway, we ended up making do with a lot of things--like we were under strict orders to get Little Smokies to make pigs in a blanket for certain people, and we ended up with kielbasa instead after laughing like crazy watching hordes of people crawl under and into the refridgerated shelves desperately searching for one more elusive pack of Little Smokies--seriously I don't know how the store ran out of those at 10 AM on NYE!)

New Year's Eve
by Abigail
(Written for a school assignment)

New Year’s Eve was one of the best days of Winter Vacation. I was in Michigan with all my aunts and uncles at my grandparents’ house. Some of the things that made the day so awesome were that I made toffee with my aunt, played outside with all of the little kids, and played Werewolf with all of the adults.
         During the afternoon, I suddenly remembered that my Aunt Rosalind had said, a few days before, that we could make toffee together. I ran over to her. “Can we make toffee?” She said we could, and stood up from the couch she had been lying down on. We walked over to the kitchen and Aunt Rosalind got out a gallon Ziploc bag full to the brim with very fancy chocolate chips. My mouth started watering like a dog that had just run a marathon on a hot summer day. I helped Aunt Rosalind unwrap the yellow, salted butter and put it in the shiny, silver cooking pot. After that, Aunt Rosalind chopped up the unsalted pecans for one batch of toffee while I measured out brown sugar. Aunt Rosalind sprinkled the nuts over one of the two aluminum foil-covered cookie sheets as I poured the brown sugar into the pot. We mixed the ingredients together and set the timer for six minutes. Aunt Rosalind stirred until the timer beeped. BING! She poured out the sticky, brown contents of the pot onto the dull cookie sheets with a glooping sound. We waited for it to harden, and when it did, we sprinkled the chocolate chips over it. Slowly, they melted until they were as creamy as melted butter. Aunt Rosalind put the toffee outside in the snow to cool. There was nothing left to do now but eat it. 

(I should have taken a photo of Rosalind making the fudge with Abigail, but I'm pretty sure I was holding a baby during that interval, so here's a great one of my mom holding HER baby Rosalind!)

        I looked outside at the quickly falling snow and remembered a time earlier in the day. My sister, Juliet, had been sliding out on the frozen snow with my cousin, Evelyn. I had asked my mom if I could go out and join them, but she had said “If you go outside, Juliet will stop playing with Evelyn and start playing with you. Wait a few minutes.” So I had to stay inside and go through the torture of watching the two of them play together. Finally, I was able to put on my coat and go outside. I walked out the front door and over to the steep hill. The crisp, cold air stung my face and my breath came out as a cloud in the freezing, snow-filled air. I put one foot on the frozen snow of the hill. My feet shot out from under me with the speed of a bullet train, causing me to fall right on my back. I opened my eyes and saw a green, shadowy chain link fence looming over me. As I scrambled to my feet, I suddenly had an idea.
“Use the fence to pull yourselves up the hill!” The effect was immediate. Pretty soon, everyone was using the fence to climb the hill. As I got into position for my first slide, I looked to both of my sides. Juliet was trying to surf down the hill on my right and my brother, Luke, was a penguin sliding on his belly on my left. “LOOK OUT BELOW!” I yelled as I slid down the hill.
I came inside after about 15 minutes of sliding down the frozen hill and pulled off my warm coat. I could smell the delicious scent of dinner in the air. Spiced nuts, orange rolls, pigs-in-a-blanket, and puppy chow. Puppy chow is Rice Chex, peanut butter, chocolate, and powdered sugar mixed in a bowl. I grabbed a few out of the bowl and tried them. They were delicious! I went into the dining room for dinner, which passed in a blur of shrimp, spiced nuts, and a bit of cheeseball. I ended up in the living room with a cup of puppy chow and several Calvin and Hobbes books. As my siblings and I were going to bed, my mom whispered in my ear, “You can stay up late tonight. Just don’t tell the other kids.”  

I like to stay up late too...eating trifle!

I was so excited to stay up late that I almost jumped out of my skin. But I didn’t know what to do. So I told my aunt, Elise, that I could stay up late. She asked me what I would like to do. I shrugged. She asked me “Do you want to play Werewolf?” I didn’t know what Werewolf was. It turns out it is like Mafia, except with more characters. There’s a cupid, an angel, a witch, a hunter, villagers, and 3 werewolves. The cupid picks 2 twins, who protect each other, an angel, who saves people, a witch, who can kill people and save people, a hunter, who kills someone when he dies, the villagers do nothing, and the werewolves murder people. Aunt Elise started the game by handing out pieces of paper with the jobs on them. I opened my paper. The word “Cupid” glared out at me. “Villagers, go to sleep,” said Aunt Elise. She dimmed the lights in the room with the dimmer switch and turned out a night-noise app on her phone. Crickets chirped as she gave us instructions and told us that the villagers needed to guess the identity of the werewolves before the werewolves killed the villagers. Then she told each special role to open their eyes and perform their task, then close their eyes again. Since I was the cupid, I was first. I chose Aunt Rosalind and my mom to be the twins that would protect each other. Then she asked werewolves to open their eyes and chose someone to die, then told them to close their eyes again and asked the witch if they wanted to use their healing potion or killing potion. Next was the angel, who could choose to save anyone. The game was one of the best games I’d ever played in my life. We played two rounds before it was time for me to go to bed. During the last round, my mom, my dad, and I all ended up being werewolves. I was the last one to survive and I almost won, but my grandmother saw me smile and guessed that I was the last secret werewolf. I was very sad when it was time for me to go to bed at 9:45 because I loved being up with the adults!

New Year’s Eve was a lot of fun because I got to spend time with my own little family and all my mom’s family. It was filled with mouth-watering treats, frosty fun, and nerve-racking games. I’m so excited for the next time I see my whole entire family this summer in the crystal-clear ocean of Destin, Florida!

1 comment:

Meghan said...

I love this! Thank you for capturing a wonderful visit with each other. I've added photos to the shared album. You forgot to talk about our great time at Target on the girls' night out! Dinner was delicious, but Target was fantastic!

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