My Michael went to Colorado for the weekend to visit with his family there and to baptize our niece, Jenniel. When I saw his trip on the horizon, I started hinting to his cousin's wife about how I'd be home alone with the kids for four days...poor me. Naturally, she invited me to come to Cleveland to pass the time of my Michael's absence and I, of course, obliged (that's what the hinting was for, after all!) In the end, Michael's brother and his family came, too and we ended up having a rip-roaring good time.
Michael's flight to Denver left early Friday morning. Fool that I am, I thought it would be great to gently throw the kids in the car, drop Daddy at the airport and then begin the six hour drive with sleeping children. We loaded up the kids and took Daddy to the airport at 4:30 a.m. just as I'd planned, but did one of my children even have an extended blink on the way to Sean and Jessica's? That would be a negative, dear friend and devoted reader. All four of them were bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for the entire 365 mile journey! But don't feel too bad for me because my children are freaky mutants.
This is a good thing! Why? Because even though not one of them fell back asleep in the car, we zipped right to Cleveland in record time. The reason? We didn't stop the car! That's right. I drove six straight hours and not once did a child ask to use the potty or to get out of the car. I just kept thinking I'll drive until someone asks me to stop and no one ever did. Can you believe that? We listened to some music CD's and a book on tape, watched a new Scooby Doo DVD and they drew in some spiral notebooks (oh, there are some Maia treasures in hers, to be sure). My legs were really ready for a stretch by the time we pulled into Sean and Jessica's, let me tell you!
Soon, cousin mayhem commenced. We had 12 kids ages 17 months-9 years old in the house, plus five adults. The afternoon was a joyous love-fest between all the kids. And it was my little nephew, Merritt's, birthday.
The ten older kids outside the Cleveland Brown's stadium. Maia and her cousins had already played "make-over" and taken out her hair!
Friday night we headed into downtown Cleveland and went to a Cleveland Brown's practice. Some of the kids were a little disappointed that we weren't watching an actual NFL game, but they all behaved really well. It was Family Night and hot dogs were $1; Maia shocked us all by asking for and then devouring one. (She's been a vegetarian for more than 3 years.) After the practice there was a pretty decent fireworks show over the stadium. The kids had a blast!
We got home pretty late and put all the kids to bed. Then, Heather, Jessica and I headed out to Border's where Jess had put copies of Breaking Dawn on reserve for herself and me. Heather thought we were nuts to wait to be 284th in line to buy a book at midnight, but she humored us. Once we were home again, Jessica and I started reading just to get a "taste" of how things would go for Edward and Bella. Since I had gotten up at 4:18 in the morning, I had to call it quits at about 3:00 Saturday morning.
Jessica and me at Border's at the Breaking Dawn party. Like how I'm hunched over the stack of books?
Saturday morning Sean brought me a big breakfast in bed. Talk about a good cousin! After a morning of playing at home, we took the kids to swim in a little lake behind Jessica's parent's house. Oh, the fun they had! They all went down the slide and jumped off the little pier. The braver souls tried to do flips; my Mason was among them (I know what you're thinking--this is the child who cried for 35 minutes over riding the swings?!). We saw little fishies and not-so-little fishies. My little girls loved that they were swimming with fish, even after Marlee claimed that she "felt something's teeth" on her foot.
Cheaper by the Dozen! The brood of children produced by my Michael, his brother and his cousin. Don't they all look so well-behaved and calm?
The line at the slide!
Maia, Nina and Hannah jumping off the pier together.
Logan was thrilled to have his second cousin, Mason, come and celebrate his 7th birthday with him!
After a couple of hours in the sun, we brought the kids home and bathed them all. We used the divide and conquer method of simultaneously washing a dozen kids--three big girls in one shower, three big boys in another, three little girls in the soaking tub---hey, wait, how did the three little boys get clean? I don't know. I don't have a little boy so I didn't pay much attention to that. I was probably back with my nose in a book...
Heather (the birthday girl!), Jessica and me at the lake. You're welcome that this is the only view of me in a swim suit that you're getting.
Josiah and Sean agreed to man the home front while Jess and I took Heather for a pedicure. Saturday was Heather and Logan's birthday. (Talk about a lot of birthdays, I know!) It was great to get away again with just the girls. My sister-in-law, Heather, is so funny. She's very friendly and expressive. One of the things I love about her is that she tells me all the time that she can't hear. I know this; Heather is deaf. Everyone who knows her knows that she can't hear so it just makes me laugh when she tells me that she can't hear. I did tell her once this weekend that I envied her a little bit sometimes. Hey, if you were in a house with 12 cousins running around screaming and fighting and playing and jumping, you might start to envy your deaf sister-in-law, too. Don't judge me.
Anyway, after our pedis, we went back home to pick up the daddies and go to dinner. Sean and Jessica basically offered a college-aged girl full-tuition reimbursement if she'd bring a friend over and watch all the kids. Sucker, she took the bait!
The five of us went to a little outdoor mall and walked around before heading to The Melting Pot. Nothing like sitting at a table for six with three fondue pots (the one in front of you remaining mockingly empty) while you stare at the nothingness in front of you to make you miss your husband, I tell you. Don't get me wrong, we laughed and had a grand time, the five of us, but I was sad that my Michael wasn't there to be having fun with me. And I was sad for him that he was missing out on all this fun. Surely, he couldn't be having fun without me, right? Anyway, before we left the restaurant, Josiah literally drank his fondue pot empty; that's true appreciation for white chocolate and amaretto, I tell you.
Josiah slurping up his dessert while Heather takes his photo. Notice Jessica, our little pixie in the corner!
It was getting pretty late by the time we got back home, but I just wanted to read a little more. I only had about 200 pages left at this point and thought I could forge on till the end. Well, my mind was willing but my flesh was weak, dear friend and devoted reader. My eyes kept crossing and my blinks were getting longer, so I decided to wait until Sunday to finish.
After church on Sunday we had the traditional Spittle taco meal and then enjoyed a relaxing afternoon. Josiah and Heather went back to Virginia, but I stayed until Monday so I could get one night of decent sleep before driving the six hours home.
This morning, after I packed up our stuff, Jessica and I took the eight remaining kids to the park for some last minute fun and for some wiggle time for my kids before our drive home. The drive went well again. I did call a potty break after 3.5 hours and was shocked that only one of my kids could actually go. What is up with these children, I ask you? They were made for car trips, I guess.
We had such a great time this weekend. Sean and Jessica are great hosts and it's always fun to hang out with Josiah and Heather. Our kids do really well together. I'm always surprised at how well they play even when they are grouped in three's; they're pretty good about not leaving anyone out. It was lots of fun but I am glad to be back home.
My Michael gets home tonight as well, and not too soon. Mason was crying as he went to bed tonight because he misses his dad. Teensy actually stroked her Uncle Josiah's face over the weekend and told him how he looks like her daddy (and he really does). And I'm ready to have my Edward back. Oh, he's not perfect like Edward is, but he's perfect for me and I'll keep him...