1. Besides celebrating my mom's birthday, Brian and Beth gave Michaela her birthday present a little early: her own set of hot rollers, clips, hairspray and a new brush. Michaela has wanted these items for years after seeing Aunt Bethie curl her own hair with them, and Michaela was over the moon with happiness. The next day we started practicing with the curlers and have been able to fine tune the process a bit. And let me add that there have been days that Michaela has curled her hair THREE SEPARATE TIMES. In one day. Of course, like any good big sister, she has also done Jenna's hair and Jenna has also enjoyed that immensely. I am seeing my future of messy, spray-laden, clip-filled bathrooms develop before my eyes. Thank goodness we moved to a house that the girls have their own bathroom. (But poor Alec.)
2. We celebrated my mom's birthday in grand style with a steak dinner with fixin's at our house, followed by cake and presents. We can't remember the last time we were all together for my mom's birthday. It was a great evening and the kids had a great time. She said it was her best birthday ever.
3. Of course, the REAL reason my mom was so thrilled was that the night before we had staged the Christmas card picture for my parents and this is what we got: a great shot of my two parents beaming with their five grandchildren, trying to keep all those wriggling, happy kids from bolting off the couch. We took about 100 pictures, but don't worry: the kids were TOTALLY able to see again in a few hours after being blinded by the camera flashes.
4. Alec's reaction was this: MORE GIRL COUSINS? Where are all the BOYS in this family? Though we did notice that he pretty readily accepted the hugs and kisses that Megan generously doled out to him. And for Alec, that's a big deal. He's not really very huggy and kissy. But she was a-okay in his eyes.
5. Jenna and Kate had a grand old time, swimming, jumping in, getting out and eating Klondike bars together for hours on end.
6. Nothing's better than Tickling hot dogs from Gammie. Meggie was mesmerized. 7. The playground was a big hit with all the kids. We played and swung and climbed and even flew a kite for a while all together.
And this doesn't even scratch the surface: the girls went to Lake Placid with everyone for a day and Michaela hiked up a mountain, much to her delight (and my shock that she didn't complain at all), we enjoyed an adult-only dinner with Dan and I and Brian and Beth while my parents survived babysitting all five kids (though we jokingly suggested going out to a fancy dinner an hour or two away and that was immediately shot down... "How about a nice place, you know, IN TOWN?", my mom asked), we had a night of Delmar Delights: buckets of wings from My Place and pizzas from New Village Deli, and a fun hot tub night where Brian and Beth came over after the kids all went to bed and the four of us sat in a warm hot tub until after midnight drinking adult beverages. Great times. We also talked about my return trip to Chicago by myself in the fall, with a day with Brian AND a shopping day with Bethie. Because that's only fair.
I think the visit accomplished exactly what we wanted it to: to give our five kids time to be together, get to know each other, play together and make memories together... and we adults had a great time, too.