Gathering of the Clan

Labor Day Weekend means one thing for my family – The Kamp-Out at Nana and Papa’s.

This gathering of the clan is a highly anticipated last hurrah of the summer.

Three generations.

Massive amounts of food.

Very little sleep.

The coffee flowed as fast as the conversations.

Laughter rang out as stories were told and memories made.

We took our hammocks to new heights.

And welcomed new friends from bonny Scotland.

Who arrived as strangers and left as family.

Dear people who laughed with us and found such joy in learning our traditions.

And fell in love with our sweet corn.

And us.

And we with them.

We played games.

Went wading in the river.

Took endless rides on the Ranger.

And just sat in the sunshine, watching the littles.

Remembering the days when it was our babies who were enjoying Papa and Nana’s house.

And cherishing the fact that another generation gets the same opportunity.

We took our annual trek to ”the Rock”.

And posed for the annual picture.

And learned that a vuvuzela will attract all the cows in the neighborhood.

It was a sweet time.

A weekend full of precious moments with people we hold dear.

A true gathering of the Clan!

 

 

Mom’s Birthday

“What do you want for your birthday?,” they asked.

“That’s easy,” I responded.

“I want all my children home at the same time.

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I want to play games – lots of games  – and snack all afternoon.

I want an easy supper – like smoked turkey sandwiches.

And a beautiful big salad with berries and pecans and feta cheese.

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And queso dip with chips.

And ice cream – with chocolate – lots of chocolate.

And I want to eat on paper plates so we don’t have dirty dishes.

Yes, that’s what I want.”

 

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And they came – all of them.

And we played games and laughed.

We ate turkey sandwiches and lots of queso on paper plates.

We snacked on puppy chow and popcorn.

We stayed up late and savored every minute.

It was perfect.

Absolutely perfect.

Yes. That’s exactly what I wanted for my birthday.

Happy Birthday, Poppa

It’s hard to believe that Jan’s dad will turn 87 next week.

16142784_1232329153523504_8453402464626224770_nWe decided to celebrate a week early – since they have plans to drive Florida and will be gone on the actual day.

Yes – he is driving to Florida at age 87.

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All of our kids were there to feast on Poppa’s favorite oyster soup (and a cheesy potato soup for those poor souls who don’t yet appreciate the warm milk and fishiness of oyster soup.)

Then we played games –

15977573_1232332460189840_3939402318156689418_nA mild game of Ticket to Ride that included lipstick and selfies and lots of belly laughter.

Steven and Laura won – again.

Yes – they beat Poppa on his birthday.

But he and Matt took second place.

And then – after German chocolate cake and ice cream and presents – we had a wild round of Pie In the Face.

16003168_1232333073523112_1770078695099218374_nA crazy game of Russian roulette that involves a giant hand covered with whipped cream and lots of laughter!

Anything to entertain Poppa on his birthday.

16114599_1232333066856446_5722873145077238127_nAnd boy was he entertained!

That was a birthday party to remember!

Here’s to many, many more!

Happy birthday, Poppa!

Lessons from Christmas

Christmas is over. The tree is down. The lights are packed away and we’ve finally found a normal schedule again. I think.

But as I reflect on the craziness of the last few weeks I’ve decided that this Christmas season has taught me a few lessons.

1. When you give your brother-in-law an elf hat for Christmas and he puts it on with his new safety glasses and then he grabs a tape measure and pretends to be one of Santa’s elves making toys – you immediately take a picture and put it on your blog.

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Because you can.

And it’s hilarious and he will never see it anyway.

I hope.

2.  Changing all the light bulbs in the house on Christmas Eve day to LED might make sense economically – but will create bad lighting for selfies and other photo ops and drive your camera loving daughter crazy.

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And certainly don’t help my photography skills. Or lack thereof.

But aren’t those kids cute! (just missing a son-in-law who was on duty Christmas Eve!)

3. After 26 years of attempting a beautiful ice cream log for Christmas – I have finally accepted the fact that it will never look good and will quite possibly always look like something less than attractive.

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And well – less than appetizing.

Which is why we shall always eat by candlelight on Christmas Eve.

3. The stomach flu is always nasty – but it’s extremely unwelcome when it attacks on Christmas Day.

No pictures. You’re welcome.

4. Having a house full of family can wipe out a stocked refrigerator quickly. I took three grocery runs the week between Christmas and New Years – mostly for coffee and vegetables.

The coffee I expected but the veggies were a new and surprising development.

5. Speaking of surprising developments – I have lots of Christmas goodies now hidden in the freezer. While my children pigged out over Christmas weekend, by New Year’s they had decided to eat healthy.

Go figure.

At their current rate of consumption, Jan and Buddy should have them gone by Easter. I hope.

6. I love playing games with the family at Christmas. Really, really love it.

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Especially new games like this one – Ticket to Ride.  Which is my new obsession.

I even won a few times – at least until my new son-in-law arrived. Hmmm…somebody should tell that guy it’s not good manners to beat your Mother-in-law at her favorite new game, at her house on Christmas. Good thing I like the guy.

7. Actually – I love them all – the whole crazy bunch! And carving out time together with crazy schedules to be together is the best Christmas memory of all!

Hope your holidays were special!

 

Girl Trip

It was the perfect Saturday for an adventure!

The sun was shining, the weather was warm, and the skies were blue as we headed to Omaha to rendezvous with the girls.

Three generations of girls –

14980805_10207400981720300_6413745664116412665_nGrandma, aunts, sisters, cousins.

Family.

We explored secret gardens and hidden attic rooms.

Shared wild rides filled with laughter and silliness.

14907125_10154197793628315_6029653704083883656_nAte real Irish food at the Brazen Head which inspired a medley of Irish Rover songs from our childhood.

“There were green alligators and long necked geese,

Humpty back camels and chimpanzees,

The cats, the rats, the elephants but sure as you’re born,

The loveliest of all was the unicorn…” 

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We visited antique stores and thrift stores.

Enjoyed apple cider and hot coffee.

Ate chocolate and pumpkin cookies.

And ice cream.

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I think there’s an rule about the necessity of ice cream on an epic adventure.

We hiked, climbed trees, explored, got stuck on cliffs and accidentally photobombed several families at the park trying to get pictures for Christmas cards.

And we talked and shared and remembered.

Three generations of ladies.

One amazing day.