Sure enough, the test came back positive. We were all brokenhearted. How could we not go? But it looked like that would be the case. We monitored him through the night. No fever. He got up the next morning, feeling okay. Still no fever. We corresponded back and forth with our family. They went to the drug store and stocked up on all types of anti-flu meds, and told us if he felt like it, for us to go ahead and come. So we threw the last minute stuff together and headed that way.
The young prince did fine, and I am so glad that we went, because we had a blast, and God protected the rest of us from getting sick.
On the way, we managed to stretch an eight hour trip into about nine hours and thirty minutes. We were told everyone else was there, and that they were playing Puctionary (not sure exactly what that game is...you will have to ask my niece, and all the other family members who were not there yet but were playing it with her).
Being late also made us miss out on the wrapping of the toilet paper tube parting gifts. Okay, not entirely, I did get to wrap a very few the next day before the party. They are awesome! They are filled with candy (the good kind), and a little bit of money, and everyone gets one as a parting gift, wether you win one of the super fantastic door prizes or not. No one leaves empty handed.
We finally arrived, and excitedly ran and hugged everyone (I was secretly dissapointed, because my brother did not greet us with his usual goofy hat or wig). And very shortly after we arrived, my other two nephews arrived, and we did the hugging greeting thing all over again. We all laughed and talked all at once, congratulating our two recent graduates, congratulating the two who were new uncles, and mercilessly picking on each other as much as possible to make up for the time we had been apart. The youngest JS's unbelievable hunting abilities were a hot topic of conversation.
We talked about the family text announcing the birth of our newest family member, and how it beat most of our alarm clocks to the punch by waking us up. But my brother informed us that we could turn off our ringers, and set our phones to not vibrate (Gasp! Who knew?) Then he told us that because my sister-in-law has supersonic hearing, "can hear a gnat sneeze in a cotton ball" as he so eloquently put it, that he simply lays his phone on a washcloth on the nightstand, and the vibration is sufficiently muffled. While my mind started making commercials for a ground breaking new product - the amazing Cell Phone Snuggie - my nephews, all college graduates, had a deep conversation about how to spell the word gnat. "I never knew it had an N in it!" And we wonder what is wrong with America's educational system! So as the conversation bounced around from topic to topic like a ping pong ball, we laughed, some even snorted, and got back into the rhythm of family, like hearing a long ago favorite tune, and the words instantly come back to you.
The next day everyone pitched in getting things ready for the party. And as people began arriving, more hugging and greeting went on. We made our usual big circle of chairs in the garage, and I believe we had a record attendance this year. It is exciting and fun catching up with everyone. We were all thrilled to be there.
Okay, maybe some of us were a little tired as well.
We played a few games, and realized that some of us are directionally challenged.
We played with (or scared), the babies and toddlers around us.
We dripped (or poured) cold water from ice cold drinks on each other.
We stole, or hid, presents from each other (I still harbor feelings of bitterness toward D for taking that really cute, ultra soft blanket from my husband. I seriously wanted to bring that home!)
We passed the ball of wrapping paper...will it EVER make it ALL THE WAY AROUND? I think we are fighting a loosing battle. Just pass the paper people! Just. pass. the. paper!
We watched how people interacted with each other. Some very comfortable, some not so much. But all of us held together by roots that go deep into the very soil we were standing on. So while the weather raged around us, there was welcome, and warmth in our hearts. As one person who was new to our group observed, we all got along and had fun. No fussing or fighting. The way it should be. Peace on earth...or at least in the country...for a little while.
We made our annual cousin photos in front of the tree. Then the cousin photo with Aunt Tricia thrown in the mix. We were missing a few this year, but they have been informed that all excuses for missing next year are unacceptable. This is a mandatory meeting. No more having babies the week of the party. Plan these things better in the future! You are dearly missed when you are not there, and things are just not right without you!
Then, and I have no idea how this happened, but my son and his very mature older cousins circled up to show how much they love one another by popping each other as hard as possible with plastic spoons. Seriously. Who thought of this? And how did you convince the others it was a good idea? I could use your powers of persuasion to get fifth graders to love Language. I guess all I have to do is make it physically painfully so they can show how tough they are, and they will think it is a great idea? Makes complete sense to me.
After the party, and the clean up, and a little elbow licking (you just had to be there). We gathered in the living room (the serious room) to open presents. We had to do this because if not, the youngest princess would have exploded. She could wait not one second longer. The college wars began this year. Next year we need to let the oldest JS in on it before, instead of after, the fact. And for that matter, Aunt T and I need to be careful not to put the cart before the horse (or in this case, the accessories before the doll). But, I think everyone had a great time, and thoroughly enjoyed their gifts. Although Unca was not as thrilled as I had hoped he would be with his top of the line Pet Petter. Yet, he did seem happy with his Mustang pajama bottoms, and all their fancy features (a little bit of TMI going on there). I even have a video to prove it. But if you are not family, don't expect to ever see it. Some things just aren't meant to be shared. When we finished, it looked like Christmas had thrown up.
We then had an epic game of Taboo in the kitchen (the not serious room).
I think the most Taboo words I have guessed or called with a team is 7. Well, not to brag or anything (okay, maybe to brag a little) but my awesome team and I got 10. Yes, that is 1...2...3…(JM: "45678910!!!!!!!") in ONE turn! Now, we have a new record to beat. Yes, and the next night in our second playing of Taboo, I was dubbed the Taboo Guru. I like it. It makes me smile. And if they had allowed L and I to play on the same team, we could have beat 10. We probably could have done at least 15. Isn't that right, L? And I picked on them, but I loved how our newly weds clicked when it was their turn. They were in the zone, and all others in the room faded into the blurry edges. It was awesome. I also love it when people get creative to get other people to say the word. The young prince is the King of Creativity in this area. I bet there is not another human being on the face of the planet that can get their team to say Limerick the way he got us to guess it. That's my boy!
Then of course it was time to call in Unca and explain why we had all been laughing behind his back. Literally. And there was more elbow licking going on, we have video of that as well (and seriously you just HAD to BE there), and laughing until we cried. Unca then developed an interesting jerking twitch that sent me into peals of laughter each time he did it and continued intermittently until we left. And two of my children are now $5.00 richer. Best. ten. dollars. ever. spent. Ever. I'm serious.
And now because I have a thousand things to do. I must stop and get busy. But never fear. The next time I have a few minutes. I will sit and share the rest of the story with you. I am sure you can not wait.