It's an extraordinary blessing that our family has grown so much over the years. It's incredible that each of our six children is married to someone they love and respect. And it seems like nothing short of miraculous that each of our sons and daughters has 3 or more children including at least one boy and one girl.
If there's a drawback to such an amazing set of circumstances, it's the challenge involved in getting everybody together at least occasionally. And that's why we strive to get as many family members here for the week between Christmas and New Year's Day as possible. With this time slot, we can celebrate Christmas and enjoy our traditional New Year's Eve party without worrying about family members driving home after imbibing one too many celebratory beverages.
This was one of those rare years when neither of our sons was deployed and no baby was born within days of Christmas making travel and an extended stay unpractical so we were within one person of being together as a family and it was awesome. The drawback here is that our house isn't large enough to accommodate such a large group. But on the plus side we have an excuse to rent a very large house in Beachwalk along with it's two bedroom carriage house which also has a kitchen and living room with pull-outs. The large loft and 7 bedrooms accommodate a lot of people and with our house and Beth's for back-up, there's more than enough room for everybody.
So what do we do during that week? Lots of things. Five years ago cousins Tessa Mary and Mary Addison were born exactly two weeks apart. We all look forward to them getting together as much as they do. One of their favorite activities is a princess style show and they play their parts perfectly.
Then, within 25 months beginning at the end of June 2008, we were blessed with five little boys - our posse. We all look forward to the changing dynamics of this adorable bunch of boys.
The two older of these five, Jack and Zac, really connected this year. They were inseparable doing important things and sharing everything from toys to ideas.
The next two, Trey and Eli, got along well too. They didn't play together quite as consistently but they always had good ideas.
Dane who just turned 1 in August wasn't quite ready to spend all his time with these guys but I'll bet next year he'll be right in the middle of the fray.
And who could have predicted that this past year we would be blessed with a granddaughter on October 1st and less than a month later, our first great granddaughter.
Before we know it they'll be having their own style shows.
Of course there were many alliances prior to this last group of nine. Noah and Ethan from Louisville are buddies.
and Anna and her cousin, Jenna, from Belleville Michigan are BFFs for sure - with or without their fashion glasses.
Katie from the DC area and Emily from Nebraska are close but Emily doesn't get to spend as much time here as we'd like because she spends time with her Dad in South Bend too. Here are Katie and Emily with our first 7 grandsons.
The two Nebraska brothers and the two boys from Colorado Springs along with Jeremy from Belleville and David and Matthew from DC also hang out together and play all the latest video games.
The one last grandchild is now the mom of our three great grandchildren and she hangs out with the rest of us grown-ups.
So it's a busy, fun week and not just for the younger set. The older kids (ours) get to spend some welcome time together too.
Here are our first two, Lori and Amy, in party mode.
And our middle two, Dan and Dave, in party mode, too (although they never seem to leave that Army officer persona far behind).
And finally our two youngest, Beth and Sarah, in Bing Bong mode. This was their best performance EVER. Someday I hope they'll let us record and post it - they brought down the house this year.
Of course lots of other things went on this week too. We had a birthday party for Trey and Mr. Right because both their birthdays are within a week of Christmas.
Cooking was always a joint effort.
We had ice cream cones every night, a tradition I borrowed from my mother who always made ice cream cones for the kids. Now, young and old line up to get their cones and it makes their grandma's heart swell with pride and love.
We also played poker every night. Since we were such a large group, we played at two tables side-by-side and rotated someone in and out of each table every 12 minutes. This system kept the crowed mixed and the game lively!
We did lots of other things too including going out for lunch TWICE, Christmas shopping, a rockin' New Year's Eve party, and just hangin' out and catchin' up. I'll write more about those activities in Parts 2 and 3.
For this post, I hope I've conveyed what an awesomely beautiful week it was and what a blessed mother, grandmother, and great grandmother I am.
Because it just doesn't get any better than it was that week!