The weekend after Pete's graduation, we took a pre-Katherine-departure family trip to Twin Falls State Park in West Virginia. (Katherine is my 23 yr old baby sister. She has a sweet job, but is gone alllll summer. Read about it HERE.) One of my favorite things about a family trip is the long car ride. I LOVE having everyone crammed into one small space, with no escape. No kidding, I do. Maybe it's because I have opportunity for close observation of the little quirks about each person that I love. Maybe it's because I also love a little bit of sibling... ya know, annoyingness. (Poking, copying, teasing... whatever it takes to find a nerve.) As the eldest, it's usually my job to start it. Sometimes Eli takes over for me.
The Plan: We wrapped a pack of cute baby boy bibs with the little pockets on the front. Inside one of the pockets, we put a message written in the voice of our little boy. We thought at the end of our fun family meal, when everyone is starting to lean back in their chairs, we'll let Addie and Eli open the present, someone read the card, and watch their faces for that moment that they "get it!"
Does anything go according to the original plan? (I've mentioned this before. Is there already a sub-theme forming? I'm only on my 3rd post!) Sometimes... Ok, often, my family finds ourselves in Griswold-like scenarios. Here's how the nice family evening out went:
-Cary and I pushed for eating our nice dinner out the first night. After unloading the van and settling in, who wants to cook?! :) Everyone agreed.
-The Twin Falls Lodge is LOVELY. We cleaned up a little at our cabin, and everyone was excited to head to our fancy dinner.
-We walked toward the back of the lodge where the restaurant was. We were greeted by a lady who clearly aspired to do something else with her life, and whom we'd clearly offended by walking up to the door. Woops.
-She escorted us about 10 feet in to the almost empty dining room, and pointed to a table. I asked... "Can we sit back there by the windows?" (Hey, this was going to be a big event!)
-That was it. We were officially added to the "Least Favorite Persons" list. My bad. (But the atmosphere was SO much nicer!)
-We regrouped. After some awkward, sometimes barking exchanges about drinks and menus, we found ourselves chatting and passing childrens' menus around the table, each time adding caricatures of one another. Family time!
(I had butterflies in my stomach. We had such great news to share!!)
-We ordered. Ok, we all tried to get our orders through without being thwarted by the waitress whose vendetta was to tell us "They're out of an ingredient for that," or... "I know the menu says it comes with that, but it doesn't."
-We played more games at the table. We got our fried green tomatoes appetizer!! (Something must have burned in the oil it was fried in, or... they grabbed the wrong breading, maybe? We just dipped them in more ranch.)
-We laughed, we teased... we waited for refills. And waited.
-And the food came! And... it was depressing. There were several deflated faces at the sight of their plates, but the saddest was Addie's. Addie had ordered the kids' pasta with alfredo sauce. The waitress had told her they didn't serve alfredo sauce. We questioned the menu's indication that... they did serve alfredo sauce. She'd gone back to the kitchen, and came back to unhappily announce that Addie could indeed have alfredo sauce. Well, there was her cold, saucy pasta, with one gigantic meatball in the middle. Katherine took one look and said something blunt like, "I wouldn't eat that." If only we'd gone with that gut feeling. We started looking around the table, offering ranch to make one dish more enjoyable, sharing extra french fries, etc.
-By the end of the meal, no one felt very good, or anywhere near deliciously satisfied, and when the bill came, it was pretty hefty. Ouch.
-Time for our announcement!!! ...Not.
The whole thing was pretty hilarious (in an unbelievable sort of way), and maybe the overall zany memory was worth the price, but we were all ready to get back and settle in. All I could think of were the double stuffed oreos back at the cabin that would surely make my stomach feel better. That night, Addie woke up sick. Pretty seriously sick, with food poisoning. (Ugh.) Poor girlie. She handled it like a champ, but she and mom didn't get much sleep, and so we laid low in the cabin Saturday morning watching horrible westerns and Dennis the Mennis while Addie slept it off.
About 12:00, Addie's tummy settled down, and she looked around and said, "What are we going to do today?" So we were off! Off to do the things we do on family vacations. And Cary and I had no idea when we were going to make our announcement. Here are some of our typical family vacation scenes:
As he pulled out the bibs, I watched closely for he or my mom to instantly know what this was about. I mean, baby bibs!? (Maybe we should have started with something less obvious.) But when Dad said, "Ohhhh." And passed them to Eli, I laughed and realized he thought they were for him. "Oh, there's something else in there." Dad (in his, not-incredibly-enthused voice) said, "Oh, there's a card." I WISH I could share the pictures I took of this crafty little card. (In a tragic technology fail... well, a little my fault since I tripped and unplugged the camera while it was uploading) the pictures of this were lost. So instead I'll indulge my already overly descriptive self:
It was a boy themed card with a little train on the front. (At that point, all we knew was that we were getting a boy from Ethiopia, and we thought we'd wait 3+++ months to find out anything more.) Inside, in little person handwriting, it said:
You haven't met me yet, but you will soon. My place at the table is between Eli and Addie. Right now there's an ocean between us, but my mommy and daddy are coming soon. They tell me that I am going to have the best grandparents, aunts, and uncle I could dream of having. I love you already.
-Your Grandson and nephew (signed with a baby foot-print)
Dad read it - mostly, and it's meaning was unclear. We waited. Someone quietly reread it under their breath, and then... Light bulb! My mom's eyebrows went up, and then she screamed "Get Out Of Here!" and sobbed the biggest tears of joy I've ever seen. :) While Mama was hugging me, Katherine said, "Ahhh! I have to HUG something!" And grabbed Cary. He was not offended. :) Addie, Eli, and Dad joined in the hugging, and Addie chimed in cute questions, like, "So... you're having a baby? You're getting a baby? Where's Eth-i-nopia?" So then we all piled into the van (my favorite!) and Cary and I began to spill all the details of when and how we'd decided, what we knew so far, wait times, travel details, etc, Katherine kept looking at me with big eyes, shaking her head and saying, "I can't believe you're going to be a mom!" and everybody thought out loud about what our little ones would call them... It was a great day.