And now we are home.
In a way, I almost wish we weren’t home. It’s always nice to go on vacation and have your most stressful decision be what to wear that day, which, if you’re like me, is one of the least stressful decisions one can make. I know women for which that decision is fraught with much anxiety. But on vacation, there is only so much you can stuff into a suitcase you’re sharing with your husband.
As it was, the shirt I wore to the first night’s festivities was a bit, shall we say, revealing. It’s a V-neck shirt I snagged from the maternity section of Old Navy which looks really good on me. Until I sit down, that is. Then it usually gaps open and shows everyone exactly what color my bra is.
A bit embarrassing when surrounded by teenage male cousins, a brother, a father, a grandfather, multiple uncles, and rather religious assorted relatives.
So I hied myself to Wal-Mart and found a really adorable non-maternity top that would sufficiently cover my pregnant belly. Thank God the style now is for long shirts!!
Anyhow, we managed to depart Rhode Island around 2pm on Wednesday after a few false starts. The drive itself was extremely uneventful; there was an accident or two somewhere in New York, I think it was, but once we cleared that traffic, it was smooth sailing.
My cousin Aubrey was so thrilled to see us when we finally arrived. She has the cutest house in the same town my grandparents live in. It’s probably a hundred years old or so, so it’s got all these nifty nooks and crannies. And the built-ins!! She has all kinds of built-in cabinets in the kitchen and the living room and the mudroom. Not only that, but she has two living rooms. She jokes that one is for her and one is for her fiancé Nick. I want my own living room! No more fighting over the tv remote!
And the best part of all was having our own rooms. Usually when we go to stay with someone, we have to share a room with Grace. It’s not that bad, of course, but it’s so nice not to have to worry about waking her up when Kurt and I finally mosey up to bed around midnight. Also, she can’t wake us up before we’re ready to face the day. We kept her up so late most nights it wasn’t much of an issue. Naughty parents.
The weekend was full of just relaxing and spending time with the family. Both Thursday and Friday (the Fourth of July) we spent at my uncle Paul’s house, eating and catching up with everyone. The best part of the whole get-together was the fact that everyone was there. My grandparents had four children — my mom, Marty, was first. Two years later, my uncle Paul was born. Just ten months after that came Jon. Then several years later, Sue arrived. She’s eight years younger than my mom. These four children have scattered all over the country. My parents, being military, had a hard time coming home for family reunions, though my father retired just three hours away in northern Virginia. Paul stayed in the little town in Pennsylvania where my grandparents made a home (they’re originally from Michigan). Sue moved to Florida, and my grandparents now winter a town away from Sue’s home. And Jon felt called to be a missionary, so his family is living in Kyrgyzstan, which used to be part of the USSR.
Not only that, but each of those four children had three children of their own. Paul has a stepdaughter, while my mom has two stepdaughters and an adopted son, but all the rest of us twelve are biological. My grandparents were so pleased to have ten of their grandchildren able to visit. My one cousin is going through some issues right now and couldn’t make it, and my sister unfortunately couldn’t make it either. But ten out of twelve (plus one great-grandchild) ain’t bad!
Most of what we did this weekend would be pretty boring to most outsiders. Kurt and Grace, as well as some of my braver male cousins, steeled themselves and jumped into my uncle’s pool. I wasn’t about to go anywhere near it, once I saw how cold my brother found it! I caught up with my aunt Sue and her family, whom I hadn’t seen since August of 1997 when my grandparents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. The boy cousins set off bottle rockets and other fireworks they brought with them from Florida, startling all of the older relatives. And my mother almost fell off the bench she was sitting on due to extreme jet-lag!
Yes, folks, my parents arrived home safely from Israel with lots of stories and photos to share. But they were so tired that naps were a necessity each day.
After 61 years of marriage, my grandparents are still madly in love.
Come Saturday, however, things really got exciting!! My cousin Aubrey’s best friend threw her a surprise bridal shower. It wasn’t wholly a surprise; Aub figured it out beforehand. But she still had a wonderful time. It was my very first bridal shower (I hadn’t had one when I got married), and I think this one was pretty tame compared to some. It was held at a church, for one thing, so most of the bawdy jokes were left unsaid. She did get receive some gorgeous lingerie for her wedding night, and the whoop that went up as she lifted it out of the box sent us all into gales of laughter. But that’s as bad as it got.
Later that evening, all of Aub’s close friends came over to her house to kick off her bachelorette party. Her best friend had gotten her fiancé to answer all these questions about their relationship on video, and had Aubrey watch the video and guess what Nick would say. Amazingly, they did very well! I am not sure Kurt and I would do so well, and we’ve been married almost seven years. But I think when you’re engaged, everything is so new and wonderful that it’s easier to remember little things about your partner. It’s still exciting.
Initially I decided I would stay home for the party itself. They were going on a bar crawl, and I never have been much one for partying. And being seven months pregnant, there wasn’t much partying I could do. Plus I didn’t know any of these girls, save my aunt Sue, and I’m normally really nervous around people I don’t know. But once they all left the house to head to the first bar, it was so very, very quiet. So I had Kurt call Aub’s best friend to ask where they were, and when I arrived, the whole party let out a whoop that I had come after all!! That made me feel so welcome that I was no longer nervous.
I really hit it off with a couple of the girls there. One lady has a five-year-old daughter, and she’s thinking of having another child. But she’s having the same reservations that I have once in a while. I mean, I have a very independent kid right now, and soon I’ll have a very dependent newborn. It’ll be quite the change. And her younger sister is dating a man who went to the same college I did and graduated in the same class. Even though she’s not an alumna, she’s got a lot of school pride, so we had that to talk about. I didn’t know her boyfriend when I was in college; I would have freaked out if I had. Talk about a small world!
After visiting four bars (and walking at least a mile between two of them), we arrived home around 1:15am. I dragged Kurt out of bed because I was so amused by the girls’ rather inebriated antics. They did a few Jello shots in the backyard, and then it was time for everyone to go home. They all had designated drivers come to get them; no one drove drunk.
But we managed to drag ourselves out of bed in time to get to the 10am service at church. It helped that I wasn’t drinking anything stronger than water and an occasional sip of my aunt’s Pepsi. Oh! That’s right. My aunt was part of the bachelorette party! I love my aunt. She’s not quite 50, so she’s still got a lot of oomph left. She doesn’t drink anymore, but boy, does she know how to party!! She was up and dancing and singing with all the rest of us. I was really surprised she knew so many of the lyrics, belting out cuss words left and right.
My aunt is pretty hip, let me tell you.
After enjoying a buffet luncheon at my grandparents’ retirement community, it was time to head back north. I was so sad to say goodbye to all my relatives and come back to reality here in Rhode Island, but all good things must come to an end.
So now we are home, and things are slowly getting back to normal. I’ve done most of the laundry, and we returned the godawful air conditioner that we’d gotten for the bedroom. Now webu have a Kenmore in there, which is so quiet you can barely hear it running. Plus it seems to work far better than the other one we had, even though the new one is 2000 BTUs less. Tomorrow Grace goes back to school, and life moves along.
That’s sort of the nature of things, isn’t it?