Never picture perfect visit with the cousins

My sweet nephew’s birthday was last Saturday. He is my sister and brother-in-law’s second born of four boys and turned five. We had just seen them at Christmas, but let’s face it, anyone with a birthday between Thanksgiving and the first couple weeks of January kind of gets short-changed in the birthday department.  I should know–my birthday’s November 24. My celebration is always lumped in with Thanksgiving–this year it will actually be ON Thanksgiving.  I can sympathize with this child with a post holiday birthday, so up to Kentucky I went with my four kids.

The night before we left, the kids were all packed, but of course I wasn’t. That was the day my faithful old dryer bit the dust.  I had two wet loads of clothes drying at a friend’s house while I tried to find a good deal on an appliance the week after the New Year sales ended.  The week after Christmas, when my washer died, I made it an adventure to do my homework with consumer reports, shop online to find the prices at the local stores, then drive over to HHGregg and the Sears Scratch and Dent.  It was kind of fun to find the very washer I wanted at almost half the regular price. What a blessing! Yay!

Not so much the second time around. The dryer that matched my washer was available, but had multiple bad ratings for noise.  I have four kids, a dog, a piano, a jimbay and a husband who sings and plays the guitar.  I do not need anything else noisy at my house. So I kept looking. The one I really liked was way too expensive. I settled on an open box model at HHGregg–read returned dryer with bad scratches. If was fine. I was done.

My friend Amy saved the day.  I think she’s Martha Stewart in disguise.  Her house is always tidy, her Christmas tree has beautiful ornaments , her children wear matching clothes and she sings like an angel. My house is always scattered, my tree looks like it was attacked by a toddler with a glitter glue bottle, and sometimes my kids can’t find matching socks. The Thursday my dryer went out, Amy was not at Boot Camp. I remembered through the haze of not enough sleep and way too much exercise for 5am, that she was probably home cooking a gigantic meal for her extended family.  She was cooking  dinner for 23 to take to her grandparents house. Not just chili–a complete Christmas dinner, including brined turkey, potatoes, everything. As I’m driving home at 6 am, just waiting for the sun to come up, I pass a runner on Franklin Road. My friend, Amy, running before her marathon cooking day.  I never even asked her if she was running to the 6am session of Boot Camp. Anyway, Amy not only let me use her dryer, she folded the clothes, and gave me some homemade potato cheese soup and a freshly made key-lime pie for dinner. Amazing.

So, Friday morning, I was not packed. I got up at 5 am emptied the laundry room of all my laundry sorters and stuff so my new dryer could be installed while I was gone. I packed my clothes, several items to take to my sister, some leftover dishes of my mother’s to drop by her house, all the art supplies and book we needed for our first art class of the semester, and my camera.  I dropped my kids off at Beth’s, then took pictures of some items I was selling for someone on Ebay. I raced back, we had art, dropped off stuff at my mom’s, then started our drive to Kentucky. It was an uneventful drive and I’m so glad.  I was worn out and we hadn’t crossed the state line.

We got to Paducah and the kids immediately started playing and had a wonderful time.  My sister looked like she didn’t feel very good, and she kept rubbing her neck and looking at her throat in the mirror.  I looked too and was pretty sure it was strep throat.  Nice. It comes on so fast, it’s not like she could even have known before we left. She was already on antibiotics, so I decided to stay.  My parents drove up as well, and we had scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon and pancakes–the birthday boy’s request. Then we had cupcakes left over from his friend party. Sugar overload has begun!

A hand-free, post-pancake supper cupcake.

My nephew, W., opened his grandparent’s gifts, and the room was suddenly full of smoking cap guns, pop guns, and other very loud toys–in addition to six boys and two girls aged 12 and under. Bathtime for the youngest three started calming them down, til my 20 month nephew hit my youngest in the head with a boat. Nice big bruise to take home as a party favor:).

Amy’s kids go down before mine–they’re younger, but I thought some time in bed reading books would help mine calm down. Amy’s three-year old snuck in to listen to the book I was reading my kids, and I heard him tell his brothers as he went back to bed, “Us cousins’ readin’ books!” After about another 30 minutes, all the kids were down for the night. I slept pretty well, until my oldest woke me to get Doodlebug back in his sleeping bag.  He’d rolled half way under the cousin’s crib and in his sleepy state couldn’t get back in his slippery sleeping bag. After that I was up for good.

The morning started out fine; we had breakfast and W opened a couple of presents. Then my dad and brother-in-law left to get batteries and donuts to eat after breakfst. While he was backing out of the driveway, my brother-in-law hit my car and scratched up the side.  No biggie really–that’s what insurance is for.  Some child started talking about water and toilets and rugs and my sister, mom and I went upstairs. Little B, their youngest son, hadbeen scooping water out of the toilet into a cup, carrying it down the hall into the playroom and dumping it in the floor and on the rug. Out come the towels and fan. My sister still looked like she feels awful.  I started packing the van so I could beat a hasty retreat from the germs. My sister gave me some food she had de-cluttered out of her pantry.  As I tried to exit the front door, the bag ripped and a glass jar of mushroom slipped out and onto the tile entrance. Glass, mushrooms and mushroom water flew everywhere.  After I picked the glass shard out of my foot and barricaded myself, a roll of papertowels, trash can and vacuum in the entrance, I began the process of picking up my mess. Yuck.

Finally, all the presents are opened, lunch is eaten, the car is packed, the entrance way scrubbed clean and glass free, and all the toys picked up and put away. It looks like we’ve never even been there. We all go to the garage for a quick pinata and the children all enjoy whacking Iron Man while the adults try to snap pictures while cowering behind our arms for protection against the  mop handle swings wildly through the air.  Fortunately, our kids have pretty good aim and Iron Man is reduced to a cardboard heap in record time. The kids gather the candy with much more enthusiasm than they have when they pick up their toys and everyone’s finally herded into the van so we can leave.  Fortunately I have a book on tape for the kids to listen to, and they have their pinata candy to eat on the way home, because it’s only two in the afternoon and I’m worn out from our whirlwind trip.

I’m dreading getting home to my own house, that was not tidied up before we left, the contents of my laundry room scattered across the playroom, the almost totally empty refrigerator, and my husband who has spent all day ready to lead worship at a church an hour away from our house.  I know I’ll have to put together the laundry room, do a couple of catch-up loads of laundry, make dinner, go shopping, and unpack, get everyone’s clothes set for the next day as I’m flying solo, and be pleasant to children who stayed up too late and had too much white flour in a 24 hour period of time. I’m not looking forward to this homecoming.

It all turned out fine. The dryer was installed, and we hadn’t had to pay a dime, (but that’s another story).  The old dryer had been put out on the curb to be picked up and hauled away by Metro public works. Before I even got home, someone had already picked it up.  I’m assuming it was someone cruising the neighborhood looking for appliances, since Metro usually waits a week or so before hauling stuff away. The laundry had been done and was partially put away. I left the kids with my husband after supper to be bathed and put to bed, so I did my shopping all by myself. By 945 I’d been to all three of the stores on my list, saved a ton of money, and gotten home to put it all away before the big Blizzard of ’11 hit Nashville.

That evening as I was shopping, my mom told me one of my other nephews kept going on about how much fun he’d had with the cousins. “I hope they can all come back and sleepover on my birthday!” Fortunately I have until November to build my strength up. I’m sure by then, I will have forgotten the broken appliances, car damage, toilet water on the floor, strep throat, mushrooms and broken glass and only remember the fun the kids had sliding down the stairs in sleeping bags, playing with new toys, and the whirlwind of excitement created by a cousin’s birthday sleepover.

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2 Comments

Filed under Birthdays, Family

2 responses to “Never picture perfect visit with the cousins

  1. katie

    I’m so glad your life resembles mine. Sometimes I get embarrassed by how crazy it seems, but hearing words from your life reminds me that this is what family life is really about — the nitty gritty dirty, expensive part where somehow God’s light still shines through!

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