Well... we made it.
We survived our trip to New York and back, although there were a few moments in the car when I seriously had my doubts. I was sure someone (and by someone, I mean ME) would end up riding home strapped to the rooftop luggage rack. At least with the wind whistling in my ears, I wouldn't be hearing the seemingly incessant, often obnoxious boy-chatter from the back of the van.
We actually left within 30 minutes of our target time on Wednesday morning. For us? That's phenomenal. The trip over was broken up with a stop after 2.5 hours at my parent's house in Ohio. After a brief stretch and mandatory bathroom break, we were on the road again for the final four-hour stretch to western NY. Seeing my grandmother that night was terrific -- it had been a few years since the boys and I made the trip out East. And this time, she got to meet Jeff and Bobby.
Thursday, we rode over to my aunt's house for the family feast. I was on cloud nine seeing my family, introducing everyone to Jeff, watching their reactions to how Jack, Charlie and Sam had grown, and getting their first look at Bobby. Before we went in the house, however, I briefed Jeff.
"We're a loud bunch," I told him. "There are a lot of us, so when we all get together and everyone's talking, we're always trying to talk over other people... it can get pretty obnoxious." He just smiled.
So, of course, we get inside and walk smack into a wall of noise. Ahhhh... family. The rampant conversation was peppered with lots of laughter, and hugs abounded. It wasn't long before dinner was ready, and we all dug into a wonderful feast. Even Bobby sat on my lap and that little stinker ate nearly my entire helpings of sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes. He just kept looking up at me with those clear blue eyes... mouth agape and ringed with bits of orange...how could I resist? And speaking of things hard to resist...I have to mention the pie buffet. At the end of our holiday dinner, we had not just a couple of pumpkin pies to enjoy, but an actual BUFFET of pies to choose from. Three or four pumpkin pies were joined by two apple, a chocolate pudding pie, orange chiffon and... oh, shoot. I know I'm forgetting one, but I forgot nothing when I went to get dessert for Jeff and myself. I assembled a modest slice of each pie, spanning two plates -- a "Pie Sampler" I called it, and was not ashamed to dig in and enjoy every last delicious, whipped-cream-laden bite. (Even though my mom was wide-eyed with disbelief at the pile-o-treats. All I could say was, "This? Is why I run.")
The next day, we took the boys up to Niagara Falls. They hadn't been there in a few years, and none of them really seemed to remember it. They had a good time, and even Bobby enjoyed the scenery as he hung on me in the Baby Bjorn carrier. We had lunch at Hard Rock Cafe, then visited the aquarium. By the end of the afternoon, we'd had our fill of the area, and headed back to the hotel.
We headed back home Saturday morning, after visiting again with my grandma. The trip home seemed like it took forever--largely because Jack & Charlie lost use of their Nintendo DSs for a rule infraction the previous day. Let's just say when two 10-yr-old boys get going with "boy humor" and the Pict-o-chat feature on their DS games, nothing good can come of it.
All in all, though, despite the ride home testing every last nerve Jeff and I had to offer... it was a great few days. I loved seeing my family, and it reminded me how thankful I should always be-- I have, not only my wonderful husband and great kids, but a fantastic extended family as well. Even if it can be almost deafening when we all get together, there's also lots of pie.