In early February, our granddaughter Princesa (oldest daughter of son #3) turned six. And her Papa and I decided that as a special birthday treat, we would take her out to dinner and then shopping at Target afterward. We went to a fun brew pub-type restaurant, arriving early enough to beat the dinner crowd, and we had the most wonderful time.
|This restaurant had mac and cheese on the kids' menu; and better yet, they included an image|
of the Kraft box right there on the menu to ensure your kids would love it. (Ours did.)
That little girl was absolutely adorable throughout our "date night" together. Her mom had warned us that she would be thrilled, but would probably be a bit shy on her own and not say a whole lot. Nothing could have been further from the truth! She was so animated and chatty all night. It made us realize that this is something we need to start doing with all of our grandchildren when they get old enough to behave for it/appreciate it. With 18 of them now, and another on the way any day, it's getting harder and harder to get good quality one-on-one time with each precious child. When the whole gang is at our house for a family party, it's utter chaos (in the best way of course; but still...chaos).
Our second-born son also had an early February birthday, and we were able to celebrate it by having dinner with him at his house, with his wife and four young sons. (I brought the cake!)
|I LOVE the way Junior, his oldest son, is looking at my boy here!|
I told you not too long ago that our oldest son and his family were moving away to Iowa, after living a stone's throw from us in VA for more than four years. About a week-and-a-half into February, we drove out there to see their new digs and offer whatever help we could after the birth of their new baby girl, who'd been born two weeks ahead of schedule in late January. This sweet little peanut has four older sisters, aged 10, 10, 8, and 6, and a 3-and-a-half-year-old brother.
|My boy and his girl. Is this not the sweetest?!|
It was so wonderful to see all of them, of course, but also to see their new house and their new town, so that when I think of them I can picture them in their new surroundings. When we got there, the baby was still struggling to gain weight, but by the time we left two weeks later, she was doing great. Her little cheeks had gotten visibly rounder during our stay. And what a little angel she is!
One thing I did find out during those two weeks in February: five years of living in VA has made me SOFT! Not that I ever liked being cold; but I did, after all, grow up in Upstate NY and raise my boys in NH, so I had to be tough. I've survived many a brutal Nor'easter. I am no stranger to snow and ice and below-freezing temperatures. But yikes! It was cold out there in Iowa! Windy and cold. BRRRR!
There was one mild day, however, and we took advantage of it by going for a walk with the five older kids along the country road on which they live.
|Those fields will soon be full of corn!|
We returned from Iowa on Saturday, Feb. 26. And remember that chaos I alluded to earlier in this post? Well, on Sunday, Feb. 27 we hosted a little Mardi Gras party for our VA gang: sons #2, #3, and #4, their wives, and their 12 kids aged 7 and under. (We would have waited until the official "Fat Tuesday" on March 1, the night before the start of Lent; but it's hard to get everyone together on school/work nights.) I bought all the paper goods and party favors well ahead of time, and I made a lasagna and a King Cake before we left for Iowa and put them in the freezer. Each family contributed side dishes to the meal, so I had minimal work to do for the party when we got back home. We didn't have much time to rest up from our travels before the festivities, but I was anxious to see everyone as soon as possible after being away for so long.
Even though my husband and I had never hosted a Mardi Gras party the whole time we were raising our family, we have now had three of them down here in VA. So it appears that it's becoming a bit of a tradition for us with the grandchildren!
I guess that about wraps it up. We've been busy since we got back from Iowa. We go to daily Mass. We've been having our twice-weekly playdates with son #4's wife and four kids (Braveheart makes the 35-minute drive on Tuesdays and Thursdays so the triplets can attend a Catholic pre-school in our town).
We've done a bit of babysitting here and there, and a bit of visiting. One night last week, son #2 (who lives about 50 minutes north of us) and sons #3 and #4 (who live about 35 minutes south) met up to see the new Batman movie at the little theater in our town. And afterward, they came by our house to say hi and grab coffees-to-go. I cannot tell you what a joy it is for their dad and me just to have them around, to hear them talking and laughing. We don't even care if we're part of their conversation; just having them hanging out together under our roof and listening to the sound of their voices makes us so happy. (No matter how old they get, they will always be my boys! Always.)
I miss our two boys from whom we are separated, geographically--so much that it often brings me to tears. However, I know just how lucky a mom and grandmother I am. It's such a blessing to have so many of our family members living nearby. Our kids are our best friends, truly; but there's been a surprising development in recent months: we've gotten to be good friends with a couple we met at church--a couple who moved here about a year ago and whose reasons for relocating are very much like ours. It took almost five years of adjusting to our "new" life in VA, but we are beginning to make connections, and we have our wonderful little parish to thank for that! But more on that later.
Until next time...