On Sunday we had a rather ginormous family gathering, with 34 people in attendance by my count. It was mostly a Heiss affair, since Aunt Stacey was in town and it was her birthday. All of Reid's siblings were there (which was such a momentous occasion that they allowed for a picture) and all of Andrew's siblings were there, along a motley assortment of cousins and second cousins:
- Grandpa Frank
- Grandma Pat
- Matt & Becky
- Leah & Greg
- Emma & boyfriend whose name escapes me
- Reid & Karen
- Andrew & Nancy
- Katharine & Todd
- Emily (left her family up in Idaho for a little pre-baby vacation)
- Jacob & Shayla
Because we missed truly celebrating Rachel's birthday last month, we decided it was a good time to finish celebrating her as well (I did promise her a cake and we all know that you can't turn a year older without cake) so we also invited my family as well. My mom and dad came, along with Patrick and Josie, and my nephew Matthew.
Even though we're a family of introverts, it was fun to get to visit with everyone all at once. And this house is well-suited for a gathering of introverts. There were small groups of people visiting outside and small groups of people visiting in the front room and small groups of people visiting in the kitchen and living room and small groups of people visiting in the basement. Lots of little nooks to grab a more intimate conversation; I don't think anyone felt entirely like their toes were being stepped on (though my mom really did step on my foot).
I spent a lot of time outside because that's where my kids were. Here's Sarah pushing Riley and Zoë on the swings:
And here's Carter and Jensen (held by Shayla and Greg, respectively) getting to know one another:
They found each other quite fascinating. Poor Jensen was feeling overwhelmed and kept switching from being happy and curious to being downright miserable. But every time they said, "Look at the baby!" his tears would turn off immediately and he'd have to give Carter a hug. It was pretty funny.
Here's Zoë trying to push Miriam in the swing (Miriam really is bordering being too big for this particular swing set):
And here's a very frequent view of mine (Zoë crashing into me for a quick leg squeeze before running off again; she likes to check in on me):
Uncle Patrick, of course, was more than happy to toss around a frisbee with his nieces and nephews (even if the frisbee was shaped like a turtle and even if those nieces and nephews ranged in age from 2 to 18):
My dad was rather excited that Zoë let him hold her, but her little face just cracks me up (she doesn't like facial hair):
After dinner it was time for cake. Here's the one I made for Rachel—a lemon flavoured Wicked cake:
And here is Aunt Stacey's cake (from Costco):
Here are the birthday girls together (with Kayl):
She doesn't really like a big fuss to be made over her birthday so when the date for the family gathering was settled to be on her birthday, Reid offered to get her a crown from Burger King first but Aunt Stacey jokingly insisted that she needed a tiara. So Reid got one for her! She was a good sport and wore it around.
And here's Rachel with her birthday cake:
Zoë was super excited for cake. Auntie Josie took her outside with a piece of cake and asked my mom to grab some cake for her, so my mom brought cake out to Josie and Zoë ended up eating her piece, too! She didn't want to miss a crumb.
Josie is laughing here because Zoë was melodramatically moaning and rolling her eyes with this particular bite of cake:
Here's a shot of two of my favourite women (my mother-in-law and my mother) chatting in the garden:
And here's a shot of Miriam meditating on the swing while Josie pushes Zoë:
As guests started quietly departing (with their goody bags full of peaches (because all good parties have goody bags, right?)) we decided we should grab a five-sibling picture before it was too late. This family really doesn't enjoy having their picture taken and we were all cracking up trying to get it done.
We ended up with a couple of good shots:
Rod wouldn't look at the camera and when we pointed this out he really started avoiding the camera and Matt started looking at him instead of the camera to make sure that Rod was behaving. Nicki kept stepping back into the shadows so we had to keep telling her to step forward and then she'd step too far forward so we'd have to tell her to step back. There was a lot of poking and prodding and laughter.
At one point Uncle Matt called out, "Where's Mom?"
And when Grandma Pat showed up she said, "Rod, you better take that crown off or we'll have to take another picture."
It was a rather riotous affair. Five silly kids, all grown up into five silly adults.
"It's like looking into our future," I whispered to Andrew as he reminded them, once again, that they needed to smile.
When that was finished we decided we needed a picture of the "three" pregnant ladies:
After Aunt Stacey birthed her pillow, Emily and I posed together for a couple of belly shots:
She's due the end of September and I'm due the end of October:
And while we were doing all of that, the littlest ones were crawling up and down the stairs:
Zoë was quite interested in these little babies (we've been trying to convince her that she's a "big girl" now but she insists on referring to herself as a "gig baby," which is obviously much different from a little baby):
A fun time was had by all, as Nicki is so fond of say, even if there were a few moments of familial tension/awkwardness. Families are big and complicated and sometimes those moments are unavoidable.
And, just for kicks, here is a picture Aunt Becky snapped of me very pensively getting a butter knife out of the drawer: