Family Reunion: Surprisingly Not a Horror Story

My Grandma had her 80th birthday this weekend, and a couple of months ago she invited the whole family to her home to celebrate.  Due to the nature of freelance work, it's hard for me to plan vacations. I never know when my next job is going to be, so I rarely schedule a vacation in advance. It's just too risky to pay for a plane ticket in the off chance that the job of a lifetime will come up and I have to take it. It was devastating to realize that I wouldn't be able to make the trip to see my grandmother on her 80th birthday.

But things managed to work themselves out. And next thing I knew, I was on a plane to Seattle. But, I'm a little trickster sometimes, so I told my dad and my brother that I wouldn't be joining them for my Grandma's birthday. When they came to pick up my sister at the airport, I was standing right next to her with my luggage. It was fun to surprise them. Although I have my suspicions that my brother knew I would be showing up, I've played that trick before.

After we packed all of our luggage into the bed of my dad's truck we headed east towards my grand parent's house. So let me clarify. 5 people and 1 dog crammed into a truck. For 2.5 hours. What could possibly go wrong?!

Actually nothing, surprisingly. We always manage to get along for the first couple of days anyway. I had our sweet cockapoo, Chloe on my lap most of the way. She's great on car rides and is considered the 4th child of the family. She looks like a flattened troll in this picture but I promise she's cute in real life.

Did I mention that I had to sit in the middle? I'm the oldest! And I have wide birthing hips! Not fair!

Maybe a good way to understand our family is if I tell you about my dad. My dad is awesome. He's a total man's man. He hunts, scuba dives, fixes cars and repairs airguns. Here's a list of the things my dad loves. In order of how much I assume he loves them.

You'll notice that his truck is high up on the list. Some evidence I have to back that up is this photo of my brother, sister and I when we pulled over to refuel the truck and also get some lunch.

Obviously we weren't allowed to eat inside the truck. So we sat on the tailgate and ate our sandwiches like vagrants. Please also note that the truck is taking up two spots and is parked in the very back of the lot. This is done to limit the chance of someone accidentally hitting the truck and also to make our shopping experience as annoying as possible. But hey, he's clearly got the right idea because that truck somehow looks better than the day he bought it.

I'm happy to tell you that we all (including the truck) made it safely to our destination. We met up with my grandparents and the rest of the family for a bbq. My grandma later introduced us to waffle ice cream sandwiches. She told us that when she was a little girl her mother used to take her to the movies, and then to the Dime Store to get these frozen treats. It's just a cold chunk of ice cream stuffed in between two hot waffles, but the memory she shared makes it that much better. We tried a few variations. My brother liked his just the way my grandma did, as a sandwich. But I jazzed mine up a little by adding syrup, whipped cream and strawberries. Listen, calories don't count if you tell yourself you're going to work out tomorrow. 

As we packed our things up to head to our hotel for the evening, we received instructions from my grandma. We were to meet at her house at 10 am sharp and to arrive wearing shorts. So we knew she had something planned, but we didn't have very much information.

So imagine my glee when she drives us to a spa! My grandmother is so selfless and loving that for her birthday she arranged a spa day for all the women in the family. That's 7 of us. When we arrived the staff members provided us with some yummy snacks and cards with our names on them. Each card listed the services we would be getting. 

During the 2 hours we were there, we were pulled in to separate rooms to receive our various treatments. At any given time there were 3 women being pampered, and 3 out in the waiting room with my grandma. It was really nice to sit and have conversations with the different women in my family. My sister and I are the youngest, and sometimes it feels like we'll always be little kids in the eyes of everyone in the family. But it didn't feel like that this time. We got to talk about our jobs, our memories and learn more about each other. 

My favorite treatment was the parrafin hand wax, which was combined with a leg massage. The other services were wonderful as well. We all walked out of that spa feeling relaxed and pampered. It was such a treat and so thoughtful of my grandma. I had so much fun getting to know the women in the family better and to spend some time away from the boys.

After our spa day and a light lunch, we all put on our swim suits and sunblock so we could get in the pool. Even the dogs joined us, and we learned that Chloe loves to jump right in with us. I think it's so cute how she keeps her head above the water the whole time, and how eager she is to get in there with us. Her little wagging tail melts me. 

My dad's side of the family is big. He's got 4 brothers and sisters. Combine them with our family as well as all of the dogs and there's 18 of us. Last weekend was also the first time we've all been together in a long time. I don't even know if it's ever happened to be honest. It was so special to have everyone together to celebrate my Grandmother's birthday. She's an incredible woman and you can tell how loved she is by the way friends and family surround her.

I have some special memories of my grandmother. When my sister and I were little we used to really look forward to going to our grandparents house. When we'd arrive she'd greet us with hugs and then send us to the guest room to check our beds. There was always a little present for each of us, like a kaleidoscope or a puzzle, some kind of toy to keep us busy during our time there. Going to Grandma's was a blast, we could drink soda and swim in the pool. My Grandma would bring us around to her friends homes to have tea parties, or we'd go to an arcade for the afternoon. We were so spoiled at Grandma's house, I'm smiling thinking about it even now. My Grandma has always made me feel so special. She took me on a trip to NYC for my 16th birthday, and she wrote me letters every month while I was in college, keeping me up to date on her life. I still have every single one, and sometimes I look at them, tracing her beautiful cursive handwriting with my finger and imagining what it would be like to live such a glamorous life. She's always got things going on, a book club, a luncheon. I wasn't old enough to attend her parties back in the day, but I wish I had been. She makes the most delicious food and has the most elegant taste. I can only dream that one day I will be half the woman she is.

After spending hours and hours in the pool, we all sat down to a nice salmon dinner. We sat on the porch talking and then my aunts brought out the birthday cake. We spent the rest of the evening sharing pictures with the family and spending more time together. The next morning we got together to watch my grandma open presents and go to brunch before my side of the family had to leave. I took this photo of the birthday girl right before we left for brunch.

Eventually we had to pack ourselves back in the truck and drive back to the airport. I had such a wonderful time visiting my family. It's a memory I will cherish forever. I'm so happy that everything worked out and I was able to make the trip.

Something else I will cherish forever is this AWESOME night shirt I bought at the airport.

Yes. It says Sleepless in Seattle on it.  And I wear it to bed at night. I'm even wearing it as I finish up this blog post. Take a number boys.