Sunday night, we drove 85 miles for a complete family get-together. Even our Tennessee sister was in town with her husband and 2 children. Mom and Dad, all 14 sibs, in-laws and a soon-to-be sister-in-law and 23 grandchildren were there. Hubby was the only one missing since he’s out of town, but we’ll photoshop him in.
The last time all the grandchildren were together, there were something like 17. We obviously need to do this more often.
We visited and ate; then we ate some more. After a dinner of spaghetti, the children were still miraculously clean so we took some group photos. Try to imagine that!
We started with the full group photo, taking plenty of pictures on 3 separate cameras in the hopes that somebody would capture one shot where nobody was blinking. But we didn’t stop there. That was just the beginning.
We did pictures of Grandma and the grandkids; Grandpa and the grandkids; Grandma and Grandpa and the grandkids; Grandpa and the grand-sons, Grandma and the grand-sons, etc. You get the idea. It was a riot.
Look how young my mom looks here. Can you spot the mother of 14 and grandmother of 23?
There are only six boys, but when it came time to take pics of just the grandsons and grandparents, the fidgeting never ended. And I don’t just mean the kids.
The girls did much better.
No, wait. They didn’t.
We took pics of Mom and Dad with their 14 offspring. Hey Jonathan, cute. Real cute. Kaitlyn had to use some mad photoshop skilz to make this photo presentable. I think you know what I’m talking about. Kyle, you had a hand in it too. Don’t think we didn’t catch you.
Mom with just the 10 girls; Dad with the 10 girls, Mom with the 4 boys…after all the permutations we could think of with that particular group, we did a few pics with just the 10 sisters and (I think) some with just the 4 boys.
All my sisters waiting for the pregnant lady to get out of the bathroom. See what a big spot they saved me? Nice, girls. Are you trying to tell me something?
We all took turns blinking for the camera, see?
Can you spot the grandma in this one?
Finally, we were done. We visited and ate some more. Then it was time to go. Since it was night and we had a 90 minute drive, my brother told me he and his family would follow us home just to make sure we didn’t have trouble along the way. The kids wanted to know what sort of trouble we could possibly have. I smiled and shrugged. “Oh, I don’t know. Flat tire, maybe. We won’t run out of gas since the tank is full, but it’s good that Kyle is looking out for us while Dad is gone.”
A few minutes down the road, Kyle called to apologize. He had forgotten that he had to go home a different way to pick up a cousin. He couldn’t follow us, but we had plenty of other family heading in the same direction. I assured him we’d be fine and kept driving. Why would I worry? Our van is older but has given us very little trouble over the years. I drove all the way to Missouri last summer with the children. Tonight we were just going 85 miles south.
Not 5 minutes later, I glanced at the dash and realized the van was overheating. We passed a clock and thermometer: 26 degrees. Ironic, no?
I called Dad, who was just a few minutes ahead of us in his big van. He started making calls to see who was still behind us while I coasted into a gas station. I checked and found we were low on coolant so I bought a jug of premixed antifreeze, hoping that would prove to be the only problem.
While I was adding it, Tennessee sister and her family pulled in next to us. We could hardly cram into their single extra seat, but it was nice to see family. We chatted a bit while she nursed her baby, and I went back into the gas station for a second jug. While I was paying, I ran into my 11yo brother, 14yo sister and Mom. They had come back to see if we needed help. I had family coming out of the woodwork.
With the radiator filled and the reservoir topped off, I started the engine again. It had cooled a bit in the last 20 minutes but as I watched the heat began to rise again. The van would have to stay. Dad and Kyle would bring the flatbed trailer up tomorrow to get my van.
We emptied the perishables and valuables into my sister’s trunk and piled the children into Dad’s 12 passenger van. It was a bit crowded but not too bad since they only had 3 of their children riding with them.
On the long trip home Dad commented that he had been kicking himself for driving the van when he could have driven Mom’s smaller vehicle and saved on gas. Now he understood. God knew we’d be needing the extra seats on the way home.