The Hestermans, my mom's side of the family, have been holding annual family reunions for 32 years now. Our family is spread all over the country, and we really try to get as many of us together for these reunions as we possibly can. This year was extra-special because our reunion was planned to coincide with my grandfather's 90th birthday. Ninety! A nonagenarian! That's big. In honor of this momentous day, this year every single one of our 25 family members made the trip for this reunion. Usually we're missing a few, but not this year. Every single person was present and accounted for, including four kids making their reunion debut (my 3-year-old cousin Jackson, and the three new great-grandbabies: Ellie, my cousin Jacob's 8-month-old daughter Zazi, and my cousin Molly's 2-month-old baby Santiago). It was just a very cool thing.
Eric, Ellie and I were the first to arrive. We once again rented a car and left NYC around noon on Wednesday, August 1st (my grandfather's actual birthday). We hit traffic on the way, but we still made pretty good time and arrived at my grandfather's house around 8:45 p.m. Ellie really did pretty well in the car this time. Her ability to grasp toys really helped - it's possible to distract her! However, for a while she did get mad that she couldn't fit any of her toys completely in her mouth. So, I gave her a pacifier to play with. Problem solved! She has never before taken a pacifier, so I don't know why I even had one in my diaper bag, but it worked like a charm on this road trip.
Another road trip? No biggie, I'm a pro.
At last! A toy that fits in her mouth!
The next to arrive at the reunion were my Uncle Nathan and Aimee, and their kids Alex (16 years old), Taylor (12), Henry (4) and Jackson (3). They took the train over to Cleveland from their home in Idaho - a journey that took about three days in total. They arrived around 7:30 a.m. on Thursday, so they were there when Eric, Ellie and I woke up that morning. I only had a few minutes to visit with them, however, because (after a quick wake-up to eat around 7:00) Ellie slept in until 10:15 (!!!!!) and my friend Megan was coming over to pick me up for a fun birthday treat.
I left Ellie with Eric, and Megan and I went out to get pedicures. Aaaah, glorious! I hadn't had an actual pedicure since our wedding five years ago, and it was a welcome treat. We then stopped off for mint chocolate chip ice cream pie and some cupcakes (it's possible Megan has a bit of a sweet tooth, and I'm in no place to argue) before going back to Megan's apartment for lunch. Eric and Ellie met us there, and Megan's husband Andy (remember their wedding in June?) made us delicious fajitas for lunch. Megan also gave me a beautiful purple scarf she brought from their honeymoon in Ireland for my birthday, and we had a nice time chatting and catching up. Megan is such a good friend!
Playing with Ellie
Ellie loved looking out the window with Megan!
While I was out with Megan, my mom, stepdad and sister had arrived from Florida. They were itching to see Ellie, but she passed right out in her car seat on the way home from Megan's so we took her up to our bedroom, where she napped in her car seat for two hours (seriously, who is this child?!). That would be her last real nap of the weekend, so I hope she enjoyed it (that's more like it). While she napped, my cousin Molly, her husband Arturo and their baby boy Santiago arrived from Illinois. I was so thrilled to meet sweet Santiago at last! And when Ellie finally woke up, she had lots of people waiting to meet her, too!
Heather, Aimee, Taylor and my mom ready to greet Ellie after her nap!
Introducing Ellie to her Auntie Molly and cousin Santiago
Pleased to make your acquaintance, cousin! (I also love little Jackson watching the whole thing!)
We spent the rest of the afternoon just hanging out around the house (playing ping pong, catching up, admiring babies, eating), and in the evening most of us went for a nice walk, with my grandfather leading the way. What a parade!
Out for a stroll
Eric kept chasing my cousin Henry with Ellie's stroller, which Henry thought was the funniest thing ever!
There's my Gramps (and Jackson) leading the way!
Henry on Uncle Nathan's shoulders, and Jackson on Alex's
Santiago and Ellie enjoying their first family walk
It's the New Dads Club!
We had my grandfather's famous soup for dinner that night, and spent the rest of our time catching up and playing with the babies until they all went to bed. Then we pulled out some wine while we watched the Olympics and stayed up talking as late as we could manage. But, ultimately, we needed our rest for another day of visiting with even more people on Friday!
Left: Molly and Santiago, who may or may not like stripes. You decide.
Right: Get down here, Grammy!
Heather and Eric working on the day's Jumble in the paper
Its not really a reunion until somebody gets into a fit of hysterical laughter, am I right?