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July 14, 2002
two years ago
three years ago
four years ago
five years ago

The Big Party

10:07 pm: I am looking forward to a time when we're in a house that isn't made of tissue paper, or when we're not packed in so tight that breathing will wake up Jet.

Amazingly enough, everyone managed to have breakfast together. George made two batches of pancakes and everyone ate when they got up. I guess the house was thin enough that everyone pretty much woke up at once, as the movement, voices, and noise all happened at once. John took care of Jet, and they had a wonderful breakfast before I ever woke up.

Jet's been, regularly, eating an entire banana, first thing in the morning. He added pancake, bran blob, and yogurt this morning to that banana. I got the full story of it when I came up for my breakfast. They had just finished the first batch of pancakes when I managed to get up and to the table, so George started mixing up another. I ate the ones that I wanted and then offered to help cook them. George turned it over to me, and I cheerfully spooned, shaped, and flipped them. I didn't do it nearly as nicely or as neatly as George does, but folks seemed pleased enough by them. I was happy to help.

It was fun watching everyone at breakfast, talking, laughing, and sharing. It was just interesting to be in the midst of all that. Walt and Cathie showed up before breakfast got started, and David and his folks all showed up afterwards. So we had nearly everyone for a brief, whirlwind of a moment. Mary would show up later.

Everyone got dressed up for church. All the brothers wore Hawaiian shirts. John had only packed Hawaiian shirts for 'formal' wear. Jet and Marina were dressed in their chile pepper outfits. Cathie had done a marvelous thing and made the pants large enough for Jet to grow into; but at the moment, the waist was so big and the shorts were so long, they hung at his ankles. It made everyone at the house laugh. They did manage to find a safety pin, and that did a great job of holding the shorts where they ought to be. No one would have noticed, and given that Jet had outgrown the shorts of the last set Cathie had made him sooner than the shirt, I was very appreciative of the extra material and effort that had gone into making the shorts expandable.

Once everyone was ready, everyone loaded themselves into various cars and we all headed out to Eastgate Congregational. One of Isabel's wishes was that everyone go to church together. Everyone other than Isabel, George, John and I fit into one pew. The four of us sat on the pew in front of everyone else. It was pretty funny listening to all the whispers, giggles and conversation behind us. Everyone was good, and Pastor Rick did an excellent job of delivering a sermon about the parable of the seeds and how the neat summing up of the parable didn't do the original story enough credit. That it's not just a neat classification of people into types; but of all the kinds of faith a single person can have and that one can experience all of them. I learned something about myself through the sermon. I like that. I also got a hymn that I can ask for eventually, at our church.

Jet got left in the nursery while we did church. He's used to that. Zoe, a girl nearly his age, is the daughter of a daughter of Rick's. She's not used to being left by her mom, but it seems that she picked up on Jet's calm and they played together happily. Simon ran wild and had a great time. Zoe's cousin cried the entire time he was there, poor tyke. Jet just ignored the fuss, found some stuff he was interested in and shared when Zoe came to play with him. Yay!

When we went to pick him up Bobbie said that she'd take a dozen of him, thank you very much. Hee.

When we got back to the house from church, everyone found themselves some lunch and made do with whatever leftovers, extras, and findable eatables they could get their hands on. I took over part of the kitchen table with a ruler, a pencil, and a bit poster board with pictures of everyone in family groups. Isabel had given me the job of writing everyone's name on the poster board, so folks would recognize who was who. She even had a fairly recent picture of Bernd to add as the fifth brother. That was very cool. So I spent a good half an hour lettering.

By the time I was done, Jet came over, pulled on my leg and when I picked him up, he tugged at my shirt. So I took him downstairs and nursed him. He went right to sleep, and I tucked him away into his car seat. Isabel and George would take care of him when everyone was out of the house setting up for the party. I was very glad that he went down relatively easily. He would need the nap.

We loaded up the Impala and all the other folks loaded up all the other cars. We all headed out to the church, and John organized the unloading. We got everything in and left it to the other three brothers and all their folks to get things setup. John made a checklist of all the things that had to get done and when, when he and Isabel had inspected the place the other day. So they had detailed instructions for what had to get done.

As we were unloading, Simon came tearing around this corner, and I yelled at him, "Simon! No running!"

He yelled back, perfectly clear, "I'm not running!"

I had to laugh. Our German speaker was picking up the English very, very quickly.

John and I then headed over to Costco to pick up all the things we'd ordered for the party. On the way, we stopped at a Starbuck's and had our drinks before heading in for the deli trays, cakes, and other party trays. There were two of shrimp, two vegetable trays, two deli meats and cheeses, and a couple trays of roll-up sandwiches with turkey and cheese. There were two half-sheet carrot cakes with "George and Isabel" written on one and "Happy 50th Anniversary" written on the other. They looked very nice with the red roses. We were out of there relatively quickly, for a weekend morning.

When we got back, folks were still scurrying, but there were hundreds of red and yellow balloons up. The silverware was out, the coffee made, the tables set up, streamers slung everywhere, and tablecloths spread in ready for the food. We put the trays in the fridge, though, deciding to put them out only when people first started to arrive. There were still chairs to get out, the name label area to set up, and some flowers to arrange. Mary arrived with the flowers. I got to letter a name tag sign with examples of names and relations to the anniversary couple.

It was fun working with these people. Everyone just did things. While there were occasional discussions of how to do some things, that was pretty much it, everyone would lay there ideas on the table and folks would just choose what made the most sense to everyone. It was fun seeing that at work. Plus, everyone would leap in whenever there was an obvious need. Emily did us a favor and wandered around with the video camera while we were away, and she filmed the setup portions that we missed.

Folks then started to arrive. A few were half an hour early, as the starting time was, oddly enough at 2:30, on the half hour, instead of on the hour. But since John and I arrived with the Costco shipment at 10 after 2, it was pretty clear we needed the extra half hour. Folks gradually drifted in, and then John got a call on the celphone and it was George and Isabel saying that Jet had just woken up, after a good two and a half hour nap, and they were giving him some milk in anticipation of coming over. They'd arrive right at 2:30, which was perfect, with a very happy and well rested Jet. Hoorah!

Jet had a blast. Though with so many people he was pretty shy of walking around by himself. So he spent a lot of the early part of the party in my arms, on my lap, or trying to get there. I sat down with him for a while and we ate food when folks started in on the buffet. I shared one of the turkey roll-ups with him, and he took the whole thing and ate it steadily until it was gone. I'm glad he liked that, as it was stuffed with vegetables, cream cheese, and turkey. So he got plenty of good stuff from the single item. He also snacked on chips, bread, and carrots, and drank from my cup of cranberry juice punch. He let me hold it to his lips and he drank with gusto.

Finally, I found that when I tied a balloon around his waist, he was so occupied with that that he forgot to be shy of all the big people. Soon he was running all over the place with his balloon. I could see the balloon over the tops of the tables, where I couldn't see his head. So it was fairly easy to keep track of him. Folks looked out for him, too, with the red balloon to mark his coming. I was glad of that, and no one ran him over, or accidentally knocked him over. Marina and Simon were pretty amused by him, too, got their own balloons and started following him. He also started following them, especially when Simon ran around.

The party went remarkably smoothly. Folks followed the name tag instructions and I got to meet a lot of family friends whom I'd heard of but never met. It was interesting, when I sat down with the other ladies attached to the brothers, how much I felt like I was among family who thought of me as one of them.

The cutting of the cake was fun. Isabel and George fed each other cake to a multitude of pictures. They got each other good and mildly messy and Isabel was laughing so hard she nearly couldn't swallow, but there were lots of cheers. Bill got up and told the story of how they met before the cake and it was fun to see.

I heard the water going in the Galley, as folks started finishing up what they'd eaten. I found John to tell him that I was going to be washing dishes for a while, and could he please watch Jet. So he did. And I did.

Amazing what ones high school experiences prepare oneself for when one grows up. I had worked in a cafeteria when I was in intermediate school and at high school, and I had a blast working the sprayer again. It was fun to just plow through dishes at a great rate. Their dishwasher and sterilizer did a full cycle in just five minutes, so I could just push stuff through faster than it could dry. Finally I had to get the guys to move racks of clean dishes out of the Galley, which was full of humidity, so that they'd have some chance of drying. By then, most of the party folks had left, and we all got to work clearing things out and cleaning up.

It was a lot faster with all of us working like mad. George and Isabel took Jet back with them, and when we got everything spic and span, we headed back as well. David took all the helium balloons with them in Mary's VW Van. When we arrived back at George and Isabel's the livingroom was filled with balloons, to a very tired Marina, Jet, and Simon's delight. There were a couple of folks from the party there, too, who had also helped out with the cleaning up. Very old family friends from when John was a boy, they'd all go out to the Oregon shore with each other, and have a blast. So it was fun for them to remember, too.

It was a gorgeous evening. The picture windows filled with mountains, trees, and a view of Seattle, Bellevue, and Lake Washington. The slow sunset turning everything gold, under the cloud of red and gold balloons. We untangled the two huge tangles of balloons and the ceiling was lined with them, bobbing gently about. The kids would gather what they liked, run around with them and then let them drift again.

Dinner was a simple feeding frenzy on the leftovers. The shrimp had to be eaten quickly. Jet got another turkey roll for his dinner, and he stomped around in his shoes and ate it.

By the time it was time to go to sleep, it took a long, long time for the house to settle down. In the basement, John, Jet and I shared the far room. Bernd and Simon got the next one. David, Emily and Yuri took the big game room. Upstairs, Isabel and George were in the family room. Cathie and Walt had their room. Marina had the office, and Paul and Jan had the upstairs guestroom. So they had everyone under one roof.

Not exactly the most restful of circumstances, but it certainly was fun.

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Copyright 2002 Liralen Li. All Rights Reserved.