The house became insanely busy around noon on Saturday as many of the wedding guests came to say goodbye to Paige, Michael, and Graham. We tried to force leftover food on people, with limited success.
Since the first child left us in 2008, the anticipation over having our whole crew together in one place is SO BIG that once we are all together it feels like we should not waste even a nano second of it doing something dumb. Honestly, it is a lot of pressure.
Nobody wants to speak in a snitty or impatient tone when they know that the minutes are ticking down quickly.
Britt and Chris landed in Florida at 1pm Thursday.
Paige and Michael and Graham headed to the airport to get back to Texas and Michael's new job at 3pm Saturday.
Being human is not an option under these circumstances.
Don't wreck this! Everybody, be SUPER human. We have learned over the years that sometimes the threat of the goodbye makes us withdraw emotionally in some ridiculous attempt at protecting ourselves. During a whirlwind visit like the wedding, withdrawing early is not a thing. We have enough practice at this point; when one of the big kids got grouchy I just called it out. "You're pulling away because goodbye is coming and this hurts. Don't do it! We've still got time."
We had exactly 50 hours together. It wasn't enough for any of us.
After the wedding the condition of the house, especially the spaces Paige occupied, was very Maccaulay Culkin HomeAlone. Had you seen it, you would never have guessed it possible to pack it all up and leave it clean in 24 hours.
That was the one time something super human happened.
We bawled our eyes out saying goodbyes to everyone as the party started to end. I channeled my pity party energy into packing the crew for the cruise.
Each kid needed to be re-packed with enough stuff for one week at sea aboard Norway's floating decadence machine, called "The Epic". (According to Isaac minivans are epic - that ship was an entirely different sort of epic.)
Whenever I get to packing and I'm really getting some momentum, it seems to me that somehow the children sense my inappropriate pride and self-importance. That is the exact moment they swoop in to demand I produce some random and abstract item of very little value (to me).
Example: I've expertly packed 7 people for 7 days into four compact bags, forgetting nothing. Everyone has undies, jammies, two bathing suits, (so there is never a need to put on a wet one - hello, that is motherly love) shoes to match everything, dress up clothes, hiking/play clothes, etc. etc. You name it ... It has been found, cleaned, folded, and packed with precision. Just as I zip up the bag and place it in the "ready to go to car" pile, a child chooses to approach to ask "Do you know where the toy I got from Burger King drive-thru went? I put it in the pocket of my jeans and you took my jeans before I was ready for you to take them. I need that toy."
I don't know exactly what my face does in these moments, I only know my soul contorts and dies a little bit each time. "Oh, I took the inside-out dirty and discarded in-the-corner pair of jeans and I lovingly laundered them for you sans your express written permission?"
Sorry - Not sorry, fool.
Sadly we lost more than just a cheap toy. Hope lost a wallet with $80 in it. There was drama surrounding that, of course. The mission-house with more beds than the Trump Plaza was turned upside down trying to find her wallet. (Because sometimes, after you watch your kids "look" for something by walking into a room and turning their head side-to-side once - but never lifting a dang finger or touching anything, you are OBLIGATED to teach them how one LOOKS for something that they actually hope to find.)
Even with the looking lesson, it was fruitless. No could find.
After we spent Saturday on the grief of goodbyes with our big girls and their men and prepared to move the circus to the ship on Sunday, we went around to say a few goodbyes to others.
We had ice-cream with the Howertons and a beverage with my sister and Whitney. We met up with Jo,Jen,Josh, and John (isn't it precious, all the Js?) late Saturday evening.
On the way to meet them at a restaurant Troy and KJ and I had reached the point in emotional and physical fatigue where everything is hilarious. Trying to tell you all the things that made us laugh until we cried would be pointless because it was only funny to people that make their home in Port au Prince and suddenly find themselves in a posh part of Florida without sufficient sleep.
By the time Sunday morning rolled around we were exhausted and our brains had stopped functioning. As we loaded the van to head out Troy locked us out of the house we still had stuff in, that was a special moment.
Once we were on the road, we stopped for band-aids for the blistered-from-dancing-toes and headed south to Miami to see a cruise ship up close for the first time.
Photos from Saturday the 10th:
Next installment, how does one transition from Port au Prince to the lavishness of a cruise ship? The week of January 11-18, 2015 - the traveling circus aboard The Norweigan Epic.