Can I just tell you how bummed I am that the holiday has passed so quickly?

I had the BEST time with the kids and grandkids!

The Colorado clan got in on Wednesday afternoon around 2:30 — an hour later than what they were originally expecting.  All things considered, and considering they flew into O’Hare, an hour is nothing.   The delay was due to “crew problems.”  They flew into Buffalo — about an hour’s drive from home.

I cried when I saw my daughter.  Yeah.  Me.  I cried.  Sobbed like a schoolgirl.

Not wanting to push myself on the little ones who didn’t know me, I stood back a bit and asked little Brandon (almost 5 yrs. old) if he thought it would be okay if I gave him a hug.  He said yes, and I got the BEST hug from that little boy!  Ethan (15 months) wasn’t having any part of that.  In fact, he wasn’t having any part in anything other than crying and wanting “down.”  He’d sat still long enough.

We went to the luggage carousel and found…no luggage.  It seems that ALL the luggage from their flight was put on the wrong plane.  Not just theirs, everyone’s. 

The choices we were given were to either wait until the luggage came in on another flight (“It could be in as early as 4:00 but no later than midnight”) or have them deliver it to the Rochester airport after midnight.  We opted to wait and see if it came in at 4:00 and, if it didn’t, told them they’d have to deliver it to our HOUSE, not the airport (as they actually DO deliver to homes when they fuck up like that).  Luckily, the luggage came in at 4:00 and we were on our way home by 4:15.

Pizza and Buffalo style wings were the request for dinner.  “Can’t get good pizza and wings in Colorado,” Linda asserts.  We ate pizza, drank beer, and settled in to relax a bit. Little Brandon was still a bit hesitant and I was chomping at the bit to get my hands on both him and his brother.  Best not to push it, though.

Lisa and I were up at 7:00 Thanksgiving morning and had the turkey, that we had prepped and stuffed the night before, in the oven by 7:15.  We spent the next hour getting more preparations made for dinner that day.  The kids got up around 8:30.  I asked little Brandon what he wanted for breakfast and he was pretty undecided.  He settled on a chocolate Go-Tart.  Grandma had oatmeal with dinosaur eggs — but she didn’t like the eggs so we put them into a glass of warm water for Brandon to stir around until the eggs melted, revealing a tiny edible dinosaur.  He carefully spooned each dinosaur out of the glass and ate them — pleased that he could eat a dinosaur instead of the other way around.

As the turkey roasted, I ended up downstairs in the family room with the little guy.  We got to roughhousing and throwing a fabric ball around at each other, ducking behind the furniture to avoid being hit, or wrestling around on the floor with each other.  If I got the best of him, he’d turn into a Transformer and “get my bombs” and he’d throw his make believe bombs at me to neutralize me.  We both screamed and squealed with delight as we played, while Lisa, Linda and big Brandon sat upstairs shaking their heads.  As Lisa peeled potatoes for dinner, big Brandon told her “Yeah, we’ve tried to teach Brandon to be a bit gentler with his Grandmas because Grandmas are more fragile.  So much for that.”  A couple of times Linda came downstairs and “scolded” us with “If I have to come down here one more time to tell you two to calm down, I’m going to separate you and put you both in time out.”

I don’t think so, Mom!

My Aunt Wanda called around 10:00 to tell us that she’d gotten up with a sore throat and was fearful she was coming down with something and didn’t want to expose the little ones with it, so they stayed home.  Michelle and the girls arrived around 1:00 — in the midst of a pretty decent snow squall.

This was the first time all three of my kids had been together since Joe’s graduation in 2002.

It also marked the very first time that all five of my grandchildren occupied the same space.  Ever.

The girls and Brandon all pitched in and helped set the table and, by 3:00 we were sitting down to our feast.  Ethan couldn’t eat turkey and all the other fixings fast enough.  I thought that little guy was going to explode!

After the kitchen was cleaned up, the dishwasher started, and the food put away, we got out the Christmas tree and spent the rest of the evening decorating the tree.  I would “hook” the ornaments and hand them to each of the kids, in turn.  My tree is beautiful!  Oh, sure, 95% of the ornaments are on the bottom half of the tree, but who the hell cares?  My kids decorated it!

We had dessert when the tree was done — apple pie, cherry pie, pumpkin pie, chocolate pie.  Shortly afterward, Michelle and the girls left to make their 90 mile drive home through the snow.

In the picture, front, is Cherlyn, Brandon, Annie and Grandma.  Back row is big Brandon, Linda, Michelle, Vanessa and Joe.

Brandon and I found “quiet activities” to occupy us for the remainder of the evening — floor puzzles, coloring books, games.  We had a great time.

Friday brought more roughousing with Brandon and I downstairs in the family room.  We did “strength training” on Joe’s weight equipment and each time Brandon “lifted weights,” he tackled Grandma and pinned her on the floor.  He’s a slippery little goober — every time I got the camera out, he ran and hid.  I laugh when I look at this picture because I barely got the kid in it as he ran.

In this picture, he was faster than the camera.  You can barely make out the top of his head behind the couch.

Later in the afternoon, as Mom and Dad prepared for Mom’s high school reunion, we settled down to watch Transformers.  What’s a hoot is that, whatever Brandon is watching on television, he becomes.  If he’s watching dinosaurs, he becomes a T-Rex. While watching Transformers he became “Optimus Prime.”  As an aside, I’m going to have to rent that movie and watch it again without the distractions by the little one — I enjoyed it that much.

We decided to go to Blockbuster to rent some more movies.  We got our coats on and I wrestled with the seat belts and got Brandon all belted into Lisa’s truck.  I got in, put the key in the ignition, turned it and….nothing.  Not even a dash light.  I got the little guy back out of the truck and, as he ran into the house he breathlessly exclaimed “Somebody’s gotta fix that truck so we can go to the movie store!”

A half hour later, we were on our way.  We picked up Scoobie Doo, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and Chicken Little.  Of course, you can’t watch movies without movie snacks so I told him to pick out whatever he wanted.  Dejectedly he told me “Mom said that I didn’t eat a good breakfast so I can’t have treats today.”

Now, sometimes a Grandma has to choose her battles.  “You go ahead and get what you want, Brandon.  Mommy will be mad at Grandma but that’s okay.”  But, I also told him that he had to eat a good dinner so that he could have them.  He grabbed a box of Nerds and a box of Nestle Crunch Bar bites.

After a dinner of Spider Man macaroni and cheese, we settled in to watch Scoobie DooHow the Grinch Stole Christmas was up next on the queue.  Brandon asked for a drink and I told him “You can get whatever you want out of that little refrigerator there.”  He opened the door, then closed it and went back to his toy dinosaurs.  “Not thirsty?” I asked him. 

“I’m not allowed to have pop and sneaking it is bad.”  There wasn’t any juice left in the refrigerator, nor was there any more water.  I went out to the garage and replenished the juice supply, much to Brandon’s relief.  I adore this kid and clearly he’s being taught well.

While we watched movies, Ethan toddled around playing with whatever he could find that amused him.  Primarily, my cell phone amused him.  He pushed the redial button, then the speaker button, and got Lisa’s phone.  Lisa went upstairs and talked to him, much to his endless amusement.  Every time she said something, he giggled.

We put Ethan down around10:00 — we’d folded a sleeping bag in half and put it between the bed and the wall in the master bedroom.  The sides of the sleeping bag overlapped the space, so they flared up against the wall and up against the pedestal of the bed — it formed a bit of a nest.  This kid LOVED his nest!  Every afternoon he just walked into the room and put himself down for a nap.  Linda and Brandon both dropped their jaws at this.  The little monkey just toddled in, climbed into that nest on the floor, burrowed in under his “blankie” (that Grandma made) and zonked out.

Brandon and I played quietly for another hour or so until he was so tired he could hardly stand up.  I picked him up to carry him to his own sleeping bag (which he loved) and he wrapped his little arms around me and whispered “I love you, Grandma!” in my ear.  I choked back tears, gave him a squeeze and said “I love you too, Brandon!  Very much!”

Saturday was a quieter day with Brandon occupied with independent play for most of the day.  Ethan enjoyed the company of Simba, who normally doesn’t come near any kids.

Look at the eyes on that little boy!  His lashes are like little paintbrushes — extraordinarily long and thick and curly.  See big brother in the background “lifting weights?”

Saturday night came way too early and I went to bed around midnight, dreading the morning — not just because I had to get up at the ungodly hour of 4:30, but because my time with the kids was at an end.

And so, yesterday, I drove them back to Buffalo where they boarded a plane for home.  I got back into my car and just sat there and cried.  I’d made a new buddy with little Brandon — who by all I’m told, just doesn’t bond with people the way he did with me.

It’s funny — we raise our kids to be independent and self-sufficient, but there’s a part of us that sort of thinks “I didn’t mean THAT independent” when they move so far away from home.

But now, I can send pictures and emails to little Brandon and he’ll know who I am.  And he’s old enough to remember this Thanksgiving — one that I’m not soon to forget.

And, tell me this — how could anyone forget a face like this?  How can you not love it!?!

Can you see what’s on his sleeve?  Hell yeah — the kid’s a Broncos fan too!

We’ve begun to plan a trip to Colorado this summer.  I can’t let that much time go by again without seeing these kids!