Friday, July 09, 2010

That Jam Packed Explosive Weekend

Prepare yourself for a festive food family friends firework frenzy of a weekend blog post wrap up. Pop a couple of Rolaids and fill up that emergency bucket of water. Put out the punk, take a load off and visit Omaha with me.

Friday night we loaded up the dog and headed up to Omaha, or as I like to think about it, our second lake front weekend home. We got in pretty late and hung out with Joe's parents, Sherry and John and his brother Jim and wife Katy before heading to bed. I stayed up way too late trying to finish my Italian Feast blog which I had put off for way too long, though I'm not sure why.

Then up early on Saturday morning. I don't really like getting up early on the weekends, but when you are staying in a house filled with people, babies and dogs, that's not really an option. And as soon as my body is flooded with the appropriate and required medicinal levels of coffee, I'm actually thrilled to be up and hanging out with everyone. And who wouldn't want to spend as much time as possible with these two? (We actually got to spend a lot of time with the boys this weekend, since Sunday Jim and Katy jetted off to Mexico for a quick vacation. Lucky them, but lucky us too.)

Connor breakfast

Jackson tongue

Saturday morning I got to moonlight as photo assistant/lackey to Mr. Joe Sands, professional photographer. Our friends, Katrina and Matt hired Joe to take their family portrait. Matt and Katrina, the most patient and organized parents I have ever met, have three triplet boys who are funny, outgoing, sweet kids who just turned six years old. Katrina was one of Joe's best friends in high school and they've kept in touch over the years, and Katrina and I have become great friends through blogging, chatting and some pottery painting. So to commemorate the boys' big birthday, Katrina and Matt wanted to have some family portraits taken. Katrina picked a serene outdoor location and the kids had all the space they needed to run around, scream, chase and generally act their age.

Venns on a Log

Joe took a variety of shots all over the park, on logs, under trees, by little streams. And I got to follow around and carry stuff and make faces at the kids. It was fun, though I don’t plan to seek out a part time job as a photo lackey, I don’t like hauling stuff and I was easily distracted, only for Joe. After the park we headed over to a playground so the photographer could take some action shots. Climbing, sliding, running, screaming  and then Alex started to melt. His smile fell off his face, his shoulders slumped, he climbed the slide like he was stuck in a vat of molasses, he was done. Some cookie bribery helped squeeze a couple of extra photos out of him, but the photo shoot was clearly on the down slide. But, damn, those boys were patient. I know some forty year olds who wouldn’t last as long.

Last photo of the shoot

Once the photography activities were completed, we all headed over to Wheatfields for a spot of lunch. Wheatfields has become rather a tradition now.  Troy, Bethany and Annalie, and Bethany’s mom Debbie joined us too, since they happened to be in town for the holiday. Yeah!  And much like our Christmas luncheon, though about 70 degrees warmer, plus Troy and minus the freezing rain, we had a blast. Peach and cherry muffins, good conversation, kids coloring, talk of blogs, discussion on the nerdy stalker beauty of foursquare, the Navy, new laptops, travel, pregnancy and the odd taste of too many sprinkles on cookies. So what did we do next...

Patriotic Family

The Gang

After a quick couple of photos for Bethany and Troy, the ladies escaped the men and kids, and bolted for That Pottery Place. Katrina, who blogged about it over here, and Bethany dove right into the dottery and I was feeling lazy and uninspired and just painted a small bowl with a sparkly glaze. It looks ugly. But fire it up and it should burst into a peacock blue green bejeweled glorious wonder. Or at least not hideous dark gray. 

Ugly today, pretty tomorrow?

Katrina and Bethany and I talked for a couple of hours. I could talk to these women for days. The three of us have enough in common that conversation flows easily and we all have enough differences that it keeps it lively.  Though I was not feeling inspired or creative, Bethany and Katrina were on fire. They both painted two lovely pieces, and what did I do? I did some shopping and bought Bethany’s plate before she had even finished it. The woman just paints for fun at this point, she has more than 16 pieces of dottery at home, so what’s one little plate?

Making My Plate

The Dottery Princess

The Dottery Queen

My ride arrived and so the dottery dames parted ways. Joe and I headed back to his parents’ house and then out to a sushi feast with the rest of the Sands siblings. It was a ridiculously good meal. Excessive and typical of any seafood meal out with the Sands boys. Who knew spicy salsa could be so delicious on sushi? Then back to the house for a fireworks party in Blair.

Joe’s parents, as I’ve mentioned here before, live outside of Omaha so there are no restrictions on fireworks. I’ve never seen anything like it. You can turn in a circle and see fireworks at nearly every house in the neighborhood, fireworks all around you. Sparklers, roman candles, shells, bottle rockets, anything loud, smoking, sparky or explosive, they buy them in vast quantities and shoot them off for the three days surrounding the 4th. So a big party of family came out to the house to watch the fireworks and then the big finale, the neighborhood sponsored fireworks show which rivals some public park and city displays.

Fireworks at Lakeland

Fireworks at Lakeland

After collapsing into humid, smoky sleepiness, we woke up the next morning to a lot of rain. It was the actual 4th of July and it rained all day.  We skipped the morning parade, and headed over to Hillary and John’s house for lunch.

Taco bar

Hillary is an amazing cook. She takes something like a taco bar and elevates it above and beyond ground beef and grated cheddar cheese. We had mahi mahi, shrimp and chicken, all with their own homemade marinades. We had queso fresco, homemade guacamole, about five salsa options, three tortilla choices and zillion taco toppings. It was a delicious fiesta.

Super mommy

The girls

I’m not sure how this woman pulls off feats of entertaining like this every single time we see her. She works full time. She sits on about 12 nonprofit boards, she has twin infant baby girls and a lively four year old. Where does she find the time to sleep and watch True Blood? She has a wonderful partner in John, but I sometimes suspect that someone has given her that magic time locket that Hermione had in the Harry Potter books. Either way it makes me feel lazy. At least she let me contribute dessert. Hillary invited some family, some friends, including an old high school friend that she and Joe hadn’t seen in years, whom I liked immediately.  A good mix of people and a thoroughly pleasant way to spend the holiday. Did I mention there was Sangria? Strong, homemade Sangria?

Back to the house, we hung out with the littlest Sands boys, Connor and Jackson. We made dinner and just had a nice relaxing close to the weekend. Monday rolled around and Joe and I had a music downloading session with Jon Sands, Joe's youngest brother.

Uncle Jon Jon

Jon is cool. He loves indie music, has a wicked sense of humor, an arty streak, he lives in Chicago and has a hot girlfriend. Though one of his few flaws is the fact that the kid doesn't own a belt, which means his ass tends to hang out of his skinny jeans. And he wears manpris. But Jon keeps us hooked up with the latest and best indie music and for that I forgive all manpri wearing and manpurse carrying. I owe most of my current favorite bands to Jon Sands. For the Avett Brothers, we thank you deeply, Chicago Jonny.

After breakfast with the family, Joe and I packed up and headed home. I won’t go into detail about the bit of drama before we left. I’ll just say poopy pull ups that exploded on the couch while Nana changed Connor, a tiny smashed finger and a trip to the urgent care clinic, and now everyone’s fine. Another excellent trip to Omaha, once again filled with friends and family that we don’t get to see nearly often enough. So how about coming back next weekend? Hell, why not?

All Photos by the amazing Joe Sands. Except for the photos he is actually in and those lady pottery shots.


Katrina said...

Awesome post!! It's always fun to hang out with you guys!! I look forward to it every time!! I am curious- who is the high school friend at Hillary's that Joe hadn't seen in years?

margherio said...

Sounds like a great weekend but do us all a favor and leave out the description of Jon's pant and manpri issues next time....

bethany actually said...

Good lord, your weekend was even busier than mine! :-) I was going to ask the same thing as Katrina, who was the high-school friend at Hillary's?

Anonymous said...

I was going to ask the same thing as K & B.

So much fun, and I think I have mentioned how much I love the Avette Bros, too right?


Dana said...

Such a wonderful post, and all I can think to ask is "what is a manpri?"

kassie lou said...

Dana, those would be man capri pants. Clam diggers,crops, what have you. They are a bit awkward on straight men.