Mr. Jackson getting graham cracker goo cleaned off by Mom.
We got back from Wisconsin Monday evening. We went to bed around 9:30. Yeah, I know that's old people early. Needless to say it was an exhausting, fun, family packed fest of hospitality, jokes, vacuums of all sizes, a zombie movie, babies, guns and 4 wheelers, "whore shoes" and Connor asking "One more, please!"
Joe and I headed up to Wisconsin on Friday, taking a half day off of work so we wouldn't arrive after midnight, since the drive takes about 7 to 8 hours or so from our house. As I've said before here, we don't mind long drives. Sitting still for long periods can be a drag. But with the advent of the iPhone and iPod, we have at our fingertips, an amazing array of music, podcasts, and audio books. Plus I hear that the lack of kids in the car makes things pretty easy and we shouldn't complain.
So the drive was nothing. We got into Madison around 9pm, right after Joe's younger brother, Jon and his hot blond girlfriend, Samantha arrived. I don't think Samantha knew that dying her hair blond would be the talk of the weekend but that, paired with her lovely red "whore shoes", (Samantha called them this originally and I just overused the expression because it made me laugh) evidently made her unrecognizable and easy on the eyes according to some family members.
Jon and Samantha.So all the Sands boys and lady friends had arrived, and we all stayed at the Sands' Dude Ranch (Jim and Katy's house, the father and mother of the soon to be baptized and reason for the party, Mr. Jackson.) Joe's grandfather and step-grandmother, Jay and Fritzie, had arrived from Philadelphia earlier in the day, along with Joe's mom and step-dad, Sherry and John, who drove in from Omaha and were all staying at a hotel, where Joe's aunt, Suzy, who was flying in Saturday morning, would also be staying. Whew, a big ol' gang of Sands. And of course Katy's great family was in attendance, who mostly live locally, but she had some relatives from Chicago come in too for the special occasion.
Connor getting his lunch on.
The Sands boys.
Saturday was laid back, with swimming at the hotel for the kids, a leisurely lunch at one of Jim and Katy's favorite restaurants, lots of talking, and convincing Fritzie that she would really love an iPhone if she played with it a bit, I think it worked. The adults, over 40 set, went back to the hotel to rest a bit, and the kids, under 40's, went back to Jim and Katy's to hang out. Connor played with his favorite toy, ok tool, in all the world, the vacuum, Jackson took a nap and we watched Zombieland, because how better to celebrate a baptism weekend than with bloody violence, Bill Murray and zombies?
Not Zombies, noooooo!
Connor and his big vacuum.
Connor's little vacuum, damn, that's tiny.
After the mayhem, we headed up to Katy's parents' weekend house for dinner. The Hill is lovely. It sits out on their property about 45 minutes outside of Madison. It's wooded and private and peaceful. It has all the toys necessary to keep people, children and adults, entertained: 4 wheelers and guns, and a bouncy seat for Jackson, not to mention, hiking, a real train caboose and a hot tub. The house itself has a huge open floor plan with lots of windows and elegant rustic decor. Perfect party house! And Katy's mom and dad, Mary Jo and Tom, know how to throw a shindig. Lots of yummy appetizers, delicious dinner, drinks and more importantly just a warm, welcoming atmosphere that makes you feel like you could move in up at The Hill and never leave. There was no hot-tubbing, but a little shooting and 4-wheeling, and plenty of catching up with relatives, passing around of Jackson, and noshing.
Fritzie and Jim discussing a possible ATV ride.
Very confusing wine.
Great Grandfather Jay and Connor the carpenter.
Sunday was the big baptism day. Because it was Palm Sunday and the mass is particularly long, most of the family arrived at noon for the baptism ceremony and didn't attend mass. Katy and Jim had over twenty people join them in welcoming Jackson into the Catholic church. Including Joe's second cousin, Missy and her daughter Lyz, who reconnected with the family through the powers of Facebook. Jackson's godparents are Jon, and Katy's brother, Chris' girlfriend, Stacie. Two great role models, and people that Jim and Katy know will be there for Jackson whenever he needs them, and even when he thinks he doesn't.
Jackson and Katy, check out that pretty gown.
Parents, godparents, Jack and Father Mike.
The ceremony itself was wonderful. Katy's family has a strong and unique bond with Father Mike who officiated at their wedding and baptized Jackson. He has such a powerful presence, a man who is warm, grounded, and possessed of a vast knowledge and understanding of people and of their faith. He is able to take, what for a non-Catholic like me, seems like an obscure or confusing liturgy and explain it in a way that makes sense. I like Father Mike. So after a smooth and tear free baptism, with Jackson wearing Joe's family christening gown, allegedly worn by 50 family babies, we went over to Katy's family's country club for a lovely luncheon to celebrate Mr. Jackson. Another tasty meal, more chances to catch up with family that we don't get to see very often, and more chances to hang out with Jackson and Connor. And the opportunity to grill Lyz, a 17 year old creative soul, about what music she's listening to lately and what exactly can you eat if you're vegan. But mostly I grilled her about music, I need some new music. And Lyz, and Jon and Samantha, are much cooler than me and were more than happy to help school me.
Jon Sands comparing all three of our iPods, very similar music not so shockingly.
That was pretty much our weekend. After the baptism and luncheon we went back to Jim and Katy's. I ran around playing with Connor, lots of lifting him onto my shoulder and then dropping him down onto the couch. He kept saying, "One more, please!" And I'd say "Ok, but this is the last time." and then eight times later, he's sitting on my shoulder again. It's such a blast to hang out with these nephews. We headed home the next morning, grabbing a quick lunch with Joe's parents at the outlets, did a little spring shopping, and then home. I love weekends like this. The big gang of family, celebrating the newest Sands boy and getting to spend time with everyone who is scattered across the country. At the same time it makes me long for more one-on-one time with each person. I don't feel like I ever get enough time to catch up with everyone. Can't wait to see everyone again, July seems way too far away. Jackson might be walking and Connor might be driving by then.
Jim and I entertaining Connor after church.
All photos by Joe Sands, or maybe Jim on a couple. Not sure which ones. Sorry!