When I first visited Chris' family in San Diego in January 2009, I remember purposely avoiding getting eighteen month old Molly out of the high chair because I didn't know how to remove the tray, and I didn't want to reveal that to this huge family that probably learns that skill while they are actually in the high chair. I'd scoot over to insist on helping with the dishes before it was time for that sweet girl to get out. I know. That's really sad. Scared of a high chair. I kept laughing at that memory when I flew out with the boys last week to take care of the seven Harrington kids that are still at home with Becca, my brother-in-law's girlfriend, while my in-laws left for a business trip, and my mother-in-law got the most well-deserved break ever. That was a really long sentence.
When Mom brought up the idea that I might watch the kids, I wouldn't let her change her mind. She is the most naturally serving person I have ever met. Sure, she had eleven kids at the time of our wedding, but she still found the time to cook a delicious salmon dinner for 100+ people and bake our wedding cake and groom's cake all while managing to look flawless even while running on very little sleep. She serves like that every day of her life; she works and prays from before sunup until after sundown for every child (including me!). Mom could most definitely toot her own horn, but instead she is the most relatable mother with only a multitude of understanding nods. She hadn't had a kid free break since before she was pregnant with Ciaran (ha, I actually just typed Conor and had to erase it. Only in big families do you accidentally type your four month old son's name for your one year old brother-in-law's).
Even though I wouldn't let her change her mind, I was still kind of (definitely) petrified of being in charge of nine kids including my own all while having to get some of my own things completed so God sent Becca down from LA to save me. H-a-l-l-e-l-u-j-a-h.
I think we were a good team! By the end of the week, we were finishing each other's diapers. The week was just funny by nature because every situation was laughable. Being jolted awake more than coffee by stopping myself at the last minute from rolling the driver side window in the big green 12-seater van all the way down so it doesn't stick as it's prone to do? Realizing at 2pm on Friday that it was only 2pm, and all of the weekend was left + almost a week til the in-laws were gone? "You should teach him," parenting advice from your four year old brother-in-law? Getting the kids out of the pool two hours before Mass starts and still missing the Gospel? Considering having only a four year old, a two year old, a one year old and a four month old at home as quiet? Repeating, "Don't hit your uncle," ten times an hour? Finding Ryan's soiled and stripped underwear being savored by the dog? All peculiar, hilarious and so darn lucky. I'm very lucky to have married into this family.
I think most of these photos demonstrate that at no one time was everyone dressed at the same time.
^^^ Lunchtime. (Ciaran is missing pants).
^^^ A whole lot of bed head and sweetness. And double chin on Ryan's part. (Pajamas).
^^^ Just a morning talk with Aunt Mary. (Still pajamas)
^^^ Aunt Molly pushing Ryan on the swing. (And still pajamas).
^^^ I love this picture. (Where are your pants and missing sock, Conor?)
^^^ And Chris was worried that I would dress Ryan and Conor in matching outfits. I one-upped his fear. (But, I failed at the whole shorts, athletic socks, dress kicks that Johnny is sporting).
^^^ These two DO NOT like each other right now. One year age difference does not suit them well especially because absolutely everything is, "RYAN'S!!" during this hopefully short (ha) phase in life. Let's go back to
. (Pajamas again).
^^^ On the other hand, these two have their moments, but they choose to share a seat when every other seat at the big table is empty.
^^^ Oh sweet baby. Your sweetness is magnified by toddler tantrums by multiple toddlers.
^^^ Here is Becca, pretty much the most helpful twenty-two year old in the world! Every morning, she would watch all four little boys while I did some work. Plus she made amazing dinners. Love you, Becca! David found a jewel. Now start a food blog, please. (Conor's onesie isn't even buttoned).
^^^ And the rested saint is home! #10, #11 and #1 grandchild all fit.
^^^ It's not every day that both your son and grandson are weights on your legs, is it?
Conor's face: Ummm, Mom. Why are you letting a six-year old hold me? (Molly is an excellent baby holder, for the record).
^^^ Clean and happy!
^^^ Ryan with his Papa pillow.
If St. Peter ever were to call me asking for a reference for my mother-in-law, I'd probably ask him to do what she does for a week with grace and a smile and then he could beam her straight past the pearly gates.
All in all, even though bedtime became earlier and earlier each night, it was without a doubt a wonderful week. Any amount of time that my kids get to spend with their uncle and aunts is just too good to be true (even the World War IIIs between Ryan and Ciaran (Ah! I wrote Conor's name originally again!), and I love getting to spend time with all of them. I really hope we get to do it again.
Special shout out to Meaghan for being such a dutiful dishwasher despite having so much on her plate, Patrick for picking up the trash that was strewn around multiple times by the dog and bathing Ryan, and Erin for really running the show.