Whether in Plymouth or Painesville...

We had a hundred reasons to be thankful. Last week, we gathered as an extended family at my sister Michelle’s house in Ohio. Between myself and my three siblings, we have 14 kids under the age of 12. Picture the movie “Cheaper by the Dozen” plus two, and younger. Virtually every moment of our visit included laughing, hugging, squealing, sharing, shouting, not sharing, screaming, whining, snacking, giggling, chasing, tripping, playing and pouting, usually all at once. And don’t forget drinking. Lots of drinking. Of milk that is. Although we grown-ups polished off a few bottles of wine, our drink of choice was actually coffee, without the Baileys. Because with adult-to-child ratios resembling a daycare, we needed to be twice as alert and at least as wired as the kiddos to keep up. Notice that I did not mention “sitting” in the list of how we spent each bustling moment. But it was oh so fun!

Auntie ‘Chelle hosted without skipping a beat, taking the chaos in stride, and managing to pull off a meal that would make Martha Stewart look like a slacker. Check out her table:
And Uncle Mark made a delicious turkey recipe that won over the taste buds of even the most poultry-resistant pilgrims.

My big sister was an elementary school teacher in her previous life (and if my predictions hold true, will find her next career as a Food Network show host). She put her teacher talents to use by helping each of the kids do a turkey place mat, using their hand prints. Shown below are Dani and Caed getting some craft time with their Auntie:

And another reason why Auntie ‘Chelle will go down as the coolest ever in Dani’s book--she literally spoon fed home-made cinnamon rolls into Dani’s mouth, while they cuddled and watched the Macy’s parade. Here’s the proof of Dani indulging in sugary goodness disguised as breakfast:
Not to be outdone, Mom & Dad Damiani made some headway on the hip-o-meter as well. They brought early Christmas presents in the form of a Wii console for each family. My brother Aaron was pretty jazzed, but you can’t really tell from the picture.
It didn’t take long before the Wii was set up and all the kids were playing. Or maybe just watching their Dads play. It was a hit with everyone young and old! Thanks Mom & Dad!
Now, not only was this a Thanksgiving get-together of legendary numbers, it was also our chance to celebrate my Dad’s 60th birthday in person. We performed a few oldies songs, customized the words for our dear father, and did a bit of a roast. Notice the ‘stache on my brother, grown specifically for the purpose of mimicking my father, which he did quite effectively, I might add. The muscle shirt Aaron is sporting is a bit harder to explain because I’m pretty sure Dad never wore those. I guess Aaron was going for a retro look, or maybe he just secretly likes wearing muscle shirts but never had a good cover excuse until now.

And last but not least, we celebrated Dani’s two-year birthday and cousin Glory’s three-year birthday a bit early. By then, I had run out of memory on my camera, but managed to capture this post-birthday-festivities, pre-nap look on Dani’s face:

And I know I already said “last but not least”, but I’m still not done. I apologize to those of you still reading. Anyway, Caed has decided that cousin Gus is his new BFF, right up there with Max. He made up a song about how Gus and Max are his best friends, and sang it all through breakfast the morning after we left. Over and over. Which wasn’t hard to do since there was only one line to the song. Here are the two best buds playing “construction site” together:
And I must give props to my dear sis Robin, who drove with her 7 week old, 3 year old and 4 year old all by herself, through freezing rain and snow, to complete our family reunion. Her daughter Molly is giving Sheridan a run for the money in the contest for the most “high maintenance” infant. Is it wrong that this Thanksgiving I was most thankful that the screaming baby in the house this year didn’t belong to me? I’m glad Dani is done with the inconsolable crying and has finally “progressed” into throwing tantrums with a generally traceable cause. And to my sleep-deprived sister I say, it really does get easier, especially when you drop them all off at Nana’s house for the week.

Ok, I’ll wrap it up for now. But I reserve the right to start rambling uncontrollably again in future posts about the wonderful visit we had.

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