I wrote Laugh, Snort, Repeat over here at Moms.FortWayne.Com ~ Check it out!
I wrote Laugh, Snort, Repeat over here at Moms.FortWayne.Com ~ Check it out!
A few years ago our family embarked on our first Big Family Vacation; my two sisters and Kevin’s sister joined us in a big beach house in South Carolina ~ 19 of us for one week! It was amazing! Last year we did it again, we rented a big cabin on a lake in Minnesota – one week, 19 people, tons of laughter, excess food and important connection.
The relationships that my sisters and I have built are priceless to me, and I believe the value is equivalent to the investments we have each made. We’ve spent so much time together that my sisters consider my sister-in-law one of us. (In a future post I will write about how Jared (Kalie’s son) thinks Beck (Jamie’s son) is his cousin and my sister and brother-in-law are his aunt and uncle!) In varying combinations, sisters have met in Florida, Chicago, Minnesota, Indiana and Kansas.
A few months ago I looked ahead at the calendar and realized with two of us having graduating high school seniors next summer – in two different states – the possibility of our bi-annual Big Family Vacation was in jeopardy. Then I looked at our calendar for this summer and saw all the weeks blocked off due to my kid’s summer camps and realized it wasn’t likely we would be able to squeeze one into this summer either.
So with a longing for some sister time and flexibility in my summer schedule (after all it isn’t me who has weeks blocked off for church camp, camp counseling, football camp, etc…), and with so much camp on my mind, I suggested we do a Sister Camp. I proposed meeting in Kansas at Jamie’s
ranch house. (She has a very large home on 70 acres, and they recently added chickens, turkeys and ducks – so it seems like we should go there to see what the heck is going on with her, after all this is my city girl sister from the East Coast!) So Sister Camp 2012 was added to the calendar.
With only a week to go, we each received a camp itinerary earlier this week from Jamie (who is a Chief Marketing & Customer Experience Officer, so yes this makes her the perfect director for our camp). We are all responsible for preparing, serving and cleaning up one dinner, and some of the activities on the schedule include:
There is no other way to describe the Super Bowl Extravaganza Weekend – it was absolutely amazing, wonderful, fun, fun, fun and surreal! I’m probably never going to have another opportunity to experience all that we did.
The parties were amazing, happening in places I would normally not be, and with people I know not from real life, but from TV.
I will say that after being treated so special – remember we had VIP status for this event – I could see how one (me) could become accustomed to being served – all the time. We were given everything for free – we were delivered to and let in places where the “general public” was not. My sister received “room drops” at the hotel in the evenings – she received an iPod Nano and a workout watch (that the iPod fits into), Beats by Dre ($400 headphones!), and a Super Bowl hat and glove set. I could definitely see how there would be a battle to keep pride from squeezing humility out of the picture. (My sister relies on her faith to keep her grounded.)
It was so wonderfully fun, and maybe I could really soak into it because I knew it was for a very limited time – and what mom wouldn’t want someone else literally handing her drinks as she enters a place and magically producing all her meals for her?! Really, some days this is our fantasy.
As fantastically cool as it was meeting some of these athletes and going to some of the parties, some of my favorite moments of the whole weekend were:
The weekend that ESPN treated us to was well beyond what I have ever could have imagined experiencing. And…although I felt happiness all weekend and enjoyed literally every minute of it, the best part, and what brought me JOY was simply being with my sister, and then being welcomed back into the real world of my wonderfully ordinary life.
(Unbelievable enough, next month I will have another “once in a lifetime experience” with my other sister, Tracey. She bid on and won a Chicago Bulls package in which our two seventeen year sons will be honorary team captains at the Bulls vs. the 76ers game. I am blessed by my sisters.)
This is the truth – I am just an ordinary mom in Indiana, but last week I felt like a ROCK STAR! Let me explain, ESPN gave my sister Jamie, the Chief Marketing Officer of Protection 1, two tickets to the Super Bowl, as well as VIP status for private events and parties, four nights at the downtown Hyatt, and more.
Due to a last minute change of plans for her, I arrived Thursday evening and Jamie arrived Friday morning. This gave me an evening to relax and rest – I had been sick earlier in the week – so I took advantage of a quiet evening.
Friday morning she arrived at the hotel after being on the set of the Mike & Mike in the Morning Show. She met and saw several athletes – including Christian Ponder, quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings. (Growing up in Minnesota, we have an affinity for the Vikings.)
That afternoon Jamie and I ventured out into the streets of Indianapolis to experience the Super Bowl Village, it was an absolutely exciting atmosphere! There were so many people, lots of energy, the spirit of the people was friendly and electric! Indy did a superb job hosting the Super Bowl ~ we experienced it and heard this over and over.
Friday evening was our first spectacular event – ESPN The Magazine’s NEXT Event. This was amazing. It was held at a huge warehouse – after being dropped off, we flashed our VIP badges and walked right in. (Super cool – just sayin’) To the right of us athletes were arriving, ESPN would flash their name (thank you for that!) and then they would be photographed, interviewed and then come into the party. I felt like I could have stood there all night – I was texting pictures to Zach, my seventeen year old, who really would have appreciated being there!! Jamie reminded me they were coming into the party – that we were at – so she coaxed me away from my spot.
Once inside, there were athletes everywhere! There were a few bars set up, a stage, a few lounge areas, and so many football players (Cam Newton, Tim Tebow, Drew Brees as well as Shaquille O’Neal and more!). It looked like there was going to a performance, so we made our way to the stage, then Cam Newton came out and introduced Drake. Truth be told, I initially had no idea who Drake was or what he sang…I texted my college daughter, figuring she would – she texted back, “WHAT. I AM SO JEALOUS.” At the end of the evening, I texted her that she definitely should not be singing the lyrics of many of his songs! This was absolutely the most over the top party I have ever experienced. Again: Surreal.
Saturday morning we were delivered to ZEST restaurant, for brunch. We walked in and were handed a berry champagne, there was a jazz band playing, tables were set and waiting for us. Jamie and I were at a table with several other women, and we made an instant and great connection with Becky & Linda – who were also enjoying the festivities courtesy of ESPN. We had an amazing appetizer with a specifically selected Pinot Gris, then an unbelievable main dish paired with a Burgundy wine that was amazing, after that we were served dessert with a raspberry liqueur. If you are ever in the Indianapolis area, this restaurant is definitely worth the stop. (Guy Fieri from the Food Newtwork agrees!)
Courtney drove down with some friends from college Saturday. They spent time in the Super Bowl Village, we took them out to lunch, they went to a concert and then headed back to school. It was so fun to be able to treat them to a little part of our experience. They were so appreciative of our time together and the little perks we showered on them.
Saturday night brought a private party at the Hard Rock Cafe. This was a definite rock star moment. There was the red carpet, security guards with the entrance blocked off. We walked up, flashed our badges, security moved the barricades back, and we walked in…and were handed a cocktail as soon as we entered. I turned around, looked at Jamie and said, “OK, That was a very cool moment.” Our new friends, Linda and Becky had arrived earlier and had a great table where we joined them. Landau Eugene Murphy, last year’s winner of America’s Got Talent, (he sings like Frank Sinatra) was the entertainment that evening – he was incredible! This party was filled with NFL players – again, I was getting pictures and sending text messages to my family – asking Kevin and Zach, “Who’s this?!” Poor them – they would have appreciated it on a whole other level, although I have to say, I knew I was experiencing a once in a lifetime evening and was appreciating it and taking it all in.
Sunday morning brought ESPN Audio Presents: Brunch with a Legend. This was a wonderful meal and an interview as well as Q & A session with Michael Vick, Cam Newton and Matt Stafford. (Quarterbacks for the Philadelphia Eagles, Carolina Panthers, & the Detroit Lions) I texted with Zach during parts of this – I was hoping to ask a question of Cam on behalf of Zach, but didn’t get the opportunity. I really enjoyed this time as Zach talks about these players and now I feel more informed (Cam Newton is authentic, funny and so good natured) and will pay more attention when he is talking about them!
After the brunch, we relaxed for a bit in our room and then made our way to the ESPN Tailgate Party at Conseco Field House – where there were more football players hanging out, playing basketball and being gracious. There were more bars set up, more amazing food, and we were with our new friends Linda and Becky. At this event, I was strategic – I got a little kid, about 13 years old, to point out the players, tell me who they were and who they played for – then I got pictures and autographs! Zach said to be honest, he wasn’t so sure he would recognize and identify all the players without their jerseys. I’m not sure that’s true, he quickly identified the players for which I was sending pictures, but thanks for that Zach!
After the Tailgate party, we finally made our way over to the Super Bowl! We had wonderful seats, it was a great game, and again this surreal feeling came over me. The environment was electric the whole time, the crowd was so loud and we spent half the game on our feet! Did you see us? We were the ones with flashlights during the half-time show! We finally made our way back to our hotel after the game, made a stop at the post-game party given by ESPN, said good-bye to our new friends from California, Becky and Linda and dropped into our beds. Amazing. Amazing. Amazing.
Now that I have shared What We Did, my next post will be about how it felt, some of my favorite moments, and my perspective on living like this for a weekend. My word count is up for today – so I’ll see you back here soon!
Once upon a time there was a family. A very large family.
There were three sisters, and one sister that they didn’t even know was their sister until they were older. (She was once called a “sister-in-law” but she felt just like a sister so they changed her official status)
The four sisters were all married,
One was married to a man who could fix anything ~ from dangling car mirrors to flying car top carriers.
One was married to a very funny man, who was also very brave and courageous.
One was married to a future farmer of America (for they had just bought 68 acres and there was now talk of cows, goats and such) who was also known for his culinary skills.
And one was married to a hunter, fisher, gatherer who had many temperature issues, which sometimes caused thermostat wars with one of the sisters.
|The Beautiful Sisters|
One of the sisters was beautiful. She had a heart for constantly looking out for the interest of others, even when she herself was shortchanged. She welcomed orphaned animals into her home and loved them with a compassion and empathy that was renowned throughout the land. She loved deeply and laughed loudly.
The other sister was beautiful, she had a deep faith that carried and guided her ways. She was very funny, as well as intelligent (though neither she nor the oldest sister could count by 9’s). She lived far, far away from the other sisters. She was dynamic, talented and could even do cartwheels.
The other sister was beautiful. She was the one who found her sister’s when she was an adult. She was known for her grace and poise, peace and calm. She was intentional as she mothered, intentional as she walked through her marriage, intentional as she developed her friendships and intentional as she sought her God.
The oldest sister was beautiful. Sometimes she was also a mother to the sisters. She loved her sisters deeply, she prayed for them often, she felt blessed constantly by the love of the very large family.
The sisters had many children, eleven in all.
The very large family sometimes took vacations together, twice to be precise.
They had been to the hot beaches of South Carolina and to the cold lakes of Minnesota. Once the sisters even met in the windy city of Chicago, but one of the sisters on that trip was an impostor (though a perfect and lovely impostor) as the real sister was home with her family – tending to important and tender matters.
There were two sixteen year old boys named Zach & Zack. They loved football and singing for the family talent show. The had great adventures in the ocean and on the lake, even reminding their parents of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn as they paddled on the very windy waters one day. They were great examples to the younger boys in the big, big family. Both of them were very funny and spent their days knowing their own reality show would one day indeed be a reality.
There were two other boys, one had just become a teenager and one was almost a teenager. The one that was working towards being a teenager was very independent; he liked his i pod, the TV and sleeping! He was interested in games and even learned how to play cribbage with his cousin and his “aunt” on the trip to the lake. He looked up to his oldest cousin, and liked when they got time together. The new teen had never been to the ocean and loved that trip very much. He missed out on the trip to the lake but had the gift of many days in a row with his very first sisters and brother, proving that families are made up simply of people who have an abiding love for you.
There were three teen girls who were not above being silly and fun and they never gave the impression that they were too cool for anyone. (Although they did moan and complain about getting up to see the sun rise one morning.) They gathered the young ones, did puzzles, gave puppet shows, took walks on the beach, loved to have water adventures and more. One was confused and wore her Christmas sweater in summer, one was rather quiet and was almost done being a teen as she was soon to turn twenty, and the other one was very kind-hearted and could often be found painting her nails and the nails of others…using very bright colors.
There were two little boys, ages seven and eight who had pool noodle fights and hunted for sharks, crabs, and “free firewood”. They played together and they played separately. One of them loved to spend his time padding around the water, in kayaks and paddle boards, and the other loved to play in the sand, catch minnows and he even lost his tooth one trip. (That little boy was lucky to be alive because one of the sisters kept trying to kill him with peanut butter, (which was a very strong allergen) but that’s another story entirely.)
There were also two more girls, one going into 5th grade and one going into 6th grade. The older girl loved adventure, loved the water and didn’t think twice about heading out to help rescue the moms one day as they were stranded in the middle of the lake. The younger girl had many, many, many stories to tell, she too would join any adventure. She loved to fish and wished her mom would give her fiber pills and comb her hair gently. (That poor, poor girl.)
Most of the sisters did not live near to each other, (though two of the lucky ones did) but they used text messages, phone calls, emails and even Skype to live in each others lives, keep tabs on the husbands endeavors and keep track of all those children’s activities, challenges and accomplishments.
Then magically, or faithfully as some liked to believe, they came together for these big family summer vacations where bonding was renewed, fun was had and laughing was non-stop. (The husbands sometimes referred to this as “cackling” which the sisters found quite amusing.)
When the vacations came to and end, and the cars were packed, it was always very hard for the sisters to say good-bye (sometimes they even cried). This was because they never were sure when they might come together again. But as they hugged each other one last time, there was one thing they knew for certain, they were deeply and profoundly connected.
To be continued……………………..