Visits to Nashville are never as long as they should be. It is nearly impossible to see absolutely everyone I would like to - so, if we saw you, you'll know you must be a favorite (wink, wink). I guess that's what I get for trying to cram 6 years of friendships into 6 days of vacation. Still, we managed to max out our time there and eat our way through the south one big helping of fried hospitality at a time. (Ok, I'm mixing metaphors - but you can do that in the south and people will still smile at you.) :)
We caught up with MANY wonderful friends, most of which got to meet Miss Matilda for the very first time. It was a beautiful thing to see how loved this girl is! It was awesome to see her eyes sparkle with the meeting of each new friend. It makes me so thankful for these people who hold up our family in prayer - who rejoice with us in her birth and will help carry us through her life one little milestone at a time.
Then...(dum dum dummmm...cue dramatic music here) the family arrived! FIFTEEN of us all together now. Wowza, that's a lot of family.
I know there are families larger than ours. I know there are families even louder than ours. But, when I say "that's a lot of family" I don't mean how many people...I mean it like you'd say "that's a lot of look" to Liberace in neon feathers and sequence. When you see our whole family together - we are quite a sight. My siblings have three kids each, and now that we've started adding to the pack, even with only one little baby, we've significantly increased the volume level of any room we enter. Matilda was THRILLED to be hanging out with her cousins. She simply adores Grace and Lily who are more than happy to play dress-up with their new live-doll-cousin. The four older boy cousins get along swimmingly - just don't interrupt their Bakugon building battles or Wii time unless you are ready to serve them food.
The most manic part about our family togetherness, however, is absolutely without a doubt (and I think my siblings would agree) hands down - is picture time. Pretty much "picture time" starts whenever my mom arrives until she leaves. Now, my sister and I have only added to the chaos since we both purchased new cameras this year - so, we can no longer pass the blame completely onto my mother.
Though picture time is an ongoing event, it is truly at its highest point of craziness when the children are begrudgingly forced to wear matching outfits. Yes, the matching outfit cousin picture never gets old, does it? Well, my mom is here to see that we will push it as long as possible - or until the first boy outgrows the rest of the clan and they no longer have matching shirts - whichever comes first.
Posed, matching outfit picture time is the highlight of our family time. (And by highlight, I mean it is an agonizing, ridiculously loud feat that happens to be the means to a worthwhile end - IF you can snap that photo at JUST the right moment.) I might add that my adding a 5 month old into the mix was no help in the volume level of directions given upon said photo shoot. Everyone who is NOT in the photo has naturally taken on the daunting task of getting all the children to smile and look in the somewhat-same-general-direction at the same time. If someone were to drive by at just that moment, you'd be able to see half my family leaping up and down, holding rattles and stuffed animals, squawking directions like they were auditioning for the circus.
"LOOK HERE!!! HERE! No - HERE! Now SMILE! No - HERE - smile! - Put your hands down, no, over here. No bunny ears! Okay, very funny - now be serious, but SMILE! Over here, look HERE! SMILE!!!"
As long as this chore remains padded by several hours of eating and merriment, then I suppose we will still get together. :)
Besides family time and friend time - we also enjoyed plenty of eating time in Nashville! We hit many of my traditional favorites (Corky's BBQ, Fido, Monell's) and splurged at some new joints as well (Las Paletas, Taco Mamacita's, Athen's). If there's one thing the south never disappoints, it's my appetite!
Thanks, Nashvillians, for a lovely stay and a memorable first Easter for Matilda. Well, she might not remember it, but we'll always have the pictures to prove it. SMILE!