I'm sure I've mentioned before that I'm the youngest of seven children.
The first six children were born in seven years. My older brother, Wally, was the youngest in the family for five long years, before I joined the tribe. I recently read in "Positive Discipline" (which I promise to write about soon) that if a child is the youngest for more than four years, before any additional siblings are added, they effectively consider themself the youngest in a family.
Translation: Wally was the baby until I arrived and ruined his party. It is for that reason, he tried to pawn me off to whomever would take me, when we were growing up.
Despite the fact that I have MEMORIES of my brother telling people he'd pay them if they'd please take me off his hands, I love being around the guy. He is, without a doubt, the funniest human being I've ever met. And that's saying a lot, because I know some very funny people.
But Wally has a wit about him that is unparalleled. He doesn't tell jokes - he makes observations and relays stories that will have everyone around him laughing in stitches, with the very rare few who will roll their eyes and walk in the opposite direction.
As great as Wally is ... his better half is Donna. Simply put, Donna is an angel walking on earth. She honestly has to be, considering she has been with my brother for the past 25+ years.
Now who's ready for a little trivia about our family?
Wally and I are the youngest in our clan.
Before the two of us had any children of our own, there were 13 grandchildren.
On October 14, 2004 - I gave birth to triplets.
On July 14, 2005 - exactly nine months later - Donna gave birth to twins.
On May 30, 2007 - Donna gave birth to a singleton.
On July 4, 2007 - exactly five weeks later - I gave birth to a singleton.
Grab a calculator, because we're going to do some math...
Triplets = 3. Twins = 2. Singleton = 1.
Triplets + Twins + Singleton + Singleton = 7.
13+7 = 20.
October 2004- July 2007 = 33 months.
In less than three years, two women added 7 grandchildren to our family, bringing the total from 13 to 20. Pictured below are grandchildren 13 through 20.
We met up with Wally and Donna while we were in Massachusetts.
This was the first time we had seen Wally and Donna in more than two years, and the first time we'd seen them in their new house. "New" is a relative term because this house is actually a 200-year old farmhouse. But much like the old lake house that Wally and Donna lived in, this place is packed full of fun. There are dogs, snowmobiles, four-wheelers and an RV ... in the summer there are boats, jet skis and wave runners.
When we arrived, the children were hungry, so Uncle Wally gave them a big jar of candy to snack upon. They loved him, instantly.
Figuring the kids needed some protein too, he loaded sticks up with hot dogs and put them in front of the open fire. As if it was even possible, they loved him a little bit more.
Charlie was hungry - and the roaring kitchen fireplace was taken - so Wally set him up on the 1,000,000,000 degree wood burning stove with a stick and dog of his own. He also gave my husband a warning that if he got too close, his eyebrows, lashes and goatee would singe off.
Once the kids were sufficiently in a food coma, Wally gave us a tour of the place. He is a jack of all trades, but unlike most, he masters them ALL. He cuts down trees, removes stumps, welds, plows snow, and a host of other things of which I have no idea. But I do wish he lived closer to us, because I'd be calling on him all.the.time.
He also rents out space within one of his many barns for people to store their cars and boats.
Here's his work space and just like his father, he loves Budweiser. He has a sign hanging in his kitchen that reads, "Beer: It's so much more than a breakfast food."
When in Rome: Here's Charlie with a beer in his hand, touring the grounds, with snowballs splattered across his back.
After spending a few hours at Wally (& Donna) World, he took us sledding at Suicide Hill. I'm not sure if that's what that place is actually called, or a name that Wally made up on the fly, while we were driving there. But considering our children had NEVER been sledding before, I thought for sure they'd be terrified.
Turns out, they weren't.
Our children, who immediately bonded with their cousins, hoofed right to the very top, or as close to the top as their little legs would carry them, over mounds of snow splattered with blood, before they nearly collapsed.
When they could walk no more, they threw their sleds down and went tummy first, screeching all the way to the bottom.
The two Williams.
Carolyn and Wally.
Henry, the Kamikaze.
Look out below!
Henry did great, until he reached the bottom and would fall off his sled, unable to move and lay on the snow asking that we carry him to the top of the hill and let him slide down, again.
(Yes. We put him in mittens. No. He would not keep them on.)
My brother is very outgoing and has lived his whole life in Massachusetts. So it shouldn't have come as any surprise that nearly half the people on the hill knew him. As soon as we showed up, crowds of people congregated around him and stood talking, or rather, just listening to him talk and then, laughing until they could hardly breathe.
It's good to be back on the east coast.
I'm really so glad that we're here.
Best yet, the kids are glad, too.
Even when they're exhausted to their very core.