What a blast we had this weekend! Our first annual “Family Favorites BBQ” (yeah, Im gonna make ya’ll do it again next year!)The food is STILL overflowing in the fridge, the kids still reminiscing about dad getting sent ass over teakettle into the pool fully dressed. Joe made his famous pasta salad that he has named “Garbage Pail Pasta Salad~ cus its’ got so much stuff in it, you have to mix it in a garbage pail with a snow shovel!” My dad, Dawn, Joe, Luke, Lowell and Cody L. arrived first and that was when the “Your butt is goin’ in the pool whether you like it or not” trend began. TJ scooped up his yonger cousin Lowell( I joke, because he’s younger by 5 days) and deposited him directly into the pool before everyone had even made it out to the back deck. Next, was Karen and Dick, Hilary’s parents. Hilarys mom dominated the scene with her mélange of appetizers, veggie medley and cookie bars. In fact, I am enjoying a Carmelita at this very moment while Janelle’s zucchini casserole heats up in the oven for the kidlets. Dick arrived with Karen, a case of Heineken and his game face on. Ready to experience the Monica children, en masse on their own turf. Hilary had been at our house for a few days and was excellent company for me till after midnight the night before while I was baking, baking …baking. Mom M. came and spent some time despite her hesitancy to leave her little Marley Macey Mae home alone and we really appreciated it, the kids were so happy to see her. Her new puppy sure is keeping her busy! And bruised! Jenelle, Kerry, Kerry, Makayla and Conner came (and finally brought Tyler Lee home! Sheesh!) and Jen brought her tater salad, zucchini casserole and get this… the COOLEST THING EVER… Ice Cream Sandwich Cake! No lie! Ice Cream “sammiches” and fudge, smashed oreos and whipped cream and sprinkles in a aluminum dish. I cant stop telling people how freakin’ cool it was! (still is.. mmmmmm) Then came Bob and Momi and the toffee bars that I clung to like Gollum while whispering “my precious, my precious” as I gently caressed the clear plastic lid that protected my addiction from greedy paws and coveting eyes. Ever the generous hostess, I eventually resigned to sharing the bars with my guests. Although I am not alone in my obsession, I caught Jordyn trying to take and hide them no less then three times….And her three layer dip. Momi assembled it right in the kitchen before my very eyes… I felt like I was watching the Muppet Show and the Swedish Chef was preparing me a dish. Shredded cheese was flying everywhere, cans clanging, utensils clattering and out of the chaos came this hot, bubble, ooey goey dip served with the most awesome chips I ever ate! Gluten free too, which reminds me to get Kylies celiac studies finished. Then my mom arrived with the ribs! I thought poor Dick was going to suffer from malnourishment as he abstained from almost all the other goodies laid before him, in anticipation of my moms baby back morsels’ of Guinness Stout soaked goodness. Once the ribs arrived, all was right in the world. Jordie, Kylie, Kasey and Ashley were covered head to toe in sauce, so if the ratio of exposed skin to barbecue sauce were any indication to the quality and taste of the ribs, Bobby Flay better watch out! Because those girls were slathered in it like it was sunscreen! Which reminds me of poor Ashley and Kalaia getting drug around my house like Raggedy Anne dolls by Kasey Mae and Jordie Lynn.I love those little girls, what troopers. Mine aren’t used to having “littler” girls around to be big sisters to, and when I see them all together, snuggled on the couch ready to watch a movie, smothered in blankies and dogs, its like I had more kids like I wanted to after Charlie! TJ, Cody, Kerry, Lowell, Luke and Cody L. were busy beavers, conspiring to get as many unsuspecting partygoers into the pool as possible. They were a ready source of laughter and smarmy teen comments. A few sprinklings of our famous “drag you to church and beat you in front of God” moments as well but I think those moments are a requirement at that age. Despite their brains slowly turning into mush thanks to the influx testosterone, I think they all had great fun. Little Kerry was the hero of the day for his silent but deadly, sneak attack from behind on Joe while he was wrestling Cody L into the pool, yet again. I just happened to be focused and ready to capture the entire thing on camera, and have every intention on enlarging and printing out the one of Kerry, poised in his “crouching dragon, hidden nephew” stance while Joe is half engulfed in white water splashes, frozen in mid-air while nothing but Cody L’s lone foot is jutting out from beneath the surface. Classic! And all while this caveman grunting and exhibition of masculinity went on, the pre teen princesses, Tyler Lee and Makayla , sitting safely in a shady corner, looked on disapprovingly from over the tops of their Judy Blume books. Eye rolls and disgusted sighs were abundant as the girls, I mean, young ladies, watched gross brothers and icky cousins act “all stupid and stuff”. Charlie and Connor were so good and enjoying themselves immensely in the play yard, under the watchful eye of Mom/Aunt Jenelle and Dad/Uncle Kerry. Charlie ate until I thought he was going to explode, and Connor… well.. I did see him with some juice boxes! Then there was Kylie… ahhh Kylie… she is a kid in her own world. She ate, she swam, she flittered about listening to grownup talk, bossing littles around when she got the chance, ate some more, swam, then ate again. Did I mention she ate? I have a feeling that the majority of ribs eaten were by her. And tater chips… and veggie dip. Oh the veggie dip. Kylie was in nirvana. All her favorites centrally located on ONE table in HER backyard…” Praise Jesus! Sweet omnipotent, 5lb 6oz baby Jesus”….Mid-day brought us a sweet surprise, as Mrs. Memoli FINALLY came over with Angelica for a quick visit. So, no folks. She isn’t my imaginary friend. She is an actual real person who deserves MAJOR props because every year since she came to Cedar Grove School she has had a Monica child in her PM class. Not that the kid was the problem. The problem was what comes with the kid.. ME!!!! Actually, Laura and I are kindred spirits when it comes to kids and projects. I even promised her to help next year even though I don’t have any kids in kindergarten anymore! Dana, a service dept secretary from Lester Glenn and pre-med student hopeful, actually showed up! Even after experiencing us all in action a few weeks ago. She sat off to the side, chatting happily, all while inside I’m sure her thoughts wandered to birth control options verses celibacy. Possibly both just to be sure… The cutest thing that day was Charlie and Charlie… My dad (Charlie) sittin in the rocking chair when all the sudden little Charlie climbs in his lap and falls asleep. Awwwww….. All in all.. It was a great time. Sure there were moments, and yeah there was bloodshed. (And quite a lot of it, too.) I’m thinkin’ Cody L.s parents might wanna get him checked for the hemophilia gene…cuz that kid bled like a stuck pig on a high dose of heparin. But truly the day couldn’t have gone any better. We were surrounded by good friends and great family and the food.. oh the food. I am a true believer that the more love that goes into a dish, the better the flavor, and I ate some of the best food EVER this weekend, hands down! So thank you all for joining us, you filled our home and hearts with laughter and love and we are blessed to have so many amazing people a part of our life. Thank you, thank you, thank you…..We must do this again before summer ends and our sunkissed noses grow pale from the confines of our homes, before the verdant green trees shed their shade giving leaves, before all the evil, soul sucking bennies leave our town and give us back our roads and WaWas. Much love to you all… with a smile on my face and a song in my heart, I cant wait till next time! Love, Heather and Joe