Marilyn: the birthday girl

Three weekends ago we took another quick trip back to Kansas for Grandma Marilyn's 80th birthday celebration. It was another packed weekend, but we got to enjoy so much family time!

Ren picked us up at the airport and drove the long way to Grandma's. On the way, he told us stories from his trip to Europe and we rummaged through his souvenirs — currency, receipts, books, postcards. We got to hear the stories behind all his photos on Flickr. After we got to Grandma Marilyn's, Emily surprised Ren — he didn't know she tagged along with Dane, and his face when he opened the door was priceless!

Everyone made it back for the weekend to help celebrate. We haven't all been together since our wedding over 2 years ago and it was nice to catch up. We laughed, watched football and the Olympics and ate cheese balls from Jiffy Burger before turning in to rest up for the family photos/reception/birthday dinner on Saturday.

at the birthday reception

My parents and Caleb drove the few hours to see us at the birthday reception.

caleb, ian, anna, kris, dwight

I showed Dad my new phone and he attempted his first text. With a little practice, I'm sure he'll be tapping out messages left and right. Caleb towered over everyone, as usual, and fielded lots of height jokes.

ian and the giant

After the reception finished up, we took some time to visit Doris at the nursing home. When Ian and Ren were chubby little boys running around the funeral home in diapers, she took care of them. She's now in her nineties, but still is as sharp as a tack. I'm so thankful Ian and Ren had her to watch out for them, and she said she can rest easy knowing both Ian and Ren have great gals taking care of them now.

Grandma Judy was kind enough to put us up for the weekend. Time on the farm is so appreciated, especially now that we live in a city. She made us biscuits and gravy for breakfast, sewed the hole in my sweater, and made us feel cozy around the kitchen table. And so did Spud, her sassy, big-boned cat.

spud loves the tissue paper

Grandma Marilyn was, of course, the star of the weekend. Dane and Micki put together a slideshow with photos of Grandma Marilyn; it started with the telegram announcing her birth and ended with last year's birthday. We got to see her grow up, have a family, play with grandkids... My favorites were the photos of her in pep squad gear and in front of Kedzie Hall with her dad — it looked like something out of Mona Lisa Smile.

That night we had a family dinner at a little spot called the Vineyard. It's decorated with trellises (trelli?) and bunches of grapes, and there's an enormous illuminated photo of Shanghai on the wall. Decor aside, some of my favorite moments were from that family dinner.

the birthday girl

Everyone had a chance to share their favorite Grandma and family stories. We revisited some old favorites, like when 7-year-old Ian accidentally shot out some store and car windows with a bb gun then lied to the police about it. Our waitress turned out to be the owner of a minivan victim to Ian. Ian and Ryan also recounted a long car trip with Grandma Marilyn where they played DJs with a tape recorder, and Grandma Marilyn would "call in" to request songs. They didn't know most of the songs she requested, so they played whatever they had, including Michael Bolton and Puff Daddy.

Sunday morning we got around early to catch our flight. The weather was a little sketchy because of snow, so we checked our flights before we left: all on time. Ren got us safely to Wichita and the airport in plenty of time. We got ready to check in and as we were waiting in line, they announced our flight was cancelled. The earliest they could rebook us was early Monday morning.

Aunt Patti, who lives in Wichita, was generous enough to put us up for the night. And as it turns out, Uncle Bryan and his fiancée, Kim, were also staying the night for an early morning flight to their destination wedding in the Bahamas. We had a lovely evening curled up on the sofa watching Olympic curling and eating Patti's amazing vegetable soup, dinner rolls and brownies. We hadn't seen Bryan since Christmas a few years ago and hadn't yet had the chance to meet Kim, who is a lovely lady. As frustrating as it was to get up at 4:30 a.m. to catch a flight and take extra and unplanned time off work, spending time with them was definitely worth it!

And I realize I failed to take many photos, but we did get a few great ones, and you can see all of them on Flickr here.