My little brother Aaron is married! It's been a whirlwind three days (every day since Thursday I've thought it was Saturday). When Aaron and Lori got engaged officially, all the siblings made their travel arrangements. It ended up that everyone would be in Utah the night before, but staying in different places/cities. My Mom asked if I could host a family get-together at my house and I agreed since I couldn't think of another way to finally get the backyard looking nice. I decided on a theme of the state fair because I wanted an excuse to use my state-shaped cookie cutters. Nerd! Also, it helped me wrap my brain around food (for 31 people!) and decorations. We had enough time that we thought of some really fun details like homemade root beer.
That's Banks, Adam, Aron and Lilja watching the dry ice show. Thank goodness they came early so that Aron could help Brian and me set up that giant tent. (I borrowed it from a kind friend. I borrowed a lot of stuff from a lot of people.) I think it was 150 degrees outside and the tent was a puzzle that was blowing our minds. Anyway, HOMEMADE ROOT BEER! I wanted to drink it all myself. We used Hires Big H's Root Beer Extract, which I drove to Salt Lake with all three kids after five other stores to get. Totally worth it.
Allyn's girls, Emma and Lilja helped me glue the names of states on our table runner. I only had the states our guests were coming from, plus California since California is dear to all of us. :)
My daisies died three minutes after we put them in water. Huh? That's Emma and Emil enjoying the dry ice display.
Everyone finally came. It was so fun to hear my front door open (I was in the kitchen doing stuff so I could only hear the arrivals) and one of the kids or someone who was already there would call out the name of the person walking through the door. Like a grand entrance to the ball. :) When Aaron and Lori came in I rushed them into opening the gift I made them while Lori was still there (she had a dinner at her parents' house to go to).
Queen-size Lone Star with baby piping on the binding! I DID IT! I learned how to do piping a few months ago but haven't had a chance to practice before this. I was a minute away from undoing the two rows of piping I'd sewn on because I couldn't remember the next step. Then it came to me and I almost hurt myself patting my back. Excuse the digression. It was a big deal. :)
Time to get down to the business of EATING. Ribs from Sean's Smokehouse, turkey from Angelyn's Smokehouse :), salads, fruit, chips, homemade lemonade, and lots and lots of rolls. And root beer. (Also, mini buckets of popcorn that the kids had to chase down in the wind. Woops.) Check out the scrappy pennant banner Allyn and Lilja made for my fence. Cute!
Jen, Melissa, Jeff, and Dad (Rob and Aaron and Makenzie are in the background. And David's torso.)
Ruby-Doo and Bridget at the kids' picnic table. Also borrowed. I'm such a great neighbor.
Once everyone had eaten, we had to start our Croquet Tournament. We had four games with four people playing (oldest and youngest until we got to the middle) and the winner of each of those games were in the the Final Four. Brian came up with the teams and over-saw the matches. The first game was Grandpa Bob, Grandma Peggy, Aaron Lee, and Claire Lee.
Winner: Grandpa Bob! (Take note of my hay bales and hanging lanterns that didn't stay lit.)
The second game was Ben, Matt, Makenzie, and Rob.
Winner: Matt! It was his first game of croquet. A real Cinderella story. Too bad I didn't pick him in my bracket. (No offense Matt. I never get the Cinderella story right.) As you can see, Grandpa Bob stuck around for the second game to teach some rules as they came up. I learned stuff. :)
The third game was Jen, Me (Nicole), Jeff, and David.
Winner: David! That was a pretty cut-throat game. Some balls got hit way out of bounds. It was also the first moment I had to just relax and talk to my siblings, so it made me happy even though I missed my chance to knock David's ball away from the last two wickets.
The final game in the Sweet Sixteen was played by Melissa, Katy, and Allyn. Aron Boney was at the ER with Noah Boney. We're lucky the trampoline body count was so low. :( No photos from the last game because I was administering a timed test to some other people. (I will most likely steal photos from Melissa when she gets off her vacation and then I'll insert them here. Ha!) Winner: Katy!
Before the accident. Also, I can't get enough of that banner.
Across the yard we had a Twister Tournament for the kids. Brittany gave me the idea to paint the Twister game on the grass. Then she gave me the paint to do it. More Awesome Neighbor Points for me! Anyway. Bridget was the clear winner of the whole tournament. She won peanuts and licorice ropes from St. Louis. :) (I had Melissa, Jen, and Katy bring Major Awards from their cities for the prizes of our games.)
Bridget and Emma. That's Eliza holding the Twister thing-y. Look at Bridget's focus!
One of the other contests was naming as many states as you could in five minutes. We had four people get all 50! And then Jeff was disqualified for getting South Carolina from Melissa. That left Melissa, Rob, and Makenzie to do a lightening round to name as many capitals as they could in three minutes. Melissa was victorious! (Rob was second and Makenzie was third.) She got a bag of Lake Champlain Chocolates, courtesy of Jen.
This has nothing to do with the State contest. That's a plastic curling iron that Emil keeps in the yard to use as a sword or a knife. The photo is out-of-focus and I don't even care. Hilarious.
The day before the party I realized we needed one more contest. Something about pie. (I've entered pie making contests in the real State Fair. I know what I'm talking about.) Brian suggested we have a pie eating contest with Hostess pies. Perfect! By the time we remembered to do it, it was getting dark outside. We found some volunteers to play and Jeff joined at the last second.
I'm the worst for posting this, but you had to see that Jeff already had half of that thing in his mouth while everyone else was just starting. It was gone the next second. Everyone else stopped eating immediately. I laughed so hard I think I injured myself. Jeff won a giant chocolate bar Katy brought from North Carolina. Quoth the winner: "It's not something I can really brag about, but I've never lost an eating contest." Thanks, Jeff. :)
The flies and the heat had taken over my kitchen and it was getting pretty dark by the time we had our championship croquet game. It was a real battle, but David was the victor! His prize was the Grandpa Curtis Croquet Cup that the trophy store made an eighth note (because that's what I order for my piano students and they had it on file - sigh). We decided to make it like the Stanley Cup and have another tournament the next time we're together. Which I hope is very soon. If I wasn't a member of my family, this party would make me so jealous. Thanks, everybody!