We attempted to make New Year's Eve plans over a month ago, but faltered in our efforts, completely lost track of time, and then just gave up. I'm sure Jason's parents would have been happy to have the kids sleep over to give us the freedom to do whatever we wanted, but I just didn't feel like being without the kids. I like having them at home asleep. In the rooms next to me, of course.
So on the day before Christmas, when we went to meet my brother Bryan, his wife Tram, and their kids Joey and Ethan for a Red Robin meal, I mentioned that we both had to work, but we'd love to have them over to do New Year's Eve-- east coast style, that is. And luckily they were free, too. (I sense a pattern here-- parents with young children without plans out for New Year's Eve. . . )
I wanted to order in Chinese food, but we couldn't think of any good take-out Chinese in the area. So Bryan and I headed off for take-out Vietnamese food nearby. Unfortunately, there was some sort of language barrier or miscommunication (that's what we get for sending the two Whiteys to get the food instead of the woman who actually speaks Vietnamese!). Instead of three meals, we ended up with two (presumably the gentleman who took our order shook his head in wonder about why the two of us would want four meals). And we didn't realize it until we were packaged back in the car, with Marcie buckled in the back seat (she insisted on joining us). So we stopped at Wendy's on the way home for burgers and fries for me and Bryan.
It was good company, though. The kids ate while Bryan and I were picking up food. A decadent meal of fish sticks, chicken nuggets, shrimp wantons, and pizza rolls. Oh, and the force-fed vegetables and fruits, of course. Casey and Joey played while we ate, and Ethan rocked in his portable swing and eyeballed us the whole time (those portable swings are super-cool!).
After dinner, we commenced with the evening's entertainment and dessert. For the kids, that meant hot chocolate with marshmallows (yum!). (Side note-- if you have a lactose-intolerant child, just heat up half a cup or so of soy milk for 45 seconds in the microwave, add a couple squirts of reduced sugar Hershey's syrup, toss in a hand full of miniature marshmallows and stir-- and voila!-- hot chocolate!) For the grown-ups, that meant chocolate chip muffins (which actually came around 9pm) and several rounds of Rock Band, in which Jason consistently scores 100% in the singing. He got it for Christmas, and we've had a blast rocking out around here since. (Notice Ethan in the swing in the background-- no matter how loud the rock group got or the screaming preschoolers running in circles around Bryan and Tram were, Ethan just slept away. Those portable swings totally rock!)
The picture that stole the evening was of the three older ones hanging out in the Dora Hideaway, clinging for dear life in fear that the Tickle Monster (that would be me) would roar right in after them:
And, at about 6 minutes until 9pm, we shut down the live band, channel surfed our way to CNBC, which was showing Carson Daly's New Year's Eve, grabbed glasses of champagne and sparkling wine compliments of Bryan and Tram, and prepared to count down as the ball dropped. The kids prepared with their half-filled plastic cups of water, as they walked around the family room, clinking cups and shouting, "CHEERS!" And we taste-tested the two beverage options as we waited for the last 10 seconds of 2007 in New York to arrive.
Then, as the ball dropped, we all counted down from 10 together, hooted out a Happy New Year, heartily "cheersed" each other, and drank down our respective drinks, hugging and kissing each other along the way. And I know we weren't the only ones celebrating the east coast's new year at 9pm because we could hear the clanging of pots and pans in the neighborhood nearby.
Exhausted, our kids gave final farewells to their cousins and their aunt and uncle before falling into bed. And Marcie, enamored of Ethan the entire evening was delighted to finally get a chance to hug and hold him. We, too, were exhausted. But we still rocked a little to Jason's Christmas gift Rock Band before we fell into bed ourselves. I think I may have been technically still awake at midnight here in California, but it was much more fun to celebrate the start of a New Year as an entire family. And who knows, maybe next year I'll actually plan a real event. But probably not. Impromptu gatherings with loved ones always make for the best memories.