|Most of this stuff is animated...!|
Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, but this year we were going to do it a little differently -- a whole bunch of the MIT families would be staying overnight, letting the kids have nearly two whole days of hotel adventuring. We had tried to keep it something of a surprise but the Pipsqueak (as usual) figured things out a lot earlier than any of her grownups had hoped for (somehow not dimming her enthusiasm in the least).
Mom & Dad decided that an overnight stay wasn't in the cards for them, but that Uncle Brian had darn well better be there, so bright & early on January 1st I drove up to AJ & Miri's and they piled into my Rav with a couple of suitcases. Yes, two suitcases for an overnight -- the Pipsqueak was (again as usual) adamant that she have her own, and we've learned that arguing with a force of nature is best reserved for really important arguments. (And yes, it really was fairly bright & early; the previous night was one of the quietest, most low-key New Year's Eves I've ever had.)
The first challenge was parking. Finding the parking garage was easy, but getting in was another story; the Gaylord hosts one of the largest New Year's Eve galas in the area for a local radio station and several bajillion hung-over overnight partiers were all trying to exit while we were trying to enter. I remember telling AJ that I finally knew how salmon felt during spawning season as I cut tiiiiight corners through & around the stacked-up vehicles all trying to squeeze out the exit at the same time.
We put our name on the wait list and waited. And waited some more (the place was busy). Any concerns about all the kidlings becoming bored were quickly eased by their all plonking themselves happily down on the floor (right in the middle of things, of course) and engaging each other in a noisy card game, the rules of which seemed to redefine the phrase "free-form" but which were consistent in their inconsistency. After another ten minutes of crowd watching, getting the kids to move to where they wouldn't be stepped on, talking, getting the kids to move to where they weren't blocking traffic, reading the sample menu, getting the kids to move away from the bottom of the escalator, and wondering how to keep the kids from getting stepped on, we were ushered through the restaurant and into their outdoor patio. (To reiterate from my January 2015 post, the place is so big that several restaurants have "outdoor" seating areas in the fully-enclosed atrium.)
There was a little confusion as we attempted to herd all the cats into a single enclosure, but soon we were all happily sitting, kids at one table and grownups at another, running our poor waitress back & forth with forgotten/changed kids' drink orders and such. We burned through a good sized chunk of the $100 restaurant allowance that was part of our overnight package but for the next hour-plus we all just enjoyed good food & each other's company while watching the crowds go by and periodically making sure any meltdowns at the adjoining table were minor in nature. (With two sets of siblings in the mix, some additional drama was to be expected -- but the kids really were being good.)
NEXT TIME: "Brrrrr...!"
 MIT = "Moms In Training," the name used by our group of adoption friends during The Wait when the title really fit. Since it was technically correct for about seven(!) years, we've just kept using that name because it's a lot shorter than "our group of adoption friends."