Last weekend, we went to Brad's brother Warren's graduation ceremony from Texas A&M. We drove down to College Station on Thursday and met up with the rest of the family: Brad's parents, Scott and Livy; Warren and his girlfriend, Tara; Mamaw and Papaw; Pop and Glenda; Aunt Cathy and Uncle Wayne, as well as Uncle Brian, Aunt Ellen and their daughters Claire and Rachel, who are 12 and 10. Our family moved in and took over a hotel and Aiden spent the weekend running from one room to the next, chasing cousins and bossing around grandparents and relatives. We all went to dinner Thursday night at an awesome BBQ joint. Afterwards, we headed back to the hotel and Aiden stayed with his Gran and Gramps (Scott and Livy) while Brad, Warren, Tara and I went to a party. The next morning, we all ate breakfast together, then Aiden, his cousins, Aunt Cathy, and Brad and I headed out to the hotel pool for a swim. Then it was a nap for Aiden, some quiet time for me and a book, and then we all got gussied up for graduation.
The ceremony started at 2:00 and lasted for 3 hours. Aiden did surprisingly well--he bounced from lap to lap, went on a couple of walks, snacked on chicken nuggets, and got to play photographer and snap pictures during the boring speeches. I was very proud of him--it was hard enough for the grown-ups to stay still for three hours, much less a little guy like him! There was one little hiccup: when we all stood to cheer for Warren as he crossed the stage, Aiden burst into tears--I don't think he expected all the noise! But he was quite proud of his Uncle Warren. For the longest time, he couldn't spot Warren out of the crowd of graduates--despite yellow caution tape decorating the top of his mortar board (Warren graduated from the school of Construction Science) and plenty of waving. But when he finally did spot him, he proudly pointed him out to everyone.
After the large graduation ceremony, the Construction Science program had a "hard hat ceremony" in which they give A&M hard hats to all of the graduates, introduce the faculty, etc. Afterwards, the program hosts a dinner for the families so we all headed over to gorge ourselves on lasagna and pasta and salad.
After dinner, we all headed back to the hotel for a family celebration. Warren was given a load of gifts and Scott and Livy read a few things they had written for the occasion, including an entire list of embarrassing/hilarious stories of Warren growing up. By the end, the room was laughing through tears--it was a great moment. Then we all enjoyed some cake and time just visiting with one another, and I kept the kiddos occupied with a craft (they decorated ceramic banks shaped like farm animals to look like a rock star, a hippie and a pirate--too cute!). Then it was time to put Aiden to bed. Brad and I got him ready, planted him in bed with his Aunt Cathy, and then we headed out with Warren and Tara and Scott and Livy for a night of drinking and dancing in Northgate.
As Designated Driver for the next 3 months, I had a blast watching all of them get a little ragged around the edges. We started the night out at the Sake Bar, where they balanced shots of sake on chopsticks over orange energy drink, slammed the table and watched the shots plummet inside, then down the hatch they went. The first round, everyone--including Brad's mother--beat Brad to the bottom of their glass, which resulted in plenty of teasing for my husband, who was a rugby player who spent most of his college days at parties. I couldn't help but throw in a few "old man" digs! Of course, this meant another round so Brad would have the chance to redeem himself, and this time, he and his dad both finished theirs within a heartbeat of one another, showing the "youngins" how it was done!
After getting the night rolling with a few shots, we headed to the Dixie Chicken for beer and some pool. Brad and I got beat two games in a row (you should have seen me leaning over the pool table with my big ol' belly, trying to make shots--a funny picture). After the rounds of pool, it was next door to the Dry Bean shot bar. With a list of 150+ different shots and no room to sit (the bar is just one long hallway), the entire point of the establishment is to drink up and get out quick. The crew did a couple of rounds of shots--the girls doing Lemon Drops and other sweet stuff, the guys doing Royal F$&*s and more "manly" shots.
After the shots, we went to another bar, which I can't remember the name of. They had a dance floor, so we all took a few turns at two-stepping and dancing to the occasional hip-hop song that they would play. The people-watching was great. And I got a kick out of having college guys hit on me while Brad was at the bar, then notice the pregnant belly, tuck tail and leave--the reaction is hilarious, let me tell you! We stayed for an hour or so, then all climbed in the Excursion and I drove them back to the hotel. Luckily, no one was in too much pain the next morning--some coffee and greasy breakfast was enough to get them all back on track.
After breakfast, the kiddos went to the pool for a last dip, then it was time to check out and head home. A few of us stopped at the Chicken Oil Co. for burgers on the way out, then it was time to hit the road. We had a great weekend together, and it was fun to get all the family together in one place. At times, we all get on each other's nerves and there is plenty of noise and chaos when we're together, but I feel very fortunate to have married into such a great clan.