"Mother, honestly, what is the point in getting together every year for a photograph?" asked Annie, tugging unconsciously at her sleeves, "We could just go and get it professionally done like Taran's family."
I blew a strand of hair out of my eyes and gave Annie a pointed look, "Because Taran doesn't have the family you have."
Jared came barreling into the living room, tossing a football in the air, "That's an understatement."
"Where are your brothers and sisters?" I asked, sliding the coffee table across the room, with no help from my children, at all. When they get older, I thought they were supposed to do things for you. Apparently not in this case.
Out of the corner I saw a flash of black with a squalling thing in its arms and called out uncertainly, "James? Why is Emma screaming?"
"Under control," was the response I received. Again, no help at all from my children or my husband, just fabulous. Andrew and Isabelle were running late, Chad and Francie arrived about twenty minutes ago but were trying to corral Landon's dog in the other room, and I had two fifteen year olds who are doing nothing, a four year old who was screaming and a missing nine year old. Yes, welcome to my life of craziness.
James stepped out of Emma's bedroom with Emma hoisted in his arms and her face red. I stepped towards them and Emma reached out for me, "What happened sweetie?"
"I fell," she said, rubbing her blue eyes tiredly, not helping the redness. I glanced at James who grinned and nodded, unbelievably.
"Okay sweetie," I said nodding and turned away from James and whispered, "What really happened?"
Emma looked at her daddy and I turned her around so her back was to James and she leaned in and whispered, "Daddy pushed me in the wall."
"James!" I yelled, spinning around so quickly I'm sure Emma had whiplash, "You threw our daughter into the wall?"
He threw up his hands in mock surrender, "It was an accident! We were playing and I was chasing her in the hall and kind of squished her." I put Emma down who stood, watching us in awe.
Emma tugged on James' pant leg and he looked at her, "Daddy, does that mean I can't have a cookie later?"
"You bribed her with cookies?" I hissed, covering Emma's ears, "Oh you are low."
At that moment, Andrew decided to make a sweeping entrance with Isabelle and his daughter, Alaina. Annie and Jared jumped up to give their dad and step mom a hug and Alaina launched herself into each of their arms. I heard another door open and in came Chad and Francie, Landon, their other son Michael, and my youngest son Tyler in tow.
"Can we hurry this along sweetie? The Knicks are playing tonight and I've got tickets for the guys," said James and immediately all the guys including Landon, Michael, and Tyler started cheering. Alaina and Annie audibly groaned while Emma situated herself in the corner with Landon's dog and didn't really care one way or the other.
"So what do we get to do while you guys go watch sweaty men run up and down a court with a ball?" asked Annie, annoyed. Andrew grinned and pulled out an envelope and handed it to Alaina who opened it and read the pieces of paper inside.
She squinted and read aloud, "The Lion King…We're going to see the Lion King?"
Chad smiled, "Yeah the ladies get to go watch Broadway and the men get to watch a basketball game."
"Well if we want to do all of this, let's have this picture taken," said Isabelle moving towards the loveseat. Francie and I agreed and ushered everyone to their respective spots. On the loveseat were Francesca, Isabelle, and I, with our husbands standing behind us. Annie stood by James on one side of the couch, while Jared stood next to Andrew. Landon and Tyler sat at opposite ends of the couch and Alaina, Michael, and Emma sat between them. All in all, we were a pretty good looking bunch of people, if I do say so myself.
Francesca sat and patted Chad's hand, "Honey, go hit the timer button on the camera." Of course Chad complied and he hurried back while the rest of us smiled for the picture.
My mother always asks how I can stand having a Christmas card picture taken with Andrew and his wife and how James stands it. I just laugh and shake my head. Andrew and I weren't mortal enemies, nor would we ever be, and Francie and Chad have been their through everything. We were all one big family, and it only seemed fair that we should have a picture and a party at least once a year.
It may have taken six years, but life turned out pretty good for us.
A/N: Okay, so that is officially it! If there are any questions I'll answer the obvious ones now. First of all, the time frame is about 9/10 years later. Here is a list of all the kids:
Annie and Jared: 15
Thank you guys so much for being with me through everything, beginning to end, and all the encouragement you guys have given me. I love coming home after school and seeing all the reviews I receive. It means that people actually read my story and it's a reason for me to continue writing.
Like I said, please check out my new story, The Perfect Speed, it should be up tomorrow or Friday. Tell me what you think and whether I should continue it or not. I think it'll be fun to write!
Thank you all again, and until next time.