129 IS PROBABLY THE NUMBER OF LBS I GAINED DURING DINNER TONIGHT. The Grandparents had everyone get together for dinner tonight. The Grandparents, the Sister and her husband, my Offspring and the Husband all met for dinner. It was probably the best Tuesday ever.

My sister is smarter, thinner, older, wiser, and prettier than me, but one of her best qualities is her amazing ability to consume Italian food.  She probably wouldn't tip the scales past 100, but she still can manage to consume lasagna without breaking a sweat.  She will tell you that the reason she added a GIANT meatball to her meal was completely our mother's fault.  That isn't what happened.

Family Dinner Theater Presents:  Sister Orders Food

Waitress:  What will you have?
Sister:  I'll have the combo - lasagna and raviolis, please.
Waitress:  Would you like to add a meatball?
Sister:  Um, well . . .
Mom:  You should go ahead and . . .
Sister:  I'll take the meatball.

That's right.  No one twisted her arm.  No one had to ask her twice - BEFORE Mom had even finished her sentence - she had agreed to add a meatball.  She will probably STILL stick to her guns and blame Mom, but I was there.

We all met at a Fillip's, and if you have never been there -- trust me -- ORDER THE GARLIC KNOTS.  They are delicious and you will NOT regret it.  The place was packed -- Tuesdays is locals night, here, and the place has amazing, authentic Italian food.  If you are looking for a meatball that is the size of a small baby -- it is the place you want to eat.

Out of everyone at the table, the two skinniest people cleared their plates.  The Boy, who is going through a growth spurt, gobbled up his entire meal, but to be fair, he ordered from the kid's menu.  Tiny Big Sister also managed to eat her meal.  It was impressive.  She's so much smaller than me, but that girl loves her Italian food.

We sang happy birthday -- twice - even though, NO ONE at our table had a birthday.  A family next to us, who was juggling three kids who appeared to be younger than 6, celebrated one of the kids turning five.   The five year old was having NONE of the celebration.  His grandpa was trying to get a picture of him, but he just folded his arms and faced the wall.  Apparently, his idea of a celebration did not involve sitting still in a restaurant for a couple of hours.  The other birthday was for a one year old, who as sitting near us.  He was thrilled with his birthday cupcake and didn't seem to mind being in his highchair.  He was entertained by the New-Five year old who kept running away from his parents and grandparents.  

Everyone in the whole place sang for the kids, and clapped.  This seemed to be the only thing that really impressed the Five Year Old, and fortunately, it didn't startle the one year old.  It was a delicious dinner, and a great place.  Our poor waitress had been double sat with two large groups and she ran around trying to get everything done.  I felt for her.  It is horrible when you can't seem to get caught up, and then out of the corner of your eye, you see the hostess bringing you another table.  She did a great job though.  At one point she realized she'd brought us our drinks but never any straws.  "Oh no!  How on earth did I let that happen?!?"  She was mortified.  "Well, they double sat you with big tables, and then sat you again in less than five minutes."  I told her.  Relief washed over her face.  "Are you a server?"  She asked me.  "Retired."  I told her.  Poor kid.  I bet she sleeps great tonight and I sure hope that everyone tips her well.  

I'm sure you've read all the studies about how dinner together can connect families and how important it is.  I have found this to be true with my own little family, but really see the impact of it when everyone is together.  It is rare since my Sister lives out of the country, and so it always make it special.  It was a great place and a great night, and since my Offspring are no longer five, everyone had a great time.  The Sister and her Husband leave this weekend, and we will miss them, so.  They do important work, spending their days making sure the lives of those around them are better, but we adore her so, and miss her terribly.  She is a good big Sister and a fabulous Aunt, and you'd be amazed by how much pasta she can eat.  No joke.

I hope that you can have nights when your table is filled with loving, laughing faces.  I hope you can all sit down together, and not worry about the next thing on your calendar.  I hope that your pasta is delicious, your garlic knots are endless, and that your meatballs are as big as a beachball.