Whew! I'm back and still in one piece! We had our first annual (or maybe every other year) S family reunion. My parents realized that our family was getting huge just with them, their children, grandchildren, and great grand children, so it was time that we started a family reunion separate from the extended family member ones we used to have. It's amazing how big our family has grown. My parents have 7 children, 5 girls and 2 boys (one of whom died as a child in a terrible car accident). I am the second youngest and it's been a great place to be. Three of my older sisters were teenagers when I was born, so it's almost been like having 3 extra moms (in a fun way of course).
Almost everyone made it - only two siblings couldn't make it out because of work and other reasons. We were so sad not to have everyone there, but we had fun just the same. Our family travelled early Friday morning and arrived at the campsite about 12:30pm. We spent about an hour or so getting our camp set up, saying our hellos to our family members, then promptly headed to the beach. It was super hot (about 32 degrees celsius).
It was a beautiful beach - nice sand, clean, and not very crowded. Perfect. At least, it would be if the water wasn't like ice! Maybe that's why it wasn't very crowded. LOL! The kids didn't seem to mind the water, though. We stayed there for about 4 hours.
We bought the kids some ice cream from the local concession stand. JJ dropped hers in the sand, but that didn't stop her from enjoying it. YUCK!
We headed back to the camp site to get some dinner for the kids (and us). Can I just tell you how much I love our tent. It's HUGE! It's over 7 feet tall, which makes changing in it so easy. It also divides into 3 rooms which was a life saver at bed time. I don't know about you, but my kids need to be separated from each other - especially at bed time. Too much fooling around. Not sure it would have mattered this weekend, though, because the kids were so pooped by bedtime, they just passed out!
We had a few planned activities, mostly for the younger kids. The older kids/teenagers/young adults spent a lot of their time playing baseball, lawn bowling, and even had a rowdy game of water balloon dodge ball. It was so funny to watch. There was a big grassy field in the center of loop of campsites where we did most of the activities. Perfect!
One of the absolute best parts of the weekend was visiting with my parents. Since moving, we are lucky if we see them once or twice a year. They were great - especially with filling in with a (ahem) few things we didn't think of bringing (like garbage bags for dirty laundry and garbage). My dad even brought us his old portable BBQ, a hatchet, and a hammer for us to keep with our camp things. Thanks dad! I was sitting on the picnic table by their RV, watching my dad work at his grill, flipping burgers, and I flashed back to all the years we spent camping every summer, winter, spring, and fall growing up. They are memories I'll cherish forever, and I'm so glad we made the effort to be there for this reunion so I could have more memories to cherish.
I realized as I was watching my dad that I really don't have any recent ( or even any older) photos of me with my dad. I quickly asked my daughter, TJ, to snap a photo of the two of us. I'm so glad I did! I love my dad - and I identify with him more and more as the years pass. I realize how much we have in common, and I see why he made the choices he made in life, and why certain things are important to him (like family, the gospel, books etc.) He taught me my love of reading, love of knowledge - especially knowledge of the gospel - and my excitement over family, memories, and journal keeping.
During this reunion, he showed us all of the research he had done on his father's side of the family and shared several stories about his grandpa. I loved the story about when my dad was 10 or 11, and he used to drive my grandpa around Taber, Alberta on his milk route on Saturdays. He recalled that he was so small, he had to see by looking through the steering wheel, not over it. He also recalled that his grandfather never seemed much concerned about it. LOL! It was so funny to hear how different times were back then.
I also loved spending time with my sister, T, who is the closest sister in age to me, but we haven't been all that close since being married and moved out of the house. She married at 19 and moved to another city when I was about 15. We've kept in touch and seen each other often at family get togethers but have never really had a lot in common. It was nice to spend some fun time visiting with her and getting to know her a lot better. She is going back to school to become a hair dresser - something she's been interested in for years. I'm so excited for her, and hope she does well!
T's kids are all about the same age as mine, except her oldest two who are 13 and 11. She has 4 girls and one boy. My kids had a lot of fun playing and exploring with their cousins, who were much more experienced campers than my kids.
Poor A was the only boy under 16 at the camp site. But he was a trooper and played quite well with the gaggle of girls at the camp.
L is 13 now and is no longer a girl, but a young woman. She matured so much since I saw her last! She really has her own style and rocks it! I'm glad she cooperated for a photo :)
My brother and my niece came out just for one night and day, but it wouldn't have been the same without him. He is silly, fun, and is a great uncle to the kids. They all love him.
Saturday morning hubby and I took the young kids on a little "adventure" on the paths behind our campsite. There was a cute little creek where the kids found several snail shells (which might as well have been gold and silver for how excited they were by them!). It was so cute when my almost 4 year old, BB, tells me excitedly "Mommy! We need to hike by the creek! The trees look like Harry Potter!" LOL! She of course meant the forest looked like the forest in the Harry Potter movies. She was right! There were all kids of fun knarly roots sticking out, plants with HUGE leaves, and branches hanging low. It was so fun exploring with them through the forest.
I absolutely LOVE this photo of all the kids. These are all my parents grandkids from 11 and younger. Four are mine, four are my sister 'T''s and one is my sister "D's" daughter. She had to work in BC, but my parents brought K out for the reunion.
P is 11 and is kind of in that in between stage. She had fun with my kids, but she was more grown up, too. She was always willing to chat with me and even posed for me a couple of times so I could have a new face to photograph. LOL! She is so sweet.
This niece looks just like her mom, I think. Just a little cookie cutter of her.
Saturday in the late morning I organized a few games for the smaller kids and my dad was the videographer. You remember how I said he's the record keeper? He always videos almost everything that happens in our family. I just hope I can get a copy of the tapes someday :)
T face painted the kids (she's super good at it). TJ decided she wanted to be... NOT a fairy,....NOT a princess....NOT a Unicorn...but a VAMPIRE! She made a cute little vampire, but still.... :) My other kids were a princess and a fairy, and JJ had a cat painted on her cheek. So cute.
Before I forget, I need to share a quick (and scary) story that happened on Friday at the beach. For some reason, I decided to forgo the life jacket for JJ, and just let her play while I kept watch close by. I was careful to not take my eyes off of her, always making sure I could see her at all times. I got to chatting with my sisters, and my dad says "Where's JJ?" I had looked away for a second, and saw her laying on top of a boogie board that BB was pulling around in the shallow water. It looked like they were getting a little deep, so I started walking towards them. Suddenly JJ slips off the side and falls head first in the water. I'm sprinting now and reach her in a few seconds - she is spread eagled on her tummy, face down, floating in the water. I scooped her up and carried her back to the shore. She didn't even whine, cry, or even make a face, but I was shaking. She was perfectly fine, I reached her in seconds, but the thought of "what if" made me almost ill. It only took a second. My dad told me after wards that he had felt prompted to ask me where JJ was, and I'm so glad he followed the prompting! I felt like the worst mom in the world, and made sure she was wearing her life jacket the next day at the beach.!
The rest of Saturday was mostly beach bumming it, with a huge group lunch, and a group wiener roast for dinner.
Sunday morning we gathered for a group breakfast, then basically spent the morning packing up. We did have time, though, for a bubble blowing contest.
C was the clear winner. This wasn't even the biggest her bubble got. It was much larger than her head. I think she could have kept going if she hadn't ran out of breath! The gum was that double bubble stuff, and it tasted like rubber after about 5 minutes of chewing. But apparently it's great for bubbles!
L came in a close second, though. Her bubbles got pretty darn big, too!
I had fun getting to know my niece's two kids. I had never really met her baby "M" before the reunion, but he was such a happy little guy. He literally just smiled, cooed, and played the entire weekend.
Her daughter, D, is just a few months older than my JJ. They played a little, but since our camps were a ways from each other, they didn't get to know eachother as much as I'd like. She is such a cutie, though.
The little kids had their go at bubble blowing. It was tougher for them.
JJ turned 2 on Sunday while we were out camping. We didn't celebrate there (we're planning a joint birthday party for her and her sister, BB, who turns four on the 27th) but I couldn't resist snapping an official "She's two years old today" photo - for scrapbooking purposes. Yes, I'm a record keeper like my dad.
I had fun and look forward to the next one. I think they are planning one yearly, so we'll see if we can make it every time. I want our kids to know their cousins, aunts, and uncles - I had great memories from our reunions growing up, and have great relationships with several of my cousins to this day.