Thursday, August 25, 2011

Family Reunion 2011

A couple of weekends back, our family joined Grady's extended family in Asheville, NC for a weekend reunion. Family from Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey gathered for a few days of catching up with each other.

This is the crew that was able to make it for the reunion. There were many unable to come (16?) - I think we may have sunk Noah's boat if everyone were there.
Uncle Matt won accolades for gifting Micah and Grady Lee with mini tractors from the John Deere factory. If it goes "vroom," my boys like it. If it's something they can crash, my boys like it. If it's something that can dig, my boys like it. No fears, Uncle Matt didn't leave Annalyse out: she got the tiniest pair of pink John Deere tractor socks!
It didn't take long for cousins to get reacquainted and start playing together again. And, being in the mountains gave us lots of time for walks in the woods...
... being buddies and "protectors because I'm a boy and I'm stronger"...
... running on secret spy missions (led my my husband, no less)...
... and tickles and giggles and lots of doting attention.
Meals were always an adventure, and the inability of my five year old to sit still, demonstrate patience, show manners, and, well, act mildly mature, tested everyone's patience. 
Our first evening together was slated to entail a surprise 60th birthday party for my mom-in-law. Try as we may, however, she knew before there was a chance for the kids to jump out and yell "Surprise!" 
Oh well. The brownie sundaes tasted just as good, the cards and gifts were just as nice, and her grand kids were just as excited.
Happy Birthday, Nana! We love you lots and lots and lots!
A full day of playing outside, running around with cousins, and eating way too much sugar meant my kids were asleep about 39 seconds after their heads hit their pillows.
A buffet for each meal guaranteed something my boys would like. And besides, eating with cousins always makes food taste better anyway, especially if you have a contest to see who can eat the most the fastest. (I thought those contests didn't start until at least fifth grade?)
Annalyse enjoyed two cousins to love her and play with her. She was a real-life baby doll for them!
Our clan spent a day at Chimney Rock, walking some trails and cooling off in a waterfall. The elevator to the flag was under repairs and since it involved 500 steps to the top, most of us opted out of the venture. Something about lugging kids on backs and shoulders and hips all the way to the top just didn't sound like fun.
Big muscles in full flex ready to be used for a "big hike up the tall mountain!"... which was actually a gravel path in the woods with a mild incline.
The trail ended at the base of Hickory Nut Falls... so beautiful and so refreshing! Because there hasn't been much rain, the falls were rather small, which allowed the kids to get close and splash and play. So fun!
Annalyse had the luxury ride with the best view. With not a care in the world, she was content to look at everything and take it all in. Must've been nice.
And, of course, you can't put a group of little boys together in the woods and not discover and play with some kind of bug or animal. Little minnows and water spiders had this group busy for a long time.
Beautiful views. The weather couldn't have been better. A lot of family together for the first time in two years.

We enjoyed a picnic lunch and some down-time at the base of Chimney Rock. The kids ran and played while the adults sat. S.A.T. Sat.

(Wait a minute, weren't they complaining on the way back from the waterfall that they were tired? Where did this burst of energy come from?)
I can't make this stuff up because I'm not that creative. The mascot for the Chimney Rock children's area was none other than Grady the Groundhog. My two Grady's had fun counting how many places they saw their name.
Lucky Annalyse got the royal spa treatment after our hike. She was bathed and rubbed and lotioned by two adoring cousins. Lucky girl.
And once she was cleaned up, she was ready and roaring to get back and play. Too much fun to have and too little time!
Thank you Aunt Judy for watching and managing Annalyse every evening when our families got together for games. I relinquished all mothering rights over to Aunt Judy and knew that meant Annalyse would have a watchful eye and a spoiling hand on her the entire time.
Aunt Judy surprised the kids with small gifts. The revving and the vrooming among these four boys as they opened their new Hotwheels was not for the faint of heart. Judy picked a winner for gifts; watch our Nascar, here come four new recruits!
My kids went non-stop for several days with no naps, no afternoon down-time, and no regular bedtimes. It goes without saying that we had a couple of meltdown moments, but overall, I was pleased with the energy and attitudes they maintained even though I knew they were beyond tired.

Grady Lee is a wildcard - you can never predict how he'll act. Micah is just plain stubborn when he wants to be. And Annalyse has shown to be an easy-going trooper... maybe once she walks and talks she'll show some attitude.
Is it sad that the only picture I have with my sis-in-law from our weekend away is this one? And, is it sad that my three year old took it?
Crafts and toys... new cousins and doting aunts.... the stuff family reunions are supposed to be made of.
The next reunion is scheduled two years from now and there's a toss up between Florida and North Carolina for the location. Decisions, decisions.
For some, a lot of driving. For some, a sacrifice of vacation time. For all, it was great to see you and our family looks forward to Family Reunion 2013!


  1. I love how you all planned dedicated time to be together (and I can appreciate the 2-year lead time). So glad it went well!

  2. What a fun time y'all had! There is nothing sweeter than special time together!

  3. This looks absolutely wonderful! So glad that you got to get away & spend time with extended family! Truly the stuff fond childhood memories are made of! I love all the pics of the cousins playing together!