I wrote a little about the family reunion at Red Bridge State Park August 7-9 here. But I didn't post any pictures, like I thought I did. This is the LAST of my catching up. Hooray, I am caught up with something. What a great feeling! After this camping trip we were going to plan one more (and it was going to be this weekend) but I felt so run down and exhausted that we didn't and can I tell you how GLAD I am that we are not camping this weekend. Oh so so so glad. We have a busy enough weekend ahead, but no packing, no crouching, no decampfiring, and not crawling out of a tent in the freezing cold at 4am to go PEE!
Lily and daddy making dinner over the campfire
Addie and Marley (my cousin Amy's son) - Addie is almost a year older but you'd never know it!
Addie and Rosy - my best cousin friend! :)
Addie having "dinner" on the first night. What, they are whole wheat and we are camping, who cares if she was eating them straight out of the pan?
Lily and Addie so happy after getting Grandma Lanie's tent set up for her. They were big helpers and made the process SO much quicker.
COOOOOOOOOLD. Getting Addie bundled for the night. With a lot of laughing.
Play Doh table. Yeah, I'll admit it, we are always the cool and prepared parents at these things. Maybe it is my obsessiveness in not wanting to be the one with bored kids, or maybe it is needing validation from older family members of how well behaved my children are, or maybe it is shear laziness that if I bring enough for them to do, I don't have to entertain them myself. In any case, the kids are always excited to see what Lawrence and I have in our trunk of fun (aka the Trailblazer) and this year we picked up a brand new pack of Play Doh for the occassion. Allowing ME to sit for almost an hour in one shot. Heh!
The camping spot of the reunion this year was perfect for bike riding. There was a large parking lot without much traffic right next to our tent, so the girls rode bikes a lot. Addie doesn't ride as much as she waits to be pushed, but she is getting the art of pedaling down slightly. Even if she refuses to actually do it as a method to make herself go.
Brushing your teeth outside. AWE-some!
Me and Kristen (my cousin John's wife) comparing bellies! We are both having boys, Kristen and John are expecting their first child, John Hunter Blanchet on Oct 28. We are excited for next year to see our two little guys playing together at the family reunion.
My brother was in LaGrande for his National Guard drill, so he got to come for a few hours one night. Of course this made the 3 ladies of my family (mom, Lily, & Addie) MORE than thrilled. I thought this was a very good picture of he and mom.
Riding your bike in your PJs...priceless.
Susannah and Lily
Lily on her favorite seat - Uncle Matt's shoulder
Me and Addie with my cousins Petra and Clemy - The last day I was trying to get things ready to go and Addie just wanted to be held. My back was killing me after 3 days of holding Addie and crawling in and out of the tent. So I said "mommy can't hold you, who can't hold you?" She said "Pet-Pet". So sweet, then Petra did hold her for the whole morning. We love you Petra! :) We were so happy to see Petra, who is back in Mexico working at the mission-based deaf school. We always miss her so much, what a wonderful young lady.
Grandma Lanie and Addie having "MILK TIME" and snuggles with bear-bear by the breakfast campfire.
Uncle Matt doin' what Uncle Matt does best...I think their faces pretty much say it all.
Aunt Caroline holding the Birthday gift that Addie and Lily made for Grandma Lanie
21 weeks pregnant! Posted only 5 weeks late! :)
Great Aunt Cressie (one of two of my Grandpa's sisters we have left) and me and Addie being shy.
Cousin Amy and her new baby Shelby Rayne.
The girls and Uncle Matt. Neither will leave his side.
Our family playing in the river. It was SO cold but we had a great time.
What a wonderful family reunion. I'm so glad that my family does this every year. Lily now remembers and looks forward to it. When I was a kid our family had a campground near Ukiah that my Grandpa's family (and his cousin, I think, owned). Anyway, I remember the reunions with such fun and fondness. I can remember the exactly places I slept, and the swing, and the little swimming hole in the nearby creek. My mom did a great job of keeping me in touch with so much of the extended family over the years. Her cousins, her aunts and uncles, their kids and (now) grandkids. I'm so close to so many of them, and I realize that some of my other cousins are just now meeting them for the first time that they would remember. It feels so special to have a deep relationship with the older generation.
It's really awesome. One other special person that I don't have a picture of here (though I'm sure my mom will dig one up and email it to me pronto after reading this) is Opal. She is my mom's cousin's (Herb) wife. Before my mom had kids, she didn't think she really wanted kids. Opal DESPERATELY wanted kids but was never able to conceive. My mom told Opal if she ever had kids she would give them to Opal. So when I was born and Opal met me for the first time, she said, "Thanks, hand her over...". By that point my mom had already grown very attached to me and decided she'd go ahead and keep me. Over the years it has always been a joke that Opal was "almost" my mommy. I even told Lily that if Grandma Lanie wouldn't have been my mommy, Opal would be my first pick. I don't know if it is because of this, but Opal and I have always had a strong connection. Herb and Opal tried several times to adopt a baby, ending in heartbreaking story after story (many of which I'm sure I don't know). They were foster parents to 100s of kids. At some points I remember their modest home being filled with over 10 foster kids. Opal's loving heart and need to parent was almost filled by helping these kids. There was one boy who she tried to adopt for his full 18 years, David. He was Native American, and there were issues related to that that made it impossible for the adoption to go through. When I think of Opal's story, I think it is an example of lives being touched because things don't go our way. God has plans for us in this life that are so much bigger than our own. Hundred's of kids (including the awful ones, like small boys with sexual abuse issues) were taken in and cared for and shown love (some for the first time) by Herb and Opal. They made a difference in more lives in more ways that is even fathomable. The made more of an impact that some of us will ever make during their fostering years. All because their hopes and dreams and prayers were not answered. They are a reminder that we have a choice of what to do with our dissapointments and life long pains of wishing and wondering what if.
My family is a little bit redneck, a little bit country folk, and a lot of bit wonderful people with really big hearts that I am so proud to call MY family.