Monday, July 30, 2012

Our Whipper Boy

This post is not going to take on any "story-telling" elements. Although if it did, it would include things like what a stellar mother I am and how quick I am to seek medical attention when symptoms appear. Included in my stellarism would be how I would never ever tell a child to quit coughing so dramatically and just cough normally.

Instead I will stick to the facts. First of all, I will absolutely not discount the fact that I was well and truly prompted to take Luke to a doctor on Wednesday morning. Despite Luke having been coughing for a day shy of two weeks, I figured it was nothing serious as no other family member had come down with a cough. Honestly, I was beginning to think it was some kind of animal allergy. I can count on one hand the times Luke has ever been sick.

I'll keep it brief.

24 hours after Luke sat for 20 seconds with a long Q-tip looking thing all the way up his right nostril, I received a phone call that he had tested positive for whooping cough (pertussis).

With whooping cough, comes phone calls and reporting to the health department, all family members put on antibiotics and all sorts of questions about exposure, incubation periods, and quarantining. Because I could remember the exact day his coughing started, they could track it quite easily to when he was probably exposed to it. Although where in the world he contracted it is anyone's guess.

Poor Luke. Of all the kids to get it, it had to be him. The hardest child to keep entertained inside. He has watched more television in the past few days than the whole last 6 months combined. I am not joking.

Poor me. We are typically a very healthy family and I'm lucky if I even have children's Tylenol in my cupboard when needed. So the administration of medicines every day to children not used to having to take medicine has tested my patience. One child has to literally be held down. Another child threw up their dose in the garbage after taking 7 minutes to swallow it. Another child complains. Another child takes it as long as there is a large glass of water next to them. Another child takes it with little to no incident. Mike takes his after gentle reminding.
For the record, Luke is fully up-to-date on all of his immunizations and so are all of my other children. For that matter, so is the neighbor boy who also tested positive for it after I "was prompted" to call his parents and tell them about Luke's diagnosis. The coincidence of them both having it when they are 5 years apart and never play together is beyond any of us. Guess that Primary activity a few weeks ago gave out more than just popsicles.


Oh, and we finally convinced Luke it is not "whipping cough" it is "whooping cough." 
But "whipping" has kind of stuck. Luke is now affectionately being called, "Whipper Boy."
He isn't amused.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Cheering From Across the Pond

One of my favorite Olympic memories is from the 1984 Olympics. I was on vacation with my friend and her family at the Witterings. While her parents were off enjoying the seaside with friends and family one evening, my friend Karen and I were in the little holiday villa with her big brother, Brian.

England won a gold medal in something (who knows what--perhaps I should google it!) and Brian made Karen and I stand and sing the national anthem during the award ceremony. I must note, it was not out of any patriotic tribute or respect that he made us sing along. It was totally in a big brother teasing type way. He laid on the couch laughing at us the whole time.

And that is the story I tell Mike (or anyone else for that matter) that has to tolerate my singing along when a national anthem is played that I know during an Olympic ceremony. It's sad really though, it makes Mike far less cheering for Team USA than he should be as a fellow American, because he is sparing himself the pain during the awards ceremony.

Nonetheless.
We love the Olympics. And the fact it is in London this time around is doubly exciting. I can't wait to lay in bed watching swimming, gymnastics, running, and diving. And as I do every year, I'll root for my two favorite national anthems to be sung.



Thursday, July 26, 2012

A Few Clarifications

I'm going to clarify a few things and answer a few questions....

**   Referring to the "being invisible" post I wrote last week, I must clarify my view of the excerpt. I never feel invisible as a mother on a day to day basis. Unfortunately (fortunately sometimes--depends on how you look at it), the second I enter a room everyone is usually scrambling for my attention. I can barely even shower or use the bathroom with no interruptions, let alone feel as though I was invisible in my own home. I'm not. What I gleaned from the article and what touched me the most, was the long-term efforts of a mother being invisible. As much as we help our children be aware of all we do for them on a regular basis, and help them understand the whys behind our discipline and teaching, there is so much of what we do that is "invisible." The cathedral analogy is what spoke to me. You know? All the behind the scenes part that no one really sees or knows about unless they were part of the building process. Slowly, methodically, and often painfully building a cathedral one 2 x 4, one molding, one stroke of paint at a time, hoping and praying that the end result really will be something of value and something to behold. 

I don't for one minute feel invisible as a mother, although I wish at times I were. And I still admit my secret  superpower wish would be to be invisible to hear your conversations. I know, a little creepy. But that's me. Not creepy though, just nosy.

**   As for our truck falling in a hole, I'm sorry I never clarified the damage to the truck. Really it was fairly minimal. We were able to drive it away, even though we had to turn the steering wheel 30 degrees to the left to go straight, and hold it straight to turn a corner. There was also a crooked bumper, and an un-openable tailgate, but nothing that can't be fixed. Oh--and for the record. Mike and I were laughing at the situation within minutes of it happening. It wasn't one of those things that "we'll have to wait and laugh about it one day." We could laugh pretty quickly. I mean, how could you not when you've had to call someone to say, "Can you help us out? We've fallen in a hole."

**  Oh, and the age old dilemma of "working mothers" and "stay at home mothers". I took offense recently when somebody said of me "Tiffany stays home all day. She has all the time in the world to do xyz." Perhaps it was my still-repairing-feelings that found this quote so appropriate.
Mother's are mothers. I'm tired of the "working" versus "stay at home" references that try to outdo each other as to who is busier, more important, better balanced, gets more breaks, or more worn out. It all comes down to choices with our time and choices with our money. That's all I'm going to say about that. As Mike says, "Don't you have other ways to spend your energy?" (Meaning instead of being fired up about stuff.)

And with "all my time in the world" staying home, I obviously don't have the time or take the time to teach my son good manners. But then again, obviously neither do my brother or sister-in-law.
(Drew and Cousin Annie)
Oh well! Surely there's more to life than good manners...
PS-Actually I wasn't home during this eating and photography session. So I take no responsibility for bad manners, and undressed children. Remember, I told you I had irresponsibly left Megan home with 6 children when Mike and I happened into a hole? Obviously I'm not excelling in teaching Megan everything.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Falling in a Hole

As my brother and sister-in-law put it on Saturday mid-day, "You must have had quite the party after we left last night, you look kind of rough." I refuse to tell you what time of day it was when they said this to us while I was still in my bedclothes having just removed myself from my bed only 3-5 minutes earlier.

(We did have a fun 40th birthday on Friday for Mike, yet for some reason I didn't snap a SINGLE picture on his birthday. Believe me though, we won't forget the weekend he turned 40 anytime soon.)

In mine and Mike's defense, NEVER in our lives have we stayed in bed that long. Although Mike dozed, I read (and finished) a hilarious, easy-read book I was in the middle of. All the while we munched on chocolate-covered almonds that one of the children had brought up to us at some point in the morning.

It was quite a glorious morning, if you don't count the numerous begs to "come fix breakfast" or the whiny questioning, "When are you guys going to get out of bed? Fortunately James and Kristin were due to drop off their little girls at a certain time, so it made for a more timely departure from the bed than if no one had have been stopping by.

Actually, I say "fortunately", but there was one point in the day Mike and I looked at each other and thought, "We should have stayed in bed longer."

Let me explain.

Mike and I eventually showered and dressed and somewhat irresponsibly left Megan home alone with six children (including a 5 month old baby-I hope James and Kristin aren't reading this) while we ran a quick errand to my parents' house to pick something up. It was a large drill press, and so we chose the truck as our mode of transportation.

The trip to my parents' house was quite uneventful, other than me having to scrounge for some food because the chocolate covered almonds hadn't quite filled me up and it was past lunchtime by now. I also grabbed a large plastic cup of ice water. Incidentally, it was at this point I remembered I'd left the remaining chocolate covered almonds in a bowl by my bed and knew they had probably all been consumed now by a certain 3 year old child.

On the way home, Mike and I decided to take a slight detour to drive through a neighborhood where some of Mike's guys had recently laid some sod for a neighboring city. Due to Mike's visit to Girl's Camp and having a birthday in the few days prior, a visit to this particular job site had been delayed until now.

Mike and I were minding our own business driving up a residential street. Mike had slowed down to look at the nearby landscape, and slowed because of a car coming down the other way. We were driving about 10 mph, when all of a sudden we felt a slight bump, then a big jolt from side to side, and then a horrible sound, and all of a sudden we were kind of crooked in the front seat of the truck. In the meantime, I gasped that my ice water flew all over the car, and I'm pretty sure I asked Mike, "What happened?" (I may or may not have added one or two other words to that short question.)
I could make the story a lot longer, but I won't.

I'll sum it up.

Before you ask. When we drove east on this particular part of the street it was 100% dry and smooth.

A nearby water pipe because of a bad connection had caused major water saturation right into a place where a trench in the road had been filled with (too little) road-base the day before. Our bad luck, combined with driving slowly, and being in a heavy truck hit it just right to fall into the "sink hole."

The neighbors living across the street were some of the kindest people EVER. The man watched it all happen and couldn't believe it. The woman and adult daughter have had a nightmare week dealing with all the problems as the nearby lot has been being developed for utilities. This was the final straw for them. They were more mad than we were at the responsible parties.

My mother had to be summoned to go home and be with Megan and the aforementioned six children as our quick errand was no longer being quick.

My dad, never one to miss out on an adventure, dropped off my mother at our house, picked up my cell-phone and Luke and came to see the adventure for themselves.

I must interject here, that my dad now completely understands my children's inability to SHUT UP. While my dad and Luke drove the 5-8 minute drive to get to us my dad had to listen and attempt to answer all 692 questions Luke asked. It is my understanding my dad finally replied, (I'm sure somewhat exasperatedly), "Luke! I have told you everything I know. We'll have to wait until we get there."

Thankfully my husband carries around "water keys" in the back of his truck. (Don't you?) and was able to turn off the nearby water source to prevent more leaking. It had to be done, as the policeman for some reason kept choosing to walk on that particular stretch of grass and sunk further in each time. His shoes will definitely need to be cleaned and polished before he begins his next shift.

Two separate entities came to the scene of "the accident" in addition to the local police department. Full responsibility for our sunken truck was declared by one of those entities.

The tow truck driver was good at knowing his stuff, and after backing in at a couple of different angles opted to back up the street to lift the truck up out of the hole. ("Pulling it out" wasn't an option!) My dad was handy to have around as I looked across the street and saw him directing the tow truck driver.
(When the tow truck first approached with a broken-down truck already on it, my prayers became even more fervent that our truck would be drive-able upon removal from the hole.)

Here is a photo of the hole we made, NOT the hole we drove though. Please be reminded, there was no hole when we first drove up the street. Please further note, I told the policeman it needed to be barricaded off. I'm not too sure he appreciated my telling him what to do, but he politely replied they would.
(I learn from the best. My dad directed the tow truck driver. I "directed" the police officer. It must be in the blood.)
Friday was Mike's 40th birthday. Which as I mentioned, unfortunately I didn't snap a SINGLE photo of the day! I know, I know, what a disappointment. But we had a semi-emergency in the late afternoon on Friday that put a little damper on the day for us, and then the next day we joined in the bad luck ourselves. I'm fairly certain that despite not having a single photo of  Mike's 40th birthday, it is a weekend we will always remember.


It's funny, on Facebook a friend commented, "Tiffany, I have to say, you have one of the most eventful lives of anyone I know...." It completely took me off guard, because for the most part I consider our lives to be fairly mundane and regular, even bordering on the boring side. But then I started thinking about hauling goats to school, children with polka dot hair cuts, nails in the bottom of a foot, and trucks falling in holes and I realize, maybe our life isn't so boring after all.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Superpower or Reality

The other night I was playing a game with Megan, Ellie and Mike. I was asked the question, "If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?" I think it shocked them how quickly I was able to answer the question.

Without having to give it a moments thought, I said,

"I'd want to be invisible, so I could go into other people's houses and listen to their conversations." 


Megan had a horrified look on her face. Ellie seemed too young to care and Mike? Well Mike knows me well and has heard many a time the phrase, "I wish I could be a fly on their wall" come out of my mouth. 

I'm not ashamed to admit my nosiness. I've said it before--I inherited my genuine interest in other people from my dear Granny.

All kidding and joking aside.

Summer is just about half over--at least as far as summer vacation from school goes. As much as I love the break in routine from homework, packing lunches, early mornings to catch the bus and early bedtimes, I am not loving the seemingly long days of five children at home. Do you know how much fighting, snacking, arguing, messes, meals, dishes and cups on my counter, five kids home all day everyday cause?

A.L.O.T.

As a result, I am weary. I am worn-out. I am ornery. I am short-tempered. I am tired.

Because in between the refereeing of arguments and the meal/snack preparations and clean-up I'm still trying to fit in all the "good things" I'm supposed to be doing as a mother. I'm trying to guide my children in their musical practicing, their academic responsibilities, and their housekeeping assignments. All the while, I'm trying to make sure we fit in family prayers and scripture study, personal hygiene, social interactions, oh, and of course I've got to give friendly reminders making sure goats, chicken and rabbits get fresh water during these hot temperatures.

Perhaps it is all those overwhelmed thoughts and feelings that made a recent article by my friend Allyson touch me deeply. Her article (that you can read HERE) referenced a beautiful excerpt from the book, "The Invisible Woman" by Nicole Johnson. (Side note: I'm looking forward to receiving the book in the mail any day now. Doesn't reading the following make you want to devour the whole book in one setting, while sitting on your back patio while eating a good piece of chocolate?)

I'm finding it ironic that my superpower wish is to be invisible. In a way, I already am.
~enjoy...


It started to happen gradually …

One day I was walking my son Jake to school. I was holding his hand and we were about to cross the street when the crossing guard said to him, “Who is that with you, young fella?”
“Nobody,” he shrugged.
Nobody? The crossing guard and I laughed. My son is only 5, but as we crossed the street I thought, “Oh my goodness, nobody?”
I would walk into a room and no one would notice. I would say something to my family – like “Turn the TV down, please” – and nothing would happen. Nobody would get up, or even make a move for the remote. I would stand there for a minute, and then I would say again, a little louder, “Would someone turn the TV down?” Nothing.
Just the other night my husband and I were out at a party. We’d been there for about three hours and I was ready to leave. I noticed he was talking to a friend from work. So I walked over, and when there was a break in the conversation, I whispered, “I’m ready to go when you are.” He just kept right on talking.
That’s when I started to put all the pieces together. I don’t think he can see me. I don’t think anyone can see me.
I’m invisible.
It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I’m on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I’m thinking, “Can’t you see I’m on the phone?” Obviously not. No one can see if I’m on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all.
I’m invisible.
Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this?
Some days I’m not a pair of hands; I’m not even a human being. I’m a clock to ask, “What time is it?” I’m a satellite guide to answer, “What number is the Disney Channel?” I’m a car to order, “Right around 5:30, please.” 
I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude – but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again.
She’s going … she’s going … she’s gone!
One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England. Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself as I looked down at my out-of-style dress; it was the only thing I could find that was clean. My unwashed hair was pulled up in a banana clip and I was afraid I could actually smell peanut butter in it. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, “I brought you this.”
It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. I wasn’t exactly sure why she’d given it to me until I read her inscription: “To Charlotte with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.”
In the days ahead I would read – no, devour – the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work:
  • These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished.
  • They made great sacrifices and expected no credit.
  • The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.
A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, “Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it.”
And the workman replied, “Because God sees.”
I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, “I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you’ve done, no sequin you’ve sewn on, no cupcake you’ve baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can’t see right now what it will become.”
At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride. 
I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.
When I really think about it, I don’t want my son to tell the friend he’s bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, “My mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table.” That would mean I’d built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, “You’re gonna love it there.”
As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we’re doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Under the Same Roof

One afternoon during the first week of summer vacation, in a very weak parenting moment brought on by all of my children being disobedient and hard to get along with at the same time, I threatened to get an apartment for myself to live in alone for the summer while all five kids were home all day, everyday.

(I told you it was a weak moment. It is actually quite RARE for me to blurt out threats that I have no intention of carrying through with.)

I'm pretty sure the older three children ignored my threat and knew I was simply blowing off steam, but it took a few days for Drew and Joshua to quit asking, "When you going to an inpartment?" or "When are you going to stop living here?"

I didn't end up getting an apartment for a variety of reasons, but probably the main reason being Mike's paychecks don't seem to be quite big enough to rent a hide-out an apartment for me.

Well, and also because of the fact, I'd miss out on all sorts of things, that though make me truly want to pull my hair out in sheer frustration, endears me to my children at the same time.

Things like...

The flowers in bloom that are irresistible to little hands picking them.
The extra laundry from days spent working outside, that seems more like playing to a kid like Luke.
Or the fact that every time I turn around it seems somebody is having a meal or a snack. I can't seem to keep enough groceries stocked in the house or keep crumbs off the counter for any length of time. (I was actually quite happy to find Drew had taken his bar-stool and cereal bowl to the pantry shelves rather than the more traditional way of not eating in a pantry. There was less clean-up.)
The fact I help Drew dress and undress about 391 times though out the course of a day. It is rare to see him with clothes on after about 3pm. I'm usually too rundown by then to even care, let alone actually dress him when he goes back outside.
The too-oft evenings when I declare "Whatever" is for dinner. This means, "Mom doesn't care, eat whatever you want." It's my children's favorite menu item. It helps that we have well-rounded Luke around to serve up a good-old favorite...fire-roasted hot dogs for nights when a balanced dinner is the furthest thing from my cares.
Watching a child work hard, despite the unfairness of others doing nothing but observing all the while cooling off from the summer heat eating popsicles.
The craft supplies left scattered throughout the house and yard due to Megan's on-going interest in anything and everything creative and homemade.
The baby doll stuff left EVERYWHERE intermixed with absolute tender displays of affection and love towards plastic babies that Ellie plays with daily.
Smiling at the fact Luke obviously forgot the Nair incident of early June, and trusted a different sister with full control of his hair the other night.
(Don't be fooled thinking Luke is a "reader." He is not. He simply chose to be obedient that night and got his reading done by the deadline, despite wanting his hair cut too.)

Actually, now that I think about it, maybe we can find a way to balance my sheer frustration and endearing children...
With Luke's hard work and Megan's creativity, perhaps Mike's shed in the corner of the backyard could be transformed into some sort of separate living quarters for me. Calculate in that Ellie could become the real, live mom instead of playing house all day long and we may have ourselves a solution to my frequent feelings of despair by late afternoon. Except Drew and Joshua aren't plastic, and they may not ignite the same tender displays of love and affection from Ellie that plastic baby dolls do. That could become a problem.

Don't judge me. I am a worn-out mother of five in the middle of a 12-week summer vacation with children home from school. Clearly I am not in my right frame of mind when I'm considering living in a shed in the corner of a garden that one of Luke's seven chickens currently resides in alone.

Lucky chicken.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Non-Water Conservation

I've mentioned before that I'm not much of an environmentalist. I drink from store-bought water bottles, I've never taken reusable bags to a grocery store, and  I'm not ashamed to admit that during my 13 1/2 year stint changing diapers, I used nothing but disposable diapers.

I wish I could admit I think differently about using water, but I don't. I tend to leave the water running when I brush my teeth and sometimes I fill the bathtub as high as it can go. I try to remember that I live in a desert and sometimes a drought is imminent, but I guess I've always been spoiled enough to turn on a tap and have water come out. I'll admit. I take water for granted.

So it came as a little bit of a shock to me tonight when I was about to open my mouth to tell Mike he was completely and unquestionably wasting water. But then again, I surmised it was at least a 100 degree day here in our neck of the woods and if water came out of our hose, we were darn well going to use it.

As we sat outside on our patio this evening following our not-so balanced dinner of salsa and guacamole, Mike opted to cool us off by creating a "mist."
Drew obviously misinterpreted Mike's invitation to them to play in the water. Mike said, "Come here and I'll shower you, and Drew took that to mean literally, that he was "getting in the shower."
On the bright side, Drew only had one article of clothing to remove.
On the not-so bright side, we don't have a fenced in back yard and our house backs onto a city park which though typically is not visited much, had visitors tonight.

So the streaking naked through the hose didn't last more than a few seconds before Drew was sent inside to find a swimming suit.
(I had to laugh when our friend pointed out to us last week how ironic it is that Drew streaks around in his underwear 99% of the time, yet when playing in water always wears a swimming suit and a swimming shirt. Doesn't really make sense now, does it?!)

Of course before too long, all the kids wanted in on the fun. And so there we sat on the patio doing nothing more than wasting water.

 Well I really shouldn't say "nothing more than wasting water." After all, we were making a memory. Just last week a friend who has "raised his children" told me his wife's motto is, "I'd rather make a memory than a bed."
 
Who cares if we twist it slightly and say instead, "We'd rather make a memory than conserve water."
And that's what we do on a hot summer eve.

Monday, July 9, 2012

A Near Perfect Reunion

After planning a family reunion for the last several months, and seeing it carried it out last weekend, I've made a mental note of key things to factor in if I ever plan another one.

*  GOOD HELPERS
I have to say that having good, willing helpers was a major part of the success of the reunion. I wish I had captured more photos of people stepping in and lending a helping hand. There were a select few that really went above and beyond helping out. It was greatly appreciated.
(I must point out the same shirts in the above photos that weren't the reunion shirts. A few of the men had on the same shirts and it sure confused a few reunion attendees.)

*  REUNION SHIRTS
I couldn't help but smile each time I saw somebody new had put on their reunion shirt. It made the long hours  of reunion planning all the more worth it. I know matching t-shirts aren't for everyone, but it just felt inclusive and heart-warming to see so many branches of a family tree together in one place wearing the same shirt.
*  A GREAT LOCATION
Pretty much due to popular demand, we repeated the same location as the 2006 reunion. Family members from Utah, California and Arizona gathered at Cherry Hill to camp, play in the water, and enjoy being together. I continue to be touched by the financial effort and time from work so many from out of state put into attending the reunion. Hundreds of dollars in gas, travel expenses and time off of work to be with extended family. A wonderful example of devotion to family ties.

*  FUN IN THE SUN
Seeing my children spend so much time with extended cousins touched my heart for hours during the day on Saturday. My children's grandparents and cousins weren't in the water much, and I was so glad for how much time they spent with their AZ cousins. Earlier in the day, I overheard someone telling their children about 2nd and 3rd cousins. That doesn't matter to me. "Numbers" don't mean anything. Relationships do. I love so many of our dear extended cousins.
Some people would have preferred a one-day visit together at a park. But those don't work as well in my opinion. Families stick with families initially--yet 2-3 days spent together really makes for some wonderful bonding and memories for each branch to reach out to others.
* A FEW SPECIFIC ACTIVITIES
For the most part, family reunions are about visiting together. And too often at parties I throw I try to be too rigid and scheduled about activities. Mike has helped me see the benefits of "letting things be" and so with this reunion, very little was scheduled. Of course a few activities thrown in for kids was a guarantee.
* A NON-TALENT SHOW
Of course being a "married-in" Sowby, I haven't spent a lifetime attending these reunions. Yet, I have heard enough about the once-upon-a-time-talent-show portion of them to know that few are broken-hearted they didn't continue over time. I myself am not a fan at all of talent shows. Now a variety show, is fine by me. But no stuffy talents please at a family reunion. A "get-to-know you introduction" was all that was necessary at this one.
(I wish I'd have gotten a picture of all of the "introductions."
*BONDING
As I snapped the below top photo of three cousins all the same age, who with one other cousin used to hang around together at family reunions as young children, I couldn't help but smile that as soon as I snapped the picture, I turned and saw the bottom photo scene. From one generation to the next... Why oh why do some think reunions should die away?
(Cousins Amber, Karla Ann and Karena)
(Cousins Cheyenne, Sienna and Megan, Cousins Chevy, Ryan and Sarah)

* A GOOD NAP
Not that I would know anything about a nap at this reunion. But fortunately for some, napping was possible.
Hmmm-it would appear that Mike got more than one nap in. Not that I was counting or anything. As for Drew, he can take as many naps as he'd like.
(Mike, Drew, Joshua, Cousin George)

*  TWO BOYS, ONE NAME
If you didn't think our Luke Sowby was enough for the world. There is one more. A darling little one from CA. So fun!
*  BIKES
It was fabulous to have a plethora of bikes to choose from at any given time. Whether it was a run to the garbage can, the bathroom, or the water slides. The bikes were a big hit.
* FAVORITES
I could spend hours more putting up every single photo from the reunion, but I can't and shouldn't. Some of my favorite memories really weren't captured with a camera anyways. 
*A LITTLE MISCELLANEOUS
*  A SENSE OF HUMOR
Definitely a necessity. Too bad I didn't have one about more things... Least I can laugh about how awful I must have looked while... what? Bossing everyone around? Not that I'd ever do anything like that.
Oh Heaven help us all!

* A LEGACY
In 2006 I planned the last Sowby reunion in Utah (very similarly to this one). As the weekend ended in 2006, I felt a bond with George Isaac and Annie Martine Sowby.  Though both passed away before my lifetime, let alone before I myself became a Sowby, I couldn't help but feel of their spirit as I watched their descendants gather together both in 2006 and last week. I really can't describe my feelings. So I'm not going to anymore. They're too personal and spiritual to attempt to share.
Megan really went to town making this big poster board to display. Luke was absolutely fascinated when a few days before the reunion I told him that the cousins he would see at the reunion had the same great-great-great grandpa as his that he did the ancestor essay about last spring. (You can read it HERE or HERE.) My children loved seeing that from (the star of Luke's essay) Isaac Sowersby came George Isaac and then all the reunion attendees. What a marvelous gathering!
(Some, but not all of the 85 total reunion attendees.)
Despite the handful of things that put a little damper on the weekend, I would do it all over again. It was worth it. I'm a pretty nice cousin in-law to have done this not once, not twice, but three times. 
Even if I do say so myself!


(And I can say that publicly, because really--is anyone still even reading this? That was A LOT of writing and photos to read/look through.)

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