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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Watson Family Reunion

Our family has so many reunions that we could attend each summer, but the one that I probably enjoy the most is Jeff's mom's family reunion.  I love to be with this family because everyone is so easy to be with and so much fun.  I hate nothing more than to go to a reunion where everyone just sits around and talks.  This is one reunion that, as the kids have gotten older, has gotten funner every year.  Not only did we spend the weekend playing on the water but spent the evenings piled up in the lodge den playing games until late at night.  It seems like, as the family grows, that I meet at least one new person each year that I just adore.  I love watching my kids bond with their cousins and feel proud that they can be connected to something so much bigger than just our immediate family.  My kids really are lucky to have so much family on both my side and Jeff's side of the family. 
This year, I was a little nervous about the set up of our lodging.  Most of the families stayed in the camp's central lodge.  It consisted of a large living area, a kitchen, a shared bathroom with two shower stalls and bathroom stalls, and around 20 separate rooms that contained not much more than a small mirror and two sets of bunks.  It turned out to be the most amazing set up that we have ever had for this reunion.  Staying in the same area forced those who may not normally hang out in the evenings to do so.  In other settings, family groups had a tendency to gravitate toward each other and do their own activities.  Here, many of the family groups were together in this lodge, so my family came away from the reunion feeling like we got to know the others so much more.  My kids loved the set up, especially Patrick. 
On the way home, we spent some time in downtown Hot Springs.  We have taken our kids to Hot Springs a few times, but we never get tired spending time walking downtown through the shops and old bathhouses.  Madison's friend, Elyse, was with us and had never visited the bathhouses or seen the natural hot springs.  It was fun showing them to her for the first time.  It was a fun way to end a great weekend!

A Day On The Farm

The kids and I went to spend the weekend with Vicki and to spend a day at my brother's house watching my dad and him bale hay.  We have always said that we wanted to see it done, and my dad had recently bought a new hay baler.  He let each of us ride in the cab with him and watch the process from there.  Afterwards, my dad cut a watermelon for everyone, and we spent the rest of the time just visiting and hanging out.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Beach Trip with Family 2011

We had an amazing week on the beach in Gulf Shores with Jeff's entire family! We rented a 5-bedroom house in a gated subdivision on Gulfshore Parkway.  The place was perfect, with a pool and lots of room to ride bikes or just run and play.  As for the house, each family had its own bedroom and bathroom with one bedroom left for the girls.  The boys slept in the living room so they could play their systems on the big TV at night.  The only thing that I would change next time is to have a room for them as well, so they could have their privacy as well as a place to sleep late if they choose.  Other than that, the house was PERFECT! 

With all of our children's ages being so spread apart, there weren't very many time when we were all on the beach at the same time.  My inlaws would go down to the beach in the late mornings with Jeff's oldest brother and his family.  Their kids were younger and didn't need the afternoon sun.  The youngest had to get back for a nap around the time that the rest of us were going out.  Our family would get onto the beach in the early afternoon, and each would walk back to the house when he was tired.  Jeff and I, along with my sister-in-law, Danielle, would stay until it was time to start dinner.  I just hated sitting in the house knowing that the beach was so close.  Most of the time I would sit under my umbrella and just listen and watch.   

Jeff bought Carter a Hydroslide before leaving for the beach.  Carter was so excited to try it...it works like a surf board on the sand.  He had to catch a wave going back out and jump on it.  It took him a few times, but he finally got it.  I had no doubt that he would figure it out!!

This is one of my favorite shots of the trip!!!  Danielle did a great job at capturing the action right in the middle of the wave. 

MiMi and PawPaw usually went out on the beach in the mornings with the younger kids, but we somehow ended up all on the beach together for a short time this afternoon.  I wish all of us could have spent more time together out there.

Each night, a family took its turn cooking dinner, but on the third night we all went to eat at Lamberts...the roll throwing place.  There was a little wait to get in, but it was so worth it!  The food was great, and we all had a great time!!

Pictures on the beach....we weren't so happy about them.  I know that it is one of the things that most people look forward to doing, but we just aren't the "get ready and pose for it" type of family when it comes to pictures.  We did it for Jeff's parents because it meant a lot to them. 

I loved walking out to the beach each day and seeing this.  Because half of the family went out before we did, everything was already set up for us before we got there.  Because we were not on a public beach or in a condo area, it was almost like having a private beach!

I loved that time of the day when dinner was done and the sun had gone down.  We would all walk back down to the beach, ride our bikes, or swim in the pool.  It always amazes me how different the beach looks and feels at night.  I loved walking in the sand and feeling amazed that something so hot during the day could feel so wonderful at night.  Because it was too dark to see, my ears became more aware of what was around, and the sound of the waves became more beautiful. 

We made a couple of trips to do a little shopping. 

One of my best times on this trip was an evening that ended somehow with just my sisters-in-law, our kids, and me on the beach together.  We dug two deep holes, flew kites, and laughed more than I had the entire trip. 

We finally made it to the Hideout on the last night.  Even though it seems to be a place that everyone wants to go to when they are on a beach vacation, I wasn't very impressed with it.  Maybe if I were on the beach there it would feel different, but as for dressing for dinner and going, I just didn't like it.  But hey, at least we got the "chair" pics.

 I am proud of our family for getting along so well in the same house for an entire week.  I don't know if some families would be able to do that.  Even though we see each other often, it's different when you are with each other every waking hour.  I felt like I knew the family better afterwards and look forward to doing it again one day!!