Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Summer of Cousins Slideshow

One of the primary reasons I wanted to come back to the United States was to have a chance to see my family. I'm a family person. I love 'em. I've been an aunt since I was 11, and I positively adore being the "young fun Auntie." I've lived this strange and random life that has allowed me to live with or next door to, almost all of my nieces and nephews. I had six months after college graduation living with my sister and her boys in Medford, 9 months of substitute teaching insanity living with another sister family - this time the ultimate girly fam - in Alaska, and since returning to the US, I've been living next door to a third sister and her two kids. We're currently living in my parent's basement (yeah, I know, very glamorous to get married and move back in with your parents, but it is what has worked for us thus far) and that makes this house the ideal cousin gathering ground.
There's really nothing better than getting to see the cousins running around and having a fabulous time together. I was the youngest of five, and was not only five and a half years younger than my nearest sibling, but also about five years younger or older than my nearest cousins. I never really got to have the great bonding cousin experience, so it's so much fun to see them having the chance.
I still feel so thankful that they were all able to be present and a part of my wedding. There were moments when it looked like it wasn't going to happen, but thankfully it all worked out. This summer was just a continuation of those blessings.
In July, my Alaska nieces came down for two weeks. Well, the oldest and youngest were here for two weeks, while the Tekla got to visit a friend in Texas and only came the first week. Tyler got to stay for the second week as well, although his mom and little brother were only able to come for a weekend. What a great group of kids. I'm seriously so impressed by how great they're all turning out. You know, you dote on them and think they're the best things ever when they're little, but you just never know what kind of people they'll grow up into. All I can say is, so far, AMAZING!
We spent a lot of time at the pool. Can't say that my chlorine allergic skin was thrilled, but I did get a lovely tan, and some quality exercise, as well as great fun with the crew.

One of the funniest things ever was watching Naomi, who is super tiny, turning into the Michelin man in her swim top. We all just laughed and laughed and laughed. It was so funny that people who didn't even know us joined in.
Here are a smattering of pictures showing how adorable, and crazy, this little crew can be.

During the second week, I was able to get an extra day off from work in order to join everyone on a trip to Silverwood, the largest theme park in the Northwest, or so they say. It's not quite a Six Flags, but it had some decent roller coasters. Mark and I took the three oldest (Tyler, Haley, and Tekla) and hit up all the big rides. Having always LOOOOOVED amusement parks, I was thrilled to have this experience with them. Yeah for adrenaline in scientifically proven safe doses :)

After the girls went home Mark and I drove Tyler to Portland where Jack was competing in the Little League State finals. We had a great ride down with him, and stopped at Multnomah Falls to enjoy some of God's finest handiwork. Pretty impressive place.

The game was super exciting. It was Mark's first Little League, or really any kind of baseball, experience. Back when I lived with Janet and her family I went to a couple baseball games a week, so it was great to relive a portion of that experience with my husband.
In fact, we had so much fun that a week later when they were playing for the state championship we came back down with Mom and Dad to watch the big game. They were undefeated going into the game, so if they won it, they'd be the overall winners. Something about big game day jitters got the better of them, however, and they lost, which meant they had to play again. This time, it was all about victory. Jack was a bit disappointed that he wasn't one of the kids to hit a homer, but he did a great job, and it was so much fun to watch him play.

We had a couple of weeks off, and then my brother and his family passed through. They flew from Kansas, then borrowed my parents Pilot for a week to visit Canada, and spent another couple days with us before heading back home. During their little visit we were able to go out to Elk Creek Falls and enjoy a lovely time hiking. There was a little male bonding as well...

This is what Josh and Rowan did when I asked them to stand on the rock together and look like they loved each other. They were adorable when they got along, but most of the time they were competing over one thing or another. If one of them was successful in getting something it meant the other one didn't get it and was all upset and teary. Thankfully, big sister/cousin Emily worked wonders. So proud of how she's grown up from the little girl who would look in the mirror and practice all the different ways she could enunciate the word "NO!"

This was one of my favorite pictures from the hike. There's just something so sweet about seeing my Dad all relaxed in the grass, and Bekah sitting so nonchalant. Priceless.

Elk Creek is such a beautiful place. I just can't resist sharing a couple more shots from our hike.

It's been a bit strange just working all summer. Makes it a little hard to believe that it has really come and gone. Thankfully, we've still been having some lovely weather. I'll be sure to share some of the other things, and photos, from the past couple of months. Hopefully, I'll be able to keep a bit more up to date on things. After my heavy spring month posts, summer has been a bit of a bummer in blog land, but I do hope to make up for it.
Even as my mind wanders to distant shores and thoughts of what all I could do in foreign lands, I'm so thankful I got to make so many family memories this summer. I'm sure the kids will never forget the roller coasters, swimming trips, and ultimate Frisbee games. I know I sure won't.

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