And the Cousins Came

It was another big week here at Windy Ridge!

The cousins came.

A whole slew of them.

And boy did we have fun!

DSC_0124How about a hotly contested monopoly game that lasted 4 days?

No clear winner was ever named.

And fishing every day.

And catching enough fish for a fish fry – which we cooked outside because the weather was absolutely amazingly awesome.

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One night Poppa took the entire crew in to eat at the pizza place where Pedro works – and Pedro got to make pizza for us all.

A lot of pizza.

We might have embarrassed him a little. 🙂

And then we had ice cream. Because we could. And it was good.

We celebrated two birthdays – Pedro’s 18th and Dagmar’s 20th.

DSC_0130We ate our first sweet corn of the season, had hamburgers on the grill and then sat in lawn chairs watching the sun go down and the stars come out.

Sweet.

It was a week of long conversations and loud laughter.

Walks through the pasture and time at the ponds.

Glow sticks and frisbees.

Stomp rocket and ten hits.

Of remembering shared memories and making new ones.

And it was very good.

Swapping Stories, Swatting Bugs

I can’t believe it’s been over a week since we got home from our extended family camping trip!

Country Fair week just seems to consume every spare minute.

But this morning – the house is quiet, the washer is humming, and I’m going to take a few minutes to relax and remember some of the special memories.

Things like our annual family hike. Because of flooding  we couldn’t take our usual trails, so we took the drier – more vertical ones – past the Indian burial mounds and through the mosquito infested swamps.

DSC_0014 There’s nothing like swatting mosquitoes and sweating up and down limestone stairs to build some family memories!

And then there was the food. Gallons of my brother-in-law’s famous homemade ice cream, an entire table of baked goods and snacks, and lots of garden produce. Yes – we ate our veggies. 🙂

campfireWe had our annual campfire. Hot dogs, and all the fixings – including for the first time ever – the square marshmallow.

These were designed to better fit in a s’more so that there is gooey marshmallow in every bite.

s'moreWhile enjoyed by many – there were still purists among us who insisted the Jet Puff was the only true marshmallow.

We won’t soon forget the infamous family kick ball game that sent one to the doctor and left many of us stiff and sore.

Or the Family Improv Night which proved to be one of the funniest ever.  My brother’s skillful avoidance of wearing a dress and seeing my nephew in a red flannel union suit was priceless. (There are pictures – but I am not brave enough to post them. Christmas is coming.)

And this one makes me smile –

DSC_0109Sitting at dusk in lawn chairs in the back of pick-up trucks parked on the side of the road  watching fireworks.

Perfect.

But this –

sweet fellowshipThis is what I love most.

Sitting around in lawn chairs with the people I love dearly, swapping stories, sharing laughs and swatting bugs.

This is what it’s all about.

Bending Traditions

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Remember when I confessed to having already decorated for Christmas?

I left out one important detail – we hadn’t yet decorated the tree.

Traditionally, we decorate the rest of the house for Christmas, set up the tree, and get out the ornaments.

Then, after supper, we enjoy some amazing chocolate fondue and decorate the tree with the sound of dulcimers and fiddlers playing Appalachian Christmas music in the background.

But it didn’t work that way this year.

We got the house decorated and the tree up – but that’s where things went awry.

First there was the lights – most of them didn’t work.

Then there was the timing – between work schedules and dentist appointments, and eye doctor appointments and shopping trips – we were not all at the house at the same time to decorate the tree.

So it sat naked – with the few working strands of lights blinking in the evening.  If I turned all the other lights in the room off – you barely noticed the lack of ornaments. Or so I told myself.

Then there was the day we watched my friend’s two daughters – aged 1 and 2. I thought it would be great fun to have the 2 year old help me decorate.

And it was for a while. But, oh, how quickly one forgets the attention span of a two year old!

We actually got about a dozen ornaments on the tree before she discovered the Mickey Mouse one, followed quickly by the Minnie Mouse. She hung them side by side and lost all interest in any other ornaments.

She, instead, made up pretend conversations between Mickey and Minnie and kissed them every time she went by for the rest of the day.

Now my tree had a few strands of working lights, a dozen ornaments on three lower branches, with Mickey and Minnie Mouse, side by side, covered with a 2 year old’s kisses.

And so it stayed for several days.

Until last night when I determined to just finish the job once and for all.

Matt was in Colorado, Dagmar and Angel Girl were shopping, Pedro was at work, and Buddy was helping Jan in the shop – so I decorated the rest of the tree by myself.

Choosing my favorite ornaments, listening to my favorite music.

And yes – I’ll confess – eating chocolate pot de creme. 😉

I’m so glad that around here traditions can be flexible because this is one year they might need to bend a little. I’m thinking we’ll just enjoy the tree the rest of the season with whatever lights are still working and maybe move the chocolate fondue to Christmas Day.

But two things that are not moving – Mickey and Minnie.  They are staying right where my little sweetheart put them – side by side and covered with kisses!

Just in case she comes back…

 

Teenager In the House

Buddy turned thirteen last week.

Thirteen!

I can’t believe my baby is a teenager!

A teen with his own box drum and Old Spice fragrance.

buddy's box drum

Who eats as much as Pedro.

And has no clothes that fit because he’s growing faster than I can buy them.

Definitely another teenager in the house.

This was the first year in several he didn’t concoct an elaborate Lego and Pika display for the top of his birthday cake.

Instead – he and Nana Shirley created a Minecraft cake.

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You don’t get it?

Don’t feel bad. Neither did I. Or Jan. Or any of the four grandparents present. I guess it’s a part of a computer game they love to play.

While it didn’t have the drama of burning pika’s or flying M & M’s of his previous cakes – he was very proud of it.

And it did look remarkably like the photo on Pinterest – thanks to my amazing mom and her cake decorating skills.

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Just in case you ever need to make one and my mom isn’t available to save the day – we baked 2 – 9 x 13 cakes and cut them down to 9 inch squares. She didn’t use fondant – instead she just smoothed the butter cream with a spatula. Buddy cut the squares out of red fruit roll-ups.

Yep. That birthday cake made it official.

Changes are coming.

We’ve got another teenager in the house.

The Annual “Christmas at Labor Day” Celebration

It’s very hard to explain to people just what our annual family Labor Day celebration looks  like.

But then every year it’s a little different.

giant jenga
This year we had a giant Jenga game on the porch. Trust me – you didn’t want to be on the wrong side of this guy when it finally fell!

painting playhouseAnd the cousins (with the help of Uncle Rod)  painted the prairie playhouse – and each other.

We even had a Redneck Shower this year.

redneck showerSolar powered and designed by my brother Tim – this was the perfect way to clean up after playing in the Redneck swimming pool…

redneck swimming pool…the river. Which was pretty low this year. The kids didn’t mind though. It was a great place to cool off!

gocart ridesEspecially after a very dusty go-cart ride down the gravel road!

We had our second annual Family Tractor Ride (more on that later – it needs it’s own post!)

tractor ride

And our very special family worship service on the prairie.

prairie worshipFollowed by a very special Christmas celebration, in lawn chairs, outside.

And of course – the traditional walk to see the elk and take the crazy cousin picture on Fort Sumter rock.

Fort Sumter rockWhich isn’t anywhere near the real Fort Sumter.

But then September isn’t anywhere near Christmas.

So I guess it fits just right with my slightly crazy but super fun family who likes to take “making memories” to a whole new level!

Photo credits: Wiggy Photography Inc. Thanks guys!