Camping Out

We had our annual family camp-out last week-end.

Some things were just as they always have been.

Same place. Same cabins.

Same crazy cousins.

11062036_641766872624360_7683822361446482283_nLots of food. Lots of laughter. Lots of bugs.

Silly skits. Long hikes. Creek wading.

 

11707864_641766742624373_6856625634784276110_nAnd of course – building the traditional dam.

But this year we added some things.

11707639_394625494063330_1521336144992824817_nLike a jumbo-sized Bananagrams on the lawn.

Works both your body and your brain. Super fun!

11705155_10204472132420898_1068057685658755025_nAnd we celebrated a niece’s upcoming wedding with a British high tea, complete with hats and gifts.

But the most exciting new addition –

11167975_10204472128100790_536776461216792350_nWe had not one, not two – but three new babies to play with!

Yes, three!

The third generation to join the fun.

Savoring the moments and making sweet memories.

Family.

Graduation Times Three

Eighteen years ago my oldest sister had a baby girl.

A few months later my youngest sister had a baby girl.

Then a few months later I had Pedro.

three cousinsThree cousins in 6 months.

They grew up together. Playing. Laughing. Pretending. Sharing toys and adventures.

Somebody joked that it would be a crazy spring when they all graduated!

It was.

Three different graduations.

Three different parties.

Three different towns.

Three different weekends.

cousinsThree close cousins who suddenly grew up.

Three unique and amazing kids who share so many zany memories.

Three very good reasons to celebrate!

Now go forth and conquer cousins!

We’re so proud of you!

Good-bye to a Landmark

The row of white pines that lined our driveway could be seen from a distance.  There were massive trees that had stood guard for years.

If there was any breeze on a hot summer afternoon – it could be found under the branches of those trees. As could cicadas, tree fogs, any number and variety of birds, and the occasional opossum.

One of the first things Jan did when we moved in was to hang a swing from one of the branches creating the most amazing playground ever invented.

Thousands of hours were spent in the shade of those trees.
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A sandbox was added.

Then a second swing.

The play set was set up next to the swing so the very daring could climb up and swing off.

And a Windy Ridge landmark was established.

It was the first place kids ran to when they visited. It was the last place parents carried them off when it was time to leave.

Elaborate “swing shows” where performed and amazing swing tricks where created.
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As the kids grew older, the swing would sit idle for months, used as a quiet place to sit and think about life, then would see a flurry of activity when we hosted VBS or a home school get together.

I enjoyed sweet day dreams of someday playing with my grand babies under the big shady boughs and pushing them in the swing.

But an infestation of pine beetles destroyed that dream when they killed the entire row of pines last summer, and on Saturday, a couple of passes of the chain saw took them down.

It was a sad day at Windy Ridge.

We all understood it was needed. Instead of a welcoming landmark – they had become an ugly reminder of what used to be.

I cried.

But now that “what was” is gone – we’re able to think about “what can be”.

And just as soon as the ground thaws – we’ll be planting several new trees.

After all – those future grandchildren will need a shady place to play.

And swing.

And make memories.

In Which I Turn Another Year Older

birthday chocolateI had a birthday on Saturday.

For the record – I really don’t feel any older. I’m not sure I act it either! 😉

And for those of you who are wondering what I did on my birthday weekend – I enjoyed it!

I ate chocolate at every meal.

Took a snowy walk with my honey in the sunshine.

Spent time laughing with my kids.

Felt loved and cherished by their gifts.

Sat on the couch and quilted while watching the Olympics.

Ate chocolate ganache right off the spoon.

Had delicious birthday cheesecake from my very own cheesecake fairy. (I love you Dorothy!)

And counted my blessings, not my years.

And that, dear friends, is how it should be.

 

One Last Good-Bye, Grandpa

We said our last goodbye to my Grandpa a little over a week ago.

Grandpa had Alzheimer’s for several years now – so in many ways it’s been a long, slow goodbye.

But, as one friend put it so beautifully, “even with slow good-byes, there is fresh pain at the end.”

And there was.

We shed many tears as we shared memories.

Good memories. Sweet memories.

Memories that brought back the Grandpa before Alzheimer’s, the strong, gentle man with the big smile and even bigger heart.

I have snapshots of Grandpa in my mind.

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He was a farmer.

His wardrobe consisted of overalls or blue jeans with a blue cotton work  shirt.

And a smile. He always had a smile.

I can see him coming in the farmhouse for dinner (at noon), going into the washroom off the porch and changing from his dirty outside overalls into a clean pair and “washing up”. He’d come to the table with damp hair, his overall buttons open showing his BVD’s and a big grin.

I can see him sitting there at the head of the table, in one hand a big slice of bread (which was on the table at every meal) slathered in butter, in the other hand his fork.

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I can see him standing him in the doorway greeting us as we drove in the yard to visit.  Then, since I was terrified of Smoke the dog (who was the biggest, gentlest, oldest dog ever) he would go and tie up him up so I would get out of the car.  He did it every time and never once told me it was silly to be afraid of dogs.

We were important to Grandpa.

Later in the afternoon, I can see him sitting beside us at the table for “lunch”  (this is the meal served mid-afternoon after dinner but before supper). He would distract us and then take our bowl of Schwan’s ice cream and hide it under the table.
I can still see his twinkling eyes as he told us not to drink that root beer because it would put hair on our chests.
He loved to tease.

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That’s the picture I see most often in my mind – Grandpa’s great big grin and his twinkling eyes.

Grandpa loved us. I don’t ever remember hearing him say it. But we knew it. He showed us in so many ways.
He loved Grandma, too.

Most of my memories of Grandpa, like my memories of Grandma, are intertwined. They were such a team.  He was a bit of a character and Grandma balanced him perfectly. He would start something and Grandma would watch with a smile.

Even after 71 years of marriage as they were sitting in their wheel chairs at the nursing home…

Even after Grandma’s heart was weak and her breath shallow and Grandpa’s mind was gone…

Even then they held hands.

Even then they would look at each other with love in their eyes.

Even then.

And that is my favorite snapshot of all.

So this is one last goodbye, Grandpa.

Thank you for bringing us laughter and love.

For showing us what a strong and committed marriage looks like.

For being strong and gentle, tough and tender,  and fun.

I love you.

We were so blessed to have you in our lives.