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Thursday, August 9, 2012

Family Time

We just got back from our first road trip as a family of five. I normally would not be going anywhere with a brand new baby, let alone on a 13-hour car ride two states away, but this particular getaway was something planned long before we even found out we were pregnant.

This particular getaway took us to a cabin at Bear Lake in northern Utah where we gathered with my family for a family reunion and to celebrate my parents' 50th wedding anniversary (which is coming up in a couple of weeks). We've been planning it for over a year and knowing my entire family would be together, I was determined to do everything in my power to be there with them, even making the drive with a three-week old and two two-year olds.

And, actually, all three kids did surprisingly really well in the car. We planned to make stops every 2-3 hours along the way to nurse Lucy and to let the boys get out and run around. It ended up taking a bit longer, but it was worth it to keep the kids happy. And, fortunately my recovery from Lucy's birth seemed to drastically improve just in time for our departure.

The family reunion was a bit like getting a glimpse of heaven, even with all the chaos that is bound to come with 48 people under one roof. That's right. Forty-eight. That's just my parents, my siblings and spouses, and grandkids.

We found the perfect balance of planned activities - family talent show, storytelling by Grandma and Grandpa, sailboat rides, swimming, fishing trip, photo shoot - and free time to just sit back and enjoy each other. It was three years ago that we were last all together, which meant that some in my family were meeting all three of my kids for the first time. Funny how much our situation had changed since our last reunion.

Ben and Hugh typically get really overwhelmed when surrounded by lots of people they don't know, so we fully expected them to be a bit clingy and uncomfortable being in an unfamiliar place with a large group of unfamiliar people, but right from the moment we first arrived they were running around screaming and being crazy with all of their 30 cousins. It was a little shocking, but so much fun to watch them warm up so quickly and have so much fun.

I didn't take nearly as many photos as I should have or would have liked, but luckily we had some done professionally that I'll share when they're available. Here's just a tiny glimpse of our time together.

It was wonderful to be reminded of how blessed I've been to have been given the family I have. While we are far from perfect and our relationships are continually evolving, it's pretty amazing how well all eight of us get along and enjoy being together. I think part of that is from our long road trips growing up - Christmas trips to Grandma's in Utah, then the two super long road trips to Alaska and New York (ten years apart, though). My parents were constantly providing memories and experiences for us to spend time together as a family, and even if those long hours trapped in a car at the time were less than fun, somehow they solidified our love for each other.

It was equally wonderful to celebrate the fifty years my parents have been together and to spend some time reflecting on how they did it and how much I hope we can accomplish the same. We are approaching the big ten year anniversary in two weeks, so we're on our way! I feel blessed to be surrounded by an incredibly supportive group of siblings (and their spouses) and to have parents who have provided a legacy of love and a foundation of faith for us to build from.

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