I'm really no good at keeping my posts short so here's my effort to leave out about 5000 pictures and say as little as I possibly can (absolutely impossible!)
This year Ryan's family all met in Virginia. We rented a house on Lake Anna and had a fun-filled week!
It was amazingly organized down to the theme (surfin' safari) and matching t-shirts!
Fun on the lake. Hayley turned into a fish! One day we rented a boat and pulled a tube behind it. Hayley thought she was in heaven. Kids sure sleep good when they swim all day!
Things we never want to forget: playing in the lake, riding the tube, horse riding, dad fishing day, beach boys dance, smores, orange county fair, children's museum, family talent show, adult game nights, daily kid craft time, story time with Aunt Tammy, playing with cousins, treasure hunts, naps, late night talks! Fun fun fun!
Okay, so not quite a full reunion but my parents and the 3 kids that are still at home stopped by Virginia for a week on their way home to England. My brother and his family are in Virginia also, so although we were still missing lots of siblings and grandkids I think that 16 people qualifies as a mini-reunion.
We got a couple days alone with G&G...
The kids know that Grandpa T. loves books and loves to read so it's always fun to show off by reading him a book or two!
The captive audience watching the many dancing shows put on by all 3 of the girls! You guys are troopers even if they are adorable. It's just so hard to stop dancing when you have a new audience!
After a couple days we headed out to vacation all together with Dean's family. We spent a windy, cold day on the beach then had some fun times just hanging out in the Williamsburg area.
The highlight for our kids had to be Busch Gardens--a really big amusement park. It opened their eyes to a whole new world of possible adrenaline rushes and they haven't stopped talking about it since!
Funny story: during our first hour there G&G offered to take all the grandkids so we the big kids and adults could go on a roller coaster together.
My thoughts before the ride:
"no kids...how romantic...this will be so fun to scream and hold hands and ride this super scary roller coaster with Ryan!"
My thoughts during the ride:
"I just wish I were dead right now...ugg...is this ever going to end!"
"what was I thinking...romantic?!?!?"
I guess it's been a few years (like maybe 15) since I rode roller coasters and a few things have changed...like I value my life now! A great laugh afterward, but it might have been my last!
At the vacation house: indoor pool, swimming races, 16 year old brother pushing people in(my death stare and threats of sending my macho husband to beat him up still work!), talent show, movies, reading books, babies riding their bikes, soccer game, late night planning and dreaming of how we could pull off a reunion with all 10 siblings + spouses + grandkids...yikes!
All in all, we're just so grateful that so many family members were willing to come out our way this summer. We love that our kids are getting the chance to know even their far-away cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents!
Mt. Vernon is George Washington's estate. They've really built a lot and improved it since we moved here 5 years ago. We got an annual pass this summer and went lots. Ryan would come meet us after work sometimes. We never did go through the actual house (we'll go back when the summer crowds aren't there!) But we had lots of fun playing with the animals, walking through the forest, and enjoying the very hands-on education center.
The girls really got into taking their picture next to the statue that welcomed us each time we arrived...
We love all the farm animals...almost as good as the zoo!
We would read all the signs in the hope of learning something...Alice really got into it. Here she is pointing out the next sign so we don't miss it!
This was a really cool 16 sided barn that Washington designed himself to improve the process of separating the wheat kernels from the shaft.
Our favorite tree. Doesn't it have the coolest roots? It looks like a big hand!
You can't eat on the grounds so we would picnic at the bottom of the grounds next to the Potomac river.
Fun times in the hands-on center dressing up and playing with the dollhouse.
There is a princess cook book at the library that Maya checks out all the time...we should seriously buy it but, oh well. She loves to spend time just flipping through all the pages and talking about which ones she wants to make.
One afternoon while Alice was sleeping we seized the opportunity to cook with a little less chaos than normal. Hayley and Maya were so into it! They learned how to separate egg whites and a couple basic measuring lessons. We also made them in heart shaped cake pans that I inherited from my Grandma Jolley so I got to tell a story or two about my Grandma while we greased the pan. All in all--a successful summer activity--even if it doesn't look quite like the cake in the book!
At our church I'm currently in charge of running primary--sunday school classes and activities for all the children up to 12 years old. This summer those of us that work in primary threw a big activity for everybody to celebrate and remember pioneers. It was such a success and so much fun!
I was especially excited that even in all the planning I managed to make bonnets for the girls! They turned out so cute.
Here's what we enjoyed: making pioneer toys and crafts, eating our vittles, potato sack, three-legged and wheel-barrow races, stick-pull, horse shoes, pie competition, singing around the guitar, prizes & pie-eating competition, and just good ol' hanging out talking on a beautiful summer night!
Adventures with a dog: our summer-fling!
After a summer of dressing up our dog, pretending she's a horse, cuddling, fetch etc...
Millie is gone. Some of you will breathe a sigh of relief with me. Since I haven't kept up to date on blogging you may not know how long 3 months could be!
Who knew that a dog that is pretty much "perfect" can decrease you quality of life so dramatically?!?! We knew it would be a lot of work but didn't realize that it would be impossible to feel like we could sit on the floor with the kids because no matter how much I clean there's still hair there! In my only 10 minutes of free time...guess what...Millie needs to go out! (and you wondered why I wasn't blogging) Although the chores that we took on to have her didn't seem like much on paper, I guess there just isn't much wiggle room in our already full lives. Millie took over our life in a way that we hadn't anticipated and in the end, although we really love her a lot, we love our time with each other more, and decided it had to end.
Best ending possible...Ryan's sister and her husband live 30 minutes away. Their dog died a couple years ago and they were getting close to looking for another. (These are proven dog people...something we failed miserably to become!) We are so happy that they decided to take Millie! Now we can have Millie without really having a dog! Does it get better than that?! Thanks for saving the day Gina and Kirtis!
Ryan and I can't stop being grateful that the added responsibility is suddenly gone. Life seems so easy now! Hopefully the kids will think of it as a fun chapter in their lives. They've taken the separation amazing well, probably because they feel like they can see her whenever they want. We've also been deliberate to point out how much more time we have to spend with them now and thankfully they are at an age that they think that's even better than a dog!
It's been a busy, full and sometimes exhausting summer...so excited for cooler weather, changing leaves, and all that time I'm going to have on my hands!