The Wallace family gathered in New Paris, Ohio over the Father's Day weekend at a campground called Natural Springs Resort. We haven't made it to the Wallace reunion since Bennett was an infant and we really didn't think much about it. But this year was different.
For some reason, it was important this year. And I'm so glad it was. Before we went, we had second thoughts about the drive, the lodging, the money, the food, the kids, the work time, etc. After the fact... we think, how could we have missed it so many years. We had such a good time with OUR family and with the rest of the family. We will purpose to return each year, as time allows.
I have 300 pictures that Curtis, Katrina and I took over the weekend. Katrina is my Pennsylvania cousin. She carried the camera to get some shots I may not have seen. Curtis took some pictures too, while I was playing and visiting. Other people had their cameras out... so there are way too many pictures to chose from to post here. I'll just have to put a few of my favorites and then save the rest for facebook.
We left to head north Thursday morning and made pretty decent time for waiting to pack until the very last minute. We met up with Mom and Dad a couple hours north, in Tennessee. They had started earlier and made a couple stops and we ended up pretty close to each other on I-75, so they waited for us. We shared 2 kids at a time with Grandma/Grandpa since that's a special treat and they have a DVD player with headphones. Woo Wee! We stopped for dinner at a Red Robin, even though Mom really wanted Frisch's Big Boy. When we stopped, there wasn't a Frisch's nearby. Go figure! It was still very yummy food.
We arrived at Natural Springs Resort a little after 9pm and there was still just a smidge of daylight left in the sky. We found our camper and started unpacking... then I thought I'd let Curtis do the unpacking and I would take the kids and say hello to the families that had already arrived.
We found cousin Gretchen Wallace Williams (Tim, Lindsey, Charlie & Ford), Uncle Mike and Aunt Linda Wallace, Aunt Nancy Manlove, Aunt Terrie Thompson, cousin Katrina Thompson Gonzales (Carlos, Olivia, Grace & Jesse), cousin Katie Thompson Crowell (Troy, Mitchell, Hudson, & Seth... she had to leave Ray at home to work), and all the kids running around in the yard like some monkeys. We walked back to our camper, which was just a handful of lots away from the family corner. The kids were very excited and it took a while to get everyone settled into their spots.
Cousin Katie's boys, Troy and Mitchell dig in the dirt with Ruth and Maggie at the beach on the lake. That's also the back of cousin Katrina's Grace.
Bennett and Curtis enjoyed different styles of jumps and splashes.
Friday we got to see lots more of the family. We swam in the pool and lake. We rode bikes... a lot! We ate a lot. We visited a lot. Cousin Wayne and Donna Wallace were housing Grandma and Grandpa. Mom stayed at the house to cook all morning while we were playing. Aunt Terrie and Katrina stayed busy cooking all day too. Crazy! I cooked before we left so I could play while we were there. A group took off for cousin Tom's golf course and played all morning. Next year... I'm gonna go play! Dad said he just rode around in a cart and enjoyed the beauty. Sounds like a plan! Cousin Lisa organised a scavenger hunt for the kids... they had a pretty difficult list of items they were to round up and turn in on Saturday at dinner. Most of them started out looking for items... but in the end there were only a handful of bags turned in with most of the items. There was a 3 way tie with Molly, Maggie and Ruth. The tie-breaker was to find a nickel... ends up the oldest date won. Maggie got her nickel from Grandpa! It was the oldest and she got a cash prize of $25. Pretty decent prize for an 8 year old.
We had a big group potluck dinner Friday evening... way too much food! But it was certainly lots of fun. Tim and Gretchen smoked a bunch of pig meat so we ate like "pigs" too. We counted up 95 people over the 3 days. Not too bad... but a bunch of those are kids, so don't worry. :) We hung around the tented corner lot and visited until a strong breeze blew and the sky got dark. Ruth and Lydia started "freaking out" so we grabbed all our things, threw chairs under the tent, put bikes away and ran back to the camper. Then we ran all 4 kids through the very tiny camper shower... but at least it was a shower IN the camper. It never did rain until the kids were very fast asleep. And even then, it was a nice gentle shower.
Uncle Mike talking with Cousins Jim and Barb.
Saturday we started over again... playing, swimming, biking, eating. The Manlove boys all fixed a lovely, nice big breakfast for everyone. Yum-O! Later in the afternoon, those Manlove boys also had a basket of water balloons in their golf cart and they rode around the campground pegging unsuspecting family members. The kids LOVED watching for them and trying to hit them with their own balloons they had acquired! It was a source of lots of laughter. And then those Manlove boys agreed to organize next year's reunion!
Way to go Manlove boys!!!
We had another potluck dinner Saturday night... this time fried chicken was the main course. We again had more than we could eat, as is the trend in family gatherings. After dinner Curtis took the kids swimming while the adults hung out in the big tent and played "Who knows their family trivia?" We also crowned Uncle Mike the "favorite" family member by giving him a shaving cream pie in the face. Charlie tried to eat some thinking it was whipped cream, and then Tom also shared in the "creaming" fun. During the family trivia we learned a few things about our relatives... some old stories were revisited (the dummy in the ditch by Mike, Jeff, Nelson), some new stories (Jody and the rooster), and some competitive behaviors (TOM!). After all the fun we had to settle in to pack everything up. Curtis did most of the work while I got the kids ready for bed. Nobody wanted to go to sleep, but eventually we all did.
Silly cousin fun... Katie Crowell, Gretchen Williams, Jenny, Katrina Gonzales, Krista Mayhall.
Cousin Scott Manlove with Uncle Mike, Uncle Dan and Cyndie.
Grandma always makes laughter and smiles... here are Stacy and Holly, two of Cousin Wayne's girls.
Tim and Gretchen driving the girls around, with Ford hanging on as well.
Ruth and Lydia, that is.
Uncle Jeff and Aunt Trudy start off the day with good coffee.
Bennett with the Crowell boys playing cornhole. In the background is Katie and the back of Nick... again. Seems I got the back of his head a lot.
Uncle Norman Manlove... the father of all those crazy boys!
Speaking of crazy... here's Clint Manlove with Grandpa, Gretchen and Phyllis.
Wayne and grandson Elijah.
More smiles with Grandma... Holly and Nathan.
Ruth is hot and tired... no place like Grandma's lap!
Lydia enjoys munching on some Pringles at the playground.
The she takes a brief nap with Mommy. She actually fell off the playground about 5 1/2 feet and hurt herself... so I was snuggling her. She was exhausted from playing and NEEDED a nap!
Sunday morning I took the kids away from the camper so Curtis could load up the last minute items. We found a few cousins playing... so we distracted each other while packing and loading was going on. Charlie and Troy enjoyed our golf cart ride! We headed out shortly after 9:30 and made pretty good time going South. We stopped in Berea, KY for a picnic lunch on the grass. They have an Artisan Center for Travellers which is a really nice place to stop and see the local artist's work. We drove on to the Ocoee river in Tennessee, where we stopped for another picnic dinner on the river. This is where they had the whitewater river events during the 1996 Olympics and Curtis and I got to go watch. Before we made it home we had to stop for DQ ice cream since it was such a great trip with the kids. Nothing like giving kids ice cream at 9 o'clock at night!! But we had such a great trip.... ready to go again!
I asked Bennett what his favorite part of the trip was. His reply, "everything at the campground. And Charlie (Charlie is my cousin Gretchen's son, 6 years old). I liked the swimming pool, the lake, and riding bikes. I think I road my bike on every road. Yes, I did ride my bike over every road in the campground!"
Maggie's favorite part: "I really liked the scavenger hunt and seeing all my cousins that I never knew. I liked the scavenger hunt because I got $25!"
Ruth's favorite part: "when Uncle Wayne turned his flashing lights on his car. When we went swimming. When we rode the golf cart. when I got to see the fishes in the lake. and when we got to see our grandparents and cousins."
Lydia's favorite part: "camping and swimming and I liked when we swimmed in the lake. Dat's all. Ok?"
I love these kids!
Funny video by Lydia on the way home... too many hours in the car. :)