Thursday, July 26, 2012

Family Reunion

What a busy summer we have been having -- I have been completely absorbed in planning a big, 3-day reunion for my husband's side of the family.  I have been planning and organizing, and he has been (basically) doing my bidding -- poor guy!  He has informed me that he is not doing another landscaping or painting project for the rest of the summer!  He has painted the fence, stained the deck, worked on landscaping in the front and the back yard -- you name it!  I have shopped and cleaned and decorated and crafted and informed (family members with updates on Facebook and on e-mail) and scheduled, and on and on... 

This side of the family gets together for a big reunion every four years -- we volunteered to do this four years ago -- naturally, we pretty much waited until this spring to start doing projects to prepare for it...  Way to go, us!  ;)  We had close to 60 people attend, traveling mostly from Long Island, but we also had family come in from Connecticut, South Carolina and California.  We are fairly close to Niagara Falls, so a large group went to see the Falls last Thursday and then on Friday, we had 21 people that met up to go to our local zoo -- that was a lot of fun!  Later in the afternoon, a group of people went to a local golf course and played 18 holes of golf, and in the evening, everyone met up at our house and we had dinner catered from a great Italian restaurant -- the food was a big hit!  For dessert we served make-your-own ice cream sundaes -- that was my mother-in-law's idea.  By the time I had finished planning this, that and the other thing, I hit a wall and could not come up with another idea!  The kids enjoyed swimming in the pool and the adults enjoyed visiting with relatives they had not seen in quite some time.

On Saturday, we headed down to the beach for the day -- we had rented the upstairs room in the beach's bathhouse, which was a fantastic location!  For $500 it came with tables and chairs, a kitchen, 2 bathrooms, an elevator which was wonderful for bringing everything in and out, and it has a huge, covered balcony that overlooks the beach and the lake.  We lucked out with a gorgeous day -- clear, blue skies, the water was open for swimming, cool breeze off the water, and the beach was not crowded!  For lunch we grilled hot dogs and hamburgers, had a pasta salad, chips, and watermelon.  Lots of people hung out on the beach, swam, some played beach volleyball, some sat on the balcony and looked through photo albums and chatted with relatives.  We bought tickets for the kids to ride the beautiful 1905 Dentzel carousel - I think they each rode at least three times!  (I even went on once!)  In the evening, we had dinner catered again, this time by a local BBQ place -- another big hit!  (Good thing -- by this time we had accumulated SO many leftovers...)  We had a dj who played music and offered karaoke.  I also talked him into taking a picture from the balcony of the whole crowd of us standing down on the beach -- he took one shot on my camera and it turned out great -- everyone is visible, everyone is smiling -- amazing!  (I'm a photographer's daughter, so I'm all about the photo opps!  Couldn't miss the opportunity to have a picture with everyone in it!)

One special highlight of the evening was our showing a dvd that our 11-year-old daughter made.  She is becoming the Steven Spielberg of "Windows Movie Maker" -- she makes videos ALL the time, and they are really great!  This one was 3 songs long -- "My Wish" by Rascal Flatts, "Everybody" by Ingrid Michaelson, and "Theme from New York, New York" by Frank Sinatra which is our family's theme song!  We begged, borrowed and stole (off of Facebook...) pictures of everyone in the family and she set them to music.  We played the video at the party on Saturday night (borrowed my dad's laptop, LCD projector, and movie screen -- thanks, Dad!!) and as a "lovely parting gift" we handed out a copy of the dvd to each family attending the reunion.  Everyone loved it -- my sister-in-law, Jenny, was sobbing because she was so touched by it, and she went up to our girl (who rarely ever cries) and told her how proud she was of her -- our girl burst out into uncontrollable sobs!  (Happy, I'm sure!)  At the end of the night we finished up with our family tradition -- everyone joining in a big circle to do a kick-line to "New York, New York!"  Talk about your big finishes!  ;)

On Sunday morning, a bunch of the family (in addition to the 15 staying at our house!) came over for breakfast and fond farewells before traveling home.  Those staying with us stayed until Monday, and we spent Sunday floating in the pool and trying to unwind from the whirlwind weekend!  It was a short work-week for me (Weds and Thurs), but I'm still trying to recuperate from all of the work we've done over the past weeks (months...).  The family seemed to have a good time -- my mother-in-law seemed to have a wonderful time, and in spite of all of the work and stress, our girls had the opportunity to connect with different generations of their family and participate in some long-standing family traditions.  That makes it all worthwhile!  (And I can say that honestly, now that my feet have finally stopped hurting...)  ;)  

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Happy 6th Birthday!

Happy 6th birthday to my sweet, beautiful, funny girl!  Mommy and Daddy and Sissy love you so much!  We can't even remember what life was like before you came along!