Reunion summary

To offer a belated reunion summary….

The rest of the reunion was lovely. Of course! The boys had a great time reconnecting with Grandma V- which is always our number one priority. Grandma and Logan spent the night at Stacey’s house twice- which is always the number two priority!

The last morning of the reunion is always difficult, because we don’t like to say goodbye. Our relatives hosted a mini “church in the park” service, which was brief but lovely. The theme revolved around thinking about what you pass on to the next generation- whether it be material, financial, spiritual, etc. The uncles connected this to Grandma V and her giving spirit of helping others throughout her life. They talked about the ways her giving and sharing have been spread through so many different people and different generations, and that her gifts to others will have unending reach far beyond just the people she helped directly. Several people shared stories of times Grandma V has helped them or helped others. I was happy to read selections from a letter Stacey wrote about the times she has witnessed Grandma V’s generosity of spirit.

The boys were able to play a little bit more with some of the cousins before the event ended. They spent some time picking memorial sticks to bring home with us. I was able to persuade them that the 6 foot branch was probably too big to drag all the way across the country and home again!!

Some housekeeping and laundry (Mom probably enjoyed some quiet alone time while she manned the laundry!) and then we had a little more time alone with Grandma V. Those are the best times. Hearing her funny stories and stories about old times. Stories about people we don’t know and stories about family. I think we could do that for days! It’s always hard to say goodbye. It’s like ripping off a band aid- just do it quick and drive away before everyone starts to cry!

We also got to have dinner with Uncle Roger and his wife. Again, nice to meet new people and reconnect with old! Interesting to hear how life is different and the same halfway across the country in a town so small.


Reunion Day 2

What a day! Filled with laughter, a thunderstorm, mosquitos, and fun.

We did a quick stop at Storybook Land. It’s a very cool little park that we always love to visit. Stacey wanted to get her picture with the boys at the gingerbread man, and then they did a quick train ride. (Dad and I wimped out and stayed in the air conditioning!)

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Dad and I drug ourselves into the heat to take the boys mini-golfing. It was a heated competition, but in the end I think Dad and I actually tied! I think he questioned the accounting, but the facts don’t lie!

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We did head back to the hotel to freshen up/nap for a little bit after golf. We were sweaty and hot. We managed to get ourselves back to the park in time for family pictures. I think I only have one photo on my camera; the great-grands with Grandma V.


There are many more great-grands, but these were all of the kids in attendance this time.


Gunny sack race. Logan didn’t win, but he gave it a valiant effort.


Xavier was the kid champion of the cherry pit spitting contest.


The Germans sang several rousing beer songs. Makes me look forward to Oktoberfest already!20150627_220307-1

After dark, the kids played glow stick swords with anyone they could capture.

Somewhere in the middle there we had a lovely “severe thunderstorm”. The radio was counting down the storm arriving in town, and they were calling for 60 mph gusts, heavy rain, ping pong ball-sized hail, etc. They said “people and animals outdoors will be injured” and recommended riding the storm out indoors. Dad, the boys, and I were all at the hotel already, so we stayed in and watched through the window. Mom was out at the park where most rode the storm out in cars. Lots of tents (at other camp sites) were blown down or away a bit. No damage to any of our vehicles, but branches fell on a few other trucks at the park. We saw hail that was marble-sized perhaps. It was all over in less than half an hour, a rainbow came out, and then it was sunny and hot the rest of the day! Crazy!

Time to go slather on some anti-itch cream for those mosquito bites and get some sleep. One more day of reunion tomorrow. A little bit of a church service/gathering in the park in the morning. Laundry in the afternoon. Hanging out with one of Dad’s brothers in the evening. Then on our way bright and early Monday morning!

Reunion Day 1, part 2

I was watching my boys today at the reunion, and thinking about how they were really highlighting their differences. Xavier is happy to hang back, watch, listen, and play games on his phone. Logan just sticks himself right in the middle of everything, finds someone to hang out with, and is a little social butterfly. He remembered a few of our extended family members, and both boys have always really enjoyed Uncle Dave, my Mom’s older brother. So first Logan attached himself and kept himself busy keeping track of Dave. Then some kids showed up- kids of cousins, extended family that I don’t know or remember. Logan bopped right over and got busy playing in the hammocks with them. He didn’t really care what their names were or who they were, he was just having a good time.

Then it was time for the annual go-cart race. This is an important race that can be pretty contentious. Xavier declined participating, repeatedly. He said he’d go watch, but he didn’t want to race. He later said he didn’t think he’d do well and he’d end up crashing. As soon as someone said “race” Logan was ready- and was happy to volunteer as the passenger in a 2-seater with an older cousin that he’d never met before. I think they both enjoyed the race, just in very different ways.

It’s interesting to see the ways their personalities influence their daily lives. I think parents miss on out so much of these little moments. Makes me thankful that I’m a teacher and that I can enjoy some time to reconnect and get to know my kids again every summer. Can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings!

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Xavier relaxing, and Logan playing. I took 5 photos of Logan and this is the only one where he was sitting still!

Reunion Day 1

Doing a little pre-reunion hanging out with Great Grandma V and Stacey. We had lunch with some kugen and root beer floats. I think Xavier has tried at least three flavors of kugen so far. If you haven’t had kugen before, it’s a little hard to explain. It looks like a pie, but has a pastry crust that is sort of like a danish. The filling is kind of a custard filling. Then there are various fruits or jellies topped off with a sprinkle of cinnamon. Mom makes them on special occasions, but you can just buy them at the grocery store bakery here! It’s a minor miracle! I believe his goal is to try every flavor. Maybe twice. Eventually I will get a picture of one before he eats the whole thing…


Day 3: Aberdeen

Well Day 3 was quite the day of driving! Technically it was a little shorter than the other two, but sure didn’t seem like it. Not from the driver’s seat, anyway. The drive gets awfully boring at some point- just rolling hills after rolling hills….
We may have started getting a little goofy at some point.

I mean, look at these beautiful pictures from my co-pilots. I’m pretty sure the “Welcome to South Dakota” sign is right there in the picture. To be fair, the sign was tiny. And I was driving about 80 mph. So I didn’t make the job easy. Just trust me, the sign was there and we saw it.


At least it was green all around us. We did see lots of cows. And some horses. Most of us spied a few… deer? Again- hard to identify when flying by at 80!

Then we have the fascinating road construction. This would NOT fly in Washington! In case it isn’t clear- there is a stop sign. And a one-lane construction zone. Drivers should stop, then use their own common sense to determine if/when it is safe to proceed. Also- there were no other cars in sight, which made it easier to decide it was safe. I believe there were two of these little gems- which were hilarious by around 2:00 in the afternoon! (Perhaps you had to be there.)


Again, my co-plots attempted to capture the action as we began crossing the Missouri River.


We made it into Aberdeen and found our way to our interesting hotel. It’s… interesting. Definitely showing some age. The jetted tub is baby blue and probably from around 1980. You have to step down into it to use the shower. I’m pretty sure the boys could both drown in it. Pictures will follow. Later. For now… sleep!

When you sleep all day…

If you give Xavier headphones, he will listen to music and sleep for most of the car ride.

If Xavier sleeps for most of the car ride, he will be hungry when you get to the hotel.

If he is hungry and you give him a snack, it will apparently make him hungry for dinner.

If you take Xavier out to dinner, you will have to stop next door at Walmart to pick up a few small things.

If you stop in at Walmart to pick up a few things, Grandma will get suckered into buying a “small” lego set.

If Xavier (and Logan) get small lego sets, they will be busy playing legos and won’t want to go to sleep.


Day Two: Miles City, Montana

We made it! An impressive day two of driving, driving, and driving. Two days of 480-ish miles, and I drove them all! Because I can. I still felt nice and fresh even at the end of day two, so that’s a good sign.

We saw many Testicle Festival billboards, which entertained the boys (all three of them). There were many cows, horses, and eventually sheep. Gas is a little cheaper out here- I think we paid $2.67 at our last stop?

Road work is fascinating in Montana. There are signs for road construction, and they narrow the two-lane road to one lane… and keep it narrowed for miles.. but… there is no work happening. No people or trucks. It isn’t even clear where they intend to work or what they intend to do. Just narrowed down with reduced speed limit for maybe 5 miles… and then….end of construction zone! I think we went through at least 5 of those today. One did have a little street sweeper putting along at one point. But man… dropping down from 75-80 miles an hour to 45 for no good reason really irks me!

We did finally make it to “boring” country. Just a whole lot of nothing. Some rolling hills. Some animals once in awhile. The river. But basically a lot of nothing. I’m thinking tomorrow will be the day to pull out the trivia cards and find some road trip games to play. It should be a little shorter of a driving day, and we will be in Aberdeen, South Dakota- our destination for the family reunion!

Oh and the weather has been sunny and warm, but not hot! I’m thinking that the temperatures at home will be warmer than here. I’m not sure that’s ever happened before!!

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Xavier has been in charge of taking some photos while he co-pilots. He missed the Testicle Festival billboards. Darn.