My immediate family consists of 2 parents, 3 older brothers, their 3 wives, almost 6 nieces (#6 is due today!), 1 nephew, and 3 yellow labs. This isn’t a super huge family, but what’s rare about it is that all of them live in California about 8 driving minutes away from each other and from work. 5 of those 6 adults work for SmugMug and thus spend most of each day together. When they’re not working? You’re likely to find them playing with all the cousins at a park, congregating at my parents’ house for swings and dinner, or visiting a local zoo.
All this to say, that when my brother suggested a family “reunion”, I laughed. These people practically live under the same roof! However although Mackenzie and I travel out there to work about once a quarter, Scott had not been out for two years and the lure of an epic reunion at Lake Tahoe was enough to get us booking tickets.
Plus, my dad is guaranteed to take some great photos when we’re out for a visit. After all, the last time he managed to get the trifecta in single shot: 3rd trimester pregnant in a bathing suit with a snorkel mask. I’d blame him for the farmer’s tan and blue lips well, but I don’t know what the next two steps up from a trifecta are. Anyone?
Moving on, I had high hopes for this trip and wasn’t disappointed. Scott had to stay in Columbus a few extra days to finish up a research project, so Mackenzie and I made the cross country flights on our own for the nth time. She managed to wriggle around just right on the airplane so she peed out of her diaper onto my lap. For the nth time. What is it about planes?
Pee notwithstanding, we arrived in California in one piece and I had a fabulous time chasing kids around my brother’s new house, seeing the gorgeous wall-to-wall photos up at SmugMug Headquarters, and sleeping in (thanks, Mom!).
Scott arrived and we made the 4 hour trip to Tahoe with my parents. It was nearly uneventful thanks to the fact that Mackenzie has been an absolute angel since she was born. (We don’t count peeing on “people” on airplanes against her.)
Fortunately my dad made a stellar video of our week, so I can defer to that for most of the recap. 🙂 Turn up your sound and watch it here.
Things I Remember The Most
- Really, really amazing places to stay. We’re talking hot tubs, cushy robes, gorgeous views. I was on pamper overload the entire time. I want to mention here also that it was truly amazing to have a team of housekeeping ladies arrive every day and discreetly make the places shiny and clean again. Each toddler had their own room complete with beds they didn’t use because they were all in pack and plays.
- Awesome food. It’s nice that most of my family eats the same way we do, so we switched off cooking meals and the fridges were all stuffed with the best California had to offer: berries, peppers, spinach oh my.
- Hiking. I have missed the mountains and Scott and I took every opportunity to venture out and breathe the fresh air. Mackenzie loves her pack, so that’s a bonus. (It’s a Sherpani Rumba and we got it from REI online on a great sale last December. I would highly recommend it, though it is pricey.)
- Poor Mackenzie’s face. I don’t know if she was having a hard time adjusting after getting her “special shoe” off or what, but my girl was a complete klutz in Tahoe. She totally bashed up her face right before FHE so we missed that entirely while trying to ice and assess and clean up blood. Then she proceeded to trip and fall on her face daily pretty much until we left to go home, at which point she resumed normal walking and running and healed up just fine.
- Relaxing. I am a bit of a workaholic and combined with being a full-time mom with no family close by, I tend to go go go until I collapse. The week in Tahoe, I embraced the time to engage in idle conversation, to nap, to soak in the tub, and to spend hours hiking.
- Peanut butter cup s’mores. For all my talk and action around healthy eating, I absolutely believe in indulging properly when you indulge. Oh my, this is worth the empty calories! A Reese’s cup on two squares of graham with a gooey marshmallow is just something you have to experience once in your life. Or maybe once a year. I’m considering making it a tradition. 😉
And now for the photos
We visited Scott’s sister on the way up to Tahoe where she stuffed us with fantastic healthy food, as evidenced by this awesome photo of Mackenzie and her cousin. What a belly!
The real reason for the stop was NOT the good food and lovely place to sleep, though that would have been enough. It was really these two:
Well, and these two:
Ok well, and these two too:
Once in Tahoe, we did some of this:
And in a controlled experiment investigating the combined effects of chlorine and static on toddler hair, we let her do this straight out of the pool:
We did some of this (note the poor face):
At the top of our longest hike:
A genius built a picnic table on the summit:
My marvelous mom made the trip up with us sporting her transition sunglasses that always make me giggle:
Mackenzie found some lichen on the ground and was so excited because she thought it was broccoli:
Let’s take a closer look at that (iPhone) shot. Here’s Mackenzie’s poor bruised and cut face:
Here’s the “broccoli” (girlfriend has a point. That’s some tasty looking lichen.):
And finally, I’d like to point out the parenting fail evidenced by the footwear choice. Though for the record, every fall that produced blood took place barefoot inside a house and NOT in saltwater sandals tromping through the woods. Go figure.
A different hike:
And this is everyone, including the niece in Meghan’s belly.
Our little family:
And Scott’s photo for residency applications. (I would definitely accept him into my program, based on good looks alone. I’m just sayin’. 😉 )
Over the Top
This trip was already solidly in the “epic” category when we drove back to my parents’ house, but our last night there together just blew us away. My brother and his wife treated us to a dinner out that was unlike anything I’d ever experienced. The kind of a dinner where you have no choice about what comes out of the kitchen (vegetarian was my only request) and you trust that the chef will turn out something fantastic every time. How many courses did we have? I can replay each in my head still… I think it was 10? Every course blew me away. I savored and sighed and may have even squealed (quietly) (I hope) a few times. I got goosebumps. I grinned. I must have looked completely out of my element at a place that fancy, but I enjoyed every second of it. And of course, you can take my level of enjoyment and multiply it for my foodie of a husband. He was in heaven.
Then bright and early the next morning, he was off to St. Louis for his buddy’s wedding and Mackenzie and I spent a few extra days at my parents’ before flying by ourselves back to Ohio. You will be glad to know on THAT flight, my pants stayed dry.