Monday, July 11, 2016

family reunion

As I finished loading the pictures to this post I realized I really should have broken it up into at least 2 posts. But it's too late for that now. This is gonna be a big one.

This is the third year in a row we have had our family reunion in Breckenridge, Colorado. It's a pretty awesome place. Although, truthfully it probably wouldn't matter that much to me where we had it. I just think our reunions are the best. I love spending time with everyone and I think we always do the funnest things. So without further ado let's get started on the Cardon Family Reunion 2016.

We all gathered at the home my brother found for us (it was Nathan and Stacy's turn to plan the reunion) on Friday evening. After dinner the kids got to do their cousin exchange. This tradition is supposed to take the place of gift giving for birthdays and Christmas. There are 18 cousins currently which would make for a lot of birthday gifts every year. And also we think it's a little more meaningful for the kids as it isn't just one of many, many presents and they get to see the person they are giving to/getting from. Whether or not any of that is really true, the kids love it (big surprise there, right? haha) and it's fun to watch. I personally love the tradition of making them hug their giver, especially as some of the cousins get older and that hug can seem real awkward. Ha!

Everyone gathered for the exchange.
The kids headed to bed after the gift exchange, so it wasn't a real full first day. How could it be? And yet the next morning we headed out for a bike ride and by the time we got to the trail the kids were passed out in the car. Starting the reunion tired is not really great, but pretty much inevitable.
Getting 30 people on a bike trail is quite an ordeal and takes quite a bit of prep. I took it upon myself to take a few pictures while I waited for the prep work to finish.

This is pretty much what that prep looks like-mad chaos. :)

Can you tell he is her son? :)
Mom with her oldest grandchild.

And then we were off.

 Declan was happy as a clam on the bike seat. I thought he'd get tired of it but he never complained.

 So beautiful. I really do love this place.

Tatum going strong.
Taking a little break and enjoying the view.
We do an out and back ride around the Dillon Reservoir. At the turn around point we ate lunch and threw rocks in the lake. Grandma also had some dinosaur eggs for the kids to hunt for.

All the dads with all the kids since it was the day before Father's Day.

And then dad with his five kids. We are lucky to have learned from him our entire lives.
My handsome guys.

Tatum was feeling quite overwhelmed and tired on the way back. She could have been picked up but I really wanted her to do something hard and realize what she was capable of. Luckily my dad offered to ride along with her and give her some pushes on the hills. I'm not sure she would have made it without that help and it's not something Brennan or I could have done for her. We just haven't mastered that ability without getting uncomfortably close to crashing. Years of practice for Papa I guess.
She made it! We almost didn't bring her bike. I knew it would be a pretty long ride, much, much longer than any she has done before. And it's fairly hilly and she hasn't done many hills. We decided to go ahead and bring it, thinking she could just ride as far as she could and then I could just stop with her. Being about 6 months pregnant and with Declan on the back I wasn't sure I would want to ride the whole thing either. But we both did. I'm so glad we decided to bring her bike and give her the chance. She loved it and I am unbelievably proud of her. I couldn't even ride a two wheeler when I was 4 years old let alone ride 14 miles!
 Silly cousins happy to be done.

Saturday night my parents were kind enough to watch all 18 of the hooligans while the rest of us went out for dinner. This has become a tradition at every reunion. I'm pretty sure it's mostly a lot of hard work for my parents but it really is appreciated. It's so nice to have some time with my siblings and their spouses to chat and enjoy each other's company without the constant interruptions of 18 kids. I didn't get a picture of us out to eat but the restaurant we went to (FlipSide Burger) was so good! Brennan and I loved our burger and fries and milkshake. Yum!

We didn't find much else to do so we ended up getting back to the house before mom was able to finish all the activities she had planned for the kids. So after we got back she had little maracas for them to decorate and some cupcakes with mustaches and sombreros.

Almost, buddy.
After I took a picture of Jaren and Declan, Finn asked for me to take his picture. But not with his hat or mustache. Just making this little mischievous face.

Bedtime stories with grandma. Look at that crew. What a great grandma.

Jade, Tatum and Ella created a "girls club" in the closet in grandma and papa's room. It's pretty funny how young that sort of thing starts. They had grandma make a sign for their closet door.
And some nights that's where they all slept.
Sunday morning these two troublemakers "helped" grandma make muffins.
Brennan made friends with Lucy while we waited for everyone to be ready for family pictures.
The whole group! It was a pretty quick and painless picture taking experience for a group this size. And I think we got a couple that aren't half bad.

Cardons aren't very good at being silly but Brennan always insists on a silly picture. :)
Sunday was Father's day (and mine and Brennan's 7th anniversary!) so after church I recruited Tatum to help make a sandwich for Brennan. She was pretty into it so she got to make one for Papa too. I love seeing her excited about doing something kind and helpful. It makes her seem so old and grown up.

Sunday afternoon the fun continued with a murder mystery. This was our first year trying one of these. There were a few bumps but I think everyone had a good time. I know I did. Not everyone had a part, most of us just had to listen and try to solve the murder but these 6 were actual characters and they were a hoot. Marci and Rich were especially entertaining I thought.
Rich's character was the murderer. And no one guessed him!

Riding the gondola was next on the agenda. The kids love it!
And we saw a moose and a baby moose! It was pretty exciting.

A couple more shots of the moose from another car.

All 18!!
Jade's face! hahahaha
Grandma and her posse.

We stopped by a river/stream on our way back to the house and the kids threw rocks in while some played spike ball. They could throw rocks in the water forever I'm pretty sure.

Sunday night Stacy had a fun activity planned for the kids. She brought cupcakes and a whole lot of decorating supplies. They all had the assignment of decorating a cupcake to represent their dad. Then they had to present them to the group but they got to eat them themselves. Don't worry, the dads got to have cupcakes. Just not packed with every decoration under the sun. :) It was a bit chaotic, as all things are when 18 kids are involved. But they loved it.
Luckily Aunt Crystal helped me out. Yes, I'm the pathetic one with the fewest children who took extra help. Declan loved having Crystal help him.

Tatum and her finished product. She made Brennan's face on a cupcake.
Declan's. Not sure what his design was exactly. :)
On Monday morning Brennan, Marci, Caleb, Dad, Ben, Crystal and Caden got up at the crack of dawn and hiked Quandry Peak, a 14,000 foot peak. It sounded like they had a great time and they came back with some beautiful pictures. 

While they were out hiking to the top of the world the rest of us took all the kids on a small hike. I'm pretty sure ours was harder. :) Declan was a real piece of work and cried most of the time. It was super pleasant. But it was called the Iowa Hill Trail, kind of fitting. And if you're wondering what the red hats are that my kids are sporting in nearly every picture they are cousin hats my sister made for this reunion. Each family has a different color/design and they have their "grandkid number" on them. They are pretty cute. But I'm disappointed we never got a picture of all the kids in their hats.
After all the hikers were reunited we got to go stand up paddleboarding. It was beautiful, there was sand for the kids and it was a lovely time.

Some even attempted to fish. Claire is looking pretty pleased as punch holding her worm. Gross.

The onlookers/beach bums.

Macy, Mia and Mallory buried these little girls in the sand and made them look like mermaids. They loved it.
Declan finally got brave enough to go out on the board.

It started raining which caused our fun to get cut a little short. We headed home and the kids all jumped in the hot tub.

I caught these three spending some quality time together. :)
Monday night we played some minute to win it games. My favorite was the panty hose game, unfortunately the lighting and a crappy phone camera didn't combine to get any good pictures. :( Two people put the legs of the pantyhose over their faces and line up back to back. Then at the same time they start walking away from each other and whoever keeps the pantyhose on their face wins. The first round was Rich against Caden. Really, you had to be there. But trust me, it was hilarious.

More fun and games.

Tuesday morning these early risers helped grandma and papa make pancakes and bacon for everyone.
After breakfast we hopped on the gondola again and this time hiked up to the "glacier" to play. 

Sledding in the summer sure beats sledding in the winter.

After lunch we headed to a park to play at the playground and grandma and papa started up some wiffle ball with the little kids. I was really amazed at how long the kids kept at it. I figured they would lose interest pretty quickly but they just kept going and going.

Pretty nice backdrop for a game of wiffle ball.

Love Finn's pose on first base.
Later in the afternoon all the young kids were left home with me, Stacy, mom and dad while the rest of them went shopping or mountain biking.

We kept busying climbing trees....

...eating popsicles...
...and playing with papa...
Declan and Ella decided Caleb's truck made a great place to play.

And they were soon joined by the masses.
Tuesday night was the auction.
This was my contribution this year. They aren't perfect but overall I was pretty pleased with how they turned out. It was a lot of work (mostly because I procrastinated) but It was a lot of fun. 

They trip home was not without adventure. We didn't hit any traffic coming down out of the mountains into Denver which is where we had a lot of delays on our trip out. We thought that meant we would be making much better time on the way home. Unfortunately the bike rack had different plans in mind. It's a bike rack that my dad has had for no less than a million years. But it worked just fine to get us to Colorado. Since we didn't have my parents with us for the drive back we had Tatum's bike in the car which we thought would make the bike rack situation even better. Unfortunately just as we were getting out of Denver the rack started to have issues. We pulled over several times attempting to fix it but with no luck. Finally we concluded that one of the hooks had become malleable and that was the problem. We thought maybe if we could fit one of the bikes in the van it wouldn't be such a strain. So we took mom's bike as much apart as we could without any tools (yeah we are super prepared people) and stuffed it in the car. Then we used one of the bungees that had been used to hold the bikes on to try to support the weak side of the rack. I guess that was a bad idea. As soon as we got back on the freeway we just about lost the whole rack-and my bike! This meant we had to just pull over on the side of the freeway instead of waiting for an exit. And we weren't far enough out of Denver for traffic to have died down a lot. So with cars and trucks whizzing past us and feeling like we had no other choices we rearranged the whole van. Took the front wheel off my bike and with some mad tetris skills got all the bikes in the van. We were hot, we were sweaty, we had grease from the bikes all over our hands. The kids were sick of being in their seats and sweating to death. It was pretty awesome. Brennan started to try to find a place for the bike rack in the van and I said no way. We chucked that thing on the side of the road. Good riddance I say! haha.
Once we got to rearrange the bikes again at the next stop so they weren't hitting the kids, the rest of the trip was uneventful. Declan hardly slept at all. Luckily between watching Frozen twice and reading this Minnie Mouse book for like an hour straight, not even kidding, he still did pretty well.
Then a truck kicked up a rock that chipped our windshield. So annoying!

And that's a wrap, folks. Cardon Reunion 2016 is in the books and it was a good one. A real good one! I really do love our reunions and I'm already looking forward to next year.

1 comment:

  1. I made it through! It took several bouts throughout the day. :) That bike rack catastrophe sounds awful! I'm really glad you didn't lose your bike. That's amazing that you were able to cram all three bikes into the van. That's some serious packing skills. Anyway, family reunions are the best, aren't they? I love what you said about how it doesn't really matter where you have your reunion. It's totally not even about that although Breckenridge looks amazing and you guys definitely take advantage of all the outdoor stuff there is to do that. Taking everyone on a 13 mile bike ride is quite the feat. High five Cardons. :)