|The gang is back together again!
Like everyone else in the entire world, the newest strain of coronavirus has thrown everyone for a loop. For the most part, our family has been extremely blessed–we’ve been healthy, have plenty of space, animals and things to do at home that we’re all still sane, and managed to finish the girls’ online schooling with minimal tears. Still, there are things we’ve been missing, the biggest of which have been our regular visits from family.
We had several family visits that had been postponed which meant we went a record six months not seeing anyone. Thank goodness for technology so we could call, video chat, and text, and we know six months isn’t extremely long in the grand scheme of things (unless you’re Peter–that was half his life!) but usually, we’re lucky to have someone drop by for a visit every couple of months. Then if they’re not visiting us, we go visit them. The long separation was difficult to endure but it made our reunion all the sweeter when the time did come.
When Jenny and Jordan rolled into the driveway, the kids spilled out onto the driveway, shrieking and hugging. The Elsa-wannabes ran off happily together. Ruby and the cats saying hello again? Not so much. 🤣
Everyone survived the initial greetings and if anyone didn’t get along, they kept their distance. Like Ruby and Nova, for example.
Jump right into the chaos. My sister and her family are our twin cousins–similar-aged children, same gender (except Peter and Felicity…whoops!
). That’s right, twelve
adorable, rambunctious, LOUD, happy children under one roof.
|Clearing a swath of forest to run our horses and cows from one pasture to the other.
Though Indiana is no longer under quarantine, we decided to do our part and voluntarily stay away from other people as much as possible. That meant my job was to convince everyone else that working around our property was fun.
Putting new hive boxes on the bees is fun!
Picking up hogs to take to the butcher is fun!
Cleaning algae out of the pond is fun!
|My nephew Holton and I had some great conversations while he helped me put up cattle panels.
Putting up fencing is fun!
Mowing and moving soil is fun!
Moving animals to greener pastures is fun!
Cleaning the barn is fun!
Collecting bee swarms from trees is fun!
Grooming and exercising the horses is fun!
I may have worked everyone a little too hard…oops.
While I think working and getting stuff checked off my list is fun, there was still an overwhelming amount of time for rest, relaxation, and the kinds of things children actually think are fun.
Have I mentioned I love having a pond? It’s a lot of work to maintain–there have to be the right amount of the right kinds of fish to keep the algae, snails, leeches, and mosquitoes at bay, we have to chase off geese, ducks, and blue herons, the weeds seem particularly resilient and quick-to-grow…still, the enjoyment we get from swimming and paddling around the water on a hot afternoon is worth the work.
Even when we aren’t actually swimming, it’s a source of enjoyment. Seriously, just try to keep a kid away from a pond. They can’t help but throw in rocks, try to catch frogs, cast in a fishing line…a good chunk of time was spent around the water.
Aside from the pond, just being on a farm is a lot of fun for a kid. I know it was the highlight of my year when I’d get to visit a farm once a year when I was younger. Everything is interesting and worthy of investigation. The hay rings are for climbing…
…the horses are always willing to say hello IF you have a treat as an offering…
…and they’ll even give you a ride! Most of the time they’re perfect angels. Most of the time (I’m looking at you, Dancer).
Even as inexperienced as Dancer is, she does the best she can for what she knows. If she’s toting around kids, she’s starting to learn that it’s an honorable and enjoyable line of work.
The fun continued with multiple games, of everything from SPOONS to Clue to pool…
…and a crazy couple rounds of Chubby Bunny.
After my sister, Jenny, gave mowing a try and realized how much fun it is to spin around on a zero-turn mower, she gave each of the kids a chance to steer around the yard. Who needs a theme park when you can mow?!?
We got good use out of the bounce house, too. The kids took turns flopping around inside until they were sweaty and tired. Everyone slept well that night!
During the in-between times, there were bikes constantly going up and down the driveway. I love watching them zip back and forth, race each other, and learn to pedal for the first time.
|Oh, Mo. Silly tom turkey.
When they were bored with biking or too tired to keep pedaling, they’d pile into the swings and yell at whoever wasn’t on to push them. Those swings saw a lot of good use during their visit.
And, if the swings were full, there were plenty of hammocks strung up all over the trees.
Even in the midst of all the commotion, there were still some quiet moments. I for one loved art time. It was a brief moment of calm while everyone focused on their projects. Sure, I was tripping and slipping over markers and crayons the rest of the day, but I got all kinds of beautiful artwork, like Zoey’s unicorn cobra spirit animal. 🤣
Several of the kids are bookworms (children after my own heart!) and I’d stumble across them once in a while, reading in the strangest of places. Who am I to tell them to get their nose out of a book? They’d read until they had their fill, then they’d be on their way.
Our hot tub also got a fair amount of use. Though the pond is a relief on a hot day, it hadn’t quite warmed up by the time our guests arrived. If they couldn’t warm up by sitting on the canoe next to Mo…
…then they’d jump in the hot tub.
An unexpected rainstorm only added to the fun.
Normally, when the twin cousins visit, we travel all over Indiana to museums and the zoo and ice cream places but this year, our only real trips were hiking. The first took us through a pretty section of forest than ran near a small creek.
It was a little sloppy from the rain, the mosquitoes and poison ivy were out, but it was an adventure. We saw some e-n-o-r-m-o-u-s millipedes that were slow, gentle giants.
|Shocked. Just shocked.
A bit further down, the deer trail we were following crossed the creek. Evelyn jumped down and found a southern two-lined salamander that was bright yellow and feisty. We ooo-ed and aww-ed over her for a few minutes, then let her go on her way.
The creek itself was a welcome relief from the hot and humid day. The kids trudged along in the water, splashing and throwing rocks, and since it had a small, rocky area and plenty of running water, we decided to stop and have ramen for dinner. Yes, ramen is like a treat, especially if you’ve had a hard day of hiking and you’re five.
The kids took turns pumping the water, they got the fire and pot to a boil, and voila!
Of course, there’s no forgetting to have s’mores over a bonfire when the family’s visiting. We had plenty of brush to burn and more than enough kids willing to
scorch toast the marshmallows for us.
All of the fun kept catching up to us. We all tried to push our limits, staying up past bedtimes and skipping naps…
|Sure she’s not tired.
…sleep deprivation usually caught up to us anyway.
|Too. Much. Fun.
So did all the yummy food. My waistline certainly suffered with all the delicious, indulgent eating we did. I suppose you only live once and what better way to consume calories than with family! 🤤
Last year, we missed doing family photos because our regular photographer was booked solid. Luckily this year, my sister bought a brand new camera and with all sorts of cute kids to use as subjects, we started updating our photos. Aww…
Of course, when you’re not on a time constraint to get a good smiling photo of someone, it doesn’t matter if you get a few goofy faces. In some ways, those kinds of photos are my favorite. 😂
But, like it always does, the fun had to come to an end. There’s only so long we can exist in that state–sleep-deprived, overfed, laughing too hard, sharing cramped quarters, always on the go, working until we’re bone-tired…it’s not a bad way to live but it doesn’t feel sustainable.
We swam one last time…
…and put the horses back in the evening…
…kicked the ball for the dogs one last time…
…and the next morning, said goodbye.
It’s always bittersweet to say goodbye. All those good times we have can’t last forever which I suppose makes them even more special because they’re temporary. It’s tradition to chase the car down the driveway and wave goodbye. Lucky us–this goodbye was itself temporary and we got to see the twin cousins AGAIN shortly after their visit, only on their home turf. So, so appreciative we got to see them in person and make some fun summer memories.