Last weekend the kids and I attended the Clark Family Reunion in Cottonwood, AZ. Kory wasn't able to come with us due to his new school/work schedule. So the kids and I followed along after my parents. This will be one of those experiences that I will NEVER forget. The reunion itself was great! It was fun, I was able to visit with cousins, aunts and uncles that I haven't seen in year's. My kids made friends with extended family that they have never met and probably won't see again until the next reunion.
My little family and I camped in our tent. It was HOT! The weather was unbelivably HOT! There was no escaping the heat. It was over 90 degrees during the day and didn't drop below 70 at night. We sweated throughout the day and night. Being we lived pretty near Cottonwood for almost 8 years I was expecting the heat. When I put up the tent I opted not to put the top covering on to allow a little breeze at night trying to keep us some what cool. That was my 1st mistake. Not putting the top on allowed a bazillion small yellow pollen pieces to fall into our tent. That first night when we got into our tent I realized EVERYTHING was covered in pollen. The suitcase that was left open, the sleeping bags we slept on top of, the blow up matresses, our pillows. I shook off what I could and then we just dealt with it throughout the weekend.
One of the best parts of Family Reunion's is all the food. No one went away hungry!
As if the heat wasn't bad enough to deal with all over the camp site had a MAJOR infestation of ants! Big Red ANTS! Ants became a toy that we coundn't keep the kids away from. This is Brayden and his cousin Mya catching the ants! The ants were literally everywhere. You could not escape them. They even got into our tent. By the time I got home I had 20 red ant bites just on my arms. I never did count how many I had everywhere else on my body. We really couldn't go anywhere and not find ants.
When the ants got boring the bigger kids moved onto bigger creatures. You can't see the lizard that Emily helped catch in our bug catcher. These little kids were pretty proud of themselves!
Kylie is not walking yet and so I tried to hold her most of the time due to the ant issue we were having. If I couldn't hold her I'd pass her off to Grandma/Grandpa or an older sibling. There came a point however that this 13 month old little girl had had enough. She wanted down! And so she too played in the dirt right along with the ants. She kept covering herself with dirt! Kylie must have been blessed this weekend as she didn't have a single ant bite.
It was so unbearbly hot that during the day we tried to escape the heat by hanging out with Grandma and Grandpa Christensen in their cabin. However a 12x12 cabin doesn't offer much for 4 adults and 9 kids. We tried taking this kids on a hike but it was just to hot to enjoy it and all we got was a bunch of complaints from the kids about the heat! We took the kids to Sonic and got everyone their very own slushy thanks to "happy hour". One afternoon we escaped to Wal Mart and let all the cousins play in the toy section. Another afternoon we found Cottonwood's Rec Center and was able to spend a few hours swimming indoors, away from the heat. During the day the camp site was pretty empty but about dinner time the WHOLE family came back. After dinner we all sat around in our camp chairs visiting or we created our own entertainment. One evening we held a family auction. For $40 I bought a children's illustrated book called Hairy Legs and Wagon Wheels. This is a book that a distant cousin wrote and than had published. The story is about hairy trantula's taking a ride on the old school's wagon wheel's. My Great Grandpa A.V Clark use to tell this story to the kids and that's where this book originated from. When the story was mentioned at the reunion it struck a chord in me. I vaguely remember sitting at my great grandpa's knee's and listening to him tell this story or at least a similar one. It has been so long that I don't remember how the story goes or how it ends but I remember feeling frightened for the spider's when the school kids discover them on the wagon wheel's on their way to school. I haven't read the book yet but am anxiously waiting to read it to my own kids this coming week.
Grandpa Grow brought Grandma. Grandma had 2 of her siblings present at the reunion. I think it's safe to say they were a bit taken back with Grandma's condition. Until you try to talk to her and visit with her you don't understand what Alzheimer's has done to her. She didn't know/recognize her siblings. Most of the time she thinks my mom is her sister, Barbara. Comparing her state of mind now to how she was at the reunion 2 years ago there have been some drastic changes. This will be Grandma's last reunion she attends with her family here on earth. It's just to hard to travel and take care of her outside of her own home.
One of the highlights of the reunion was going to Slide Rock with many, many cousins in Sedona one morning. Oh boy did we have fun! The water was freezing which really helped us feel like we were escaping the heat! We brought a few toy's to help entertain the little ones. Brayden was quite content to sit with his bucket. He'd fill it up with water and than dump it on himself over and over again.
This is cousin Carlaya, Madelyn and cousin Zhana goofing off.
Here's Hunter sliding down on one of the rocks!
Uncle Jonathan and Hunter taking a break in the shade.
For snack we brought a water melon and kept it in the water to keep cold.
Miss Emily enjoying that cold water melon in the sun.
I didn't get as many pictures as I would have liked with the kids actually going down the natural rock slides. Jonathan and I were there by ourselves so he'd take the bigger kids to the slides and I'd stay in the shallow area with the little one's. There were so many people there it was hard to keep track of all our kids. Slide Rock was definetly a blast! I hope to one day return just for fun with Kory.
As I said I really did enjoy myself at the reunion. We all could have easily done away with the heat, the ants all over the ground and in our tent, the personal belongings covered in pollen and the swarm of bee's that decided to camp out above our tent the last 2 day's/nights we were there. But I'm glad we went. I'm glad I stayed (there were many moments I felt I had reached my moment and was ready to head home early). I'm so glad the kids enjoyed themselves. Madelyn and Emily want me to get the adresses of their new friends so that they can write to them and keep in contact until the next reunion in 2 years.