It is a good sign that I've not updated before now because I haven't wanted to take the time away from our time together. Let me try to catch up. On Monday, Eric went and picked up the water trampoline which was an instant hit. The kids have been using it a lot. We also got a kayakish canoe or canoe-ish kayak, I don't know which, but it is more stable than either, looks like a kayak but handles more like a canoe. Whatever you call it, it has been the perfect way for couples to sneak time together while 3 other women fight over the chance to watch their kids for 30 minutes. The kids have also had some fun rides in the boat and have been perfectly satisfied with the slower pace and calm ride.
We spent a lot of time in and out of the lake on Monday, with the only disappointment being that our hot tub doesn't work. It seems a little obscene to complain in such lovely surroundings, but it has been a teeny tiny bit frustrating. The kids are enjoying the "cold tub" anyway and I call the rental office daily.
The highlight of Monday was a fireside where almost all of us except the very young (and Grandma Joy, who had already gone to bed) gathered around the fire ring outside in the cool air to have a big family home evening. It started out open-ended and became a time for everyone to share stories, testimonies, and remembrances from childhood. We got to hear about Pop's early life in West Jordan, adventures that we siblings and in-laws have shared and lots of other wonderful stuff that is of little interest outside the magic of that small circle. My heart thrilled to this evening because it indicated that the purposes of a reunion were beginning to be accomplished: We are strengthening our family bonds.
Tuesday dawned cloudy and cool, but it cleared up into the perfect kind of afternoon for a visit to Swallow Falls State Park. The path from the parking lot winds through the extraordinary atmosphere of the last old-growth forest groves in Maryland. These old trees have stories to tell I'm sure. Muddy Creek Falls are also there, and they are the highest falls in Maryland. Keep following the path and two rivers converge, then Swallow Falls spreads the river into a wide, slow swimming hole that offers the intrepid and appropriately shod visitor the chance to swim, jump, brave the (fairly gentle) current, and skip rocks all the day long.
A short walk back through the magical green-gold light of this favorite forest takes one quickly back to the real world,
but the day is prolonged a few more minutes if one takes the opportunity to get an ice cream cone from the superlative Lakeside Creamery ice-cream shop that operates at the park.
While some of us were enjoying our afternoon in the river, 6 of the menfolk went off on their Man vs. Wild adventure. They packed their gear, talked Pop into going with them and drove off into the woods of West Virginia to hike and camp for the night. More about that later.
Tuesday evening was our girls' night-so much fun. Dave, Tim and Eric took all the big kids to FunZone for Go-Karts and laser tag and we sisters all worked together making chocolate trifle, got the little ones down and settled in for all four beautiful hours of Masterpiece Theatre's Jane Eyre. My favorite Mr. Rochester EVER. We enjoyed trifle, helped each other as the babies woke up for comfort and bottles and stayed up until 1 am and the glorious, bittersweet ending. It was a wonderful day.