Every other June since 1987 my grandfather, Papa Carrel, and his two sisters, Aunt Joan and Aunt Betty, and their families have gathered at Petit Jean State Park in Arkansas for a long weekend. Some of my earliest memories are of riding in the back of Papa Carrel's station wagon on the way to the family reunion. And my only memory of NeeNee, their mother and my great-grandmother, is of getting a piece of hard candy from her in her room in the lodge. It was probably my first experience with hard candy!
Sis and I were Elizabeth Magee's age at the first reunion so it was so fun to see it all through her eyes. Although, she is a lot braver than her mother and aunt at age 4. She sang to a full house on Friday night for the Talent Show. Usually the talent show is on Saturday night, but since she was only going to be there on Friday night, Aunt Betty asked her to give us a special performance.
And Mary Thorne just about stole the hearts of all her extended family! Especially Uncle Rob who, after he swam with her in the pool on Friday afternoon, she followed around all weekend. Except that she kept calling him "Papa" mistaking him for Papa Carrel!
Uncle Ronald showing MT how to make a whistle sound like a bird.
Aunt Betty had the most wonderful surprise - she's gotten into genealogy and traced our Anderson line back 15 generations from her father to 1515 in Holland. And many of them were in South Carolina near us! We were all super impressed!
Friday night game night. New to me was chicken foot dominoes. Aunt Bonnye and Aunt Joan.
Saturday morning we had breakfast with our side of the family at MJ and PC's cabin. Mary Thorne made MJ's day by insisting that "Jean Jean" get her milk.
At 9:30 (sharp!) we gathered for the hike to the waterfall.
Our fearless leader Uncle Rob.
Austen decided to swim across the lake to the waterfall. We all took pictures.
Papa Carrel's bunch at the waterfall. Sis and the girls thought about coming but decided it would be too much. So Uncle Rob took them on a special hike to a bear cave and then caught up with us.
Skipping rocks is also a must after you make it to the waterfall. There's a picture of Rob skipping rocks in every photo album of the reunion.
Kristina and I had so much fun catching up and she and James are planning a visit to see us this fall.
After the hike comes the picnic in the park! Aunt Joan and her family were our "hosts" this year and provided a great picnic.
EM and me - we talked about maybe just her coming to see Aunt Sis and then she informed me that she was going to see Net and it was just going to be her and Net only. Maybe after that!?!
Uncle Ronald always has games lined up.
EM was impressed that Aunt Becky knew all the songs she did from school. Sis was thrilled that I gave MT my coke right before nap time:)
Girl picture! Aunt Chris, EM, me, Kristina, Cally, MT, Jennifer, Sis and Poppy. Just missing Jean-Ann and we'd have all the granddaughters!
I love Poppy's expression here. She does not approve of Aunt Sis being this close ;)
Austen left the family reunion with the nickname "the boy in the blue shirt" because he made such an impression on EM on Friday night. She woke up talking about "the boy in the blue shirt."
A brief thunderstorm ended the picnic and we met back at the lodge for more dominoes. This time it was Trash Train.
This group of cousins was playing a more complicated game called BANG! You can't really see them but Jamie (in the blue) is married to Carter and Marianna (in the pink) is married to Coleman and they've both joined the family since my last reunion. They are both so fun and I loved getting book suggestions from them! I wish Texas and South Carolina were just a tad closer together!
Coleman, Marianna and I had quite a time trying to figure out how to watch the Belmont. And we were so glad that we did. So glad that American Pharaoh won!
Mom and Rob cutting up on the swing after supper on Saturday evening. More games and a talent show followed in the lodge.
I snuck out to call Ryan (the only reception was at the top of the parking lot and even that was spotty) and snapped this picture coming back in. It was so nice not having access to the phone on internet for three days!
Barry serenaded Aunt Betty with the song he sang at her 80th birthday so we could all hear it. It was written by a friend of his and called, "Give Me a Woman with a Brain." Kristina and I stayed up way too late talking and then Sunday I got up early to see her and Jennifer off. The best part of being on Eastern time body clock in the Central time zone is seeing the sun rise.
We had our traditional Sunday morning devotional time and communion as a family before everyone took off to go back home.
The "first cousins" and their spouses. Can someone please send me the "second cousins" picture?
Mama Jean and Papa Carrel honeymooned at Petit Jean State Park. Aren't they the cutest?
I'm missing a few pictures and will add them as they get passed around the internet! Already looking forward to 2017!