July 29, 2009

Family Reunion (part 5)

Family Reunion (part 4)

This morning there was a somber mood among all the kids. I think they knew that their time together was coming to an end. Of course it may have just been the cooler mountain air and overcast skies and the fact that the fire had been put out by the rain. But this morning the kids did everything together. You couldn't separate them.

The first activity of the day was to try and get the fire started again. I think the chances for success would have been greater had the matches actually lit when you struck them. We finally resorted to using a lighter.

The camping experience was starting to wear on some of the kids. Katie hadn't had a shower in days and this was a real problem. Most of the other kids didn't seem to mind missing that important aspect of civilization.

Aaron seemed to be content simply eating the topping off of his muffin. After all, these are healthy muffins so the best part has to be the topping.

Michelle caught me in her picture as she tried to capture the scene for her panoramic picture stitching program. (I moved to soon and the stitching program chopped my arm off!)

More breakfast under the canopy (to avoid the random rain drops)

The kids were playing some sort of treasure hiding/finding game. Then they played red light green light but with dragons! I'm sure they played some other games as well. They spent the morning together and would hardly even separate when called by their parents!

I'm not sure why they started rolling the logs. These logs were originally set up for a family photo but were never actually used for that purpose. The kids found them more exciting to roll across camp.

Next came the thrill ride of the day. We all loaded up on top of James' new suburban rack and went for a ride up to the main road and back. This is a bumpy road and would have rivaled any ride at Lagoon, especially since this one doesn't have seat belts or safety gear!

After the roller coaster ride we went on a treasure hunt. We were working fast because the Kims had to get on the road and head for home. The kids went to work following clues like they were stars in National Treasure or something. Once they read each clue they were off at a sprint to find the next one. There were 10 total clues.

The kids finally found the gold at the end of the hunt. It was a glorious moment. All of their staunch determination had finally paid off.

It was sad to say good bye to the Kims. These several days had been wonderful to be together. But all things must end and the Kims were the first to leave. Jared's family would leave next but not before they had a chance to defend our camp from the attacking squirrel.

With the camp secure and safe we finished packing. I happened to catch this candid moment as Hailey helped David bring up the high chair to be loaded into the jeep.

This camping trip / family reunion has been an awesome experience. The kids had a blast playing with their cousins for 4 days! We got to see each other all together for the first time in a couple years. As the family spreads across the country these times will be more and more precious.

I am certainly grateful that I was able to spend these 4 days with my family. We had a fabulous time and we've made many great memories.

July 28, 2009

Family Reunion (part 3)

Our boys were awake at first light and couldn't understand why we wanted to sleep a little longer. After all, 6:30 am is still early, even while you're camping. Somehow we managed to keep the kids still and quiet for almost 30 more minutes. But kids can't burn daylight and they wanted to get up. But what do you do while you wait for breakfast?

The boats turned out to be a hit once again. The little inflatable row boat seemed to steal the stage. I suspect that a large part of the appeal was that the kids could go into the lake unsupervised (at least directly) and could row under their own power. It took a few tries but the kids really began to get around the lake in this little boat. We only had to tow kids back to shore on a few occasions.

Jared managed the "save of the day" when he plucked Aaron from the lake's grasp. I didn't see what happened except Jared was grabbing Aaron by the ankle and pulling him out of the lake. Apparently Jared's "snatch" occurred just as Aaron slipped and fell into the lake and Jared caught the ankle before it slipped into the water. As a result, Aaron had one dry shoe but everything else was wet.

By this day the kids were having a great time playing together. You would see three or four kids running around playing a game here or there. It was so much fun to see them getting along so well.

With the arrival of Jared at camp, the chain saws were unleashed and several dead trees were relieved of the stress of standing tall in the forest. As a result we had a massive wood pile. With so much wood everyone seemed excited to take a turn trying to split the logs. Some managed impressive, single swing explosions while others needs a couple of extra swings to split the logs into burnable size pieces.

Chris Kim(Cynthia Boel & Chris Kim)(Janeil Kim)(Cynthia Boel)(Kaylynn Meyers)

(Random cute picture of Troy Kim and Milly Petersen)

One of the best activities of this camp out was when our entire family went back to our tent for a nap. I couldn't hardly contain my excitement, not so much that even David was tired enough to go to sleep but that I got to go to sleep.

When we finally were aroused from slumber we discovered that the camp had been deserted! Finally a lone cousin wandered through camp and after careful interrogation we discovered that everyone had gone rappelling off a nearby cliff. David was off like a shot! Aleky and I finally caught up only to discover David hanging on to the side of a cliff (Michelle and the other boys took longer to wake up).

Okay, I'll admit it...I was very proud of David for going over the cliff on his own rope! Of course I was also happy to note that Aunt Tosha was there to talk him down the cliff and make sure he didn't fall.

David made 3 different rappels gaining confidence each time he went down the cliff. He was one excited boy!

Meanwhile, the other boys woke up from their naps and they joined us at the cliff. Donovan decided that he wanted to go down the cliff too.

Donovan and I went up the cliff to get into the rappelling gear. We decided to let Donovan try going down the cliff on his own rope. Well, let's just say he wasn't quite ready for that experience just yet. He was close enough to the top that Grandpa Petersen just hoisted him back to the top. Having already started down the cliff I quickly descended and ran back up to the top to try again. This time we decided to try a tandem (on the same rope) decent. Donovan felt much better about that idea.

While I am excited that my boys were helping at the bottom of the cliff I think I would have been a little more confident with a little more experience (and weight) and the end of the ropes. But everything went just fine so there's really nothing to worry about.

Once we reached the bottom I had an excited boy on my rope. Donovan was thrilled to have gone down the cliff. I think he would have liked to have gone again but it was time to put the gear away and get ready for dinner.

Devin wins the award for the most descents. He had to have had at least 6 descents while we were there and I have no idea how many additional descents he had before we arrived. He was having a blast going down the cliff face.

Since my boys were the last ones down the cliff I helped pack up the rappelling gear. When I finally made it back to camp I was in for a little surprise! My boys were swimming in the lake...in just their underwear! Michelle was quick to point out that the instigator of this experience was Uncle Jared. In the end, I think this ended up being one of the boys favorite memories.

Janeil was able to get all three of her children to help prepare dinner. Tosha was left all alone while her three boys went swimming in the lake. In the end, the dinner turned out amazing! Great food is pretty much expected at any Petersen camp out.

I think everyone enjoyed the food. Although, some of the kids found it difficult to eat everything on their plates.

Aleky discovered that he was partial to the rolls and honey butter and he downed 2 of them but didn't make much progress on the rest of his food.

David and Michael also struggled through dinner but Donovan actually did a fantastic job clearing his plate.

After dinner was another round of s'mores. Even though the kids didn't eat all of the dinner we let them have treats. After all, we're camping!

After putting the kids to bed the adults congregated around the fire. The discussion seemed to revolve around politics and vehicles (and the politics of vehicle manufactures). It was probably as good as the conversation from the previous night which was on kids and pregnancies. It was an enjoyable evening in the outdoors, at least until it started to rain. That broke up the campfire talk and everyone immediately headed for their tents and for bed.

I enjoyed listening to the rain on the tent roof. There was enough rain to give the relaxing background noise but not too much rain to get everything extremely wet. The ambiance was soothing as I drifted off to sleep.

Family Reunion (part 2)

We woke up to a beautiful, calm morning. The boys woke up about 6:30 am since it was light outside. I'll have to admit, that was earlier than I would have liked to wake up. So I laid there a bit longer and told the boys to be quiet (since Aleky and Michael were still sleeping). But you can't keep excited kids in bed so they were quickly dressed and off to explore their camp site.

The lake was the biggest draw of the camping trip. If we didn't have a specific activity planned you could find the boys near, on or in the lake! But with such a beautiful lake can you really hold it against them?

A fire was quickly started using some of the wet wood from yesterday and it took a long time to get a sustainable fire burning. But the kids were real troopers and did there best to help fan the flames (or blow on the coals to get flames). Before long we were ready for breakfast.

Devin decided he had enough of the wet wood and decided to go get some wood of his own. David and Donovan thought that was a fabulous idea and decided to go too. But collecting wood isn't as easy as it seems, especially when you have to saw the logs by hand.

Boating was the activity of the day. Every spare moment and every willing adult was drafted into service. At this point we hadn't granted any children permission to enter the boats/water without adult supervision. This would ultimately change due to the huge demand for aquatic activities and the increasing proficiency of the kids in paddling the boats around the lake.

After a while all of the adults grew weary of paddling around the lake and we docked the boats. After all, we wanted to spend some time with the other members of the family who were not in the boats.
Lydia Boel Troy Kim
After a morning of paddling around the lake it was time to have some lunch. We had divided several meals (2 dinners and 1 breakfast) to be prepared to the different families but the other meals were "on our own." So we decided to go for simplicity and ease in preparation and clean-up. So we had cold cereal for breakfast (we were forced to capitulate and use some of Grandma Petersen's hot chocolate) and sandwiches for lunch.
While we all prepared our own lunches we did enjoy the time together as we ate what we had prepared. We had enough people at camp that we were able to keep the fire going through out the day. If you didn't have something to do there was always someone at the fire pit and you could just visit with them.
Hailey BoelVivian BoelAleky Jones
Devin found several hobbies over the campout. The first hobby was boating. The second hobby was playing catch with anyone who would throw the ball back and forth. Here he is playing catch with Aunt Janeil.

The two little buddies got along quite nicely with one another. I think they make a great pair.

Michael took some time to color and avoid the hustle and bustle of trying to keep up with the big kids. Of course, they were probably back on the lake...again!

You just can't go camping with the Petersens without doing some shooting. It is a highlight that everyone looks forward too. I know my boys are certainly addicted to it. As long as a gun is being used you can be assured that my boys will by in the vicinity watching, waiting for their chance to participate.
Grandpa Petersen and Uncle Kyle got to shoot the first few rounds. But it didn't take long for the line of grandchildren to form and wait for their turn to shoot as well.

David loves to shoot guns and he is getting pretty good at it. He's to the point that he can load the rifle with adult supervision and shoot all by himself. Not only that but he is hitting the targets too! I can't believe how fast he is growing up.

Donovan gets excited about shooting as well. At this point he loves to help load the rifle but he just loves to pull the trigger. He gets pretty excited when he see the splash from the bullets too.

Michael just thinks it's great to pull the trigger and make a bang. The splash is great too.

Aleky didn't get to shoot this round but I got a few shots in. I think we all anticipated more shooting over the next few days but the way things ended up this was the only shooting that we did as a group. I did get a chance to shoot a couple of Grandpa's big hand guns and that was certainly an experience! I'm sure one day we'll have a great collection of firearms as well but that day won't be tomorrow.
David, Donovan, Cynthia and Devin kept the rifles going for quite a while. Grandpa and Uncle Kyle spent their efforts just keeping kids in line so that everyone had a chance to shoot.
As the day wore on it was eventually time to get dinner prepared. Grandma Petersen brought the ice cream maker and extra ice. It is always a treat to make your own ice cream while camping. Aunt Kaylynn was put in charge of turning the ice cream and she recruited plenty of help. The one rule for the ice cream is, "if you don't help turn it you don't get to help eat it." It seems to work pretty well for getting plenty of participation.
This day was a beautiful and relaxing day. I didn't get to take a nap but there was plenty of chances to paddle the boat around the lake, hang out by the fire, eat some wonderful food and shoot a few guns. Our closest camping neighbors moved out and Uncle Kyle moved in. He drove the jeep around to the next camp site and pitched one of the extra tents there to save the spot. We didn't actually use the space, we just wanted to have some room between us and the next set of campers.