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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

We are family!

For the past week, our house has been full...really full. We hosted the Schoelles family reunion here in Salem last weekend and relatives from several states joined us. Craig's mom, sisters, brother, and their spouses arrived first, followed by a variety of Schoelles cousins. Some relatives stayed with us, some at local bed & breakfasts, with our house being the central gathering point.

Our reunion events began on Friday with fruit, wine and cheese at our house before our group of 20 headed to dinner at the Sugarcane, a wonderful Vietnamese/Chinese restaurant. Saturday, we had perfect weather for our family picnic at Forest River Park where we ate, shared photo albums, and wove the fabric of family a little tighter with the thread of stories from the past. On Sunday, we had 22 for a church service and lunch at our house.

All of this took months of planning (kudos to Donna and Karen, Craig's sisters who did all of the advance work!)and lots of help (cousin Judy and her husband brought stellar wine and cheese and cousin Sally brought tins of scrumptious homemade cookies.) Everyone pulled kitchen duty for both food prep and clean up. Even more important, my awesome mother-in-law, her off-spring and their spouses took turns keeping my kids entertained with stories, card tricks, wrestling matches, hugs, and good-natured teasing. What a pleasure!

We have a nice life here in Salem but the one thing we lack on a daily basis is extended family. Our relatives are spread across the country so seeing them is a rare treat; to have all of Craig's siblings and his mom at our dinner table with our own family is a precious gift. Adding in cousins my kids have never met before is the icing on the cake. Craig and I are so grateful to all of you who came up with this reunion idea, made it happen, and brought it to our home. We'll always treasure the memory of our house brimming with family and hope you'll come back again soon.

Here are a few of the memories I will treasure from the week, complete with pictures:

Tanya having a whole cheering section of aunts, uncles, and cousins for her final Little League softball game of the season!

Watching the paparazzi work at the picnic...

Our kids climbing rocks and hunting snails with their cousins.

Kate and cousin Julie doing the tourist thing in downtown Salem.

Girls night out with my sisters-in-law!

The kids thanking Uncle Dale for treating us all to pizza on Sunday night...

Madiyar and Julie skyping each other on their laptops while sitting in my kitchen side-by-side...go figure.

It's quiet here now; everyone has gone home and it's just our little family of 7 (Ha!) It's time to get back to our project of cleaning, painting, and renovating the house we just bought. The kids will be doing their summer reading and preparing for a new school year while Craig and I begin packing for the upcoming move. I'll be busy as usual but thinking of the family I've joined not just by marriage...like our kids, I feel I've been adopted with love. I'm honored...

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