In 15 years of family reunions, we've had our share of hiccups. Car trouble, sick kids, lost jet ski keys, jet skis that run out of gas, getting lost on the way to family pictures or an infant son whose incessant crying had Jon and I seconds away from packing it home in the middle of the night--just to name a few. Still, we always go away with good memories outweighing the bad.
Thankfully, this reunion was no different in spite of setting a new record of mishaps in one three-and-a-half-day gathering.
The reunion was scheduled to begin at the Jordan River Temple. We dropped the kids off at Jay's sister, Kelly's house, located about a mile away. She was incredibly generous and brave to let the kids (15 of them!) hang out with her family while all of the adults did a temple session.
I greeted my mother-in-law just inside the front door of the temple. She expressed how she had worried that we weren't going to make it on time (I didn't think we were at all late), and then added, "But I guess we have bigger problems to worry about." I had just been at Kelly's house with most of our family members and hadn't heard a peep about anything going wrong. But now my mother-in-law informed me that we didn't have housing for our reunion.
I was never in on any of the conversations regarding our reunion housing so I don't really know the details of how it all fell through, but evidently the vacation house that had been reserved a year-and-a-half in advance and paid for in full had been sold and was no longer available for our use. The worst and most significant detail of this debacle is that we weren't informed of this major inconvenience until three hours prior to our scheduled check-in.
There are twenty-seven of us! Finding a place to lodge that many people in such a short period of time would take a miracle. Sarah and Christopher went to work to solve the problem while the rest of us went ahead with our scheduled endowment session, family names in hand. I can't speak for the rest of the family, but I know that I prayed many times for some divine intervention.
The twelve-and-older cousins arrived later to do baptisms. Watching them participate these ordinances and watching their fathers perform them gave me an immense amount of joy.
Six big boys and one tiny girl. Such a handsome crew:
When we came out of the temple, we learned that Christopher had been able to secure some housing. But it wasn't in Park City, the location we'd been planning on and looking forward to. The old adage "beggars can't be choosers" could be applied to our reunion being relocated to Holladay, Utah. The last-minute rental house, with its endless quirks and undesirable qualities, allowed us to gather under one roof. My father-in-law viewed it as a tender mercy and even though it wasn't my favorite place to stay, I'd have to agree with that sentiment.
After a fabulous dinner at Pie Five, a build your own pizza restaurant, we were able to check into the newly secured housing. Our reunion occupied the left half of this house:
My pictures can't possibly capture just how weird this house was.
The kitchen was incredibly narrow--only two tiles wide! The refrigerator was set up on a platform making it hard for one of my height to even see into the freezer.
Because the entire kitchen was a step up from the rest of the room, the tall barstools were nowhere near high enough to eat at the bar. Alyssa may be tiny, but a bar that hits at eye level?
The room Jon and I shared had a decent four-poster king-size bed with curtains on all sides and interesting tapestry wall hangings. That was fine but check out the much-too-long curtains on a flimsy, sagging, cobweb-covered curtain rod:
These dead spiders along our bedroom wall combined with the live one crawling across the floor had me feeling itchy anytime I entered this room. I'm not usually a germaphobe, but I never went barefoot through this house!
The kids had a great time playing pool in this room. The picture doesn't capture its overwhelming musty odor.
The decor throughout was...what do you call it? Interesting? Eclectic? Mishmash? Disturbing? Probably just depends on which room you were in.
This knight was the piece de resistance of the entryway:
This was an interesting bedroom painting:
How about the cupids watching over you in the laundry room/bathroom? Creepy, right?
The big boys shared this king/queen/twin room:
The sloping ceilings made it difficult to get around in places:
This room had three king beds. What are you supposed to do with that? Three couples have a sleepover? Poor Christopher wracked his brain trying to assign beds to people. In the end, he, Jen, Sarah and Maureen shared these quarters.
After several of us tripped down all of the weird steps all over the house, I think we finally got used to them.
The bathroom I used was fully carpeted--another reason for not going barefoot--and had a door that didn't lock, leaving any who dared to use it fully exposed to a walk-in. It did however have a lovely broken light switch within the room. The closet-sized bathroom down the hall had a switch located outside the bathroom, leaving some family members to enjoy blackout showers when other family members mistook the switch for that belonging to the hall light.
Oh well, you take what you can get. And this is what we got. The accommodations may have left me feeling itchy but so far as I could tell, the kids were entirely unfazed by it all. Well, I take that back, many of them were disturbed by the cupids on the bathroom ceiling. But in all seriousness, the loss of what we'd heard was an amazing Park City house did not deter cousin bonding in Holladay. And that's really what these reunions are all about, am I right?
The kids keep growing up and time to get them together while they are young is running out. At our reunion two years ago, I was hanging in there height-wise with Caleb and my older nephews. Fast forward two years and they are all well past me. Big, big boys!
Top: 2012, Helena, MT. Bottom: 2014, Holladay, UT
Left to right: Seth (14), Caleb (15--really close to 16), Ansel (15), Me, Brendan (16) and Jonas (12)
After unloading our things into the house, we celebrated Maureen's birthday and watched a slide show of pictures from our previous reunions that Jon put together.
It was not where we thought we were going to be but there were many reunion memories yet to come...