Monday, August 21, 2017

Sylvester Reunion Part 1

After our time in Jeff City, we drove to the Lake of the Ozarks for a family reunion with my mom's side of the family. There was a stretch of time when we saw this side of the family annually because of so many cousin weddings, but it has been years since we've all gathered together. We were excited to see everyone! My Aunt Kathy, the reunion organizer, started off with family introductions (since many of the kids had never met each other). She created this family tree which began with my grandparents, Marie and Milton Sylvester.

The family tree had 3 branches since Milton and Marie had three kids-- my Uncle Mark, my Aunt Jeanene, and my mom.

The rest of these pics show the extended Sylvester family:

The 1st Generation:
Uncle Mark, Aunt Kathy, Uncle Mike, Aunt Jeanene, and my parents

The 2nd Generation:
Laura, Marcie, Brian, Becky, Kim, Amy, David, Andrew

My siblings and Sylvester-side cousins are well used to these pics. Every time we got together as kids (usually in the summers), we would do an age-order, cousin line-up picture. Even when a cousin was  missing, we'd still take a picture and leave an open space for that individual. Needless to say, our cousin pics have changed significantly over the years!

All of the 2nd Generation cousins with our spouses

The 21 3rd Generation Sylvester kiddos!
One of the most amazing things about this reunion is that every single member of the family-- all 43 of us-- was able to make it. It was so great spending time with all of these people and catching up on their lives!

Another fun fact about the Sylvester crew is that it contains 3 sets of twins, surprisingly one set from each Sylvester "branch." We always say that my Grandma Sylvester (who LOVED to talk about her family!) would've really enjoyed telling everyone about this.

Believe it or not, only one set of twins is identical :)

We arrived at the lake in the afternoon of July 4th. After eating dinner together, the whole family drove out to a golf course for a good view of some area fireworks. Our funny story is that at least half of us got soaked by the course sprinklers that turned on while we were trying to find a decent spot! Many of the kids wore glow necklaces or bracelets as we were watching the fireworks. The show seemed to be fairly short, but it was impressive.

Our boys' favorite part of the reunion was all the time that we spent on the water. It was a week filled with new experiences for them. Uncle Mark took us out for quite a few boat rides.

Even Adley had her first boating experience!

This second life jacket seemed to fit a bit better, though.

Nothin' like a breezy boat ride to put you to sleep!

Our boat captain even gave the kiddos each a turn at steering the boat. Jaden and Cody felt so important!

Nearly all of the boat rides included tubing. Our boys were a little hesitant about riding the innertube at first but ended up enjoying themselves immensely (although Jaden remained a little cautious and didn't want the rides to be too fast). It certainly helped that Daddy was right beside them on their very first ride.

Once Jaden and Cody got the hang of the innertube, they no longer wanted to ride with Daddy or Mommy. In fact, both boys adamantly refused to ride with me and instead insisted on going with their second cousins. Perhaps riding with Mommy would be too embarrassing when they have older cousins to impress! ;)

On one boating trip, Cody and Jaden saw Mommy off in the distance on a jet ski! I had stayed behind to feed Adley, but when she finished, Aunt Kim had graciously offered to hang out with Adley so I could take a spin on the jet ski. It had been years since I had been on a jet ski, and I love those things, so I happily agreed.

Later, Cody had his first turn on a jet ski with Laura...

while Jaden rode with Uncle Mark.

One morning when the water wasn't quite so choppy, I got to ride the jet ski with both of my boys. They weren't embarrassed to be with Mommy this time. :) Jaden and Cody loved the ride and kept encouraging me to go faster.

Our final water-related "first" was getting to try out fishing.

Poor Jaden fished for quite some time but unfortunately didn't get a bite.

Cody, on the other hand, got lucky and caught his first fish!

Aunt Kim and Brian helped him reel it in.

Brian said that, according to tradition, Cody had to kiss his first fish. I was a little surprised that he complied. Guess he was really caught up in the excitement! :)

God certainly blessed us with some beautiful days at the Lake of the Ozarks. Such fun moments on the water!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Jeff City Part 2

Our time in Missouri included the July 4th holiday. To celebrate, Jefferson City held a street parade on the eve of July 4th. The city dumped an enormous pile of sand on the street for kids to dig and play in. This was a wonderful way to have our kids spend their time as we waited for the parade to begin.

These professional artists (I wonder what they're called... sand artists extraordinaire??) put the kids' creations to shame. Amazing!

Grammy and Papa saved seats for us along the parade route. The guys scouted out the food trucks and bought dinner for everyone. We were finishing up our meals just as the parade began.

We had heard that this parade gave away tons of candy, so the kids eagerly stood watch for candy throwers.

Ben was so excited that his daddy had to restrain him. :)

Adley wasn't into the candy, but she loved watching all the action and didn't seem overwhelmed by the loud noises.


The next morning we returned to the street fair location because there was a Scholastic booth giving away free kids books. When we arrived, the workers told us that we could take as many books as we liked! Perhaps they didn't realize they were talking to a group of teachers... :) Sarah, Kim, and I walked away with several bagfuls each. Awesome!

During our extended weekend stay in Jefferson City, we enjoyed some downtime with family-- building with Aunt Jill's blocks,  

having a picnic in Great-Grandma's front yard,

exploring her property,

teaching the kids to play one of Grandma's games (a classic favorite, Oh Nuts!),

and then playing a nostalgic game of Oh, Nuts with my siblings.

One day we met my cousin Macy at a park. Macy was so sweet to join us, as she had just come off a long night shift at the hospital where she works as a nurse.  Going to the playground gave the kiddos some perfect active time.

Macy is so great with kids! All the kiddos loved her attention, jokes, and willingness to be goofy.

Cody, Ryan, Macy, Adley, Jaden, Abby, Ian, Nathan
Adley received some great TLC over our vacation. It's always so much fun watching others love on her! Adley's cousins (especially Ian and Ryan on this trip) often asked to hold her. They seemed thrilled when they could make her laugh.

Extra Daddy time on vacation is always nice!

Aunt Jill and Adley seemed to bond well. Adley loved being in her arms!

At the end of our trip, we took the typical family combination photos. What a special time we had with Grandma!

Grandma with her 8 great-grandkids

Grandma with her oldest son and his family

Grandma with two of her three sons and their wives

Grandma with 3 of her 9 grandchildren and their spouses